Stuffed Pork Loin

I love a good Cuban sandwich, but since I am on a low-carb diet (which is working splendidly), bread is a no-go for me. So, it was really nice to go to a friend’s house for dinner where she made me this awesome stuffed pork loin that tasted like a Cuban without the bread. Of course, I got the recipe and made it at home, and my hubby and kids loved it.


2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp pepper (I like to use Butcher Block pepper for the extra kick!)

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp smoked Paprika

1 1/2 lb pork loin

2 tbsp mustard

4 slices ham

4 slices Swiss cheese

2 sliced dill pickles

1 tbsp olive oil



  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Slice the pork loin in half and cut a 1/2 inch deep slice in the center of each and pound until about 1/4 inch thick.

3. Spread mustard on one side of the pork.

4. Layer the ham, Swiss and pickles on top of the mustard.

5. Place other half of the loin on top and tie with cooking twine.

   6. Mix the spices together in a small bowl.

7. Drizzle the olive oil on the pork and rub the spice mixture on all sides.

   8. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked through.

This is so yummy. Serve it with a salad or some warm crusty bread if you want. Enjoy!




Menu Plan Monday 7/25/16

I can’t believe summer is coming to a close. Only one month left! This month we have my birthday and a special visit from my cousin in California whom I haven’t seen in 30 years! I am really excited about that. She is road-tripping cross country with her family in an RV and we are going to have a mini-reunion barbecue when she gets here. So, this is our menu for this week:

Monday: Tacos

Tuesday (cookout): Smoked Pork Butt, Southern Green Beans, chips

Wednesday: Dinner out

Thursday: Fried Chicken, potato salad

Friday: Hot Dogs at a baseball game!

I hope you all are enjoying your last few weeks of summer too. Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. See you next week.


TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions – Beric the Briton

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions ReviewAs a family, we love a good historical adventure, and G.A. Henty was a master of historical fiction. However, I have one child who does not enjoy reading, and while I do love reading aloud, sometimes I just want to listen to a story too. So, I was very excited to check out the new audiodrama Beric the Briton from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have listened to several of their drama’s already and loved every one of them. This exciting tale of the Roman invasion of Brittania met our expections!

First, I have to say the cast for the story is top-notch. Heirloom manages to get great actors and actresses to portray the characters in their stories, including Cathy Sara (Downtown Abbey) and Tom Baker (Dr. Who). They all really bring the characters to life, giving them robust personalities and adding to the excitement to the story.

In this drama, we are introduced to Beric, a young man of 16 who is destined to rule his tribe, but who was taken captive by the Romans as a young boy in order to maintain influence over his mother, the chieftainess of the tribe. After returning home, Beric cannot hide the influence his time with the Romans had on him. However, while there are many things he admires about the Romans, he still longs for his people to be free. But, he is facing an uphill battle, because at the time, Brittania was a loose configuration of individual tribes often at war with each other, and resistant to the idea of uniting to fight a common enemy.

Over the course of the story, Beric wins his tribe over to his idea of fighting in a more unified style, and they begin to make some progress in their quest to defeat the invaders. After a hard-fought battle, Beric once again finds himself, and his friend Boduoc, captives of Rome, and sent off to gladiator school. A large part of Beric’s journey coincides with the spread of Christianity in Rome and the Great Fire. As Beric begins to hear whispers about “Christians” he finds some of his Roman friends are committed Christ-followers and they introduce him to the faith. While it takes some time for Beric to decide what he believes, he is intrigued by the idea, and comes to the defense of a Christian friend who is set to be fed to the lions after the fire.

Now, I don’t want to give too much more away, but I can tell you, it is an amazing story. One thing G.A. Henty was very good at was weaving Christian themes into his stories. They mesh seamlessly, and you can’t help but get caught up in the adventure. I love the way he ties together the historical and Biblical events. Hearing the story of Paul’s shipwreck told in context of what was going on at the time in the country, has a very powerful impact. Listening to this story as a family gave us a fantastic opportunity to talk to our children about God’s hand in history and in the world.

