Thirty One Party!

Thirty One September 2013 Special

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I got an email from Darcy asking if I’d like to review items and host an online Thirty One Party!  Not only did she  offer to send me review items, but they are the EXACT items I had been eyeing for over a year!  I was through the roof excited!

Here’s what Darcy sent me to review…

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Organizing Utility Tote {item # 3105} in Woodblock Floral

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Fold N File {item # 3890} in Grey Pin Dots ~ it fits in the tote and holds my hanging file folders!

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I am in love!  I had been wanting something exactly like this for so long and when it arrived, I knew it was the quality I had been hoping for, I am so pleased!

I will be using these the same way my pals Jolanthe and Maureen use theirs ~ as homeschool organizers! I am still transferring items, but plan to fill it with the most needed items that I use with Krash and Ladybug during the school week.

Like the Organizing Utility Tote?  I have great news…

For every $35 you spend during September 2013, get an Organizing Utility Tote for $15 or a Super Organizing Tote  for $25!

See more details here in the September Sale Flier.

The Fold N File {item # 3890} is $25, and you could add a Pocket-A-Tote {item # 4135} for $10, or a Zipper Pouch {item # 3405} for $15 and have your $35 so you can save 50% on your organizing tote! 

The prices will show regular until you add $35 to your shopping cart and then the price will drop in your shopping cart.

See the current Fall 2013 Catalog in PDF form.  The catalog is a great way to peek at the products in action and jot down ideas of what you like.  I found it MUCH easier to browse through than the website itself.  Just grab a pen and jot down the item numbers of what you like!

Not familiar with Thirty One?

The name Thirty-One is derived from the Old Testament, where Proverbs 31 describes a virtuous woman who exhibits hard work, wisdom, encouragement and care for others. It is Thirty-One’s mission to celebrate, encourage and reward women for who they are as individuals.


I would be honored if you shopped through my online party this month!  This is my first time as a Thirty One Hostess and my very first Thirty One product owned!


Questions?  Please leave a comment below, and I will ask our Thirty One consultant, Darcy!

Spielgaben Educational Toys

Spielgaben Educational Toys

{disclaimer ~ I was sent the Spielgaben set to review, no other compensation was provided}

Don’t you just want to reach in and grab the toys in the photo above?  It’s amazing how beautiful, quality toys can draw us in, even as adults!  When our Spielgaben educational toy set arrived for us to review, I think I was even more giddy than the kids.  The early childhood educator in me goes wild with ideas and inspiration when presented with materials such as these.  Wooden, natural, colorful, open ended, simple, small, inspirational, creative, engaging. 


Once I had our enormous box opened up and all of the sets on display, my kids went nuts.  Seriously, all three of them.  It was like they’d never seen a toy before! The appeal of this set is very strong, from the display, to the actual materials.  It draws them in.


Before the set arrived, I wasn’t sure if it would be another review item or something I would actually incorporate into our curriculum.  I am thrilled to share that I have decided to use the set with Ladybug as a part of her home preschool.  This really is a play based curriculum, not just another set of toys.

You can see below, our review set is a bit different than the new set in production for US and UK residents. 


You can see the set in production on the Spielgaben website…same toys, different organizational system.  Here’s a small image showing the basic differences…



Spielgaben is both for open ended imaginative play AND for structured learning!  How cool is that?  Along with the actual toys themselves {and the amazing storage system} you get access to several PDF files which you can download. 

The user guides are filled with activities for you to do with your child, and these activities progress in skill. The manuals are beautifully designed, although tough on color ink so I was choosey with what I printed. They tell you exactly what to do with your child, which materials you need and have photographs to guide you!


You could easily put the manuals on an iPad or other device, I chose to print mine to start out with, I only printed the first 10 activities to see if I want to continue printing or switch to using the manuals digitally.

