New High School Anatomy Curriculum

I’ve finished my new high school anatomy curriculum!

Homeschool anatomy science curriculum

Click on the image to take a look!

Otter has requested to use it starting this fall, and I’m really looking forward to it. There are lots of interesting books I think he’s really going to enjoy learning from.

The First Fruit Harvest of the Year

When we moved into our house, we had a pretty, mature apricot tree in our back yard. Some of the branches broke off though. Then it got stressed during a super hot summer and eventually died. A couple of years ago we bought a new apricot tree and this year got our first “real” harvest. It was only a couple colandars full, but enough to fill up some trays in the dehydrator:

dehydrating apricots

Dried apricots are super expensive, and we LOVE them. Now we can make our own homemade version of this healthy treat!

I cut the apricots in half, discarded the pits, soaked the halves in lemon juice & water (about 2 cups of lemon juice to 1 quart water) with a bit of vitamin C powder thrown in (about a tablespoon or so), and then flipped them “inside-out” onto dehydrator trays with the skin down. The lemon juice keeps the apricots from browning too much as they dry. Last year I didn’t use any lemon juice on some of the apricots a friend gave us to dry. They turned out tasty but were an ugly brown. They looked like something you’d scrape off the bottom of your shoe. Lesson learned. The lemon juice also helps preserve the apricots better. According to Colorado State University:

“Pretreating fruits prior to drying is highly recommended. Pretreating helps keep light-colored fruits from darkening during drying and storage and it speeds the drying of fruits with tough skins, such as grapes and cherries. Research studies have shown that pretreating with an acidic solution or sodium metabisulfite dip also enhances the destruction of potentially harmful bacteria during drying, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella species and Listeria monocytogenes.”

You can read more about pretreating fruits by clicking here.

If you look it up, you’ll see that people use different amounts of lemon juice to dip fruits in for dehydrating. I just happen to have a lot on hand as I use it to make what I call “Magic Cleaner”, so I went with the 2 cups measurement. We’ll see how everything turns out! I’ve dried fruits before with no pre-treatment at all and they turned out fine (except color-wise), and lasted an entire year with no ill effects. We’ll see if the lemon juice makes much difference. I do like the idea that it helps destroy potential bacteria. (P.S. I’m not an expert on any of this, so if you want to dry fruits, I recommend you get advice from a trusted resource!)

I have 10 trays for my dehydrator (a Nesco Gardenmaster) so I decided to fill the rest of them up with some other things I had on hand like 4 apples that were losing their crisp in the fridge, a container of strawberries from a buy-one-get-two-free deal at our local store, and some green beans from the garden that I blanched and then rolled in olive oil, salt, and dried parmesan cheese.

Beans to dehydrate

I’m hoping I’ll like the dried beans, as they are supposed to be a good, crunchy, healthy snack. If so, I’ll make a bunch more with the next batch of beans that ripens.

I sliced the apples directly into the lemon juice using my German-made mandolin slicer. That thing is awesome! I was kind of nervous about it when I first used it, but this particular model is designed so that I don’t have to worry (too much) about slicing my fingers off along with the apple. 😉

dehydrating applesI just cored the strawberries and then cut them in half. I’ve dried strawberries before by slicing them, but the resulting dried pieces were so small, I decided to try halves this time, just like the apricots.


dehydrating strawberries

Here’s my dehydrator all loaded up:

Nesco Gardenmaster dehydrator

It has an automatic timer, so I can set it and forget it, even overnight. I’ll check the fruit later tonight to see how it’s doing and if it needs to dry longer.

This is just the beginning of our garden season! The next fruit that will be ripening are the plums. Last year we had a huge harvest and I’m still enjoying dried plums and low sugar plum jam from all of my work. I’m hoping this year will turn out just as productive (and yummy, lol)!

I’ll take an updated picture of my garden soon, including the trellis my husband just built for the kiwi vines I’m probably going to order next month. I love growing and preserving food from our own yard. I like knowing where it comes from, what went on it (pesticides, etc.) and love pulling colorful spring and summer food out of our cupboards and freezer long into the winter.

Now I’m off to work some more on my high school anatomy course. I’m almost finished with it and will be posting it soon!

High School Anatomy Curriculum Preview!

I’m really close to finishing my brand-new high school anatomy curriculum! Click here for a preview of some of the books and other resources for the year! I still may add in a couple literature selections. 😉 There are also lots of goodies in the actual schedule that are not listed in the resources to purchase – like free videos, printables, interactive games online and more.

