The Only Pencil Sharpener You’ll Ever Need ~ Review of the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Yes, it’s really true: I believe that the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener is the only one you’ll ever need, whether you’re looking for one to use in your homeschool or your classroom!  Classroom Friendly Supplies very kindly sent me and Jackson a Cool Blue Classroom Friendly Sharpener to use and review in our homeschool.  I can only say, “Where has this sharpener been all my life??”


ClassroomFS Sharpener banner

Why we needed the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener:

We don’t use pencils for every single thing we do in homeschool.  But we DO use them for math, for journaling, for art, for nature drawing, and for handwriting.  I personally use one for lesson planning.  And as many people do, we prefer a nice sharp point on our pencils for writing or drawing.  However, that became a point of frustration over the years.  We have used a battery-operated electric sharpener….that died.  We have found manual sharpeners that really worked well….until they didn’t when the sharpener’s blade dulled.  Then we’d end up with pencil lead that would *almost* be perfectly sharp.  The, the nice tip would break off in the sharpener and we’d have nothing but a pencil that needed sharpening again.

CFS Sharpener pic 2

This was so frustrating for both me and my son.  Finally in desperation, I switched to a mechanical pencil.  But that didn’t take care of the problem for Jackson, or for me when I wanted to journal or create art using colored pencils.  Then we just ended up with a bunch of nubs.

CFS Sharpener pic 3The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to receive this sharpener to use.  As you can see, we received the Cool Blue sharpener, although It’s available in a variety of colors (blue, green, purple, red, pink, black).  It’s made of metal, with a few plastic pieces.  It also comes with a clamp for affixing the sharpener to a countertop or bookcase, but it’s stable enough without the clamp, and we never needed to use it.  It’s very sturdy and has a good weight, but it’s not overly heavy.

It doesn’t work exactly like the pencil sharpeners you might remember from your own elementary classroom.  However, it’s actually quite simple to use and operate for both children and adults.  You can see a video or directions on how to use the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener at the company website.  But I’ll describe them for you here as well!

First:  Pull the silver portion straight out into a locking position.

CFS Sharpener Pic 4

Second:  Push the two black square knobs together and insert pencil fully into the sharpener.  Release the knobs.

CFS Sharpener pic 5

Third:  Hold the top of the sharpener lightly but firmly and turn the handle clockwise.  In just a few turns, the pencil will be sharpened.

CFS Sharpener pic 6

Fourth:  Pinch the two knobs together to release the pencil.


CFS Sharpener pic 7

Finally:  Ta-da!  A gorgeously-sharpened pencil!

How we used it

I mentioned above how many ways we use pencils in our homeschool.  So, Jackson used the Classroom Friendly Sharpener for his pencil school needs.  You can see his hand in the pictures above in my step-by-step directions.

CFS Sharpener pic 8

I also teach an art class in our homeschool coop.  For an upcoming project, we’ll be using watercolor pencils.  I have a large supply of those, but about half of them were worn down to nubs from use over time.  I wanted my students to have sharpened pencils to work with, but I didn’t want to take the pencils to class unsharpened.  The pencils needed to be ready to go!  So I used our Classroom Friendly Sharpener, and in about 5 minutes, sharpened this huge bunch.


CFS Sharpener pic 10I probably could have sharpened them a bit more quickly, but twice I had to fix a tiny issue.  With two of my pencils, a small amount of lead broke off inside the sharpener’s blades.  However, the Classroom Friendly Supplies website has a Help Portal which has instructions for fixing small issues.  By watching their video and reading some instructions, I was able to take the sharpener apart, find the broken lead, and get it out using a toothpick.  Voila!  The issue was addressed and the sharpener was back to work!

I should tell you that I sharpened 23 watercolor pencils in a row before that happened.  🙂

CFS Sharpener pic 9Our thoughts

I LOVE this sharpener.  It is so easy to use, it sharpens pencils quite incredibly, and problems are easy to troubleshoot and fix.  It is attractive and I don’t mind having it out in our homeschool study area.  I also really appreciate not having to hunt down the tiny manual sharpeners that we’ve been using!

One does have to apply pressure while turning the handle and sharpening, but it’s not an inordinate amount.  As I said, I sharpened pencils for 5 minutes and only at the end did my arm start to tire.

