Teaching Good Things

Practical Skills for Real Life

Teaching Good Things - Practical Skills for Real Life

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Making and Managing Money
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Learn How to Quilt in Five

Easy Lessons

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What to Do When Your
Daughter Hates Being in the Kitchen

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How to Grow and Use Culinary Herbs

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Top Tips for Traditional Cake Decorating

Top Tips for Traditional Old-School 

Cake Decorating like a Pro

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Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Realistic tablescapes

I love a beautiful table. It says to your guest, “I have been preparing for YOU, YOU are important, YOU are wanted.”

I think about how Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, we will also sit and dine at His feast. Can you imagine???

I love Pinterest and magazines that show decorating ideas, but especially tablescape ideas.  As much as I love them, I know most of them are unrealistic for ordinary people like me.  A limited budget, limited time and limited space in our little house really restricts what I can do with my table.

The important thing to remember is that we can all do something no matter what our budget is.  It is the little touches that make people feel special, make then know they were planned for.

  • Try to add one or two little things to your table during your next feast. It can be as simple as a tablecloth and cloth napkins to some beautiful glasses, all of which can be bought at thrift stores or found in grandma’s cabinets.
  • A few candles, some fresh greens or wild flowers, and/or fruit goes a long way.
  • Keep your eye out for things at thrift stores, yard sales or even things you already have that can be spray painted to match your setting.

So here are a few ideas I have used in the past and a few others I have found online.

This year I made a pumpkin shaped cookie for each person’s place-setting at the Thanksgiving table. I piped their names on… pretty simple. Under the fork were the words to Oh God Beyond All Praising, which was glued to a brown paper. We sang this before we ate.

Although our house is small I was able to push the furniture back and set up two 6 foot tables.  It was a tight fit but it worked for this year!

Build a long wood box, stain and add spanish moss, pumpkins, pinecones, candles, etc.. This is beautiful from Far Above Rubies: Thanksgiving preview...

Love the simple sparkle of gems on the mason jar! -- Wedding Ideas -- Reception Table Decor with #DavidTuteraDIY ~ * THE COUNTRY CHIC COTTAGE (DIY, Home Decor, Crafts, Farmhouse)

Thanksgiving place setting

velvet ribbon table setting

Sweet Sienna: Rich, Elegant and Oh-So Dreamy

Christmas by Jules1278

Our Christmas dinner table last year. I loved how natural, inexpensive, and pretty it was. #Christmas

Make these simple place cards for your next table setting using brown paper lunch bags - perfect for a fall table setting.  Keep them plain or accent with leaves.  Photo tutorial shows you how easy it is to do.

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How to Make a Lego Man Cake

how-to make lego man cake

1 – 8″ round

1 – 9×13

1 – 8″ square

Cut to shape.

Carve arm, then lay it on top of the other one so they are the same size and shape.

‘Glue’ together with buttercream.

Dirty ice with buttercream. Ice head with a bright yellow and then hot knife it to make it smooth. Add hair with a decorating spatula.

This is decorated with a 21 star tip – super easy!

I piped out the parts that needed to be accented before adding the stars.

Lastly, add the black. white and gray accents.

Let the black air dry for a few minutes before adding the white so it won’t bleed.

How to Make an Elephant Cake 

how to make a lego man cake

How to Host a Thanksgiving Feast and Unit Study 

Thanksgiving feast and unit study

Purpose: Fellowship, food, education in the form of an opportunity for our kids to research, study and prepare a presentation about the first Thanksgiving (public speaking skills). Their presentation does not have to be long, detailed or polished.  This is a good starting point for the younger children, even if they only tell one fact.

2 Weeks Before Feast Day

Each family began their own unit study/research.  Each child is asked to dress in character and present something they have learned; it can be a poem, a song, a reenactment, a speech, whatever they want.

Ways to document/incorporate their studies:

  • Make notes on your history timeline.
  • Make a binder or lapbook that can be added to each year.
  • Look on Pinterest for several good ideas for timelines, binders and lapbooks.
  • Look up quotes from William Bradford or others for copy-work.
  • Use words from your reading (or video research) for vocabulary and spelling.

Possible Topics:

  • Characters- William Bradford, King of England, Samoset, etc…
  • Natives or Pilgrims in General
  • The Mayflower
  • Food
  • Life Before the Pilgrims Came
  • Clothing
  • Education
  • Recreation (children’s games)
  • Worship/Faith
  • The Common House
  • How They Built Their Houses
  • Music of the Time – instruments/hymns
  • Weapons
  • Hunting
  • Agriculture


These are a few books and videos our family used for our research.


