Menu Plan Monday 11/27/17


I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! We have been eating leftovers all weekend and since they’re almost all gone now, I guess I have to start cooking again! So, here’s what’s on the menu at my house this week:

Monday: Chicken and Dumplings

Tuesday: Spaghetti

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Stuffed Peppers

Friday: Stewed Pork with Beans

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! Have a great week!


Menu Plan Monday 11/20/17


Wow! It’s Thanksgiving week! I am so excited. I love the holidays. Even though all the prep and cooking is a lot of work, I enjoy it. Also, I enjoy having enough leftovers to feed us for a good 5 days so I get a break afterwards!! I’ve been watching all the holiday episodes of The Chew to get some inspiration and I think this year is going to be a good mix of old and new recipes. So, that said, I’m only really cooking twice this week. One crock pot meal on Monday while we hit the theme parks, and a light meal on Wednesday, which is my big prep day. Here’s our menu:

Monday: Pork and Black Bean Soup

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Greek Chicken Salad

Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday: Leftovers!

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. I hope you and yours have a wonderful turkey day!

TOS Review: Writing with Sharon Watson

Writing with Sharon Watson

High school literature can be tricky. There are programs that focus strictly on novels, programs that use a textbook-type approach, and a lot of online stuff to choose from. As a former English teacher, I personally prefer more of a hybrid approach, using both novels and some textbook-style teaching for my 11th grade son. So, I was happy to check out Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson, which suits my style perfectly.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

This program is a two-semester, one-credit course for students in grades 9-12. It features three main components, a teacher’s manual, textbook, and a quiz and answer manual. All of these are individually priced, so you can choose which components you want to use. There are also a lot of downloadable options like a free downloadable Novel Notebook. You also have the ability to access online quizzes that are graded for you using the information in the textbook, so if you have a child who prefers to work online, you can do that too!

So, how’s the course? Really meaty and well laid out. For starters, the teacher’s guide gives a very thorough introduction to the program, including a list of books you will need with the ISBN numbers. This makes it really easy to find the correct books. The reason this is important is because the activities and questions etc. are geared toward specific pages in those specific books. Could you use copies of some of the novels if you already have them? Sure, but you would need to go through the chapters and match up the pages to make sure your child is in the right spot when they do their work.

The teacher’s guide also includes a suggested schedule, answer keys, and a layout for the lessons. Like anything in homeschool, this is all very tweakable, which I appreciate. I used the suggested schedule as a guide for where we wanted to be each month, but we set our own pace based on my son. If it takes a little longer to complete, or we don’t get to everything, that’s fine. Illuminating Lit is full of so much that I think, even if you skip a little, your child won’t miss out on much.

Your child will read five novels in this program, Silas Marner, Frankenstein, Much Ado About Nothing,  Sense and Sensibility, and The Hobbit. They will also read many different short stories, essays and more. The textbook includes lessons on topics like theme, archetype, antagonists, protagonists, dramatic irony, and much much more. I think that is one thing that impressed me the most about the course. It covers a lot of upper-level topics that other programs I have seen just don’t offer.

The downloadable Novel Notebook is a nice addition to Illuminating Literature. It offer a space for students to gather their thoughts about what they are reading in different ways. They might answer questions or jot down some notes, they might be asked to take on the point of view of a character to answer questions, or complete some type of graphic organizer. The teacher’s guide also gives you a heads up about what questions students are answering and suggested answers if you want to discuss this with them.

My son enjoyed the stories in Illuminating Literature and seemed to enjoy looking at the works through the eyes of the characters and I really like how this program is set up and how in-depth it is. At a cost of less than $100 for all three main components, it’s also a great deal!

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

Writing with Sharon Watson on Facebook

Writing with Sharon Watson on Pinterest

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

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


Chili Corn Casserole

chili casserole


So, couple things before I give you this recipe: 1. I have recently worked on cutting back the number of carbs in my diet and it has made a big difference for me. So, rather than using traditional cornbread in this recipe I am using frozen corn tots. However, you could easily just bake some cornbread and use this instead. 2. I am in a very busy season of my life right now. While I LOVE cooking and prefer to make my own stuff, some days I’m lucky if I get dinner on the table at all, so in this recipe I use (gasp!) canned chili! I know, I know, canned stuff is not good for you etc. etc. Look, I am a big believer in being realistic about what you can accomplish in one day, so If you want to make your own chili instead, go for it. But, if you got home late and everyone is hungry and homework still needs to get done, don’t feel bad if you have to open a can.