The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener met a definite need in our homeschool….and removed a consistent source of frustration.  I love knowing that sharpening broken or dull pencils will never be a problem for us again, either in our home studies or for my art class.  I recommend it wholeheartedly to you!


CFS Sharpener pic 11How to purchase

You may purchase the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener at Classroom Friendly Supplies.  I’d love for you to visit their website or their social media sites to see more about the only sharpener you’ll ever need!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Visit Classroom Friendly Supplies at:

Classroom Friendly Supplies on Facebook
Classroom Friendly Supplies on Pinterest
Classroom Friendly Supplies on Twitter @QuietSharpeners

Disclosure:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.



Happy Back-To-School 2016 Giveaway from finchnwren!

Oh happy day!  🙂

Today we start our official 9th grade homeschool year!  I just love back-to-school time….the new curricula, the gorgeous new office supplies, the slight change of weather from hot days to slightly cooler ones.  I love it all!

And to celebrate, I have a very fun set of back-to-school goodies for one reader to win!

Back to School 2016 GiveawayThis week, finchnwren is giving away a goodie pack of 5 back-to-school supplies!  The prize package includes:

  • An apple-shaped timer
  • A package of red Ready Letters—perfect for bulletin boards or happy wall signs
  • A set of Magnet Multiplication Tables—for fun, unlimited practice of multiplication facts
  • Colorful Cut-Outs Assorted Hearts—great for sweet notes to your kids or bulletin boards
  • A set of apple note cards

Back to School giveaway pic 1The Magnet Multiplication Table set is especially cool.  Kids can work the problems on the enclosed magnetic board, or on any metal surface (even the refrigerator!).

Just enter via the Giveaway Tools entry form below.  US entries only; giveaway closes Monday, August 29 at 11:59PM.

Enjoy!  –Wren

Summer Guest Post ~ featuring Heather from Running With Spears

I have another lovely blogger to introduce you to today–Heather from Running With Spears! My friend and fellow reviewer from the Schoolhouse Review Crew is speaking to us today from her heart. Photographer, wife, mama to 4 (including a newborn), writer and homeschooler–I’m so impressed that she actually had a moment to sit down and write for us!

Summer Guest Post bannerHeather is hilarious. She’s also a wise woman of deep faith. You’re going to love her words today. Enjoy!


Heather Kelley pic 1


Hi guys! So, I’m currently in a wonderful. but not exactly easy. season of life in which I have an adorable, cuddly, precious five month old, who screams if I EVER set her down (even if she’s asleep) and sometimes even just if I have the audacity to sit down while I hold her. I also have a 2 year old who is potty training and training for the newest Olympic event, paper cutting. Seriously, her ability to cut paper into tiny pieces and scatter them all over the house should win her a medal of some sort.

At the same time, I’m trying to homeschool my nine and 6 year olds, blog, finish writing my novel, and somehow consume enough coffee to not fall asleep at my desk. Most days my bedroom floor is covered in a mountain of clothes waiting for me to fold, and I can’t remember the last time I actually got around to scrubbing my bathroom. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember the last time I took a shower. So, there’s that.

Heather Kelley pic 2

There are days I feel so done with it all. On those days, It takes everything I have not to scream at whichever kid decides she should come in and be loud the second I finally get the baby to calm down. And I’m pretty sure I WILL lose it if I have to go one more hour being constantly touched. I mean seriously, can I not even go to the bathroom alone? And then I start thinking I should just give up on the novel — who cares that a year ago I was certain God was nudging me to write it. And I definitely wonder whether I should just register my kids for public school because I’m afraid I’m actually doing them a huge disservice by thinking I can pull off this crazy life.

But when I manage to take a step back, hand my screaming baby to my nine year old, make another cup of coffee, and breathe for a second, I remember that this is just a season.

Here in Texas, summer is HOT. I hate summer. But I know that someday autumn will come. It may not feel like it until mid-November…but it WILL come.

Unlike Texas summers, I don’t hate this season of life by any means. But it helps to know things will get easier. I can look back and remember easier seasons, like the summer when I only had two girls, and they were six and four and could both swim well and I could actually meet a friend at the pool and manage the girls on my own well enough to enjoy our time there. And I remember other not-so-easy seasons that we made it through, like the year we were having to take my oldest to therapy three times a week for Sensory Processing Disorder and wait at the therapists office for hours at a time while trying to keep my three year old happy, then go home and deal with a five year old who’d used up all of her resources working through stuff in therapy and was a giant mess once she was done. Or the first few months with our third baby who projectile vomited everywhere all the time.