Along with the highly detailed user guides {4 total} there are amazing worksheet sets, and inspiration cards.  You can see everything in more detail on their website! We haven’t started using the worksheets or activities in the user guides yet, but the kids have been enjoying the inspiration cards {shown below}!


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Ladybug {age 4} is by far the biggest fan of the inspiration cards!Spielgaben -6244


Massive amounts of free play has been happening, with all 3 kids {ages 4, 7, 11}. They are playing freely, but they are not allowed to get these items out without my permission, way too many tiny pieces to get mixed up and lost.

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The big boy made this silly face.  He isn’t really into the inspiration cards, but loves doing his own creative thing.



There is so much learning going on while playing AND while cleaning up!  The storage system itself is a great teaching tool for children!  The user guides share exact storage placement images also, so you can always fit every last block perfectly into the little squares! {note~ the new set won’t store exactly like the one I got to review}


You will be seeing more of Spielgaben on my blog in the future, mostly in my preschool posts since we will be using it!  I only wish I would have had this set when my boys were young, it would have replaced many of our other learning toys!


Is it for YOU?

Spielgaben is for children ages 3-12, which I have so it’s a great fit for us!  The cost is higher, but you get all of the toys shown, the organizational system, and the downloadable worksheets, inspiration cards, and parent guides {curriculum guides}.  I believe the price is reasonable now that I have seen and explored all that is included and the quality of the items. If cost isn’t an issue for you, I would say go for it and add it to your home early childhood collection!  Knowing cost is an issue for most of us, I wanted to give my recommendation for who I think would benefit most from investing in this.

Spielgaben would be great for the parent who is looking for an all in one play based curriculum to use with their child exclusively in the early years and as a supplement up through age 12!  I am using it with Ladybug {age 4} for her PreK and we will see where it take us!

I do believe the quality of the set is very high and this would be a toy set that could be passed down to grandchildren.  I feel extremely blessed to have this set and am thankful the review opportunity came my way. 

A few other questions have been asked on my Facebook page about this set, here is the link to the thread where you can see my answers.  Questions regarding the value, would I buy it myself without hesitation, and more!

Want to learn even more and purchase Spielgaben for your family?

Spielgaben recently launched a campaign to bring these amazing learning sets to the US and UK.  {outside of US/UK can get them too, with a shipping cost}

You have the opportunity to learn more and be a part of the launch by purchasing at a special discount price

See the Spielgaben campaign here, and the website here.

Also, be sure to “like” Spielgaben on Facebook, lots of good info!

Blue Manor Academy Review & Giveaway

{disclaimer ~ Blue Manor is a blog sponsor, and I was given the Preschool and Kindergarten curriculums to review at no cost}

Blue Manor Academy Christian Preschool Curriculum

Are you looking for a Christian Preschool Curriculum that requires zero preparation time and no teaching experience?  Blue Manor Academy might have just what you are looking for!  We were able to review both the Preschool and Kindergarten Curriculum set and are honored to host this giveaway for one of you!

Read their mission statement below to get a better feel about Blue Manor Academy…


Who is Blue Manor? We believe that an Elite Education begins in the Home.  We are on a mission to help parents raise sons and daughters, whose legacies honor their families and glorify their God.  We create learning books for kids ages 1-12 and early learning curriculum – new books are added every month!  We inform and inspire parents and homeschoolers through our two blogs:  Blue Manor Homeschool  &  True Aim.

We need your support because WE are in this together.  Please join the Manor Homeschool Community today!

You have seen me home preschool my kids here on my blog and what I do would definitely not fall into the category of “zero prep” at all!  I enjoy all of the preparation I do for my young ones, but I know it is extremely overwhelming to many of you, which is where Blue Manor comes in. 

Today we are giving away 1 Full Preschool Curriculum eBook Set including 23 individual eBooks and an additional "how to" teaching manual.  Blue Manor Christian preschool curriculum will not only prepare your children for kindergarten, but will also lay a strong physical, intellectual, and spiritual foundation that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.



