Monday, March 30, 2015

Circle C Milestones: Thick as Thieves Review - TOS Crew

Thick as Thieves Book Review
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See my Disclosure for more information.

Circle C Milestones has hit a grand slam with regards to their wonderful Andrea Carter book, Thick as Thieves! When I saw this review come up, I was hopeful that my daughter would enjoy it, but also knew that she didn't really enjoy reading. So when the book arrived I was a little nervous about it. All my nerves were set at ease when she opened it up and began reading Chapter 1. From day one she jumped in and devoured this book! One of her favorite subjects to study is US History. Set in the 1880's this book was able to take her love of history mix it up with some Christian fiction and produce an instant hit of a book!

As a homeschool mom, I think one of my biggest challenges is finding material that is not only enjoyable to read, but helps fulfill the educational goals that I have for my kids. Susan K. Marlow hit the nail on the head with this book.  My daughters have wanted to move a farm house for quite some time, with a strong desire to have some horses. Even though the time period was different, my daughter really found herself relating to Andi Carter. She also enjoyed learning about ranching in California in the late 1800's in the process.  We studied a little bit of California history last year, and that helped her enjoy this book even more. Overall she thought this book was great.

We also received a digital copy of a study guide to use as we went through the book. It was a great way of testing comprehension, as well as a wonderful opportunity to make time to talk about what was going on in the book. The study guide was broken up to cover three chapters at a time, and then had different sections in it. Here are some of the sections: Vocabulary, Grammar, and Idioms, Characterization, Thinking about the Story, Synonyms and Antonyms, 1880's Arithmetic, Cattle Rustling then and now.....There were also crossword puzzles, timelines, as well as additional activities just for fun! The additional activities include: How to keep a journal, writing a dime novel, how to memorize scriptures, and posters for the scriptures you have memorized. There are also opportunities to stop for a moment and memorize scriptures throughout the study guide!  How awesome is that?! My only problem was getting her to stop reading long enough to take a look at the guide, but it was so worth it!  The study guide is nicely prepared and easy to use, making this a great book for your homeschooler. They have provided an answer key at the back of the study guide for easy access to you as a homeschool parent.

I loved this book! It was great for me to see my daughter diving into learning and enjoying it so much. I am thankful for the opportunity to review this book and feel like it was a huge benefit to my child. She has struggled in the past with learning and so seeing her walking around with a book and a smile on her face was more than I could have ever expected! 
Koru Naturals Review

Friday, March 27, 2015

Proverbial Pearl

Proverbs 27: 19
"Just as water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart. "
On a calm peaceful day you can see a clear reflection of yourself in water. What do the actions of your life reflect about your heart? Are we a true reflection of Christ?
My daughters and I have been discussing this thought throughout the week. I know that my desire is to always honor God with my life, and I wanted to hear from them how they see the reflection of their life. It has been so sweet listening to their hearts as they share about their desire to be a true representation of Christ to this lost and dying world!
The fact of the matter is this.....we won't always get it right 100% of the time, but we should always keep our accounts short with God and with those around us.
The girls shared about the sermon they heard this past week at youth. (Props to Pastor Drew!!) How selfish we can become if all we think about is "if only".  If only, I could have this....or that.....
The reflection of our heart when we are stuck in that mindset does no one any good, especially not ourselves.
I pray that my life is a reflection of a different mindset. One that states, "even if...."
Even if, I am struggling. Even if, I feel my prayer wasn't answered the way I wanted. Even if, I don't understand the situation I am in, I will serve God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength!
When the actions of your life reflect that thought process, God will be pleased! So think about it.....what do people see in the reflection of your life? Most importantly.....what does God see in the reflection of your life?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dancing Through It {Review & Giveaway}