Keeping the changing of seasons in mind also takes some of the pressure off me to do ALL THE THINGS right now. It’s not actually the end of the world if my girls’ education isn’t exactly top notch right now. So we haven’t finished 3rd grade math yet when we should theoretically be starting 4th right now…in the scheme of things, does it matter? Nope. Worse case scenario she doesn’t start 4th grade math till next year…will even that be the end of the world? Nope. It won’t always be this hard to teach my kids. Someday I won’t smell like spit up, and my hair will be washed regularly, and my laundry might actually even be all put away. Like all things pumpkin flavored, easier days are on their way.

Heather Kelley pic 3

And the second I remember that, I also remember that this precious, tiny baby in my lap is my last. And I know more than anything else I’ve ever known, that I will someday ache to cuddle her in my arms one more time, and see her toothless baby grins, and not be able to move my hand because she fell asleep with her tiny little fingers holding tight to my thumb.

So, my sweet sisters who are also in the trenches of a draining season of life for whatever reason…I don’t minimize your struggles at all, but I do pray that you will rest in the knowledge that it will pass. And I hope you’ll give yourself a break,too. I know it’s silly to say things like, “the dishes can wait.” They don’t wait, they just pile up. I get it. Here’s the truth, though…some things can wait. Only you can figure out what that is for you. For me, I’ve realized that time consuming curriculum can wait. Just doing as much school as we can handle right now…even if that mostly comes down to whatever amount of school my girls can do online without any help from me, is enough for this season. I’ve also realized that right now we don’t have to say yes to everything. There are good things that aren’t the best choice for our family right now. I’ve finally realized it’s ok to have seasons where I admit I just don’t have the energy to do all the good things that we could potentially do without becoming overly drained.

Alright…I’ve rambled enough, and if I don’t vacuum soon ants will come take over my house, so I suppose that can’t actually wait any longer now. And then I’ll have some more coffee, because, you know, it’s coffee. Thanks for reading. Have a great day! 🙂

Heather from Running With Spears

Now you know why I was thrilled to feature Heather. Y’all have a lovely day now….and be sure to pop over and visit Heather!
Enjoy! –Wren

FlipStir Puzzles Review ~ Crazy Puzzle Fun

Recently, our family was able to review a quite unusual product!  Enlivenze LLC has created a puzzle line called FlipStir Puzzles.  They are most unique and amazing–I’ve never worked a puzzle quite like this!  We received the Statue of Liberty FlipStir Puzzle to review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


FlipStir Banner graphic

What are FlipStir Puzzles?

FlipStir Puzzles from Enlivenze LLC are puzzle games enclosed in a see-through plastic canister.  The canister has a plastic base (so that it can stand up) and a top, with all the puzzle pieces and a metal “wand” inside.  The puzzle pieces are all jumbled up when you get them, and you use the wand to put all the puzzle pieces in order without taking off the top.  In fact, you can’t take off the top!  You have to solve the puzzle with and only with the wand.

The FlipStir Puzzles come in Level 1 and Level 2, increasing in difficulty, and are recommended for ages 7 and up. FlipStir Puzzles are available in various types:  Rainbow Pencils, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Solar System, and Statue of Liberty.  (And one more that I’ll mention at the end of this review!)


FlipStar pic 1A Statue of Liberty FlipStir?

Yes, we received the FlipStir Statue of Liberty puzzle!  This puzzle is categorized as Level 2 in difficulty.  It has 10 puzzle pieces inside the enclosed canister, and the box it comes in has a photo of the completed puzzle so you know what it should look like when you’re finished.  (Just in case anyone doesn’t remember what the Statue of Liberty looks like!)  There are two puzzle pieces with one flat side and one curved; all the other 8 pieces are curved on both sides.  Our job was to fit the puzzle pieces together so that we could see the finished Statue.


FlipStir pic 2Our experiences

Our FlipStir Puzzle box has the following motto:  Shake.  Stir.  Solve.  That’s exactly how  you work this puzzle!  You can see in the picture above, my son Jackson is holding the FlipStir canister with the puzzle pieces all jumbled up; they’ve been shaken and stirred so that there is no order.  You can’t really tell yet that it’s going to become the Statue of  Liberty when solved.

The metal wand running down the center of the canister has a small hook on its end.  With that hook, players capture different puzzle pieces and rearrange them until they’re in order.

