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Give Your Homeschool the Gift of Grace

Give your homeschool the gift of grace - win a three book bundle

giveawayhop21196This giveaway is part of the Ultimate Homeschool Giveaway Hop hosted by Intoxicated on Life. Be sure to visit each of the blogs on the linky below for a chance to win many more amazing homeschool curricula, resources, and accessories.

Grace Based Giveaway!

I have talked a lot about cutting yourself some slack, not being so hard on yourself, and realistic views of bloggers here on the blog. This time I want to take it a step further and give you some reading inspiration for filling your homeschool with the grace of God.

Because, really, who doesn’t need more of that?

I know I sure could use it. So I have put together a grace based giveaway for the homeschool mama. If you win, I pray it will encourage your heart as you go through your homeschool journey.

This post and prize is sponsored by me and is made possible by the affiliate links I use on this blog (like in this post). Here is what I am giving away (pictured in the leading graphic):

The book bundle is valued at $45.97. Enter on the Giveaway Tools widget below (take advantage of the refer a friend extra entries) and then drop down to the bottom of the post to see what everyone else is giving away!

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More Giveaways!

Our host, Intoxicated On Life, has put together a grand prize worth nearly $1,000. This package includes art, music, history, science, Bible resources, writing, and more from these fantastic companies:

(Disclosure: Intoxicated on Life and participating bloggers are not responsible for companies who do not fulfill their prize obligations)

Write Through the Bible {12 Days of Christmas in July 2013}

Write Through the Bible giveaway for day 3 of 12 Days of Christmas in July @ www.vicki-arnold.com

About the Prize

Write Through the Bible is a curriculum created by Trisha of Intoxicated on Life.

“Write Through the Bible is a series of copywork printables designed for an entire school year, combining the disciplines of handwriting, dictation, vocabulary, and Scripture memory into one daily activity.”

Write Through the Bible contains a full week’s worth of lessons for an entire school year. It breaks down like this: 3 days are spent copying the new verse, 1-2 days are spent on vocabulary, and 1 day is spent on dictation. The student also reviews previous verses to help with memorization.

Each ebook in the series is only $5! Nice. If you would like to try it out, she offers a free mini ebook of the Lord’s Prayer that has 18 days worth of material. You can check out the rest of the series and learn more about what they offer in the Write Through the Bible shop.

There are currently three full year curriculums available in KJV or ESV. You also have the choice of manuscript or cursive. A fourth curriculum will be available later this month.

The prize being offered today is winner’s choice of two Write Through the Bible ebooks!

About the Sponsor

Intoxicated on Life is a lifestyle blog written by Luke and Trisha Gilkerson. The blog’s the tagline is “Pursuing a Healthy Home Life”. They regularly cover homeschooling, health and nutrition, and developing a godly family. They offer a number of freebies for the subscribers of their homeschool newsletter, with more to come!

A sampling of posts from Intoxicated on Life:

Please drop by Intoxicated on Life’s blog or Facebook page to say thank you for sponsoring this giveaway!

And now…the giveaway!!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Homeschool Newsletter and enter the subscriber only Lego giveaway!


12 Days of Christmas in July Giveaways Series 2013

12 Days of Christmas in July giveaway series starts July 14, 2013 at www.vicki-arnold.com #homeschool

Announcing 12 Days of Christmas in July!

Today I am proud to announce a project that I have been working on for a while now. You all know I love giveaways around here, right? I even have a Pinterest board just for giveaways (yep, shameless Pinterest plug right there).

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that I am super duper excited to be bringing you the 12 Days of Christmas in July Giveaway Series!

Yes, that is 12 (TWELVE) days of giveaways here on the blog. In a row. I may have to sleep for 12 days after it is all over, but it will be worth it. I pray this series will be a blessing to both my lovely readers who win and to the bloggers and companies that have generously donated the prizes.

12 Days of Christmas in July Prizes

Would you like to know what will be up for grabs?

