Breadmaker

One item that I have a hard time finding without corn (I’m allergic to it) is bread. For Christmas I was given an Oster express two pound bread maker. Not only can it make bread, but it can also knead dough, and bake jam. So far I’ve used the bread maker three times and I’m very satisfied. The first two loaves that I made came out great. They were soft, moist and tasted better than any store bought bread I have had. The last loaf that I made wasn’t as good. I had found a recipe online and the bread didn’t cook evenly. It burnt on the outside but was not done inside. I followed the directions which stated to use the “quick bread” settings and after it cooked I realized that I should have used the sweet bread setting. I felt that the first two loafs were a little too soft to use for sandwiches, but they were great for toast or bread and butter. I can’t wait to try different types of breads and make my own recipes.


It is very easy to use and clean up is simple. To make the bread you just add the wet ingredients, then the dry ingredients, and finally the yeast. After that you select the setting you want and wait for the timer to go off. You can start it right away or set it to start cooking later. It will even keep the bread warm for an hour after it has finished cooking, but I don’t know how anyone could wait that long. It makes the house smell so good! The pan lifts out of the bread maker easily and all three loafs that I made slid right out. It washed up easily and was ready for the next time I wanted to use it. The only problem I have with it is the size. It is quite large and I still haven’t found a place to store it. I guess if I don’t put it away that means it will be readily available when I need it. If you are looking for a nice bread maker this might be the one for you.
Find out more about it at http://www.oster.com/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=2470

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Hi everybody I know I haven’t blogged in a few weeks I’ve been busy with doctors appointments and finishing up the first semester of school. I recently got a new product it is called Dragon Naturally Speaking. In fact I’m typing this blog using it. For those of you that don’t know, Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech recognition software. You speak into a microphone and the software types what you say. I have to say it does take a little bit to get use to. According to the website the more you use it the easier it becomes. In writing this blog I have had to edit it quite a bit, but I must say it is a lot of fun to use.

I’m going to continue to use the product and work with it to see if it becomes easier. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just talk and not have to type? I hope this product is as good as it sounds.

I hope that everyone had a nice week.

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An update on Dragon Naturally Speaking– I have completed a few more tutorials and know what to do and how to use it a little better. My little one has even set up a profile on it and has used it a few times. I don’t have to edit what it types nearly as often and it is getting faster at recognizing what I say. I have a cold right now though and today it didn’t recognize anything that I was trying to say. I got frustrated and decided to just type. I hope when my voice is back to normal it will recognize me again, I was getting use to not typing.

The Start of a New Year

The holidays are over and it is time to start getting back into a routine. Piano lessons will be starting up again soon, gymnastics began again on Thursday, and school officially starts again tomorrow. We do school work; Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. We started Friday to give us a jumpstart.

Between no school, me going back to work, and my leg giving me a lot of trouble our sleep schedule has really gotten out of whack. Housework and laundry have been put on the back burner and cooking just doesn’t seep to happen. Now that all has to change as we get back to our organized chaos.

We have two more weeks until the end of the first semester and we are working hard to tie up all the loose ends and finish out strong. Here is what our week has looked like so far and what we are planning the next few days.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Literature – We just finished the short novel, A Lion to Guard Us. It was about a little girl, living in England, whose mother died and father is in America in 1610. It was a good story and my little one seemed to enjoy it.

Vocabulary – This unit has words that are a lot easier so we will just be doing the book work.

Spelling – I don’t care for the workbook we have for spelling and neither does my little one. We do our own thing but I found a tick tac toe activity pack online that we have been using lately. I break her list of words into two sections and she does two activities off of the tic tac toe sheet each day. There are a few different cards to use and my little one seems to be enjoying it and remembering her words. If you are looking for a different approach to spelling check it out! This blog had a lot of neat things and ideas. http://heerenshappenings2.blogspot.com/2012/07/spelling-goodies.html

SCIENCE

We are finishing up the unit on the human body. My little one received a smart lab amazing squishy brain for Christmas. We put that together and learned a little more in-depth about the brain. We will also be taking the semester test at the end of the week.

HISTORY

We are continuing to learn about slavery and the American Civil War. We learned about Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg address.

ART

She learned about Paul Cezanne and made a chalk drawing of a mountain.

MATH

We are on the Algebraic thinking unit. So far she has learned how to solve equations with two variables and about the coordinate plane. We will continue to work with the coordinate planed and line segments. For a little extra practice I will be printing a few of these worksheets.

http://www.math-aids.com/Graphing/Four_Quadrant_Graphing_Characters.html

They are like a dot to dot, but you have to plot the points and then connect them. I am hoping that my little one likes them and learns in the process.

I’m wishing everyone a good start to the New Year.