 This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog and homeschool!
See my Disclosure for more information.
3 Girls, My Guy, and I would like to thank Family Christian bookstores for gifting us a copy of Dancing Through It in exchange for an honest review. Dancing Through It is a wonderful book that anyone can relate to.
From the start of the book you will be drawn in. It feels as if you are sitting with a dear friend discussing your life over a cup of coffee. Jenifer Ringer is so open and honest as she relays the events of her life as she becomes interested in ballet, and then successful in the art. I found myself full of emotions as I read this wonderfully written book.
Jenifer was very dedicated to her ballet. Aside from her studies, she spent the rest of her time learning ballet. I found her "never quit" spirit an inspiration as I read her story. I also found that I related to her struggle with her weight. She shares very openly about eating disorders and the strength of faith it takes to overcome something so daunting. I too struggled with an eating disorder as a teen, and found myself cringing as she mentions earlier in the book about the first time she remembers food making her happy.
Something else I related to was her relationship with God at such a young age. Her parents were very active in their church, and Jenifer was as well. Even though her family moved around a little bit, they always got involved in church immediately after moving. I love that! I know that led to her strong faith in God, despite the crazy events that happened in her life.
My parents were pastors and we moved around a bit, but I know that my relationship with God is what kept me strong in my faith no matter what came my way.
She also shares about how she met and fell in love with her husband. You will love the wedding dress story!
Although this book is all about her life as it related to ballet, you don't have to be a ballet enthusiast to love this book. I found reading Dancing Through It was like a breath of fresh air! The sweet honesty held within is refreshing. It was hard to put down!

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Lord Heritage: HomeSchool Office Review - TOS Crew

HomeSchool Office Review
 This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog and homeschool!
See my Disclosure for more information.
I was excited when I got the opportunity to review the HomeSchool Office, by Lord Heritage.
I don't know about you, but what I find the most challenging part of Homeschooling my kids is keeping track of everything. You have to track attendance, curriculum, fill out their planners, build lesson plans, etc. The task is daunting to say the least. Sometimes I have felt less than able to manage such a large task.
This is what I know, I know that I want to homeschool my kids, but I also want to make sure that what I am doing is best for them. I want to set them up for success, and have the documentation necessary when it comes time to build their highschool transcripts. That is where Lord Heritage, HomeSchool Office comes into play. This online homeschool tracking system is top notch! They have truly thought of everything. This is such a complete product, that an entire private school could benefit from it!
What I found when I logged into the HomeSchool Office, by Lord Heritage was a self-contained HomeSchool Office!  Just like it's name!  With this product you are able to build lesson plans, calendars, track product information, and much, much more.  You will never wonder what each child is working on again.
Once you load the lesson plans into the system, it will track everything for you.

I love that you can track grades for every child.  You can also track their progress, as well as  add the weight of each assignment so that grades are tallied accurately. So whether your child is a first grader or a freshman, you can keep track of their grades on each assignment all in one place. This is definitely a great HomeSchool Management system!

This homeschool management system helps track when assignments are complete as well.  You as the administrator will have a master schedule, but what your students see is their individual lesson plans without the clutter of the rest of their siblings lessons.

It is not difficult to navigate through loading all the information, and once you load info, it is easy enough to change if necessary. I only have 2 children that I am homeschooling and found the benefit, but some of my friends with four or more kids I believe this is a must have. You will have everything for each child right at your fingertips!

Another great feature you will find is the opportunity to build reports based on need. If you would like to pull an attendance report, it is as easy as one, two, three!  (So to speak!)
My bottom line?  Well, I have to say this is a great product! I found it a bit much to load everything into the system to get going with it, but after that was done, the product works for you. Isn't that what we really want. As a homeschool mom, I understand that products, especially good products will cost some money, but after that it should work for you.  This one does! This will be a benefit to your homeschool for as long as you use it!
Enjoy! Lord Heritage, HomeSchool Office!  You will love it!
 HomeSchool Office Review

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Editor in Chief Level 2, The Critical Thinking Co. Review - TOS Crew

