Monday, September 29, 2014

The Homeschool Series - How I Lesson Plan + Erin Condren Teacher Planner Review

When I first started homeschooling, lesson plans were a little bit intimidating to me. It took me a few years to really find a good system that worked for us. The first year, I tried to plan everything out at the very beginning. Yeah, that wasn't smart. Plans and schedules change. I now plan out when we are going to take breaks and holidays, and then only lesson plan once a week.

My curriculum comes with detailed curriculum plans, but I still needed something to keep up with what lesson we are on each day, a place to add notes, a place to keep up with attendance, grades, extra reading, PE classes and meetups, and field trips.

This year I decided that the Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planner would be the perfect fit for everything I wanted to keep up with. Last year I used the free printable that I liked, but I really wanted something that was already printed and spiral bound. I do think that this particular planner is pricey, but I have been using it for a two months so far and am very happy with my purchase. The layout is perfect for how I like to plan. I look forward to getting out this planner each week and filling it in with our plans for the coming week. That is worth a lot to me!

I am going to take you through each section of the planner and show you how I use it. Since this is a Teacher/Lesson Planner there were a few sections that didn't apply to homeschool planning, but I will show you how I tweaked them to work for me.

One of the fun things about the Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planners is that you can choose your cover and have it personalized or customized. I went with a standard cover, chose the color I wanted,  and then chose the personalization that I wanted.  

There are a few pages for personal info, frequently used websites, and passwords. I have filled these in, so I am not going to show them to you. 

  I used the plain stickers from the back to relabel the sections that I am using differently.

The first main section is "dates". I don't have a classroom full of students, so I use this section to keep track of the Bible verses that we are memorizing each month. 

The next section is "absent", but I don't need that either. I thought it would be useful to use as a log for extra reading. I just used more stickers from the back and changed the name of the headings. You can see we haven't done much extra reading yet this year.

There is a "graph" section that it really nice, but I haven't used it for anything just yet. I will most likely use it for doodles. 

Next up is the "yearly plan". I decided to use this for planning our Art Projects for the year. Last year Cade took an art class  at a local place. This year I decided that I would do one fun art project each month with the boys. I like that I can look at them all in one place, and have plenty of room to write down any extra supplies that I may need.

The "calendar" section is really nice. I guess I didn't take picture of the whole spread, but it is two pages. You have to fill in the dates yourself, but that works for me. It use it to keep up with planned days off and extra activities like PE class and field trips.  

 At the end of each month in the "calendar" section there are a few note pages. These are great for making lists and taking notes. I used this to plan our curriculum I needed for the year. It was very helpful. I will also be able to look back at the end of the year and know what curriculum was borrowed and be able to return it.

The "lessons" section is the reason I wanted to planner. I like the way it is set up. I like that the weeks are numbered. I like that it is super fun and colorful. This is the section that I use the most.

I sit down sometime on Sunday afternoon or evening and fill this out for the coming week. I fill in the dates and subjects at the top. I then write in the Lesson # and pertinent page numbers. This becomes our To Do List for the week. I highlight each item/lesson as it is completed. It makes it easy to tell what comes next and what it left at a glance. If we don't finish something during the week, I simply add it to the next week. This system has worked really well for us. 

 The last section is the "check list". I use this for keeping track of grades. There are several pages, so it would work well for multiple children or for keep up with multiple things.

There are a few other fun things in the back of the planner. There is a little plastic pouch, a pocket folder, and 2 clear sleeves for keeping up with whatever you want to keep up with, and a few pages of pre-printed and plain stickers.

The Review

 I am very pleased with the planner overall. It is beautiful, it meets my needs, and the quality is excellent.

I would rather it not cost as much as it does, but after using the planner, I can say that I will happily buy one each year. It really is worth the money.

Customer Service
I made a mistake when I ordered my planner, but realized it within an hour of placing the order. I forgot to change the start month from January to August. I immediately went to the website to see what I needed to do. There is no phone # for customer service. You have fill out a form online. I did this. It took several days for them to contact me, but I was eventually contacted and assured that the change would be made. I received my order, but the mistake had not been correct as I had been assured that it would be. My planner started in January instead of August. It takes several weeks for orders to be processed, and I didn't have another several weeks to wait for another planner. I filled out another form and told them then I didn't have time to wait for a re-print, and requested a credit to use for another purchase at another time. Since the dates were not pre-filled, I decided to just use the planner as is. I was contacted again. Customer service for very nice. They apologized for their mistake and gave me the credit that I had requested. I am a happy customer and will continue to order from them. 