December

I don’t know about everyone else, but December is always a busy month for my family. We love Christmas. The songs, lights, decorations, and just the atmosphere. We normally start decorating the day after Thanksgiving and this year was no exception.

 
We didn’t do any outside decorating because I can’t use a ladder, but our house was still very festive.

 
The kitchen, living room, bathroom and dining room all had a touch of Christmas.

 
We are very big Disney fans. With the exception of a few snowmen and Santa things the rest of our house is decorated with Disney.

 
It started with a few ornaments about five years ago and has gradually taken over. I love it!
We didn’t do much baking this year. I ran out of both time and energy. I did attempt a few recipes that were corn free but they still need a little work.

 
We did a few Christmas crafts. I had found a foam wreath for a dollar last year and my little one enjoyed decorating it as well as two door hangers.

 
 She also put together Santa’s workshop and a manger. We talked about how Santa is nice but that Jesus is the real reason for the season.  We read a couple of Christmas books and watched a lot of Christmas movies while snuggled up warm in a blanket drinking hot chocolate.

 
We a lso got together with my best friend and decorated gingerbread houses.

 
This use to be a tradition we had with a dear friend Barbara who passed away last year. She was unable to participate last Christmas and we decorated them with my friend. This is our new tradition. We are already thinking of ideas for next year.

 

 

 

 

 
One day we went to Knotts Berry Farm for the free craft fair. My little one was able to see Santa, and we had a nice day looking around and enjoying all of the Christmas decorations.

 
Then I found out I had to go back to work. It was only about a week and a half before Christmas so we didn’t end up doing all of the things I had planed. I had to go back working the overnight shift so my sleep schedule was really messed up. We didn’t get to go see Christmas lights or decorate cookies but it all turned out ok in the end. I finally got my cast off and I am now in a brace.
We had a wonderful Christmas morning.

 
A few days after Christmas we spent the day at the Santa Ana Zoo.

 
 It was very festive and a lot of fun. It has been a long month and I am looking forward to the new year. The main downfall is that I will be celebrating the New Year at work. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe new year.

Thanksgiving

My little one had the week off of school and we have enjoyed it. I have been doing a lot of cleaning this week, all of the stuff that normally gets put off until later. It has been nice to learn and be together without doing all of the book work. This week we did two small crafts and she had a ton of fun.

We bought a turkey decorating kit from Target for only $1. It ended up being a cute little center piece for the table. My little one was able to put it together for the most part by her self. When she was building the body the wings had to be put into the legs and that didn’t seem to work. They kept popping out. We ended up using a little bit of tape and the turkey was able to stand.

Then she decorated it with a lot of stickers. I like the finished project.

This was a fast craft that didn’t make any mess, I am going to have to check out the dollar section at Target more often. They seem to have a lot of crafty items. I also got a 10 pack of foam shape hands there too. We used those for another craft.
First she glued the hand to construction paper.

Then she cut out feathers from construction paper and glued them onto the fingers. She cut out a beak and glued on a googlie eye. Then she gave it some feet and decorated the page with some of the left over stickers from the turkey craft. She ended up making a card out of it and giving it to her grandma.
 
Next week it will be back to more school work but I was glad we were able to have a little bit of fun. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!



Habit Burger Grill

While we were in Aliso Viejo for my little ones gymnastic meet we had lunch at the Habit Burger Grill. The restaurant was extremely clean and the service was fast. The cashier was friendly and very efficient. The atmosphere in the restaurant was nice as well.

I ordered a cheeseburger and a garden salad. The cheeseburger was moist, juicy and cooked just right. I was expecting a small salad but I got one that was big enough to share. The cheeseburger was $3.45 and the salad was $3.95.

 I feel it was well worth the price. My mom ordered the pastrami meal which came with french fries and a medium drink for only $9.50. She couldn’t even finish it because it was so filling. She said it was a very good sandwich.

My little one ordered the grilled cheese meal. Boring, but it is what she likes. It came with fries, a piece of candy and a drink. She chose milk, but after she took a drink we found out it was sour. The switched it for juice instead. Her meal was only $3.95. After we ate we stopped in the restroom. I have to say outside of Disneyland I have NEVER seen a cleaner public restroom. I was very surprised to see that.

We all enjoyed our food and the prices as well. I would say that their cheeseburger would rank amongst an In and Out one and you can’t top that in my opinion! I wish that there was a restaurant closer to us but unfortunately there isn’t.

Weekend Get Away

 
We had a long drive to my little one’s championship meet so we decided to make a weekend out of it. The hotel that was closest to the meet and was giving discounted rated was the Renaissance ClubSport Hotel in Aliso Viejo California. We left Friday afternoon and had an adventure. I had printed directions to the hotel off of mapquest. I use that site a lot and normally it is fine. This time however the directions included toll roads which we had never used before. To top that off we forgot the GPS at home! We didn’t mind paying to use the toll road, but we didn’t know what we were doing or where we needed to be. It was a tad bit stressful but after two toll roads we made it to the hotel.

