Friday, July 20, 2018

Zucchini Skillet

We love fresh produce around our house.  Zucchini is one of our favorites.  You can use it for making bread, muffins, and so much more.  It makes a great filler for sneaking into sauces and it makes a great replacement for pasta.  I came up with this zucchini skillet one night as a quick dinner for hubby and I because I needed to use up the zucchini.  Of course once it was done, the kids who weren't hungry when I cooked, needed to try it and ate most of it before hubby and I got a chance to have some.  So I dare say this recipe is family approved and now it goes into our regular rotation when I buy zucchini.
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Zucchini Skillet
6-8 medium size Zucchini, cut into 1/4" half pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 pound of ground turkey
2 tbsp. Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (or a general mixed seasoning)
Shredded Cheese - optional
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1.  In a medium size saute pan, brown the ground turkey.  Cook it until it is completely done, breaking it into pieces as you brown it.

2.  While the ground turkey is cooking, chop your zucchini and onions.
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3.  Add the onions to the ground turkey (you can add them when the ground turkey is mostly cooked).  Cook them for about 3 minutes on medium heat.
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4.  Add the zucchini to the turkey and onion mixture.  Stir it all together and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat or until the zucchini is cooked to your likeness.  (My hubby likes the zucchini so it is cooked, but not mushy.)  You can put a lid on it to help it soften faster.
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5.  Add the spaghetti sauce and 21 Seasoning Salute.  Stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes to warm up the sauce.
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6.  Turn off the stove, add cheese if you desire, and enjoy.

What I love about this meal is that it is simple, filling, and good for you.  If there are any leftovers, they do re-heat well.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Review of Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) from Code for Teens

In today's computer oriented world, I believe that it is important for kids to learn more than just the basics like typing.  I think it is important for them to know some of the background, why, and how to of coding so that they can learn why computer programs do what they do.  This is why I was excited to receive a copy of Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) from Code for Teens for Buddy to review.  I was hoping that this book would be a good start to get him interested in and learning about computer programming and coding.
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Programming and coding are subjects that every teen will deal with if they use a computer, play a video game, or visit a website.  This is why Jeremy Moritz wrote Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1).  He decided that if teens were going to deal with all this technology, they should be able to learn why technology does what it does.  Since he helps homeschool his children and couldn't find coding material that would teach this skill at a pace that teens can understand and use, he created his own book that would do just that.  He believes that having teens learn code opens a world of possibilities for them especially when programming jobs are in high demand.  I agree with him.
Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is designed for teens to teach themselves how to code without a parent or teacher's help.  The book moves at their pace and every chapter includes plenty of drills to work on, review sections, and a chapter quiz.  Teens can complete as many drills as they need to to understand the material and they can easily repeat the drills to get extra practice if they feel unsure of the code they have learned.  The concepts in the book do build on each other so it is necessary for your teen to understand the material and be able to get the coding to work right before they move on to the next chapter.  The book includes 10 chapters for students to learn from, a message for parent on how students are to use this book, a glossary, and an answer key for students to check their work with.  The chapter titles are:
  • Chapter 1: Hello World!
  • Chapter 2: Time to Operate
  • Chapter 3: Comment on the String Section
  • Chapter 4: Have Some Functions
  • Chapter 5: Shall I Compare?
  • Chapter 6: Logically Operational
  • Chapter 7: Projects Galore
  • Chapter 8: Hip Hip Array!
  • Chapter 9: Loop a Round
  • Chapter 10: Make a Hangman Game
Students can work through this book on a computer or tablet.  They just need to use Google Chrome as their browser.  
Buddy wasn't too sure of this book at first.  He has tried a little bit of coding before, but he didn't enjoy it because the directions were complicated and many times he got lost in the middle of them and it just didn't work for him.  So he was hesitant about this book.  I had already read the introduction and note for parents before handing it to him so I knew that this book was designed to walk him step by step through everything.  Buddy started reading and decided that this coding was something he could do.  That was a good thing because he didn't get too far into Chapter 1 before he got down to work.  The chapters are laid out so that you alternate between reading and applying/trying what you read until you get to the Chapter Quiz.  Then he answered the quiz.  After that there was a review the key concepts from the chapter, then there were final drills for him to complete to get more practice, and last there was a DIY project that he had to complete on his own that was based on the drills.  The chapters have bold print glossary terms and do a great job of defining them so that he could actually learn coding lingo.  Buddy worked through Chapter 1 in a few days time.  I wanted him to go slow and really take his time so that he understood what he was doing and not just rush through it.  He said that the book made it easy to understand what he was putting into the console and why he should put in what he had to type in.  He must have understood it well because he passed his quiz with flying colors.  The DIY project for chapter 1 was coding the average age of his family and Buddy did well at this.  He had to look back through parts of the chapter, but he eventually got it.  Our average family age is 25.75.  It was pretty cool that he understood what he was doing and was able to make the coding work.  
Buddy hasn't minded working his way through this book.  He says it is explained well so he doesn't get lost in the coding.  He has worked through chapter 2 and will finish chapter 3 soon.  Chapter 3 is taking longer because it involves coding his biography.  Not only does he have to think about what he wants it to say, he also has to think about how to say it in programming language.  He hasn't minded learning JavaScript and says it is interesting.  After seeing what Buddy can do in just a few short weeks, I am excited for him to finish working his way through this book to see how much more he learns and how far he can go with this programming.  I think it is a valuable skill for him to learn in today's technological age and even though he isn't crazy about computers, this coding knowledge will help him.  I read ahead and saw that the next of volume of Code for Teens books will be about HTML and CSS which can help him learn to make a website.  I am very interested in having him work through that book in the future too.  Learning programming and coding skills can never hurt and then he can help me with my blog coding.  
I really like the layout of this book and how it breaks coding speak down in to step by step instructions that are easy to understand.  I like that this book is written to be fun and entertaining and it doesn't bore my son while he his working.  I think it does a great job of simplifying technical jargon so that anyone picking up this book can understand the language.  I definitely want Buddy to finish working his way through this book and I am definitely interested in other volumes in the series.  The only suggestion I have for Code for Teens is to make the book spiral bound.  This would help the book stay open to where students are working.  This was Buddy's only complaint is that he would be working and his book would flip closed.
Code for Teens
We definitely Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) for learning JavaScript.  You can learn more about the book on the Code for Teens website and read the first chapter of the book there too.  You can also find them on Facebook.  Click the banner below to read the reviews of this book from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew and see how they used it with their students.
Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New York in Pictures

