Teen Boy Gift Ideas – 12 Awesome Picks

Gavin, my oldest son, is turning 14 next month, so I’ve been scouring Amazon for great teen boy gift ideas.  My son is a gamer, but he is also outdoorsy and enjoys building activities.  I have come up with quite the gift ideas list, so I thought I would share this with you guys.  Looking through gift idea posts is something I love to do around birthdays because I always seem to get some great ideas!

12 awesome teen boy gift ideas



I really enjoy giving my children things they ask for, but there is something extra fun about trying to surprise them too.  My goal is to choose at least a couple of gifts that are not on their list that I pick out on my own.  These are the items I’m planning on surprising my son with.  I hope this list of teen boy gift ideas gives you some great new picks for your son. 🙂

1. Alarm Clock Gun – This is so cool!  It functions as an alarm clock, but also has 2 game modes to practice your accuracy.  My son would love this!

2. Bicycle Lights:  We have needed some new bicycle lights for a while, and every once in a while I’ll see someone riding around with these awesome lights.  My son will love them, so I think they are a great teen boy gift idea.


Daway bicycle lights

4. Multitool Pen – This pen is so cool!  It includes a ruler, screwdrivers, stylus, level, and pen.  What teen boy wouldn’t love it?  I’m pretty sure my son will.

5. Drone with Camera:  I have heard people talking about these drones, and I found a really reasonably priced one on Amazon!  I’m so excited to see if my son will enjoy it.  How could he not?  I think I’ll like playing with it too.

6. 3D LED Illusion Light – This sailboat is super cool!  They have multiple other ones including a really cool shark, but I’m leaning towards the sailboat.

7. Matchitecture Country House kit:  Doesn’t this look fun?  I want one for myself.  The kit includes beams, cutting tool, and instructions to build an awesome house.

8.  3 Season Sleeping Bag:  My son is an outdoorsy kid.  We have always enjoyed camping, but recently he’s been involved with a Trail Life Club, and they go on tons of camping trips which are way more outdoorsy than we have done in our own family.  Basically, he needs a MUCH warmer sleeping bag.  I know he’ll get lots of use out of this one.

3 season warm sleeping bag


9. Elastic Shoe Laces!! I got my son of elastic shoelaces a couple years ago, and he loved them.  Now I’ve found an even cooler variety, and I love them.  Basically, you lace them up like regular shoe laces, but they stretch, so you never have to tie them!  This is probably one of my fave teen boy gift ideas because they are inexpensive, and so you could get them for any teen boy you know.  I’m pretty sure everyone would love them, and they come in TONS of colors.

Xpand elastic shoelaces


10. Tool Kit:  I think that at this age, a tool kit is a great gift idea for a teen boy.  They could all use some practice at this point with general fix-it tasks, and their own tool kit would make them feel more ownership of their work.  I think my son will really enjoy receiving this set.

Stanley Tool kit - Teen Boy Gift Ideas


11. Survival Paracord Watch:  Another gift aimed for the outdoorsy and adventurous teen boy.  This watch comes with a compass, fire starter, watch, whistle, and more survival gear in a compact wrist watch.  I think this would be perfect to take along on any trip.

Paracord survival watch - Teen Boy Gift Ideas


12. Empire State Light Up 3D Puzzle:  This puzzle is just awesome, like all Ravensburger puzzles.  My son doesn’t do as many puzzles as he used to, but he also hasn’t had a 3D light up puzzle, so I think this would be something he would totally go for.

Ravensburger 3D light up puzzle - Teen Boy Gift Ideas


What do you think of these teen boy gift ideas?  Would your son love any of these gift ideas??  I think they will all be hits with my 14-year-old son.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a commission for sharing the link with you.  I always appreciate any sale made from my links as it helps support my dream to work at home on my blog 🙂


Photo A Day Challenges – The Ultimate Roundup March 2017

I’ve now started posting a monthly photo a day challenge roundup.  I’m sure you were all just waiting for this post … I mean, you all are super photo challenge obsessed too….right??  Even if you’re not, that’s totally okay.  You don’t have to be as crazy as me.  🙂  Feel free to join in a couple this month tho!  It’s super fun!

I really tried to get this month’s roundup of photo a day challenges put together as quickly as possible, but that proved a tad difficult!  Some of the challenges don’t post their prompts until the 1st of the month, so I couldn’t really work ahead on it.  Nevertheless, it’s up much earlier than last month, so I’d say I’m doing pretty good.  I hope you enjoy the challenges!

P. S. – If you aren’t familiar with photo challenges and want more deets, check out my February challenge post – I explained the process for ya. 🙂

Brilliant Photo a Day –

Brilliant Photo A Day is a new to me challenge that I came across this month.  I’m excited to play along!

FMS Photo A Day

















The Idea Room














Genealogy Girl Photo Challenge

Kewt Photo

Cardigan Jezebel















Capture Your 365















Daily Dreaming – I haven’t seen a March challenge posted yet …

The Real Photo Challenge  – No March prompts found yet…

Rebels United – No March prompts found yet ..

The It Mom – No Challenge posted for March as of yet ….


Okay, that’s the list so far!  But you guys, seriously.  I’m far from perfect.  I tried to search as much as possible, but I’m sure I missed some stuff.  If you come across a photo a day challenge that I have missed, please let me know as I love to include as many as I can on my prompt list.  Even if you are hosting one, let me know and I can add it in 🙂


Healthy Candy Bars – No Refined Sugar

These bars are officially titled “Life-Changing Candy Bars” at our house, but really they are just some amazing, wholesome, healthy candy bars, and I hope you guys love em as much as we do!

