Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thoughts on Giraffes

So...y'all, I've been watching this Giraffe for WEEKS! For more than a month, I've been tuned in to youtube to watch a giraffe's hind quarters, along with tens of thousands of others. Back in February I was kinda bummed thinking if only it was a month later, she could have a chance to have the calf on my birthday. Well guess what folks, it's now my birthday and they are saying it could be hours...that means she has a chance! PUSH APRIL! PUSH!

But I've been in awe over this. Why? Because of God's perfect creation with this giraffe. I have learned so much more about giraffes while watching April, and it's all led to me to see the beauty and wonder of God's creation.

These beautiful animals are designed by God to hide their pregnancy for a very long time. You'd never know it for months and months, until her belly starts to get big. And then they instinctively hide their labor. This helps for survival because mom will be vulnerable during labor and deliver, and obviously her new baby would be, as well. So it is kept hidden until the very moment of transitional labor when the hooves begin to pop out. Yes, there are signs of course....but it's not evident unless you are a person who knows what to look for like wax caps and utters filling. It just amazes me. All of it does.

She's been waiting around 15 months for this moment. Can you imagine being pregnant from 2015 until 2017! CRAZY!

So to April I say, PUUUUUUUSH! You have until 11:59pm to birth a calf on my birthday when I never thought it was possible!

Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit REVIEW

Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey
Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio sent the crew a Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit to review. This kit is very interesting, and has all sorts of tools for a father/step father/father-like figure to use with a coming of age son to help him enter the world of manhood.
What is it all about?
Society, and especially mainstream media and peers, put so much pressure on young boys today in terms of showing them how they should act, think, and feel. Everything from how they should dress to how they treat others can be attributed to the greater society surrounding them. In sociology, we are taught about peer reinforcement groups. And one of the most influential peer reinforcement groups remains the family unit. Harnessing the power of positive peer reinforcement from a strong group, Manhood Journey presents a unique kit that helps assemble strong male role models to guide their sons in the transition from boyhood to manhood.

What is included?

The box is filled with goodies. There's an activity book that is sort of like the text book of the program, this is a 1 on 1 discussion guide. Then there is a group discussion guide, also, to help facilitate the group meetings. There's a copy of the book Wise Guys. There is a DVD with short sessions for each module, and lastly, a set of "maprochures" These were my favorites because I personally found them to be so interesting! 

How does it Work?

The idea behind this is that a dad, or a father figure like a close family friend, uncle, whatever would implement this program with their son/sons. For the group part, there is a group leader, and that leader invites 6-8 other dads and their sons to join in on the program. Each week is a different topic, and groups operate in 6 week "terms" kind of. Meetings can be held at church in a home, or at a mutually agreed upon location. Topics covered include the likes of "Manhood Myths" and purity, leadership, career, etc. The program suggests an age range of 8-17, though I'd suggest boys close in age to be a good fit for a group session. On the other hand, older boys could help guild younger boys.

What about Single Moms, Step dads, No dads?

Well, the program specifically calls out dads/fathers and their sons. If that doesn't bother you, then a step mom could implement the program, BUT I can see it working better with a male figure. As a single mom for a lot of years, I don't think I would have wanted to head up a group program designed for fathers and sons. Step fathers, or father figures, could work quite well. I'm not saying single moms can't at all, I'm just saying it wouldn't have been for me. It is possible, but just not for me. If I was still a full single mom, I would have enlisted a male role model figure for my son to do the program with him, instead of me because I'm sure my thoughts, attitudes, and experiences are vastly different coming from a female perspective.

Overall, How did it work for us?