Guest Hollow’s High School Anatomy curriculum is going to be a great year full of fascinating books, hands-on labs & activities, videos and more. This anatomy curriculum goes way beyond a textbook and makes learning about the human body something that is not just informational, but entertaining, and even inspiring. Your students will not only learn about how the body works- they will read captivating and true stories of what happens when the human body isn’t working right. I’ve also included books with potentially life-changing and very practical information. This is knowledge your students can carry with them for a lifetime and not just forget as soon as they’ve moved on to something else.

Tired of history cores? Read most of the literature and nonfiction books I’m including and you’ve got yourself a SCIENCE core. Want to pare things down? Guest Hollow’s High School Anatomy is flexible. There will be a printable schedule you can adjust and change as much as you’d like. You can even swap out resources to take advantage of what’s available in your local library or home book shelves.

For those of you with younger students, this curriculum tracks right along with the brand-new Guest Hollow’s Jr. Anatomy curriculum (also coming out soon), as well as the current Otter’s Anatomy schedule, so that your kids of ALL ages can learn together.

I’ll be posting an update soon!

Dilly beans!

Today is the first time I’ve made dilly beans and here are the pictures to prove it! 😉 I used this recipe from online:

After washing the beans, I cut the pointy ends off and cut them to fit my pint jars:

Dilly beansNext, I filled the jars with fresh sprigs of dill from our garden and some red pepper flakes. I put in a bit of celery seed in a couple of the jars, too.dilly beansWhile the brine was cooking on the stove, I packed the beans, ends up, into the jars:Dilly beansI ladled the brine into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace and then processed them for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. The recipe online says to only simmer the jars, but I boiled them according to the instructions for pickled beans in my trusty Ball Blue Book of Preserving, for safety.

Now I have to let them sit for 2-3 weeks before sampling. I hope they turn out good!


The jar in the upper left has a few carrot slices in it!

Last year our bean harvest was pathetic. The bean plants were inundated with aphids and who knows what other kinds of bugs. The plants had spotted leaves and they just looked awful. They were so awful that I ripped most of them up and just left a few stragglers in one of my smaller raised garden beds.

This year the beans are terrific. The plants are tall and healthy and they are cranking out beans!! Lesson learned: plant them earlier in the season and give them a little shake-and-feed at the beginning of the growing season. Beans don’t like our hot summers but they seem to love spring! Next year I will plant twice as much and we might have enough beans to last all year.

Updated and new curricula for 2015-2016

Still trying to choose what you want to use for 2015-2016? I have some new and revamped curricula just in time for the next school year! Take a look at some of the things that are finished and/or in the works:

I have totally reworked my ancient history curriculum. There is a new daily schedule with updated links and new books!

My ancient history curriculum is CHRONOLOGICAL! Yes, I needed to shout that, lol. When I was teaching ancient history to my kids the first time around, it drove me nuts that all the major history curricula jumped around in time. I wanted my kids to see that there were Egyptians living at the same time as Romans and so on. Ancient civilizations didn’t happen in isolation! I created Guest Hollow’s Ancient History Curriculum with this in mind. Some of the things you will learn with this literature-rich curriculum:

  • How, when & where figures in the Bible lived
  • Ancient Egyptians
  • Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites and other ancient cultures
  • Ancient Greeks
  • Ancient China
  • Ancient Romans
  • The beginnings of Christianity

I’ve scheduled in lots of optional hands-on activities, free printables, videos and more to make learning ancient history fun and memorable! To top it all off, I have both The Story of the World AND The Mystery of History scheduled in. You can use either one or both as a spine text to fully customize your learning experience with either a secular or more Christian focus.

The next, totally redone curriculum is: Otter’s Botany Curriculum! I have a brand-new daily schedule with some new books! Everything is updated and ready-to-go for the upcoming school year! You can view the entire schedule online for free, or order an inexpensive printable schedule in my store.

Why study botany? I think botany is an overlooked topic that gets shoved into a chapter of biology and then forgotten. Plants affect and enrich so many parts of our lives! Our houses and clothes are made of plant materials. We eat plants. We enjoy their beauty. They provide us with medicines, fuel, perfume, dyes, paper and a variety of other products. They are tied to history and even our future. They are an integral part of our lives!

Middle school to high school kids can explore the interesting and often amazing world of plants and growing things and even dabble in optional recipes that make learning about plants a tasty enterprise.

