This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Thursday, March 31

Delicious Surprise (Jo Dee Messina)

Hatchery is a subscription box service that collects artisan ingredients and small-batch products from around the United States.  Their offerings are things like spreads, condiments, jams, honeys, syrups, cooking sauces, oils, vinegars, salts, spices, seasonings, baking ingredients and cocktail mixers, all made by small companies or individuals.  The company describes itself as “foodie matchmakers,” connecting producers with customers.

The Hatchery team travels the country to sample products at farmer’s markets and family farms to find the best offerings.  The website provides information about many of the producers, along with recipes and other information.

Customers can order larger portions of the ingredients individually, but the company also offers a “Tasting Box,” a monthly subscription that provides sample sizes of several products each month. The Tasting Box is also available as a gift that you can give for 3, 6 or 12 months. 

The physical box that the items are shipped in is sturdy, and the ingredients are individually-wrapped and well-packaged on a bed of straw.  It is assembled with foresight to survive shipping and rough handling, but in an artistic way.   
What was inside the box this month?
  • Balsamo's Family Kitchen 7 Salad Dressing : A tasty oil made rich with garlic, turmeric, and paprika.
  • American Juice Company The Ginger Gershwin : Zippy ginger and citrus juice that mixes well.
  • Jammy Yummy Red Pepper Jam : Only three ingredients, and a great recipe kick!
  • Soft Peaks Confections Chai Spice Dulce : Creamy chai-flavored cream that's perfect for pairing with your favorite dessert.
  • Savour This Kitchen Nomad Spice Blend : A mix of the Far East's best flavors to accentuate any dish.
A Tasting Guide details each producer and the included product.  The guide notes what the item pairs well with, the name of the chef inspired recipe (see them here), and the qualities of the product, including whether it is all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, vegetarian, and/or vegan.  All in all, this is a great subscription box for anyone who likes to cook or get creative in the kitchen!

Just the Facts…
  •  Hatchery Tasting Box
  • Cost : $25 per month
  • What’s Inside :  5-6 artisan ingredients and condiments from small-batch producers across the country
  • Ships : FREE to USA

Tuesday, March 29

Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)

Welcome to the North Carolina Transportation Museum......known to us only as 'Spencer.'  Four large exhibit buildings represent the remaining structures of the historic Spencer Shops, once Southern Railroad's largest steam locomotive repair facility on the east coast.  Buildings include the Back Shop, the Master Mechanic's Office, the Flue Shop and the 37-stall Bob Julian Roundhouse.  The museum is a source of education and fun for the young and old.

We checked in at the train station, purchasing tickets for a train ride, and then perusing the gift shop.  One of the most fascinating finds was this old trainspotter's guide.  We studied up in preparation for the big tour!
We used our ASTC passport to get free tickets for the train ride!  (I cannot tell you how much we save each year with this membership.  If you travel, you should have one.)  This railroad car was remodeled in the late 1940s, and boasted all of the luxury from the golden age of railroad travel!
I love this picture.  Isn't it funny when you get a momentary glimpse of the future?  Like us, our son has inherited the wanderlust.  I can easily see him boarding the Eurorail someday and touring the countryside by himself.  When I asked what he was thinking, he said he was trying to figure out how they had connected one of the tracks out there...
The Roundhouse Tour is a special treat at the end of your train ride.  Lots of history in the photos, printed stories, and activities that they guide you through!  There are also hands-on exhibits.
At the 'model' center, you can see a layout of the original train station.  They also have several model airplanes, including Eastern and Piedmont Airlines - two smaller airlines that eventually merged with companies such as US Air.
We started the afternoon with Bojangles, that southern fast food staple, and ended it with Monk's (that's Lexington BBQ...only the best barbecue on earth).  We're having a gastronomic adventure through the foothills of North Carolina, and it's fantastic!!

Rail Travel unit study :

Monday, March 28

Freezer Cooking : Breakfast Basics

Some folks are morning people, and some are not.  Any day I can get breakfast made and cleaned up without having to really ‘wake up’ is a good morning!  

Here are three of my favorite go-to, quickie, kid-friendly breakfasts!

Want more freezer cooking ideas?  Check out our new cookbook, Freezer Cooking Through the Year, for frugal, in-season ways to fill your freezer!