This is hard for me because we have a very unique situation. When I requested to be on this review, I had all of these ideas of dads I could contact to ask about doing this program. I missed the part where the dads would be doing the program in the group session with their sons! For some reason, when I saw the words dads and their sons, I didn't think about the need for dads with young sons.  I found out in short order that I do not know many dads who have sons! Most of them have daughters. So that was problem #1. Problem #2 is that I had hoped Mr. B's biological father would want to take part in this with him, too. And he declined. Problem #3 is that Mr. B just isn't to this stage of his life maturity wise, so that made things more difficult. It was hard for M to get him to actually pay attention and take part in the one on one discussions, and anything group related was a total bust for us. This was soooo disheartening for me because this is a really great program with so many good attributes and possibilities. You don't need to use the group portion of the program at all, as the one on one guide is fantastic as a stand alone, but I really had my heart set on some serious male bonding time for Mr. B, his dad and step dad, and other key male figures. I could see this being GREAT for a church group, youth group, etc. But I couldn't find enough dads who had the time, on the same day, to get together with sons to do it properly for it to reach the full potential. Week by week there was call after call of someone cancelling. This one is sick, that one is tired from work, the other has an early practice the next morning, someone else had to work over. Etc. etc. etc.  I am really hoping we can come back to this program in a year or so, when Mr.  B has grown more, and implement the group portion of the program to it's fullest capacity. And perhaps with a more consistent commitment from the others involved so that the group portion can be implemented better. M and Mr. B have enjoyed the one on one discussions, and the activities are a lot of fun. There is a page that says each person taking part needs to have a Manhood Journey Notebook. There is no notebook/journal included in the kit. One could use any type of journal to get the job done of course, but I think a "special" journal available in the kit, or as an add one, would be a GREAT addition. This was a great experience for M and Mr. B to have together, even though Mr. B couldn't quite grasp everything yet. It was a good experience for M to take part in this program himself, to see himself as the father figure and role model he is. I am excited to use this program again at a later time, to see what changes occur, and what Mr. B could get out of it when he's at a better age mentally. Overall, I really REALLY like this program. M liked it, and Mr. B's special needs just have him on a level that is too immature to really appreciate or gain a lot from it at this stage in  his life. But once he gets to that stage, I think it will be fantastic. I fully, and highly, recommend this to others.

Please check out The Homeschool Review Crew to see more reviews on this product. It truly is a really great program.
Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Great Bookshelf Purge of 2017 (Updated 4/3/17)

Hi everyone! It's the great Bookshelf Purge of 2017!!!! I have SOOOO much to clear out! So here goes! This post will be modified as needed. Please email me at with what you want and your paypal address for invoice. I WILL combine shipping to save you money, and ship anyway you like with tracking.

All conditions are listed. Smoke free and pet free.

#1 SOLD, thank you! 

#2 Flat Stanley Lot $ 14.00 Postage Paid
A couple of these are NOT pictured. Totally included in this lot is the whole boxed set that includes Stanley in Space, Invisible Stanley, the original Flat Stanley book, and Stanley, Flat Again! Plus you'll get an additional Stanley in Space and the Worldwide Adventures book.

#3 Primary Science medical themed readers. $10.00 postage paid
You can't See Your Bones with Binoculars NEW
Is That Robot Really My Doctor? A techonology Q&A book. Like New

#4 Various social studies themed readers. $5.00 Postage Paid

A Very Busy Firehouse NEW
Welcome to the White House NEW
Tracing the Anasazi NEW
Chinese New Year Very good condition
On the Go  used condition

Life of a dollar bill and Police officers are sold.

#5 SOLD! Thank you! 

#6 SpellWell $12.00 Postage Paid
Books C, CC, and the teacher's book. ALL UNUSED

#7 Scholastic 50 Fill-In Math Word Problems $4.00 Postage Paid

Grade 2-3, NEW

#8 Artistic Pursuits MODEL $30 Postage Paid
New condition

#9 Various readers All for $17.00 Postage Paid or $2.00 plus shipping. All of these are NEW!

#10 Magic School Bus Chapter Books $30.00 Postage Paid
These are all NEW or LIKE NEW/Very Good condition

The Wild Whale Watch NEW
The Search for the Missing Bones NEW
The Truth About Bats NEW
Food Chain Frenzy NEW
Voyage to the Volcano NEW
Expedition Down Under Very Good condition
Dinosaur Detectives Very good Condition
Penguin Puzzle NEW
The Great Shark Escape NEW
The Giant Germ NEW
The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm Coloring and Activity Book Like new/unused

#12 A to Z Mysteries LOT NEW $10.00 postage paidSuper Edition #2 Mayflower Treasure Hunt
D The Deadly Dungeon
K The Kidnapped King
R The Runaway Horse

#13 Geronimo Stilton LOT $12.00 Postage Paid
These are New
The Way of the Samurai
The Stone of Fire
Run for the Hills, Geronimo!

#14 Critical Thinking Co. Editor in Chief Level 1 $10.00 Postage Paid

Very good condition. This had some minor pencil markings that were erased on a few pages. This was sent to his sitter's home, and lost until he had already completed a 2nd book of it haha.

