Monday, January 12, 2015

Preparing and Using E-Books

I love using e-books in our schooling. there are just so many resources out there I would never have in my home library if it weren’t for e-books. Here are some tips from Living Books Curriculum to help you prepare and use your e-books effectively…


As we prepare for our 3-day 50% off sale of all digital books, including our grammar books and teaching guides starting Tuesday, January 13 at 5am...

I thought this is a perfect time to give you some tips about how best to print ebooks.

First, ebooks definitely have a place in your homeschool. I have used them for 15 years. They are no substitute for a library of "real books" but can be quite useful especially when stretching your budget for homeschooling.

1. Get a good, affordable laser printer

I use a HP Laser Jet 1012 (the latest is 1020). This is a very afforable printer that will last a long time. I have had mine almost six years with constant use. I have the cartridges refilled for $35 and they last over 6-8 months. Don't try to print ebooks on your printer that has expensive replacement ink. The end cost is too high. You might be better to find a place that prints them for .08 each (or less) and save yourself the hassle.

2. Get copy paper

Depending on how much you're going to be using ebooks, you may want to consider a case. Office supply stores often have good discounts. Half should be plain white and half three-hole punch white. I explain why below.

3. Three important items to have on hand

Three important things to have on hand to make printing a snap: metal book rings in different sizes, brass fasteners in different lengths (I use 2-inch most often) and three-ring binders. Watch for sales to purchase the binders. It helps quite a bit if they have the plastic front where you can insert a cover page.

4. To bind at home or at the copy center--which one?

Decide how you will use the books.If it is one of our subject guides that will be opened many times, then you would best print a copy and ask your local copy store to bind it (coil is best but comb is acceptable) and laminate the cover (title page). Then you will have a durable book that will last many years.

If it is a work of literature that is likely to be read only a few times then you can print it on three-hole paper and put it in a notebook, make a pretty cover page and slip it in the plastic front. To store the books so I don't have too many binders I use brass fasteners or metal book rings.

5. Storing ebooks

When your printed ebook is in a binder keep it in a bookshelf. You can purchase spine labels from and office supply store and label each book. It makes it soooo easy to find. If your keeping the books bound with rings or fasteners, store them in a clear plastic bin and label the contents so you can see at a glance.

Now that you know how easy and useful  it is to have a ebook library head on over to our ebook sale and load up on teaching guides, history, grammar, stories, poetry and more.

All the best,

Sheila Carroll

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Term 2 on the horizon here...

We will start on Term 2 officially Monday, but this week we are still working thru some math and English lessons for review, and finishing up some odds and ends projects yet. For us, the 'break' between Terms isn't as much a vacation as just a wrap-up week. 

While the crew spends their day on their work, my work includes pulling Term 1 notes from my daily binder and replacing them into the file to a,me room for my Term 2 sheets and goodies. The daily file box will be reloaded with the Term 2 lapbook and notebooking components for science and history, I will put up our new map work work for World History, and the reading shelf will be reworked with our main Term 2 titles and videos. They kids are excited....we read Johnny Tremain again, and we have the DVD on the shelf as well. We will probably start our Liberty Kids series this term as well. Term 2 will also move us into Australia and Antarctica. I haven't lined up our reading for these yet, so a trip to the library will be forthcoming I'm sure. Let's just hope I can keep them fully dressed and not sporting aboriginal attire for our hiking trips :-D

Term 2 will be broken into 2 work sessions to accommodate Thanksgiving. The schedule will be 7 weeks (10-7/11-22) then a break for Thanksgiving preps, then we will finish 2 weeks (12-3/12-13) and take a 3 weeks break for the winter season and Christmas, starting our next term January 6th. We will have plenty to do, probably still working math and such off and on, utilizing more hands-on lessons and the ever-popular kitchen math while we bake and cook. 

I've had a few notes about how we seem to be on a roll, things moving along at a great pace. Someone even said they were a bit envious of our homeschooling progress because their own days seem to get so jumbled. I love reading about the homeschooling adventures and plans of others. I am always inspired and motivated to up the ante around here. I have big plans, but I rarely have the big results I envisioned with those plans. Sure, I have the entire year laid out and ready to go, but the truth of it is our days are almost always interrupted by Life here...kittens getting into the wrong area, goats taking woodland visits without our knowledge, the cow walking past the driveway as she wanders down the road, fences that need unexpected repairs, chickens roaming about in need of better enclosures, an unplanned run to town or the Vet...there's always something.
It's LIFE, and trust me, we definitely live it here

I try to plan, but Life just happens, and rarely works in tandem with My Plans. And, of course, we have those days where the weather is just too enticing and we throw out the schedule and hit the road for a drive, or head to one of the parks and go on a long hike. Or we pack up the school bags and spend the day at the park, soaking up our lessons alongside an impromptu picnic by a lake.

What I'm saying is, don't believe our days flow on a smooth, even keel, or that we accomplish everything I already have laid out for school. We free form a great deal of our schooling. I should be more organized and strict in our scheduling, but I just don't roll that way. I try, but it's fighting an uphill battle. I'm just not hard-wired that way. My prayer is always that my free-ranging tendencies don't totally damage my children's future. I'm not worthy of homeschooling praises or followers. I'm just another homeschool mom swimming against the public school tide. Some days it works, some days we hit the rapids. 

So, onward to Term 2....Revolutionary War battles, here we come!

Homestead Meatballs

I was asked about the baked meatballs I made a post or two back. They aren't anything special really, just a simple baked meatball to add to the stash. They are relatively plain, a sort of meatball base if you will, so you can season and tweak as you please, yet they are yummy enough to soak up our favorite spaghetti sauce or delicious soup flavor.

3# meat of choice....all ground beef, ground turkey, ground sausage, or any combination.
1-2 medium onions, diced
Minced garlic or garlic powder (I use minced, about 1 TBS)
3 eggs
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs
3-6 TBS tomato paste (if you are tweaking spices, this could well be optional)

I don't use a mixer to blend these together. I did once, it produced a sort of 'baby food meat' texture I just didn't like baked. They did, however, fry up really nicely. I gave them a bit of fry time, then finished off baking in the oven. Not my favorite, but they were pretty good that way.
At any rate, I just dig on in with my hands and mash, and squish, and mix. 

If you can't have fun in the kitchen, what's the point, right?

So, take your bowl of mixed, squishy meat and start popping out meatballs. With this recipe, you will have about 60 smallish meatballs, or about 30 big boys. I used my ice cream scoop and ended up in the middle, with about 48 I think. Plop them onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375* for 30-40 minutes.
You can also put them into your muffin tins to bake. Grab one, cut it and check it for doneness. 

Disclaimer: I'm sure the baker purists can tell you what the proper internal meatball temperature needs to be, but I just cook until I like the looks of them inside, and they aren't burnt. No one has been poisoned off around the homestead yet, so I continue my practice. I'm not advocating you follow my lackadaisical method, just telling you what I choose to do myself.

So, you have a mess of meatballs now....whaddya do with them??  We toss the meatballs into our spaghetti sauce, we add them to veggie soup, use them in stew, make a meatball sub casserole (or regular meatball subs)... They freeze well, too. Not that I typically have many to freeze when the crew finds out I've made them...

I'd love to hear how you tweak up this meatball base and make it your own. And definitely share your favorite recipes...for the meatballs,  or for how you love to use them.