Not-Your-Name-Brand Instant Oatmeal Packets

These are just as easy for the kids to make, but without all the preservatives from the factory.  To save even more money, re-use the snack sized bags a few times.  They will keep for a month or two in the pantry, and much longer in the freezer.

Ingredients are per bag
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon raisins, dried cranberries, or dried blueberries (optional)
  1. Put everything in the bag.  Shake gently to combine. Repeat to make as many additional servings as desired.
  2. No need to thaw out if pulling from the freezer – just cook normally.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars

This one is great for a dash out the door!

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Use cooking spray, if desired.
  2. Mix all ingredients except milk and vanilla. Whisk together the milk and vanilla, then pour into the oat mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the center is set and firm to the touch.
  4. Let cool for at least 10 minutes on a rack before slicing and serving.  Refriger­ate or freeze leftovers.
  5. These can be frozen individually wrapped.  Put one in the fridge to thaw over­night, or microwave it for 30 seconds to warm up.

Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs

Lots of vitamins and easy to reheat, this can be your healthy breakfast rock star!

  • 3 medium-size sweet potatoes, diced
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 eggs (one per person)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly grease the baking dish with olive oil.
  2. In large mixing bowl, toss the olive oil, sweet potato chunks, bacon, bell pepper, and garlic. Spread evenly in the baking dish, and roast on the top oven rack for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to brown.
  3. Turn the oven down to 375°F. Slide the pan out of the oven, and crack the eggs on top.  Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the egg whites are set.  Serve immediately.
  4. Freeze in single-size portions.  Thaw overnight in the fridge, or microwave 90 seconds for each portion (one portion at a time).

Friday, March 25

To Know Him is To Love Him (Teddy Bears)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  
On this sacred day, Good Friday, we are following Lisa and her children into God's Acre at Old Salem in North Carolina.  Old Salem is a historic district of Winston-Salem, North Carolina that features a living history museum interpreting the restored Moravian community.
 The district showcases the culture of the Moravian settlement in North Carolina during the 18th and 19th centuries, communal buildings, churches, houses, and shops. The Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the world, with its heritage dating back to the Bohemian Reformation in the fifteenth century.  One of the Catechisms of the Church is "To know God is to know his word; above all, to love Him, is to do His Commandments and to submit to His will."
In Old Salem, the "Easter City," the traditional Moravian Easter Sunrise Service has been held annually since 1772 and draws several thousand people to the Salem Square and Moravian graveyard. In December, they hold the Lovefeast & Candle Tea, an annual fundraiser for local charities held by the Home Moravian Church Women's Fellowship in the Single Brothers' House.
Our family had a chance to visit this community recently during our journey up and down the southeastern seaboard.  We will revisit Old Salem here on the blog, with a unit study, in the very near future!
Lisa teaches 4th grade at a Title I STEM Magnet School.  Her school has such a large poverty rate that they have very little money for food, much less a computer.  But given the times, the school district is moving towards technology based classrooms, and the kids are EXCITED about it. They love technology. Now where does the funding come from to get it into their hands?   She is hoping you are the answer to that question!  Please visit her Donors Choose page to learn more.  Even if you can't personally help, you can share her page with someone who may be able to!

Wednesday, March 23

Seven Bridges Road (Eagles)

Tucked into the hills of southwestern North Carolina, a magical forest lies full of eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and their raptor cousins.  Carolina Raptor Center, in Huntersville, is dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey through education, research, and raptor rehabilitation.
Within a small one-mile loop, we were exposed to hundreds of different species of raptors.  We spoke with their caretakers about the birds' history (many were orphaned or injured), the rehabilitation process, and everyday needs of a raptor.
The boys' favorite stop was the Owl Forest...a Harry-Potter themed section of the loop devoted to several different species.  We have a barn owl at our home that they enjoy "talking to," and they spoke with the barn owls here, too!  The gift shop, of course, is always a favorite stop...and this one has some cute handmade crafts, like these eagle wings!

Raptors Unit Study

Sunday, March 20

Stronger (Britney Spears)

Educate and Empower Kids provides resources to parents and caregivers to encourage connection and healthy relationships through love, communication, education and empowerment.  Their resources are down-to-earth, simple ideas that every family can use.  Their newest kindle book, 30 Days to a Stronger Child, will be on sale March 24-27 for only 99c.  AND you can enter to win a copy today!!!

