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DIY Chocolate Syrup

We don't buy chocolate syrup. I'd rather spend that money on something else. Like coffee...

Last year while visiting with some friends, our hostess offered my kids some chocolate milk. She informed me that it was HOMEMADE chocolate syrup.


Say what?!

My sweet friend, and homeschooling mother of four beautiful babies, feels the same way I do about all of the additives in food-- we don't run screaming in the opposite direction from them, but we do avoid them when we can. By serving our families whole foods and making as much of our goodies from scratch that we can, we are able to avoid lots of the icky chemicals that are added into our foods.

Money wise, store bought chocolate syrup can cost close to $3, but homemade--we're talking pennies.

It's cheap, delicious, easy to make, AND it only has five ingredients.

Here is the recipe that my friend shared with me:


1 cup cocoa
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 TBSP vanilla extract

  1. In a 1 qt sauce pan, combine the first four ingredients. 
  2. Mix together with a whisk until no lumps remain.
  3. Place over medium heat
  4. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Do not boil.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
  6. Stir in vanilla.
  7. Store in a jar or something with a good lid. I'm using an old creamer container and it works great.
**This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months. Will keep at room temperature for up to a month.
Put this stuff in your coffee, on ice cream, in warm milk or cold milk, over sliced strawberries. It's great!

Hope you try it and that you like it!


Summer Around the Homestead


I have LOVED growing flowers this year and I have every intention of adding to the garden. I've immensely enjoyed having fresh bouquets throughout the house all summer long. 

 Our harvests have been abundant and we are thankful for God's provision. 

"Life Is Too Short" Free Printable Here

 When I'm able, I'm still trying to make small home improvements here and there. 

 Our canned stockpile is so pretty. I love looking at it-- and eating it. 

 A friend of mine with her own family homestead let us have all of these banana peppers. Forty pints!

Salsa and Pasta sauce for days. 

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Muffins! I'll share the recipe next time I make them so I can take some yummy photos. 

Hope y'all are having a great summer!



Our 2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum On A Small Budget

I want to start this post by expressing: WE ARE HAVING SO MUCH FUN!!!

This year is going so much more smoother. There is a sweet flow to our curriculum. The kids are excited about school and have even been getting up early, without being asked, to start our day on time.

I thought I would share what we are using for each subject, but I really want to tell you HOW we are using each book/method in that subject because that is where the fun lies!

First, you need to know that our curriculum is divided up into two blocks: Family Studies and Individual Studies.

Second, you should also know that we are now a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool and following her principles have really changed the way I consider our activities.

Third, I'm very excited to report that the only thing that we've purchased for this year (sans supplies) are the math books. Three books that will take our 4th grader through the next couple of years, and our 8th grader into next year as a good review for less than $50!! Keep reading for more details!


Family Studies 

Our family studies revolve around Ancient times which gives us a nice flow and ties everything together.



We use the Simply Charlotte Mason scripture memory method. We started with Pack 1. It's brilliant.  

I made the dividers with post-its and laminated them with packing tape. #resourceful
After scripture memory, we start our bible study.

Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool: Old Testament (this time line is also recommended by Simply Charlotte Mason & Ambleside Online)- We read the scriptures together, look at any of the suggested reading or videos for the day, and discuss what we have gotten from our lesson.  

After we complete our lesson, we color our scripture. This gives us another opportunity to consider what each verse is telling us. Plus, it makes our bibles look pretty :) To know what I am talking about, here is Courtney Joseph from Women Living Well explaining this "SOAK" study method. 

I printed a copy of the color chart, put it in a plastic sheet protector and set it on a table easel during our bible study for reference. The kids love it and it's great for discussion.


Apologia: Exploring Creation

I was blessed by a fellow homeschooling friend who has allowed us to borrow this book. :) Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy has been fun so far. We are going to start working on our first astronomy project tomorrow-- building a solar system model. :)


Easy Peasy All-in-one and YouTube: Since we are studying Ancient History, I like the idea of keeping art in that time period. We've learned and done a few projects on EP, but I've also found a few things on YouTube that we've done such as this Cave Art.

My daughter is continuing to build on her handicraft of crocheting. My son is still finding one that interests him. 



Just like Bible, we read the suggested literature from Simply Charlotte Mason, but we will also look and see what Easy Peasy has because a lot of times, they will offer a video or article that will enrich our book reading. 

We just finished reading The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann. Today we will start with Pharaoh's Boat by David Weitzman.

Nature Study

Charlotte Mason strongly expressed that it is important for children to observe and connect with creation. Most children are intuitively curious about nature and that curiosity is something that needs to be nurtured. It's a lot of fun to make nature study an intentional activity.

Yesterday we found a nest of bag worms. The kids ran inside and grabbed their nature journals and colored pencils. I looked up a few facts about them on my phone and read it to them while they sketched the nest. It was great and we all learned something.

Read Alouds

This is something that we didn't do last year and TOTALLY missed out on. 

Am I the only one that thinks (or thought, rather) that reading aloud to your kids is limited to kids that can't read yet? Shame on me. 

Reading aloud to my 4th and 8th grader has been fun for all of us. My 8th grader didn't think she would like it because she likes to read to herself. She is very independent. However, last night she and her little brother begged for "one more chapter!" during our reading of My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. 

I love Simply Charlotte Mason's literature list.

Individual Studies 

Obviously, these are the subjects that the kids learn on an individual basis.

Fourth Grade


After speaking to a friend of mine, learning about the Charlotte Mason idea of "living books", and knowing more about how my children learn, Life of Fred just seemed like a perfect fit for our homeschool. So far, it has been better than I hoped!

Little Man is reading "Liver"

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You really should read up on these books. My kids actually LAUGH while reading their math lessons.

Language Arts

Easy Peasy Language Arts 4. This curricula includes spelling, writing, and grammar. 


Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason suggestions. His narrations are usually journal-ed and sometimes I ask for an oral narration of his reading. 

He is currently reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. 

I have found some fun activities on Pinterest to go along with Robin Hood but I'm waiting until he gets a little farther into the book before we do them. 



The Complete Book of Handwriting 

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 The same friend that blessed us with the loaning of our Astronomy curriculum also gave us this book! She had it and didn't need it. Thank you, Carly!

Eighth Grade


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A lot of this is really review for my eighth grader, but since she is new to Life of Fred, I wanted to back up a little before we plunged into Pre-Algebra and get a good footing into the story line and teaching style of Dr. Schmidt.

Language Arts

Easy Peasy All in one Intermediate Language Arts

Since I didn't feel like she got a good grasp on some of the LA lessons from last year, I felt that repeating this level would be beneficial for her. It really is just review of the parts-of-speech basics and digging deeper into writing skills. 

I really want to make sure that she gets it because, as we know, if you can express yourself well, both in writing and orally, there are many opportunities where one of such skill can be used. 


Will come from copy work and dictation.


Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason suggestions (Narration will mostly be journal-ed) She is currently reading Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.


I know that is ssssooooo much information but I hope that it is helpful to someone. 

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions. 



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