TOS Sweet Critique: Wreaths of Maine

Wreaths of Maine

Wreaths of Maine

You know what smells really nice?  I mean, in addition to cupcakes and Italian food and fresh bread…

Balsam fir.  But really, all of us can’t scoot up to New England and grab one to stick in our house.  That would just be absurd…

But there’s good news:  The wonderful folks at Wreaths of Maine create lovely wreaths from these firs and ship them directly to you.  With the variety of styles available, you’re bound to find one {or three} that would look gorgeous in your home!  And then there’s that whole smell thing…

Wreaths of MaineThe Wreaths


As I’ve mentioned before, Wreaths of Maine has a variety of wreaths for sale.  That one over there to the left {with a cute little girl holding it…} is ours.  It is a perfect size {in my opinion}, not too large but not tiny either.  It is a nice full wreath, no peaking through those branches!

The price is great, too.  You can get a wreath for as little as $31, and believe me, that’s a steal!

Each wreath is placed on the frame by hand by a wreathmaker {I like that job title-how fun!}, and contains an average of 32 bouquets.

They come packed tightly, wrapped in wax paper to keep the wreath intact and the moisture in.  I was amazed at how well it was packed and how nice the wreath looked when we took it out.

And, finally, I’m happy to say this is easy to care for.  Sweep up a few needles, spritz it with water.  That’s it.  Awesome.

Homeschool Fundraiser


Yep, fundraisers.  I was particularly happy to see this, seeing as how we’re homeschoolers and all.  Fundraisers aren’t just for homeschoolers though.  This is quite possibly my favorite sentence on the site:

Fundraisers are for groups, families, and individuals that need to raise funds.

Need funds?  Sell wreaths!  Of course, you have to have a good reason or people probably wouldn’t buy from you…  But you guys wouldn’t sell for not good reasons, would you?

I’ve heard of homeschoolers using proceeds from these fundraisers to fund science fair projects, field trips, and other great stuff.  The company was started by homeschoolers, and I love that they’ve found a way to help others!

The sales kit is full of everything you’d ever need to sell the wreaths and start earning commissions.  They’ve really made it easy.  You get envelopes to send orders back to Wreaths of Maine, address labels, order forms, color catalogs, easy instructions, and selling tips.  Selling wreaths is really simple with the system they’ve set up.  Quite honestly, you could get this kit and start selling the same day; it’s that easy.

Final Thoughts


I love my wreath.  I love that the company allows others to sell the wreaths and earn money.  I think it’s a win/win for all involved.  Definitely check them out, and go ahead, get yourself a wreath.  You won’t regret it!

But, just in case you don’t believe me, head over to Crew blog to check out what other members of the Homeschool Crew think!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a wreath from Wreaths of Maine in exchange for an honest review.  All statements are my own.  I really *heart* my wreath.  Get one, seriously!

Sweet Critique: Reader’s Digest Educational Gift Pack


Reader’s Digest has sent me more awesome books!!!  And this time, they’ve put them together in a pack of four, just for the student in your life!

These are great books filled with tons of information about each specific subject.  Here’s a look at each one:

  • I Wish I Knew That:  Geography – James Doyle:  Earlier this month I reviewed a similar book, but it was more suited to adults.  This book is perfect for little minds to learn all sorts of fun stuff about geography.  It’s got cute illustrations, a fun font, and it covers things like continents, the Earth, and oceans.  There’s even a cool little section on ecological communities.
  • I Wish I Knew That - Steve Martin; Mike Goldsmith, Ph.D.; and Marianne Taylor:  This is my absolute favorite of the set, and probably my favorite of all the RD books I’ve gotten so far!  I enjoy learning the “why” behind things and learning about all sorts of miscellaneous things.  Sure, I may not really ever need to know that Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, but it’s still great to have the opportunity to learn it.  The book is divided up into sections like literature, history, and math.
  • i before e (except after c):  Easy Cool Ways to Remember Facts - Susan Randol:  Like things like Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally?  Then this is the book for you!  Filled with a myriad of ways to remember all sorts of facts, you’ll find an acronym, rhyme, or acrostic for just about anything.
  • Write (Or Is That “Right”?) Every Time:  Cool Ways to Improve Your English - Lottie Stride:  This book is filled with all sorts of grammar, spelling, and punctuation goodness!  This is a great reference for your child; it’s very thorough and complete.  The material is presented in a fun and intriguing way, though, making it great for kids!

