January (& December) Update

Hey Nourishing Tweens Friends!

It’s time for my new monthly blog! I took a break in December because life was busy, but I’m back to tell you what I’ve been doing/enjoying/reading/eating in January (and December, too).

Some of my links included are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something I get a small portion of it.  It doesn’t cost you anything extra – it’s just a little thank you to me for directing you to something you’d enjoy!  And it keeps the lights on around here and allows me to keep doing what I’m doing.  Thank you!

Brrr…January
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The latest on my website

I didn’t write any new articles this month, but I’ve got a fun new free printable for you!

If you are on my email list you already received it.  It’s a printable daily planner for tweens and teens with a fun winter theme!  It was fun making it, and I would love to make more things like it.   I hope you enjoy it, and please comment below to let me know what other items like this you would find useful.

Click here to get your winter planner.

winter theme printable planner

What we’re learning in our homeschool

As you know if you’ve been following me for a while, I am homeschooling my high school son. Our big focus is history since it’s my son’s favorite subject.  He’s super bright, so I’ve created a curriculum for him based on what I did in college. I’m combining world history – with a western civilization focus – with literature and philosophy. We are doing it all concurrently so that all of our studies blend together.

My son and I spent December and January in Medieval England.  We talked about the rest of Europe and the Mediterranean as well, but England was our home.  We left our textbook, Exploring World History, for a bit and read 1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth.  It’s a slim book and is chock-full of the interesting story of the Norman conquest of England.

Medieval Knight
Medieval England is so fun to learn about!
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

I discovered that book because I purchased the Build Your Library curriculum.  It’s a curriculum that does a similar thing to what I have in mind: combining multiple subjects into a unified whole.  I bought both the Level 10 and Level 11 units, which cover both early and later world history.  1066 is in Level 10.

Another set of resources we’ve been enjoying is the high school level music courses that Gena Mayo offers at Music in Our Homeschool.  My son and I have been going through the lessons in Music Appreciation: Middle Ages Thru Classical Era for High School.  We’ve also used some of the lessons included in her course Charlotte Mason Inspired High School Fine Arts.  Both of these courses are included in her membership that we have. It’s so great having music and art lessons ready to go and already figured out for me.  

One component of my son’s English class is The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts.  Rather than moving forward through their curriculum as it is written, I pick and choose which units to use to go with the topics we are studying and the literature we are reading.  In December, my son used the first unit of the second year program.  Their high school program covers vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing along with art history and appreciation and geography.  I chose the unit I did because it went with our book, Men of Iron (see below).  It also has lessons on the literature and art of the Middle Ages and included an art project about Medieval illuminated letters, which we enjoyed trying.

We use lots of videos in our homeschool. We’ve continued with the Great Courses: Foundations of Western Civilization and also used the Great Courses: Medieval England DVDs.

I’ve also found tons of good videos on YouTube. This one is from the YouTube channel Chronicle Medieval History.

My favorite recent find was the YouTube channel Real Royalty. They have a whole series on the War of the Roses, one of my favorite topics thanks to the amazing author Philippa Gregory (her books are for you mom, not for the kids).

Books I’ve Been Reading

For our medieval studies, my son and I read several novels in addition to 1066 that I mentioned above.

Men of Iron is about a teenage boy growing up in the times of chivalry.  It’s a good story and my son and I both enjoyed it.  We had lots of fun discussions about all the middle-English vocabulary, and we learned a lot.

A Loyal Foe is about another teenage boy.  This one lives during the time of the War of the Roses.  The book is about the palace intrigues taking place during the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III.  It includes the famous story of the “Princes in the Tower.”  We visited London and were able to go to the Tower of London in 2018, so my son really enjoyed learning more about this subject.

Both of the above books are available on The Good and the Beautiful’s website.  They are a company that is trying to revive good, traditional children’s literature that is clean and promotes good values.  I am happy to support them.

My son and I also read The Canterbury Tales for our studies.  We didn’t read the whole book, rather we learned about why it is an important work and focused on several of the most interesting parts.

My book club book in January was The Guest List by Lucy Foley.  I liked it ok, but I’m not over-the-top recommending it.  It’s the story of a wedding that takes place on a windswept Irish island.  I loved the setting – I would say the setting was the best part!  The book has multiple narrators and keeps switching perspectives as well as timelines.  This is not one to consume as an audiobook!  In fact, if you do read it, I recommend you get the actual physical book.  Don’t try to read it on a Kindle or similar device, as you will find yourself needing to flip pages to remind yourself what is going on and which character is doing what.  

If you are looking for a rather quick read that’s just for fun, it’s a good choice (for adults.  Warning- there are sex scenes).  The end gets exciting with lots of twists.  I don’t want to spoil it for you, but my book club and I agreed that the twists got a bit too convenient, and at the end I was like…seriously???

The book I WOULD recommend for sure that I read recently was The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.  My friend Emily recommended this one to me and man, was she right!  It’s about a woman that is afraid to leave her house due to her severe anxiety.  She witnesses what she thinks is a murder (yup, just like Hitchcock) and struggles with what to do.  It’s a page turner!  As you read you realize your narrator is unreliable…and you have all sorts of things you wonder.  What’s really going on?  Read this one!  And I know there is a movie version of this one available…I hear it’s terrible.  This is not a book that translates well to the screen.  It’s too “in your head.”  There are too many subtleties that couldn’t be included in the movie.  Read the book!

Books for Mom:

What I’ve Been Cooking and Eating

I’m sure many of you have had the same thoughts as me in January…time to eat some vegetables! And probably, you are also in the mood for “cozy food.”

Eating healthy and cozy don’t always go together, but I do my best to find recipes that fit the bill! A couple of my favorites are up on my website, including Baked Chicken with Spinach and Artichokes, Chicken Soup 2 Ways, and Spaghetti Squash Lazy Lasagna (which I’m making this week).

Last night I tried Keto Tuscan Sausage Soup for the first time. Oh my gosh, so good! I combined three different recipes into what sounded good to me. It’s yet another one I need to get up on my site for you. If you’ve tried any of my recipes, please comment below and let me know what else you’d like to see!

Click here to read my last monthly update

I hope your 2022 is off to an awesome start! Subscribe for updates! More cute free planners to come…my list is always first to hear about them. Don’t miss out!

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