My life is so much richer because of the Homeschool Review Crew!

Once upon a time I was part of two "sister" email groups for home schooling. One of my friends from the group discovered this brand new "thing".  It was a group of bloggers who used homeschool curriculum and wrote reviews. That friend convinced another friend to join.  The 2nd friend talked to me all the time about the Crew.  She'd tell me about all these great products she got to try.  Not just home school products either but products for her!

I let her talk me into joining the crew.  Best thing I ever did! So in June 2010 I became a crew member. I loved being part of the crew so much that I reapplied every single year since then.  Until fall of 2015 when I stepped up to be a Crew Leader!

What the Crew Means to Me!

Why do I love the crew so much?   I would not have been able to give my children the depth and breadth of an education without the crew.  Computer Programing.  Logic.  Art.  Music.  Even Physical Fitness and Health.  How about an Animation Kit?  an Online Filmmakers Course?  Greek. Latin. French. Spanish. Russian. Japanese. We've had fun little unit study courses and full year writing programs, literature programs, and math!

It is so much more than just the free products that I get to use in my home school. I've made friends. The Crew becomes an extended family.  A place I can run to when I have a question, or need support.  The private forum access is like gathering around and chatting.  We laugh together.  We cry together.  We pray for one another.

In addition to support for home schooling and home making, I've received encouragement about blogging. I've learned about my style and  I've learned about social media.

Over time, being part of the crew has given me the ability to give back to the homeschooling community by being able to answer questions about curriculum or make specific recommendations for friends.

Because of the Homeschool Review Crew my life is richer.  My daughters have experienced a fuller education.  I've made friends. I've got a great support system and I get to learn about all kinds of different home school products!

We are looking to expand the The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Homeschool Review Crew and we are now taking applications for the 2017 Crew Year.  We have some information available on the Crew Blog.  Click on the banner to fill out the application!



Freezer Cooking Made Easy with MyFreezEasy! {Review}

I love to cook. I enjoy getting creative in the kitchen. But sometimes I am too tired and lately my family has been too busy. We were eating take out and frozen pizza way too often.  Many evenings I am just too worn out to stand and chop onions or brown hamburger even to make something as simple as sloppy joes or tacos.

Just when I was reaching the breaking point wondering if I would ever serve my family a real home cooked dinner again, the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review MyFreezEasy.  Erin Chase rescued my family from fast food and frozen pizza with her MyFreezEasy.com Family Meal Plan Subscription.

I had heard of Erin Chase before. I'd even seen mention of something about $5 Dinners but really didn't know anything about her or what she offers.  MyFreezEasy is her newest offering and I am in love!

MyFreezEasy ~ Freezer Cooking Meal Plans!

One complaint that I hear frequently about making meals ahead and freezing them is that the food often tastes overcooked. It's like eating reheated leftovers.  Who wants to eat leftovers every night? Not me. Not my family.

But MyFreezEasy is different.  Meals are not pre-cooked and frozen.  They are assembled and frozen and, for the most part, cooked fresh on the day you serve them.  I was a little uncertain about that but keep reading to find out about my experience!

What is MyFreezEasy?

MyFreezEasy is a membership plan that gives you access each month to 8 freezer meal plans.   There are two membership levels: Basic and Premium. Both give you access to the same 8 meal plans each month but, the Premium plan gives you the ability to swap out recipes, create customized meal plans and even to mark recipes as favorites. With the Premium Plan, members can also adjust serving sizes! The Homeschool Review Crew received the Premium Annual Membership.

The 8 meal plans are:
  • Traditional Meal Plan
  • Gluten Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan
  • All Chicken Meals Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meals Plan
  • All  Pork Chops Meals Plan

How does the program work?