We listened to this story in the car during vacation, and it is labeled in chapters on the CD, so it is easy to pick up where you left off if you need to take a break. Heirloom Audio also offers some great extras that help enrich the story. First, there is a 50-page downloadable study guide that includes background information about the people featured in the story, and questions for each chapter. The questions range from basic recall questions to vocabulary, to questions that challenge listeners to go deeper and get to the themes of the story.

One nice feature of the study guide is that it has the track number and exact time where you can find each chapter on the disc listed with each set of questions, so if you want to go back and listen again, you can easily find it. At the end of the study guide, there is a list of books you can check out for further reading if you want. It also offers three different Bible studies you can do with your children.

Other cool features offered by Heirloom Audio include an eBook copy of the original story with illustrations. My older son likes reading so he always wants to check these out, and it is helpful if you want to encourage a child to follow the story in the book as they listen. You also get an MP3 version of the book and the soundtrack as well as posters and some other items. The best thing is, the extra resources are all flexible, so you can use as many as you want.

If you love history, exciting stories, or listening to books on tape, I would definitely suggest you check Beric the Briton out. There are multiple options for ordering the audiodrama so you can find the one that works best for your family. For more information, connect with Heirloom on social media:

Beric the Briton on Facebook
GA Henty Series on Facebook
Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook
Heirloom Audio Productions on Twitter
Heirloom Audio Productions on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this adventure, click here:

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions ReviewCrew Disclaimer




TOS Review: Writing with Sharon Watson

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Some kids are natural writers, like my oldest who has been writing since he was little. Other kids enjoy certain types of writing, like story-writing, and that is a better description of my youngest. He loves making up and writing all kinds of fantastic adventures. However, now that he is in high school, I know I need to get him to work on more reports and non-fiction essays since that is the primary type of writing he will be doing from this point on. So, I was happy to check out The Power in Your Hands: Writing Non-Fiction in High School, 2nd Edition from Writing with Sharon Watson for this review. I used the first edition with my oldest and it went really well.


Writing with Sharon Watson Review

The program comes with a student book and teacher’s guide. It includes 23 chapters on topics ranging from How-to writing, to compare and contrast, to a variety of persuasive writing topics. There are also some chapters on grammar, which is a new feature I really appreciate. The new index is also very helpful when you need to find something fast. The very first chapters involve the writing process, from brainstorming, to getting started, to writing the first draft.

Like the first edition, lessons are written directly to the student in a pleasant, conversational tone. Chapters are divided into a few lessons, making it easy to set up a weekly schedule. Certain sections of the lessons are labled “Your Toolbox” which includes several noteworthy writing tips for students to remember. I chose to have my son record these in a notebook as he went through the course so he could find them quickly when he was writing. Review and practice exercises are peppered throughout the lesson, which I found helpful because it broke up the reading for my son. Moving from the learning section to a practice section and back to more reading made it easier for him to complete the lessons.

Examples of high-quality writing are also given throughout the book through a variety of essays, articles and radio scripts. I was glad to see this practice was retained from the first edition because I think reading examples of the type of writing you want students to achieve helps them when they are writing their own papers. Modeling is a very effective way to teach anything.
The curriculum includes several references to the Bible and includes activities that have students reading passages and summarizing them.

When students work on an essay, they are first guided through setting up a schedule, then eventually move on to making their own. A checklist helps guide them through the writing and makes sure they include everything they need to. Assignments are divided into different levels, with a different word count for beginning, intermediate, and advanced writers and some differentiated suggestions for each level too.

The teacher’s guide is much more than just an answer key.First, it includes a list of the major writing assignments in the beginning of the guide, which makes it easy for you to keep track of what your child is doing. There is also a very detailed section about grading papers, which I think is great. Sometimes it is really difficult to grade an essay because so much of it is subjective. The guide includes examples of graded papers with a rationale for their grading, so you can see what an A paper looks like, and what a B paper looks like and so on. One new feature of the teacher’s guide that is fantastic is the inclusion of the Grading Grids at the end of each chapter. They feature prompts for you to answer about the paper as you read it and a point scale for each one. This way, you can simply fill out the grid and add up the points at the end.