Free Videos

YouTube is a great, just create a playlist before you have your children watch to avoid ‘trash’ showing up on the sidebar.  This is the list I made, some are educational and some are just for fun. I will be adding to this as time goes on.

Costume Ideas

1 Week Before Feast Day

Plan a menu having each family bring a couple of things, whether you stick to an authentic early American meal or not. It is real interesting to learn what they did have and what they didn’t at that first gathering. Can you imagine “Thanksgiving” without mashed potatoes?

Here are a few pictures from our first annual feast.  I hope we can build on it each year!

Olivia made these beautiful centerpieces for the tables.

We gathered several tables. Thankfully we had a gorgeous day!

Sweet friends!

It was hard to get pictures of the boys. They were busy building new settlements in the woods or playing football!

Our three!

A couple of our husbands lead a time of singing and worship.

The kids did great with their presentations.

A time for giving thanks for another baby on the way!

My girls!!!

6 month pregnant Emma!

Where is Somewhere?

Posted by Olivia

where is somewhere Olivia Brodock

After writing, From a Homeschooler Who Obviously Survived, I’ve received a lot of commentary on the subject of life after schooling. My favorite comment so far has been this:

“What I want to know is does the author have a real job, with benefits that’s going somewhere?”

When I read this, I was excited for two reasons. Firstly, it gave me reason to reevaluate my plan. My 5 year and 10 year plans are detailed road maps to my somewhere. While my two jobs (between 70-80 hours a week), two bi weekly cleaning jobs, monthly non profit work on the board of directors of a crisis pregnancy center and my other ventures may not seem glamorous right now, they are in fact a calculated, well thought out part of my plan.

A job with benefits is all good and well, unless you only have that job to pay the bills, not because you love what you’re doing. Now, I’m all about making wise decisions but no one is going to love every facet of their job, there are some really crumby aspects to every line of work. That said, if you are pursing that “somewhere” then it’s worth it. It’s more than worth it.

As a very real example, I’ll give you myself. I want to own a cooking school for kids who age out of foster care. Did you know, as of 2012, 80% of the prison population in Texas had been in foster care? Did you know that 50-60% of the kids who “age out” of foster care end up on the streets, homeless, in jail or dead, within a year of ageing out? That breaks me. So when I have really long hard days at work, when I’m running an 18 hour day that saw me leaving the house at 5:30 and not coming back to crash till nearly midnight, I can focus on the end goal, the “somewhere”.

I want to go to cooking school in Ireland, it’s highly suggested that you have at least a year of day to day grind in a professional kitchen before you apply to cooking school.  My plan is to work (really, really hard) for that year. Learning everything I possibly can about the business side of the industry. Apply for the school. Wait to be accepted. Attend the school. Tour Europe. Come home. Work in an upscale restaurant while we (my family and I) build a wedding/event barn. The wedding barn will contain a professional kitchen that we will be able to run a catering business out of, that along with the renting out of the facility will provide the funds to build the Big House.  The Big House when finished, will house eight students who have aged out of foster care and need a place to live and real life training. The Big House will have a huge commercial grade kitchen and be a place of hope, a launching pad for these kids who have no options.

The wedding barn and catering business will be run as a full fledged business. The school will be run solely as a nonprofit. The children who come to Valor Farms will be on scholarship. They should complete the course in three months. During those months they will not only be equipped with the skills necessary to work in a real kitchen, but an appreciation for good food, family and faith. And while I haven’t worked out all the details, I am diligently seeking both wisdom and direction, so if you know of anyone who may have valid input, let me know.

My “somewhere” isn’t a plush gig with health and dental. My “somewhere” isn’t a corner office with a view. My “somewhere” is most certainly not retiring at 60 with loads of cash.

No, my “somewhere” is a little country school that empowers young people, who have been neglected by society, to reclaim their future. To show them that their God loves them, that He knows the plan that He has for them, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give them a hope and a future.

Secondly, the comment excited me because it would give me an opportunity to say this: Wherever you think your somewhere is, His somewhere for you may look entirely different than mine.  We can’t be so caught up in seeking security and comfort we forget that life is risky, life is often uncomfortable and hard. Job security, benefits, climbing the ladder are not bad in their own right, but I have more faith in God than social security, more reliance on Christ than Blue Cross Blue Shield. I trust Him enough to follow a calling that I’m quite sure will break my heart, ensure I never marry, and leaves me, a used up old woman, clinging to her Savior for her hope and her future.

Do I have a job with benefits that’s going somewhere? You decide.


olivia brodock

Written by Olivia Brodock, author of No More Wasted Years, and is a chef, peer counselor and board member at a local crisis pregnancy center, writer, missionary and visionary. She lives on beautiful Straight Mountain in North Alabama, where she attempts to carry out the Great Commission with her family.