shawne taylor

Stuff We Like :: 11.13.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

This week's Stuff We Like is brought to you by Shawne, who always finds the coolest stuff.

around the web

I can’t get enough of Humans of New York. Seriously, this site (and the corresponding Facebook page) just keep getting better and better.

I’ve been couponing since last spring, and have saved over $500 so far (all on things we would have bought anyway). This site has been especially helpful in getting me up to speed and keeping me informed on where the savings are.

I found this post comparing a middle school reading list from 100 years ago to reading lists from today to be really eye-opening.


at home/school/life

in the magazine: The fall issue is blowing me away! Of course, I’m always excited to read the tech column (and not just because it’s written by my adult, homeschool graduate son), and this one is no exception. But I also really, really love this issue’s holiday gift guide, the whole inspiration section, and Amy’s “Time for an Upgrade” article.

on the blog: I’m finding Shelli’s Achieving Homeschool Academic Goals to be so helpful right now.


in the kitchen

I made a version of these yummy pinwheel sandwiches for a family reunion recently, and they were a big hit. They’re so versatile and easy to make, I think we’ll be taking pinwheels with us for lunch at the park (and to our homeschool classes) fairly often over the next few weeks.

I also made these delicious Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies last week, and had trouble stopping myself from eating them all. I added golden raisins and chocolate chips to kick it up a bit, but they would be just as good without.


at home

We are still on an old-school Disney movie kick with our youngest son. Most recently we’ve watched the 1960 version of Swiss Family Robinson, and the Kurt Russell/Disney trilogy – The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him Now You Don’t, and The Strongest Man in the World. Surprisingly, the six-year-old loves these movies, and I love the nostalgia factor.

My husband and I finally binge-watched Ricky Gervais’ show Derek. Its subject matter may not be for everyone, but we found it to be a wonderfully written, sincerely acted, hilarious and often heartbreaking examination of relationships, aging, and simple life-lessons.

If you’re in the mood for a cute and quirky, beautifully filmed movie about a 10-year-old boy who leaves home to travel across country to the Smithsonian, to accept an award for a perpetual motion machine that he invented, then you’ll want to watch The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. Be aware that, even with the PG rating, it may not be a good fit for some families. (One of the characters dies [it happens off-screen, but is still really sad], and one of the adults uses some bad words towards the end). My husband and I watched it alone, but I imagine our six-year-old may want to check it out when he’s a little older.



I can’t begin to express how excited I am that J.K. Rowling has released a new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I pre-ordered this book as soon as I read about it last January, and it finally arrived last week. And with over 100 gorgeous, full color illustrations by Jim Kay, I was not disappointed. I’m thinking of buying a 2nd copy just so I can frame some of the pages and hang them in our homeschooling nook at home.

My six-year-old has discovered The Notebook of Doom series from Scholastic, and can’t get enough. He chose book #1, Rise of the Balloon Goons, for his kids book club meeting last month, and now we’re moving on to books 2 and 3 and beyond.

Stuff We Like :: 10.2.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Shawne took a little break from working on the fall issue—her feature on post-high school alternatives for homeschool grads is one of my favorite things in the magazine!—to share some of the things that are inspiring her homeschool life right now.

around the web

As someone who loves learning and loves movies, I’m really enjoying reading through the Teach with Movies website. It’s giving me lots of ideas for a homeschool class I’d like to offer in the future.

We’re trying out Mission Explore with our six-year-old. So far, it’s a lot of fun to choose missions and earn badges. And the site is engaging and easy to navigate.

This simple blog post on raising mindful children, from one of my favorite writers, Karen Maezen Miller, is perfect for all parents. Though, as a homeschooler, I’m finding it especially helpful.


at home/school/life

I’ve been rereading the summer issue, and am finally planning to take some of the MacGyver challenges (listed on page 23), just in time for the 30th anniversary of the show’s premiere. Fun for the whole family!

The What Now? article by Amy and Shelli in the summer issue, is totally worth a second (and third) read, especially as I’m still trying to get into a rhythm with my 1st grader, now that I’m teaching so many homeschool classes outside the home.