Why I Chose the EC Teacher Planner instead of the Plum Paper Teacher Planner
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you may remember that I chose the Plum Paper Planner to use as my everyday planner. You can see that review and follow up review here and here

 It all came down to the size when picking a Lesson Planner. The Erin Condren Teacher Planner is a full size planner. The Plum Paper Teacher Planner is the a good bit smaller. It is the same size as the everyday planner. I personally prefer the larger size for lesson planning.

Is this Planner Necessary for Successful Homeschool Planning?
Nope. There are many great options out there for homeschool planning. Last year I used a free printable planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler. It was great, I just wanted something that was already done for me this year. I figure by the time I printed all of the pages I would have spend nearly the same money on ink and paper. I also prefer a spiral bound planner. I figure that I buy new books and supplies every year for my kiddos. Mama deserves a pretty planner to use everyday.

I was not paid for writing this review. I did contact EC and asked for a Free planner to review, but I did not receive one. I was given a partial credit towards part of the purchase since I reached out to them.  All opinions are my own.

If you are new to Erin Condren products, and are interested in purchasing a planner of your own, please use this referral code. You will receive $10 off of your first purchase, and I will receive a credit to use on a future purchase.

The Homeschool Series - Intro
The Homeschool Series - Our Curriculum Choices
The Homeschool Series - Unexpected Encouragement

Linking to:
What You Wish Wednesday

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What You Wish Wednesday No. 19 + Features

Welcome to another What You Wish Wednesday! I hope you are all having a wonderful week.

This Week's Features

Elizabeth at All Kinds of Things has a great round up of Truck Books for Little Boys.

Priscila from Unfading Beauty has a fun Fall Candle Project. 

Sarah Ann from Faith Along the Way has a great Scripture Printable. She also has a challenge going on that you might want to check out.

Grab a button for your blog if you were featured!

We also have a new Pinterest Board so that you can see all of the "What You Wish Wednesday" Features in one place. You can follow along HERE.

Alright, it's your turn to link up your posts this week.

WYWW Details:

  • Share a recent post from your blog. 
  • Include the WYWW button (code below) and/or a visible link-back to this post.  
  • Check out a few of the shared links.
  • By submitting a link, you are giving me authorization to feature your post.  If your post is featured, I will include a picture and a link to your site to share the love!
  • In order to be considered as a feature you need to have a visible link back to WYWW somewhere in your post. You can use the button provided or a text link back.
  • Follow along: 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How To Recover an Ugly Notebook

I have a super quick little craft project for you today.

A few weeks ago I decided that we should switch several rooms around in our house. It has been kind of crazy around here with all of the furniture moving, putting new furniture together, moving cables, getting rid of junk, and so on. We are making progress, but sometimes you just need to do a quick project just for fun.

This is that project.

I normally would probably not recover a notebook. I would just buy a pretty notebook to begin with. But this particular notebook is kind of special. I found it a few weeks ago at my parent's house while going through more of my Mom's stuff. She had tons of notebooks for lists, and recipes, and all kinds of things. When I opened this notebook it had a Thanksgiving Menu List and a few recipes. She had only written on a few pages, so I decided to keep it and use it. I know I'll enjoy seeing her handwriting when I flip through it. I also knew that I would enjoy the notebook more if I liked the cover.

Nothing a little scrapbook paper and Mod Podge can't fix!

Supplies Needed
Scrapbook Paper
Paper Cutter or Ruler, Pencil, and Scissors
Mod Podge
Paint Brush

- Measure the cover of your notebook and cut the scrapbook paper 1" wider and 1/2" longer than the cover

 (sorry that this pic is a little blurry)

- Completely cover the front cover of the notebook with Mod Podge using a paint brush

- Attach the paper to the front of the cover. I have the best results by starting at the top (make sure it is centered), and then smoothing it out slowly working my way to the bottom.

- Turn the cover over and fold the paper that in towards the cover making a nice crease.
- Open it back up and then add Mod Podge to the extra and fold over on the notebook to make a nice clean edge. Do the 2 sides first.

 - Cut the little corners off of the bottom and then repeat the previous step for the bottom.

- You now have nice clean edges on your notebook.

I stop here, but you can apply Mod Podge to the front of the cover to make it a little more durable. I would suggest using the Matte finish if you do this step.