When we arrived we were greeted by a very nice lady in the lobby. We had a little issue because we don’t have credit cards just a debit card. I guess that they can’t put a hold on the debit card and charge it at the end of the stay like every other hotel we have been to. We got that little situation figured out and then headed to our room.

 
Now to be fair I am a member of the Disney Vacation Club and have not had to pay for a hotel in about five years. We always stay in a Disney hotel so this hotel was a bit different. It would not be our choice of a hotel as it was more of a fitness hotel. Two handicap adults and a child don’t exactly fit in at that type of hotel. That being said we did enjoy our stay.


The room looked very nice when we arrived. We stayed in room 418 it was a handicap accessible room.

 
 It had two full size beds, a desk area with a very comfortable computer chair, and a rolling table. The bathroom was beautiful.

 
 
The only complaint with the bathroom area would be that they didn’t give us enough towels. There were three of us but only two towels. That was an easy fix though. The shower was our favorite part. It had a seat that could fold down or be pushed up out of the way. The water stayed nice and hot and because of the seat I didn’t have to stand on one foot the entire time. (I still have a cast on my leg) There was also a TV, a closet area and a coffee maker. The view, although it was of the parking lot, was rather nice. The main thing missing from the room was a small refrigerator. That was disappointing as we have medication that needs to be kept cold, but the ice chest worked pretty well. Another thing that we were not too happy about was the coasters; they were used already and looked discussing. We threw them away.

 
The first night we didn’t do much. We took a shower, watched some television, ate dinner and relaxed.

 The next morning we slept in and then began our day. We brought along some food with us and ate breakfast in the room.

It was fairly cool that day. We went to find the gym that was hosting the meet, and it was good that we did because we got a little lost on the way. After figuring out where we needed to be the next day we were hungry. Since we didn’t have the GPS and didn’t know the area we didn’t go too far. We found the town center that had everything and looked for a place to eat lunch. We ate at The Habit Burger Grill. I had never been to one before but it was very nice.

Then we stopped at a few stores and decided to head back to the hotel.

 

When we returned to the hotel we were very disappointed at the state of the room.


 Again there were only two towels, the coasters that we had thrown away were back on the counter, the beds looked like they were made by someone who didn’t know what they were doing, and they didn’t leave any ice bags.


We called and got more towels and new bags for the ice bucket and decided to do a little school work.


After a while we headed down stairs to explore the hotel area. We found the gift shop closed it was only 7pm but it was already closed. We explored a little and found a sauna, work out room, and basket ball court. We didn’t use any of them. Then we looked at the restaurant. Unfortunately it was not our type of food. Everything was very high class and had a lot of sauces. With my food allergy I need to know everything that is in the food, so we couldn’t eat there. We went back to our room and ordered pizza from Porky’s Pizza. It was very good.


While we waited on the pizza we worked on some science lessons. She learned about worms, sponges, leaches and other creatures. After a few science lessons we played a few hands of UNO.


She won every hand and had a fun time.


The best part of being at a hotel to her though, is getting ice.


She loves to use the ice machine.


Our pizza arrived, we ate, and then got ready for bed. We packed up our stuff and got a good night sleep.


The next morning we checked out very easily and headed to the gymnastic meet.


Overall I would say the hotel was nice. It didn’t seem to be too kid friendly. House keeping left a lot to be desired but customer service and friendliness was excellent. We enjoyed our stay however it is not likely we would ever return. For those that enjoy working out and who want to spend time getting massages it would be a great fit. I think we will stick to Disney Hotels though.

 

Gymnastics

The fall season of gymnastics is over for the year so our life will be a little less hectic for a few months. Well less hectic with gymnastics anyways. Our weekends will not be taken up with meets. My little one is on the level three competitive team and they just competed in their championship meet last weekend.

It was the fourth meet away from the gym for the season and overall she had a great season. Where we live the level three gymnasts don’t receive actual scores for their routines, they are given a ribbon that represents a score within a certain range.
Green – Below 7.0
Blue – 7.0 to 7.475
Purple – 7.5 – 7.975
Hot Pink – 8.0 – 8.975
Rainbow -9.0 +

This season she received mostly rainbow and pink ribbons with only two purple ribbons on the bars.

The bars are her weakest event, she is working on her arm strength and hopefully her bar routine will improve. On the other hand she is great on the beam.

She received a rainbow ribbon all but one time on the balance beam. Her floor and vault vary, some meets she would get a pink ribbon and other meets she would get a rainbow one. A lot depended on if the judges were judging extra hard or not.