I’ve also created a brand-new science curriculum for grades K-4:

The Science of Seasons Curriculum

There are two options to this engaging science curriculum. There is a very flexible year-long topics schedule that can be started during any season, and there is a 14 week curriculum with a daily schedule. With both options your child will learn about:

  • Arctic animals
  • Animal camouflage
  • Animal habitats
  • Animal migration
  • Butterflies and caterpillars
  • Earth’s magnetic poles
  • Leaves changing color
  • Northern lights
  • Oceans
  • Plants
  • Seasons related topics (including the science that causes them)
  • Snow
  • Sun
  • Volcanoes
  • Weather
  • Whales

Next up:

My high school biology curriculum has been a big hit and parents have expressed a desire for more high school level curricula that are designed “Guest Hollow style”. The up-and-coming Guest Hollow’s High School Anatomy Curriculum schedules in lots of interesting labs, videos, books, and a text that is friendly and easy to use. I also have taken care to schedule in resources that give kids a heart for those who are challenged with disabilities as they learn what happens when the body doesn’t function properly.

My “old” anatomy curriculum was very popular, but I decided it was time for an overhaul. My brand-new high school anatomy curriculum tracks with a new and updated version of Otter’s Anatomy (also coming soon), so you have the option to combine multiple ages for a more hassle free school day.

Guest Hollow’s High School Anatomy Curriculum breaks things up so that students aren’t always stuck in a textbook. They get to spend time with literature, activities, and videos that make what they are learning more meaningful and memorable. I can’t wait to share my new anatomy course with you!!

But wait, there’s more! lol

I am also starting to put together an elementary physics curriculum. I might consider creating a high school conceptual physics program (meaning little or no math) that tracks with it. That’s a big MAYBE though, lol. So, don’t hold me to it – but there are new things and more plans I’d like to bring to fruition.

With the new school year coming closer, please check out my store for printable curriculum plans as well as my curriculum landing page and pass the word along to your homeschooling friends! At $5.00 for each printable curriculum schedule, you are saving a TON compared to other homeschool companies. Don’t think anything can be professional at that price? You can check out ALL of my curricula online and decide for yourself. All of my schedules are FREE to browse through for those of you who are financially challenged, or if you just want to see if Guest Hollow is a match for you and your family. If you do use one of my curriculum plans, please consider donating via an Amazon gift certificate, or Paypal. Your contributions will help determine Guest Hollow’s future as my years of teaching homeschool come to a close in the next couple of years.

Happy homeschooling!

Vid Angel


I discovered Vid Angel not too long ago and LOVE what it offers. You can rent movies online and watch on your computer or devices or via Chromecast, Apple TV or ROKU. We already watch a lot of online movies via Amazon, so what’s so special about Vid Angel? Vid Angel will FILTER out unwanted content!! Want to watch Game of Thrones without the smut? Vid Angel makes it so you can do that. It does so with tons of new and popular movies. You are in control of the settings. You can choose to mute bad language, remove any s*x, nudity or immodesty, alcohol & drug use, violence, blood and gore, and other offensive or negative elements.

Each movie has its own set of sliders. There are lists of each potentially offensive moment and you can choose to set the sliders to disallow (or allow) specific content.


Vid Angel also lets you know if a scene is important to the story so you’ll know if your choices are affecting plot elements. Vid Angel will even alert you to spoilers so you don’t ruin a movie’s surprises, too:

vid angel

Every deletable or mutable scene (or bad word) is explained so you can customize it for whomever is viewing a movie with you (your 6 year old vs. your 16 year old). You also get to see a timeline of the movie that shows you how your choices have affected the movie playback time:


So, here is my shameless request…if 5 people click on the link below and watch a movie on Vid Angel, I get one year of free movies. If you are interested, please try it out, because I need a free year of movies, lol! It’s a great service and a way to clean up movies for yourself or your kids. Movie (and TV show) rentals are cheap too! You can rent an HD movie for just $2.00 (SD movies are $1.50)! No more worrying if Redbox doesn’t have a copy of the movie you want to watch or having to get a movie back to the kiosk. Just click and stream! Another great feature is that if you rent a movie and end up loving it so much that you want to buy it, your rental amount counts toward the purchase price!

Click here to check out Vid Angel!! Movies minus the bosoms, blood & bad words!