Here we go:


2 packs frozen corn tots

3 cans chili

Shredded cheddar (as much as you want)


  1. Bake the tots according to package directions.
  2. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  3. Spread the tots over the bottom of the dish.
  4. Top with canned chili.
  5. Top with shredded cheddar.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.

This was a really good hot meal on a busy fall night! Enjoy!

TOS Review: Innovators Tribe

Innovators TribeDo you have a middle school or high school student interested in subjects like engineering or architecture? Are you wondering how to incorporate courses in those subjects into your homeschool? Well, for this review we got to check out the online course, Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe, designed to give students in grades 6-12 a taste of what it’s like to be an engineer. They also offer a similar course in architecture!

Thinking Like an Engineer 

Thinking Like an Engineer offers interactive lessons that your child can follow at their own pace. Hands-on projects are also a part of the course and the 3D CAD design software is included in the program so your technical needs are met. The course consists of six units that are divided into multiple lessons on topics like roller coaster design, types of bridges, introduction to 3D design, nano-engineering, and more.

engineer 1

The program begins with an introduction to engineering, lessons on the types of engineers there are, and some activities to get kids going. Lessons vary in length, with some being around 20 minutes long and others (specifically the activities) taking as long as two hours. For those lessons, we broke them up into shorter chunks, to suit my 11th grade son’s attention span. One thing I really like about Thinking Like an Engineer is that the activities do not require a lot of special materials, which can be difficult to locate for a busy homeschool mom. In general students use paper, card stock, tape, scissors and an engineering level (which can be found online) to complete the challenges.

engineer 5

My son enjoyed the narrator, Mr. K, who was lively and fun to watch. The lessons are a fair mix of videos and slides, which kept him from getting bored. (there are even a few bloopers at the end of some lessons which made him laugh) As your child moves through the course, their progress is tracked, making it easy for you to see how they are doing. If they skip a lesson, it shows up on the dashboard as a bouncing icon, so they can easily go back and finish it.

engineer 3

There are about 14 design challenges in the course and let me tell you, they were not easy. In fact, it was interesting to watch as my son figured he would easily be able to complete a few of them and then found out he was wrong. I am glad that this course really did force him to think carefully through the challenges and problem solve along the way. These are skills he can apply to other areas of life whether he becomes an engineer or not.

engineer 4

We both felt this course was very interesting, and I would often sit on the couch with him to watch some of the videos (we did skip ahead to check out the part about the scariest bridges, which was pretty cool!). My son appreciated that he could work at his own pace, because with juggling other high school courses being on a tight timeline would only stress him out. We would get together on Mondays and look over his work for the week and then set some goals for what he would complete in Thinking Like an Engineer for that week. It may take him some time to finish the course, but he is enjoying it and he is learning and that’s all that matters. Since it offers a total of 30 hours of work, I am going to give him a 0.25 credit for the course as well.

If you have a budding engineer in your family (or architect or capenter) I would definitely recommend checking Innovaters Tribe out! To see what other crew members thought about the courses we got to try, click here:

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 11/6/17


I can’t believe how fast we are closing in on Thanksgiving! I need to start planning for my holiday meals! For now, this is what we’re eating this week:

Monday: Grilled Pork with Green Beans and Bacon

Tuesday: Mexican Pizza

Wednesday: Tomato Soup with sandwiches

Thursday: Garlic Chicken

Friday: Chicken Lime Cilantro Soup

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! Have a great week.

Green Beans and Bacon

beans and bacon

I love vegetables, but my family often gets bored when I cook them the same way every time. So I decided to spruce up our green beans with a little bacon in this super easy and quick recipe!


1 lb. green beans

about 4 slices of bacon

1 clove garlic

salt/pepper to taste

1 tbsp Canola oil


  1. Wash and trim the green beans and chop the bacon into about 1-inch pieces. Dice the garlic.
  2. Heat the Canola oil in a pan, then add the bacon pieces and cook until done, but not crispy.
  3. Add the green beans and garlic and season with the salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until bacon is crisp and beans are heated through.

Thats it! Super simple and yummy! Thanks for stopping by.