Beethoven Lesson for Kids

We recently started homeschooling our kids, which has given me the opportunity to do something that I love even more in our home – teaching about music. I grew up in a family that appreciated and loved classical music, and it makes me happy to pass that on to my kids as well.

As part of our music lessons, we have been talking about different ideas in theory and have been learning some fun songs, but I wanted to also make sure that they were learning about composers and how their music continues to live on today. I thought I’d share our Beethoven lesson plan:

  • Beethoven Bio from Making Music Fun
  • Listened to an excerpt from his Fifth Symphony (since it is “classic” Beethoven….and my son is playing it in a piano recital so he has a vested interest)
  • Listened to an excerpt from his Moonlight Sonata….
  • ……..And compared it to this modern version by The Piano Guys:

  • Listened to an excerpt from his Ninth Symphony (“Ode to Joy” – vocal awesomeness starts at 0:34)…….
  • ……..And (probably somewhat irreverently) compared it to this version by The Muppets:

I love hearing the original music, and it is fun to see how we have interpreted it in OUR day. Happy teaching! :)


Dryer Cloth!

I had posted earlier about a foil ball to put in the dryer – which worked well, but sometimes things were a bit static-y. I decided to try this idea from That Crazy Family, and it works PERFECTLY. No more running out of dryer sheets! No more throwing away a dryer sheet with every load! And it takes the static out awesomely. Hooray!

All you need is a washcloth and fabric softener (click here for another awesome tip with fabric softener). I use both of my red washcloths because I can find them easily when I’m pulling the wash out. They have been washed and dried many times themselves, so I don’t worry about bleeding.

Take your washcloth and saturate it with fabric softener. I just take about a capful (you may need more or less, depending on the size and absorbancy of your washcloth) and dump it on the washcloth. Then I squeeze the washcloth so I can mix the fabric softener in.

Let it dry.

Voila! Instant dryer sheet. I have been using my dryer cloths for several months now and can say that they WORK, and work well. I use each cloth until I can’t smell or feel the fabric softener in the cloth (easily 20 loads), and then just put more fabric softener on it again, let it dry, and use it all over. Easy, cheap, friendly to the trees and animals – there you go!

The only times I do NOT use my dryer cloth is when I am drying towels or rugs. You don’t need a dryer sheet or fabric softener for those. (For a tip on getting the stink out of your towels, click here. It’s awesome.)

Enjoy! :)

Organizing Your Insurance History (fun, right?) ;)

Okay, I am BACK and ready to go. I have finally (I think) gotten used to the routine of teaching my early-morning Seminary class (daily studying New Testament with high school students before school) and am ready to work more of my normal life into my routine. Whew! And it has finally started to cool down here which means that I am finally ready to start my annual “purging of the file cabinet”. It brings me a great deal of joy to go through and get rid of stuff that I don’t need, and organize the stuff that I DO need in a more effective way.

Tonight’s project: Organizing past insurance information.

Sounds fun, right? I mean, what else could you want to do on a Saturday night that is more fun than this? :) Now, why should you want to do this? I’ll explain in the form of a question – have you ever shopped around for insurance? What is one of the awful things that they ask you for? Yep, your insurance history. They also ask you other questions, but those are for another post entirely. If you have everything typed up and printed off in a place where you know you will find it, it will take you two seconds to give your past insurance history. If you are like me and have never done it, this is what you go through to try and find the information EVERY time:

Yep. The green file folders of wonder. I put boring documents in the ugly green folders. Insurance qualifies as boring, so into the ugly green folders the information goes. I have over 10 years of information in these babies. And I always want to hit my head against the wall when I am applying for a different insurance and have to dig through ALL of this information to get the same few pieces of information over and over again.

How to start?

1. Find your past insurance information and get it all in one place. Hopefully you have it filed away at least – that should help you out a bit. If not, good luck. :)

2. Download a cute font. This always makes tasks like typing up your past insurance history so much more enjoyable. Fun fonts are the way to go.

3. Start new documents for each type of insurance, and possibly even for each person who has been insured in your household. If it is just you – hooray! That will be all the easier. If you have a spouse and five kids who you have been insured and you have changed jobs or insurance every year for the past 20 years….you may have a little more work cut out for you. But hopefully a lot of information will be the same from one person to the next. For us, my husband usually has been able to be insured through his grad school or his work at a good rate or have it covered (as far as health and dental insurance go), but my kids and I have had to be on private insurance and I am not afraid to find a better plan and move. This means I have my work cut out for me a bit.