*Disclaimer: There are some affiliate links in this post which just means if you buy something via a link in my post, I’d get a commission.  It doesn’t cost you anything extra at all. 🙂


I really don’t think I’m being dramatic with that.

Our whole family was starting to get a little bit twitchy about the lack of sugar because …. sugar addiction (more on that here).  We needed to get started experimenting with making desserts, particularly healthy candy bars, outta the good stuff and only the good stuff.  And we did.  When I was making this, I just wanted something sweet and yummy, and what I ended up with was the most decadent tasting healthy chocolate candy goodness I’ve ever tasted.

You guys, as soon as I tasted this stuff, I immediately felt a huge feeling of relief because I knew I wouldn’t be deprived even though I am no longer eating refined sugar!  Yay!  If you guys are scared to quit sugar because of the fear of not having any more yumminess, fear not.  You need to try these healthy candy bars.  Don’t let the word healthy fool you.

healthy candy bars

Let’s get going with how to make these babies so you can eat em up!  They literally take like 5 minutes.  Of course if you want to chill them or whatever, you totally can, but seriously, I can just eat the stuff right out of the food processor.

You’ll need a food processor for these.  I suppose you could try a blender if your blender chops up nuts finely, but mine doesn’t.  This is the food processor I have – cheap and works great.



This recipe only takes 6 easy to find ingredients and about 5 minutes of time (a couple more minutes if you bought unpitted dates like I did).  Don’t be scared of dates.  I was for so long, but it was crazy because they are my new bestie.  Aldi even has them in the produce section!!

15 pitted Medjool dates (also available on Amazon and Thrive)

1/4 cup heaping peanut butter or almond butter*

2 tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa

1/2 cup rolled oats (could also use quick oats)

1/4 c heaping nuts (I like peanuts)

2 tbsp chia seeds (also available on Amazon)

*If you want these refined sugar free, you need to buy a peanut butter or other nut butter that does not contain refined sugar.  They’ll totally work with “regular” if that’s what you have on hand.


Making the healthy candy bars

The first step is for if you have dates with pits in them.  You’ll need to remove them.  It’s not complicated (even though at first I was clueless).  Just slice down each date, pull apart at the cut, and remove the pit.  Easy peasy.  Mmmm look at that caramelly goodness!  Dates are God’ caramel, I’m convinced.  Sometimes dates are not super gooey, and if you want to, you can totally soak them in water for 15 mins or so to soften them up which will make it easier on your food processor, but if they are soft and sticky, it’s really not necessary.


Throw the dates into your food processor.


Add in your peanuts (or other nuts of choice)

Throw in your oats

And your nut butter … I like a heaping measure because it gives you a little bit more candy!

Then add in your baking cocoa to transform these into chocolate heaven!

Toss in your chia seeds for some extra healthy candy bar goodness:

That’s it!  Look at that deliciousness, but just wait …

Put the lid on your processor and go chop this goodness for about 30 seconds to a minute.  It will depend on your processor and how strong it is.

Seriously …. I need to go make some of this right this second!

Go ahead and have a bite of your healthy candy bars mixture!

It’s amazing.  Life-changing.  Chocolatey.  Hubby and I were discussing that this would be SO good just as is all crumbly to top some banana or coconut milk ice cream.

Forming the bars

Now take it and smash your healthy candy bars into an 8 x 8 baking pan or whatever mold you want to use.  My mold was a bit too big this time because both of my 8 x 8 pans were already in use.  It really doesn’t matter.  Smaller pan = fatter bars.  Larger pan = thinner bars.  Thinner bars are sad, but I’ll show you what I did with mine.  It will all be okay.  You could even roll them into balls.

I put plastic wrap in mine so that they’d be easy to take out after.  I highly recommend it.  Don’t you just love seeing those onions in the background?

Since my pan was a bit large and I ended up with thin healthy candy bars, I just double stacked em.  You can cut them however you want, squares, candy bar shapes, whatever.  I cut mine into rectangles that then got cut in half and stacked up.  The moral of the story is it doesn’t matter.  You could totally squish them into a chocolate mold or whatever too, to make them pretty.

Oh my heavenly goodness! Look at these healthy candy bars!!

These were gone in about 30 seconds once I yelled at the kids to grab one!

I cut these into 8 bars which seems perfect.  If you need more, I’d make a separate batch rather than trying to shove more into the food processor because I feel like it wouldn’t mix as well.

healthy candy bars

Seriously, go make some and have your healthy candy bar dreams come true!



The Faves Project: Digital Scrapbooking

The Faves Project by Nettio Designs is something I first participated in back in 2015. I absolutely loved it! If you are a digital scrapbooker, you might know what I’m talking about, but if not, let me fill you in. First, if you aren’t sure what digital scrapbooking is, scroll down through this post and you’ll have a pretty good idea. It’s kind of like paper scrapbooking, but you do it all on the computer instead. I love it because I avoid all messiness that way (well, except on my hard drive!) The premise of the Faves Project is that each month, Lynette (of Nettio Designs) sends you 1 digital template for that month’s faves page. You take that template and create a page with a photo of you along with a list of 10 of your favorite things. It’s absolutely wonderful! They are so fun to make, but the part I love most is being able to look back to the pages from the past and being reminded of my then favorite things.

Here’s my first page of 2017, just scrapped last night!

I had done a couple of faves layouts on my own before joining the 2015 Faves Project, but I love the structure of getting a new template delivered to me each month to remind me to get it done, plus it’s super fun because there’s a Facebook group just for the members to share their pages and chat! Plus, Nettio’s templates are the absolute best. I’ve always loved them. Last week I got an email from Nettio Designs letting me know it was that time again (she runs the Faves Project once every other year)! Yayyyyyy! I signed up yesterday and promptly completed my January faves page for 2017. SO exciting!