Here is the list of prizes along with the blogger or company that is sponsoring it. Please be sure to check out their websites for more info! Of course, I will have more info in each giveaway post, but you don’t have to wait until then…

Is that a GREAT list or what?! I am excited for you all! I am working on the very first exclusive giveaway for subscribers to the Homeschool Newsletter, too.

** 7/12/13 UPDATE: Thanks to We Choose Virtues joining us for Day 12, the Lego giveaway sponsored by me will be our very first subscriber only giveaway! Details will be sent out on July 14, 2013, when the series starts. This will be the only giveaway that will run the entire length of the series (all others will last one week). If you sign up after the 14th, you will receive the link in a separate email after signing up (it is the welcome to the newsletter email you receive within an hour of signing up).

Sign up here:


Help Spread the News!

Please help spread the news of the giveaways. Share the love! 😉

Look for the first giveaway to be live on July 14, 2013! Sign up for email updates on the top right of the blog so you do not miss any of these great giveaways!

Blogging for Orphans {Make a Difference}

Blogging for Orphans Christmas in July for Door of Hope of Palawan. We are banding together to bring Christmas to orphans in the Philippines. Come see how you can help at vicki-arnold.com!

I am excited to be partnering with a great group of bloggers for Blogging for Orphans. We are banding together to bring Christmas to orphans in the Philippines and we need your help. Please read the rest of this post put together by my friend Dollie to see how you can help us! Please and thank you!

Blogging for Orphans | Door of Hope Palawan

Blogging for Orphans is a group of bloggers, who are uniting together online to make a difference in the lives of children… orphaned children.

Door of Hope Palawan is the orphanage for this campaign and we would love to introduce you to some of the sweet children who call this place home.

 

Blogging for Orphans has set out to accomplish 2 goals in this campaign for Door of Hope and we need your help to do it!

52 Filled Bags for Christmas in July

It is our goal to help in the Christmas in July program, where every July people fill 2-gallon plastic bags for each child in the care of Door of Hope. This year there are 52 children to bless (24 for boys and 28 for girls), at the Door of Hope Palawan. It is our goal to help fill these bags, so each child can have something to call their own on Christmas.  The bags are shipped from the host church in upstate New York on a ship for the cheapest shipping, which takes 3 full months. Now is the time to make their Christmas special!

Two Ways You Can Help Meet This Need:

  • Fill Your Own Bag for An Orphan – Once you have registered for blessing a child’s Christmas, print Door of Hope Christmas in July Shopping List, shop and fill a 2-gallon plastic bag or use 2 – 1 gallon plastic bags for each orphan you registered for and ship it to New York. (Address will be provided once you have registered)
  • Let Us Fill Your Bag for You – If you have limited time and want to avoid shipping, while providing a Christmas bag to a child, you can donate $25 and the bag will be filled for you. You need to register to let us know the gender and age of the child you want to bless this upcoming Christmas. After you have registered for a child, please donate on the Door of Hope website for this need, which is below the registration form.

Please register and donate by July 15th and have all bags shipped to New York no later than the 18th of July.

Door of Hope Palawan Collage | Blogging for Orphans

52 Children Sponsored for a Year

It costs $300 a year to provide food and education to each of the children, who call Door of Hope home. Blogging for Orphans would love to help meet this need but we need your help!

How You Make a Difference For These Orphaned Children

  1. Raise $300 to Sponsor a Child for a Year – As a family, you can work together to raise $300 to sponsor a child for a full year, in your family’s name.  We have created a promotional form that can be emailed or printed that will help you share with family, friends, church members and neighbors about this life-changing campaign for Door of Hope Palawan.  Every donation helps and nothing is too small to make a difference!  You may want to have a yard sale, bake sale, lemonade stand or talent show that can help you raise the money to sponsor a child for a year. With a donation of $100, a child’s expenses are covered for 4 months and $200 covers these expenses for 8 months, while the $300 covers their expenses for a full year!
  2. Sponsor a Child for $25 a Month – That is all it cost a month to feed and educate one child in the care of Door of Hope Palawan, which is less than $1 a day.  Our goal for Blogging for Orphans is to see all 52 of the children, who call Door of Hope their home, to be sponsored by the end of this campaign. Won’t you make a difference in an orphaned child’s life and sponsor one now?  To do so, please donate on the Door of Hope website with the $25 a month option.
  3. Donate $25 in Teachers of Good Things Name – Each of the bloggers involved with Blogging for Orphans would love to help by sponsoring a child’s expenses for a year.  With 12 of my readers donating $25, the readers of Teachers of Good Things will have the joy of sponsoring an orphaned child.

