I’m all about sanity, especially when it comes to the Christmas season. I don’t make fancy food and guess what? People love my simple recipes.
My recipe for Oreo Truffles is no exception. I don’t make them as gifts because in a family of eight, they disappear almost as quickly as I make them. Whether you serve them to your family or wrap them up as gifts, they’re sure to be a hit.
Oreo Truffles Recipe
1 package of Oreos (or a generic brand of similar cookies to save money)
1 package of cream cheese, softened
2/3 package of chocolate almond bark
Process the entire package of Oreos in a food processor with the regular blade attachment until it’s crumbly. Add the cream cheese and process again until the mixture forms a ball. Put the mixture into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Melt almond bark in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring a few times before it’s completely melted. Form the chilled dough into quarter-sized balls. Drop into melted chocolate, rolling with a spoon until covered. Lift the truffle out with a spoon, tapping the spoon to remove excess chocolate. Roll truffle onto a wax-paper covered cookie sheet. Store completed truffles in the refrigerator. Use a knife to trim truffles to make them prettier…if they last long enough.
You can package them as a gift in boxes like these.
Be sure to check out the other great recipes at the Holiday Bake Hop at Our Thrifty Home.
At this time of year, I wish I were Oprah and could afford to give all my readers my favorite things for Christmas. While I can’t do that, I’m thrilled that I’ve been given some amazing gifts to pass on, many of them from 2 to 1 Conference Sponsors. If you’re a homeschooler involved in social media, I hope you’ll join me at 2 to 1 in October, 2016!
I am also purchasing a few of these gifts to bless a couple of my readers. I encourage you to enter for a chance to win the gifts in both giveaways, but to purchase them as well. If you win, some of your Christmas shopping is done! Would you like to hear more about these great gifts? Scroll down to see the Periscope video where I share more.
Great Gifts for Homeschoolers
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner
I am all about sanity for homeschoolers and there’s nothing like a planner to organize you and give you peace of mind. This comprehensive planner by Debra Bell is flexible enough to be used with any kind of homeschooling approach for up to six kids. My favorite aspect of the planner is that you’re encouraged to plan spiritually and to reflect on God’s grace to you throughout the week. Another huge plus is space to record the little victories! The planner was a gift from Apologia. I know you’ll love it! But if you want to make this an even better gift for yourself, ask for a night away to do some planning for the new year.
The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal
You can make any field trip you take this year that much more educational with this journal. Your kids will write about the story of their day and what they want to remember. But there are also spaces for specific field trips like state and seasonal trips. You don’t have to use Apologia Science to enjoy this journal. You could add a certificate to this promising a fun field trip. We have used a Groupon for rock climbing as a gift–a big hit! The journal is also a gift from Apologia.
Kids’ Reading Journal
Speaking of journals, if you’d like your kids to document their reading and learn more about literature at the same time, you’ll love the Kids’ Reading Journal. It’s so cute that once again, I want to write in it! Even better, it doesn’t bore kids by requiring the same journaling every day and it uses short entries that don’t overwhelm kids. Add a set of great books as a gift for young readers. The journal is a gift from Kim Sorgius of NotConsumed.com.
21 Lessons in 21st Century Music Appreciation
I’ve raved about this curriculum before. The truth is that I don’t care as much about my kids learning about 21st Century music as I do about learning it myself! The lessons are short and fun — perfect for a unit study, co-op, or just to use when you need a break from your regular curriculum, like now! Add a musical instrument that your child would like to try as a gift, like this beginner’s guitar. This curriculum is a gift from Gena Mayo of IChooseJoy.org.
Yancy & Friends Little Praise Party DVD
Maybe you have little ones who aren’t old enough to truly appreciate 21st Century music. They’ll love this DVD music video that includes Christmas and Easter praise songs. This would make a great stocking stuffer. A portable DVD player with headphones would be extra fun. It’s a gift from YancyMinistries.com.
