Products We're Using

10/2015
We're using this program right now, level 1. My daughter loves it so far.

Prayer Time Clockfaces

Let everyone in the house know when you'll be praying the daily salaat with Prayer Time Clockfaces. Or, use them to show the time that each salah actually comes in. They also double as a great math activity since you can give kids the opportunity to change the clocks as needed.



These were posted initially on TJ Islamic Studies in a larger size, but I shrunk them down from full page for each salat to four per page so that I didn't have to do so much cutting and could save space on the wall.

I highly recommend laminating them for durability and so that you can change the times. We had to pencil in the hands and times because I didn't have any contact paper or laminating sheets on hand.



(Both are in black and white and PDF formats.)



EnJOYing our Ink Joy Pens!

I can never keep pens in our house. 

They always seem to "mysteriously" disappear. 

So, I was so happy to be invited to join the Smiley360 Ink Joy Pens mission. In exchange for a review, I got a free sample of Ink Joy pens. I had never heard of them before this mission, but my sister (a pen aficionado with the most consistently perfect handwriting I've ever seen) has some and told me she loves them, so I was excited to try them.

So they arrived!

In the kit, I got an 8 pack of assorted Ink Joy pens and a $5 gift card to purchase more!

A few days after they arrived, I called the kids to come try them out and we ended up creating a spontaneous family doodle artwork. 


We had a great time. It had been a while since I had sat down and drew/colored with the kids. 

So How Are the Pens?

Ink Joys are really great pens. They have a neat rubberized grip that makes writing more comfortable.


and the pens glide so easily across the page...



You get a neat assortment of colors in the assorted pack:




I always need blue pens for the kids' forms that I  have to submit for the charter school we homeschool through. So, I'm planning on using my $5 gift card that came in my Smiley360 kit to get those, insha Allah.




If you'd like to take a look at all the other great stuff I've received from Smiley360, check out my Smiley360 Pinterest Board:

Follow TJ HOMESCHOOLING's board Smiley360 Missions on Pinterest.

Ummy, How Do You Make Deviled Eggs?

My 15 year old son came in and asked how to boil eggs. (He wanted some for breakfast).

Well, when I cook, if I'm not specifically following a recipe, I just... do...stuff..

Ok, put them in the water, let it come to a boil....... but he needed specifics.

So I wanted to give him a good set of instructions that he could carry with him to adulthood (When I got to college, I did not  know how to boil an egg at all!)

I turned to Better Homes and Gardens (an oldie but goodie). I told him verbally, but I wanted to have a good recipe that I could refer to when the next child was ready to boil an egg.

How to Boil an Egg


  • Arrange the eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan so they cook evenly. Do not stack them.
  • Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch.
  • Heat saucepan over medium-high heat until the water comes to a rapid boil (water will have large, rapidly breaking bubbles).
  • Immediately remove pan from heat.
  • After removing from heat, cover the saucepan and allow it to stand for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the eggs, then run cold water over them or place them in a large bowl filled with ice water until the eggs cool.
  • To peel an egg, gently tap it on the counter to crack the shell. Use your fingers to peel off the shell.
  • Rinse the peeled egg under cold water to remove any remaining bits of shell.
Well, after the eggs were boiled, he asked me, "How do you make those devil's eggs?" (He was being funny, he's knows their real name.)

Again, when I make stuff, sometimes it's just a throw together kind of deal. But, again, I wanted him to have a good recipe to be able to follow to get the proportions right.

So, I came across another BHG recipe  (via Food.com), tweaked it ever so slightly for clarity and let him have at it.

This is what he needed:


  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash ground black pepper


And this is what he did:

Cut 6 hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise.

Removed the yolks



 and mashed them with a fork.


Mixed the egg yolks with all other ingredients.


Filled the egg whites with the yolk mixture.



Sprinkled paprika on top of each yolk mixture.

And voile!





He loved them.  

He--loved--them! 

How do I know?

He made more for lunch.........



Want more great kids' cooking basics resources? 


I've started a collection of them in a Pinterest board:

Follow TJ HOMESCHOOLING's board Cooking-Kids Basic Cooking Skills on Pinterest.


Fluffy French Toast

Fluffy French Toast

One of our favorite breakfasts is French Toast.  I started out the master (main) French Toast cooker. But, because we have a large family, it takes me forever to make it when I have to make it for everyone.  It's one of my husband's favorite breakfasts so I get requests for it often. If I've just make a small batch for him and the older kids wake up and smell it and want some, well now, they make it themselves.  I even get treated to some at times!

I make my recipe a little different from a lot of recipes I see in that I use flour in my batter.  I stumbled across a Fluffy French Toast recipe on All Recipes that is similar to what I do (I just throw things in at this point, but I needed a recipe that the kids could follow, so this fit the bill).

