Monday, November 6, 2017

ESV Illuminated Bible Review

#ESVIlluminatedBible  #FlyBy 

One of the latest trend in Bibles is journaling Bibles. Journaling Bibles vary in their translation and format, but generally have wide side margins for making notes, writing out favorite verses, or decorating with designs and pictures. Some have printed designs on some pages for coloring. This allows the reader to react to and relate with the text while reading in whatever way inspires and spiritually nourishes the reader.

The new ESV Illuminated Bible: Art Journaling Edition is a beautiful option in the world of journaling Bibles. It uses the ESV translation with a single column format on cream paper and features lovely gold embellishments in the margins and a blue ribbon bookmark for an elegant appearance.

The ESV Illuminated Bible comes in a sturdy slipcover featuring the same design as the fabric bound gold embellished book cover. 

I really like the cream paper that this Bible uses. The color is easier on the eyes than a bright white. Although the pages are fairly thin, as most Bibles are, they are thick enough that the print doesn't show through the back side of the page too much. I always find that distracting in Bibles with very thin pages. The gold embellishments do show through somewhat, and I'm sure that any reader added notes or drawing in ink would show through to some extent as well.

I received the navy version for review, but this Bible is also available in green, burgundy, or leather bindings. If you are looking for a new Bible, a new way to interact with scripture, or a great gift idea, the ESV Illuminated Bible might be a great option! 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this item for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Disney Fun

Last month, we enjoyed a fun trip to Disney World. This trip was a little different from our typical family trip since my girls brought along a friend and a boyfriend. We visited just after Irma blew through, but, in typical Disney style, the trip was as magical as always.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mermaid Costumes

Still looking for a Halloween costume? Do you have a little mermaid that needs a new tail? Mermaid costumes are available in my Mystic Cove Mermaid etsy shop and I ship all orders out in 1-2 days!


The easy to walk in skirts are new this year. If  your mermaid would like to use the tail year-round for costume and for swimming, the swimmable mermaid tails are also a great option (although harder to walk in).


Monday, January 23, 2017

Christmas at the Beach

We spent Christmas at the Beach with my parents, 3 sisters, and their families. It was a big crowd and lots of fun!


Monday, December 19, 2016

Groupon Coupon Deals

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. #GrouponCoupons #ad



Do you know about Groupon Coupons? I have often purchased Groupon’s local deals, primarily for saving money when eating out, and have purchased from Groupon Goods as well. Until now, I actually hadn’t paid much attention to Groupon Coupons.

Actually, I’m not sure why. When I purchase online, I try to remember to search for any available coupons or deals that will save me money on my order. While browsing, I discovered quite a few great coupons, like 20% –30% off at Barnes and Noble, Walgreens, Sears, and dozens of other online sites. I noticed a coupon for 20% off an Angie’s List membership. I wish I’d seen that before I joined a few months ago. (I’ve been trying to get started on some long-neglected home repair and home improvement projects in the past few months and Angie’s list has been a  huge help in finding local service people and contractors that do quality work. I love being able to read reviews from other customers before I commit to hiring someone.)

While browsing Groupon Coupons, I came across some new sites, like looks like a very helpful place for people to find caregivers and related helpers, including child care, senior care, tutoring, or pet sitters. Caregivers can register on the site as well to be matched up with those needing services. Seems like a great idea!

Groupon’s Facebook and Twitter accounts provide a good way to keep up with the deals. I plan to keep a closer eye on the Groupon Coupon deals in the future.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

3 Seeds: A Game Review


I recently reviewed Commissioned, a cooperative game published by Chara Games. The company has a brand-new game out now called 3 Seeds that we also got to try. The company describes it as a “light strategy” game. It is designed for 2-5 players and is for ages 12 and up.

When I opened the box, I could tell that this was a bit more than a typical card game. The small box contained 4 kinds of cards: Harvest, Crop, Event, and Seeds. It also included a wooden turn marker, scoring cubes, plastic point tokens, and  scorecards.

Game play is a bit more complicated than many card games, but, as with Commissioned, once we started playing, we picked up the rules pretty quickly. It took a second play of the game to start incorporating strategy into our choices.