So how did that work for us?  All three of my family members worked on our FlipStir Puzzle on and off.  It is not that simple or easy….yet really, it is doable by both children and adults.  Jackson worked on it first.  I worked on it next.  Each of us was able to put different pieces in order.  But it was my IT expert husband, Jackson’s dad, who solved the whole puzzle.  Ta-da!

FlipStir pic 3Hubs thought it was “fun and relatively easy; (he) didn’t think it was relatively complex once (he) figured out what needed to be done.”  I thought it was more difficult than he did though!  I have to admit that I solve puzzles more easily in 2D apparently than 3D; I can see what needs to happen in a flat puzzle better than I can in a three-dimensional puzzle.  Jackson is more like his dad in his abilities though.  He has loved interlocking building toys for years and builds them all the time, so I think he found it more similar to puzzles he’s used to solving.

Some great things about FlipStir Puzzles:

  • They’re a great mental challenge
  • They are really family-friendly—anyone from children to grandparents can successfully play
  • You never lose a puzzle piece
  • The pictures are interesting and colorful
  • Because they’re self-contained, the puzzles are easy to take on car trips or anywhere else, really
  • They are easy to store and don’t take up a lot of room



Flip Stir logoWhere to find FlipStir Puzzles

You may purchase the Statue of Liberty FlipStir Puzzle at Enlivenze LLC.  The 4 different puzzle styles I mentioned above are all available there.  Plus (squee!!) Enlivenze LLC also sells a limited edition Periodic Table of the Elements FlipStir puzzle!  (I think that’s going to have to be a future purchase for us!  We LOVE the periodic table!)

If you love educational games or puzzles, you must check out FlipStir.  Unique, fun, challenging puzzle-solving fun!

You can visit the company’s social media sites for more information!


FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
Enjoy! –Wren

New Fabulous Music Appreciation for Homeschools: On Sale Thru 8/15/16!

My friend Gena is a talented musician and has taught music for many years in both classrooms and her own homeschool.  Our readers may remember when Jackson and I reviewed her wonderful 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music last year.  (You can click on the link to see our review.)  Phenomenal, beautiful, and so easy for even non-musical-types to use!


$20 of the 2-volume set of 20th Century Music Appreciation this week only at

Now, for a limited time (just until Monday, 8/15/16), you can get $20 off that curriculum as well as her newest one, 25 Lessons in 20th Century European and South American Music Appreciation!  We’ll actually be using this new one and sharing our thoughts with you all in mid-September, so keep an eye out.  I’m so looking forward to it though.  Have you ever even SEEN a music appreciation course that teaches about South American music before?  Maybe on the college level, but nowhere else!

Here’s a little more from Gena:

Are there any homeschool moms here who are frustrated that they don’t have the time or means to include music in their homeschools? I’m happy to share that Gena Mayo (of Music in Our Homeschool) has two brand new products for sale this week!

First, let me tell you about the great self-paced online course:

20th Century Music Appreciation for High School

If you have a high schooler who needs a fine arts credit, you’ll want to look into this! Once it’s purchased, it’s yours forever, so all of your kids will be able to use it and get a 1/2 credit during high school. But, it can also be used for Mom to guide her kids through the 36 weekly lessons and even to teach at a homeschool co-op!

This week only, get $30 off the course price! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK. Head over to the Music in Our Course site to preview some lessons for free.

20th-Century-Music-Appreciation-Course-for-High-School-Students Pinterest

Second, if you’d prefer an ebook curriculum, you’ll want to check out her new one:

25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation

If purchased separately, it’s $10 off this week or get it in a Bundle with the previous volume 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation for $20 off! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK.


What’s included in the ebook?

Learn about these composers and music from Europe and South America during the 20th Century:

  • Puccini
  • Mahler
  • Debussy
  • R. Strauss
  • Sibelius
  • Granados
  • De Falla
  • Vaughn Williams
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern
  • Holst
  • Ravel
  • Bartok
  • Stravinsky
  • Kodaly and Orff
  • Villa-Lobos
  • Ginastera
  • Prokofiev
  • The Beatles and other pop groups of the British Invasion
  • Hindemith
  • Khatchaturian
  • Shostakovich
  • Messiaen
  • Britten
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber and other composers of musical theater

All links to listen to their music, as well as notebooking pages, are included.