Amy’s Monday Pep Talk #8 on the blog is one of my favorites. I like every single thing that she listed on this one – fun things, recipes, book, and quote, though making the Sweet and Salty Truffle Pie is still on my must-do list.


reading list

I’m loving Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the Worldby Jane McGonigal. Yes, it’s a topic close to my heart. But it’s also well written and full of science-based information on why games (of all kinds!) are really good for us.

Once I’m finished with that one, I’m moving on to McGonigal’s latest release, SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient – Powered by the Science of Games, which takes everything she’s learned about games and teaches us how to apply it to our real lives.

This Tales of the Odyssey series by Mary Pope Osborne (yes, the Magic Treehouse author) was a big hit with my teen when he was younger, and now I’m happy to be rereading it with my six-year-old, as we spend some time diving into Greek history and myths. We have the original set of six individual books, but it looks like all of the stories have now been repackaged into just two, which is a much better deal.


at home

The new Nintendo Super Mario Maker game on WiiU is a huge hit at our house, as we all get to take turns making, and then playing, our own Mario levels.

My new favorite card game is Sushi Go. It’s fun, portable, and fast-paced, and the illustrations are so cute.

Paleo or not, this slow-cooker pulled pork recipe from Nom Nom Paleo is the very best there is. It’s easy to make, the bacon adds umami, and the finished product can be used in so many ways. It’s a staple for us in fall and winter.

Stuff We Like :: 8.28.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

As summer winds down, I’m finding myself walking the line between doing more research, getting organized, and making plans for the year, while also enjoying the last of what summer has to offer – movie nights, peaches, and hours-long board games with the family.

around the web

Homeschooling has changed a lot since we started 18 years ago. This article from Time does a great job of highlighting the modern homeschooling movement and how it has evolved over the years. (And I always like reading about homeschooling!)

I’ve been following Amanda Blake Soule’s wonderful blog, SouleMama, for over five years (her books are great too!). Reading her blog is like finding a little corner of peace and sunshine on the sometimes not-too-peaceful World Wide Web.

I love the whimsical artwork and gentle poetry of life-long learner and radical unschooler, Jacob Oh. And I think it’s awesome that he’s found a way to interact and share his work with fans, while supporting his passion.


at home/school/life

on the blog: I really like this Q&A post from Amy about creating volunteer opportunities for our kids. It got me thinking about ways I can give back to the community with my six year old, which has led us to start an ongoing service project to benefit our local Food Pantry.

on the blog: I just discovered Suzanne’s blog post, Organizing Your Reading Lists, from July. I don’t know how I missed it when it came out! But I’m glad I found it now. I’m excited to start a book journal for myself and for my 1st grader as well. 


in the kitchen

I made this peach cobbler for my son’s 18th birthday because it’s his favorite dessert, and we’re lucky that his birthday comes in August when our local peaches are still available at the market. As always, it came out lovely and delicious.

My very favorite thing to do with fresh peaches is make peach butter. This recipe comes pretty close to the one I came up with and only requires three ingredients: fresh peaches, sugar, and water. Though I also add a pinch of salt to it while cooking. Yum!


at home

We’ve watched a lot of movies together this summer, and we’re wrapping up our movie-fest by revisiting some of my childhood favorites with our six year old. The latest? Escape to Witch Mountain followed by The Love Bug. Thanks, Amazon Instant Video!

Our teen doesn’t watch a lot of movies with us, but he’s totally into board games. Our current favorite is Twilight Struggle, a two-person, cold war era game. It’s a little pricey on Amazon, but we found it at our local comics and gaming shop for about half the price. (Don’t be put off by the confusing instructions! Once you start playing, it all makes sense, and provides hours of historically dramatic fun.)



My youngest and I have really liked reading the Imaginary Veterinary series by Suzanne Selfors and Dan Santat together. So far we’ve finished the first four and will be started book 5 soon.

I can’t recommend Paradise in Plain Sight by Karen Maezen Miller enough. I have dog-eared almost the entire book with pages that I want to go back and read again and again. I also loved her other books, Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold, but Paradise has really struck a nerve with me.

