Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Diaper Deal

A disposable diaper deal at Amazon. Buy $99 worth of Pampers, Luvs or Kandoo products and receive a $30 Amazon gift certificate.

Hat tip: Danielle Bean

This Week's Homeschool Carnival

The 39th Homeschool Carnival is up and running over at The Palmtree Pundit. The theme this week is Autumn.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Free Printable Menu Planning Form

To help you with your Grocery Tip #4, here is a link to a free menu planning form (you'll need Acrobat Reader as it's a pdf file) from Menus 4 Moms.


You can keep track of all your favorite blogs using Bloglines. It's a neat tool that makes your online experience a little simpler and streamlined. You could also use it to track your kids' blogs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Recipe: French Toast Pudding

When I find that I have a loaf of French bread too stale to serve, I make bread pudding. You can do this with just about any type of bread. If it's fresh then just cut it up and let it sit out a few hours uncovered to get stale.

I never quite make bread pudding the same. It all depends on what leftovers I have on hand. I might throw in sliced banana or chocolate chips.

If you've never made bread pudding, I encourage you to give it a try. Here is a simple, easy recipe for you to start. I serve it with dinner in place of bread, even though it could be served as dessert. If any is leftover, reheat in the microwave for breakfast.

French Toast Pudding
16 oz. loaf of bread, cut into cubes and stale
5 eggs
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Put the cubed bread into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the bread. Stir very well making sure to coat all the bread cubes. If you have time, let the mixture sit long enough to soak up all the liquid. (You could even mix this up ahead of time and put in the fridge to bake that evening.) Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with Pam. Pour the bread and egg mixture into the dish. Sprinkle brown sugar all over the top. Place thin dabs of butter all over the top of that. Bake for 45 minutes.

Quote of the Day

I don't know who Frank Clark is, but this is a great quote:

Faith on a full stomach may be simply contentment but if you have it when you're hungry, it's genuine.
-- Frank A. Clark

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Save Commuting Costs

In the news:
Save Commuting Costs -- Go Car-Free

Limited Time Offer

If you've been wanting to purchase The Catholic Homeschool Companion, now is the time. It's available for 20% off the list price at my website. This offer is good through the end of September.

The website takes Paypal, including credit cards. If you prefer to pay by check or money order, please email me.

All books are autographed. If you'd like a book personalized, just leave a comment when you order.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paperback Book Swap.

Speaking of The Thinking Mother, she has a great blog post, complete with how-to tips, on a cool paperback book swap.

The 38th Homeschool Carnival

The new homeschooling carnival is up! Go check it out at The Thinking Mother. She's done a great job pulling together posts from all over the blogosphere.

Monday, September 18, 2006

50% Off Readers for Limited Time


The American Schoolhouse Reader is a three-volume anthology of reading textbooks used in American schoolhouses from 1890 – 1925 with beautifully colorized illustrations and reformatted text. This quality set includes excerpts from a clever 1913 alphabet book (Book I), short stories from turn-of-the-century first readers (Book II) plus skits and stories about nature and historic figures (Book III).

Children will enjoy stepping back into American history, rediscovering what life was like in turn-of-the-20th-century America. Farm animals, apple carts, steam mills and schooldays are beautifully illustrated in full color, bringing the charm and beauty of the post-Victorian era to life. Timelessly educational, these reproduction hardcover books preserve the wholesome principles and values of yesteryear.

Ages 3 to 9.

50% OFF THE RETAIL PRICE OF $33.95 = $16.95 if you respond by October 31st. PLUS FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS.

Grocery Tip #15: Homemade vs. Premade

The running theme of the grocery tips has been: preplanning saves money. Just planning a menu each week (tip #4) and making list (tip #3) will provide a huge savings in your overall grocery bill.

Another big saver is to make homemade and stay away from prepackaged, prefab, prepared, premade foods. Anything that has already been cooked or put together for you is going to cost up to double, sometimes more, than the homemade version. And it doesn't really save you that much time.

For example, a four pack of Hunts pudding, already made for you, runs about $1.69. A box of Royal powdered pudding costs $0.69. Add to that 2 cups of milk, about $0.33, and you end up with a savings of $0.67. If it takes just 2 minutes to whisk together the pudding mix and the milk, then you are earning $20 an hour! (And I didn't even figure in the fact that you get more pudding making it yourself!) You can go even one step further and make it completely homemade with cornstarch!