Remember to use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK to get $10, $20, or $30 off (depending on the product). Sale ends August 15!


“As a music educator, I appreciate the depth and organization Gena has put into her music curriculum. She provides many interesting facts and resources comparable to my college music history classes for high school students to learn about different composers of 20th Century European and South American music.” –Kathy Gossen of Cornerstone Confessions.

“Gena has done it again! This is a wonderfully comprehensive look at musicians from the 20th century, a great addition to her previous curriculum on American artists. There were so many composers whose music I was familiar with but didn’t know their names or anything else about them. I look forward to teaching this in my homeschool!” –Michelle Habrych, homeschool mom of two teens

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Enjoy!  –Wren

The Encouraged Mama ~ 5 Days of Homeschool 101 ~ Plus Giveaway!

Are you a mama who needs a little encouragement?

The Encouraged Mama Banner

We’ve all been there, at times.  During my mothering career we have experienced major surgeries, unemployment, funerals.  We’ve had school subjects we hated and challenging experiences with friends.  On the other hand, we’ve also had great joy, amazing job provision, answered prayers, spiritual growth as individuals and as a family, and fun trips.  Through all of these I’ve seen my own trust in God and His hand on my journey in places both strong and shaky.

How does one stay encouraged during times that are good or hard?  I have to admit that during our family’s last period of trial, my faith was shaken to a degree I’d never imagined was possible.  But after years of struggle I actually began to believe my own experiences over the truth of God’s Word.  I have to admit, that was horrible!  But God really is faithful.  He has shown me some things that I am really valuing and wanting to hold on to.  I want to be an encouraged mama.  Here are some things that are moving me more in that direction!  (Plus, at the end of this post, I have a little giveaway to bless one reader with—some pretty little things that I hope will be an encouragement!)


The Encouraged Mama pic 1A fabulous women’s Bible study

This Beth Moore Bible study almost jumped into my hand one day at the bookstore!  I had just been noticing, after that long time of trial, how very devoid of the fruits of the Spirit I had become.  I really was missing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.  Not that those qualities NEVER were evident in me; but they certainly didn’t seem to be the overriding foundation of my personality anymore.  How was I going to get back to the place where those were really part of me?

Ta-da!  One afternoon, we decided to go to Family Christian Store, which was having a B1G1 50% off sale on books.  The three of us wandered around and I started looking at women’s Bible studies.  And there it was.  A Bible study (which I love) by fellow Texan Beth Moore (whom I also love) on the very topic my heart was crying out for.  It truly has been the very thing I needed at this moment.

Maybe the fruits of the Spirit aren’t what you are looking for right now…but there are so many other amazing women’s Bible studies out there.  See if you can find something that is speaking to your heart.  God’s Word does accomplish so much in us—and it is the only “thing,” apart from people (who aren’t things) that really does last forever.  Isaiah 40:8 reminds us of that:  “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”


The Encouraged Mama pic 2Beautiful art

All right.  I know that I just said that “things” don’t last forever.  I know that.  But maybe because I really adore teaching art, I find great pleasure in looking at and enjoying beautiful art.  A lovely painting; an unusual sculpture; even architecture.  (Though I’ve never been to England, I love looking at London’s skyline.  It’s just breathtaking.)

Beautiful art speaks to my heart and soul in ways that they actually need.  I don’t know why.  But I know that this experience is rich, soothing, wonderful to me.


The Encouraged Mama pic 3Experiencing nature

There are so many awe-inspiring things in nature.  And it doesn’t have to only be the Grand Canyon or the Pacific Ocean (though those are both incredible!).  What about flowers?  Cattails?  A snowy meadow?  A hummingbird?  All of these, and more, encourage me and remind me of God’s careful handcrafting for us of “all good things for us to enjoy.”

The common denominator

I realize that the three things I’ve listed that build me up and encourage me all have one thing in common; taking a moment to rest.  You can’t really do Bible study while you’re vacuuming; or watch a hummingbird while you’re going to the grocery store; or look at art while you’re teaching phonics.  But each one of these doesn’t take hours to do; really, if you can just take a moment they can truly rest your soul.  And of course you can take your children with you to the art museum, or to the park or backyard to look at nature.  And think of this; if you’re doing these together with your children you’re not just having a sweet moment with them (which is pretty special and important).  No, you’re modeling and teaching for them that you CAN take a moment to rest.

