July 28, 2015

With Lee in Virginia~ A Civil War Story of Courage, Honor, and Duty {Product Review}

We have been blessed to be able to have reviewed Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause--audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions. These two stories, wet our whistle for all things G.A. Henty, and we were eager to get our hands on the latest of his stories to be adapted for audio theater by Heirloom Audio Productions to review...With Lee In Virginia.
With Lee In Virginia: Product Review

Product Information

With Lee In Virginia is the third audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions. It's adapted from the book, With Lee in Virginia by G. A. Henty. The story is set during the Civil War and follows 15 year old Vincent Wingfield as he eagerly joins the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. He soon finds himself side by side with the likes of great  Confederate generals including Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson. He learns about what true Christian duty looks like from being around these men and it forces him to take a stand for his country and everything he holds dear--even if it costs him his own life. 

Brought to life with an incredible full original score by Emmy winning composer John Campbell, and voiced by an all star cast including Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Rudy), Kirk Cameron (Fireproof, Monumental, Left Behind series), Brian Blessed (Star Wars, King Lear) and more...this audio theater production is a must have!

With Lee in Virginia is a 2 1/2 hr production geared for ages 6 to adult.

With your purchase of With Lee In Virginia Single Package ($29.97 plus shipping/handling) you will also get access to the eStudy Guide and Discussion starter (digital), a printable copy of the inspirational quote by Robert E. Lee (digital), and the official With Lee in Virginia Soundtrack MP3 download. 

I received With Lee in Virginia (with special bonuses) to review with my family.

How Did We Use This Product?

I admit. We love what Heirloom Audio Productions has done thus far, and we were eager to dive into With Lee in Virginia when it came. Little Britches was especially interested since he had done a pretty extensive study during history this year over the time of the Civil War. When it showed up, we all did a dance.

The easy thing about this product, is you simply pop it into your CD player and begin. The soundtrack immediately fills your mind with a historic time period as you are taken back to where the story begins. My boys liked to play with their toys while they were listening at home, so it was easy to just go for it.

When we began, I pulled up the eStudy Guide and Discussion starter on my Kindle, so I could follow along and ask questions about the story. This new guide now has track numbers noted on the questions so it is easy to figure out what questions go with what part of the story. It was easy to get the download, as I simply visited the link included with my CD and then downloaded from it to my device. I like being able to have it pulled up on my Kindle for quick reference.

As we went along, it was easy to see that Little Britches just wanted me to leave him alone to enjoy the story, so we stopped pausing the story, and I just let him listen.

I really liked that in this study guide, there was a map at the beginning noting the different places from the story so that your child could follow along. And I always like how the study guide is laid out with questions from the story, vocabulary AND extra discussion questions.
Map for You to Follow Along With

from the eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter
Though we were given access to several bonuses, I chose to only use the eStudy Guide at this time. I do plan on reading the With Lee in Virginia eBook in the future.
All the Special Bonuses I received--and are available with purchase of the Family Four-Pack Package

What Are Our Thoughts on This Product?

As with our other Heirloom Audio Productions audio dramas, we love it. Little Britches really listens to the story because he is an audial learner, so he retains so much from what is shared. He remembered studying about many of the battles and men mentioned, which made him enjoy it even more.

I thought it clever that the CD's were blue and grey, matching the colors of each army. I thought the photographs/graphics were stunning and high quality. It added a lot having real historic photos to look at as we went through the study guide. To be able to put real faces with the famous men. I loved that it worked for my Kindle AND my iPhone 6 so I could always have it with me, even if we took the CD's to the car.

Any cons?
Well, I guess my one con is from a frugal family side...paying $30 for this fabulous product, even WITH the special bonuses, is going to be out of the price range of some. It would be mine. But I know that there will be specials offered by companies where you will be able to find it on sale--so keep your eyes open! It will be well worth the money spent--especially if you are homeschooling and like to add in extra historical goodies.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Definitely! Not only will you and your family learn more history, but the deep faith of these men who shaped our history is explored and brought out. These audio dramas are so perfect for long car rides and I have yet to hear one at a higher caliber than what Heirloom Audio Productions has produced!

Want to Know More?

We reviewed the audio theater drama With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions. You have seen what our thoughts were on the product, but what did the other reviewers on my team think? How did they use the study guide and extra materials? Make sure you visit and find out!
With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
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We are so happy to now have three of these incredible productions in our inventory, and they will be great for us to pull out and listen to when we go on our big road trip later this year to Jekyll Island, GA!
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July 27, 2015

Poppins Book Nook...coming soon

It's the last Monday of the month and that means it's time for a new Poppins Book Nook post...I'm running a bit behind, but I will try to have it up soon! While you are waiting you can go ahead and check out what others in our group have put together for our theme of Composers this month!