Critical Thinking Company Review
This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog and homeschool!
See my Disclosure for more information.
For this review I received a copy of Editor in Chief Level 2 for my 7th Grader to use from The Critical Thinking Company. We used it every day in class as a supplement to what she was already doing in English.
This is a great supplemental workbook for working on your editing skills. 
It covers the following topics:
content, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, adjectives, adverbs, articles, conjunctions, prepositions, interjections, pronouns, verbs, clauses, phases, agreement, confused word pairs, negative words, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments.
Critical Thinking Company Review
You don't have to want to be an editor to need the skills found in this book!  What you find when you open up the book is a simple grammar practice skill on every page. After learning a simple lesson, they are ready to put it into practice on the activity page. The goal of this book is mastery, which is what we all want for our children. We desire them to be able to master every skill in this book.
Where my daughter struggled with this book is that she has some reading comprehension issues. So it was a struggle for her to slow down long enough to grasp the concept on the page and then put it into practice. I didn't find that to be a negative to the use of this book though. She needs to slow down and sometimes re-read what is being expected of her, and this book required her to do just that.
Her favorite part was the content part. In this section you read an article that has all the facts, grammar, punctuation, etc. correct and then you look at the article with incorrect changes to it. You have to find all the mistakes in second article. She felt very much like a super sleuth as she hunted down all the changes in the second article. It was so great to watch her work as she was having so much fun! She has struggled in school most of her life, and finding her having fun in school doesn't happen all the time, so this was great!
Overall, we loved Editor in Chief Level 2. You will find several review pages throughout the book. I like that they pause and check to make sure that your student is still on track. With these checks, I also was able to see where she may still be needing some extra help in certain areas. I found that even though we had already covered  a certain area, a little extra practice never hurts! 
As she was working through this book I had the thought that this is wonderful to go along with your lessons, but it is also great as a refresher book, and may work nicely as a summer workbook to maintain grammar skills over the long break.  I don't know if any of you do that, but the lessons are short enough that it would be a great second use for the book!
Parents, don't worry!  The answers are in the back, so that is helpful too for when you are trying to check work!
Critical Thinking Company Review

Are You a Bubbling Brook?

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See my Disclosure for more information.

My family and I have taken a little time away for spring break. Although it hasn't really started the way I had hoped, since I was not feeling well for most of the trip so far, I am still trying my best to make the most of it.
There is something special about being away from your normal routine and being able to sleep well past the time your alarm usually alerts you that the beginning of your day has just happened!  You get to set your own schedule, enjoy each other more, and only cook if you want to! 
This morning as the rest of my family was still sleeping I took some time to sneak off and spend some time with God. As I was reading my devotion I came across a verse that caught my attention. Proverbs 18:4 says, "Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook."
Well, this one thing I know about myself, I have not always made the wisest decisions. There have been times I have spoken in haste instead of asking for wisdom. There have been times I thought I knew the best way to do things! Or how about this one, sometimes I will make a bad decision and then when it all blows up in my face, I cry and ask God why he didn't help me with it in the first place!!  (Has this ever been you?)
I am so thankful that God has always been there with me, and will answer when I call. He longs to give me instruction and guidance as I need it!  I found a verse in my Bible which over the years has been highlighted in two different colors, underlined in pen, and has a star at it's beginning. When I find a verse like that I know it has spoken to me a time or two!!  :-)   It's James 1:5 which says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  Woooohoooo!!  That is something to shout about!!  All we have to do is ask, and our God gives generously without finding fault! 
So.....That is my prayer today. I pray that God continually fills me with wisdom until it flows out of me like a bubbling brook! Just as a bubbling brook feeds everything around it and causes it to grow, I too want to be a source of encouragement, hope and love to those around me!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Texas K-9 Unit Series Books 1-3 - Review and Giveaway: Flyby Productions