I was looking through my past faves layouts, and I just have so much fun perusing them, so I thought you guys might enjoy taking a look too. Also, this post is just in time for you guys if you didn’t know about the Faves Project, but want to get in on it for 2017 at a discount price. She has a deal going just through tonight (2/24/2017) to get the whole year for $29. I’m NOT getting paid for this post or in any way compensated – I just absolutely LOVE the project and thought some of you may not know about it!!

Anyway, back to the point!  First, I want to show you a couple pages I made before I joined the Faves Project.  I had seen other peoples’ faves layouts, but I hadn’t yet joined the club!

These first 2 are faves pages I did for my girls way back in 2011!

This page here is the first faves page I did for myself back in 2012.  That’s the extent of my pre- Faves Project faves pages.

Here are the pages I did of myself for the 2015 Faves Project.  As you can see, I didn’t get the whole year done sadly, but I’m okay with that … I guess.

So fun, right?  I just love looking through what my faves were.  It’s crazy, but even from last year I don’t remember a lot of them.

Another thing I did while doing the Faves Project in 2015 was making some pages for my kids.  This was only a couple months where I went crazy and wanted to do one for everyone, so maybe that’s why I didn’t get my own pages done!  But I’m happy to have these too.  As you can see, in January I made one for all 5 of the kiddos, and in February only 2.  🙂

Well, that’s it for my show and tell today!  Just a fun post.  I hope it tempts you into playing along with the 2017 Faves Project because I’d love you to play along!!

Have you ever done a faves layout or participated in a Faves Project?  I’d love to see your pages – feel free to tag me on Twitter or IG if you do one!


Sugar Dangers – The Sweet Poison

The Dangers of Sugar – The Sweet Poison

*This post may contain affiliate links which means if you purchase something through a link, I may earn a commission from the sale.  I totally appreciate any sales made on my links! 🙂

dangers of sugar

I have known for a long time that sugar is not a nutritious food.  I have been told, “Don’t eat too much candy, it’s not good for you” many times.  However, even though I know this, it never really sunk in deeply.  I didn’t give it much of a second thought until recently.  My husband was watching a documentary about health problems in America and mentioned to me that sugar was really dangerous.  For him to get really concerned about it, I knew that there had to be some evidence and major issues there, so I began to research.  It did not take long before I discovered a whole slew of incriminating information.

If you are anything like I was (and still am), you will probably not want to read this article because you don’t even want to know.  You straight up don’t want to give up that indulgent, happiness-inducing sweet taste you crave.  I assure you, though I have given up refined sugars, I have NOT given up sweetness.  You certainly don’t have to either.  There are plenty of sweet things that are naturally grown, so you will not have to deprive yourself.   The only good thing sugar does is tastes good.  I assure you many, many other things taste just as good without the dangers.

The Purpose of Eating

The main purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies, right?  Food gives us the nutrients we need to function optimally.  The pleasure of eating is no small thing either.  One problem with sugar is that it has SO many negative effects, plus it offers us nothing in return – no protein, no vitamins, no enzymes – nothing.  Here are just some of the many, many reasons that sugar is in fact a poison and should not be consumed.  I know some people say everything in moderation, but with this evidence, I don’t want any part of it.  There are plenty of healthy sweet foods to eat instead.  I never want to touch the stuff again.

sugar is poison

Reasons Everyone Should Quit Sugar:

It weakens your liver:

When you eat sugar, it is broken down into glucose and fructose.  The fructose is what causes the problems.  The only way it can be broken down or metabolized is by the liver.  This is not a problem if you are eating a plant-based diet with some sugars from fruits, but if you are eating a standard American diet that includes massive amounts of sugar in a single sitting, then your poor liver is going to have trouble.  The excess sugars  end up being converted into fat (yes, FAT).

If you are eating tons of it daily, you are going to get an obnoxious amount of fat buildup which will lead to fatty liver disease. Fruit is not what causes these problems.  What I’m talking about here is all the processed gross stuff that is put in candy bars, packaged snack cakes, even pasta sauces, cereals, and, well, pretty much 90% of processed foods.

SUGAR contributes to type II diabetes, obesity, and heart disease:

Excessive sugar in our bodies causes insulin to stop working correctly.  Our cells become resistant to it because they are so overloaded.  This leads to all kinds of dangerous problems, especially type II diabetes, which in turn can lead to other serious complications.  No fun.  I don’t know about you, but I want nothing to do with causing disease in my body.  Drinking sugary sodas is a huge contributor to type II diabetes as well.

Sugar causes cancer:

You know how I just told you about how sugar causes insulin to stop working correctly in our bodies?  Well, this is BAD because insulin plays a big part in regulating cell growth and multiplication.  Cancer happens when cells are multiplying and growing in an abnormal way.  Eating sugar basically causes your body to not be able to control these growths, so you are basically giving cancer a free pass to grow itself in your body.  No thank you.

Sugar promotes obesity:

I’ve covered this a bit, but see, eating sugar is a big bad cycle.  First of all, it causes all kinds of trouble in our bodies, but then secondly, it also doesn’t cause us to feel full when we eat it. Instead, eating it makes us want more and more.  It’s like a drug in the fact that it is incredibly addictive.  You know how you can eat like half a bag of Skittles in 1 sitting without feeling full?  Maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, the fact that this dangerous substance is so addictive AND doesn’t cause us to become full is a double whammy, and just majorly increases the dangerous effects in our bodies.