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July 26, 2015

My Top 5 Must-Have Products for the Canning Season

It's harvest season here on the farm. Our garden is putting out a record number of beets and cucumbers and I am working everyday to keep up with them! Soon it will be the tomatoes and beans turn. We can only eat so many fresh, which means we need to turn to ways to preserve them. While I do freeze some of it, over the last 3 years, I have shifted over to canning our harvest. To anyone who has never experienced it, canning can seem like a frightening venture. But I have learned that with the right equipment, it is actually a very straight forward process that will fill your pantry and cellar with great rewards!

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1. Water Bath Canner

When we made the decision to start growing a harvest for preservation, the first thing we purchased was a Water Bath Canner. I knew that more of our harvest was going to be used for high acid canning products, which meant I needed the Water Bath version first. 

Okay. Crash course lesson. If it has vinegar or a high acid content, it can be processed in a water bath canner--things like pickled products, salsa, and some tomato sauces. If it is something without much acid base (beans, corn, carrots, tomatoes, etc) you have to use a pressure canner instead.

I purchased my canner at Wal-Mart, and interestingly enough, it is identical to the one I grew up seeing my mom use. This is a great inexpensive beginning tool for successful canning! If you know you aren't ever going to do anything but pickles and salsa right now, it's all the canner you need.

2. Pressure Canner

Last year, we experimented with tomatoes and beans, which meant that I needed to go ahead and invest in a pressure canner. I wanted one that would last me for the long haul, so I invested in a solid cast aluminum one from All American. And yes, it's made in the USA which is a great bonus. This one is heavy duty, and it's so easy to use. Simply open the box, read the SUPER detailed directions and go for it.

Pressure canners can also be used for just pressure cooking--making it multi-purpose! Now that I own both types of canners, I can preserve any harvest. I look forward to trying it out on dry beans this year, and of course my tomato sauces. This is a 21.5 quart which is a great size for the amount of canning that I do, but they have smaller and larger volume ones available. 

3. Reusable Canning Lids

I was introduced to these gems a few years ago, then I forgot I had purchased any. One day I found them and I have been using them ever since. They are totally safe for canning (BPA free), AND once you invest in a batch you don't have to throw them out upon opening each jar. Simply toss the lid and rubber ring into a bag to use next canning season.

I highly recommend getting enough for the regular AND wide mouth jars--I purchased 24 of each to get started. They are so easy and yes, they seal well! I like that I know they won't rust like some of the metal ones do. They are so much cheaper in the long run than having to buy new boxes of the metal lids. And if you need to, you can replace the rubber ring at some point. I am going to buy myself another dozen more of each size since I have been using them so much. If you haven't tried them yet, snag a box and just give it a try. They are ideal for high acidic foods like salsa and pickles.

Something else I like, if you get a jar that doesn't seal, you can simply take off the lid and ring, wash them really well, and re-do the process. No throwing any lids away. I usually have 2-4 jars that won't seal...but when I re-process them, I usually get them all sealed the second time.

4. Canning Tools

I wouldn't be able to do my canning half so well if I didn't have a LARGE collection of jars of various sizes, my jar tongs, my magnetic lid grabber, my jar rack, my jar funnel, and my little blue headspace measure. Each of these things plays a vital role in my canning process and I'm lost if I can't find even one of them. Fortunately, you get the Utensil Set when you buy a water bath canner these days--but if you don't have them, you can still buy them individually for less then $10.

5. Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

This is my best friend during canning season. it gives me a play by play on how to can just about any item I could grow AND it is chock full of canning recipes! I use it heavily every single year and am so glad I purchased it two years ago. I have my favorite pages marked and reach for it as soon as the harvest begins.

This year I've made pickles using a recipe from here, and will be doing beets and hopefully relish. I also used it last year when I was canning my beans.

Interestingly enough, compared to my grandmas from years past, it hasn't changed very much through the years! You can find it at most any store that carries canning supplies (I bought mine at Kroger), but you can also find the Ball's Blue Book online.

I hope this gives you a starting place on the things that are useful for setting up your canning supplies. The great thing about canning is that once you set yourself up, there really isn't much additional expense...especially if you go with the reusable lids!
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