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See my Disclosure for more information.
Did you grow up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Mysteries?  I did!  Those types of books were what I spent all my spare time reading when I was in grade school.  For me, even today, there is nothing better than a suspense/mystery. I usually get my "fix" on TV, but I received a pleasant surprise when I started digging into this series. As a child I would get pulled into the story and nothing could distract me until I had consumed the entire book. That could be why Texas K-9 Unit Series Books 1-3 were such a fun read for me.
I read book 1 of the series for this review and it was spectacular!!  I sat down with a cup of coffee and the book, and consumed the entire book in a matter of hours. It is a masterfully written mystery intertwined with stories of faith, hope, and love. The main characters are developed beautifully which helps the story flow smoothly throughout the length of the book. The plot of the story is believable which helps you put yourself in the characters shoes. There is also a sweet love story that develops as you continue through the storyline. I have all girls, and I would have no problem having them read these books. Although there is a love story that flows throughout the book, there is nothing inappropriate or surprising about it.
As an adult, I had really gotten away from fiction, but these books are a great choice when it comes to Christian fiction! I am so glad that I took the time to invest in reading these wonderful books. They draw you in from the very beginning and keep you held in suspense to the end. I have no doubt that you will enjoy these books. I am buying a set for my daughters to read as well.  These stories take you on a journey and shows that even in difficult situations, God is there. These are a must for lovers of Christian Fiction!!
 About the authors:
Shirlee McCoy
Shirlee McCoy has always loved making up stories. As a child she daydreamed elaborate tales in which she was the heroine — gutsy, strong and invincible. Though she soon grew out of her superhero fantasies, her love for storytelling never diminished. Shirlee knew early that she wanted to write inspirational fiction and began writing her first novel when she was a teenager. Still, it wasn't until her third son was born that she truly began pursuing her dream of being published. Three years later she sold her first book. Now a busy mother of four, Shirlee is a homeschool mom by day and an inspirational author by night. She and her husband and children live in Maryland and share their home with a dog and a guinea pig.
Margaret Daley
Margaret has been writing for over 35 years. She started writing in the late 1970s because she wanted to see if she could put a whole story down on paper. That book is still in the drawer and will never see the light of day. But she was able to finish a book, which was her goal. She loved teaching and working with students with special needs, and recently retired from teaching to write full-time. When she isn't working, she loves to read, travel, and go to lunch and a movie with a friend. She and her husband, Mike, to whom she has been married for over 40 years live in Tulsa. Besides teaching and writing, she is also a mother of one. Her son, Shaun, is married with four daughters.
Sharon Dunn
Sharon Dunn first fell in love with mystery and suspense about the time she read Nancy Drew mysteries in the fifth grade. Her first book in the Ruby Taylor mysteries Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves was a finalist for the Romantic Times Inspirational Book of the Year. The second book in that series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. Her hobbies include reading, working out, hiking, trying to find things around the house and making pets out of the dust bunnies under the furniture. Before she started writing, she used to sew. Now she just collects fabric and patterns and fantasizes about projects. After nearly twenty seven years of marriage, Sharon lost her beloved husband in 2014. She lives with her three nearly grown children, two cats and a nervous border collie named Bart.

Here is a coupon to use if you decide to purchase
any of the Love Inspired Suspense Books.
Also, please enter for a chance to win a copy of
"Protection Detail" by Shirlee McCoy

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mother Should I Trust the Government - FreedomProject Education Review - TOS Crew