Now, how in the world did I come up with $20 an hour. Well, if you believe that your job as SAHM is to save money, then the money that you save by your time and effort is money earned by you. If you save $0.67 in two minutes, that is $0.335 per minute. There are 60 minutes in an hour, so take 0.335 times 60. The answer is $20.10! Wouldn't you love to tell your husband that you are earning twenty dollars an hour by being a stay-at-home-mom!!!!!

Try this exercise yourself. Next time you are at the grocery store, price those premade mashed potatoes and compare to a bag of raw potatoes, a stick of butter, and a cup of milk. Take the difference, divide in the time that it takes to prepare the meal yourself (cooking time doesn't count as the oven is doing the work!), and see how much money you're earning for your household.

And don't forget eating homemade is much healthier, so you're saving on medical bills too!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Homeschool Review: Free Internet Resources

This is a cool email list to belong to: Homeschool Review.

Reviews of FREE homeschooling resources on the Internet. No chatter, no comments, no arguments. Just brief site reviews and tips!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Time to Take Flight for the Homeschool Carnival

This week's Homeschool Carnival is up and running. Go check it out at Principled Homeschooling. You'll discover lots of neat homeschool blogs and great blog posts. For example, I discovered The Frugal Homeschool Blog and I enjoyed reading about canning at Lazy Homeschool this morning.

Sit back and enjoy, you've got a whole week to get through the links until the next carnival.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Grocery Tip #14: Check Out the Thrift Markets

Once, while visiting my parents, one of my children commented that Grandma's bread tasted different from our bread. I was puzzled at first as it was the same brand that we usually purchase. And then I realized . . . Grandma's bread is fresh!

Because of health issues with one of my children, I stopped making homemade wheat bread years ago, and only purchase bread occasionally. However, when I do purchase bread it comes from the Aunt Millie Thrift store. Or as my children refer to it, "the used bread store."

I only pay thirty-nine cents for a loaf of bread or package of buns. It's a day old, but it usually gets eaten in just a day at my house anyway.

When visiting a girlfriend in another city, I always stop at the Entenmann's Thrift store. It is practically across the street from her house and I can treat myself to a yummy cake for just $1.49. That is a savings of $2.50!

And sometimes I even share my cake with the kids.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Heart of Reading Email Group

This was in my inbox today and thought that some of you may be interested:

Hi there!
I have recently started a group to support and guide homeschoolers who have a child(ren) who struggle with reading and am trying to spread the word within the homeschooling community. This is not a general disabilities group, but one that focuses on the various aspects of teaching reading and helping struggling readers. I have lots of files and resources that would benefit any frugal homeschooler!

If you wouldn't mind sharing the link and description below with your group, that would be so wonderful and appreciated!

Heart of Reading :
Wonderful resources and support for homeschoolers teaching reading and language development to struggling learners

Blessings, Tina

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Homeschool Carnival Needs Your Posts

Are you a homeschooling blogger? If so, then how about sharing your blog with the rest of the homeschooling world.

Just pick out your favorite post (it doesn't have to be recent) and send the url here: Blog Carnival.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Literature Help for Parent Teachers

Have you ever considered using Cliff Notes when assigning literature to your high school children? For real! The notes are great in helping you, the parent (not the student!), come up with topics for literary analysis. You could also use them to design tests on assigned books.

Most recently, Cliff Notes came in handy when my two oldest were reading The Tempest. Shakespeare practically assumes that you already know the characters in his play and it was a tad confusing for my kids. The Cliff Notes had a list of characters, describing their part in the plot. It proved to be quite helpful. I borrow the Cliff Notes from the library and have never purchased them myself.

If you want to save a trip to the library the check out these websites:
Novel Guide
Grade Saver
Spark Notes
Penguin Group: Teachers' Guides

Thanks to Carol Maxwell who wrote much more extensively, and eloquently, on this topic in The Catholic Homeschool Companion.

To Photocopy or Not

This article originally appeared in Heart and Mind:

To Photocopy or Not to Photocopy: That is the Question
Maureen Wittmann

“Oh my, you’ve got the new Lyrical Life Science tapes. I’d love to have those myself!” I said to my friend.

“I’ll dub a copy for you,” she answered.

“That would be great,” I said, as I began to salivate over my soon-to-be new acquisition.

“Don’t worry about the copyright, teachers do this all the time. No reason we shouldn’t either,” my friend replied without any prompting from me. “They buy one original and then make copies for all the kids in their classroom. Our homeschool group is no different from a classroom. Besides it’s so expensive to homeschool, we shouldn’t be expected to have to buy all our materials.”

The more my friend justified making the copy for me, the more I realized that it was wrong. When I got home, I threw the dubbed tape away. To buy the original tape would’ve put too much strain on my budget, so I made the decision to simply live without it. Lyrical Life Science is something that surely would’ve added to my homeschool, but it was not an absolute need. I found other, less expensive, sources for science enrichment.

There was a time when I didn’t think twice about photocopying workbook pages, dubbing videotapes or audiotapes, or even pirating computer software. However, on that day I did think twice and I realized how wrong it is to do so.

First, it is illegal to steal intellectual property and as Catholics we are obliged to follow the law. (Unless, of course, it is an immoral law.) Though we may save ourselves a few dollars in copying, others are forced to pay for our “savings.” Much in the same way that shoplifters “save” themselves money but the rest of us pay more for our products to make up for the loss caused by the shoplifter.

For the purpose of this column, I’d like to focus on copying consumable workbooks. A consumable is designed to be used just once, unlike a textbook that can be reused and even resold (though not copied). It should be noted that it is not always illegal to copy consumables for multiple uses. Look at the inside cover of the workbook and read the copyright notice. Some educational publishers will grant permission there for you to make copies for your classroom. For homeschoolers, a classroom would be defined as our homeschooled children or the children in our homeschool co-op. It does not mean that we can photocopy and then sell or return.

If the copyright page does not grant permission to make copies and you truly cannot afford to buy multiple workbooks, then contact the publisher and ask permission. If the answer is “yes” that is wonderful, if the answer is “no” then you need to find another solution. At that point you should ask yourself if this particular workbook is a “need” or a “want.”

You should also consider the cost of photocopying, which isn’t always cheaper. For example, Beverly Adams-Gordon grants permission to purchasers of her Spelling Power program to copy the consumable worksheets. However, it is cheaper to buy the Spelling Power workbook than to make copies at Kinko’s or Staples. (If your husband is photocopying at work, make sure that he has permission from his employer and has offered to pay for the service, ink, and paper.)

It is estimated that as much as 50% of homeschooling materials in circulation are being illicitly copied. Quite frankly, this estimate shocks me. An author recently shared with me stories of homeschool support groups who have purchased one copy of a consumable curriculum series and then passed it throughout the entire group for collective copies. She also told me of families who purchased a single workbook to photocopy for their whole family and then resold as new.

A publisher of a virtues based program told me once of how she had books returned for a refund, only to find photocopied pages still stuck inside the books. This is a program that teaches virtues! Being thrifty means being prudent, which is a virtue. It doesn’t mean taking undue advantage of writers and publishers in order to save a few dollars.

Illicit copying not only hurts writers and publishers, but also ultimately affects the cost of materials to the consumer. Most homeschooling publishers are already working on very thin margins. If materials are purchased instead of photocopied, then publishers can print in larger quantities, which in turn lowers the per-unit cost and results in a savings for all homeschooling families.

Most copyright and trademark violations are done out of ignorance. Just as I thought at first it was okay to accept a dubbed copy of Lyrical Life Science from my friend. If we choose to educate ourselves in this area and then follow the law, we will be better Christians in the end. We will be practicing the very virtues that we strive to teach our children.

Scripture tells us, “The worker is worth his wage.” The only way that an author can gain his wage is through the sale of his intellectual property. (This also applies to authors of music and software.) If we copy works without permission, we are literally stealing wages from the worker. On the other hand, if we take the time and make the effort to either seek permission to copy, or adjust our budget so that we can make the purchase, or even make the decision to utilize the library or Internet instead, we are growing in virtue.

If you are ever unsure of whether or not you can make copies of something, the solution is very simple – contact the publisher.

Maureen Wittmann is coeditor and contributing author to The Catholic Homeschool Companion [Sophia Institute Press]. She welcomes you to join her at The Thrifty Homeschooler.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Freezing Salsa?

I was surprised to find that my copy of Preserving the Harvest has recipes for freezing salsa. Some years ago I made an attempt to freeze homemade salsa. The salsa was delicious before I put it in the freezer, but it was horrible when I took it out to thaw. Freezing it did something to the texture. I don't think tomatoes are made for freezing. So, if you like homemade salsa, either can it or eat it fresh.