Want to do more for Door of Hope Palawan?  They have many needs and are sharing them with those who have a heart to help where they can.

Show Us How You Are Helping!

We would love to see photos of all the wonderful things that your family is doing to help the children of Door of Hope Palawan. If you are on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and would like to share your photos of packing your bags, raising money for sponsoring a child or anything that pertains to how you are uniting with us to meet these needs, please use and follow the hashtag #blogging4orphans on all of those social media networks!

To stay connected with Door of Hope Palawan, you can read their blog and follow them on Facebook.

On behalf of the bloggers that make up Blogging for Orphans, I would like to thank you for taking time to learn how you can ‘unite with us online and make a difference in the lives of orphaned children’ in Palawan, Philippines. We invite you to share our post on your social media networks to help us spread the word of the needs at Door of Hope.

Blogging for Orphans | Door of Hope Palawan Bloggers

Dollie of Teachers of Good Things
Cassondra of Beyond the Cover Blog
Lisa of Organize 365
Vicki of the Vicki Arnold Blog
Aurie of Our Good Family
Ticia of Adventures in Mommydom
Sarah of Chores and Chatter
Tabitha of Meet Penny
Trisha of Intoxicated on Life

Where to Buy Your Garden Seeds

Where to buy your heirloom garden seeds

To get the most bang for your gardening buck, start with seeds. Why? A pack of seeds costs approximately $3 for anywhere from 25-100 seeds, while transplants run about $3 for 4 plants. You do that math. Well, there are a few more factors to figure in to your total seed starting costs, but seeds still come out ahead (I’ll show you below).

To start your garden seeds, you need soil and something to put it in. The most common thing to use are trays just like you buy your transplants in from a greenhouse. You can buy the trays at just about any home and garden store, or you can order them online. If you’d like to buy them in bulk and save more money, I’ve used FarmTek before with no complaints.

You will want a tray and a sheet of inserts for each tray. The inserts vary in size, but I would recommend using a bigger cell for good root formation. This means you want a lower total plant number (48 vs 72) insert.

For soil, I do not recommend the soil-less stuff that is everywhere. Unless you want to worry about fertilizing your plants. I never do, so I had stinky results using the stuff. Last year, we tried Natural Beginnings Seed-Starting Mix from Garden’s Alive. I will be using this from now on. In all the years we have started seeds, our seedlings have never been as big and healthy as they were last year. (By the way, this is not an ad, I just love this stuff and know you will, too)

This soil is more pricey than the standard soil-less stuff, but it is so worth it. One bag did 5 trays. When I added up the cost of the soil, seeds, and trays, it figured out to about $7-$9 per tray depending on the seeds. Remember each tray held around 48 plants, which gave me a per plant cost of 15 to 19 CENTS.

If you grow open-pollinated varieties and save your seeds, you can reduce or even eliminate this cost factor in following years. Save your trays and inserts for a few years, and all you have is the cost of soil. Do you see why I recommend heirloom seeds?

Once you have your supplies, the process is easy. Fill your inserts with soil, plant your seeds, and keep the trays moist and in the sunlight. That’s it. I should mention that some seeds germinate best out of direct sunlight, your seed packets will tell you this. They will also tell you when you need to start the seeds, generally 4-8 weeks before you intend to plant them outside.

I highly recommend open-pollinated heirloom seeds. These can be hard to come by, as most stores do not carry a wide selection of these. I’ve compiled a list of sources to share with you. If you know of a source that is not mentioned here, please share it with us in the comment section!