Sugar causes heart disease:

Isn’t it crazy that in our society, it seems like we choose a food to target as the bad guy, and focus on that so much that we ignore everything else?  I remember as a teen, it was fat.  Fat was what made you fat.  Makes sense, right?  There were all kinds of fat-free or low-fat products produced, and they were just totally sugar laden to make up for the lack of fat in them so they would still be palatable.  Well, guess what?  It was a total hoax.  Sugar is the big culprit.

Sugar raises blood sugar, insulin levels, and it also raises your bad cholesterol (LDL).  Guess what?  Those are all major risk factors for heart disease.  Now I’m not saying eating fats constantly is good either, but they are not the only bad guy here.  This is a bit off topic, but honestly, if you stick with plant-based sources for your sugars and fats, you are going to be doing very well.  It’s when you get into the processed crud that you start to have issues.

And there are plenty more …

While researching the dangers, I found so many lists of the negative effects.  I didn’t research all of these.  I picked out what seemed to be the most dangerous or life-threatening ones to really look into.  If you are curious about more, a quick Google search will get you to lists of all kinds.  Some of the other negative effects of sugar can include osteoporosis (weakened bones), rotting teeth (we have all heard this one), wrinkles and skin aging, gallstones, ulcers, damaging your immune system so you can’t fight disease as effectively, arthritis, eczema, and worsening eyesight.

All in all, I think the evidence is overwhelming that sugar is, in fact, a poison.  The fact that it is all over the grocery store in attractive packaging, being passed off as food, just makes me mad.  It should not be like this.  My kids are not thrilled when we go to the store now – when they see a delicious-looking package of chocolate, of course they want it.  So do I, because over the past 36 years of my life I’ve been conditioned to think sugar = yummy.  Sugar = delicious.  Sugar = happiness.  We need to educate ourselves and retrain our brains to associate sugar with poison, disease, addiction, drugs, and danger.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION & Books on the subject:

10 Things You Don’t Know About Sugar (And What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You)

The Harmful Effects of Sugar

Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease

10 Disturbing Reasons Why Sugar is Bad For You

Coming Soon:  How to Survive While Quitting Sugar

I’m curious what you guys think.

Do you avoid sugar, or are you new to the party like me?  I’m not going to say it’s easy – there’s that addiction – but the desire to avoid these negative effects is stronger for me.  I have tried all kinds of diets over the past 15 years, and I have never felt the way I do now.  Before, it was just about losing weight and looking better.  Now, it’s about health and not damaging my body and my children’s bodies.  And now that I know, how can I not change our ways?

Disclosure:  I am not a physician, and any information found on my blog should not be considered medical advice.  You should always seek professional medical guidance for your unique situation.


Foil Art Plaques Kids Art Project Tutorial

Foil Art Plaques Kids Art Project

I’m not sure where I originally go the inspiration for this fun kids art project, but I am so happy I did!  These foil art plaques turned out so beautifully.  The great thing is that you can make so many different variations – just for a fun kids art project, or even make them really nice for a wall hanging or decor piece with a favorite verse or quote on them.  I really hope you enjoy this project!

Foil Art Plaques Kids Art Project

The Project

Without further ado…..let’s get to this fun kids art project!  We will be making these fun foil art plaques.  In making this art project, you will get to explore texture and design, and use a little bit of mixed media fun to create a unique piece of art.  I love projects that can actually be used to hang and decorate with, and this is one such project.  Maybe make a name plaque like I did, or one with a favorite saying of yours.  Or create a design of your favorite animal, or even a crazy self portrait.  You can really choose anything you’d like for this one!

Here are the 2 plaques I created with this awesome foil art method:


Foil Art Plaques
Foil Art Plaques


What you will need:

-Cardboard of any size you’d like for your plaque

-Heavy duty tin foil

-Dull pencil

-Glue (craft or Elmer’s)



-Paint or shoe polish

-Twine (optional, but makes the project faster)

I made a video to go along with this kids art project so that you could follow along that way if you’d rather.  However, I’ll warn you that I reference a homeschool creative arts program that I was originally going to do.  I haven’t done it.  It’s as simple as that, and I’m so sorry!  I guess I got a little bit too much mojo at the moment!!  I may do it in the future, but for now, just ignore those references and just enjoy the project, kk?  😀


What you’ll do: (if you want to SEE how we did it, please check out the video!

  1. Decide on a design.  You can do this by trying out designs on paper first, or, if you are the confident type, go ahead and draw it right on your cardboard.  It doesn’t matter what you use to draw with – pencil, pen, marker, crayon, whatever.
  2. Trace your design with glue.  If you are going to use the twine (which is my fave way to do this), then you will only need a thin line of glue.  If you don’t have twine or just don’t want to use it, you’ll need to squirt on a thick line of glue (and then let it dry for a day before continuing).
  3. If you are doing the twine, cut pieces and attach it to the glue, basically creating an outline of your whole design with the twine (or yarn)
  4. Cut a piece of foil a little bigger than your plaque.  Turn it over and apply a thin coating of glue, then press it down on the front of your cardboard design.  You want to adhere it to the cardboard and try to make your twine or glue lines show through.  It won’t look too great at this point, it is fine.  Just turn it over and tape that foil down nice and smooth.
  5. Next, take a cotton ball or swab and go over your design with it to press that foil around your twine lines or glue lines.  You want your design to pop up so you can see it, and to do that you need all the foil pressed down well.
  6. Now go back over it with a dull pencil, tracing around your design to get it to pop even more.
  7. Take the dull pencil and carve gently into your cardboard creating designs in the blank space.  The more design you carve in, the more cool it will look when you are done since that is where the paint will sit in the crevices. You can do geometric designs, doodles, words, or draw pictures.  Whatever, just fill it up if you want!  I filled mine completely.
  8. The last step is to paint it.  Pick a color, or two, or three.  Okay, however many you want!  Just make sure you don’t mix them all together and end up with brown…unless that is what you want.  🙂  Brush that paint on so it gets down in all the grooves.  Then, take a paper towel or cotton balls (you’ll need several) and wipe the paint off gently.  You don’t want to wipe too hard or you will wipe it out of the cracks, so go gently at first.  You should be left with an awesome design with colors peeking out in the cracks.  I think they look awesome!