If I Were a Puzzle by Kenneth Good
What would a homeschool gift package be without a book? This picture book by a pastor teaches character and would be a great gift (along with a puzzle like this underwater scene floor puzzle) for your preschooler. It’s a gift from Kenneth Good.
Enter the giveaway below and then scroll down to check out the gifts exclusively for you.
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Great Gifts for Christian Homeschool Moms
The Well Planned Day, On the Go Planner You have your Ultimate Homeschool Planner, but what about the rest of your life? The pretty Well Planned Day Planner tucks in your purse keeping your appointments and to-do’s organized with place for meal planning as well. Keep up with your goal to read through the Bible this year with the reading plan. Make this an extra-special gift for you or a friend by adding a set of my favorite erasable pens. The planner is a gift from HEDUA. That I May Know Him Bible Study The Christmas season is a perfect time for you to delve into a Bible study specifically about knowing the Lord better. It’s a short study, making it perfect for the busy holiday season. A new Bible with study notes would make this an even better gift. This is a gift from Homeworks By Precept. The Renewing Your Mind Project This book by Barb Raveling, a Bible study author who homeschooled her children, has changed my life. Next to the Bible, it is my #1 resource for managing emotions, changing habits, and meeting goals. I love it so much that the Kindle version is a gift from me to you. Add an “I Can Do Everything Through Him” journal to make this an especially generous gift for you or a friend. Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes+ Mascara from Younique Not long after I started using Periscope, I saw a broadcast by Kristin Blackwell who demonstrated this mascara. It doesn’t just coat the lashes with liquid, but with fibers that make the lashes appear thicker–much thicker. I ordered it immediately and love it. The mascara is a gift from Kristin Blackwell. Add an eyelash curler as an extra gift. Norwex Window/Polishing Cloth One thing that drives me crazy as a homemaker with many kids is keeping my windows clean. Why do kids feel the need to touch windows constantly? Cleaning them in the typical way involves lots of cleaner and paper towels that invariably leave residue on the windows. When I tried a Norwex cloth with plain water, I was astounded. It leaves my windows cleaner than any other method I’ve tried. My daughter helped me demonstrate in this Periscope broadcast. The Norwex cloth is a gift from me. Add a water mister bottle and you’re all set. Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lipstick I am usually too busy and lazy to reapply lipstick. When it’s gone, it’s gone. When I learned that there was a lipstick that I could apply once and have it last all day, I ordered it right away. And it works! It lasts so long that the only way to get it off completely is to wash it off. I use a makeup-removing toilette. It can make your lips feel a little drier than with no lipstick on at all. I like to reapply the gloss at those times and I wear Carmex to bed at night to keep my lips moist all day. The lipstick is a gift from me. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Are you looking for more gift ideas? Check out 60 of the Best Christmas Gifts for Kids.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. We know that, but it can be tough to do long workouts with our busy schedules. As a homeschooling mom, writer, and speaker, I know all about being time pinched. That’s why I love short workouts. If you choose the right workouts, they can be just as effective in helping you get fit and reduce stress as longer workouts. Here are my top six picks for short workouts you can do at home.
Scroll down to watch the Periscope broadcast of this post.
#1 Bill Phillips’ 20-minute HIIT
Ever since I completed the 12-week Body for Life challenge, I have continued to enjoy the high-intensity interval training that is part of the program. Each interval is one minute long. Your intensity is rated on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no difficulty and 10 being as hard as you can work. You do two minutes at a 5 intensity to warm up. You then do a 6-7-8-9 intensity rotation four times. You end with a 10 intensity and a 5 to cool down. I usually take longer to cool down.
Why I’m Crazy About It:
This workout can be done with almost any form of cardio you enjoy. It automatically adjusts for days when your energy is low. You can buy Body for Life or you can just follow the instructions above for free.