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 12 thick slices bread

What you do:


  1. Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. 
  2. Whisk in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled (I use margarine) griddle or frying pan over medium heat. 
  4. Soak bread slices in mixture until saturated.
  5. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. (Now for cooking, as I said above,  I use margarine or Crisco and although it adds more calories, I put in a new pat of margarine with each batch (I generally cook two slices at a time). I find it comes out "ugly" if I don't re-margarine the griddle/pan). Make sure it is cooked well because it came come out "liquidy" in the inside if not.
  6. Serve hot with powdered sugar or syrup.

This recipe makes 12 slices, so I wanted to reduce it for the kids (hey, makes a great math exercise for homeschooling, but I cheated and used All Recipes' recipe adjuster gadget).


  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  •  2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons milk
  •  1/8 pinch salt
  •  1/2 eggs (we'll just round that to 1 egg)
  •  1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  •  2 thick slices bread



Make Homemade Pizza with the Kids!



Making pizza at home is the best! Not only do you get a pretty healthy meal, but it's a great family activity.  At our house, sometimes each child makes their own pizza, and other times, we leave it up to the girls to handcraft each pizza.  I usually make the dough, but sometimes my middle schoolers help.

Speaking of dough, all great pizzas start off with a great dough. I've found a terrific pizza dough at Sally's Baking Addiction. Ok, it's a recipe for cheesy breadsticks, but she said it would be great for pizza dough...and she was not wrong.  We've made pizzas with it three times and it comes out great every time.

Here's what you'll need for the dough:


  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) warm water (105-115 degrees F degrees)
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (440g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar

This dough makes about 2  12'' pizzas. We usually have to make 9-10 pizzas, so we usually make 4 batches of dough.

So here's what you do:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. 
  2. Stir  the yeast around and let it sit for 5 minutes of until the yeast is foamy and dissolved. (If the yeast doesn't dissolve, bummer, it's dead, so you'll need to start again with more yeast.)
  3. Add the olive oil, salt, and sugar and stir. Then add the flour. Mix by hand. (I generally add the flour 1 cup at a time and stir after each addition). I try to go with the minimum amount of flour (or even less). I have found that the less flour the better. You want a dough that feels light in your hand, not hard and dense, like a brick.
  4. Once all of the ingredients are mixed, knead for 7 minutes by hand. If you are new to bread making, I found a great, short video that shows the basics of kneading:





If your dough is too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. After kneading, your dough should be smooth and elastic. (If you poke it with your finger and it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, you need to keep kneading.)
    5. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn it over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (we use a plate) and allow the dough to rise in a warm place (about 75F-80F).  Depending on your type of yeast, your dough will have doubled in size in about 1 - 2 hours. 

    6. After your dough has doubled, punch it down to release the air. Divide your dough into half.  Roll each half into a ball and let rest in two separate bowls lightly covered for 10 minutes. (Ok, you got me, we usually skip this resting deal, but mostly because we're anxious to get to the party started....)

    7. Spread each ball into a greased 12-in. pizza pan to your desired diameter and thickness of pizza crust (We just use cookie sheets and sprinkle some cornmeal underneath). Some of the kids roll it thin (which is probably a good idea since it poofs up) and some go a little thicker.

    8. Next, pour and spread  your pizza sauce on the dough (ok you can make your own pizza sauce, but we don't "got time for that." We use Ragu Pizza sauce generally.

    9. Then comes the cheese! We use shredded cheese (though I am sure it would be cheaper to shred it ourselves, but again, time.....). A lot of recipes call for mozzarella cheese, but we just use a cheddar fiesta blend)

    10. Then, top with your toppings. These are our favs:
    • Pepperoni (We just found some turkey pepperoni the other week, so it was finally great to have pepperoni again! That's one of the many things I miss about being overseas in the Middle East---Halaal pepperoni and any other kind of meat you want)
    • Onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Pineapple
    • Green Peppers
    • Black olives (my favorite)
    11. At this point, some of the kids mix melted butter and garlic salt and some herbs to create a garlic butter and spread around the edges. (Wow is that good!)

    12. Now for the cooking part. You may have to fiddle with the cooking times and temperatures to get it just right for you, but you can use this as a starter:

    and voile!  
    The best pizza on earth 
    (cuz you made it!)

    One of our most recent pizzas. Yum! We could eat this every weekend!

    If you have kids, you've probably made your own pizza many times and found it makes a great family tradition. 

    If not, you've got to try it! The kids will love it! All my kids say it's loads better than commercial pizza.

    Tap into Crowdtap for Gift Cards and Samples

    Earn Gift Cards, Sample Products with Crowdtap


    This past year has been a great year for discovering word of mouth programs that compensate you for feedback and reviews. My latest find (that a friend turned me onto) is Crowdtap.