What Did We Think?

I was a bit skeptical at first to be honest, but I loved the simplicity of the ebooks and the information presented.  I already knew Ladybug loved the iPad so I loaded the curriculum books into iBooks and began using them with her immediately.  Obviously this isn’t a core part of our home learning, since we are mostly hands on, but this is a wonderful addition.  Here’s a screenshot of our Blue Manor Preschool collection in iBooks right now.  I don’t have all of them loaded, only the ones we are using currently, the rest are on my computer and can be transferred easily.

Blue Manor Preschool eBooks

What I love most is the realistic images, such as the example below.  Real world images and photographs like this are great to spark discussion and learning naturally. 

Blue Manor Preschool Senses Book Sample

Ladybug’s favorite books to snuggle up and learn with me are…

  • Animal Recognition
  • General Concepts
  • Seasons and Weather

I love that concepts that she needs to know appear in these books even though I might not touch on them in everyday life.  She really enjoyed talking with me about the different storms in the Seasons and Weather book…something we don’t often talk about {beyond the occasional thunderstorm}.  I am just skimming the surface of the material included in the K set also, it’s some great stuff!

    I have printed out the Drawing and Art printables, and we will be using those this year also!


Is it for YOU?

Blue Manor Academy is a wonderful Christian homeschool alternative for the early years.  I would recommend it as a supplement for parents who already do tons of hands on learning, or for the parent who doesn’t like to plan at all but wants to be sure to cover the basics {and then some}. If your child like eBooks on the computer or iPad, this would be a fabulous choice. The base price is awesome for all that you gain access to, and the eBooks are very well done.  Regular price is $39.99 currently, but there’s a 30% discount code at the bottom of this post!

If you don’t have an iPad or tablet, I could see using the computer all of the time being a bit cumbersome, I personally wouldn’t like that.  The iPad allows for good snuggle up time with the books..

If you are a hands on preschool planning momma, this would just be an addition for you, if you can fit it in the budget.  That’s what I am, so we will be using it only as an addition to what we already do, which is mostly hands on learning.

The phonics system presented is not the method we follow, so if you already have a program in place for teaching phonics and reading, you might find a contradiction {mostly with the order of sounds presented and such}.  We use a different curriculum for reading so to not confuse her, I am choosing not to use any phonics/reading eBooks in the set, except just for fun.  She likes me to read the phonics books aloud to her!

You can learn more over at the Blue Manor website, their Preschool learning page has awesome resources for parents looking for the perfect curriculum for their preschooler including free learning sites, Answers to Common Questions like, "What does my child need to know for Kindergarten." and more!  They also have even more free resources including a Free Book of Virtues,  A Free Blank Calendar Customizable to any month of any year,  2 Homeschool video libraries; The Hows and Why’s of Homeschooling, and Why Public Schools are Failing.  Their Homeschool Blog is filled with current news and inspiration.

Want to see it more in action?  Here’s a video from their site:

You can also see another review, from my friend Becky at For This Season here.  If you watch her video review, you’ll see that we agree mostly!


Like what you see?


If you choose to purchase now,

you can get 30% off

using our special discount code: 1plusE30

You can also enter to win, if you are selected as the winner, Blue Manor will refund your purchase price!

We are giving away 1 Blue Manor Academy Christian Preschool Curriculum, use Rafflecopter to enter below {view on blog and not in email/RSS}.  Giveaway is open worldwide and ends August 20, 2013

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friends & Heroes Homeschool Curriculum

Friends and Heroes Homeschool Curriculum

We are thrilled to have Friends & Heroes as a blog sponsor and were honored to be able to review their Homeschool Curriculum

{Be sure to read at the end of the post for discount codes!}

Friends and Heroes Bible Based DVDs

PacMan watched Friends and Heroes years ago and LOVED it!  If you aren’t familiar with Friends and Heroes, here is the description from their website

Friends and Heroes is an animated children’s adventure based in ancient Egypt, Israel and Rome. The story follows two young friends, Macky and Portia, as they fight for justice against the Roman Empire.  Each episode consists of two Bible Stories in which children can learn about characters from the Old and New Testament.