Our children are the next great dreamers, educators, explorers, and leaders.  It is now, in their childhood, that we give them the tools that shape them, the heart that drives them, and the knowledge that guides them. They face an uncertain future, filled with incredible pressures and challenges. They will need to change it, to change their world. And they can do it, too! With your guidance and the experiences in this book, our children will not only survive in this world, they will THRIVE! Our kids have qualities that need to be developed and balanced in order to be successful. Each of these qualities can be likened to accounts that are necessary to live a healthy, balanced, and strong life. That’s why we’ve given you a great way to teach these concepts—physical health, emotional strength, social skills, spiritual balance, and intellectual growth—to your children. We’ve included activities, discussions, and questions that will empower you to raise a more resilient, stronger child. Enjoy these lessons at your own pace: whether you spend five minutes or an hour, you will connect with your child on a new level. Deeper connections facilitate both learning and bonding, and together you will help your child find their greatness and build a happy, strong life.
You’ve heard of a ‘sleep bank,’ right?  That’s where, if you know you’re going to have to pull an all-nighter, you spend the week before sleeping a little bit extra, to bank some rest.  (We’re not in college anymore….we can’t just pull twelve all-nighters in a row without effect….)   The author proposes that we have multiple ‘banks’ such as this one, including physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual.  Our children face pressures every day that can drain their accounts which is why it’s so important for parents to help them develop these strengths and learn to cope with stress and dilemmas in healthy ways.

Our initial interest in this book came from past experience.  We have used their 30 Daysof Sex Talks series (it comes in three different levels), and felt that they were well-written resources.  Like those books, this book is organized into thirty short lessons with practical advice.  The format is easy to follow and has questions, activities, and talking points.  I like how it provides parents with the information and tools we need to be stronger, well-informed guiding force in our children’s lives.  The proposed conversations aren’t contrived, but feel very natural.  This is one of those books that we will revisit throughout the teen years, as various issues arise.  I think it’s a great resource to help our children gain strength and courage to face the obstacles on the horizon.

Get the Book  :  Pinterest  :  Instagram  :  Twitter  :  Facebook

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 18

Right in Time (Lucinda Williams)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  

I traveled to Chile several times for work. I went to Punta Arenas, at the very southern tip. It is the southernmost major city in the world. Before the Panama Canal was built and provided a short-cut, Punta Arenas was a very busy port city as ships stopped there for supplies on their way around the tip of South America. Now, the city is a tourist destination for eco-tourists visiting the Patagonia region and cruise ships headed to the South Pole.

For some reason, I was fascinated by the time zones! The end of South America is much farther east than most people realize. I expected it to be the same as Central Time or Mountain Time, but it is actually farther east than Florida! Because it is below the equator, the seasons are opposite our's. They also adjust for daylight savings time, but when we moved an hour forward, they moved an hour back. So depending on the time of year, the time difference between me and them could be one, two, or three hours!

It is also very windy. It is not uncommon to have tropical storm-force winds for part of the day. The winds would be bad during the day and calm down at night.

There is a penguin colony nearby. There is also a replica of one of Magellan's ships.

We also had a misconception that the food would be spicy and things would be inexpensive ... almost like a Latin American country. Actually, the food was quite plain .. a lot of lamb and seafood, potatoes and asparagus. Fresh vegetables were very expensive because the conditions are so harsh and not much grows there. So it all has to be shipped in from other areas.

Here are some more pictures.  Flying over the ice-capped mountains, sculpted trees (which are all over Punta Arenas), sunrise over the Straits of Magellan and an Argentinian-style barbeque.

Time Zones Unit Resources


Christa Hutchins is a “doer-of-things” who provides ministry coaching, project management and administrative support for speakers, writers and ministry leaders. Her writing provides practical insight into moving your God-sized dream from vision to action. Christa lives in South Louisiana with her husband in their delightfully empty nest, where you usually will find her with her nose stuck in a book or sipping on a triple tall, non-fat peppermint mocha.  Connect with Christa at, on Facebook and on Twitter.