The girls don’t receive scores in an effort to keep the competition down. They don’t compete against each other but against their self. I like that idea but wish that they were given an actual score. My little one receives the highest ribbon on the beam most of the time so she feels like she doesn’t need to improve on any skills, but in reality she does. If she knew she scored a 9.1 she might work to get that score to a 9.5. On the other hand if she knew she was only .1 away from getting a rainbow on bars she might take her coaches corrections more seriously. Either way she had a lot of fun this season and did a great job.

She has a great coach who works with her very well. She is hard on her when she needs to be but doesn’t push to hard. My little one loves her coach, she has been working with her in some way for the last four and a half years.

She loves to compete, but this is my little ones favorite time at gymnastics. They are no longer practicing routines, but they are working on new skills. This is also the time of year that I won’t always stay at the gym and watch her. Having her home with me all of the time makes Christmas shopping a tad bit difficult so I have to grab every spare moment that I can. This year has gone by so fast. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week. The good news is that my little one has the week off of school so we might be able to do a few fun crafts for the season. This will be the first year trying to make a corn free turkey dinner so wish me luck.

Halloween

We were running a little late on Halloween and I didn’t know if we were going to have time to carve my little one’s pumpkin before it got dark. Then when we walked down the Halloween aisle at the store and I saw these pumpkin dress up kits. They only cost $4.88 and when I asked my little one what she thought about them she was excited to try them out. The package said it would decorate 6 small to medium size pumpkins, and I think it really would have. It came with two different masks, different sized googlie eyes, pipe cleaners, pom pom balls, glue, and a lot of different glittery stickers.


After looking at the package she decided that she was going to make a cat out of her pumpkin. 

 It was a very easy way to decorate a pumpkin. The only thing I had to help her with was tying the string onto the mask. 

 Everything was provided except for scissors, but the only time we needed those was to open the glue. 

This was her finished pumpkin. We still have a lot of stuff left over that we can use on other crafts, and this was the easiest and cleanest pumpkin decorating we ever did. I know that a lot of the fun is in the mess of the pumpkin and digging out the seeds, but this year that just wasn’t able to happen. She had a lot of fun decorating her pumpkin this way. We might buy a kit like this next year. She could decorate it like this earlier in the month and then carve it a few days before Halloween. Twice the fun for not much of an extra cost.

 After her pumpkin was all finished she dressed up in her costume. and waited for it to be dark enough to trick or treat. It didn’t get dark in our area until 6:30. Then she when trick or treating around my grandma’s neighborhood. 

Showing off her tail.

Fixing her bow tie before we left.

 She had a blast trick or treating. We even stopped by a church that was handing out free hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy. After a while though, her leotard alone was too cold. We stopped back at grandma’s and put her long sleeve shirt on under the leotard.

 On the way home we stopped to get something to eat at Carrows. The waiter gave her this little cauldron with candy. She got a ton of candy. 

  

 This is a photo of all of her candy. Way to much for her, and I can’t eat the majority of it.

After we were home we looked on the computer and found out that her little team mate from gymnastics had fallen off of the monkey bars at school and broke her arm. She was at the hospital and didn’t get to trick or treat. She was okay, but won’t get to do gymnastics for about 6 weeks. The first thing out of my little one’s  mouth was, “I need to give her some of my candy.” We told her that was a nice idea and were expecting her to come out with a few pieces. Nope, she filled up one of the buckets she had from Mc Donald’s and gave it to her today. We asked her if she was sure she wanted to give her so much and she said, well she is my best friend and since I have a lot and she didn’t get any candy I need to give it to her. It was one of those proud moments knowing we are raising her the right way.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

We Made It Through!

We made it through the first quarter of school! My little one worked very hard and completed all of her assigned lessons and her study island lessons too. We had planned on taking it a little slower and putting more fun into school, but that didn’t exactly happen. Our teacher wants the work samples for the second quarter turned in within the first two weeks of the second quarter. That means the lap book we were going to do for science is out because with our work samples she has to do all of the worksheets and any projects that are in the lesson exactly as they are written. We will have to do that lap book on another unit. Our school requires 1 work sample per subject every quarter, but our teacher requires 2 from each subject every quarter. My little one has been working on it for a week and has completed her samples for; math, history, language arts, and art. The only ones she has left is science. Halloween is just around the corner and I wanted to throw in some holiday fun. Hopefully in the next few days we can squeeze some in. We have her pumpkin and her costume all ready. She is counting down the hours until she gets to trick or treat. This is the first year that she won’t be a princess for Halloween  She finally out grew the dresses at the Disney Store so we had to pick something different. Luckily she is easy to please and decided to be a cat. Her costume only cost us $4.96 and is really cute. I will post pictures after Halloween. I hope everyone has a safe Halloween!