#2 Shawn Phillips’ 21-Day Fit
There is no question that the 45-minute weight training plan espoused in Body for Life is effective, but I wanted something quicker. When I learned about his brother Shawn’s plan, I knew it was perfect. You lift a challenging weight for a 30-second interval followed by a 30-second rest. You will need some dumbbells, but that’s all. You can sign up to get the exercise list at 21 Day Fit for free. I have used this workout for years and love it. I listen to music on my phone and use the Interval app so I know when to start and stop. I set the app up to change songs as well.
Why I’m Crazy About It:
It’s short, free, and provides the weight training that is critical to fitness and weight management. I also love that I can listen to my own music while I do it.
#3 Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred
This video uses Jillian’s hallmark rotation of cardio, strength training, and abs. It’s challenging, but she provides modifications and reminds viewers that she has 400-pound people doing these exercises. There are three levels of difficulty. It’s 20 minutes plus a short warm-up and cool down.
Why I’m Crazy About It:
I love the rotations and Jillian’s motivational style. It’s short, intense, and effective. This workout succeeded in eliminating the back pain my friend had suffered with for years. It retails for under $7. You can’t beat that!
#4 Daily Burn 15
These subscription online workouts are really just 15 minutes long. But don’t be fooled. They’re challenging! There are a number of 15-minute workouts to choose from. I watched them from an older Mac, but you could watch by attaching a computer to a bigger screen. Daily Burn offers a free trial to see if it’s for you.
Why I’m Crazy About It
I love that it truly is just 15 minutes long and that there are a variety of instructors to choose from. It’s cool that you can chat with instructors on Facebook via the website, too.
#5 Marie Claire’s 20-Minute Workout
I wrote about how great this workout can be for kids, but it’s great for anyone who wants a short workout. It requires no equipment except for a time keeper.
Why I’m Crazy About It
It’s a great workout to do when you travel because you do stairs. It’s also easy to make it a ten-minute workout by doing just one round.
#6 Chalene Johnson’s Turbo Fire
The complete set of DVDs in Turbo Fire includes 15-, 20-, and 25-minute high-intensity interval workouts. You’ll get your heart rate up and can get on with your day. This is the most expensive option I’ve listed at about $70 at the time of this writing. BeachBody does have sales, however.
Why I’m Crazy About It
Chalene has a way of making you feel like exercise is great fun. She’s the most energetic fitness instructor out there.
Choose one of these workouts to start with OR simply modify a tougher workout. Just because a workout runs for an hour, you’re not required to do it all. I often do just 15-20 minutes of a longer workout. Right now I am doing that with the excellent workouts from Roca Body Fitness.
Want more fitness inspiration? Follow my board on Pinterest.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Fitness Inspiration on Pinterest.
Even though fitness is a regular part of my life, I do a lot of sitting. I usually sit to read to the kids and I sit at the computer for many activities. That’s a problem.
The Problem with Sitting
Sitting a lot has been shown to decrease life expectancy. It also decreases caloric burn, thereby contributing to weight gain. Sitting can contribute to a number of physical disorders as outlined in The Washington Post.
Taking breaks from sitting is a great idea. We use the Move app between subjects. It suggests one-minute exercises at regular intervals.
Standing desks are another solution. I purchased this one. I have to admit I haven’t used it much. I really hate standing. I would rather walk a mile than stand in one place for a minute. I understand that standing has to be worked up to. I would like to work up to standing for at least one work period a day.
Because I like to walk, a treadmill desk is an option. The problem with this for me is the size, the expense, and the small work space.
I write with my ASUS Transformer attached to a large monitor. Here’s my review of the ASUS Transformer if you’re looking for a compact laptop.
The latest option I heard about was the FitDesk. This is smaller and less expensive than a treadmill desk. But the size of the work space is still an issue. I would have to work using only my small laptop, which isn’t optimal.
The Fitness Sanity Saver That Works for Me
In considering the former options, I found the DeskCycle. It meets all my needs. It is small and fits under my desk/work table, inexpensive, and allows me to use my full-size monitor. I am using it while I write this. It doesn’t move and is completely quiet. While I still need to get up and walk around every hour, I feel very good about staying active during long stretches at the computer. I did a review of it on Periscope if you want to see exactly how I’m using it.