My Garden This Morning

I was out in my garden early this morning soaking in the crisp spring air and enjoying the peace and birdsong. It was still rather shady as the sun wasn’t high in the sky yet. Later on in the day everything will be totally saturated with sunshine. Here are some pictures I took to share!

The first thing I see when walking outside is my rose garden and nectarine tree. The miniature roses in the picture below are some of my favorites. I like their creamy mix of apricot and pink. We have a LOT of rose bushes. Some of them are in my rose garden and many of the rest line most of the entire backyard fence. They are easy to grow here and we don’t need to do much other than water them occasionally and trim them once or twice a year. I shouldn’t say “we”, lol. My husband does most of the work when it comes to the roses. 😉roses

Yes, that is grass I need to weed, lol.

Some more roses:

red roses

I get to see that view as I sit at my computer. It’s a lovely thing to look at when I’m busy working all day! There is a birdbath that is frequently visited nearby. The hummingbird & oriole feeders are visited all day long, too!

After the rose bed, is a right turn to the orchard gate. Most of our fruit trees are in this section of the yard. The pomegranate is already blooming:

pomegranate flower

…and the pear tree is making pears for the FIRST time! I’m so excited! We’ve been waiting 5 or 6 years for the silly thing to produce anything other than snowball flowers in spring. We don’t know what kind of pear tree it is, so I’m looking forward to finding out. I think it might be a Bartlett.

young pear fruit

Here’s an apricot that hasn’t turned orange yet:

green apricot

Past our backyard orchard, we have our garden area. The first year we got our dog, he thought it was his personal snack bar. Yes, my dog likes veggies.

raised bed garden

Someday we are going to put pea gravel or crushed granite over the garden paths. Right now they are still a bit messy looking with just plain packed down dirt (and winter weeds). My husband recycled some plastic fencing so I can have a framework to grow things like squash and melons or beans or whatever.  My husband also recently put in the drip irrigation, which doesn’t look pretty but will save us a lot of water. The crazy looking white pipes sticking up in the corners of the beds aren’t related to the irrigation. They are just pieces of junk pipe I stuck in dirt to keep the hose from slipping into the area where the plants are when I drag it around. The bucket is to catch drips from where the hose plugs into the irrigation system. I lug the bucket of water around to water other things after it fills up.

The plants in the tubs in the foreground are our new Southern Highbush blueberry plants. They are a Misty, O’Neal, and a Jubilee. We are growing them in containers so we can more easily make the soil acidic. They will grow to be about 4-5 ft. high.

There is another garden bed that you can’t see in the picture. We have 7 altogether, plus another container where I’m currently growing a pepper plant, cilantro and chives. There are also 5 grapevines in the garden area, an orange tree, a candy-cot tree and a Honeycrisp apple.



If you leave the cilantro alone, it will turn into coriander later. :-) I learned that last year when some of it grew tall and flowered and then made coriander seeds, lol. Here’s a picture I took last year of the cilantro turned coriander:


Here are some peas. They are bush peas so they don’t climb. The leaves look a little chewed up and spotty. I’m not sure why. The peas themselves are delicious and crispy. I didn’t plant enough of them this year as I totally overestimated their space requirement. I’ll try planting some again this fall, when the weather cools off.

bush peas

We also have bush beans:

bush beans

I learned last year to plant the bush beans much earlier in the year as they did NOT like the heat of midsummer. They were also attacked by tons of bugs last year and were in a totally sorry state. I ripped most of them out but left a few in one bed that stayed until late fall when they perked up and started making tons of beans. Oops. Next time I won’t be so quick to give up!

Our tomatoes are already making some flowers. They are still young and haven’t turned into the tomato monster plants they usually do when I don’t pinch the suckers (which I often don’t, lol).

tomato plant

Our artichoke plant is about 9 years old now and ready to be ripped out. It’s past its prime and no longer producing much, even after dividing it, etc. I harvested an artichoke off it already and here is this one:


It’s not as nice as the artichokes were when the plant was younger. The leaves are all old and crummy looking now too. We’ve planted a replacement though which is already growing new leaves. Hopefully next spring we’ll get some good artichokes from it!

I still have room to plant more things this year. I’m not sure yet what I want to do though! I’ll have to take a look at my seed packets and see what I have or maybe we’ll pop into one of the local garden centers this weekend and see what baby plants are available. I want to fill it up as it feeds our family throughout the summer and into the fall!

