Category Archives: Recipes

George Washington~True Patriot (Book and Study Guide): A Schoolhouse Crew Review

George Washington~True Patriot (Book and Study Guide): A Schoolhouse Crew Review


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Sacha’s<25:  A narrative biography of George Washington. As well as a Unit Study Curriculum Guide to add to your studies of this amazing man. Geared for ages 10+.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 10 stars

Did it help us learn? 10 stars

Is it worth the money?10  stars

Is it useful to me?10 stars

Practicality-10 stars

Quality- 10 stars

Kid Rating- 10 stars

We received for review the PDF ebook George Washington: True Patriot  as well as the PDF files for George Washington: True Patriot Unit Study Curriculum Guide from YWAM Publishing . I was able to read them all on my iPad in iBooks.  I also printed out the Unit Study Curriculum Guide and bound it just for ease of moving around the pages.

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From the YWAM website:

On a dangerous mission for the British army, young Major Washington had no idea that one day he would lead an army of fellow colonials in a bitter battle for independence against Great Britain herself, the most powerful empire in the world. Commander in chief of the Continental army, chairman of the Constitutional Convention, and first president, George Washington was indispensable to the fledgling United States. (1732-1799)

Heroes of History is a unique biography series that brings the shaping of history to life with the remarkable true stories of fascinating men and women who changed the course of history.

The stories of Heroes of History are told in an engaging narrative format, where related history, geography, government, and science topics come to life and make a lasting impression. This is a premier biography line for the entire family.


If you have talked to me in the last month you will know that I can’t stop talking about this amazing book.  We have read many of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now by YWAM Publishing over the years.  However, we had never had the opportunity to read any of the books in the Heroes of History seriesI find this crazy because I own a lot of them!  We just hadn’t been studying the periods in history that I had the books on! We will be adding many of them into our studies this year!  We loved it so much!

We also love the books in the Christian Heroes series…I can’t recommend them highly enough.  Make sure to fit at least one into your school year each year.  We usually do them as a read aloud although my older kids (7th and 8th graders) have also read them by themselves!

Enough of my gushing….well, at least I will try to keep the gushing to the review at hand!  It was super easy to download and begin reading  the book.  It was not as easy to keep my kids from asking “Can we read just one more chapter?”  I heard this question on a daily basis and sometimes more than once a day! We all loved this book.  I mainly read it for my 4th, 7th and 8th graders to listen to, but my 1st grader and preschooler occasionally listened in as well.  We are studying American History this year, as well as the older 2 are taking a Constitution class at our local homeschool co-op.  This book fit in perfectly!  We finished it very quickly.  I would read between 1-3 chapters a day during our school week.  I loved reading it on my iPad.

George Washington Unit Study

After the chapters I would pick a few questions out of the Curriculum Guide to make sure my kiddos were listening!  Each chapter has 4 questions you can ask your kids.  They are related to:

  1. a vocabulary word referenced in the text
  2. a factual question from the text
  3. a question to gauge the student’s level of comprehension
  4.  an open-ended question which seeks an opinion or interpretation

I liked that these weren’t overly crazy questions, but just enough to go over with them. They would also be a great way to check up on kids who are reading the book by themselves.  Answers are also included in the back of the study guide.  I found it great to not have them right after the question, this way if you wanted to have your kids answer the questions they could look at the page and read the questions without seeing the answers.

The Curriculum Guide is full of activities and other things to do or research that relate to the book at hand.  There was plenty to choose from and there was no way we were going to be able to do it all.  If you are a fan of the unit study method of learning this is totally perfect for you!  If you aren’t, no problem.  I didn’t have time to do everything, but we chose one activity to work on to bring the learning a level deeper.  Also included is an appendix with a huge list of books and resources to go along with the book/time period/person being studied.  A huge wealth of information!

The kids chose to do a This is Your Life, George Washington video from the suggested activities.  Being the actors/actresses that they are this could have ended up taking up a lot of our time. I told them that this was to be a quick project.  Matthew was able to film and edit the entire video (all 1:15 minutes) on his new iPod Touch.  I knew I could bring it into our school setting!  Without further ado….Here is their project: (click on the title below)

That’s Your Life, George Washington! VIDEO


What I liked:

  • These books are well written and interesting….they held my kids attention as well as myself! Being written as a narrative makes them easy to read and FUN!!!

What I didn’t like:

  • Nothing!  Really happy with both of these products!