Stuff We Like :: 7.17.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

This week’s special edition of Stuff We Like is brought you by one of our home/school/life readers. Because we like finding out what y'all are loving in your homeschool lives, too!  

around the web

I have really been enjoying Pam Larrichia’s blog series, Exploring the Unschooling Journey in the Context of Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, the Hero's Journey. Her wonderful posts on the subject go so deep, and offer so much to think about, I’m finding myself re-reading some of them again (and again).

I’ve received three boxes so far from the online foodie subscription service, Try the World, and I am loving it. The company has had a few issues with customer service lately – people not getting their boxes on time mostly – but they seem to be addressing those issues and getting things running smoothly. The Paris Box has been my favorite so far, but the latest box is Japan, and I am really (really) looking forward to that one!

This news story out of Turkey is a favorite at our house; so much so that we’ve actually purchased the “respect the robot” URL and have starting designing “respect the robot” t-shirts.


on home/school/life

on the blog: I was so excited to see Amy’s What to Read in Elementary School list on the home/school/life blog! I am actually planning my six year old’s “1st grade” year around our reading of these books together.

in the magazine: I probably shouldn’t claim this as a "Thing I Like", but I can’t help myself! The new tech column in home/school/life is an immediate favorite at our house. Of course, I may be partial since the columnist is my always-homeschooled, recently graduated, teen son, but it is a subject I’m interested in, and I’m really looking forward to reading more.


at home

Instacart has made my life so much easier. In my neighborhood, they’ll shop for you at Whole Foods, Kroger, or Costco, and deliver it to your door (with a smile), within two hours. Not only does it save time, it also saves us money, since I’m shopping from a list and not tempted by all the goodies I always end up impulsively grabbing if I actually go to Whole Foods. Instacart’s prices are the same as in-store (I’ve double checked this multiple times), and the delivery fee is so nominal, I can’t imagine not using them.

Summer is the perfect time to try out new salad recipes. They’re easy, versatile, and nice to eat when it’s too hot to cook a big meal. I’ve found great salad ideas on the Pioneer Woman site (the Mediterranean Orzo is a favorite), and yummy pasta salad ideas from Food Network (the Italian Chicken is a must).

Duran Duran has a new album coming out in September (people still say “album,” right?). The first single, Pressure Off, was released in June, and it’s pretty good. Not my favorite Duran Duran song of all time – I’m a sucker for their 80s tunes – but I’m so happy they’re still together, making music and touring, I’ll listen to just about anything they come out with.



Both my teen and 6-year-old are hooked on the beta version of Lego Worlds, which was released through Steam early access on June 1st. This sandbox game allows players to explore a Lego universe, alter landscapes, build pre-designed Lego structures or create their own (brick by brick), collect objects, fly helicopters, and change characters. We are already enjoying it more than Minecraft (gasp!), and the developers aren’t even finished with it yet.

As a family, we’ve started playing Dungeons and Dragons (5th edition). The teen is our Dungeon Master and has come up with a really cool, original adventure for us. The 6-year-old is enjoying creating his character and finally being old enough to play. He’s a little reckless in some of the choices he makes within the game (“let’s fight all the monsters!”), but that keeps it pretty interesting, I must admit.

I am hooked on the Pokemon Master Trainer Board Game. Yes, it’s aimed at a younger demographic. But the design and game play are so straightforward and well done, and the Pokemon are so darned cute, I’ve been asking my youngest to play it with me just about every day.



I stumbled across this book, Unbored Games: Serious Fun for Everyoneby Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, on my last trip to Barnes & Noble, and I’m so glad I did! I actually read the whole thing cover to cover as soon as I got home and got lots of good ideas for family fun. (Can you tell we’re a family that likes games?)

My youngest said he was ready for the Harry Potter series, so that has become our read aloud this summer. It’s been so much fun to re-read them and see the story through his eyes. We’ve just finished Chamber of Secrets and plan to take a week or two off to read some shorter books before diving into Prisoner of Azkaban.