Menu Plan Monday 2/29/16

Happy Leap Day! My mom was almost a leap year baby, but she made it to March 1 by about 20 minutes, so we will celebrate her birthday tomorrow. However, one of my good friends has a little boy with an actual leap day birthday, so this year, he gets to have a cake on his real birthday this year. Since we are moving into March, I guess I need to start planning our St. Patrick’s Day dinner too….but for now, here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week:

Monday: Meatball Parm Casserole

Tuesday: Dinner out for my mom’s birthday

Wednesday: Beef and Broccoli Pasta (Crock Pot)

Thursday: Chicken Caprese

Friday: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.


TOS Review:

HelpTeaching ReviewOnline learning websites are a great way to supplement your teaching, especially when things get busy. With an 8th grader and high school senior, I am always looking for ways to bring in some more challenging content (or in some cases extra help) for certain subjects. For this review, we got to check out the Pro Plan from, and it turned out to be a big help for a number of reasons.

Help Teaching offers a huge bank of lessons for grades Kindergarten on through high school with videos, practice activities, games and tests designed to help kids learn all kinds of topics in Language Arts, Reading, Math, and Science. Some of the videos are made by the company, others are from Khan Academy,, and Bozeman Science. There are lessons on a variety of topics. For my boys we focused on grammar (modifiers, verbals), reading (irony, propaganda, hyperbole), and math (probability, geometry), and my youngest wanted to check out some of the science just because he’s like that.

Now, once you set up a parent account, you go in and set up your classroom and add students. Then, you assign lessons by emailing the student the link to the lesson. This was pretty easy for us as my boys are older and familiar with email and everything. All they had to do was go into their email, click on the link and start the lesson. As the teacher, I could log on, review what I had assigned, and watch their progress. This came in very handy as I had a few last minute trips come up this year and I had to leave my youngest with my hubby. Since I’m the one in charge of school, it was simply easier for me to assign work from Help Teaching for the time that I was gone. That way, I could log on from wherever I was at the end of the day and make sure he was getting his work done or reassign or change things as needed.

Another option on the Help Teaching website is to create your own tests based on content you’re teaching. You can make any kind of test you want, from short answer to multiple choice, and they even have a bank of questions you can choose from and a library of images to use if you wish. This is a handy tool, especially when you have older students. After a unit study, you could easily put together a short test or quiz if you wanted to, or you could create practice tests to help your child prepare for a bigger test.

HelpTeaching Review

The site also offers a number of printable worksheets. I found the study skills worksheets and graphic organizers particularly interesting, but they also have a ton of stuff for math, science, language arts, and even art, music, and seasonal activities. Even after using this for a few months, I still feel like I haven’t gotten into everything it has to offer and I think it’s going to be something I come back to and keep finding new reasons to love. Honestly, for less than $25 a year, I think is a great addition to any homeschool because it’s one of those things that will just make those hectic, crazy days easier, and also offers a lot of tools that they continuously update.

To learn more, connect with HelpTeaching on social media here:
Help Teaching on Facebook

Help Teaching on Google+

Help Teaching on Pinterest

Help Teaching on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:
HelpTeaching Review

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 2/22/16

Well, after a whirlwind week in DC, it is nice to be home. We had a fantastic time, it even snowed when we were there, which was great because my son had never seen real snow before, and even I had only seen it once. We got to make snowmen and snow angels, and we drove around with our family and got to see an actual frozen river! It was so very beautiful. We also drove out to the Chesapeake Bay, the snowy woods were so gorgeous. However, I can tell you that this Florida girl is NOT used to being that cold for that long! Now that I’m home, its also nice to be back to cooking. Eating out is fun, but way off my regular diet, and my hubby and youngest son really need some veggies! Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

Monday: Skillet Pork with Tomatoes and Rice

Tuesday: Crispy Chicken with White Beans

Wednesday: Pork Tacos and Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Thursday: Use the leftover pork to make Cuban Sandwiches and salad

Friday: Chicken and Bean Enchiladas

I hope your February is finishing off nicely! What are you planning to do with the extra day we have this year?? We haven’t decided yet. Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. See you next week.

TOS Review: Home School In The Woods

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewLapbooking is so much fun. I love watching my boys create projects that demonstrate what they have learned and they make teaching so easy. However, I am nowhere near creative enough to come up with all of those neat ideas on my own, so I am really thankful for companies like Home School in the Woods. We have used many of their products before and for this review we got to check out their HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections study. I was really excited about this since it was such a timely topic at the moment.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewNow, here are some things to know about lapbooking if you’ve never done it before. First, your lapbook does not have to look exactly like the examples you see in the instructions. Those are there as general guidelines, and they are very helpful when putting your own lapbook together. However, one thing I have learned about doing these things is that each lapbook is specific to you and your kids and you can make it however you want. For example, these are what some of our projects currently look like:


Notice that I did not print my projects out on all different colors of paper. That’s because I buy my paper at our local Dollar General store and they only offer white paper. But that’s okay, because I just have my kids color their projects in. However, I do suggest that you invest in one pack of card stock because some of the projects really need to be printed on thicker paper. A single pack of card stock can last you for a couple of lapbooks.