Freedom Project Education Review
Freedom Project Education Review
This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog and homeschool!
 My two girls and I had the opportunity to sit through the online class offered by FreedomProject Education,(, Mother Should I Trust the Government, which is one of the great 2015 classes offered.   FreedomProject Education is an accredited online school offering: affordable classes, live instruction, classical curriculum, with Judeo-Christian values. You will find no Common-Core curriculum here! The oldest of the two girls who took this class is sixteen and the younger is 13. The class met every Monday night from 7-9 pm Eastern time for 8 weeks. I know that when I told them the topic we were going to be studying, they weren't really sure what to expect.....
On the first night we got all prepped and ready. We put on our comfy sweats, we got out our notebooks, pens, accompanying book, laptop and of course 3 spoons and a 1/2 gallon of ice cream!!  (It was my all time favorite.....Death by Chocolate!!!)  As we dove into class on the very first day, it didn't take us long to figure out that we already loved it!  What's not to love!? Dr. Jake Jacobs was not only intelligent and well-learned, he was easy to relate to and very personable. He made sure that he included all the students online, and made them feel a part of the classroom. From the start we were in love with this online learning experience!
My sixteen year old daughter has been studying the formation of our country in history class this year, and this class was a wonderful addition to what she was already learning. The subtitle of the book says it all.....The Making and Keeping of Our American Republic. Dr. Jacobs writes in much the same manner as he teaches, very authentic and sincere. We loved that fact too. It really helps to hold your attention and makes you not want to miss a single class.
The accompanying book was the only homework really. We were required to keep up with the reading, so we could participate in class. The book is packed with great info about the forming of our American Republic, and those who were played an intricate part of that process. The book, as with the class, is full of witty and humorous remarks as well as political cartoons, and helps to solidify the knowledge gained during the classroom time. 
When I asked my daughters for a quote this is what they had to say:
Bridget (16 yrs. ) - I thought the class was great! I learned a lot every week. Dr. Jacobs really knows what he's talking about. He has a great way of keeping all of our attention, and he is pretty funny. I'm really glad I was able to take this class, It really helped me understand our country and the political parties of the day.
BrylieJo (13  yrs.) - I thought it was pretty fun! Dr. Jacobs is interesting and funny. He made it pretty cool to go to online school at night!  Although I didn't always understand what he was talking about, he stopped and explained when we asked questions. That was so helpful!
In summary, I have never been a highly political person. I have done my job and voted, and tried to vote according to my biblical beliefs. I fear that it was not enough. In fact, I dare say that my parents and my grandparents might have needed to do more to assure that the Republic that was entrusted to them before I was born, would be preserved for my generation as well as my children's ......but the problem really does go farther back than that.
Our Republic is a mere shadow of what it was formed to be.  So what does that mean? It means that we pray and continue to do what we can to preserve this great nation under God.  It is up to us to educate ourselves. This was a great step in the right direction for us. I believe our political education really had a jump start with this wonderful class!
Freedom Project Education Review

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses [Review & Giveaway]
A Family Christian Review and Giveaway!
Many thanks to Family Christian for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this honest review and post. 
Official Family Christian Blogger
About the author:
Chris Bruno (PhD, Wheaton College) is professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Northland International University in Dunbar, Wisconsin. He previously served as executive director and academic dean of the Antioch School Hawaii. He is coauthor (with Matt Dirks) of Churches Partnering Together.
About the book:
This book comes at the Bible in a whole new way. The author has chosen 16 key verses that show the common theme of redemption and how it courses through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
In the Preface he writes:
"Some biblical theology books are forest books. They paint with broad strokes, showing us the main parts from one section of the Bible or even the big picture of the whole Bible. These kinds of books help us see the overall shape of the Bible's main themes. Other biblical theology books are tree books. They take one tree - either a theme or a passage from the Bible - and carefully saw it apart, count the rings, and then give us a thorough explanation of how that particular tree fits into the forest. But there aren't a lot of books - especially shorter books, like this one - that are both forest and tree books.
This book is an attempt to see the forest by looking at the trees (verses or passages)."
As you begin reading you will see that this book is split into two parts.
Part 1 - Goes into detail about the creation of man and the role we play on this earth. It also describes the need for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to come to earth as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. As the author takes us through each verse, he highlights the fact that we are never without hope.
Excerpt - "After they ate the fruit, they knew they were naked and experienced shame and even fear that comes from such nakedness. So they make loincloths for themselves. They wanted to cover themselves, to hide from each other, and to hide from God. But their pitiful garments could not hide their sin from God. He found them and pronounced judgment upon them.
But even in the midst of this darkness, we find notes of hope. God did not leave Adam and Eve naked Genesis 3:21. He provided them with clothes, and in so doing, he gave them a picture of the redemption he would provide for them."
Part 1 - The Time is Coming
Creation - Genesis 1:31
Human Beings - Genesis 1:27-28
The Fall - Genesis 3:6-7
Redemption Promised - Genesis 3:15
Abraham - Genesis 12:2-3
Judah the King - Genesis 49:10
The Passover Lamb - Exodus 12:23
King David - 2 Samuel 7:12-13
The Suffering Servant - Isaiah 53:6
Resurrection Promised - Ezekiel 37: 3-5
New Creation - Isaiah 65:17
Part 2 - Summarizes the fulfillment of the redemption of God's creation. "Jesus is the One through whom all of these promises find fulfillment, first in his sacrificial death as a necessary and just payment for sin and then in his victorious resurrection and reign as King. This great story will find its culmination when the redeemed from every tribe, tongue, and nation gather in the new creation to live with God forever."
Part 2 - The Time Has Come
Fulfillment! - Mark 1:14-15
The Cross - John 19:30
Resurrection - Romans 1:3-4
Justification - Romans 3:21-26
Glory - Revelation 21:1-4
My Take Away:
This book is pretty short, only having 127 pages, but still manages to cover the story of the Bible pretty completely. Yes, it leaves out all the lineages, the parables and lots of other stories......BUT what it does do, is manages to pretty much in detail share the main theme of the Bible, that God created us, loves us, and provided a way of escape from death into life everlasting!
The author states in the preface of the book that his goal is not to gather as much information about the Bible and shove it all into one book. His goal was to trace a particular theme or overall storyline throughout the entire Bible, and that he does.
Although this book is not an end all for biblical theology, it is definitely a jumping off spot. This is a way for you to get your feet wet without feeling overwhelmed by dates and details. Hopefully this book will help you acquire a love for biblical study!