What do you think?  Is this is a kids art project that you think your children would enjoy doing?  Do you want to do it yourself?  I know that I want to make more!  Definitely tag me on Instagram @kelleydq or Twitter @kelleydhays so I can see what you created!


February 2017 Photo Challenges – The Ultimate List

Ah, MY ultimate list of February 2017 Photo Challenges is here!!

February 2017 Photo Challenges Ultimate LIst

It’s no secret, at least for anyone who follows me on Instagram, that I am a tad overly obsessed with photo challenges right now.  Let me just paint a little picture of my obsession for you.  In my February bullet journal, I have a 2-page spread dedicated to a calendar style layout in which I have written in daily prompts for 9 different current February 2017 photo challenges.


(If you are looking for the March 2017 photo a day challenges – go here for that!)

If you are not familiar with doing photo a day challenges, I’ll explain.

It’s super simple.  You literally just look at the prompt list for the day, take a pic inspired by that prompt, and then post to Instagram (or other places too if you want), and then tag it with the tag/tags listed on the prompt list.  Easy peasy and super duper fun!  One of my fave things to do in the evenings is go on Instagram and search the challenge hashtags to see what everyone has come up with for the challenges!

I’m sure there are more February 2017 photo challenges out there, but these are the ones that I have found.  It took me a little digging to find all of these photo challenges.  It was a bit frustrating because it seemed like when I went to Pinterest to search for February 2017 photo challenges, a whole bunch of really old prompts would come up.  I searched and searched, and finally found a list that I’m happy with and using this month.

Of course this list would have come in handy, oh, about 10 days ago, but it is what it is, and I’ll try to do better for you all next month.

I hereby pledge that I shall post the March 2017 photo a day challenge list by …. Uh, well, maybe I won’t actually pledge … But I will try my very best.  I’d like to make this a regular posty for you all.  It’s so handy to have them all in one nice neat spot, don’t you think?  Just in case you guys feel like joining in on my obsession, or even just a couple of them. 🙂

I would love to see your photos too, so if you do a challenge and feel like tagging me on IG, @kelleydq so I can check em out, I would be thrilled.

Without further rambling, here is the nice list for you, complete with links to the sources.  Just click the images or links to head over to the original blogger who posted the challenge and find out all of the details.  I also realize that the images aren’t all the same size.  Excuse my not-so-amazingness at blogging perfection quite yet please.  Enjoy!

This is the challenge I’ve been participating in the longest, FMS Photo a Day.  It’s always a good one.  But aren’t they all?

FMS Photo a Day February 2017

The Idea Room February 2017 Photo Challenge

February 2017 Idea Room

Genealogy Photo A Day February 2017 Photo Challenge

Genealogy Photo A Day February 2017

Cardigan Jezebel February 2017 Photo Challenge

Cardigan Jezebel Photo Challenge February 2017

Capture Your 365 February 2017 Photo Challenge

Capture Your 365 Photo Challenge

The Real Photo Challenge on Instagram

The Real Photo Challenge February 2017

The It Mom photo challenge February 2017

February 2017 The It Mom photo challenge

365 Kewt Photo February 2017 Challenge – I’m not sure the source of this one because I found it on Pinterest and it doesn’t lead anywhere.  Anybody know?

Rebels United February 2017 Photo Challenge

Definitely Dreaming February 2017 Photo Challenge

One last thing – If you know of another awesome photo a day challenge that you have created or that I have failed to find, please let me know!  I would LOVE to be able to add it in next month!  Bye friends!


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Don’t you guys just love spending like $100 on your cell phone service and data plan every single month?  No?  For real?  Just joking.  Me either.  In fact, I just won’t do it.  I have a lame little TracFone for my texting and talking, but you know what?  I can get by on $10 a month using that handy (if not archaic) little device.  Seriously, though.  Why can’t I get an affordable cell plan?  I am a work-at-home mom, and I almost never have a situation in which I’d need much data at all.  Yet if I want a smartphone with all its perks, I have to pay at least $50 a month.  Or do I?

Yesterday, (yes, just yesterday) I found out about a service called FreedomPop.  This company claims to offer completely free cell phone service.  Now, I’m not quite sure of all the details yet because like I said, I just found out about it yesterday.  What I do know is that you pay them .99 cents for a SIM card that you insert into your cell, and then you have the first month of their premium service completely free.  You are also free to switch over to the FREE plan whenever you want (and that is totally what I’m going to do).  All their plans come with unlimited talk and text, and a certain amount of data.

The really cool thing about FreedomPop, well besides the fact that I don’t have to pay a cell bill anymore of course, is that they let you complete tasks to earn more data.  Similar to Swagbucks if you are familiar with that I think.   Swagbucks gives you  swagbucks for completing offers, sharing with friends, and doing different tasks whereas FreedomPop gives you data to add to your plan!  Genius, right??