Now, let’s get into Elections. There are a couple of options for how to print the text, including making it into a pretty cool booklet, but ink is expensive, and since I was doing this study with my son, I just chose to read the text out loud from my computer. The text is very well written and set up in easy-to-manage chunks so that you can spend 20-30 minutes a day working on this and do 2-3 projects if you want. I felt it explained everything very well in a way that made it easy for kids to understand.




After giving an overview on the history of governments in general and learning a little about the American government, students go on to read about topics like voting rights, how campaigns are run, the election process, political parties, what each office actually does, term limits and much much more. The cool thing is, the learning is broken down into bite-size pieces, which makes it great for kids that are easily distracted or easily overwhelmed by too much information at once. Also, doing the projects appeals to other learning modalities. And, having a lapbook to share with the family and others at the end of the study is pretty cool.

You can definitely make this a much larger learning experience by checking out books from the library and using the internet to do more research, and for older kids (like mine) that’s what we did. In fact, there are other suggested resources included with the Lap-pak. If you wanted to, you could use the Elections Lap-pak as the basis of a unit study on elections, especially right now since we are in the midst of the Presidential campaign. If you are looking for a fun way to work some civics instruction into your homeschool, I would highly recommend you check this out. The Elections Lap-pak is available as a CD or a download.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewTo learn more, connect with Home School in the Woods on social media here:

Home School in the Woods on Facebook

Home School in the Woods on Google+

Home School in the Woods on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Skillet Pork with Rice and Tomatoes


I love tomatoes. Especially fresh tomatoes. Any way I can find to incorporate them into a recipe, I will. This one skillet dinner easily fed my family of four and I loved how all the flavors mixed together!




1 pork tenderloin

4 cloves garlic

1 onion

1/2 cup dry white wine (or you can substitute chicken broth)

4-6 tomatoes

yellow rice



  1. Slice the tenderloin into 8 pieces. Season with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and onion powder.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet and brown the tenderloin pieces on all sides.
  3. Add the garlic, onion, and tomatoes to the skillet, the pour in the wine.
  4. Simmer until the pork is cooked through, adding more liquid as needed.
  5. Serve over yellow rice.

That’s it. The juices made the tomatoes so plump and delicious and the pork had a ton of flavor. It was so good, and there were plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Menu Plan Monday 2/8/16

Happy Monday everybody! It seems the cold is returning this week. We are actually expecting temperatures to dip down to the 30s here, which is the coldest we’ve seen all winter, but I am going to be even colder by the end of the week because my oldest son and I are headed north to Washington DC to tour some colleges and visit my cousin! I am excited about the trip, but looking at the weather forecast, not so excited about the cold! My youngest son and hubby will be on their own next week for meals while I’m gone and I have been told it’s going to be a week of “frozen pizzas, brats and sauerkraut, and grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches”. I’m pretty sure they don’t have any plans to eat a single vegetable while I’m gone so we’ll see what kind of shape they’re in when I get back!! For now, this is what I have planned for dinner:

Monday: Kielbasa and Spinach Stew

Tuesday: Chicken and Dumplings

Wednesday: Smothered Pork Chops with Parmesan Potato Fries and Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Thursday: Shrimp and Grits

Friday: Flying out to DC!

I hope you have a great week! Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! I will see you when I get back.

Kielbasa Winter Stew

This is a great little stew that allows me to sneak some kale into my family’s routine without getting any objections. It’s also pretty inexpensive to make.



1 lb. turkey kielbasa

8 cloves garlic (smashed)

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 cans white beans (any kind)

6 sprigs thyme

1 small bunch kale

1/2 bunch spinach

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Olive oil


  1. Heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Cut the kielbasa into pieces and cook it in the pot for 3-5 minutes, until most of it is browned.

3. Add the smashed garlic cloves to the pot and saute for two minutes.

4. Add the diced tomatoes (undrained), the chicken broth, the thyme, salt and garlic salt to the pot and bring to a boil.

5. Rinse the spinach and kale and tear the leaves into small pieces.

6. Add the torn spinach and kale to the pot, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

7. Drain and rinse the beans and fold into the pot, then heat through.

Top with some grated Parmesan and serve with some warm, crusty bread, like a garlic French bread or something like that. It’s absolutely delicious! Thanks for stopping by, check out more new recipes here:

Menu Plan Monday 2/1/16

Wow, the first month of the New Year really flew by! We had a great time celebrating my hubby’s birthday, and this month, my oldest son and I have a trip to DC to check out some colleges to look forward to. I have to admit, it’s kind of bittersweet for me, because I can’t believe he’s about to graduate from high school, but I am really looking forward to having some one-on-one time with my boy. However, that’s still a couple weeks away, and this is what’s for dinner at our house this week:

Monday: Cilantro Lime Chicken with Red Beans and Onions

Tuesday: Beef and Broccoli Pasta (Crock Pot Recipe)

Wednesday: Quesadillas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Thursday: Parmesan Tilapia

Friday: Chicken with Beans and Rice

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week!