Reader’s Digest is giving all four of these books to one of you!!  Use the Rafflecopter form to enter!

True Confessions:  I was provided with copies of these books in order to facilitate my review.  All statements are my own.

[Read more…]

Field Trip 5 – Vulcan


VulcanAfter our trip to Sloss Furnaces, we headed across town to visit Vulcan!  We’ve been in Alabama for a little over two years now, and other than seeing Vulcan from a distance while driving, we hadn’t yet made it to visit him, so we were excited!

Vulcan was designed by Giuseppe Moretti and is the largest cast iron statue in the world.  He sits atop Red Mountain, overlooking Birmingham.

We went up to the observation deck to get a closer look. Vulcan, apparently, doesn’t wear pants…

After hanging out outside, we went in to the museum to learn about Alabama and the iron industry.

We had a great time seeing Vulcan and learning more about what we touched on at the furnaces.

Sweet Critique: Spelling City


Vocabulary Spelling City

VocabularySpellingCity is a browser-based program designed to help students learn spelling, grammar, and writing.   The program comes in both a free version and a premium version {$24.99 per year for up to five students}.  The premium membership gives you a vast array of useful resources such as vocabulary tests, flashcards, record keeping, and individual student log-ins.

VocabularySpellingCityOne of the things I really enjoy about VocabularySpellingCity is the fact that you can enter in your own words and create your own lists, from which the activities and games are based.  This allows you to tailor the activities your child completes, helping them learn what you’d like them to.

If you’d prefer to use lists someone else has put together, VocabularySpellingCity has pre-formulated lists for you to choose form.  I like the fact that they integrate some of these lists with other subjects.



VocabularySpellingCity offers a variety of games for both versions.  Choose from matching, sentence writing, definitions, flashcards, and speedy spelling.

VocabularySpellingCity games

As you can see in the picture above, the student has the option to maneuver between things like their flash cards, games, and teaching.  I’m all for anything that is self-teaching and gives the student the power to move through the lessons as their own pace.

Student Management


VocabularySpellingCity’s premium membership allows you to keep track of up to five students.  You have a grade book, assignment tracker, and other options.

I like how you can also assign passwords to the students.  You can even update instructions for some of the assignments!

Final Thoughts


I think VocabularySpellingCity is a great option for anyone looking to get some serious spelling practice in.  It’s presented in an easy and fun way, and the premium version gives you many options for really using the program effectively for your child.

True Confessions:  I was provided with a premium membership in order to facilitate my review.  All statements are my own.

Field Trip 4 – Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces

Sloss FurnacesWe recently went to Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, AL.  It was so much stinkin’ fun!  I’ve heard Birmingham referred to as a post-industrial crap hole {and I think a good bit of it lives up to that…}, but I really had no idea what the “industrial” part of that was.

I’ll admit, when we first signed up for this field trip, I wondered how exciting it could really be.  The coolest sounding thing was the fact that we were going to make our own iron tile.  Man, I was so shocked to find out how interesting it all was.

Sloss was started by Colonel James Withers Sloss.  With the creation of Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham was poised to become a large producer of pig iron.  Birmingham got it’s nickname, The Magic City, because the city seemed to spring up, like magic, with all of the people that came to the area to work at the furnaces.  Tons of history in that place.

We started by carving sand blocks to make the mold for our iron tile {sand won’t melt at the high temperatures of the molten iron}.

I felt so bad for Babydoll. While I thought her sand block was awesome, she was so stressed out because she didn't have enough time.

Babydoll's butterfly - doesn't it rock?! She didn't think so and she cried; I felt bad.

My sand block mold.

After this, we started our tour. First stop – the spray pond where they recycled their water.

Sloss Furnaces is now a historical landmark, educational site, and home to metal artists. One of the artists made a mold of his legs and put the art in the pond.

Next up were various components of the site such as the tunnel where coke was loaded, the elevator which brought the coke where it needed to go, and one of the furnaces.

Next, we got to see the artists pour the iron into our sand block molds.

Ever wondered why it's called "pig" iron? When they molded the bars, it looked like a mama pig with her little baby pigs.

Some of the great metal art:

We also saw the fans that used to power the furnaces and the turbine that replaced them.


ETA:  Anna-Marie reminded me that I forgot to add a picture of our finished tiles!!!  Here ya go:

I’m linking this up to Anna-Marie’s field trip hop, be sure to check it out to find all sorts of great ideas for homeschool field trips!!