#15 Middle Ages Books $10.00 Postage Paid
All in good condition.

#16 Dinosaur Fun $5.00 Postage Paid

#17 Weird but True Fact Pack 5-8 $5.00 Postage Paid

#18 Biography Lot $15.00 Postage Paid
Who was Roald Dahl, George Washinging Carver, and Harry Houdini are all NEW.

#19 American History Lot $30.00 Postage Paid

Benjamin Franklin is in used condition
Across the Delaware is used condition
Honest Abe is NEW
Poor Richard is in great condition, but there is some writing on the inside of the cover.
We The Kids is in really good condition
Blast from the Past is used condition
the Declaration of Independence is like new
Revolutionary War is in good condition
All 3 of the Jean Fritz are new
March on Washington is new
Back to Paul Revere is used.

#20 NEW! Both for $20 postage paid.

#21 Misc. $7.00 postage paid for all 
A Book about Jesus .50
Kid's First Cookbook 2.00
Elementary Advantage (NEW, in plastic) 4.00
Weird but True 1.00
You can add these on to another purchase and pay the additional shipping.

#22 Various Readers Lot for $ 28.00 Postage Paid


Banner in the Sky 3.00
The Whipping Boy 3.00
Cricken in Times Square 3.00
Stormbreakers 1.50
Island 3.00
Roald Dahl Esio Trot (NEW) 3.50
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2.50
Step Family Success (NEW) 1.00
Sixth Grade can Really Kill You (NEW) 2.00
Illustrated Classic Journey to the Center of the Earth 2.00
Not pictured is a new copy of The Little Prince 1.00

#23 Workbooks ALL for $30 Postage paid
(Daily Grams has sold) I am willing to separate, just message me for details, and I'll change the lot price as needed. 

#24 Various Science Readers $15 for all, postage paid. All but a couple of these are NEW!

#25 MORE Middle Ages $7.00 postage paid (Or you can add it to the other middle ages lot, and combine shipping to save $$!) 

#26 More reading selections. Some are new, some aren't. All are in decent to new condition. All for $10.00 postage paid, or .75 each, plus shipping. 

**I'll be updating with photos once batteries charge.**

I'm going to be updating with a LOT more as soon as the iPad charges so I can take photos. I probably have well over 100 books to list. There will be weather lots, middle ages, another artistic pursuits book, several new/unused workbooks, LOTS AND LOTS of readers and chapter books to come including Geronimo Stilton, Roald Dahl, and biographies!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Buying a "service" dog.

I've done YEARS of research into service dogs for autism. There are difference in service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals. And there are so many myths, and straight up lies. So many organizations that claim greatness. I'm working on a post that will address a lot of these issues soon, but for now I want to show you a photo! Two of these gorgeous babies will be coming home with me at the end of April, and we can't wait!

Customer Service

I'm pretty sure Customer Service is a lost art. It should not take 2 trips, talking to 4 managers (including a regional manager, ) 2 customer service reps, for the tech guy to ultimately get everything squared away. Completely ridiculous! I'll post more later, when I've had time to calm down, but thank God everything is resolved!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bessie's Pillow REVIEW

Strong Learning, Inc.

I do a lot of book reviews, but not many have hit me the way Bessie's Pillow has. Written by Linda Bress Silbert, one of the founders of Strong Learning, Inc., Bessie's Pillow is based on the true account of her grandmother's amazing and courageous journey to America in 1906.

Boshka, (later called Bessie) is just a kid, just 18 years old (which is still a kid to me,) when she is sent by her parents to America in 1906 to escape from Russian persecution since she was Jewish. Imagine that for a moment. Imagine you are just 18, and you live in oppression due to your religion in Lithuania. You are forced to leave the only home you know, and your family, to travel across the planet alone to a new city, new country, new culture...a new life!  

The sites and sounds that are described in this book rang out like an internal movie for me. She goes first class aboard a ship, and her first time on American soil is Ellis Island. The book is written in first person voice, so it's like Bessie (Boshka changes to Bessie in America) is telling us her own tale. Once again, I'm transported back in time and I can imagine the excitement and energy of such times. Can you imagine?! How many lives have started fresh on the soil of Ellis Island? Bessie's life is one, and this book takes us on a remarkable journey as she builds her new life in America.