The basic game play is as follows:

Each player has one Crop card face up in front of him at all times. He also has a Harvest card that assigns a point value to that card. Each crop card requires a specified number of Seed cards (Time, Money, and Labor) to for that crop to be completed. Each player, on his turn, plays 2 seed cards on his on crop or on another player’s crop. When a Crop is completed, points are assigned to each player, depending on how many seeds he has placed on that crop and the number of the corresponding Harvest card. Event cards add twists to the game, allowing players to add to their harvest points, swap crops with another player, and so on.IMG_20161213_1317338_rewind[1]

Game play took us about 45 minutes for 2-3 players. I thought the game was quite unique—we have quite a few games, but nothing like this one. The Crop cards are fun to read as you play. They feature unusual “crops” like “Hyper Jalepenos: Heat that keeps you on your toes,” “Blissful Bamboo: Recommended by 10 out of 10 pandas,” and “Cautious Kale: A hyper aversion to the unknown. Side effect: No friends.” We enjoyed playing the game and I am sure we will play it again, but it’s really not one of our favorites. Game play seemed repetitive from turn to turn and, although there is some strategy needed for accumulating the most points, it didn’t feel very challenging, nor did we feel the competition against other players that makes some games a lot of fun.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I love shopping from home!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. #Groupon #ad

I’m really not a big shopper and one thing that I hate is fighting the holiday crowds. Over the past few years, I’ve done more and more of my Christmas shopping online and just love the convenience. I mean, how can you beat relaxing in your warm home with a hot cup of coffee as you choose gifts for your loved ones?

This year, I’ve found several great deals at Groupon Goods.  I found these adorable mini speakers (and there were hundreds of options to chooser from) and a set of Glasslock bakeware for the best price around.  I’ve been using Groupon for quite a while for their local deals, but am shopping there more often for the Groupon Goods deals. The prices are quite competitive and the selection is quite broad.


My recent orders all arrived within a week or so. I was excited to find the Glasslock dishes (Yes, they are for myself, not for a gift.) It’s hard to find the larger sizes and I since I make and freeze a lot of meals to eat later, I like to have a variety of sizes on hand.

The speakers are really cute. The reviews for them are good, so I’m hoping the recipients of the gifts will be happy with them!

You can keep up with Groupon deals by subscribing to their emails or by connecting with them on Facebook - or- Twitter -

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mermaid Tail Sale!

Does your little mermaid need a tail for Christmas? My handmade with love mermaid sets are on sale right now at my Etsy shop. Save 10% off your purchase with the code, “MERMAID10.”

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green mermaidh3jill

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Physics 101 (Homeschool Review)

cover of Physics 101 DVD set 

Are you looking for a fun way to tackle high school science courses? The 101 Series offers video based courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with a General Science scheduled to come out soon. I received the Physics 101 course to review and it has been a hit in our home!

The core of Physics 101 is the video instruction. 20 videos, each ranging from 20 to 40 minutes long make up the primary “textbook” for the course. For some students—those who want to use the videos as a supplement to another course or students who are younger than high school age—the video content will be sufficient. For high school students who want to use Physics 101 as a complete high school course, the DVD set includes two additional pdf resources.

The Guidebook is a 106 page resource that includes a 2-4 page summary of the content for each video, discussion questions, and a quiz. The Accreditation booklet pulls everything together, with schedules and assignments for video, research, labs, and quizzes. The schedule even includes space to document the required 120-180 hours to earn a full credit. While completing the course, students do a significant amount of research and write reports on their findings. The videos demonstrate each of the labs and the students are then expected to perform the labs on their own as well.

Physics 101 is divided into 7 topics, with 1-4 lessons within each topic. I think that you could complete the topics in any order, although lessons within the topic should be watched in sequence. Topics include:

  • Light
  • Sound
  • Heat
  • Electricity
  • Motion
  • Physics of the Weird
  • The Future of Physics

The 101 Series is a family enterprise. The concepts are all taught by Wes Olson, a filmmaker, science buff, and homeschool dad. Filming is done by family members. You would never peg this as an amateur production, though. The videos are top quality, professional films. Video lectures by Wes Olson, animations, experiment demonstrations, and photos combine to clearly explain and illustrate complex concepts.


How did we use Physics 101?

Emily watched a video, read through the corresponding summary pages in the Guidebook and took the quiz orally. She aced all the quizzes, which tells me that the material was taught well. She tried out a couple of the experiments, but hasn’t done any of the online activities or research reports yet, since at this point we’re using Physics 101 as a supplement instead of a full curriculum.

Our thoughts:

Emily loved this series. Seriously, this is an actual quote, “Physics makes me smile. I love physics!”  My original intention was to complete a small portion of the course this year, then to save the rest for next year, but since she keeps asking to watch more videos, I now expect that we will finish it this year!