This is such an easy project. It took me less than 5 minutes from start to finish. It was nice to actually finish a project!

Have you ever recovered an ugly notebook?

Linking this project to:

What You Wish Wednesday

Monday, September 22, 2014

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Y'all! This is so good!

Grilled Pimento Cheese is like a regular Grilled Cheese Sandwich take up several notches. I had one at a restaurant a few weeks ago, and knew that I could recreate this at home.

This would be perfect paired with a cup of Tomato Soup.

Homemade Pimento Cheese
8oz of Colby Jack Cheese, Shredded
1-2 Tbsp of Pimento, plus a little bit of juice
1/3 c. Mayo (That is a guesstimate. I have never measured; just add it until you have reached the desired consistency)

Mix with a fork until combined.

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich
2 slices of white bread
a few scoops of Pimento Cheese

Butter one slice of bread and then put butter side down in a heated skillet. Add Pimento Cheese and then top with  the second slice of buttered bread, butter side up. Cook until nice and golden brown and then flip to the other side. It is done once both sides are golden brown and Pimento Cheese is melted and gooey.


Linking this post to:

What You Wish Wednesday
Your Designs This Time - Little House of Four

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan #14

 Sunday Lunch - Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich, Chips

Sunday Dinner - Leftovers

Monday - Sweet and Sour Chicken, Rice, Egg Rolls

Tuesday- Roasted Chicken Legs, Sweet Potatoes, and Peas

Wednesday - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Thursday - Chicken Fajitas

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Homemade Pizza

Linking this post to:

What You Wish Wednesday

Monday, September 15, 2014

On a Break - What You Wish Wednesday No. 18


I just wanted to let everyone know that I have injured my shoulder and can not sit up or type right now. I will be back once I have had time to heal. I just wanted to let you know. If you are looking for WYWW, please go to one of my co-hosts sites to link up.


I am still not fully recovered but am doing much better. I'm still having to take it easy. I went ahead and added the link party from Wednesday so that you can find it. You still have a few days to link up. Thank you to those of you that have checked up on me. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Homeschool Series - Unexpected Encouragement

I hope you are enjoying this series. I had every intention of posting the next part of this series on Tuesday, but it just  didn't happen.  This post wasn't a planned part of the series, but I want to include it. Come back next week to see how I plan for each week.

This has been one of the hardest weeks I have had in a long time. I hurt my shoulder, lots of house stuff going on, lots of personal stuff going on. I pretty much wanted to kill my dog. (He was not harmed, but I did list him on Craigslist and then backed out). The stuff just kept coming and I was completely overwhelmed I cried a lot. I know it sounds like a big old pity-party. I'm not fond of them, but this is where I found myself this week.

Ok, so what does this have to do with homeschooling?

Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed with life, it is easy to start to second guess my decision to homeschool my boys. Am I really cut out for this? Is this really what I am called to do? Did I miss it? Surely, I missed it, because this is just too hard.

I know that these are all lies from the devil, and I did the most important thing I can do when I find myself here. I got myself in the Word of God and reminded myself of what the Word says, and who I am in Christ.

But, Unexpected Encouragement in still nice.

Unexpected Encouragement

 Today, the boys and I took a load of stuff to donate to the local Rescue Mission. Since we were already there, the boys asked if we could go in and look around. I decided it was a good idea. We needed a break. I found a few things to purchase and was waiting in line to checkout. There was an older lady that asked the same question we hear almost every time we go somewhere during the day. "Is today some kind of Holiday? Why aren't you at school?" I responded with, "We homeschool, and got done a little early today". I expected the confused or judgey look that I normally get, but today was different. This lady smiled, and then proceeded to have a conversation with my boys. She put her hand on Cade's shoulder and told him that she was a retired school teacher. She told him that he had a very special Mom for her to decide to spend her time each day teaching him. She just went on and on about how blessed he was. I'm not sure she even looked at me, but it was such a blessing to me. I needed to hear those things.

I am thankful that when I am discouraged, and ready to throw in the towel, the Lord knows. He knows just how to send the encouragement that I need.

The Homeschool Series - Intro
The Homeschool Series - Our Curriculum Choices


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What You Wish Wednesday No. 17 + Features

Welcome to another What You Wish Wednesday! I hope you are all having a wonderful week.

This Week's Features

Miniature Treat Packages by Mandee at Designs by Miss Mandee - These are so cute. They would be great little wedding favors.