That’s not only important for us…but for them as well.  We can all use a bit of that in our culture, can’t we?


The Encouraged Mama giveawayAnd…a special giveaway for you!

Finch and I have a sweet giveaway to encourage one special mama.  Just enter the Giveaway Tools entry form below.  One person will win the following:

    • A handmade card from Paper Doll Greetings
    • A handmade mini-journal from Paper Doll Greetings
    • A delicate blue stone bracelet



5 Days of Homeschool 101

Blog Hop

Today is the last day of the Crew’s “5 Days of Homeschool 101” Blog Hop.  Be sure to check out some of the amazing blog posts on encouragement shared by these wonderful bloggers!

Enjoy!  –Wren

5 Tips for Getting Your Kids Involved with Keeping House ~ Crew Blog Hop “5 Days of Homeschool 101” and a Giveaway, too!

5 Days of Homeschool 101
Let’s face it.  When you homeschool, your home = school, classroom, cafeteria, dormitory, principal’s office, supply closet, library.  Not to mention locker space.

Okay–not exactly.  But there is truth to the fact that, in homeschooling, our homes house all of those!  Mom is not only in charge of teaching subjects and directing learning, but also meals and homekeeping.

It is just a LOT to keep up with.  And I’ll freely admit that it is easier for me to teach subjects, rather than to teach how to do home chores!  And over the years (8 years of 1st-8th grade, plus preschool and kindergarten) we have accumulated lots and lots of curricula, games, and educational tools.  As a matter of fact, we’d gotten, by this last spring, to the point that we felt like we were bursting out of our space!

This is the year that we’re seriously working together as a family to declutter, organize, and simplify.  And because I could have used these tips years ago, I’m sharing them with you today as our Crew Blog Hop “5 Days of Homeschool 101” turns to home management!

1.  Set a daily family routine

Or, start back on it when you’ve missed a few!  Here, I’m liking the perspectives of sisters Serene and Pearl of Trim Healthy Mama: “You’re just a few hours away from your next healthy meal.”  Applied to homekeeping, if you miss a day or some chores, just start back on the list where you can, or where you’d start the next morning!

We’re working from a weekly list at the moment.  There are chores we split up every day and a particular area focused on once weekly.  Our daily list (it’s understood that brushing & flossing are included!):

  • Make beds
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Do one load of laundry
  • Wipe out bathroom sinks
  • Clean counters
  • Declutter for 5 minutes
  • Load dishwasher

We don’t do all of that in one fell swoop; rather, we split the tasks up and do some in the morning, some after lunch, some in the afternoon.

And the weekly list?  We’re focusing on one area of the house each weekday.  (Saturdays, for us, are for grocery shopping, catchups, writing, and fun.)  For example:

  • Monday:  Sweep, mop, vacuum, dust
  • Tuesday:  Clean bathrooms/wash towels
  • Wednesday:  Declutter, empty bathroom/bedroom trash
  • Thursday:  Gather library books, wipe down cabinets
  • Friday:  Gather 1 bag of trash and one bag of donations, dust

Would you like help creating a homekeeping list?  Flylady is renowned for helping folks make their homes neat, clean and orderly.  Step by step!

2.  And try an overall schedule for everything else!

What about all those other things, though, that keep a home orderly and neat?  Things you may not do every week but that still need to be done.  Like vacuuming the baseboards, cleaning out the pantry or refrigerator, organizing the linen closet, decluttering the bathroom cabinets.  I can get so busy with regular life that I forget about these things.

For help with this, I turn to my friend Kemi from Homemaking Organized.  Kemi is a homemaking wonder!  I am a subscriber to her site, and she provides the most amazing freebies and printables to help mamas along with homemaking.  Kemi creates a calendar for each month with daily home chores that you can receive via subscription to her site.  Check out her free printables section as well, where you’ll find forms for 36 Weeks of Clean, pages for caring for your home and garden, and time management helps.  Currently, my favorites of Kemi’s are her monthly cleaning calendars (they are even editable!) which she sends to subscribers, and her Household Bucket List, for home projects.

Bountiful April 13.  Meal plan

I am just someone who really benefits from a meal plan; and specifically, from freezer cooking.  What’s freezer cooking?  It’s preparing a number of meals (5-8) in ziploc or slow cooker bags and popping them into the freezer.  All you have to do for dinner then, on any given day, is to pull out the freezer bags, adding a little liquid so that your slow cooker liner doesn’t get cracked, and turning on the cooker.  6-8 hours later you have dinner!  You  might need to prepare a veggie, salad, or grain that evening, but the heavy lifting is already done.