The pillow in question isn't exactly hers. She's about to board the train when a woman comes to her with a pillow embroidered with the words, "May this pillow bring you peace." The woman, Mrs. Dreizen,  wishes for Boshka to give this to her son Nathan who is already in America. The pillow is a source of comfort and inspiration for Bessie, who does find Nathan Dreizen. Bessie made good on her promise, and delivers the precious pillow to Nathan, and the two fall in love. They go on to marry, have a family, and eventually have a granddaughter who writes her grandmother's story for all of us to enjoy.

Bessie's story doesn't end with wedding bells and baby blankets. She and Nathan must endure unimaginable heart ache, and soon Bessie is on her own when Nathan suddenly dies, leaving her a widow with 4 children. Bessie starts to believe perhaps the photos and camera she and Nathan had were cursed. Such technology was a new thing back then, so she had them burned. As a photographer, this really hit me. I can't imagine burning my camera and photos, but times were so much different back then. Bessie is an unbelievably strong, and charitable woman. One thing I really took away from this book is that Bessie realizes how fortunate she is. She looks around her, and she understands and is aware that she's blessed and more privileged than many surrounding her. She goes out of her way to try and build up those around her. From providing goodies to orphans, to mortgages for people who couldn't secure financing through a bank, Bessie was a truly remarkable woman, and her legacy will continue.

Linda Bress Silbert does an amazing job retelling her grandmother's story. To be honest, I got so caught up in the story I forgot I wasn't reading the story from a first hand account. It is so unbelievable touching, moving, emotional, and so many adjectives I can't even think of right now. This book is great for a study on American History as the details about early New York City are fascinating. It'd be great to add to a study in immigration, and countless other topics.

There is also a webpage dedicated to introducing you to the America Bessie found when she arrived. Bessie's America is real treat. This page links you to radio stations the family listened to, as well as theater productions they enjoyed. There's music, recipes, the life and times of the era, and you can even look into your own family history.

If you click on the tab at the top of the page for teachers, you will find a really great Study Guide. And I mean a REALLY GREAT study guide. In it you'll find a myriad of study and discussion questions, a timeline of U.S. History from 1900 to 1936, suggested studies and research projects,  glossary, and a very extensive reading list. You could really use this book, the study guide, and reading list to build an entire semester or more of social studies! I find a lot of the material in the study guide portion to be geared to higher grade levels than where we are right now, but I have been able to use the guide as a starting point for discussion and reflection with Mr. B. We have also been able to engage in some beginning research with the suggested research projects, but most of that is well above his level at this time.

Since his step mom immigrated to the U.S. recently, we have been using Bessie's Pillow as a jumping point to talk about immigration, and how that is impacted our own family. Bessie traveled alone, and back then that was virtually unheard of. His step mom also traveled alone when she came to America after marrying his dad, but times have changed so much that it wasn't that unusual. The study guide has provided us with plenty of discussion and research prompts to use while we begin our own journey of sorts learning about immigration. 

All in all, I found this to be truly fascinating to read. I was emotionally moved, and completely enthralled by this story of perseverance, love, loss, and determination. Please note: I personally feel this book is best suited for high school level due to some subject material. There's nothing perverted or anything like that, it's just raw, gritty real life, and real life can be hard. I don't want to give away the book but just know there's child death, and emotionally upsetting subject matter at times that I personally skip over with Mr. B who is 11. It's great for a read aloud for younger kids, but you may wish to read ahead a bit to avoid some content with the littles. 
Bessie's Pillow
Does Bessie's Pillow Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

I received a physical book. This is appropriate for teens/young adults/adults to read on their own, or for you to read to a younger child. You can read at your own pace, of course. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

This a book that is well written and appropriate for a wide age range. But I will advise that some subject material might be a bit too much for younger audiences. This is a real life story, and real life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. There's child death, etc. The study guide is great for discussion, and for younger kids you may get inspiration from it for more appropriate activities if they can't handle some of the suggested research.  

Here is a sample to show you the research topics, and part of the study guide so you can get an idea of what I mean. 

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

It's not boring at all. The chapters are pretty short, and I find that to be great for ADHD and autism. The webpage is really great. Mr. B really likes the films and music. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

This can and will certainly tie into any study on American History, Jewish persecution, immigration, etc. This is especially great for those who go with a more Charlotte Mason approach. 

Check out the rest of the Homeschool Review Crew to see what they have to say!

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Murder for the Time Being REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY!