Places I’ve ordered from and can personally recommend:

Places I’ve not ordered from, but others recommend:

Happy gardening! Next week we will talk about recipes you can grow (or mostly grow).

I will be linking this post up with the Better Mom Monday link-up at The Better Mom, Living Green Tuesdays at Like a Mustard Seed, Encourage One Another at Deep Roots at Home, Wellness Wednesday at Intoxicated on Life, Proverbs 31 Thursdays at Raising Mighty Arrows, and Hearts at Home at Upside Down Homeschooling –> Be sure to check out these link-ups for more great posts!

Planning Your First Garden

planning-your-first-garden

Our first garden was a little area on the side of our house where we grew a small variety of veggies (aka, I don’t remember what we grew…). We did really well…the first few weeks. I think most beginning gardeners deal with the same naive, over-optimism when it comes to planning their first garden. We were finally realistic with our expectations with our sixth garden. And we did so well that year, that we actually expanded the next year. We intend to expand again this year, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Planning for your first garden is exciting…and overwhelming. I have four tips for you to think about.

1. Location, location, location

Real estate is not the only market where the key phrase is “location, location, location.” Location is very important when planning your first garden. Most vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. There really is no replacement for sunlight when it comes to gardening. You are not limited to an open field, though.

Watch your space, but keep in mind that if you are doing this now, the sun does change positions throughout the year. What you want to watch for is tall objects and the shadows they cast, areas where water puddles (to avoid), and where the natural traffic flow is for animals (and humans). If you plant your garden where the dog routinely walks, guess what? The dog WILL walk through your garden. Planning your first garden with these things in mind will save you some headaches in the long run.

If you don’t have enough open space, look into container gardening (be sure to check out her follow-up post, too), vertical gardening, windowsill gardening, or urban gardening. If you don’t have a space that isn’t sopping wet, build a raised bed to get your plants’ feet out of the puddle. There are lots of ideas floating around Pinterest, check those out for inspiration, too.

2. Size Does Matter

Um, gardens, people. Gardens. Sheesh. As I mentioned before, I am notoriously over-optimistic when it comes to how much garden we can handle. Ultimately, we hope to produce much of what we eat here on our one acre homestead. Learn from my experience. Start with less than you think you can handle, unless you think you can’t handle anything, then start with a 4’x8′ bed. Nothing ruins the gardening experience better than losing control of weeding and losing all the time and money you invested. Trust me.

3. Plant What You Eat

Tomatoes are fun to grow. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and even flavors, especially heirloom varieties. But if you don’t like tomatoes or eat food with tomatoes in it, you are wasting your time and space. I know it is tempting to think “well, I don’t eat them now, but I will when I grow them…” You won’t.

Plant what you eat, not what you think you should be eating. Trying new things is fun. Shopping all the things you can grow in your first garden is fun. Rotten veggies that you invested time and money into is not fun. It does nothing to inspire your gardening efforts. Try new varieties and veggies next year. This year’s new thing is planning and growing the garden itself.

4. Easy Does It

Now, let me expound upon number three. You also want easy to grow. Zucchini is easy to grow and it is a prolific plant. However, zucchini plants are prone to squash bugs. Want to know how I feel about squash bugs? Ahem. I would avoid plants that are prone to these buggers your first year and read all you can about natural pest control in the garden (please, please, please do not use pesticides or such chemicals in your garden).

Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are all relatively easy to grow. So is lettuce and spinach (green smoothies, anyone?). Root veggies take a little extra ground work at the beginning, but keep well once harvested in the fall.

Remember that everything you plant in your garden is going to need watered and weeded. Raised beds and mulching help you out in this area tremendously. Trust me on that one, too.

proverbs31-16

Bonus Tip #1

Keep a garden journal. I don’t, so this may seem hypocritical advice to some. To that I say, learn from my mistake! I intend to start one in my home management binder this year. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could reference notes about our past successes, failures, pest problems, yields, etc. I’m not talking anything elaborate or pretty, though if that’s your thing, go for it. A spiral bound notebook will work just fine.