For my son, the pacing of the lessons was perfect, and the way the lessons are set up really helped him get a thorough understanding of each topic. We are not through with this yet, but I feel like he will be a much better writer when we finish. I would definitely recommend The Power in Your Hands to anyone looking for a solid high school writing program.

To learn more, connect with Sharon Watson on social media:
Writing with Sharon Watson on Facebook

Writing with Sharon Watson on Pinterest

See what other crew members thought of this and the other programs they got to check out, click here:
Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Crew Disclaimer



Stewed Pork with Beans

This tasty stew is easy to make and perfect for a dinner party or pot luck!


6 slices bacon

2 cups chicken broth

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup dried lentils

8 cloves garlic, smashed

1 can white beans

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 sprigs thyme

2 lbs pork butt cut into 2-inch pieces


  1. Cook bacon in skillet until crispy. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Add the bacon drippings to a slow cooker and whisk them together with the chicken broth, wine and tomato paste.
  3. Add the tomatoes, garlic and wine and stir to mix.
  4. Add the pork, bacon and thyme.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Add the drained and rinsed beans in the last half hour of cooking.

I like to serve this with some bread and a salad. Enjoy!


TOS Review: ArtAchieve

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve ReviewMy youngest has always struggled with his fine motor skills. As an elementary school student he received OT, which helped, but even now I still see him working really hard to do certain things when it comes to writing. He is very artistic, although not really a “color inside the lines type” and drawing and other art projects get him more excited about using some of those skills. I feel like completing art projects helps build his hand-eye coordination, and I was excited to get to check out the Entire Level 1 program from ArtAchieve for this review.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

ArtAchieve offers a variety of online lessons for kids in drawing and painting. Level 1 includes 9 multicultural projects that range from coloring in designs with markers to painting with acrylics and oil pastels. What I found really unique about this program is the large amount of information included, not just about art techniques, but also about the history of the cultures studied in artistic form and the insects and animals in the projects.

For example, in the “Plate from Nepal” project, kids learn about where Nepal is located, important places in the area, and cultural information about the people there. In addition, the intro to the lesson includes links that you can use to expand on this information with stories from the region, suggestions for books to read, recipes for foods you can cook and more. I think this is a great way to introduce different cultures to your kids, and you could certainly tie the program into a geography study if you are doing one.

The projects themselves are laid out step by step in a powerpoint, and video. Printable warm-ups help your child get started on drawing the lines and curves needed in the project, then move onto choosing colors and coloring or painting. My son found them very easy to follow. He enjoyed using the powerpoints because he could go slide by slide and complete each step (he likes to follow things like this in order). Some of the projects were a little more difficult than others, and you can do them in any order you choose.

His favorites were the Plate from Nepal and the Chinese Dragon. He really enjoyed mixing the vibrant colors to make each design his own. ArtAchieve emphasizes the fact that art is individual and there is no right or wrong way to complete a project. Students are encouraged to follow the steps but also put their own spin on things by experimenting with different positions for things and creating their own unique backgrounds.

While my son’s pictures did not come out exactly like the ones in the presentation, he had a lot of fun and was proud of the final outcome. With 9 lessons, you can cover one-quarter of the year using Level I and then move on to Levels II and III if you want. For level I, the supplies needed are pretty minimal and easy to obtain. The entire level costs less than $30 and you can purchase individual lessons if want as well. We enjoyed this program a lot and still have a few projects to complete, and I think we might look into another level after. I think it’s a great addition to any homeschool, and you could also use it for summer fun.