Anyway, I wanted to give you guys the heads up that I ordered my SIM card yesterday.  They say it can take up to 10 days to get it in the mail, but once I do, I will be sure to do a followup post on how it is working for me.  I’m SO excited!!

Do you use FreedomPop?  Have you tried their free cell phone service?  Have you earned free data?  I would love to hear anything and everything about this company.  Let me know if you sign up too!


High School Curriculum: Homeschool Freshman Year

One of my favorite type of blog posts to read on other homeschooling moms’ blogs is their curriculum picks for the year.  It’s kind of the next best thing to having a close group of homeschool friends to discuss it with in person.  I especially love it when they give an overview of their choice for each subject, talk about why they chose that particular resource, and possibly even give a review of the items.  Since I think these types of posts are so interesting to read, I decided to go ahead and write one up for my kiddos, so this is the first of 5 for the 2016-17 homeschool year – my daughter’s high school curriculum for her freshman year.


This year is going to be a LOT different for us.  We’ve been homeschooling for a long time, but this is the first year I’ll be dealing with high school curriculum and all that it entails.  Credits, hours, transcripts, electives!  Fun, exciting, and a bit overwhelming all at the same time.  I’ll give you a bit of background on my 9th grader, Jennah.  She actually is really similar to me in that we have some of the same strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes.  Language arts subjects including spelling, writing, and grammar come really easy to her.  She also absolutely LOVES to read.

Aside from that, she is really excited about pursuing some electives in high school to further her cooking, baking, and homemaking skills.  Like her mother, she’s not a huge fan of math, science, or history.  I’m a fan of history now, but in school I thought it couldn’t be more boring.  I think if I had to give one reason I’m most excited about homeschooling high school, it would be all the options that come along with high school curriculum as far as choosing things that interest you.

My goals for Jennah for the year is to provide science, history, and math classes for her that will up the interest level a bit.  I’m not trying to make her love something she hates, but here’s the thing.  When I was in school I loathed these 3 subjects.  Thought they were pure torture.  Aside from a few exceptions in science class, no public school class I ever took made me think they were even mildly interesting.  It seemed like they must have purposely chosen the most boring high school curriculum there was.

As I took college courses, and even more so the older I’ve gotten, I’ve started to really see that these subjects are in fact fascinating and can be enjoyed.  It is just how they were presented.  So, then, my goal is to present them better for her!  Aside from that goal, I want to allow her plenty of time to pursue her own interests and goals which basically means letting the girl cook and bake to her heart’s content.  I’m kind of excited too because I never learned to can, and that is something we’ll learn together this coming year.

Freshman Year Homeschool Curriculum

Our 9th Grade High School Curriculum

Now that I’ve successfully rambled for a good half an hour … I’ll get to the point of this post!  Our curriculum choices.  To keep this post from turning into a novel, I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about each item, and I can’t give reviews for most because most will be new to us this year, but I’ll definitely fill you in on why I’m choosing them and what particular things I think will help to meet Jennah’s goals this freshman homeschool year.

American History

The Choice:  Dave Raymond’s American History from Compass Classroom

I’m super excited about this one!  Let me tell you a funny story though.  I have been Ms. Can’t-make-up-her-mind when it comes to history this year.  First we were going to use Sonlight which we love, but then I was really looking at My Father’s World for a while, then back to Sonlight we went because we just love all the reading – totally Jennah’s thing.  She still hasn’t really gotten very interested in the history side of it. though.  It’s just meh for her.  I don’t know exactly how I heard about Dave Raymond’s class, but I never really looked into it until I got an email with a deal to try a course on Compass Learning or a bundle for $1 for the first month.  That got my attention LOL.

After signing up for the trial, I was pretty much immediately hooked after watching just a few video segments from Dave’s lessons.  He has a knack for making it interesting!  Being a person who finds it very challenging to learn from dry textbooks, this was a breath of fresh air.   The course  has both video segments as well as a printable textbook, and there are a handful of project assignments as well as a weekly portfolio project that looks super fun.  I have a really good feeling about it and think it will make history a lot less burdensome and hopefully even a little fun for my freshman student this year.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


The Choice:  Mapping the Body with Art

Here’s another subject where my mind was changed several times.  I had found the amazing Schoolhouse Teachers subscription service that includes tons of free courses for subscribers, and they have a great biology course that we were planning on using.  Then, though, I got an email update from one of my fave homeschool blogs sharing the news that Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop was having a great deal on Mapping the Body with Art.  I had never even heard of this!  Of course, off I went to check it out and was hooked.  This looks right up Jennah’s alley!  The concept is learning the material via drawing it rather than, again, reading dry textbooks.  I think it’s just what Jennah needs for her high school curriculum for science.  I’m super thrilled about this one and plan on doing it along with Jennah.  The only downside is it is only a semester, so we’ll have to choose something else for 2nd semester.  No problem on that since I love my curriculum shopping!


For math this year, I’ve decided to have Jennah try out UnLock Math Algebra 1.  We’ve tried and used SO many different math curricula over the years, and Jennah in all honesty has not enjoyed any of it.   Programs with textbooks and lots of practice problems are daunting to her, but programs like Teaching Textbooks seem to move a little more slowly through the lesson material than she would like.  I was going to go with Teaching Textbooks because even though it’s not her favorite, it’s a standby and I know it works well overall.  Fortunately for her, I saw something about UnLock math which is an online video curriculum that I hadn’t heard of before.