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Homemade Pizza Family Night!

Last weekend we had a Homemade Pizza Family Night! We all had so much fun, so I thought I would share it with you.

My goal on family night is that everyone is together and interacting with each other. I love cooking, so I absolutely love it when the whole family is in the kitchen helping make dinner!
Take a look at the first picture. I guess they don't always appreciate it when I start snapping pictures! I think she may have forgotten the well known fact that when you cover your eyes.......we can still see you!  (Bless her heart!)


Barb's Homemade Pizza Recipe
1 pkg yeast
1 cup water @120^  (This will cause the yeast to start working!)
2 TBS Olive Oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (If you use whole wheat flour you may need to add a little extra water. The whole wheat seems to make a drier dough which isn't as easy to press out.)
Italian Seasoning - To taste
1/4 tsp salt
Then add any toppings that your family likes.
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
Bell Peppers
Hot Peppers
Directions:  In a large bowl empty the packet of the yeast. Heat up water to 120^ and pour 1 cup on top of the yeast. Stir around until you see the yeast activating. (Don't make it too hot or you will kill the yeast.)                                                                                  
Once you see the yeast activate add 1 1/2 cups of flour, olive oil, and any seasonings you want in the crust. Mix well.

We really like to season our crust up a bit!
Then turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead in the remaining flour. The dough should be moderately stiff, but smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
Here is my dough resting!
After your dough has a chance to rest. Then give each family member a portion and let them make their own crust. It is a fun way to get everyone involved!  I make sure to cook the crust a little bit before adding sauce or toppings.
Crust cooking a little before toppings. Make sure to poke little holes in it and you won't get any bubbles in your crust!

Then let the fun begin!!!  Allow everyone to top their pizza with whatever they like on their own pizza.

This is such a fun night! I wish I would have remembered pictures of the pizzas when they were done! Not only tasty......but beautiful!!
 Crust Directions:  In a large bowl empty the packet of the yeast. Heat up water to 120^ and pour 1 cup on top of the yeast. Stir around until you see the yeast activating. (Don't make it too hot or you will kill the yeast!) Once you see the yeast activate add 1 1/2 cups of flour, olive oil, and any seasonings you want in the crust. Mix well. Then turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead in the remaining flour. The dough should be moderately stiff, but smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit for 10-12 minutes.