Each month members receive an email that the new plans are available. Each meal plan has 5 recipes that make 10 meals except for the 20 meal plan which has 10 recipes to make 20 meals. Each recipe is written for 1 meal but includes assembly directions to make 2 meals. I love that it has the entire recipe written out for 1 meal with how to cook it immediately as well as assembly instructions if you want to make 2 to put in the freezer.  This means I can test a recipe by making one to determine if we like it enough to include it in both or if I find frozen chicken or hambuger in the freezer I don't know what to do with it, I can thaw the meat and try a new recipe.

MyFreezEasy Review by Tess at CirclingThroughThisLIfe.com

The meal plans include shopping lists arranged by recipe, by grocery store section, and by assembly day.  They also include Assembly Prep Instructions.

Meal Plans are available for the whole month but only for the month which means you get new meal plans each month. And those old recipes? They get added to the data base so you have even more recipes to choose from when customizing a meal plan.

My Family's Experience

I was so excited that I started planning right away!  For our first freezer cooking session I used the Build Your Own Meal Plan option.  I created an ALL Chicken Plan, an ALL Ground Beef Plan except I included 1 vegetarian recipe. I also found two pork roast recipes to try. I was expecting to get 22 meals into my freezer but I miscalculated the amount of chicken I needed so I opted for making one each of two meals rather than not using a recipe. I did put 20 meals into the freezer.

It took much longer than one hour to put these together but I think that has more to do with my lack of organization and my inexperience. The fact that I was working 20 meals made it go longer as well.

MyFreezEasy Review by Tess at CirclingThroughThisLIfe.com

For my next round of Freezer Cooking I choose the All Ground Beef Meals Plan. I choose to do only 4 of the recipes since the 5th one was one we I chosen before.  I only had 6 lbs of ground beef so I opted to 2 each of 2 recipes and 1 each of the other 2 so that I made 6 meals.  I also choose 2 different roast recipes for my 4 pork roasts. This went much faster.  I paid closer attention to the assembly instructions.  It still was longer than hour but it was fabulous to get it all done!

My Thoughts!

This plan has restored order to the chaotic dinner time.  I love having a freezer full of meals. This is the easiest freezer cooking method I have tried and the tastiest as well.  I was worried about putting the veggies into soup raw. I do not like mushy vegetables in my soup.  The vegetables were not mush!

Of all the recipes we have tried there has only been one that none of us liked. For most of the recipes, we all have liked them.  I found it easy to modify recipes to suit my family's needs and tastes. I'm already thinking ahead to my next freezer cooking session!

Visit MyFreezEasy on Social Media:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/freezeasy
Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/freezeasy
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/5dollardinners/freezeasy

Several other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to try MyFreezEasy.  Click on the banner below to read what they had to say!

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

Crew Disclaimer


Five Minute Friday ~ Mail

I am trying something brand new!  A friend of mine from the Homeschool Review Crew participates in a link up called Five Minute Friday.  The link up isn't new at all but it is fairly new to me and I've never joined in before.  The idea is that you write for minutes about a one word prompt.  This week's word is Mail!

#FMF  Five Minute Friday ~ Mail at CirclingThroughThisLife.com


When I think of "mail" I suddenly hear Steve's voice singing "Mail Time!" I don't remember the words exactly and I'm refusing to go find it on Youtube.

In this world of technology when almost everything is digital it is even more exciting to get a piece of real mail. I don't remember the last time I got a letter in the mail. I mean I got birthday cards for my birthday but a letter?  I don't know.

These days "Mail Time" means packages. Around here it's usually a box from Amazon or another vendor with a review product for the Homeschool Review Crew. I love getting packages.

The girls would get so excited when the doorbell rang and it was UPS or FedEx or maybe in USPS with a box.  They were excited because 9 times out 10 it was for them.  They associated the brown UPS truck with Sonlight our favorite home school curriculum.  I remember Turtlegirl getting so excited when she a UPS truck at a neighbor's house.  "Look, mommy, they must use Sonlight, too!"

Times up!

Click on the button below to visit's Kate's blog and read the other Five Minute posts from this week!