I’ve really been checking it out as far as reviews and details, and it looks like it will be great for her.  The only downside for us is price as I’m signing up 2 kids, so even with the second student discount, it’s going to be a hefty investment.  It will be totally worth it if she loves it though.  Honestly, even if she just likes it better than other things we’ve tried, I’ll be pleased with the program.  Most of the online math programs I’ve found to be good were missing high school curriculum, but this one focuses on it!

Language Arts

This is probably the subject I’ve went back and forth the most on this year.   Writing based?  Literature based?  Something else entirely?  I decided in the end that since this is Jennah’s freshman year, and she is already going to be challenged a lot through most of her subjects and just the intensity of the year, we should stick with something I know she loves – reading.  That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cake walk.

I decided on the high school curriculum from Sharon Watson – Illuminating Literature.    I’m SO excited for this program!  I’ve actually started reading the first novel included too.  I love that Sharon includes free samples of the curriculum – the first novel study is available for free as well as the novel notebook.  It’s a great program, and I think that Jennah is not only going to love it, but also going to really be challenged by it.

We are also adding in a few other things to round this out for a full freshman high school curriculum for language arts.  We will be using WordUp which is awesome because it comes in the same mega homeschool bundle I’m using from Compass Learning along with our American History course.  We’ll also be doing some current events work using the teen edition of God’s World News as well as bits and pieces of the Public Speaking course over at Schoolhouse Teachers (which is free with their monthly subscription plan).  Since the Sharon Watson literature is actually supposed to be a full credit high school curriculum, I’ll just have to play it by ear to see how much additional work we have time for.


This one’ll be short and sweet because in all honesty, I don’t know a lot about it yet.  It’s totally new to us.  We will be using Middlebury Interactive Spanish through the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op.  By the way, if you aren’t part of the Co-Op, I would definitely recommend it.  They always have great deals.  I always check there before making my purchases to see if they have the curriculum I’m planning to buy.  Anyway, back to the Spanish high school curriculum.  We are planning to use the level 1 high school curriculum for Jennah this year.  I will post updates on this as well as all our other products after we’ve been using it for a while and get a feel of how it is working.


Home Economics

Home ec is by far the course Jennah is most excited about this year.  For the most part, I’m going to be throwing this course together on my own, but I will be adding in a few books.  Our main textbook for this course is going to be A Girl’s Guide to Home Skills.  I grabbed it on Amazon.  We are planning to make this a 1 credit course by spending 1 hour per day on the work.  Jennah will be spending most of that time cooking and learning cooking techniques.  She wants ultimately to focus on baking, but this first year we are doing more of a foundational program so she can gain skills in all areas of cooking.

This is one thing I really wish I would have had in high school because when I was on my own, I had no clue how to cook anything besides boxed macaroni.  It was pretty amazing LOL.  I want to give her that head start, and it’s great because she really wants to do it.  I’m toying with the idea of posting our weekly lessons here on the blog for others to use, but I know I’ve kind of been there done that with other things in the past, and I didn’t follow through because I guess I was a bit too busy.  We will see.  🙂

Physical Education

PE is something I’m really excited about!  Jennah maybe not so much.  She loves to dance, and she takes twice weekly dance lessons, so that will count for a large portion of her weekly gym time.  To make up the rest of her PE time, she will be doing daily 15 minute workouts.  We are going to make it fun and go with different YouTube workouts this year for her high school curriculum.  We will be changing it up with different videos each week, but I will be choosing a focus for each day: Arms, abs, legs, cardio, etc.

I didn’t mention this when talking about home ec, but the way I’ll be giving Jennah her assignments is through a private Facebook group I’ve created just for she and I.  I’ll have a weekly file for each course I need to give instructions and links for.  I thought that was very conducive to having lots of external links to workout videos as well as to recipes for the home ec course.  It will also serve as a printable record of her progress as I’m going to have her check in each day in the group to verify she’s completed each assignment.


Jennah’s high school Bible curriculum is going to be pretty varied this year.  There are going to be 4 main aspects of the course to earn her credit this year:  Bible reading, Devo, Veritas Bible curriculum, and online Bible studies from

She will do daily Bible reading using the SOAP method.  We will follow different online Bible studies for this, or if she prefers, she can read whichever book she’d like.  If you’d like to see some good options for online Bible studies, I have a post on that here to check out with several of my faves.

For teen devotions, I got her the Teen to Teen 365-day devotional.  We haven’t tried this before, so we’ll see.  It looks awesome.

Veritas Bible is definitely not high school curriculum, but my kids started this last year and absolutely love it.  It is the best Bible curriculum we’ve found up till now.  When I told Jennah I wasn’t planning on having her do it again this year, she definitely had something to say.  Ultimately I decided that it’s totally great for her to do even though it’s geared for younger kids.  This is an online Bible program that is really fun and keeps the kids’ attention.

Lastly, Jennah will be going through some of the many Bible studies at  These are awesome, and I am going to do some of them myself as well.  It is such a great resource.  The lessons vary depending on the author, but most seem to be somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes, so I figure she’ll do 1 a day, so it’ll probably average out to about 15 mins a day over the course of the year.


Phew, this list is getting long, huh?  Well, we’re almost done.  I was originally going to use Mapping the World by Heart this year, but after reading reviews, I came across Mapping the World With Art which seems much more up our alley.  It can be ordered in print or as a download, and you can also buy corresponding DVDs to watch the teacher draw the maps.  We are going to try it without the DVDs for money purposes to start, but I don’t know, we might get them down the road.  We are planning to just do 1 lesson a week on this, so it’ll probably work out to about a 1/4 credit this year.