Bonus Tip #2

Raised beds. Build them, fill them, use them. They make gardening infinitely better and easier.

Bonus Tip #3

If you find a snake in one of your garden beds, go right back out the next day. You probably scared him off when you ran screaming out of the garden the day before anyways…

{Good Reads} for Planning Your First Garden

Wondering where to buy seeds and transplants? I’ll cover that on Monday. I’ll see you then!

Related posts here on ye ol’ blog:

I’m linking this post up to Encourage One Another at Deep Roots at Home, Wellness Wednesday at Intoxicated on Life, and Hearts at Home on Upside Down Homeschooling.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

A note on the Frugal posts. I’m not going to do them on any special day. I’m going to share them as they are written. I’m always frustrated when I have a blog topic I’m interested in and have to wait a week between posts. Yes, I’m a wee bit impatient.

And now, My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip:

Grow your own food.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

Yes, it’s that simple. Yes, I know you are busy. Yes, it may take some creativity. It is so worth it.

No, I do not expect you to grow it all.

Why should you grow your own food? Well, I’m glad you asked!

  1. Gas – Saves you extra trips to the store. Plus, when gas prices go up, food prices go up.
  2. Better for you – You pick from your garden when it is ripe (full of nutrients). Commercial growers pick under-ripe because ripe does not travel well. Also, most commercial produce has been bred for uniform look and to hold up during travel, usually to the expense of flavor.
  3. Costs WAY less than buying produce – Bell peppers go on sale in our area for 3 for $5, which is $1.67 per pepper.  It costs $2.50 for a 4-pack of pepper plants at a local greenhouse.  Four pepper plants will grow many more than the two peppers it would take to come out ahead here. You compare the price to organic produce (which is the best way to grow your garden) and you are saving even more.
  4. Organic is better – Put it this way, pesticides = bad, bad for your health, bad for bees and bad for the environment. And now, there appears to be a link to the drastic rise in celiacs, gluten-intolerance, and IBS.
  5. It is easier than you think – Trust me. A lot of plants grow well in containers on a sunny porch. Herbs and spices grow well in a sunny windowsill. A little water daily and they will reward you handsomely.
  6. Did I mention it will save you gas and money? – ‘Cause it will.
  7. Security – Having food to feed your family if/when things are tight = priceless.

My Absolute Best Money Saving Tip from Vicki-Arnold.com

Quick Gardening Basics

Where?

You need a sunny spot with good drainage with easy access to water. If deer or pets are a problem, be sure to fence off your garden.

What do I grow?

Well, what does your family eat? Obviously you can’t grow pizza, but you can grow tomatoes to make your own sauce, basil to season it, peppers and onions for toppings.

Easy Garden Plants

Easiest to grow:

  • tomatoes
  • corn (10/19/12 Update – Yeah, corn easily cross pollinates and if you have feed corn or GMO sweet corn growing nearby, it can ruin your corn. Also, we have only had success growing corn 1 year out of the 4 we tried. Start with something else.)
  • zucchini and yellow squash
  • cucumbers
  • peppers (these do really well in drier conditions)
  • lettuce
  • bush beans (for green beans)

If you can cultivate the ground 8-12 inches or have a raised bed, try carrots, beets, radishes and turnips. They are super easy.

Herbs and Spices to Try Growing

Herbs and spices to try:

  • basil
  • dill
  • oregano
  • chives
  • parsley

Herbs and spices could be the best spot to start if you don’t want to do a full garden since they are often an expensive addition to the grocery list. It is easy to dry and store your own and no more little bottles that cost $3+. The bonus to the herbs and spices in your garden, they keep a lot of common garden pests away.

Next we will discuss if you should buy heirloom plants and seeds or hybrids. I’ll give you a hint, heirlooms are gonna win.

Further Reading

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Image credit for the money photo goes to 401(k) 2013 on Flickr.