Turtlegirl Morphs into a Cougar

Well actually she became a freshman Coug!  This post is almost 2 months overdue so you'll just have to pretend that it is still mid-August and she just left . . . instead of the reality that is is early October and her mid-terms will be happening soon!

This is more of a photo essay:

Tailorbear needed to be distracted the weekend we were leaving and she didn't want to be home with her two sisters.  I love this picture of  two sisters saying good-bye!

Two Sisters Saying Goodbye

All loaded up and ready to go!

All Loaded Up and Ready to Go!

I know it doesn't look like much.  She packed the bare minimum that she thought she needed.  Turns out she was too minimalistic though.  We had to send a HUGE box of forgotten items later. (And no she didn't need the toilet paper so we ended up bringing that back home with us!)

Here she is keeping comfortable on the long long drive!

Keeping comfortable on the long long drive across the state!

On Move-In Day the University has volunteers with carts to help unload your vehicle. We were grateful for the cart and the elevator.  She lives on the 3rd floor!

We've carted up her stuff from the van to her room.

We left her to deal with her own things and headed to our motel room.  We had dinner and breakfast with her and I got to take more pictures.  Here she is standing outside one of the doors to her Residence Hall.

She is at the door of her new home!

It really is a beautiful building though we only saw it from one side and the back.

Turlegirl and her Dad standing on balcony outside her Hall.

She unpacked her things and started turning her room into her home away from home!

She unplacked her things and started making her room into home away from home

Yes her room itself is tiny but it is part of a suite.  There are 7 girls who share the suite.  The suite includes a kitchenette area with sink, microwave and space for a mini-fridge. There is a also a living room.  Each suite has their own bathroom. Other residence halls are much more of the typical dorm room style.  

She's made the transition well.  She loves her classes, studies a lot and made friends.  She may be a Coug now but she'll always be my little Turtlegirl!


The Spousal Interview

 A friend posted on facebook some questions to ask your spouse (or girlfriend/boyfriend).  I decided that since today was my birthday, I wanted Honeybear to indulge me and answer these questions.

The rules are WITHOUT any prompting, ask your husband/ wife/ girlfriend/ boyfriend these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say. It's great and funny. The outcome can be hilarious...

The Spousal Interview at Circling Through This LIfe

What is something I always say to you?
Stop doing that
I wish I could protest and say something like I never say that.

What makes me happy?
Diet Dr. Pepper
Hmm I was hoping for something more profound but I guess he's right.

What makes me sad?
No Sanctuary
He means when I complain about not having a place in the house I can go that is clean and peaceful.

How old am I?
No but since that is younger, I'll take it!

How tall am I?
What's my favorite thing to do?
Swear at the computer
Um no. (Do I really do it so much that it appears to be my favorite thing to do??!!)

If I become famous, what will it be for?
Curriculum Reviews
Isn't he sweet!

What am I good at?
He is not the first person to mention that I am detail oriented.

What am I not good at?
What makes you proud of me?
There are a lot of different things. I don't know if I can narrow it down.
I guess what I would say is educating the girls.
This means a lot to me.

What is my favorite food?
I do love popcorn but I expected him to say steak.  After all I never ask for popcorn on my birthday but I do always ask for steak.

What do we do together?
Watch TV usually
He means watch Amazon Prime or Netflix as we only have streaming options.

Where is my favorite place to eat?
Outback Steakhouse
How old was I when I met you?
When is our anniversary?
November 19th 
 Absolutely NO hesitation.  Really he knows it better than I do!

If I could go anywhere, where would it be?
He nailed it!

Do you think you could live with me forever?
Yes  (I want to sleep in the bed tonight and not on the couch)
What is your favorite thing about me?
Your face
I did not expect this at all.  I don't know what I was expecting. I questioned his answer and he said he has always just like watching my face.

My Thoughts

Some of these answers surprised me. In a good way.  Some of them he was being funny.  This gave me a tiny glimpse of how he sees me. What would your spouse say about you!