Category Archives: Other Media Reviews


The 2014 movie Pompeii is great historical fiction. I have found movies to be a great tool to use in the homeschool. Especially historical fiction.

Pompeii got the boy and me (and his older brother!) discussing the AD79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. We talked about how volcanoes work. We discussed other events of the era. The persecution of the early Christians. The historian Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the event from his Uncle Pliny the Elder’s villa across the Bay of Naples.

The boys, of course, were fascinated by the whole gladiator thing. I love to scrutinize the costumes and settings. And so many ways to die as a volcano erupts. Even though we knew the real ending, we couldn’t help but hope for survivors.

Despite the goofs in period accuracy and geography, we enjoyed Pompeii. It made for good discussion and fun escape.


Homestead Blessings

homestead blessings logo

Homestead Blessings is the website of The West Ladies. They also have put together a series of videos by the same name. These gals live a simple life. They are currently building a little cabin and growing most of their own food. They love to share their homesteading skills and expertise and their videos are very educational and entertaining.

These are just a few of the titles in the Homestead Blessings Collection. These DVDs will inspire you and your children to find new joy in homemaking skills and arts. The West Ladies use simple tools and easily obtained supplies for all their projects. Many include printable instruction sheets.

The blog chronicles their life on the homestead. This includes having to relocate last year, and their trials and successes in raising the money to build a tiny cabin on their new place.

In addition to their DVD collection, The West Ladies offer books, music, and artwork.

  •  In the Homestead Blessings Cookbook, the ladies share some of their favorite recipes.

  • Cecilia has written a children’s book, Bella the Blue Cow Dog. 

  • Vicki invites children of all ages to color in her sketches in her coloring book.

  • The ladies offer 2 CD’s with traditional, Appalachian songs and original tunes. Their family harmonies are uplifting and soothing.

  • Vicki also offers her unique sketches as note cards.

In addition to their DVD collection, a number of learning videos can be viewed on the website and YouTube channel. See the West girls in action:

  • Composting

  • Growing Garlic

  • Holiday Pies

  • Growing Zinnias

Vicki, Cecilia, Jasmine and Hannah are talented, inspiring women. They are preserving and passing on timeless skills, and living a simple, beautiful life. Check out all the free tips on their website, then get their DVDs for some in-depth how-to for homesteading!



Gladius The Show – Review

Two enormous Belgian horses. One large gladiator, with a sandaled foot planted firmly on the back of each. Delicate beings, gracefully performing handstands and other acrobatics on the backs of horses. Chariot races. An elegant goddess, dancing flawlessly with a handsome white Andalusian stallion. “Gladius – The Show” is a breathtaking ballet on horseback.

Yak admiring Director Erik Martonovich and one of the Belgian beauties

Written, produced and performed by Big Horse Productions, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, the most inspiring part of “Gladius” is not just the show, but the fact that the performers have financed the entire production themselves, along with crowd-funding from Kick Starter and some generous private donors. No big corporations with bottom lines, here. Just grass-roots performers, giving audiences their hearts, depending on grass-roots funding. 

Speaking of bottom lines, “Gladius” performers will host a ‘Hoofprints’ clinic in each city they play. Children from boys and girls clubs will be invited to participate in outreach sessions including warm-ups, stretching, group games, equestrian vaulting (acrobatics on horseback) and aerial circus arts. I don’t have details at the moment, but for further info, the email contact is  

Head Horse Trainer and “goddess” Laura Amandis

I don’t normally go to shows with scantily clad actors. My daughter purchased the tickets because we were going to the
Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver and she assured me that the horses would be fantastic. They were. The thing that stole my heart, was watching how willingly they responded to suggestions from their handlers. Not commands, not demands. One could clearly see that these horses and their people were a team. The most stunning and beautiful example of this is Laura Amandis’ dance with her white Andalusian. At the mere movement of her hand, or the softest suggestion from the lunge whip (which never, by the way, touched the horse), the stallion moved precisely into position, his elegant, curling tail sweeping nearly to the ground, his long mane flowing with his every movement. Even his final bow was executed on the slightest cue from his trainer.

Did I mention the fire? Juggling, spinning and spouting, there is even fire being swallowed. I am not familiar with the art of fire manipulation, so I was dutifully awestruck, watching. I also noticed that the horses weren’t the least bit concerned about it. Now that’s some trust, which only comes from long hours of devoted training.


The show did not end when the lights came up. Afterwards, we were invited to the barn to meet the horses and acrobats. It was exciting to see the 18 hand, 2,000 pound belgians close up. Toddlers in arms reached out to touch their soft noses, while the horses stood patiently, apparently enjoying the attention.

My horse-crazy family loved Gladius – The Show. We give it all thumbs up. For more info on locations, dates and tickets see their Facebook page, or website.


Homestead Blessings – The Art of Bread Making

Watch the West Ladies teach you how to make bread in their cozy homestead kitchen.  With their modest dress, beautiful long hair and colorful aprons, Jasmine, CeCe, Vicki and Hannah make you feel right at home while they explain how to make a number of different hearty, whole grain breads.  I’ve been making my own breads for many years, but I found their cornbread recipe (be sure to watch the video for some special tricks not included in the PDF recipes) to be out of this world.  I will never go back to my old ways of making cornbread!  I also plan to try their hamburger bun/cinnamon roll recipe, now that I’ve seen them do it a few times.

Though I didn’t think I necessarily needed the how-to’s in this video, I really enjoyed the presentation and I was reminded that you can almost always learn something from another’s experience.  Guitar-picking in the background sets the mood for good ole’ country cooking.  The West kitchen set is a homesteader’s dream of honey-colored wood paneling and pantry shelves lined with dozens of canning jars with colorful contents.  I kept looking for the old-fashioned cook stove, but the bread was baked in a state-of-the-art electric range-oven.

The Homestead Blessings Series is a collection of 11 DVD presentations by the West ladies and Franklin Springs Media.  Homestead Blessings – The Art of Bread Making, copyright 2009, is delightful, instructional and entertaining; printable recipes are included.  Vicki and the girls are inspiring to watch.  Canning, gardening, quilting and crafting are just a few more titles for homesteaders or city folk who want to try their hand at these basic survival skills.