I LOVE this.  Because honestly, my energy level at night is lower than it is in the morning/midday.  So having my family’s meals planned and cooking makes all the difference in the world for all of us getting a healthy meal.

There are books you can get at Amazon or the library on freezer cooking.  But you can also find amazing recipes and lists of recipes on Pinterest.  Really, you can take any slow cooker main dish recipe (almost) and turn it into a freezer meal.  Just keep back 1/4-1/2 C liquid to prevent that freezer shock to your crockpot, and add it with the frozen ingredients that morning!

Fall2015 1634.  Teach your kids to cook…..

There are so many awesome kid cookbooks out there.  Some of our favorites are the Usborne Children’s World Cookbook, both Eat Your Math Homework and Eat Your Science Homework.  We’re also fans of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.  Just select your family’s favorite cookbook and a fun recipe, and work step-by-step through the instructions with your child, assigning them age-appropriate tasks.


Summer 2016 2875.  And to clean alongside you!

Did you grow up learning to clean alongside your parents?  What a great gift to give our kiddos!  Of course we can all learn to care for our homes and cook meals.  But if homekeeping is already a part of our children’s lives, that’s one life skill they won’t have to learn on their own.

There are lots of ways to teach kids how to clean.  Just doing chores with them until they know how to complete them on their own is an incredible start.  Lots of bloggers and authors are making kid chore charts (again, check Pinterest for some ideas).  Today, I have a special giveaway opportunity!  I have copies of Times Tales’ Zone Cleaning for Kids and Bedroom Cleaning for Kids to bless one reader with.  This series makes homekeeping so easy for kiddos.  With this system, kids complete a task on a page, check it off with the dry erase marker, and flip the page over for the next day.  Simple, easy-to-understand, and fun to use.

Just enter via the Giveaway Tools form below!  And don’t forget to click through the links below to see what other Crew bloggers have to share.  They’re full of amazing tips and ideas this week!


Enjoy! –Wren

Crispy Falafel Salad!!

A delicious dish perfect for these hot summer days…It transports you to the Mediterranean!

Falafel box


  • 1 box organic chick peas
  • 2 T Hummus
  • 2T  Flour
  • 1 T Ras el Hanout (combo of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon,hot paprika).
  • 1/2 oz Parsley
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 c Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 c Panko
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1/2 c Feta
  • 2-3 T Olive Oil

Prep the ingredients and set aside in the order you will need them.

Wash and dry all produce, Peel and halve the cucumber lengthwise, scrape seeds out with t spoon, then slice into half moons (1/2-3/4″).

Falafel cucumbersFalafel half moons

thinly slice half of the onion and then dice the other.

Falafel diced ononsZest the lemon then cut in half. Pick 1/2 of the parsley leaves off stems and set aside. Chop the remaining parsley sans stems. Mince the garlic and drain and rinse the chick peas in a strainer.

Falafel zest

Falafel parsley leaves

Falafel parsley

Pickle the red onion: in a small bowl,combine the sliced onion with the juice of half the lemon.

Greek yogurt dressing: combine 1/2 c Greek yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, add 1/2 the chopped parsley and up to half the minced garlic to taste. Season with S&P,

falafel greek yogurt mix

Make the falafel mixture: in a medium bowl combine the chick peas and hummus, mashing together until smooth. Mix in the flour, ras el hanout, diced red onion, lemon zest, parsley and garlic. S&P to taste.

falafel chick and hummus

Cook the falafel fritters: add the panko to a bowl, form the falafel patties and roll into the panko (about 1 2/2 ” balls> Flatten each ball into a patty. heat 1/4 “olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the fritters to the oil mixture and cook on each side (3-4 minutes). Set aside on paper towels to drain, S&P to taste.

Dress the salad: toss the remaining parsley, cucumber ans pickled red onion, S&P.

falafel salad

Finish! Top the salad with the fritters, drizzle with Greek dressing and sprinkle Feta on top.


Falafel final


5 Curriculum Resources for High Schoolers ~ Crew Blog Hop “5 Days of Homeschool 101”

This week, one of my favorite Schoolhouse Review Crew events is happening–the Crew Blog Hop, this time entitled “5 Days of Homeschool 101!”  This week, Crew members will be blogging about curriculum, traditions, home management, planning, and encouragement.  Each blogger will be chatting about 3-5 of these topics.  I’ll be linking back to the main overall post as well as the topic posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  So excited for you to join us!

