Embracing a Healthy Family

Homeschool Trip to the Battle of Gettysburg National Park in Pennsylvania


As we embarked on another homeschool field trip, we decided to make the most of a road trip to Gettysburg by watching movie and movie as well as documentaries to have the girls fully appreciate what the The Battle of Gettysburg was all about.  Along the way, we saw a closed old asylum that was in operation for many years before closing its doors only to be reopened years later as a ghost tour business.  We didn't go in but the view on the outside really magnified what some poor old souls possibly went through while locked up.  We finally reached Gettysburg and was in awe at the size of the battlefield.  The Battle was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point.  Union Maj. Gen. George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's attempt to invade the North. It was truly a moving experience to appreciate what so many endured and the many lives lost over the course of that battle.

Summary of our trip:

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, subsequently the Weston State Hospital, was a Kirkbride psychiatric hospital that operated from 1864 until 1994 by the government of the U.S. state of West Virginia, in the city of Weston.
Built by architect Richard Andrews, it was constructed from 1858-1881. Originally designed to hold 250 people, it became overcrowded in the 1950s with 2,400 patients. It was forcibly closed in 1994 due to changes in treatments of patients. The hospital was bought by Joe Jordan in 2007, and is opened for tours and other money raising events for its restoration. The hospital's main building is claimed to be one of the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States, and the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the World, with the only bigger one being in the Moscow Kremlin. As Weston Hospital Main Building, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990.


Gettysburg Battleground National Park

We opted to venture out alone and visit the battleground at our own speed.  Watching the documentaries and movies ahead of time really helped us understand the layout of the battleground and the different battles that occurred.  The Visitor Center provides the opportunity to pay for one on one trip guides to add to the visit, you can purchase a vehicle guide that allows you to have a narration of each key point along the way or do like we did and go alone.  After we finished, which I recommend a full day or more pending how interested you are in the history of the battles, we went to downtown Gettysburg which was such a treat.  We ate at a small Irish pub and although the food white whiskey chili was delicious, the rest of the food was mediocre and it was very expensive.  It's a quaint town worthy of a walk through and don't forget the numerous ghost tours available which we did not partake in.  It's really a great family vacation destination and I'd recommend at least two days to get the full impact of the historical significance this played in American history.















Box2Bake Brazilian Chocolate Alfajores Review



I recently had a chance to review another of Cratejoy's wonderful subscription boxes and to date, I can say I'm not disappointed.  This review is for the Box2Bake which is a baking theme per month subscription box service with 100% organic ingredients. Each month will showcase an international recipe that will especially delight your taste buds and your students if you are a homeschool family like I am. This month, we received the Brazilian Chocolate Alfajores and I can say it was easy YET fun to make.




We opened up our eco-friendly box which is also cute with the international shipping appearance on the outside.  Everything is packed nice and neat and the instructions are easy to follow.  An e-mail is also received to assist in how to make each recipe card along with numerous pictures making it very easy to make that even a student can follow along.



They each their own job to do and they might have went their own way with preparing the ingredients but the end result was ... you have to wait and read!






I have to say this was a lot of fun not just because I made it a homeschool exercise but it was fun just spending time in the kitchen with the girls and they loved the hazelnut applicator!  To sum it up, they really liked the outcome and thought it was a lot of fun!  I also thought the Alfajores were very good!  This is a must try box!  I forgot to mention, the girls really liked them even my picky one!  I like international flavors so this is really a fun subscription box that you have to try!

Click on the link to find out more about Box2Bake.

Also find Box2Bake on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.



Bibliophile-Crate: March #JaneAusten Themed Literature Fun Box Review

Have you checked out the subscription box services yet?  Every area of one's love is covered by the numerous boxes with an extraordinary amount of detail in many of the boxes.  I'm a big Jane Austen fan as well as literature in general so I'm waiting for this new box to arrive.

The box service is called Bibliophile Crate and features a couple of photographs of their boxes.  Jane Austen is a yes, yes, yes!  We have tried two to date but this post will focus on the first one called Bibliophile Crate


Our first box contained many items that were handcrafted and unique to the Jane Austen theme.  It had a nice introductory/thank you card, a recipe card, a 5 x 7 print that I could frame (shown) as well as a 3 x 4 framed print.  It also had two Jane Austen pencils in a clever Jane Austen themed pencil box but that's not all!  It also had Pemberley House soap, a magnet, a Jane Austen pen, post it notes and an interesting Sense and Sensibility book with a twist as it was about sea monsters.  The notecard and bookmark were also little nice extra's.  I think the box was well worth the costs and I can't wait until next month's!  

The recipe card was period specific and a nice addition to the box.


The pencils were really a nice addition:


The tea box was cute in a Darcy theme that included two Earl Grey tea bags:


Check them out today on Cratejoy: Bibliophile Crate 

Jane Austen, Hitchcock Other Classic New Subscription Box Service on Cratejoy


Have you checked out the subscription box services yet?  Every area of one's love is covered by the numerous boxes with an extraordinary amount of detail in many of the boxes.  I'm a big Jane Austen fan as well as literature in general so I'm waiting for this new box to arrive.

The box service is called Bibliophile Crate and features a couple of photographs of their boxes.  Jane Austen is a yes, yes, yes!