To learn more, connect with ArtAchieve here:
ArtAchieve on Facebook

ArtAchieve on Pinterest

ArtAchieve on Google+

ArtAchieve on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the other levels available, click here:
Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review



Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 7/11/16

We are back from a wonderful week in the mountains and I am in the midst of all the “post-vacation” work like unpacking, laundry, etc. This week is also special for us because my hubby and I will be celebrating our 19th anniversary. It’s also a little strange because one of our kids is away at camp and the other is busy working, so I am pretty much cooking for two this week. I’m not even sure I know how to do that! I feel like I need to get a new cookbook or something. Anyway, my hubby and I also have dinner out planned a couple nights this week too, so here is what our menu looks like:

Monday: Chicken Quesadillas

Tuesday: Dinner out

Wednesday: Kabobs on the grill, salad

Thursday: Dinner out

Friday: Make your own flatbread pizza

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



TOS Review: Laurelwood Books

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}

Cursive handwriting, it caused me loads of problems when I was in grade school and it seems to be doing the same thing for my youngest son. As a lefty, I have vivid images of Sister Mary standing over me, turning my paper to try to get my slant right, and honestly, I never did. As an adult, I mostly print, but my son needs to know how to read cursive and also (as a boy who gets his drivers license next year) how to sign his name. So, I’ve been looking for a cursive program aimed at older students, and I was happy to give Patriotic Penmanship High School Grades 9-12 from Laurelwood Books a try.

The book helps children learn cursive using powerful quotes from national documents like the Introduction to the Declaration of Independence, as well as quotes from Presidents and other patriots, Bible verses and famous poems. It begins with a basic review of how to form cursive letters, both upper and lower case. This part of the instruction is short, so I will say it assumes that children have had prior instruction in cursive writing. From there it moves into individual lessons.

Patriotic Penmanship contains 30 lessons overall, so if you did one per week you would have enough for almost a whole school year. Each lesson begins with a written copy of the quote to read, then each line of the quote is broken down individually, with students first tracing the line, then writing it on their own. At the end of the lesson, students are given blank lines with the first word in each quote on the line. They trace the first word then complete the rest of the line on their own. Words that may be unfamiliar (like “unalienable”) are defined at the end of each lesson.

Since cursive is something my son struggles with, we broke the lessons into a few days in order to avoid him getting frustrated. First we would read the quote together, then discuss where it came from. After that, I would have him work on the individual lines. Depending on how long the quotes work, lessons could take from 3-4 days to complete overall. The point was not to rush him, but to let him take his time and practice the letters.

We also used some of the quotes (like the Preamble) for memory work. I think there is value in memorizing historical documents, verses, and quality poetry. I still remember the Gettysburg Address from when I learned it in the fourth grade as well as several poems and numerous verses I’ve memorized over the years. I feel that copying the quote several times helps with the memorization process.

While my son does not love cursive, he did enjoy the memorization part, and I feel the practice has helped him with his writing. However, I think this program is best suited to students who need to hone their cursive skills, not learn to write cursive. Copying the quotes gives them plenty of practice, but aside from tracing, there is not a TON of instruction on how to form the letters. That said, I think this is a great program for upper-level students. So many of them simply type on a computer these days and it seems like cursive writing is becoming a lost art. If you have a student who knows how to write cursive and just needs some practice to keep up their skills, I would highly recommend you check out Patriotic Penmanship. At less than $15 it is a great bargain and there are a number of ways to incorporate the quotes and verses into your curriculum.

To learn more, connect with Laurelwood Books on social media here:

Laurelwood Books on Facebook

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this, and the other products they got to check out, click here:
Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}

Crew Disclaimer


Menu Plan Monday 7/3/16


Happy Menu Plan Monday! We are on vacation in NC this week. I love coming up here every summer. While we live near the beach at home, and love going there, there is just something about mountains and forests that gets me! Plus, it’s kind of nice to have a week away from the busyness of life, and our limited internet access means I see more of my teenagers! Now, just because we’re on vacation doesn’t mean I take a break from cooking. To save money on our trip, we grocery shop and try to eat most of our meals at our house. But, since I am on vacation, I try to make the meals as simple as possible!

Monday: Mexican Chicken Salad

Tuesday: Mojo Pork in the crock pot with rice and a salad

Wednesday: Cuban sandwiches (made with the leftover pork) and fries

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Spaghetti

Thanks for stopping by and have a great Fourth of July!