To sum it up: Like I said earlier, you really must add at least on of the YWAM Heroes of History books to your curriculum!  They are so fun to read and really bring the life of the character you are reading about to life!  It is easy to get sucked into what is going on in the story and we learned so much.  I learned a lot about George Washington that I had never heard before! Also, for the price of both these resources (less than $15) you are getting an amazing amount of curriculum and learning!!!!)

The important information:

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George Washington: True Patriot (E-Book format of your choice, PDF, .ePUB, or
George Washington: True Patriot Unit Study Curriculum Guide (E-Book format two PDF files)

Order from: YWAM Publishing (

Price: George Washington: True Patriot ($8.99, order from YWAM for $6.99)
George Washington: True Patriot Unit Study Curriculum Guide ($9.99, order from YWAM $7.49)

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


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Salted Pretzel Caramel Brownies Recipe With some TIPS!

Salted Pretzel Caramel Brownies Recipe With some TIPS!

MMMM…the perfect combination of sweet and salty, caramel and chocolate all mixed into one delicious dessert!

My parents made this recipe when we were over a couple months ago and we loved it!  I have since made it for friends and family as well.  It is really great.  This dessert is all over the web now.  I do have a couple tips to make it really good.

Here is where I found the recipe….oh and it is all over Pinterest as well!

I’d love to have a nice picture here to post for you, but my family cut into the last batch before I had a chance to take a picture.


  • Buy the thickest caramel sauce you can find. You can heat it up if you need to to get it out of the jar. The thicker the caramel the better. It won’t soak into your brownie making it soggy. And it also won’t be quite as messy to eat.
  • If you are happen to think your caramel is too runny pop your finished brownies into the fridge or freezer to make the caramel harder.  IT will make it easier to cut and serve.  Not too long in the freezer or they will be frozen.

Happy eating!


PS Speaking of brownies…Have you ever tried Brownie Brittle?  Oh my… is really hard to stop eating this! And I have to blame my parents for introducing us to this too…..


Homemade Ranch Salad dressing that tastes like Restaurant

Homemade Ranch Salad dressing that tastes like Restaurant

At the dinner table the other day my daughter exclaimed, “I don’t know why this ranch dressing just doesn’t taste like Chili’s.”

Of course this started the conversation about how homemade salads just never taste as good as the ones in the restaurants.  None of us are sure quite why this is the case.  We like salad at home and eat it at least 1-2 times a week if not more during the summer.  But it still was the case….Restaurant. salad. is. better.

Until now….

This past conversation sent me into a quest to find the perfect ranch salad dressing.  Not too thick, good flavor.  I am glad to announce it only took me about 10 minutes of internet searching and then I only had to try one recipe.  One.

I found it from Heavenly Homemakers. (I love her blog and recipes in case you aren’t familiar with her)

The best thing about this is that you are making a dry mix that you can then make dip or dressing with!

Ranch Dressing Mix

5 Tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoon parsley flakes
4 teaspoon salt (I would use less than this next time…it was a tad too salty)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I used a bit more, we love garlic)

Mix together and store in an air tight container.

For dressing: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.  (I made it with buttermilk…mmm it was so yummy!)

For dip:  Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream.

I made it up and put it in a pint jar overnight to blend the flavors. However, you really could use it sooner!

I was afraid this would make too much but we really had enough for just 2 meals with our family size!

Click here for her recipe!

I am thinking I will be making this up in huge amounts and giving the dry mix as gifts this year at Christmas!

Paperless Home Organization: A Molly Crew Review

Paperless Home Organization: A Molly Crew Review

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Sacha’s<25: Paperless Home Organization is an ebook which helps walk you through the steps of using a few online programs/apps to streamline your household management system.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 10 stars
Did it help us learn? 10 stars
Is it worth the money? 10 stars
Is it useful to me?10  stars
Practicality- 10 stars
Quality-10 stars

I received 3 ebooks from  Simplified Pantry for review. The ebook that I chose to concentrate on was Paperless Home OrganizationI am always looking for ways to organize my life.  A few months ago I felt like my head was constantly full and I couldn’t ever concentrate on one thing at a time. I was frustrated a lot with this.  I was very excited when the opportunity came up to try out Mystie Winkler’s system that she writes about in Paperless Home Organization.

Mystie Winkler has 5 children and also home schools.  She was looking for a way to streamline her paper organization as well as her email, calendar, to do lists and home management binder, etc.  What came out of this was her take on the system called Getting Things Done by David Allen.  I absolutely loved her second sentence in the Preface.  “Organization is more like laundry and dishes than like a craft project:it is never complete. It is like swimming.  You are either treading water or slowly sinking; progress is getting yourself back to the surface before you drown, not arriving at a destination.  However, treading water at least becomes easier the longer you do it….” I have always looked at organization as a thing you reach…a destination.  Either I am there or I am not.  What a freeing idea for me! 

