Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cookies for the Freezer, Granola for Me

I haven't done a great job keeping up with Crystal's freezer cooking at Money Saving Mom. Partly because my picky family won't eat a lot of the things she suggests and partly out of busyness.

When I saw that today's assignment was chocolate chip cookies for the freezer I rediscovered my motivation. What a great idea for a sugar-holic like me to have frozen cookie balls ready so I just bake one or two per person instead of a whole batch which can lead to me eating A LOT of cookies. 

I used my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from Smart Sweets e-book. I love this recipe because it uses coconut oil, butter and whole wheat flour and and tastes amazing. 

I rolled the dough into cookie size balls and laid them out on the cookie sheet. I then set them in the freezer to flash freeze before I bagged them. I ended up with two bags of cookie dough for future dessert times. One is just chocolate chip cookie balls and the other bag of balls has walnuts mixed in. My middle son is allergic to nuts so I have to label and bag up the different doughs carefully.

When I'm ready to bake the cookies I'll pull out the desired amount of balls and place on a cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes to thaw then bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until done.

 After I finished up freezing the cookie balls I moved on to making Honey Walnut Granola.

We love this granola for breakfast and snack times but I hadn't made any in a few weeks.

 Then I mixed up some laundry soap just in case I need to wash any clothes soon.

All in all it was a productive afternoon in the kitchen and I also played and chased my little guy around so he wasn't left out of the fun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

K5 Learning Program Review

I recently had the opportunity to try out K5 Learning for six weeks with my two boys, ages 7 and 10.
Here's a description of the program from the K5 website:

K5 Learning is an online reading and math program for kids from kindergarten through grade 5. Our intent is to help kids build reading, math and study skills through independent study. K5 is designed for home use and can be used for after-school, weekend and summertime supplemental study or in conjunction with a homeschooling program.
How it Works
Kids complete an online assessment of 8 key reading and math skills, and then work independently at their own pace through over 3,000 online lessons and activities. The lessons are animated, interactive and simple enough that a 4-5 year old can use them independently. We automatically choose lessons for students (based on their assessment and past lessons), track student progress and provide reports for parents.
Benefits for Kids
K5 helps kids learn essential reading and math skills, develop good study habits, and fulfill their academic potential.
Benefits for Parents
K5 makes life easier for parents by allowing for effective, independent study by kids. Simplified interfaces, automatic lesson selection, student tracking and reporting all contribute to minimize the amount of daily supervision required.
Who we are
K5 Learning was founded by parents who wanted better learning tools available to their kids for home use. In 2010, we licensed the very best reading and math software, used by thousands of students in hundreds of schools, from leading U.S. education companies. formed from the combination of this award winning software.

Each of my boys completed the online assessment first. They liked this part of K5 the least because it was a test that was very hard in some places and too easy in others. I understand it had to be that way to adequately evaluate what levels the boys were at but they were not happy about it.

My first grader Braden was injured in March and home from school for over a week so I thought this was a great opportunity to try an online learning program. He used it daily during that time and enjoyed the lessons for 30-45 minutes in a sitting. He did sometimes get frustrated and would need me to help him. His favorite part of the program was when he got to play arcade games between lessons as a reward for doing well.

My fourth grader Zane did great with K5. Zane did not need my help at all and could just sit down and go. He generally was not interested in sitting at the computer more than 40 minutes which was fine with me.

I liked that I could check on the kids lesson progress and assign lessons when I logged into the parent dashboard. Overall I found K5 to be a wonderful learning tool and a good chance for kids to spend time learning on the computer instead of wasting their time on games that only entertain.

K5 offers a free two week trial period to try it out and see if it's right for your child. I think that's a great idea before buying as it may not be right for every child. I think K5 would be even more beneficial in the summer when the kids aren't in school. This program would be great to keep up with academics during the break.

If you are interested in supplementing your childrens' learning with online independent lessons I highly recommend trying out K5 Learning.

*All views are my own. I received nothing for reviewing K5 beyond a free trial of the software. 
**This post does contain affiliate links.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Plan 5/21- 5/27

Grilled Steak & Asparagus
I'm spending the next couple of weeks eating (primarily) from the pantry and freezer just like Stephanie at Keeper of the Home. We have some unexpected medical bills to pay off from my son's accident a couple months ago and we're also saving up to replace my husband's 14 year old Honda Civic. I'm flexing my frugal muscles and I'm going to get creative with the food we have on hand. I'll still shop weekly for produce and dairy but the rest will come from what I've got on hand.

Keeping the grocery budget under control has always been hard for me as I love to buy and make good food. I also have 3 growing boys that eat constantly and a husband with the fastest metabolism of anyone I've ever met!

Since the weather is warmer and we are spending more time outside I'm planning to grill a couple of times this week.

Weekly Menu Plan 5/21- 5/27
Monday: Grilled Chicken Drumsticks, baked potatoes, Asparagus
Tuesday: Cedar Plank Salmon, rice, steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Pasta with homemade marinara, wheat rolls & tossed salad
Thursday: Crockpot BBQ beef short ribs, baked potatoes, steamed green beans
Friday: Tacos
Saturday lunch: Grilled Steak, tossed salad
Saturday dinner: Pizza
Sunday lunch: Leftovers & salad
Sunday dinner: Burgers & hotdogs grilled in the firepit
What's on your menu plan this week?


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