Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

  • Homemade Magic Shell - I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm... So I was rather excited t...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Felt Pattern Giveaway!

Just in time to treat your little sweetheart to a ♥Valentine's Day♥ surprise, Little Crickets Felt Fun and I are ready for a giveaway!

Last spring I purchased the Little Crickets mailbox pattern.  Well, I have just now gotten around to making it!  The pattern includes more than just the mailbox (with working flag!).  Also included are a shipping box, mail bag, envelopes, stamps, cookies, and shortbread.

I really like my finished mailbox!  I'm not into pink (and I have a daughter and a son), so I change the coloring of the mailbox's details to better fit our family.  I also made it gray, but only because I didn't have white felt on hand, and I wanted to make the mailbox sooner than later!  You might notice my lettering is a bit different than in the other photo.  I would have enjoyed purple lettering with a green blanket stitch, but wanted to use what I had (again), so I went with blue lettering accented in the pink blanket stitch. Though the pattern includes letters, for this I had fun just cutting them out myself.  I have not yet made the rest of the items to go with the mailbox.  Soon, right?

Little Crickets has some cute patterns!

What about you?  Do you like to make felt toys?  Would you like to win a pattern of your own?  Great, because one reader will win one!

To Win:
Mandatory Entry:  Go to Little Crickets shop and leave a comment here telling which pattern you want the most. Make sure I have a way to contact you through your blog or leave an email address.

Additional Entries:  Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!
If you make a purchase from Little Crickets by February 2~5 entries
If you follow my blogs using Google Friend Connect (in sidebar)~1 entry each
If you left any comment on my felt teaser post (before reading this post)~1 entry
If you left a comment on my felt teaser post saying it was a mailbox~bonus 1 entry

Giveaway ends at noon (EST) February 2 so that the winner has time to create a felt toy by Valentine's Day!  The winner needs to reply to me within 48 hours or I will choose a new winner.  Happy sewing!

Carpet Skating

Recently we were carpet skating.  M walked and slid on the carpet using wax paper as "ice skates."  Bare feet work very well since the wax paper sticks nicely!

This is not an orginal idea, but it is fun!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Skin MD Review

I was sent Skin MD Naturals Shielding Lotion to use and review.  It's winter.  My skin is dry, so this was the perfect time to test it out!

Skin MD Natural is a shielding lotion, not just a moisturizer, so it enhances the skin's own natural protective abilities.

My thoughts:
During winter months I have incredibly dry skin around my nose and just inside my ears.  Using Skin MD Shielding Lotion instead of my regular moisturizer around my nose significantly reduced the dry flaky skin.  Some days the skin around my nose appeared normal!  My ears remained somewhat dry, but did improve.

I really like that the shielding lotion can be used on any part of the body, including the face and I would even be comfortable using them on a baby.  The lotion is light and not greasy.  It leaves skin fresh and clean.  Something important for me during most of the year is that their lotions are available with an SPF 15 .  Yet with all of those positive aspects, the difference I saw in my dry skin was the most important to me.

If you have dry skin or eczema, I would suggest you consider a new skin care product!  You can even get free samples by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope.  Check their price listings page at the bottom!

This product was provided for me to use and review.  

Felt Teaser

If you want to take a guess as to what this felt creation could be part of, you can get an extra entry to an upcoming giveaway!  Come back soon to find out what is attached to this heart and for a chance to win!

I will not be posting the comments until after I close them for the new giveaway.  You'll understand when you read about the giveaway.   

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a favorite book of many children. It has colorful pictures and is repetitive, which is important for speech delayed children.  Long before a child's vocabulary is developed, he or she may be able to  say BOOM BOOM or even boo boo as part of the fun in this book.
We made this footprint tree. I painted the trunk ahead of time. Then I painted her foot green and pressed it to the paper.  We created the footprints on the floor, for ease.  The coconuts are M's thumbprints.
With our alphabet magnets I thought we would act out the book. Unfortunately, we made this on construction paper. Our ABC letters are not strong enough to hold the paper to the refrigerator, or even to stay up easily. If your goal is to be able to imitate the book using your magnet letters I would recommend using light-weight paper.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ABC and 123 is a great resource for anyone looking for play, craft, and school ideas for preschool and school-aged children. Live, Learn, Love was featured today!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another Chance...