My Experience:

So the first thing I did was download the PDF onto my iPad.  I enjoyed reading it on my iPad in iBooks.  However, the hyperlinks didn’t work in that program. It wasn’t really a big deal.  I have been told by fellow crewmates that they do work if you read it on your computer.  Paperless Home Organization is  75 pages long.  I actually read it straight through the first time just to get an idea of what I was jumping into.  A lot of the book is actually teaching you step by step how to set up Gmail, Google calendar, Remember the Milk and Evernote. I am not going to go into explaining each of these programs in this review.

Once I had made it through the book once I started implementing her system.  I started with Evernote!

I blogged about Evernote almost 2 years ago.  I thought I knew how to use it well.  I was wrong!  This book really helped me to see how to set up Evernote more effectively.  Thanks to Mystie!  Evernote is where you store everything you would put into a home management notebook/binder. It is where you keep your daily todo lists, chore lists, recipes, meal planning, school planning, websites to look at, etc.

I spent a whole evening re-doing my Evernote.  Totally worth the time spent.  I never had totally understood the notebooks, notes and tags and how to use them.  She explains Evernote to be like a Binder.  Stacks are binders, Notebooks are like tabbed sections in your binder, and notes are the individual papers within each section. Here is a screenshot of my Evernote stacks on my iPad:

Evernote stacks


Here is a screen shot of the notebooks within my Management:Home binder:

Evernote notebooks

I am really glad that Mystie explained how to set up Remember the Milk.  I would have been a little bit lost without her help.  She easily walked me through how to set it up and use it.  I have it online on my computer, as well as my ipad and iphone.  It is a free application but if you want immediate syncing between devices it is $25 a year.  I lasted about 2 days before I went to premium.  I really go between devices all day long!

I love that you can categorize tasks by type as well as when you want to complete them.  Anytime I have something floating around in my head I quickly try to get it into RTM. Here is a screen shot of my total task list in RTM:

Remember the Milk task list

It has been so great to have all of the information I need at my fingertips at any time even when I’m out of town and across the country or in town at the grocery store!
I chose to stick with iCal and Apple mail since I have been using these a long time.  I actually emailed Mystie to ask her if there was a benefit to switching to Gmail and Google calendar.  She said no need to switch since they are what I am used to and there wasn’t a huge difference at what they can do.
I loved all of the ideas she gave and how to set up the systems. The hardest part for the whole thing has been my trying to break my old habits.  I was so hoping that I would spend a few hours setting everything up and be organized all of a sudden. However, that hasn’t been the case nor should I have expected it to be. It takes some time to break how you have been doing things for so long to change them. It will be awesome when I have been able to do that.
What I liked:

  • Written by a homeschooling mom, she gets homeschooling moms and what our lives look like.
  • Finally I have found something that closely resembles my Home Management Binder that I had a few years ago.
  • She walks you through step by step how to set things up. She doesn’t just tell you what programs she uses.
  • I am slowly treading water now, and it is getting easier : )

What I didn’t like:

  • Don’t expect to read this book and be organized, it takes time…No fault of the book, she isn’t a miracle worker!

Simplified Dinners ebook

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I want to quickly mention this product of Mystie’s as well.  I read this book too, but decided that I should only tackle one major thing at a time in my life.

Simplified Pantry is all about encouraging homestyle cooking with basic ingredients. It is possible to cook good, healthy food without a pantry full of specialized ingredients, and it is possible to make easy dinners without shortcut, preprepared products. Simplified Dinners (and the gluten- and dairy-free edition!), enables anyone to transition toward home-prepared, real, whole foods cooking—even those less confident in the kitchen.Simplified Dinners helps keep dinner streamlined while allowing flexibility.

While reading this ebook I really felt affirmed!  The reason being is that within the last 6 months I have been grocery shopping and meal planning a little bit like this book recommends.  The premise is that if you have a stocked pantry (follow her pantry list) that you will have enough food on hand to make plenty of the recipes within her book.

 I was a little intimidated with some of the recipes…not because they are complicated…they look super easy.  However, many of her recipes don’t have specific measurements.  Now this is how I cook a lot of the time, but when I am trying a new recipe for the first time I like measurements!  Now that I am back from vacation and have a less hectic schedule I am looking forward to trying out her recipes.  They look yummy and simple!  Click over here to download a sample!