REVIEW: Well Planned Day All-in-One Planner for Home and School by Laura at Harvest Lane Cottage - I kind of have a thing for planners. This looks like a fun one to check out.


Grab a button for your blog if you were featured!

We also have a new Pinterest Board so that you can see all of the "What You Wish Wednesday" Features in one place. You can follow along HERE.

Alright, it's your turn to link up your posts this week.

WYWW Details:

  • Share a recent post from your blog. 
  • Include the WYWW button (code below) and/or a visible link-back to this post.  
  • Check out a few of the shared links.
  • By submitting a link, you are giving me authorization to feature your post.  If your post is featured, I will include a picture and a link to your site to share the love!
  • In order to be considered as a feature you need to have a visible link back to WYWW somewhere in your post. You can use the button provided or a text link back.
  • Follow along: 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

7 Things About Me

 (that is Henry waving)

I don't normally participate in these kinds of things, but I have really enjoyed reading 7 things about some of my favorite blogger friends. So thank you Stasia, for nominating me for this one.

7 things about me...

1. I love Jesus  and seek to be more like Him everyday.

2. I am usually really awkward when I first meet someone or have a first conversation with someone that I have met, but haven't really talked to. Example: This past Sunday at church a girl was waiting to talk to me in the hall. I have been introduced to her, but it had been a while. I new her name, but when she reintroduced herself I repeated her name instead of giving her my name. I just have to laugh at myself.

3. I cut my own hair. I have never been the girl that enjoys going to get my hair done. Two years ago I was on vacation with my Mom and Sister and I talked my sister into cutting my hair after watching a You Tube Video. I been cutting it myself ever since. I typically watch a few how to videos on Saturday night, and then cut my hair Sunday morning before church.

4. I normally have no less than 4.5 projects going on at one time. This would be great if I made the time to blog about all of these projects.

5. I play the trumpet. It has been a few years since I have played, but I am starting to miss it.

6. I get overwhelmed very easily. This is why I say "NO" so often. (#4 may contribute to this.)

7. Some of my favorite things are the color green, spray paint, cooking, learning to take better pictures, decorating, a nice cup of coffee, staying up late to enjoy the quite (I don't this often anymore, I need my sleep), a good nap on Sunday afternoon, a date night with my husband, a fun little adventure with my boys, and getting to have a conversation with an adult that doesn't get interrupted by a kid.

I am nominating anyone that would like to participate. If you post 7 things, please let me know so that I can come check them out.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Plum Paper Planner Review - 8 Months In

The Plum Paper Planner Review that I wrote earlier this year, continues to be one of the most viewed posts on my blog. I wrote the review right after I received the planner, so I decided it was time to give you an update now that I have been using it for 8 months.

I use this planner for everything! I am a list girl, so this layout is working really well for me.

I started out using mechanical pencils, but have recently ventured out and started using Sharpie Pens. They are working well so far. There is a little bit of bleed through, but I think I read that Plum Paper has started using a thicker paper, so this may not be the case for those with a "newer model".

I still use the bottom section for planning our meals each week.

The main thing I wanted to show you is the different ways that I am using the Note pages. If I order this planner again, I will order extra note pages if the option is still there.

In the front of the planner I keep a running list of "Projects" and "To Purchase". The "To Purchase" list is mostly for things around the house like furniture or larger items that I need to plan for.

I have started using the Monthly tabs for sticky notes. They have worked out really well for tracking weight and measurements, grocery lists, and just random things that I don't really need written in the planner, but like to have with my planner.

My favorite addition is my cleaning/household chore list. I sometimes change up our routine based on the time of year and our schedule. I like being able to refer to my list, but also having the flexibility to change it up when needed. Washi tape is my friend.

Is the planner worth the money? Yes, absolutely!

Will I order this planner again? This is a toss up. I still prefer this layout, but I have an Erin Condren credit, so I think I may get an Erin Condren Life Planner to try out. If I end up not liking the EC layout for my everyday planner I can use it as a blogging planner, and then order another one from Plum Paper to use everyday. I really like this planner, but I do like the idea of using the EC so that I can really figure out which one I like best. I have only used the Plum Paper one at this point.

How has the planner held up? I have been using the planner for a 8 months, and it still looks great. Mine stays on the counter/desk most days, so it hasn't been put through the test of being transported in a purse every day.

What kind of planner do you use?

*I was not paid or perked to write this review. All opinions are my own.

I will be linking this post to:



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