Science Fun- Making a Cell Cake


Marcus is studying life science this year, and for the past two weeks has been studying cells. He was challenged to make his own cell model in any form he chose. He thought a cell cake sounded like the most fun.

cell cake pics (6)

Marcus used the following supplies for his cell cake: 1. A cake mix (any flavor, ours was devil’s food) 2. A round cake pan (8″ or 9″. Ours was 9″ from the dollar store) 3. White frosting and a butter knife or spreader 4. Various candies (He chose from the selection at the dollar store) 5. Toothpicks 6. Sticky tabs 7. A diagram of a labeled cell model, as a reference. We used the one in his science book, but a google search works too.

cell cake pics (7)

The first thing we did, of course, was make up the cake. We did end up baking two 9″ cakes as we thought there was too much batter for just one. While the cake was cooling, Marcus made up little flag labels for his cell cake, using the sticky tabs and the toothpicks. He simply used the sticky part of the tabs to wrap around the toothpick, holding it in place. (He did ask me to write two of the cell parts as they were three words each, and he thought he couldn’t write small enough.) One thing Marcus did that I thought was helpful to him was to place each flag label on the candy he would use to make up the corresponding element.

cell cake pics (9)

Once the cake was completely cooled, he frosted it with vanilla frosting.

cell cake pics (11)

Then he set about creating each element that he was including on his cell model and placing them one by one on his frosted cake. He inserted the flags where they belonged and…

cell cake pics (12)

Ta-da! He now had a cell cake! (This was a model of an animal cell by the way.)


Sunday Quotes (Obedience)




This quote was used in the Gospel Principles class today at church (that’s a type of Sunday School class in my church). The topic was obedience and we were asked to ponder why we are obedient. Are we obedient because we fear the Lord and the consequences if we do not keep His commandments? Or are we obedient because we love the Lord? Do we pick and choose which commandments to keep, justifying our choices? How does the world influence our obedience? What blessings come from our obedience? Things to ponder.

Weekly Nutshell


It’s been a while since I’ve posted a weekly nutshell. These are the highlights of this week here at Happy Hearts:

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender (1)

Our week started with a science experiment. Simply put a raw egg in a dish covered with vinegar and see what happens. After only a few hours, our eggshell had started to dissolve.
After a couple of days, the vinegar had stripped away the eggshell leaving the egg naked. An egg is one cell so this is a good experiment when your kids are learning about cells, as Marcus is right now with his online science class.


On Tuesday we learned that Elder Richard G. Scott had passed away. This year three of our Twelve Apostles passed away. There will be new apostles introduced at this upcoming General Conference, October 3rd and 4th. I invite any of my readers to watch it, even if you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. General Conference is very special. It’s a time to listen to our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors who make up the First Presidency, plus each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, all righteous men who have all been called of God to be special witnesses of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Other church leaders speak as well and each talk is uplifting and delightful to the soul. The music is beautiful and you will hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing. There are four general sessions, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each will be streamed live from


Wednesday was my birthday, so we cut our homeschool day short when my husband came home early from work to take us out to a late lunch/early dinner at Mimi’s Café. Then we walked around the mall and did a little shopping, mostly at Bath and Body Works, where both Marissa and I splurged on some fall scented pampering products. We couldn’t help ourselves! (And that’s why I can only shop there on occasion.) Back at home, we watched Disney’s newest Cinderella that recently came out on DVD/Blu-ray and indulged in chocolate cake. I was also spoiled with gorgeous flowers and a teddy bear from my husband, and three new Spooky Town buildings to add to my collection. 🙂


As part of our history studies this week, we’ve been following current events with Pope Francis on his U.S. visit. We’ve been learning the history of the popes as well as the life of Pope Francis.


More to come- Marcus will be making his own model of a cell this weekend. His sister wants to help him since it involves baking a round cake. Happy weekend to anyone reading this, and thank you for being here. It means a lot. 🙂

Curriculum Finds- Online Science Resources


We are passionate about science at our house so I thought I’d share some online resources we’ve recently discovered:

Science Fun For Littles

If you have a preschooler, head on over to Stir the Wonder where Samantha has some fun science activities.

KidZone has a super simple science section for preschoolers up to fifth graders. They also feature animal fact pages. This page is about polar bears.

Science News

Science Daily is a really cool science website that can help your kids keep up with the latest happenings in modern day science. Check out this story, with a video, that shows off a Lego model of the Vatican! (The first link is about an invisibility cloak!)

Free Science Textbooks offers free online science textbooks. My son is using their Life Science for Middle School textbook this homeschool year. All you have to do is create a free account and then you can download any of their textbooks. Web-links are included.

Science Videos

Have your child check out one of the fun discovery videos on National Geographic Kids.

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom led me to a new YouTube channel called, Bringing Smart Back. These clever videos are produced by super cute Keilee, who is a homeschooler. My kids love her videos so I bet your kids will too. Below is our favorite video so far:

What are your favorite online science curriculum/resources? I’d love to hear about them.

The Hardest Part of Homeschooling For Me


I think Jamie and her contributors over at Simple Homeschool were inspired when they started a series where moms share their hardest part of their homeschool year. I debated what I wanted to share and the first thing that came to my mind was our rather unique lifestyle…

Collage (2)

For example, last year we moved back and forth between our permanent house in Utah and our temporary apartment in Peru (where my husband was employed at the time), twice, dividing our homeschool year into two-parts Utah and one-part Peru. It was a little nutty to say the least. I was toting curriculum back and forth in my suitcase, and each move meant settling in before we could attempt to pick up where we had left off. I had this whole idea of how I wanted that homeschool year to progress, but in the end I had to flow with our gypsy lifestyle, sometimes letting go of my perfect (only in my mind) plans.