There is another chance at winning an e-reader! If you go to Bibliophilic Book Blog, you can check it out. Want to hear the best part? You get to choose which ereader you would like!
Can you tell I want an ereader, but just can't justify spending the money? However, I'd love to win one.

Preschool Devotional

The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2 uses the Little Blessings characters to help children through easy-to-understand devotions. Each reading pairs a Little Blessings illustration with a short Bible verse and devotional thought that gets you and your child talking about the simple truths of Scripture. A fun, rhyming prayer completes each devotional. This book is a great way to get young children interacting with Scripture daily to learn of God’s wonderful promises and timeless truths. Previously published as Blessings Every Day.
I was excited for the opportunity to review The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2 from Tyndale Publishers. It is written by Carla Barnhill and illustrated by Elena Kucharik. Though we read an age appropriate Bible daily with our 3 year old, I know that daily application is not our strong point. This does not take place of Bible reading, but supplements it, just like devotions do for adults.
The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2 is what you would expect for a devotional for young children. Each day's reading begins with a Scripture verse followed by a short reading. It ends with a short prayer rhyme (though they don't always begin by addressing God or end with Amen). The January devotion's verse and application begins in Genesis, and it continues in Biblical order, ending with Revelation in December.
This is short enough to keep my three year old's attention. She may not fully understand every aspect of it, but she understands enough that it is worth while. I think this book would still be good for an older child, especially one who desires to read a devotion on his/her own. The pictures are adorable, which is no surprise since it is illustrated by the creator of the Care Bears in the 1980's. I do like this devotion! Since we read the Bible before bedtime, I like to read this before nap time.
Tyndale Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this product for review.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Good Deals

I shop clearance racks. It's just how I shop. JC Penney is the store I probably frequent the most, followed by Boscov's. However, I only go a couple times a year. Earlier this week I took my gift card and enjoyed some shopping in the petite department at JC Penney. THIS IS THE TIME TO SHOP! The fall and winter clothes just went on clearance, so the prices are incredibly cheap and there is a good selection! I never get there when there is a good selection!
How good are the prices? I bought five items, and they averaged $11 each. Since I was shopping in Delaware, it was tax free, too! The sad part? I may need to hem the skirt. It may look a little nicer if it were an inch or two shorter. It's a shame when petite just isn't short enough!
Tonight I went grocery shopping at a store in a different town than usual (and's in Maryland-we live in PA). I had to drop off books at the library, so for convenience sake, I stopped at this grocery store that I don't prefer. (It's actually a very lovely grocery store, but their prices run higher than the store I frequent.) I hit the jackpot though! They had a Penn State items on clearance. They were ridiculously priced, so I bought more than I had intentions to use/give. By the time I got home, I was bursting with excitement and couldn't wait to show Derek. (Despite my excitement, I am not the Penn Stater. I just married one...and may be the mom to one someday.) I also had new uses for them. And my Christmas 2010 shopping has begun!
So this tub (plastic) cost just $2.50! The children are not for sale.
What would you do with it other than store it in the basement for a party? Right now E is loving caring it around and getting in and out of it. I thought we could also store toys in it.
I bought five tubs!! I had a sixth one in my hand, but another shopper took the last (seventh) one, so I offered him the one in my hand, and he accepted it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Confession Time

Yes, that is my son picking up Kix off the floor.  Did you notice his bulging hands?

He did not take them to the garbage...he ate them.

To my credit, I didn't let him take them out of the dustpan.  Now those were dirty!

What nasty things do you let your kids do?  I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Closer by Jim and Cathy Burns is exactly what the subtitle says: Devotions to Draw Couples Together.

This book is different though from a typical couples' devotion.  Instead of having the couple do a nightly (or daily) devotion, it suggests you set aside thirty minutes once a week to complete a devotion as a couple.

That's complete the devotion don't just read it and answer a few quick questions.  The questions are not intense, exactly, but they do require some thinking.  Each week's devotion begins with Scripture followed by a story.  It helps you to have "Faith Conversations" and then gives you space (and lines) to write in the area called "A Step Closer."

If in the past you have thought devotionals didn't go deep enough to help you and your spouse think about your relationship and bring you closer together, this may be for you.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for me to review.

Why Do I Try?

For my husband's 30th birthday, I made a small cake and cupcakes.  (That way we could eat the cupcakes before the birthday celebration without cutting the cake.)

I didn't have muffin liners.  You are supposed to use them!  Half of the muffins stayed in the tin.  It makes good snacking but bad cake!  Although I greased and floured the cake pan, only part of it came out of the pan.  See the big crack?  Yep, I did that.

It was my first attempt at doing anything more than than plain frosting on a cake.  And it wasn't pretty in the end, but hey, I tried.  The sad thing is that Derek's mom makes cakes on the side for weddings, birthdays, and just because.  Hers are beautiful and tasty.  Mine was just tasty.  If she lived closer, I would never have to make another cake!  Oh well.

I do have some frosting left over.  I should practice decorating on a plate or cookie.  We'll see what really happens.

If you want to pity Derek for the cake I made him, you can view it at our family blog.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Anne's House of Dreams~ LMMontgomery Challenge

I'm pleased to say that I have completed another Anne book for the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge.

Anne's House of Dreams was quite lovely.  In this book there was much to read and enjoy.  I wondered if the storyline would continue to be as endearing as the earlier books in the Anne of Green Gables series, and I must say, this might be my favorite!  The passages were descriptive, the characters real, and my spirit lifted as I read it.

Annes House of Dreams"I see happiness for all of you.......  Happiness for you all-though, mind you, I reckon, you'll have your troubles and worries and sorrows, too.  They're bound to come-and no house, whether it's a palace or a little house of dreams can bar 'em out.  But they won't get the better of you if you face 'em together  with love and trust.  You can weather any storm with them two for compass and pilot." ~ Captain Jim (from Anne's House of Dreams page 214)

Despite what I said above, I read with teary eyes more than once.  As I reading this book, I thoroughly enjoyed Anne finding friendship and love with those near her in her new home as a new bride.  She faced sorrow and trouble, along with happiness at the core.  The above quote touched me as I was finishing Anne's House of Dreams.

The books in this series are considered to be children's books, according to libraries.  I don't think I would have appreciated Anne's House of Dreams as a child or teenager.  However, I certainly relate to it now and truly appreciate it.  Anne is a grown woman and married.

I have actually borrowed two more books of Lucy Maud Montgomery's from the library.  Though they sit on my dresser, I have decided I am enjoying this time in Anne's life so much that I want to go on to book 6: Anne of Ingleside from my personal collection (newly added at Christmas) to continue on with the LMM Challenge over at Reading to Know.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coping with Child Illness

We recently went through a bout of the kids being sick.  Stomach illness.  We've gone on to just having colds...not so bad!  Warning: This post may contain too much information followed by what helped us.
E, age 1, vomited twice. Thankfully both times we were on the couch cuddling and I had a blanket on my lap which collected much of the mess. Though there was lots of laundry, and some of it needed to be washed twice, it wasn't too awful.
M, was a little different. God saw it possible to have M wake up with a bellyache. Now she often tells us she is sick (and that her toe or cheek hurts), but since she dry-heaved, I promptly took her to the toilet where she produced nothing.
I decided that she needed to stay home from school, but we still did all of our usual morning routines. She got dressed and then had breakfast. While she was eating her Cheerios, I went upstairs to get E up for the day.
I was about to change E's dirty diaper, when M came upstairs and told me she needed to go potty. I asked if she could do it by herself, and she assured me that she could. However, I immediately heard some bad stuff happening. She had thrown up, too. I was amazed that she mostly hit the toilet! I was so thankful that she had awakened not feeling well and she knew what to do and where to do it.
E was still desperate for a diaper change. M was desperate for a bath. I put her in the tub and got E changed.
And it was only 7:30 in the morning.

What I learned:
1. Put little girl's hair in a bun. A ponytail isn't going to cut could still get, um, messy.
2. Just because a 3 year old has vomited and has a bit of a fever doesn't mean they will be content with clear fluids. My mother-in-law reminded me of the BRAT diet.
R- Rice
M was satisfied with a banana and applesauce, though she had a bit of a freak out that she didn't get to have milk.
3. Pedialyte has freezer pops! I had no idea until December when we got them. M really enjoyed them, complete with mittens. (Mittens only make sense to me. Derek laughs at me.)
4. Little girls do not like the idea of a sick bucket. However, both little boys and little girls like to turn buckets into helmets and become a robot. I was glad she didn't need the bucket for anything but a toy.
I just wanted to share what worked for us in case it can help you. We're fully recovered now, but it's still pretty fresh in my memory. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Sony Pocket Reader

I don't see me buying one soon, but I would be so thankful to win A Sony Pocket Reader from Shauna at Book Giveaways. Enter for yourself too...and let me know if you win!
Just recently I got it in my head that in a few years when prices are low I would really like an ereader. I figure by then, all the versions will be perfect, right?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Elmer's Go Paint! (How I Survived Another Doctor Appointment)

We have recently been sick.  Actually, it's just been the children who have been ill, but it's hard on all of us.  Though M is in preschool four days a week, in the past month I had to take both of the children to the doctor's office.  Together.

Now, I'm sure most moms out there would say, "No big deal.  I take my thirteen children to the doctor's office and don't complain."  Well, from a very young age M's soul purpose when we were in an exam room was to escape.  And you know those doors open easily.  It makes visits to the doctor not so fun.

(I have learned that if I am the one to be examined, especially if I won't be fully dressed, then I cannot have children with me.  It's no fun to chase a child out the door if you are not dressed.)

For about a year my first line of defense has been a portable DVD player.  It does a pretty good job of entertaining M, but only if it's the right DVD.  E, our 1 year old, isn't so interested in TV.

We were given Elmer's Go Paint! for Christmas.  I had never heard of Go Paint before, but liked the idea.  It allows you to "paint" the pictures in the little book with a mess-free powder.  The Go Paint only paints on the special pages, and really it is not paint at all.  On your finger and other surfaces, it just appears as a white powder.

Before allowing M to play with it, I wanted to test it out for myself to see
just how mess-free it was.  I was pleased.

It doesn't truly look like paint.  It looks like colored pencils or pastels, but the pale color does appear after a few seconds.

Though I colored this daisy in my test run, M did use it for the full time we waited for the doctor to come in to the room.  Granted, she went from page to page, not completing any drawings, but she was still occupied.  This will be our new waiting activity.

When I went to Elmer's website, there was a Go Paint! coupon in the bottom right corner for you to click.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet Maud...

I know I have been writing a lot about books recently.  Sorry if you are not interested...but I'm going to write about Lucy Maud Montgomery again.  First I should tell you I should not have so freely called her Lucy in my introductory post to the L.M. Montgomery Challenge.  I've read in two bios that she went by Maud, not Lucy.

I finished Anne of Windy Poplars.  It was a lovely book, written in "letter style" for the most part.  The letters were from Anne to her fiance Gilbert and were typical "Anne style" being highly descriptive with many adjectives and a rosy outlook on all of life.

Despite a very, very difficult beginning of her teaching and being the principal in Summerside, she wins over the town...even those who hate her.  She befriends a special little girl next door to her, giving her love for the first time in her life.  The book spans her three years in Summerside where she is principal, though she visits Green Gables several times.  I was sad to see the book end, which is weird since I have Anne's House of Dreams ready to begin.  But really, it is the end of Anne's girlhood.  The book ends with her anticipating her wedding to Gilbert...and that is where Anne's House of Dreams begins.

You might be wondering why I am writing once again about the LMM Challenge.  Well, you see, for each book I read and post about, I earn a chance at winning a lovely locket.  So I post, and you can too if you join the challenge.   For now, I'm off to read Anne's House of Dreams.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Organizing Recipes: Something Different

This could also be titled, "Annette's Best Idea.  EVER."  Okay, that may be going to far.

Since we got our laptop a year ago, I have been collecting lots of recipes on-line. is by far the site I use most often.  It wasn't long before I started putting my recipes in Word documents. There was still a problem though.  The laptop needed to be in the kitchen to use it for a recipe.  (And I needed to have enough clean counter space, too!)

During the summer on a sleepless night I hatched a plan.  I would type my most frequently used recipes into Word documents, not just the ones from the internet.  This took many months to get most of my's a long process, you know!  I knew I wanted to print them on colored paper so I could easily find which page I wanted.  The last step is to laminate them.  Laminating makes them somewhat childproof (see photo above) and easy to wipe off in the kitchen.  Since I have a personal laminator, this was easy for me, but you could take them to a teacher supply store, too.  Contact paper would do, but probably not as well.

Oh, see the watermarks?  I thought that was pretty clever.  (Sorry to sound prideful...I'm not clever too often.)

I store them in the cupboard vertically.
(Oh, those baby bottles may need a new home.  E is now drinking from a cup all day long!) 

So this is really working for me.  Something to keep in mind is that you only want to use this method of storing recipes for "tried and true" recipes.

I just realized I have not shared my French dip recipe with you.  I must.  It is so, so good!  (It never disappoints me, though I am occasionally disappointed in restaurants when I order a French dip.)  I'll share sometime soon.

Do you have a kitchen tip for me?  Maybe you have a better way of storing recipes?  Do share and leave a comment!  If you end up trying this, let me know!

Children's Mystery Challenge

I'm going to join in the Children's Classics Mystery Challenge at 5 Minutes for Books.  I'm not sure what I'm going to read, but I think Nancy Drew and I need to meet again.  I remember meeting Trixie Belden, but not Nancy.  However, I am sure I have.  How could I not?  Do you remember Encyclopedia Brown?  He and I were well acquainted when I was a kid.

There is a used book store in town (that is associated with the library).  Unfortunately, it's not opened until 11 am.  It makes it hard to get there with M coming home from school around 11:30-11:45, and needing lunch right away.  Oh, and E still takes a morning nap.  I hope to get there this week and check out their selection.  Normally I don't buy many books, but I think classics can only do our family's library good!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Live, Love, Learn on Live, Learn, Love

Live, Love, Learn

Live your life, the way you should,
Love the life you have,
Learn from the mistakes you make.

Live your life on the path, that seems so hard to take,
Love your life now, for your furture's at stake,
learn to hold tight with all your might, to the one's you love,
for you never know when they'll be out of your sight.

Live your life, for heaven's sake,
love your life, come what may,
learn to accept the things you cannot change.

Live with the things you can,
Love your neighbor as yourself,
Learn to do your best, and God will do the rest.
Learn as the world turns.
Nora Eason

I found this poem and just thought it would be appropriate to share it here.  Although the teacher in me wanted to edit it, especially to include a capital letter at the beginning of each line, I did not.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Change...Is Needed

I'm not one to make a New Year's resolution.  

That being said, I know there are some areas that I need to really work on.  It's not because it's January, but because things need to change.

 The first is how critical I can be.  It saps the joy out of life.  Derek has gently pointed it out to me on a couple of times...and so it's important for me to work on this.  It's shameful that I am a follower of Jesus, and yet can be sour at times.

Another matter is in friendships.  I don't have many friends...much less than many.  I'm friendly with a lot of women, but it's hard to be friends, I guess.  In mid-December I met a blogging friend, Krista, from Corn Rows and Meadows face to face.  We spent a couple hours at a central location...and thoroughly enjoyed it!  It was a bit of a reality check that I made the time and effort to meet her and yet, there are some ladies who live closer that I'd like to know more, too, that I haven't spent much time with.  As much as I love my blogging friends (and yes, I have learned that real friendships can be weird as it sounds) real life is here...and important.