I honestly had no clue that they had a homeschool curriculum so you can imagine my excitement when they contacted me to become a blog sponsor and send me a review package!  I already loved the show, so it was a perfect fit!

Friends and Heroes Homeschool Unit Study 1Friends and Heroes award-winning adventures and Bible stories on DVD accompanied by an exciting, cross-curricular Homeschool Unit Study – easy-to-use, hands-on, attractively designed, colorful and FUN! The material is highly adaptable and may be easily incorporated with your other homeschooling activities to provide two to four weeks of learning. Ideal for students 7 to 11 years of age.

Unit Study 1 includes:

  • Friends and Heroes DVD Episode 1- Long Journey – which serves as stimulus material for cross-curricular studies
  • All teacher and student’s materials – included on CD-ROM – printable and reusable
  • Learner-centered, self-guided Unit Study manuals
  • Teacher’s Guide – with learning goals, background details, answer keys, internet links
  • Certificates of Achievement and binder covers

Unit Study 1 covers:

  • History/Geography: The Romans; Roman Trade; Roman money; Roman import and exports
  • Creative writing: Journal writing; Written expression and narration; Copy writing
  • Bible study: Daniel and the lions’ den and Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish; The Early Church
  • Science: Silver; Sand and cement; Greek and Roman discoveries
  • Crafts: Sculpture; Paper weaving; Pottery
  • Discipleship: Trusting others; Pride; Worries

We received the disks in the mail quickly and I popped them in and saw them nicely organized for me to print what I needed.

Friends and Heroes Unit One Files


I used 1/2” binders {for now} and made a student book and a teacher book {top}.Friends and Heroes -5306


We had fun diving into the first unit, and completed the lessons, but omitted creative writing and crafts.  We really enjoyed the history of Rome lesson, the science experiment and the Bible lesson focusing on Daniel!  For my kids, I will need to pick and choose which parts we use since our time is filled up with other subjects and learning. I chose what I thought were the meatiest lessons and we did those!

During the readings from the history/geography lesson, I gave the kids coloring pages that I printed from their website here.  Ladybug especially liked seeing the characters from the DVD we had just watched!  Krash chose to color our cover {which comes with the homeschool curriculum}.

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On our second day we were only going to watch a portion of the DVD again {as the manual recommended} but they begged to watch it all again.  So, we did.  It is an excellent show, so I didn’t mind at all!

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We did a science experiment with silver {the father in the movie is a silversmith} learning all about luster, tarnish, and malleability! This was a hit of course!

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Even I enjoyed seeing the chemical reaction!

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Additional online resources…

The Friends and Heroes Children’s website has tons of additional resources also.  Here are just the activities for episode 1!  There are games, quizzes and more! I will be investigating this more to find the best additions to our studies!

Friends and Heroes Online Puzzles and Games

What did the kids think?

PacMan {age 11} He enjoyed it but is definitely on the higher “age” end for the series.  He said he does want to keep watching and the learning is good for him, even if he doesn’t always enjoy listening to the history lessons! Science is always a hit and he loved the first experiment.

Krash {age 7} He LOVED the video, begged to watch the next one immediately after!  It is absolutely perfect for his age and interest level. He tolerated the history lesson and honestly didn’t retain much, but that is fine with me since he is on the younger end for the “school” part of this. I think in the future the historical concepts presented in the movies will sink in naturally as we keep learning together.  He too loved the silver experiment.

Ladybug {age 4} She also loved the movie!  I wasn’t sure she would, but she really did!  I have no clue what she is picking up on educationally, but I love having something she can easily be a part of and experience with us.