    Crowdtap is a program in which you do things like answer quick (and often fun) poll questions (called Quick Hits) as well as complete challenges where you do things like take a creative picture of a product you use  or an activity such as cooking a recipe, or making  a Pinterest board, for example. 


    You may even get invited to sampling missions where you get products sent to you to provide feedback on.

    For each activity you perform, you get points. For every 100 points you get, you get 1 entry into a monthly drawing for gift cards.




    There are a great number of companies that you can complete activities for so there are loads of opportunities to rack up points. Each company has a monthly drawing so there's the potential to get several cards.




    Now you are not guaranteed to win cards every month, but I have been doing it for 3 months now and the first month I got $10, the second $20 and last month, $15. Most cards are $5 ones but each company usually has 1 grand prize card worth $50 all the way up to $500! All my cards have been Amazon, but I have seen Walmart at times and Sephora, for example.

    Each month, your points reset to 0, so you need to start completing activities again to get chances to win in the new month. Crowdtap is fun for me when I have some down time, such as when nursing the baby. 

    I've gotten a couple of product sampling missions as well, one for Campbell's sauces (I got loads of sauces, a cutting board, and bag) and Zep cleaner samples. For these, you must submit an online report, and pictures are recommended (I happened to lose the ones I took for these missions).


    To join Crowdtap, you must use Facebook, that's the only way to sign up.

    If you are interested in giving Crowdtap a try, go to their site: http://www.crowdtap.com 

    Create "Fabulous" Daily Routines




    So.... I'm an Android app junky. It's so hard not to be these days with the millions of apps you can find in Google Play. There's an app for darn near anything you can possibly want or need.

    Well, a daily productivity app is a very valuable commodity for me. And I've  tried many of them. Last year I stumbled upon a strangely named app called "The Fabulous." Well the name really fits because it is really fabulous and I wanted to share it here with you.

    It's really built around the idea of setting a morning, afternoon, and evening routine. Then, you check off items in those routines when  you've completed them. Ok, sounds standard, right? But "The Fabulous" is so much more than a routine routine app (pun intended).  It actually coaches you and motivates you along while you are performing your routine. And it tracks your progress of keeping up with your routine.

    So, I'll show you some features so you can get an idea of how it works.

    Set Up Your Routines


    First things first,  you pick a routine to set up (morning, afternoon, or evening). The Fabulous comes with preset activities to choose from to populate your routines. Below are just a few:


    or, as you can see from my current morning routine below, you can add your own activities:



    Within a routine you can change the order of tasks later if you need to.

    If you choose a preset activity to add to your routine, it comes with a neat little tip:



    Carrying Out  Your Routine

    So, once you've got your routine established and have established a time to start the routine, The Fabulous alerts you at that time to begin the routine (you can have a sound alarm or you can have a quiet full screen visual alarm. I chose the latter for my morning routine because, well,  I've got a toddler in the room with me and it's crucial not to wake her up when I'm trying to get that morning routine on!)

    So when a routine's alarm/notification goes off you "launch the routine" and proceed to go through your tasks that make up your routine.

    Now, when you initially set up your routine, you set an interval of time to complete each task. The Fabulous then counts down the time for that task. I always pad the time generously so my time doesn't run out, but the neat thing is you can pause the task, snooze it, or even skip it and come back to it later, insha Allah. That way,  if the baby starts crying, or you get a phone call, you can get back on track after your crisis/interruption is over! If you snoozed or skipped an item (or items), The Fabulous will shoot you a quick reminder in the notification area of your mobile device. You will get a reminder for each item that you did not complete. So, you can see, The Fabulous is very good at helping you keep with your routine.

    How Am I Doing With My Routine?

    Well, the app keeps track of the tasks and routines you complete and gives you progress reports and gives you encouraging notes along the way, helping you turn your routines into habits.






    I've only got my morning routine developed but it's moving along nicely, so I plan on creating afternoon and evening routines pretty soon insha Allah.

    I actually look forward each morning to starting my day with The Fabulous, it's kind of fun and I get such a feeling of accomplishment.  If I don't complete something, the program does a great job of motivating me to keep trying. Plus if you just forget to check something off for the day, you can go back and check it off without ruining your fabulous streaks. 

    The Fabulous also has a FB community where you can get and share tips and suggestions with fellow users as well as the developers. It really is a neat program and, best of all, it's free! (If you feel like you want a live coach, they do have a premium service).

    If you are trying to get your days together (yours or your kids'), I highly recommend checking out The Fabulous!