Murder for the Time Being
Click here to purchase your copy

About the Book

FINAL - Murder for the Time Being Front 72dpi
Click to purchase your copy

Book: Murder for the Time Being
Author: Joanie Bruce
Genre: Christian Suspense/Romance
Release Date: November 29, 2016
“You’ll pay for this. I’ll get you both.”
Computer expert Lexi Wynn is frightened. Someone is after her, but she doesn’t know why. Is it because of her past or because she was thrust into a deadly bank robbery and might identify the ones responsible? Escaping a failed kidnapping attempt and not sure who to trust, she hopes her specialized skills with computers might flush out the name of the killer. When a tall, dark, and handsome stranger rams into her truck with the hearse he’s driving and puts his life in danger to save hers, can she ignore the attraction she feels for him to concentrate on the killers? Or is God the only one who can save her now?
Drew Sheffield is irritated when a cute lady stops abruptly in front of him and he plows into the back of her pickup. After their initial confrontation, flashbacks of honeysuckle and sassy green eyes linger in his thoughts. When Lexi is threatened, he steps in to help the feisty young woman, in spite of agonizing over a past relationship.
Can Lexi and Drew forget the tragedies of the past and embrace the feelings between them or will ghostly memories snub out the promise of a future together?

About the Author

ESP_9231 (2)
Joanie has a strong passion for reading, and her love for books with nail-biting suspense, inspires her to write contemporary suspense books. Thankful that God has given her the ability to write from her home in the country, she strives to use that opportunity to honor Him in all of her writing. Joanie and her husband, Ben, live in a country home near Madison, Georgia, right in the middle of a pasture full of beef cows. There they raised and homeschooled their three children. She enjoys cooking, taking long walks, painting oil portraits, and caring for their home in the country.

Guest Post from Joanie Bruce

Have you ever been devastated by a certain event in your life, and later it turned out to the best thing that ever happened to you? That’s what happened to Lexi Wyn in this book, “Murder for the Time Being.” Something unthinkable happened to her family, but in the end, it changes Lexi’s life forever and introduces her to the love of her life.
In this story, both Lexi and Drew have things in their past that discourage them from seeking a lasting relationship. However, God has a plan for them both, and through His Divine engineering, they are thrown together in circumstances that nurture a growing appreciation and affection for each other.
This book was fun to write because I anchored the story in my sweet little town of Madison, Georgia. I wasn’t raised in Madison, but I’ve called it home for much longer than any other place I’ve ever lived. While growing up in the big city of Memphis, Tennessee, I had definite plans for my future. All I ever wanted was to “marry a country boy and live in the country.” The Lord heard the desires of my heart and gave me what I wanted … a country boy, born and raised here in Morgan County on a dairy farm.
After we married, I adopted Madison as my home, and I love it so much that I wanted to feature some of the fun spots in Madison as the backdrops for the scenes in my books. I hope when you read through the pages of my book, you will get an idea of what a sweet little town Madison is and enjoy reading about Lexi and Drew and how they let God guide them in discovering that murder CAN be “for the Time Being.”

My Thoughts:

This is a very well written book. It is quick paced, but not so much that you lose your thoughts. It is paced enough to keep things moving ahead and keep it interesting. It starts off full of mystery and intrigue, and maintains that through out the book. The author does an exceptional job at scene description! From the first pages, I was enthralled and pulled into the story. I could almost feel the sadness Cindi felt when she realized her locket was missing. I could feel the fear and panic of her parents, especially as they ran for their lives toward the waiting airplane. Even through all of that, the author was sure to maintain a level of childhood innocence in Cindi who was upset about the forced move, but excited by the idea of getting a horse haha! Reading from the point of view of the bad guys is brilliant! The whole book is like this, and it's a page turner for sure. This is one of those books that kept me guessing on who the "bad guy/girl" is until the very end. I highly recommend it.

**I received this book free in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.**

                               Blog Stops                              
March 15: autism mom
March 16: A Reader’s Brain
March 17: A Greater Yes
March 18: Radiant Light
March 20: Karen Sue Hadley
March 24: Pause for Tales
March 24: 2014 and Beyond!
March 26: Carpe Diem


To celebrate her tour, Joanie is giving away a Kindle Fire!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Monday, March 20, 2017

A day in our life: Monday fun with Obleck!

