Tuesday, May 14, 2019

New book: Read Yourself an Education, Vol. 1

Calling all homeschool moms!

I am looking for volunteer testers for my new book series, "Read Yourself an Education - Volume 1: Country by Country Around the Globe", to be released later this year.

I would like to get feedback on the overall concept, layout, content, user-friendliness etc. from real homeschool moms.

The book is intended for literature-based unit studies. This means that all students, regardless of grade level, study a common topic (in this case geography-based), each at their own learning level. Books (rather than textbooks) are used as the primary source of learning.

My book is a compilation of extensive book suggestions for each chapter, complete with short descriptions, and the catalog number for public libraries in the US to make locating the books fast and easy.

I have six different chapters available for review:

From the section "The World (general)":

- Basic geography: The continents and oceans
- World exploration and using a map
- Global perspective: Life in other countries

From the section "Asia":

- China
- Koreas
- Japan

Each chapter covers enough material for about 2 weeks of learning, tying in history, geography, social studies, science, literature, and related activities. Resources are included for all grades K-12. (The only thing not included is grade-specific Math and English.)

For your reference, I will also include the book introduction in each section being reviewed. 

If you are interested, 
- have at least one child in 3rd grade or higher 
- with at least 2 years of homeschool experience, 
- have access to a local library with an average or better selection,
- would be available to give one of the chapters a trial run during the weeks of May 20 - June 1st, and then 
- share your feedback with me, 
please comment below (will not be published) or message me on Facebook to let me know which chapter you would like to try out. Please choose only one so you can really put it to the test. You would need to take a trip to your library to locate the suggested books. If I do not know you in real life, please include a couple of sentences about yourself and your homeschool in your message to me. IMPORTANT: Please include your email address to send the pdf file of your chosen chapter to.

Disclaimer: The first chapter, "Basic geography: The continents and oceans," has limited book suggestions of books available at public libraries due to the fact that library books tend to be steeped in evolution. There are suggestions for books to purchase, which you are under no obligation to do for your chapter review. The chapter does contain topic-related picture and other fiction books.

Future volumes, Lord willing, will follow the same general concept and layout, each covering material for 2 years: 

Volume 2: State by state around the US
Volume 3: World History
Volume 4: US History
Volume 5: Companion book that will contain lists of fiction books sorted by age group and author

I am hoping to release one new volume per year. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What we eat and spend on food in a month - Week 3 of 4

Week 1 here
Week 2 here

Last week was very busy for our family, filled with extra appointments. I was not able to get most of my shopping done on Monday as I like to do, and had to make a second day of it on Tuesday. 

I typically go shopping in the morning while Peter naps, the big kids do their school work, and the little kids come with me so they don't disrupt the kids that are working/napping. Last week however, both Monday and Tuesday, I also had appointments during the afternoon nap time hours, and then tagged on errands that I had been putting off too long. So I spent pretty much all day Monday and Tuesday out of the house, doing errands and appointments, being home only for breakfast, lunch, and then dinner and the rest of the evening. 

For example, my Wal-Mart list had been accumulating for 6-8 weeks. I don't like going to Wal-Mart very much because I never leave there feeling accomplished - the minute I am done checking out, I remember something I needed to buy but forgot to put on the shopping list, but there's no way I'm going back through the store right then and there. So I always leave somewhat exasperated. Eventually, we get to the point where we really need some essentials urgently, and I finally drag myself there again. Last week was that week. And while I didn't forget anything that time, there were two items the store was out of stock on so again, no feelings of accomplishment. 

I did, however, feel very accomplished with some awesome deals I scored on organic produce last

Monday: Superstition Ranch Farmer's Market - $49.79

All organic: 20 bell peppers, 2 huge watermelons, 9 lbs Fuji apples, 12 pints blackberries ($1 each!). The bell peppers alone would have cost $40 anywhere else (normally $2 each). We ate about half of those fresh this week, the rest went in the freezer for fajitas another time. The blackberries have been on sale for $3 each everywhere else, and the watermelons were $2 cheaper than I paid at Costco the week before.

Monday: 99 cent only store - $17.92

All organic except the limes: 6 x 2 lbs strawberries ($2 each! - I have been paying $6-$7 at Costco lately), 4 lbs apples, 1 pack romaine hearts, 1 bag limes.

We eat SO. MANY. APPLES. Stephen (6) told me, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so I eat ten apples every day so I can live a thousand years. If that's even possible." Ha!

Tuesday: Costco - $372.07

This was a huge Costco trip. I only had 30 minutes to get in and out the store, checked out, packed up, and all in order to make it to a prenatal appointment. Talk about fast! I definitely didn't have time to stop and smell the roses (and get sucked into impulse purchases).

I bought: 12 lbs organic b/s chicken breasts, 12 lbs organic b/s chicken thighs, 4 lbs organic pre-seasoned b/s chicken breast, 10 lbs organic sugar, smoked salmon, 2 x deli chicken, deli roast beef, deli Black Forest ham, Canadian bacon, 1.5 lbs organic string cheese, 5 lbs each organic: cauliflower, green beans, peas, corn, strawberries, 8 dozen organic eggs, 1 pineapple, 2 x 5 lbs tangerines, 3 x 3 lbs organic bananas, organic ketchup, organic salsa, organic Greek yogurt, 2 lbs Kerrygold butter, 2 lbs Rumiano sliced organic cheddar cheese, ciabatta rolls, 2 x 12 organic orange cream popsicles

Tuesday: Whole Foods 1 of 2 - approx. $47 (I lost the receipt)

all conventional (but uncured): 2 x bacon, 2 x liverwurst, 1.5 lbs pepperoni, 5 lbs Muskat grapes

I normally do not buy conventional grapes, but make an exception for Muskat grapes. They are SO GOOD!! They taste like the grapes I ate as a child growing up in Hungary, where my grandparents had a vineyard I would sometimes "help" in. I go through about 1 bag per day when they are in season (right now), especially because I also share them with the two youngest kids, Peter and Chloe, who love them as much as I do. The other kids can be kept at bay with a bumper crop of other fruit. 

The deli meats are mostly for the boys who pack them in their lunches for work.

Tuesday: Whole Foods 2 of 2 - $43.21

The first Whole Foods was out of organic ground pork, so we stopped by another branch later in the day while we were in that area. 

all organic: 5 lbs ground pork, 3 lbs on the vine tomatoes, 1 bottle buttermilk

Tuesday: Trader Joe's - $50 and change (lost the receipt)

2 x 5 lbs organic potatoes, 2 pints organic heavy cream, Oreo cookies, 4 x salami, organic garlic, 3 x organic bread crumbs

Tuesday (delivered): Dairy - $70

5 gallons milk, 2 quarts cream

You may wonder what we do with that much cream every week. The quarts I get from the dairy are mostly used for making ice cream, or sometimes in cooking (soups, sauces, biscuits, etc.). The cartons of heavy cream I buy at Trader Joe's are always used for making whipped cream in my whipped cream maker, such as for strawberry shortcakes.

Total for week 3: $649.99

Total for three weeks: $1,400.93

Starting this coming week, I am starting on getting ready dinners into the freezer. By the time baby comes, I'd like to have about 30 frozen dinners and 30 frozen breakfasts on hand, which allows me to not have to cook for about six weeks postpartum. I try to stay within my approximate $500/week budget in spite of buying the ingredients for these extra meals, which isn't too difficult because I spread it out over such a long period of time. Then when baby comes, we spend very little on food for the first 6 weeks (mostly just for dairy and fresh produce). The extra funds are usually needed for unforeseen expenses related to the baby, like a lactation consultation, unexpected doctor bills, etc.

Meals marked with an * are those which I made extras of to freeze. During the week of April 29 to May 5th, we ate:


Mon: leftover pancakes, chocolate oatmeal
Tue: Strawberry Shortcakes
Wed: PB & J oatmeal
Thu: PB Banana Muffins*
Fri: Overnight waffles w/ fresh berries
Sat: apple walnut waffles
Sun: Toast, eggs, sausage


Mon: Ham, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, Hawaiian rolls
Tue: Fish sticks
Wed: Ham and Bean soup*
Thu: Hungarian Bean soup*
Fri: Chicken Fettuccine a la fuente*
Sat: Chicken Paprika and spatzles*
Sun: leftovers


brownies (made by Miriam)

Peter loved the spatzles just plain with butter and salt. 

Buttermilk pancakes and fresh berries