Lastly, we have music.  Jennah is going to be doing piano and voice this year for a total of 0.5 credits.  She is honestly not super into her piano lessons at this point, but it’s something I don’t want to give up on yet.  I think she’s kind of in the middle where she struggles because she can’t yet play the music she wants to.  We are using The Online Piano and Violin Tutor on YouTube at this point.  This lady is great and has curriculum to purchase which is what we did.

We are also going to do voice lessons.  We want to try out the Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy which I was introduced to on YouTube, but it’s not in the budget at the moment, so we will be starting with some YouTube vocal videos just to get into the right thinking mode and develop a bit of skill, then we will move on to the Ken Tamplin course.  I’d honestly prefer if we could hire a vocal coach in person as well as piano teacher, but alas that is not an option for us right now.  I’d rather do that once I knew Jennah was serious about it anyway.

Well, that’s a wrap!

Thanks so much for checking out my post.  Like I said, I really love seeing other homeschool moms’ choices for curriculum, and right now I’m especially interested in high school curriculum.  I hope that this post was helpful to you in some tiny way.

If you are homeschooling a freshman this year, what were your choices?  If you did a blog post about it, I’d love to see a link the comments for me to go check out.  🙂



8 Great Women’s Bible Study Websites

I don’t know about you, but I’m a girl who loves to have a women’s Bible study as a guide to help me in my studying God’s word.  I feel like it just helps me dig deeper and make connections between the Bible and my life.  Plus, I love gleaning wisdom from other women participating in the Bible study.  This is where, for me, Bible study websites specifically for women come in VERY handy.


8 Great Women's Bible Study Websites


Bible study is so important.

Anything that can help you dig in more effectively is great.  Obviously, studying in person with other Christians is best, and I love to do that, but I always feel like I want more throughout the week, and that is where I bring in the online women’s Bible study sites to help me out.  Plus, they always have so many exciting studies to dig into and I just can’t help myself.  I love changing things up and trying new studies, but what I really like to have are studies complete with devotions or lessons, discussion or application questions, and for bonus points, encouragement videos and a spot to connect with others doing the study to discuss!

Below I have put together a little list of my fave 8 women’s Bible study websites.  There are more, of course, but these are the ones I’ve gotten into and love.  I don’t do all of these at the same time of course.  I like to switch it up based on which ones are offering the most compelling studies for my life at the time.   I am definitely subscribed to all and check in regularly to see what and when the newest studies will be.  Without further ado, here’s the list!

  1. Love God Greatly

    I LOVE this women’s Bible study site.  It’s pretty flexible too.  They have regular Bible studies to participate in which are wonderful.  You can either just follow along on the blog and do it for free, or you can order the study journal.  I’ve done both, and both ways it has been very enriching for me.  These are very complete studies with reading materials in the blog posts, videos, and weekly scripture memory.  I do want to mention that after you check out the linked page to see what the most current study is, then make sure to head over to the blog to read the study posts.  I know I was a bit confused at first because it wasn’t all on the same page.  Once you get to the blog, it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy. 🙂

2. Good Morning Girls

Courtney is super inspirational as a blogger and author, and I love her women’s Bible studies – Good Morning Girls.  Actually, I just love her whole site.  There are so many great resources, plus she inspires me to walk closer to God.  She has tips and studies both here.  I haven’t done as many of her studies as with Love God Greatly, but you can’t do them all at once!  I wish there was more time in the day.

3. She Reads Truth

This is a newer site to me, and I’m loving it!  It’s so straightforward and awesome.  They have several Bible studies (a current one and past ones available to use).  This women’s Bible study site is super easy to fit into a busy schedule too.

4. The Unabashed Life

Kelsey is another one that is super inspirational to me.  She has some Bible studies interspersed throughout her blog, and she also has a super awesome Bible study guide to download.  Overall though, I just love her site because of her faith and how everything she says just speaks to me.  Definitely worth checking out to see if you love it too.

5.  Hello Mornings

This site is super great if you need help organizing yourself and just getting things (including Bible study) done.  I’m definitely raising my hand on that one.  I’m just getting started with this system, but I just love the structure and tips they give that really are very helpful when you are committed to digging into God’s word more.  They also have Bible studies which you can do for free for a basic version or pay for a more in-depth study.  They also help you plan out your day as well as exercise routine which is kind of great (and definitely a bit different for a women’s Bible study site!)

6. Proverbs 31 Ministries

Proverbs 31 has a great Bible study setup.  I love how interactive their studies are.  They have several options for connecting with their studies, but I love that all you really have to do to get the study is go onto their blog.  Their women’s Bible study sessions are complete with videos, encouragement, and discussion!  Super great.

7.  Women’s Bible Cafe

The reason I love the Women’s Bible Cafe so much is because not only do they have regular Bible studies with discussion, but they also have a monthly book club!  It’s super fun to just read along with other Christian women and discuss the books.  Each month, they choose 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction book for the club, and you can choose to read along with one or both of the books.  Not a Bible study per se, but just extra enriching.  And of course, they do have their fantastic Bible studies as well.

8. Lifeway Women

Yet another wonderful women’s Bible study website.  I’ve done several Lifeway studies, but the online studies are new to me!  I’m so excited to dig in further to this one.  They also have a cool Ambassador program where you can win things for sharing about their latest studies which is super fun.  I also love that they have their current studies, but also past studies available to use too.

Well, there you have it.  I don’t know if you guys will agree, but I happen to think these are some really awesome resources.  My goal is to inspire all you moms as best as I can, and I think that studying God’s word is the best way to do that.  Hopefully this list helps you out in finding a great study that will really encourage and inspire you.

Do you participate in online women’s Bible study programs?  What do you think of them?  If you are new to these, are you planning on trying one out?

Have an awesome, blessed day!