Today's homeschool was a mix of child lead and structured. I had wanted to finish up our world history, but we just got in Masterbooks Biographies of the Revolution, and I couldn't wait to get started on it. The planner for this is broken down day by day, with each front and page page intending to take 1 week. Mr. B enjoyed learning about George Washington so much that we did the entire first week today!

Then we moved on to Readers in Residence. This is a review item we recently received, and a full review will be coming soon. But he's really doing well with it. He spent a good portion of the day revisiting a lesson on narrative and non-narrative books, and then made a chart of several books in our house and organized them by narrative vs. non-narrative and genre.

Then came the part he was waiting on. NON NEWTONIAN LIQUIDS! I picked up a box of cornstarch at the grocery store last night so we could make a batch of oobleck. Oobleck is water mixed with cornstarch. This is a great lesson in liquids/solids, pressure, and viscosity. This is basically homemade quicksand. The pressure you apply to it causes the particles of the cornstarch to group together, making it solid. But once that pressure is release, the cornstarch releases, and it's once again liquid. This is similar to quicksand. The sand particles are broken up by water, but pressure-from tying to escape perhaps-cause them to group together so tightly they are like concrete. But relaxing and very short moves can break this bond and allow for your escape. This is not a liquid, but a non-newtonian fluid.

1C Water
1-2C Corn starch
Bowl, pan, etc.
Food coloring if you wish.

I start with equal parts of water and cornstarch. And I add cornstarch as needed to get the consistency to be sort of like paint or thick milk. I mix with my hands so I can feel with it's a neutral balance of cornstarch and water so that it makes the solid and then reverts back to a fluid consistency.

Here are some photos of our oobleck fun!

Create Your Own Beautiful Works of Art with Creating a Masterpiece {{TOS REVIEW}}

Creating a Masterpiece
Every once in a while, a product comes up for review that I get so excited over, that I will flat out beg to get on the review. That's exactly the case with Creating a Masterpiece. When I saw they had a Monthly Plan up for review, and we'd be receiving 6 months of that . . .  Oh the excitement! You see, I have always loved art. It was sort of a hidden gem talent I've always kept to myself because I never had time or money to pursue it. I wanted so badly to major in art in college, but my scholarship adviser would not approve it. She claimed it was not a means to gainful employment or enrichment, so therefore I had to choose another major. I was heartbroken, and that ended my quest for art. Once I had Mr. B, that pretty much sealed the deal on the end of my art days. His therapies and treatments took all the time, energy, and funds I had at the time. But, there remained a tiny ember still aflame in my heart for my beloved art.

Creating a Masterpiece is an online program full of art lessons that break down the steps so that even beginners can successfully create beautiful works of art. Mrs. Hofer wanted to create a program online that children or adults could follow with ease, and she wanted that program to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in her students. I can tell you from first hand experience, she hit the nail on the head with Creating a Masterpiece.

How I Used This:

So, I was chosen for the review and I honestly screamed in delight. I couldn't wait. I would be FORCED to do the artwork since I had to use it for the review. That was my in! HAHA! I had purchased a discounted art kit for Matt as a gift, but I hesitated to use it myself since it was his. I didn't want to use it being I had gifted it to him. That's like buying someone a cake for their birthday, then scarfing it all down yourself. But now I had a reason why I NEEDED to use it. Justification can be a beautiful thing.

Before I was even chosen, I started with the free lesson. Yes, there is a FREE LESSON! I didn't really plan for this lesson, so I was at the mercy of what I had on hand. With no pastel paper, or anything like that, I used construction paper and chalks.

 Here is a photo of her artwork.

And here is a photo of my piece. 

And if you're wondering, is hanging on my refrigerator! 

I did this one while watching the video. I'd pause the video and catch up as needed. That's what is so wonderful about this program! You can watch first, or work along with it, and pause, replay as necessary. I found I paused and/or replayed frequently just so I could make sure I was doing it right. I'd say, all in all, I have about an hour art time in this project, not counting watching the lessons. Mrs. Hofer's sweet and kind voice is so very relaxing and encouraging. She always has a smile to give, and you can tell she genuinely loves what she is doing.

Here is another project I tried. This is a Level 1 project. Here's Mrs. Hofer's version first:

I loved the soft purples and pinks of this project. Unfortunately, I didn't have those colors when I purchased my pastel set. Silly me, I didn't check the supply list before heading off to the art supply store. I plan to make sure I have the right colors the next time I go because I very much want this same color scheme so I can frame it and hang it in my bedroom. Regardless, I was still able to do one on my own, in "my own way." Mrs. Hofer is very clear that the student is to make their own unique work of art, and not worry so much if it's exactly like hers or not.