Last week we got the opportunity to go to New York.  We were the 2nd set of drivers for our youth group and we helped drive them to Word of Life camp in New York.  So we got a chance to not only visit the camps, but also to visit some gorgeous towns in New York.  We were up in the mountains and God's handiwork was AMAZING!!!  Here are some pictures from our trip:
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These are the ski jumps from the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.  We have a whole new appreciation for ski jumpers...that is a crazy ridiculous height.
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We had a lot of fun exploring, hanging out with our youth group leaders, and getting to know the teens as we drove to and from New York.  We saw the Pottersville, Schroon Lake, Lake Placid, Saranac, and Lake George areas.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Review of Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials

I admit it!  I am a math nerd.  Equations and formulas make me happy.  Story problems make me squeal.  I just love math.  I even love to help others with math.  This is why I want to keep my skills fresh and sharp.  I was super excited to receive Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials to review.  It never hurts to work on your math skills and this product made my inner math nerd very happy.
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Math Refresher for Adults by Richard W. Fisher is a textbook style book that is designed to help adults refresh their math skills so that they can in turn help their students.  It is practical and easy to use.  It explains topics that are covered in math from fourth grade up through algebra.  It features a detailed Table of Contents to easily find topics to work on, over 200 pages of exercises to work on, solutions to every problem, a glossary, a table of important math symbols, a multiplication table, a table of commonly used prime numbers, a table of squares and square roots, and a table of fraction/decimal equivalents.  The book is broken into 2 major sections: General Math and Pre-Algebra and Algebra.  There are 9 concepts that are refreshed in this book and they are:
  • Whole Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percents
  • Geometry
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Word Problems
  • Pre-Algebra and Algebra
Each lesson in this book starts with review exercises to get your brain warmed-up and ready to work. Then there are helpful hints which give tips for working on the content of the lesson.  This area is where you will find those math rules that you may have forgotten and the why of the math operations.  These hints are clear, precise, and easy to follow.  Many of them include examples too so that you can see what is expected.  Then you get your chance to practice and refresh your skills with the practice problems.  Each lesson has 2 sample problems and 10 practice problems for you to solve.  The solutions can be found in the back of the book so that you can check your work.  There are also problem solving questions at the end of many of the review exercises for extra practice.  At the end of each chapter of the book there is a review section to review all of the lessons for each chapter.  At the end of each section there is a final review of the entire section.

When you purchase this book for $28.95 you also get access to free online video lessons.  They have a video for every lesson in the book which you can access with a special code included in the book.  The videos are clear, concise, and helpful.  You can use the videos to help refresh your memory, watch them with a student who is struggling with a concept, or to see the problems worked out step by step.  The videos that go with this book are listed for their original book that they appear in so they might take a minute to sort through to find the right one, but it is worth it.

I wanted to review this book because I have 2 math students in our own homeschool and I help many of our youth group kids with their math.  Because of this, I want to and need to keep my math skills fresh at all times.  This book is perfect for that.  I started with the very first lesson when I got this book just so I could get a feel for how the lessons worked and then I skipped around.  I wanted to cover a variety of the lessons in the book.  I worked on some lessons in the whole numbers concept area, some in the percent concept area, and some in the pre-algebra and algebra section.  I feel like each lesson that I work on refreshes a set of skills that I can use with my students and the students from youth group that I help.  I worked on the lessons just like they were laid out and each lesson I did took me 15-20 minutes.  I wrote out my answers on a separate piece of paper like the book suggested.  This gave me plenty of room to work out my solutions and I can also revisit lessons over and over if I want to/need to.  I had fun sitting down each day and completing a few lessons.  When I was done with my lessons I could quickly check the answers in the back of the book to make sure I got them right.  I also went through some of the videos and watched them for a refresher for the lessons I have not had a chance to work through yet.  I wanted a quick visual reminder of what I will be doing when I get to them.  The videos are very thorough and great for visual learners.  I spent some time watching the videos on probability because this topic is probably one of my least favorites when it comes to math.
I highly recommend Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials for any adult that teaches or helps with any kind of math.  It is also great if you are going back to school yourself or if you just want to refresh your math memory.  There are tons of applications for this book and it can be used in so many ways.  I will definitely keep working through the rest of these lessons and I will keep my book on hand for reference in the future because it is so thorough.  You can learn more about the Math Refresher for Adults book I used by clicking here.  You can also learn more about Math Essentials and all the math books they offer by checking out their website.  You can also find Math Essentials on Facebook. I am sure that my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew checked out other lessons in this book that I haven't got to yet, so click on the banner below to find out how they used the lessons in this book.
Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}