At least this year we will be back and forth between neighboring states instead of two different countries! 😉

The truth is, we have embraced this way of life so it’s not the hardest part of my homeschooling. But I do think the two are related.

What’s hardest for me is that I have never had a support network for homeschooling except for my husband and my children.

I don’t have a single extended family member who cheers on my homeschooling. I don’t mind so much the silly concerns some have shared with me, but several have been openly critical (as recently as last week!) and that stings just a bit, especially since I have never critiqued anyone’s parenting. I am the sweet one in my family! I am the one who mails out Valentine and Halloween cards to my nieces and nephews.

And while I have some amazing friends who accept the fact that I homeschool (I think they see it as one of my quirks), I have never had a true homeschooling friend. In real life I’ve only known a handful of homeschooling moms and I guess we just didn’t click? We were more acquaintances than friends, and then of course, one or the other of us moved away.

We are the only homeschoolers in our home base neighborhood so we are a novelty there. I dread every conversation that comes up about our homeschooling because I feel like a bug under a microscope!


I started this blog as a way to connect with other homeschooling moms out there. It’s not the same as having a real-life (what I mean is someone I personally know outside the virtual world of blogging) homeschooling friend, but it does help. I try to encourage and support other moms out there because I know homeschooling isn’t always easy, but I also know it’s worth it.

Most mornings I say a prayer of gratitude to my Heavenly Father and I often focus on the blessings of homeschooling, especially the extra time it gives me with my kids before they grow up and leave home.

I know I am blessed to have the love and support of my husband. He works hard to provide all we need temporally so that I can stay home with our kids and learn beside them. (I love learning beside them!)

Our lifestyle is unique and most of our family and friends don’t know what to make of it, but it’s ours and I treasure it.

Our Favorite Read Aloud Books


We love books at our house and one of life’s sweet little pleasures is curling up beside your child and reading together. Today I want to share some of my family’s favorite read-aloud books with you.

Of course we are big Dr. Seuss fans. We have a library of hard cover Dr. Seuss books that I’m now saving for my future grandchildren.

Dr. Seuss


We really like Little Critter.

Little Critter


When we lived in Canada, we fell in love with all the zany stories by Robert Munsch. These are a lot of fun to read aloud to children of all ages.



Other story books we read together when my children were younger include:

The Rainbow Fish, Marcus Pfister

Rainbow Fish


Corduroy, Don Freeman


The Biggest Pumpkin Ever, Steven Kroll

Biggest Pumpkin Ever


Just to name a few!

During the elementary years, we read some of these inspiring classics:

The Tale of Desperaux, Kate DiCamillo

Tale of Despereaux

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Secret Garden

The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting

Doctor Dolittle

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Phantom Tollbooth

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Charlotte's Web


The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

Chronicles of Narnia


Wonder, R.J. Palicio (This one I recommend for upper elementary age.)



On family road trips we read the first three Harry Potter books.

Harry Potter


This past homeschool year I enjoyed reading, The Hobbit, with my 12-year old son and, The Princess Bride, with my 17-year old daughter.

The Hobbit

Princess Bride


This list is just a snippet, really. 🙂 What have been some of your family’s favorite read aloud books?


Apartment life usually means small, limited space and the apartment we currently call home is no exception. We have a living room, dining room, just-adequate kitchen (with only a parlor table), three bedrooms and two bathrooms.


Homeschooling in this apartment means making-do with the furniture provided for us and finding clever solutions to make up for the rest.

Homeschooling in small spaces post (10)

Marissa was lucky. Her bedroom came with a good size desk. On the other hand, she did not get a dresser. (We ended up purchasing a plastic drawer set for her socks, pajamas, shorts and jeans.)

Since her desk has no shelving, we purchased colorful $3 crates from Walmart and stacked them, creating a make-shift bookcase. Now all of her binders and text books are readily accessible in one place.

Marissa uses this fun desk tray to keep her pens, pencils, scissors, calculator, etc. in one place. If you know us, you know we love to use Mod Podge to decorate things. Marissa decorated her pencil caddy to spice it up. The owl border is ribbon we found at Michael’s in their dollar bins. (The arrow is pointing to a miniature cactus.)


Marcus got a tall dresser in his bedroom, but no desk. Apartment life sometimes means trade-offs and this is one of them.

Homeschooling in small spaces post (2)

So, we have to give the dining room double duty and make it serve two purposes (meal times and homeschool). As you can see I didn’t have a lot to work with. It’s rather a dismal room so I’ve tried to cheer it up a bit.The framed artwork was already there and while not my favorite, has to stay. Since a whiteboard comes in handy, I purchased a medium size one and a table easel to go with it. I used ticky tac to hang up the Dr Seuss posters and banner (from Target’s dollar bins) as well as the wall maps.

Homeschooling in small spaces post (5)

(This is our scripture verse for this week.)


As for a place to store our small library of books, homeschool curriculum we don’t use every day, plus the craft container, science kits, printer paper, etc., I took advantage of this nearby hall closet. (Thankfully there is a pantry in the kitchen that will suffice for food storage.)

Homeschooling in small spaces

Isn’t the line of short stubby pencils cute? My kids gave that to me once as a teacher gift.

To help tidy up the dining table fast for meal times, I created another crate bookcase for a back corner of the dining room. This way we can just scoop everything off the table, stow them away here and have instant access to them the following morning.

(Yesterday morning’s breakfast devotional where the kids watched an episode of Bringing Smart Back. You should check it out!)


And that’s how we have made use of the small spaces in our apartment. Do you homeschool in a small space?