Here is a sample page of Slow-Cooker Roasts Recipes:

Simplified Dinner

To sum it up: I highly recommend these products to you.  I think anyone can glean some great ideas from any of these products.  Don’t delay in purchasing them.  Below is a 30% discount code you can use on any or all of her 3 ebooks.  But don’t delay…it is only valid until June 3rd.


The important information:

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Order from:  Simplified Pantry (

Price: Simplified Dinners-$12.99
Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free-$12.99
Paperless Home Organization-$3.99

Please note: Mystie is offering 30% off to my readers when you enter TOS2013 at checkout. That discount will work on any or all of her eBooks, from May 20 through June 3rd.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



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Phonics and Reading with McGuffey by Literacy Soft: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Phonics and Reading with McGuffey by Literacy Soft: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Sacha’s<25: This app teaches children as young as 4 phonics and reading.  However, it is also perfect for people with reading difficulties as well.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 7 stars
Did it help us learn? 7 stars
Is it worth the money? 5 stars
Is it useful to me? 6 stars
Practicality- 7 stars
Quality- 9 stars
Kid Rating- 6 stars

We received (to review) from the makers of the McGuffey readers, LiteracySoft, a reading app for ages 4 and up.  Phonics and Reading with McGuffey  is a complete phonics and reading curriculum for beginners.  It was designed for use on the iPad, but can also be used on the iPhone and iPod.  It has over 52 hours of lessons…beginning with letter sounds and moving all the way to reading complete stories.  Grace (4) and Faith (6) both worked with this app.  This app has enough spaces for up to 10 different students on one iPad or iPhone.  It is designed to work for non-readers all the way to a first grade reading level.
This app is flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide range of reading levels, including:
• Adult learners
• Homeschoolers
• Dyslexic readers
• ESOL students

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Both of my girls really enjoyed “playing on it” (as they called it).  They could each work at their own pace on this program since they each have their own “sign in”.  Letter recognition begins right from the beginning.  My 4 year old learned a few more letters quickly using this program (she already knew some of them).  My 6 year old started at the beginning of the program but we quickly realized that she knew a lot of what was being taught.
It is very easy to skip ahead to what she needed to work on. It is also very easy to move back if your child needs to work on a lesson again. There is a screen within the program that allows you to click to any of the 52 lessons available and then even within the level to pick which activity you would like to work on.  Also, you are able to see what level your child is currently working on.  The only problem I found with being able to choose the level is that my 4 year old would just randomly skip to different levels.  By doing this it would tell me that she was currently working on a level much harder than the one she really should have been doing.
One of my favorite parts of the program was the Reading Practice.  Your student can touch on the word and it will  sound out the word as well as read it for them.  Faith liked reading the sentence out loud and then running her finger over the words to have it read the sentence back to her.
Literacy Soft
When I asked Faith (6) about this app this is what she had to say:

“I like the pictures.  I also like most of the games. I think that it is the same thing over and over again. There’s no variety between the lessons.”

I found it a bit interesting that this program introduces the TH sound in lesson 2. It seems a little early for non-readers.  I thought the word choice they used to be a bit random….the word is “thud” and they show a picture of a rock. A little bit confusing for even my 6 year old.

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What I liked:

  • For a student who thrives on repetition or gets easily flustered trying to learn a new concept and a new activity at the same time this app is perfect.  The activities are very similar, if not identical in each level.
  • Starts right at the beginning with letter recognition and moves all the way to a first grade reading level.  This app/program really packs a lot of content into it!
  • Loved the reading practice portion of the program.  It was something very different than I have seen in other reading programs we have reviewed.
  • The graphics are really good.

What I didn’t like:

  • The app was crashing on my first-generation iPad. I’m having no problems with it on my iPad mini though.
  • It is very easy for your student to skip ahead to different lessons, or parts of lessons, without really understanding what is going on.  I especially found this with my 4 year old. She spent a lot of time clicking around all of the lessons rather than just working through them in order.  I would have liked the program to unlock different levels as a student completes the previous one.
  • Faith thought the activities we too repetitious.
  • The price seems high for an app.  I needed to get it out of my head that it is an app and remember that it has the content of a complete reading program.
  • Some of the words for the letter sounds were different.  TH-thud with a rock.  I-Italy…why not inchworm or something a little more common for a 4 or 5 year old phonics based program?

To sum it up: Take a moment and try out the first 10 lessons free with the lite version of Phonics and Reading with McGuffey. This might  be a good fit for your student.  While it wasn’t a favorite of my 2 girls they did enjoy using it and didn’t complain when I asked them to spend time working on it.


The important information:

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Phonics and Reading with McGuffey app

Order from:

Get Phonics and Reading With McGuffey from the Apple App Store

Price: $19.99

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



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