Mom ~ I absolutely love these movies, even I learn a lot about history from them!  I sit and watch with the kids, just like I did when Pac watched them years ago. The history lesson was a lot of me reading, since there’s no way Krash could have read it to himself. The kids got fidgety which is why I had coloring available. The content was awesome. It was nice to have it all in one place and to have the answers to the worksheets right there. I enjoyed having several lessons to choose from {History/Geography, Craft, Writing, Science, Bible Study, Discipleship}. 

Will we be using this next year?

I am still in prayer but I think so, definitely the DVDs.  I am praying about the cost, and fitting the lessons in on top of what we already have.  Last year we used What’s in the Bible and it was a great addition. I knew I wanted to change things up a bit this year {just for variety} and this might be the perfect fit. The DVD aspect is a huge bonus for me. I LOVE that I can add in extra learning easily {focusing on History, Geography, Science, and Bible Study for our family} with little prep time. I have about a month to decide!



From now until July 31, 2013 you can get the following discounts applied to your order…

  • 20% off Friends and Heroes Homeschool resources {that’s what we reviewed}
  • 10% off other Friends and Heroes curriculum resources
  • Plus, the price of the Friends & Heroes DVDs for home use has recently been reduced by 25%!

    Visit THIS LINK to see the different discount codes to use for each category!

Homeschool Lunch Made EASY

I hate stopping in the middle of the school day to make lunch.  Even more than that, I hate to clean up after lunch.  When I stumbled upon EasyLunchboxes, I was HOOKED even before they arrived.


We were recently sent a set of Easy Lunchboxes along with a cooler to review. I am about to admit how truly dorky I am. I was probably more excited for these to arrive in the mail than I have been for any other item we have had sent to us for a review!!!!! Yup, I LOVE containers and I knew if these ended up being half as great in person as they appeared online, I was in for a plastic container state of bliss.

They arrived and I tore into the box to find my plastic slice of heaven. They ARE better in person! I honestly had 2 main concerns that I knew I would have to figure out when they actually arrived…

  1. How easy the lids came off, and if they sealed enough for my liking without being too tight or too loose. They are PERFECT, seriously. Somehow they stay on, but yet the kids can open them alone.
  2. The quality of the plastic itself. I have used both Tupperware and also Ziploc…and I don’t loveeither. Tupperware tends to be a bit too tough for my liking, and the lids are often too tight and secure for me. Ziploc {and other cheaper brands} are too flimsy and don’t cut it for me either. Easy Lunchboxes are the perfect middle ground, Honestly I was shocked, they are much sturdier than Ziploc-ish containers, but the lids are still able to be removed easily.

Within hours of their arrival, they were neatly stacked in my fridge like this…IMG_3418…all ready for the next day. I also decided to color coordinate the boys’ juice cups {they only get 1 per day} and pre-fill those too. The container under the juice cups is the morning snack, and to the left are the boys’ water bottles.

Lunch the next day was a dream {and each day since then}. I pulled out the boxes and handed them out. It was wonderful.IMG_3514

After lunch, what wasn’t eaten, got left in the Easy Lunchbox and put right back into the fridge to be eaten before afternoon snack!!!! This was a feature I hadn’t thought of! It makes lunch easily re-storable for those little sweethearts who don’t eat all of their healthy food only to beg for snacks later. We don’t offer our children alternative meals, and if they don’t eat what is served, they are either done for the day {if it is dinner} or if it can be saved, it will be saved for the next time they are hungry. Easy Lunchboxes make this plan work beautifully!!!!

The boxes that were emptied went into the sink, and that was the ONLY mess I had to worry about! I didn’t have to clean up the entire kitchen after preparing lunch in the middle of our homeschooling day. Nor did I need to stop early to begin preparing lunch!!!! Doing the prep work at night saved me tons of stress!!!

I LOVE these things!!!!!! I highly recommend them to all of you…both for home use and for traveling use. Whether you homeschool or pack your child’s lunch for “going” school…they are perfect!