Living in Japan

My daughter Hannah gave me permission to share some of the photos and details about her life in Japan. I find this kind of stuff fascinating, so I thought it would be appropriate to post here, lol. You can see first-hand what a previously homeschooled student is doing with her life as an adult! When she was younger and I was teaching her, I used to wonder what she would do/be when she grew up. Now I’m watching her life unfold into something so amazing!

A view from her window:

view from the window

She lives in a shared housing situation. It’s very interesting as it’s like a dormitory for working women. No men are allowed inside, not even family. There are staff that keep the common areas clean. Here’s a floor plan that shows how it’s laid out:

dormHannah has one of the little dorm rooms. They look like this inside:


There is a loft where you can put a futon to sleep. She actually put hers on the bottom level.

At the entrance of Japanese houses, you take your shoes off and exchange them for socks or slippers, and then you can step onto the higher level floor. You can sort of see that in the picture below with the shoes in an area that is a little lower than the main floor:


Here’s a picture of a temple she walked to recently:


Notice the cherry blossoms:

cherry blossoms

I’ll be posting pictures of Hannah’s life in Japan from time to time. My next post about her will show her groceries and what she is eating over there!

Some of you are homeschooling little ones. Cherish that time, because it won’t be long and they will spread their wings and fly. :-) Hannah flew all the way to Japan, lol!

The Science of Seasons is published!

Science booksI’m so excited to announce that The Science of Seasons set of books is finally published and available for purchase! They are available on our NEW online store and also from! I’ve also created a FREE science curriculum to go with them!

If you are a member of Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited you can check out The Science of Seasons for free via the Kindle lending library! The Science of Seasons Activities book is also on sale for a limited time in honor of our book launch! You can get the PDF of the activity book for only $7.50. That’s HALF off the normal PDF price and even more than half off the softcover price. Visit our online store for detailed descriptions of the books as well as a free handwriting paper pack, and a set of  printable paper dolls with a set of outfits.

Take a peek at some of The Science of Season’s pages (thumbnails do not enlarge):

 sample1  sample2
 sample3  sample4

Here are some pages from The Science of Seasons Activities book:


 sample5  sample6
 sample8  sample7
 sample9  samplefall

There are over 100 pages of activities and lessons in the activity book that expand on topics presented in The Science of Seasons.

Some of the activities and lessons include:

  • Greek and Latin Root Cards, Vocabulary CardsArt projects
  • Copywork assignments
  • Cutout playsets and figures
  • Dot-to-dot
  • Geography
  • Greek & Latin roots
  • Lapbook style cutouts
  • Language & culture study
  • Make your own comic book templates and cutouts
  • Mazes
  • Sciencestuff
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary activities and cutout cards
  • ..and much more!

Click here for a list of topics and learning points.

I’ve really worked hard to create books that will teach, but that are also lots of fun. Many of the kids who’ve tested these books are especially fans of Beowulf, a lively and cute fox terrier whose face can be found on quite a few pages!

The Science of Seasons books have been a labor of love and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make them possible! A huge thank-you goes to my husband for making this all possible, my mom & dad for all their encouragement, and my friend Beth for her hawk-eyed proofreading! I’m also so thankful for all my testers – the moms and kids who read and worked through the books before they were available to the public and gave their wise suggestions with a huge dose of enthusiasm!

Now here comes the hard part: spreading the word!

I need your help to make this series successful so that I can write and illustrate more books. Please tell your friends and share our happy news of the books on your blogs and social media. If you read either of the books, please consider leaving a review on, Goodreads, and/or my store.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for more books in the series!

A Sneak Peek!

I’m getting close to finishing The Science of Seasons Learn-and-Play Activities book!

Here’s the rough draft front cover:The Science of Seasons Learn and Play Activities book


Here is the rough draft back cover:


It’s 142 pages long, so I’m going to change the “Over 100 pages!” quote to something bigger like “Over 140 pages!”, lol.

It’s chock full of fun activities and will be sold in both a softcover and PDF format. In fact, I just finished testing my new online store that will be up-and-running sometime next month! I’m so excited to share all of my hard work with you! I’ll post more sneak peeks very soon!

In other news, I started an illustration blog that will be dedicated to illustration, art and self publishing topics. Those topics are a little different flavor than this blog, so I decided those types of posts needed their own home. You can take a look here! If you want to follow my work as an illustrator and read about me babbling about Photoshop or Prismacolors or some such, feel free to subscribe to those posts at the link above. :-)