Sandcastle Sweets

I have decided to start the business that everyone keeps telling me I should start.

I am now officially in the candy business.

What started as a fun (and rather delicious) experiment over ten years ago, is now a business.

If you enjoy hand-dipped chocolates and caramels you need to visit Sandcastle Sweets.

Stop by and see our selections and all Valentine orders receive 10% off! (good until February 14, 2014)

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welcome 2014

I have missed this little corner of cyberspace. A place of my own creation, where I can say what is on my mind and in my heart. I come today in a reflective mood, looking to find a way to adequately communicate with words what the year 2013 has been about.

To properly reflect and recap I suppose that one should start at the beginning…..

January of 2013 found us in a state of near homelessness. Our home of nearly six and a half years was being sold. The owners had stopped paying, and as the renters we were powerless to purchase the home or change the eminent loss of a roof over our head.  We needed to be out by February 1, but we had no where to land. In the middle of the month, we signed a lease on a new house that we first saw in October 2012.  The house was $300 more a month than what we had been paying.  We had been unemployed for a year, at this point, and we just had to trust God that the house He had provided; He would pay for.

 

February 2013 was spent unpacking and settling in.  Our new home had a new furnace and we were blessed to have a warm place to rest our heads. Excitement and hopefulness had returned.  Evan was on the verge of turning 19 and he was heading to Memphis to set about finding his fortune.

 

March, April, and May of 2013 were spent in preparation for Tayler graduating from High School, and setting her sights on which college she would attend in the fall.There were scholarship weekends to attend, FASFA’s to file…… No one really tells you how much paperwork is required to get a kid into college!  Yikes!  That was a learning curve!

Through it all, God provided.  He made a way for Tayler to fly to Iowa to her college scholarship weekend. He answered prayers like “Lord, we have enough money to fill the car with gas or go to the store for food, but not to do both.  Help us to know which one to choose.”  His answer was in the form of a check so that we could do both.

We spent these months caring for Jody’s mom as her health declined….. she would eventually go home to be with the Lord in May.  Our hearts were heavy as we moved on into the summer.

Summer 2013. Was a typical summer for us in the high desert. We enjoyed our first summer with air conditioning in about 5 years….. it was heavenly to have a cool house to hide from the 110° weather in.  We spent the summer at our local farmers market working and enjoying our community.

September arrived with crisp air and the beginning of our new school year.  We began our second year of Abeka and had lots of fun learning about our new teachers. Using this curriculum has been a financial change for us…..  It is expensive!  But it has given me a level of freedom in the day to day preparation that has let me work from home and still get the dishes and laundry done.

October 2013 was a month when I felt discouraged. Our finances were at rock bottom. The kids needed shoes, pants, socks…. everything was wearing out, including my optimism. We had planned a vacation, and saved up for it….. and then we had to spend all the savings on rent.  The endless unemployment was wearing on my good humor it was hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

God responded to my discouragement by bringing people to encourage me.  I had friends from elementary school contact us and send encouraging notes and gifts. God replaced all of our savings and then some with gifts from the most unusual sources. He used some friends to bless us with two full months of rent to carry us through the end of year. The boys got new shoes, I did too…..  God turned our despair to praise.

November and December were again full of blessings. Many unexpected ones that allowed us to travel to California and spend Christmas with my side of the family.

This year we have learned how faithful God is.  Despite our discouragement, our failings and our finances, He has made a way and provided for us. His gifts were tangible expressions of His love for our family.

As we move into 2014, I know not what the year holds. I know only that I need to continue to trust in a God that has shown himself faithful beyond measure.

 

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Hands-on History

How many times have you studied history with your children and just wished you could dig a little deeper?  Maybe history is one of those “boring” subjects for your kids and you need a way to bring the subject alive. 

If either of these thoughts have crossed your mind…. let me take a moment to introduce you to a solution that will take care of both issues.

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Home School in the Woods has compiled everything you need to dig deeper and incorporate hands on fun into your studies.

Hunter and I had the chance to explore one of their great elementary school offerings; The Great Empires.

This year we have been studying World History and The Great Empires completely expanded and enhanced our regular textbook study.