5 Days of Homeschool 101

5 Curriculum Resources for High Schoolers

This fall, we begin our first year of high school as Jackson enters 9th grade.  We have thought and prayed long and hard on what we’d be doing as we entered high school homeschool.  For us, 9th grade is looking like a literature- and history-based year of study of American history, with science and math (of course).  Jackson will also be continuing piano lessons and taking some drama classes at our homeschool coop.

We have been very eclectic over the years of our homeschool, using a huge variety of curricula and resources.  We’ve done online marine biology study; outside art classes; hiking clubs; math with textbooks, online, or manipulatives….and much more!  However, this year I really felt that our focus needed to be a bit tighter.  This is the year we begin accumulating credits for that high school transcript, for college admission.  I’d like to share with you some resources that I have found to be exceptional as I’ve prepared to enter this new homeschool season.


Sonlight booksSonlight

A friend told me years ago that Sonlight has the best book lists ever.  If you’re looking for vibrant, fascinating living books across a wide swath of history (as we are), she would be right!  Some of our most-beloved books were from years we spent using Sonlight curriculum:  Walk the World’s Rim, The Winged Watchman, Cheaper by the Dozen, Ginger Pye…so many rich books!

I’m really grateful for all of these, and for the new ones Jackson will be delving into this year.  Peace Child and The Cross and the Switchblade are just two of my personal favorites that my son will be introduced to, of the many on our reading list this year.  I highly recommend Sonlight.  They’ve filled our schooldays with beautiful words!



Have you ever visited The Old Schoolhouse Magazine‘s  It is a complete one-stop spot for an entire homeschool curriculum, from preschool to 12th grade!  Membership can be purchased for $12.95 monthly or $139 for a full year; that membership provides complete access for all courses and resources.  High School classes are available for every single subject category!  You’ll find classes (both in video or in print format) for computer science, foreign languages, art, drama, math, history, language arts….really, everything that must comprise a high school transcript!

Of course, any time The Old Schoolhouse Magazine creates anything it is high-quality. and its classes are no exception!


Progeny Press logoProgeny Press

We were very fortunate to be introduced to Progeny Press during the last school year, when Jackson was able to use their Introduction to Poetry and The Scarlet Pimpernel study guides.  For an intensive learning experience in literature from a Biblical worldview, nobody can beat the curriculum creators at Progeny Press.  They do create study guides for younger students, too; they’re just an exceptional resource for high school students.  Their courses are challenging yet beautifully teach excellent language and literature assessment skills.  I can’t recommend them highly enough.


Summer 2015 926Classical Conversations

We aren’t a classical homeschooling family; we’ve always been more eclectic in our curriculum choices.  But when I read Leigh A. Bortins’ The Conversation last year, I learned so much that I knew would equip me for our high school homeschooling years.  The author speaks not only to the character we’d like our children to have well-established as adults, she covers each high school subject and questions parents can ask of their selected curricula.  I was both encouraged and inspired after reading this book, and I know I’ll refer to it again.


Yes, Pinterest!  I have discovered so many wonderful boards about homeschooling a high schooler!  Here are some of my favorite pins that I’ve run across; just do a search on Pinterest for “Homeschooling High School” and you’ll be astounded by the wealth of options and ideas you’ll find!

Seven Sisters Homeschool: Transcript Necessities

His Mercy Is New: 100 Free Resources for Homeschooling High School

Walking By The Way: Homeschool Volunteer Log

5 J’s Homeschool: High School Credit Planner

The Home Scholar: College-Bound Reading List

Clearly, there’s so much more than this available.  There are homeschool boards for high schoolers on every school  subject, on character, on college prep….just do the search.  You’ll probably find tons of boards you want to follow.  The only issue I ever have with Pinterest is getting back to look at the articles I pin; but as long as you can do that, you’ll be fine!

More on the “5 Days of Homeschool 101” Blog Hop….

Crew bloggers will be posting every day this week.  Visit these links for more awesome homeschool info!

Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday –  Planning –
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

I’ll be back on Wednesday with some home management tips that have worked in our household.  See you then!

Enjoy!  –Wren


5 Days of Homeschool 101


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