4. Get all of your history in order – find your current insurance FIRST and work back from there. List the company, the policy number, and who is covered under the policy as a minimum. You may also (at least for your current insurance) want to put info on copays and such just to not have to dig around and find that info if you have a question.

5. Go back through your history, at least for a few years. I have had companies ask me for as far back as five years, but some are only concerned that you have been covered continuously for the last year or so. The more information you have to give them to show continuous coverage, the better. I have gotten good rate discounts on car insurance for having continuous coverage for the past 15 years, and private health insurance companies are a lot more willing to insure you and to not have as many dings against your health history if you have can show continuous coverage.

6. After you have gotten as much history as you can, starting from NOW and going back, save your files and back them up somewhere safe. Also, print out a paper copy to stick somewhere where you will find it. For me, the papers will go in the front of my ugly green folders because that is the first place I will look.

There you go! Easy, if not a little time consuming. In another post, I’ll talk about organizing your personal health history, both to have a record, but also to be able to more easily and accurately give information for re-shopping health insurance, which will be another post. That is something that I have learned a lot about through the years and have had a lot of friends come talk to me for help in understanding options and I have felt like there is not good, clear information about shopping for insurance and what coverages are needed.

Until next time – happy organizing!

Kat :)

Test Your House for GERMS

This idea comes from and it is crazy awesome. I am somewhat of a “germ aware” person and find myself often wondering what kinds of gross things are living on the surfaces of things like play places, sinks, shopping cart handles, etc. This post has a way to make your own gels to grow bacterial cultures. Nerdy? You bet. And super cool.

Make Your Own Bacterial Plates

Supplies Needed:

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (1 oz.)
  • several plastic or paper cups
  • plastic wrap
  • cotton swabs

How to:

Step 1: Prepare your cups. I used 6 cups. You really could do more, though. I cut my cups down so they were shorter – maybe 2″ tall. You could even go shorter than that if you would like – my cups were plastic and tended to rip more easily when they were cut down shorter than that.

Step 2: Boil your water. I microwaved the cup in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. It took about a minute – you can literally watch the water start to boil in about that time.

Step 3: Mix in your sugar and gelatin and pour into your prepared cups.

Step 4: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate your cups for 24 hours to allow your “gels” to firm up. And they will really, truly be firm. If they are squishy at all, give them some more time.

Step 5: Go around your house and find “questionable” things to swab. The original poster had found that her houseplant was actually the grossest place in her house, while the toilet and the inside of her daughter’s mouth were not very gross. Be creative! Here is what I tried:

The smudged one was a second swab I took of the sink – I took one “before” cleaning it with Scrubbing Bubbles, and one after. I’m always curious if the cleaners that say they kill 99% of everything actually work. We also have kids over here often to play, and they almost always gravitate to the piano, so I thought that would be interesting too. I wanted to test our plant for myself too. I also wanted to try the doorknob to our pantry since that is one that gets high usage. And, of course, I left one as a control. “Control” just basically means you leave it alone to make sure there wasn’t something wrong with the gel that you made. I actually cheated a little bit and swabbed that one with a “clean” cotton swab, just because I wanted to make sure the cotton swab itself wasn’t a carrier.

Step 6: Recover with plastic wrap and leave in a dark, warm spot for 4-5 days.The first day there will be very little to nothing that happens. Don’t despair! Once the colonies get growing, they will grow quickly.

Our Results (in grossest to least gross order):

1. The Houseplant (gross!)

2. The Piano Keys

3. The Uncleaned Sink

4. (And this is a VERY distant fourth – there was practically nothing) The Cleaned Sink

5. The Doorknob

6. The Control

Wow! I will definitely wipe off our piano keys. Sick. And I will NOT eat food off of my houseplant if it falls on it. *Shudder*

That was a LOT of fun, and will definitely be something we try again. What would you swab?

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

This is another great recipe that we found years ago from our friend Michelle @ Made By Michelle. It is an easy chicken curry that is delicious. I think we have gotten kind of tainted (in a good way) by this recipe – earlier this year I tried another chicken curry recipe from allrecipes that had a lot of high ratings, and it took way longer and was (in our opinions) not nearly as good as this one.


1 T. vegetable oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. curry powder

1 can (12-14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

2 T. tomato paste

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes (we have some pre-cooked and frozen, again for easy cooking)

3 c. packed fresh baby spinach (we used 1 c. here – it was what we had on hand, and about what I thought my kids could handle)

Step 1: In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and the salt. Cook until softened, about 7 minutes, stirring often. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Step 2: Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Add the chicken, stir well, and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until wilted, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt. Serve over rice.

It is a winner here – and curry is such a great flavor too.

Enjoy! :)

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