When it arrived we were just beginning to study Ancient Greece, so, that is where we began with The Great EmpiresHome School in the Woods provides informative supplemental text that went deeper than what our textbook provided.  It was easy to read and kept Hunter engaged. After reading about Greece we used the map and key to plot and record the placement of the ancient cities.

Our next activity was decorating Greek pottery.  This way by far Hunter’s favorite activity.  We researched different styles of pottery on the internet and printed out a few examples to use as reference.

 

Hunter then drew his design and painted his very own piece of pottery

Our study continued, with designing our own shield, and making hummus, a yummy Greek treat.  We also read seven books ( all provided in each empire’s project list) to better understand the culture. The books were very easy to locate either electronically and free for my Kindle, or at our local library.

With all the in-depth study, visiting the provided links and reading the books,  our study of Ancient Greece lasted a little over three weeks.  

Our next  stop in our study of The Great Empires has been Ancient Rome. We followed the same path as our study of Greece and read the provided material and mapping the ancient cities. We are just wrapping up all of our reading choices, and as soon as I can gather the materials, we are going to paint our own fresco!

We really can’t wait to start our next ancient adventure.  Hunter has so enjoyed our extra study time that he want to invite the neighbor kids over to study with us this summer!  He is looking forward to learning more about Viking Coins, I am excited for Koi Fish. :)

We chose to use The Great Empires as an in-depth study.  We used all the resources they provided to help us learn more about the subject. If you wanted to just use the activities, you could do that as well.  There are no set rules on how to use the study.

The Great Empires will help you and your children learn more about 14 of the great empires of history.  For a detailed list of the empires that are covered go here. The cost is $18.95 for a downloadable version, and $19.95 if you would like a CD.  We used the downloadable version and it was easy to unzip and use.

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My prep time for each study was about an hour and that was mostly to locate the books we would be reading.  The projects have been easy to gather materials for in my local hometown.  I would recommend this curriculum to any homeschooling family, I do not feel that it would conflict with any particular curriculum or learning style, it would only enhance it.

 

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green food

I have been looking for a way to eat a bit healthier, and maybe lose a bit of weight in the process.  So, I have been researching and I stumbled across eating raw. 

I am not sure how this will all work out for me.  I do not think I am ready to embrace this whole raw food culture that is out there.  I am willing to try something new.  I joined in with Young and Raw on their 30 day cleanse challenge for the month of April and so far I have had two of their green smoothies.

Yesterday was day one. 

My smoothie was kale, parsley, ginger, and coconut water. 

It tasted like I ate a handful of lawn clippings.  Really, it did.  I think I was still chewing on the kale and parsley hours later.

Not to be deterred by one recipe, I bravely made the drink for day two.

It was blueberries, parsley, spinach, and coconut water.

It still tasted vaguely of fresh cut grass, apparently parsley will do that to a beverage, but the blueberries made it much more tolerable.

I have no idea if this smoothie thing will work.  I have noticed that I have had a bit more energy through the afternoon when I drink these in the morning. 

…. I will let you know how the next few days go….  maybe I will even find a recipe that doesn’t taste like grass…. 

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C is for compassion

com.pas.sion   (n.)  - a deep awareness of the suffering of others, coupled with a desire to alleviate it.

My dear children,

I pray that you will cultivate compassion in your hearts.  To have compassion for others you will need to learn to look beyond your own reflection, you own home, your own yard.

Look for the people who sit quietly.  Are they hiding behind sad eyes with a lonely heart? Sometimes your smile is enough to speak to their soul.

As you grow older, you will have friends who will experience profound loss; their parents will pass, and heaven forbid, they may lose a child.  Their ache will be your ache.  Sitting quietly, holding their hand while they make phone calls, fix a meal, fold their laundry, each task is an act of compassion.  It says, “I see you are hurting. I am here.  I will help.”

It is easy to forget in your everyday life, that many of the people you meet are lost.  The biggest act of compassion you could perform is to share with them the hope that resides in you.  Your hope for eternity.  Ask God for a compassionate heart so you can see those who need him most.

~love, mom

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