I think that Physics 101 is ideal for an average student who wants a non-math based physics course. We’ve watched 6 of the 20 videos so far and find the teaching clear and solid. The concepts are related to their usefulness in daily life, answering questions such as “How does electricity get to our homes?” and “Why does light pass through some materials and not others?” Because the experiments are all demonstrated on the videos, students who choose to skip performing some or all of the labs will still get to see the results. All the experiments that we watched, however, were fairly simple. While this made them easy to do with household objects, they seemed more like middle school level labs. I would prefer that the labs be explained in the written course materials as well as demonstrated on the videos. It was sometimes difficult to remember exactly how a lab was done after viewing it one time and having written instructions would be more convenient than having to find and re-watch the lab on the video.The additional research activities in the Accreditation Booklet are helpful for building Physics 101 into a more solid course. This course would be easy for a student to study on his or her own without a lot of parental guidance other than grading or looking over the research reports.

We plan to have Emily do a more intense math-based physics course next year since she is strong in math, but will definitely use this video series as a supplement (if she doesn’t finish watching them all this year.)

The Physics 101 Guidebook includes summaries of each video segment that are work well for review or as a study aid.



The schedule in the Accreditation Booklet suggests additional activities and research assignments and provides a easy way to document study time.


The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed all three of these courses, so be sure to hop over to the Crew blog to learn more!

Physics 101
Chemistry 101
Biology 101

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Commissioned (Homeschool Review)

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Our family has the pleasure of trying out a new game this month, Commissioned, produced by Chara Games. Right out of the box, it was obvious that Commissioned is a quality game. The game board is beautiful and two-sided, each side featuring maps of the areas visited by the early Apostles. The game includes wooden game pieces, tokens and Apostle cards of heavy cardboard, and good quality game cards.


Players of Commissioned aim to “spread the gospel’' across areas of the Middle East as described in the book of Acts. While the game is Christian-themed, no prior knowledge of the Bible is assumed or necessary. Players are likely to learn a bit about the geography and actions of the early church as they play, but the game is primarily a cooperative strategy game rather than an educational one.

I haven’t had a lot of experience with cooperative games, where all the players work together to accomplish a goal and wasn’t sure at first how fun this concept would be, but we actually did enjoy working together. After several game plays, we still haven’t won, though, which is making me even more determined to figure this out and win next time! If you really feel the need for competition between players, there is an “adversary variant,” which we haven’t yet tried.


Commissioned is NOT a game with “quick start” instructions or one that you will intuitively figure out. The 10-page rule book clearly explains how to play the game, but it took us a while to actually master the rules. The first time we played, I skimmed through the instructions, then studied the rules as we played through the first few rounds. After the game, I read back through the rules to clarify some of the choices we made as we played. My older children were home for the weekend, so we had a group of 5 to play the first game. My son-in-law did a pretty good job of interpreting the rules or guessing what to do next while my daughter, confused by the rules of game play, grumbled, “Where is the Ban**** game?”  Chara Games has also provided several videos that show how to play the game that will clear up some of the confusion and simplify matters. You can see them right on the product page to get a better idea of how the game is played.

Game play was much easier the second time through, and by the third time, Emily was begging to play! There’s a bit of a learning curve to the game, but it’s worth the effort!

Basic play required each player to take on the persona of one of the early apostles. Each apostle comes with game cards that perform different feats, so even before the game starts, choosing your character is part of the strategy. Using the apostle, missionary, and church member playing pieces, players work cooperatively to plant churches in cities around the map. Trial cards offer setbacks to the team progress and faith cards can offer help in growing new churches and multiplying members.

There are actually five different variations for Commissioned, each with  different requirements to beat the game. After we played the first variation, Acts of the Apostles, a couple of times and felt that we had a grasp on it, we tried Peter’s Gentile Outreach, and found that our strategy needed to change quite a bit to achieve the new goals. I really liked that this game is ever changing with the different game options!


We really enjoy playing Commissioned. The game is unique, and, while a bit difficult to learn at first, has been a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to trying out all five of the game play options!

Chara games also sent me a brand-new, hot off the presses card game called 3 Seeds, which I will be reviewing very soon. It is for ages 12 and up,  and players compete to earn the most points as they “sow seeds” and aim for the highest harvest returns. It looks like fun, too! image001
Please read more about Commissioned at the Homeschool Review Crew Blog!
Commissioned {Chara Games}
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