This one being a classic of Hitchcock's North by Northwest with handsome oldie Cary Grant looks amazing as well!



They even have a one time wine accessory in Jane Austen's theme too that I might have to try.




Check them out here if you are interested:  Bibliophile Crate

Another coming soon box to be launched:  Audrey Hepburn Themed <-- click here to be informed when it launches!




Top Five Fitness and Wellness Predictions for 2017


A new year and new trends to get in shape and get healthy are already upon us at every corner from various social media outlets to television to the magazines at the check out counter. It's really difficult to sort out what is good versus fad and potentially unhealthy. Last year was a mix of eating more natural coupled with squeezing in fitness routines no matter how one made it work. This year will be no different as social media continues to educate a more informed consumer looking for more healthy ways to ensure good health and longevity as well as atheleisure wear that allows one to dress for work with the flexibility to work out. The top fitness and wellness trends for 2017 will be plentiful with the ones I feel will have the biggest popularity include:




5. Vitamins and supplements will probably never go out of style with the advancement of technology and the array of claims of benefits. Vitamin D to fish oil to even smart pills are trending among many consumers. Supplements possibly provide the consumer with nutrients and other ingredients they might not normally get from poor eating habits or busy schedules. It's debatable among some of the claim but we consumers still purchase. "The global dietary supplements market is expected to reach USD 278.02 billion by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc." That is proof that the business is lucrative.

4. The increase consumption of fats and less carbohydrates will continue to rise given the host of diets and "experts" on social media touting various diets ranging from Atkins, variations to Atkins, Dukan and ketogenic themed diets. High fat/protein and low carbohydrate diets work but they aren't without their controversy either. Fats are not the evil heart killer as they once were perceived and various studies have proven that they are potentially good for us.




3. Organic eating continues to climb the chart of a profitable business with more and more consumers opting for less chemicals and preservatives. It's a tricky business as a consumer knowing what truly is organic versus natural versus dishonest claims to have to weed through. The issue of GMOs are everywhere and difficult to steer clear of especially given the fact that the consumer has to be diligent to find out what the animal was fed. If an animal was fed GMO corn, that then affects the quality of the "organic" meat or other animal product such as milk. 




2.  Wearable technology will continue to rise in popularity. The convenience of being able to track everything is a bonus especially for those that are busy and are on their feet a lot. From Apple to Garmin to Fitbit, it's a big business expecting to grow even more. Even the pharmaceutical and health industries are getting into the business. Companies such as CRF Health work with pharmaceutical companies in incorporating advance ways of data collection by the use of smart devices. It's a big business!




1. Strength training and athleisure will continue to rise given the host of research supporting the health and wellness claims. Strength training is easy and affordable and can be done just about in any environment. Clothing options has evolved to allow consumers choices in fitness fashion to remain active at anytime yet have a leisurely feel about their choices. One of the brands that I actually fell in love with last year was Betabrand. The great looking and high quality women's fitness fashion pants provide that great office look yet are made to move and allow the flexibility to take that walk at lunch time or even to drop and do some squats or lift some free weights. I did purchase the Boot-Cut Black Dress Pant Yoga Pant and love the fit and the quality of the fabric.





Those are my top five fitness and wellness predictions for 2017. I don't see much variance from the previous year rather more of a focus on getting natural and taking our health in our hands devoid of chemicals, preservatives and pesticides. Having the ability to be more involved in our health from wearable tracking devices to clothes that allow the flexibility to move will be hot topics this year.


NOTE: I was not compensated for this post.


British Beef Tenderloin Pie - Modified





I previously wrote and shared our British Pork Pie recipe since we started on a little road of discovery all about Britain.  I'm a dual citizen (by descent) since my mom is from there thanks to a changed law that recognizes the maternal link.  I'm also an ardent Jane Austen fan and that is slowly creeping into my daughter's interest.  I instantly fell for a quirky movie based on the love of Austen titled Austenland.  Low and behold, my younger who is a self-proclaimed 'mini-me', loves it too which has inspired all this new found interest in England.  We previously had our first tea party with homemade strawberry scones followed by a luncheon with finger sandwiches which didn't go over well since they are not egg fans.  


Our latest dish was a modified pork pie using beef tenderloin or filet mignon which was very tedious to make.  

So, with only three dishes on hand, we proceeded to make our British modified pork pies.  I called my mom since she's the resident expert in this area and when I told her what the recipe entailed, she proclaimed it wasn't like the pork pies she grew up with and that they ate them cold and they had a gel substance inside.  I can honestly say I can do without the gel thank you very much!  So here are our pictures of the long process but very condensed:


The dough is made after the beef and bacon mixture have been prepared and is cooling in the refrigerator.  It was a basic flour and lard recipe and was simple to make.




I added small bits of potatoes this time.


The skillet included onions, garlic and green apple:
Half the beef and thick bacon mixture is pulsed in a food processor and returned with the other half.   It does not look too appetizing!







My two girls are the pickiest eaters ever but they really enjoyed the filet mignon pot pies!  It was a win!












Not quite like the recipe picture but it was still good!  Want to try it?  Here is the link for British Pork Pie recipe.