    (unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available for the iPhone)

    (I was not compensated in any way for writing about "The Fabulous," I just really think it's fabulous! )  

    When and How to Make Ghusl

    Ghusl is washing the entire body with water. There are times when it is waajib (obligatory to wash the entire body) and times when it is mustahabb (recommended)

    I found a few good articles to help us review ghusl:

    Ghusl is obligatory when:

    • Semen is emitted
    • There is contact between the genitals
    • In the case of menstruation and nifaas (post-natal bleeding)
    • In the case of death

    Ghusl is encouraged:

    • on the two Eids
    • after washing a dead body
    • before entering the state of ihraam or entering Makkah
    • for a woman who is suffering from istihaadah (abnormal non-menstrual bleeding)
    • before every prayer
    • after being unconscious
    • after burying a mushrik.

    Manner of making ghusl:

    • Wash the hands
    • Wash privates with left hand
    • Perform wudhoo up to, but not including the feet
    • Pour water over head three times
    • Wash rest of body
    • Wash the feet

    Say Bismillah before beginning?

    Saying Bismillah when doing ghusl and wudoo’ is mustahabb according to the majority of fuqaha’, and the Hanbalis said that it is obligatory. Shaykh ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Saying Bismillaah is obligatory according to our madhhab, as in the case of wudoo’. There is no text concerning that but they said: It is obligatory in the case of wudoo’ so it is more so in the case of ghusl, because that is a greater purification. But the correct view is that it is not obligatory in the case of either wudoo’ or ghusl.

    Ghusl Wheel


    To help teach and review the steps of ghusl, you can grab a copy of the Ghusl Wheel at my TpT Store by clicking on the picture below!

    Ghusl Wheel
    Happy Teaching!

    Opal Apples are Gems!


    My kids love apples.  I have a large family so apples don't stay around for long. Some kids like Granny Smith, some love Golden Delicious, and some love Gala apples. I'm pretty sure that no matter what type of apple I bring home, somebody will like it.  We-love-apples.

    So, I was pretty excited to be invited to the Opal Apples BzzAgent campaign where I received free Opal apples in exchange for feedback.  

    Never heard of Opal apples? Neither had I before this campaign.  I found out that Opal apples are a cross between Golden Delicious and Topaz apples and were discovered in 1999. They've only been sold in the US since 2010 so they are relatively new.  They are grown in limited acreage and are only available from November to March each season.

    It was early December when I got my coupons in the mail (I received a fat juicy $5 coupon and some $1s...)



    and we were ready to go get our apples. 

    But first we had to find them.

    Opal apples are marketed and distributed exclusively in North America by FirstFruits Marketing of Washington and are not available everywhere. Before going off to find them, you'll want to check their website to see where they are sold as they are only sold in select stores. 

    After consulting the website to find out which local stores had them, we were off!  On the website, they suggest calling before to see if a store which is listed as a seller has them. I totally agree as the first chain store we tried that was listed as a seller did not have them. The produce worker in the produce section at the time said she had never heard of them. 

    But, we had success at the second store. They were there--but, in a limited supply compared to the other varieties of apples.  They ran for about $1.29/lb which is definitely in my price range. 


    And these were what we got. 

    It was actually a fun day out for me and the girls as we had other deals to get that day ( a free bottle of CVS body wash) and a free tub of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter from a Smiley360 mission.  


    So we cut them up and it was time for tastin'!

    Our Opal Apples with snazzy plastic cutting board that came with our BzzKit along with coupons
    The verdict? Delicious with a capital D.

    Thumbs up from the kids.  

    The taste reminded me of a Golden Delicious apple but sweeter. The Opal apple had less of a twangy taste and for me that was a good thing.  

    I haven't gotten a chance to try the Opal apples in recipes, they went too fast.


    Beside Being Delicious, What Else Are Opal Apples Known For?

    How many times have I cut up an apple into pieces for my toddler and, through her dawdling, the pieces turned brown?  It is said that Opal apples are resistant to oxidizing and naturally don't brown. So of course we had to test this claim out. 

    Being a homeschool mom, we had to make an experiment out of it, so I had also purchased a golden delicious apple to compare it to.

    So we cut them up. Opal apple on the left, Golden Delicious on the right.....



    After 1 hour there was some browning on both apples, but less on the Opal....



     After 3 hours, they basically look the same as they  had 1 hour on...


    So while there was slightly less browning for the Opal, it still browned. But not a deal breaker as I expect an apple to brown anyway.


    So overall, I was pleased with the Opal apple. It had a great taste and the apples were a nice size. Will I purchase Opals in the future? (Of course I still have coupons left, haha). But seriously, price is the main factor and they are reasonably priced, so that's a great thing. The second factor though, is availability. The stores that offer the Opal apple are not stores that I generally shop at, and I most likely wouldn't go out of my way to go there just for the apples (unless they had really held up fantastically better in not browning, but probably not even then.)

    We give Opal apples a thumbs up for taste!




    Here are some other great products I've gotten to sample through BzzAgent: