Friday, August 31, 2007

A Few Homeschool Links

School is back in swing. Pencils are sharpened. Notebooks lined up. Curriculum purchased and lesson plans ready to go. I thought I would share a few links (a baker's dozen) to freebies that I have found on the net. I hope you find them useful.

For those who are studying Geography here is a Map which can be customized. This is a page that has a check list sheet and other geography links.

If you are doing a unit study on Egypt this might be of some interest.

Of course the National Geographic website is always interesting.

Grammar Girl offers quick tips on perplexing grammar questions to help clean up you writing. Wish I could download her brain.

Enchanted Learning has great worksheets suitable for use with many grade levels. Here is a link to printouts associated with Human Anatomy. The head bone is connected to the neck bone...

Someday I will have the time to try my hand at one of the MIT Open courses that are offered free online. For now I'll share the link for anyone who may have the time or a highschooler who would be interested.

If you have an MP3 player that will play book files you can download books to listen to here. You may also listen on your PC or laptop if you have Media Player. There is a registration process. I am not certain whether your local library must be part of their system or not. Here is another site which has classic books to download for free.

Many times you need pictures for reports or web pages that students may be working on. This site has a wide selection of photographs that are free to use. Please remember to use caution when looking through a website such as this. I have not viewed every image on this site.

Math. Errrrrrrr.

Here is a great site if you are reading Jane Eyre . Check out this page if you are studying the Bronte Sisters. (I will count these as one since they are connected)

Almost finished. Having the Eastern band of the Cherokee's reservation near by has made us very interested in their culture. Here is a link to additional information on their language, culture and alphabet.

Finally, PDF files to help keep up with all those little details such as booklists etc.

I hope everyone has a great school year. If anyone is interested let me know and I will post additional links as I can.

Check out Crystal's page for more tips.

Picture: UT Vet School Field Trip

Monday, August 27, 2007

What Makes You Happy?

I saw in the news that there was one winner of the huge lottery this weekend. They won something like $140,000,000. That is a lot of zeros!

Would you be happy with lots of money? If everything went just as you planned and all your proverbial ducks were in a row, would you be more satisfied with life? I don't think it will conjure any winning lottery tickets for us but according to this article on the CNN money site by Jeanne Sahadi we may be more inclined to have things go well for us if we are happy people to begin with.

Well, that isn't good news for all us gloom and doomers is it now? Actually, according to the article pessimist, or realist, actually perform better in some jobs. But all isn't lost! We can learn to be happier.

We can develop the skills that one needs to think positive and ultimately live a happier more satisfied life. So there is hope yet! I read an article somewhere that said that lottery winners, and others with large expendable incomes, are found not to be any happier after spending their money on the material items they wanted to purchase. The boats, houses, cars and diamonds give a high that only last so long. If there isn't a core of happiness, a foundation of positive outlook there in the beginning, they soon return to their former level of satisfaction with life. One article I read matched census data on earnings with data on self-reported happiness from a national survey. When comparing people with the same income, with ones living in a richer area data showed that the people in the richer area reported being less happy.

The thing that consistently helped to raise the level of overall happiness in life was to use money to create memories. Yep, after taking care of the basic needs and paying our base expenses, spending time creating memorable moments in life went further toward making for a happy life than anything they could buy.

Ok, I know that you can create some really big memories with $140,000,000! Granted. But since the Powerball people aren't passing out checks this year, especially to people who don't buy tickets, I think we had better find some more realistic ways to create some fun memories.

One of the things our family found that created some of the most memorable times and cost the least was camping. We collected sleeping bags and camping equipment from yard sales and thrift stores. We bought our first tent on clearance. Our investment was very small.

We had some relaxing trips, some wild and wooly nights ( never did figure what that animal outside clawing around was) and some downright disastrous experiences (how much water could a sleeping bag hold if a sleeping bag could hold water?). But we bonded during those times and we still love talking about them.

Getting control of our money gives us the time and opportunity to find productive, satisfying ways to spend our days, and to spend time with family and friends. After all, that is why we practice all this frugal stuff in the first place isn't it?.

Pic: Lillies and Purple Coneflower. Townsend, Tn.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Letters From War

I am so grateful to our military men and women. We have several members of our extended family and some friends in service and some over in Iraq. For some reason these folks have been on my mind more than usual the past few days. My prayers go out for them. I remembered this touching video I saw several months back and decided to share it. Enjoy it and remember to say a prayer for our men and women in the armed services.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Want To Live In A Hobbit Hole?

If you do then check out this home .

Built in Wales, this home is a low impact structure built out of many recycled and natural materials. I think it is adorable and super cool. With all the talk about how to lower our personal imprint on our environment it is easy to overlook the obvious benefits for frugal souls.

In ignoring the multitude of businesses for profit that offer expensive alternatives to our toxic cleaning products or items such as the ridiculously overpriced canvas shopping bags and getting down to the real green life, the business of recycling and reusing items and finding ways to lessen what we use in our everyday lives, one comes to realize living a greener life also means a frugal, simpler life.

Replacing all those incandescent bulbs with compact florescent saves in more ways than one. Turning up the thermostat puts $$ in your pocket and helps lessen the pull on our power grids, taking an ink cartridge to W*algreens to get it refilled makes perfect sense budget and environment wise. Every time you find a way to reuse, recycle or remake and item, you aren't only saving dollars, you are making an impact on our environment. So, every time you make a gallon of laundry detergent or other homemade cleaner, use vinegar and baking soda to clean, or repair that old pair of pants one more time, remember to smile and feel good about your lack of environmental impact all the way to the piggy bank.

As always check out Crystal's site for more Frugal Friday tips.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm Melting! I'm Melting!

I know everyone is tired of hearing it but... Man! Is it HOT! On the way to my favorite thrift store today I passed a church with a digital display outside. The temperature they posted was 107! I know that is directly in the sun, but it felt every little bit of 107 out there! The actual temp was 99 I think.

I decided to pull out a few pictures of my yard I made during our last snow. Right now it feels like it will never be cool again, so turn the air conditioner on high and enjoy a little digital cool weather.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Frugal Friday: Learning to DIY

I've been in Kentucky all day on business so I'm writing this post in a hurry to get it posted before Saturday rolls around. I will probably be changing it some after it is posted. One of the most important things a person trying to live a frugal lifestyle can do is to develop as many DIY skills as possible. Unfortunately it seems that many people make it to adulthood without learning many of the basic skills our grandparents possessed. I know I did. Finding the money in an already tight budget to take classes can seem impossible.

There are many places and ways to learn new skills that are useful in helping us live a more frugal lifestyle without breaking our budget. Sewing and cooking classes are often offered at locations where adult education classes are taught.

In my area classes are offered at a very reasonable fee and children under the age of 18 are allowed to take classes along with a parent which works out great as a home economics requirement for homeschoolers.

You can barter with a friend who is willing to teach you whatever skill you are looking to learn. I wasn't sure I had any skills that I could offer when I first approached a friend about teaching me to make bread. I found that she needed an occasional baby sitter and I helped her out on some cleaning chores.

Home Depot offers free workshops to their customers which teach them the basics of many home repairs such as tile work or landscaping.

You could offer to help a friend who has a skill you want to learn and is willing to teach you in exchange for your help.

I have found many older people are very happy to share their knowledge with us young whipper snappers! We forget that older people are often a treasure trove of experience and skills and are flattered that we would be interested in what they have to share. We in turn can offer to help out with some things around their homes that might be difficult for them or maybe run some errands or some other chore that seems a fair exchange.

Don't forget our libraries and the internet. There are wonderful books that show you step by step how to fix almost anything. I found instructions for resetting the timer on my refrigerator online. It saved me a service call fee.

Another possibility might be to volunteer to organize classes at your church, or a group getting together at someone's home, for those who might be interested in learning additional skills.

I learned to make apple butter, can veggies, make baby quilts and many other basic homemaking skills at women's auxillary meetings and with some of my friends who were learning the same skills.

Here are a few Links you might find useful:

Learn basic handwork sewing skills

How to sew information.

Info on repairing appliances. Just one of many sites on the Internet.

Bread Baking 101

And of course the ultimate DIY site:

A new one I found recently:

Some of these sites also sell items but most have valuable info and as always use caution when visiting sites on the Internet. I haven't had time to check out every page on these sites.

Just remember, the more you know, the more you can do and the less you need to spend on getting others to fix things for you.

Check out Crystal's site for more Frugal Friday tips.

Picture: Quilt Rack in a pioneer home near Cherokee NC. This was the only picture that I could find right now that was a DIY kind of picture. Besides, isn't that quilt rack strung up next to the ceiling in the family/bedroom to save space a really inspired idea?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What I Saw: Doobie Brothers

I have been so lucky this summer to get to go to some great concerts. Last night we saw the Doobie Brothers. It was fantastic! If you get a chance to see them go!
After the concert we had the chance to meet them. I wasn't sure about posting this picture of me. I've managed to keep my picture off the blog so far. It was very hot outside and my hair was doing it's own thing, so it isn't the best picture. I'm taking the plunge anyway because how many times do you get your picture taken with a Doobie Brother?!

Pictures: #1: Back drop on stage.

#2 pic: Patrick Simmons doing his thing.
#3 pic: Carrie J and Patrick Simmons.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dreaming Of The Open Road

It is so hot. I am so tired of it. It makes me think about the camping trip through New England that my girls, my sister and I took after my oldest daughter graduated from HS.

When we left Tennessee in August the temperatures were in the nineties and very humid. We spent almost 2 weeks traveling and camping in the much cooler New England weather.

One night it even got down in the upper thirties and for the first time I truly understood the mentality of the "Snow birders" that you hear about, the people who travel up north during the summer and winter down south.

Actually, ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to travel.

I remember in elementary school, back in the day, long before I had ever heard of a travel trailer much less an RV, around 3rd grade I think. I used to draw pictures of the double decker bus that I was going to turn into a house. I was going to drive my house all over America and see all the things I saw pictures of in my geography book.

I don't remember much about my design, except I remember a full size bathroom and kitchen and there was a pool on the roof! LOL. Couldn't you just see me sloshing down the road? With all the stuff I was taking I'm sure I would be moving about 2 miles an hour.

Yep, living in an RV is something I still want to try. I'm not so sure with gas being such an uncertainty these days that I'll ever have the chance, but I'd love to try it.

When I found this blog I was intrigued, and thought maybe some of you who secretly share my love of the road might enjoy it as well. Maybe I can get some of my travel fantasies satisfied vicariously without having to pack.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Musings: Paths

"There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those." -Michael Nolan

Near Mingus Mill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Apologize

I have been so very busy, and will stay so until after Labor Day. I apologize for the lack of posting anything of real substance on here. I will try to get back to a more regular schedule as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just For Fun Or Whatever

Ok, this is down right cute now, but I've got to guess that they won't think it is so cute when she uses it on them when she is 14!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Beautiful Blog- Rabbit Run Cottage

Susie Q over at Rabbit Run Cottage has the most beautiful travel pictures up on her blog. Her family is originally from the East Tennessee area and recently returned for a visit. She has posted her pictures of the visit and has written some lovely accounts of their trip. I highly recommend that you scoot on over there and check it out! Now. What are you waiting for...GO!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I'm Just So White And Nerdy

But I fit right in tonight at the Weird Al concert. The man puts on a great show.

Friday, August 03, 2007

What I Saw

My one and only Hummingbird this year. I'm jealous of Angie's flock.

Last pic: Uninvited guest.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kids And Sleeping

While reading the tips over at Rocks In My Dryer I noticed how many were about sleeping tips. Getting kids to sleep through the night, or at all, seems to be a universal problem for exhausted parents everywhere.

All 4 of my children had different sleeping patterns but one thing I tried worked for them all. For night time it is obviously important to try very early to establish before bed routine. But my tip is for naptime. I learned to not make the situation one that the child can only fall asleep unless everything is just so. This also helps at night. Have you ever been around an exhausted crying baby that cannot go to sleep unless he is in his bed? Not fun.

Early on I started putting my kids down for their naps in different places such as their carrier, the stroller, a blanket on the floor, or on our couch if I was available to watch them, my bed etc. As a result my kids could nap or go down for the night in an unfamiliar place such as a hotel room, in a shopping cart with a blanket in the bottom, or Grandma's house with very little effort. It worked for me.

Pic: Butterfly Bush (maybe!) Townsend, Tn.