At some point soon my clothes will stop I need to either stop eating or start exercising.  I love I guess I need to exercise.  Probably a few more fruits and vegetables would be good for me too...since I don't like them much.

Most importantly I need to be spending some time with God.  Daily.  (And yes, before I wrote this post today I did spend some time with Him.)

Feel free to ask me how any of these are any given time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge
(Our cat's name is Lucy.  It is just a coincidence.  It actually took us three days to name Lucy.  As you might imagine, we were still discussing names for M, our oldest child, on the way to the hospital to be induced, one full week after my due date.  For E, I think we had decided just after his due date.  But this post is not about cats or children.  It's about a wonderful author!)

Mrs. Schoonover, my fourth grade teacher introduced me to Lucy Maud Montgomery.  She read the class Lucy's most popular book, Anne of Green Gables.  It wasn't long after that I bought my first copy.

Since then I've grown up, but Anne continues to be a classic.  A few years ago I listened to Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island with my library's audio books.  These may be considered children's books, but they are for all ages!

This Christmas I was given The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set.  Instead of beginning with book one, I decided to begin with book four, Anne of Windy Poplars.  I am anxious to hear the rest of the story since I am familiar with the first three books.

Today I am eleven chapters into it!  But just today I also found out that it was the seventh book of the series written, though it is the fourth in chronological order.  I probably would have read the series in written order, because I think it's beneficial to do that, or at least it is with CS Lewis's Narnia books.

The only book I have read of Lucy's that is not part of the Anne series is The Golden Road.  (I didn't realize it was the sequel to Story Girl.  I just happened to see it at the libary.)  It's another good one I can recommend!

If you are interested in reading an L. M. Montgomery book this month, head on over to Reading to Know.  She has issued the challenge...with a beautiful prize, too!  Thanks, Carrie!  (While you visit her, be sure to check out her other posts!  She and I have a lot in common and her blog is quite enjoyable!)  Be sure to let me know if you are planning to read Lucy!  

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Button Snowflake

We don't "do" glitter in our home.  Derek has a strong dislike for it.  :)  Frankly, I'm not fond of the mess it makes after the project is completed either.

We have lots of craft sticks, and I wanted to celebrate our snow with a snow craft.  So we made these snowflakes as a variation to glitter snowflakes that I have seen a lot.

Mine were pretty simple.  I glued the four craft sticks together and painted them with white acrylic paint when the glue dried.  (I think silver would look great!)  I wanted M (age 3) to help, so I only used craft glue to attach the buttons, but hot glue may hold better.  M had great fun choosing white buttons and placing them on the glue.  We used a ribbon so that it could be an ornament.

We made a bunch of these button snowflakes.  We kept one for our Christmas tree, and gave the rest away.

We gave one to our neighbors.  They are a family of eight, so I wrote each person's name on a "spoke" with the year 2009 in the center.

(Since the children are both sick...the messy variety...posting may continue to be sporadic as I use the evenings after they are in bed to recover from the day.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Free Books

Brandilyn Collins is offering two of her novels for free!  These are the Kindle version.  If you are like me, and do not have a Kindle, she explains how you can still download to your PC, iPhone, or i Pod Touch.

Even if you have never tried her out before (I have!), this is a great opportunity for you to read a new book!

(Does anyone else like the idea of Kindle, but really like turning real pages?  Actually, we buy very few books.  I like to borrow from the library and friends, and they keep me well read.  If I did buy even one book a month, I think I would be tempted to get the Kindle because the Kindle can even turn a regular book into an audio book!  You can also change the size of the text!)

This is a great way to try out reading a book on an iPod/iPhone or your computer...or your Kindle if you have one!  And it is a great way to read a Brandilyn Collins book!

If you are interested, go to Forensics and Faith.  Enjoy!

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