As you can tell, my colors are bold and bright. I still like this one, but I like the softer colors of hers more. I also didn't cover my page as much as I should have, and I didn't realize that until I took this photo haha! Oh well, I still like it!

Both of these projects were chalk and pastel based. But with a membership, you have full access to every level and ever project. You will find projects that use:
  • Pencil
  • Watercolor
  • Charcoal
  • Oil Pastel
  • Ink
  • Acrylic
  • Oil Paint
  • Sculpture
  • Silk Painting
  • Glass Mosaic
  • Gouache
  • Mixed Media
  • Wood Burning
  • And soooooo much more!!!

After finishing up the pastel projects, I wanted to try my hand at painting. I was a bit nervous to break out the canvas and brushes again. I hadn't painted anything other than my house in more than a decade. I know it was well before Mr. B was born, and I can't even really remember what it was I painted. I am pretty sure I was just fooling around mixing colors, and I never got to the actual work. So really, it'd been since high school! That's a long time folks...a very long time. 

Here's Mr. Hofer's example:

She calls this Spring Blossoms. It is painted using Acrylics which dry faster than oils, clean up with just plain water, and don't hit the bank account quite as hard. They are easier to use than oils, in my opinion, but you blend and mix just the same. So, for example,  colors such as green and yellow use brown to darken and white the lighten, blues you'd use a black to darken. I used the acrylics I had previously purchased for a different project that Mr. B did a year ago or so, but we'd never opened them. They didn't have the exact colors she uses, but it was ok and I made it work for me anyway.

Here's my version:

My mom loved this so much, I gifted it to her for her birthday! You find this project in Level 2. There are a few more from this lesson I hope to complete before my subscription runs out. I'm a huge fan of the pastel projects, and there are several I want to attempt soon. 

As much fun as acrylics are, I was really itching to do an oil painting. I planned a special trip to the art store just for oil paints. With my 50% off one product coupon in hand, I searched for the largest set of paints so I'd make sure I had all of the colors I need. Of course when I get there, I realize I left the color list at home so I was at the mercy of hoping I picked the right one. I didn't haha! I needed sap green, and the best I could do when I got home was to mix viridian green with a little lemon yellow and raw umber. It at least wasn't as teal as the viridian green was to begin with, so there's that. But, true to the other projects, a little deviation in color is just fine! You won't have the exact same results as Mrs. Hofer, but that's totally ok! It makes the painting truly your own, and makes it 100% unique to you. I also realized when I got home that Mr. B had taken my good round brushes and pretty much ruined them. Without those, I was really hurting when it came to the branches.

Here is her version. I soooo love this painting! You will find this in the Art History section.

I love the starkness of the darks mixed with the boldness of the light. I love the hint of purple, the soft and buttery yellow like a prize behind the bold and dark greens.

Here is my humble attempt, given I did not have the correct color green. This is still drying, and I did this 100% wet the whole time. This one took a little longer because I was just learning how to use oils. Actual paint time is probably 90 mins to two hours, but I watched and re-watched the lessons over and over again. So I really can't say how much time I have. I did the painting all in one setting, painting wet the entire time.  With the proper brushes and the right color green, I think I could have done a better job. I may go back and do a bit of highlighting once it dries some that way the colors don't bleed into one another.


Overall, this has been the best review for me. I have truly loved working with Creating a Masterpiece. It has become my "me time" activity. It has been such a blessing to bring my love of art back out, and to truly do something for myself. In the midst of stress, heartache, etc.  I always have art as a means to recompose myself. It is an outlet for me to recharge, regroup, and combat anxiety and stress in a meaningful way. Mr. B has been sick for this entire review period, but I have found a few projects that he likes. It is very good for kids, and adults, and even special needs/ADHD kiddos like Mr. B. The lessons are very short, and broken down in such a way that your child can take a break and come back as needed. I will truly miss this subscription when it runs out, and I plan to ask for a renewal as a late birthday gift, or as a Christmas gift. I really enjoy this THAT much. I just want to say Thank you so much to the people behind Creating a Masterpiece for allowing the crew the chance to do this review. It has been such a huge blessing!

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