Follow my Fitness Inspiration board for more ideas.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board Fitness Inspiration on Pinterest.
The weather outside is still frightful where we are, making it hard for kids to get the exercise they need. I’ve talked about ways to give your kids exercise before, but I started thinking that I wanted another option.
I remembered using this workout from Marie Claire on vacation and loving it. I realized it would be a perfect winter workout for kids if I made it into a checklist. This is a routine you can easily do WITH your kids. Here’s what I love about it:
- Kids can control the intensity of the workout with pace. Less fit kids can go slower.
- It uses only body weight and no equipment besides stairs.
- It’s hard. One of the things I don’t understand is why kids’ exercise videos are so easy, they won’t even sweat, when a simple game of tag that kids play all the time is enough to wipe me out.
- It’s quick. It takes 20-minutes to do the entire routine or 10 to do just one round.
First let me say that I am not a physician or personal trainer. I didn’t create this routine nor can I say that it’s safe for you or your child. Please make sure you are cleared by your doctors to do these exercises and STOP if you are in pain and not just tired.
If you would like to give your kids (and yourself) a good quick workout during these cold winter days, print it out and give it a try. I laminated mine so kids can check off each step and reuse it. You will need to have a timer of some sort handy (iPods or smart phones work great). Finally, you may want to play some upbeat music! Make it fun and kids will want to keep exercising.
What other ways do you use to keep kids fit in the winter?
Be sure to follow my Fitness Inspiration board on Pinterest. [pinterest-master]
Valentine’s Day is coming up–the day that reminds far too many married women that they’re not married to a romantic. Unfortunately, the communication problem isn’t limited to one day a year.
A psychologist friend and I were bemoaning the struggle our men have in knowing what to say to us to create intimacy. My friend laughed, “They need a cheat sheet!”
“That’s a great idea!” I told her. And Pillow Talk Printables were born. I created a list of compliments and conversation starters that can make any man a romantic. I knew I needed a discreet way of keeping them bedside and decided to make them Altoid-tin size. Scroll down for the link and printable directions, but first I have a few tips to make the cards the most effective.
#1 Select the conversation starters you like most
I created 30 compliments or conversation starters. Some of these may do nothing for you. No problem! Just don’t use those you don’t care for. I included blank cards for you to add the words you most long to hear.
#2 Stay positive
My own husband has educated me that romance for him (and I suspect for many men) is intimidating. He admitted he would rather not even try than fail. To counteract that hesitancy, DO NOT CRITICIZE if your man is bold enough to use these cue cards. In fact, may I suggest rewarding him the best way you know how? 🙂 This is not the time to bring up past conflicts. Those are best kept away from the pillows.
#3 Put the blame on you
When you present these cards to your man, explain that you know women can be hard to understand and you’re sorry about any confusion you’ve created. You are giving him these cards, you’ll say, to simplify things. When he wants to be intimate with you (however he defines that), he can choose a card to start a conversation. Remind him that the most erotic part of a woman’s body is her mind and that you’ll be so happy if he gives the cards a try. Promise that you won’t be critical.
Note: If your husband is still resistant to using the cards, ask him why. There may be hurt feelings or unresolved conflict that must be addressed before using them. If you need help building communication skills, see your pastor or marriage counselor.
Great gift idea
These cards would make a great anniversary gift and would be a lovely bridal shower gift, especially for a couples’ shower. Maybe your own man is romantic, but you know someone who could benefit from this romance cheat sheet. Please pin it and share it to strengthen marriages.
Save the cards to your computer and print them on cardstock. I prefer white. Cut the cards of your choice out on the lines and add them to an empty, clean Altoids tin. Use the “Pillow Talk” card as a cover for the box. I recommend adhering it with glue dots.
Be sure to check out the other iHomeschool Network free printables!