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...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Getting Rid of My Piles

I am a pile lover.  I tend to have piles all over the house...everything from clothes and books to magazines and mail.  Our home does not have a good place to have a catch all other than the kitchen's island.  So it is often covered.  From Lea Schneider's book Growing Up Organized (click for my giveaway and links to the book) I know I shouldn't put things down for "just a minute."  In my home it is never just a minute.   Mail can be a killer, and I want to share a way that is helping me with that.

In an effort to curb the mail and piles of to-do and have-done, I decided to get a desk organizer.  Actually, I thought I would get two, then I realized that one, plus file folders would work well (especially when the black canvas one was more than I expected to spend).  I cleared out my daughter's special books and construction paper from the cupboard to make room.

On the bottom shelf to the left my husband and I both have a basket.  Inside you'll find keys and lots of other stuff.  This acts as our junk drawer since we don't have room for a real junk drawer.  (We do have another one of these pencil baskets in a drawer to act as a general junk drawer, too.)

Also on the lower shelf is the first desk organizer.  The bottom part is mine and the next is Derek's.  The top section holds some receipts.

The next shelf up is the real life saver.  There is another desk organizer.  (It is supposed to stand up, but I have it laying down for my purposes.)  The bottom part holds LOTS of file folders.  Each file is labeled on both sides.  (I am so short that I can't see the labels if they are only on the top without taking them out.)  Each folder is a different purpose but is helping to keep my island cleaner.  (I still can't say clean...)

My file folders are as follows.   File.  Shred.  Coupons.  Receipts.  (yes, that is a repeat)  Important.  M &E. (our children).  I love this.  When the mail comes it usually needs to be filed, shredded, put in the bill book (elsewhere), or maybe it's important for a different reason.  We keep our shredder upstairs since we are not comfortable with the idea of our children getting to it.

I've been using this system for a couple of weeks and have been impressed at how well it is working for me.  My husband has pretty much learned to look for things he put on the island in his little cubby area.  Now if only I could come up with a magical way to keep dishes off the island.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Growing Up Organized Giveaway

If you'd like some help getting organized as a mom, you've come to the right place! Read to the bottom of the post to learn about entering the giveaway that might help you get a bit (or lots) more organized.

I am always trying to figure out what I can do better to be organized, and the answer is a lot! After reading Lea Schneider's blog Organize Right Now, I was really excited to see what practical steps she would advise in her book, Growing Up Organized: A Mom-To-Mom Guide.

Lea speaks practically and gives moms sensible ways to become organized AND help teach children responsibility and organization.  We definitely have the TMS disease-Too Much Stuff!  This book is easy to read, and Lea gives some very practical ways to help moms to be better organized while teaching their children the same lessons.  

Lea teaches about the principle of Love It? Use It? or Need It?  If something in your home does not fit one of those categories, it is time to get rid of it because you shouldn't keep something in your home that does not fit into one of those categories.  Lea also encourages us to not try to tackle everything at once.  I, for one, lose focus when cleaning very easily, and will try to take to heart her focus and finish to eliminate projects within projects. 

I really enjoyed this book and anticipate reading it every few years as our family changes and our organizing needs adjustment.  Yes, I liked Growing Up Organized: A Mom-To-Mom Guide  that much.
Ready to meet Lea?  Here she is (her words in blue)!  I had the opportunity to ask her some questions specific to our home.  Maybe you have some of the same issues we do, so please read on!

“As a mom - and a professional organizer- I know what moms really want. They just want the kids to be organized. They’d like them to be ready for school on time and have what they need for the day. They’d like their child to drop their clothes in the hamper, their dishes in the dishwasher and drop their expectations that mom will be their personal organizer for the next decade."
“What I've found is that Moms are willing to jump in and try to get organized but they want advice on where to start, what to do next and a plan for how to get the kids to be organized. They wonder if they should start with bedroom chaos, toy clutter, homework struggles or deal with getting out the door on time in the morning. Growing-Up Organized gives you tons of organizing how-to advice and actually helps you plan a successful organizing project that ends with your child being more organized- rather than you, Mom, being the only organizer." 
Annette: How do you address sentimental or hand made items with the "Love it? Use it? Need it?" questions?
Lea: When sorting clutter, I ask people to keep only what they love, use or need. Sentimental items would fall in the “love it” category. If it is truly special to your heart, you should keep it. Setting some limits on quantity is a good idea. For example, it isn’t reasonable to think you can store every paper your child ever does. Instead, have a keepsake box for those papers that really speak to who your child is and shares some of their personality.

A: How should large kitchen items like a cake carrier, serving trays, pie plates, cake pans and all of those other awkward items be stored?
L: Storage decisions, while sometimes must be based on size, should most often be based on frequency of use. If you are an infrequent baker, then choose the back of a lower cabinet. If you bake often, an organizer rack for bake ware might help you maximize space. Similar to bookends, it will hold your many items upright and make the most of your cabinet’s vertical space. You can slide out one tray or pan without disturbing the others.

A: We have TMS, and our basement is a giant storage area. Unfortunately we don't have any shelves, though I do have items grouped together. Some of it is in plastic storage tubs, like baby and children's clothes, since we will likely have a larger family some day. I try to keep the kids' clothing in one stack and Christmas decorations in another, but really it tends to be explosive and unorganized. We also have large baby related toys like an exersaucer, baby swing, and others. What suggestions do you have for me for when I am ready to tackle the basement? Someday we do intend to have shelves, but for the time being we do not.
L: Boy, I really relate to this! I had an attic without shelves and despite my best efforts; it would get scrambled because I wasn’t the only one to return things to the attic. The solution is to create “rooms.” I used painter’s tape on the attic floor and marked off large squares, or “rooms.” Then I labeled the areas so items could be returned the correct spot. If tape won’t stick to the floor due to basement humidity, try creating signs for each grouping. They could go on the wall or even hang from the ceiling.

A: Plastic storage containers and casserole-type dishes are a nightmare to store in the cupboards. Any suggestions?
L: Before deciding how to store them, be sure you want to store ALL of them. Keep only the ones you really use and need. This especially applies to plastic tubs and lids. They seem to multiply like those wire coat hangers! Take them out and match the lids to them. Line them down your countertop. Ask yourself if you will every have that many leftovers at one time. Pare it down to a minimum.
For Casseroles: It can be helpful to use wire cabinet organizers – which create a wire shelf on your regular shelf. You’ll then have two levels for the casseroles to sit on.
For Plastics: One way is to use an extra plastic container to hold the lids next to the container. An under-the-shelf wire basket, which hooks on the shelf above, is a great way to store the lids directly over or under the containers. For the most part, the key is to limit how many you own and if you replace any, try to stick to one brand and shape so that all the lids always match all the containers.

A: How do you maximize the space in a small coat closet? We have a shoe rack, with two laundry wicker baskets on top. Yet it still overflows. We keep my purse, my daughter's backpack, and the diaper bag in the baskets.
L: It sounds as if you use the coat closet to hold the items you use daily when you leave the house. Great job! Try to continue that theme. Make sure that you use your small coat closet as your launch pad. A launch pad helps you launch out the door in the mornings. Therefore, if things are stored there that you don’t really use to launch out the door, then move those items to another location. Make sure to make use of the inside of the door. A clear pocket shoe bag can hold mittens, scarves and other things. Or, add two rows of coat hooks so that you can hook things on the door.

A: I've read that you recommend using baskets to organize a pantry. Do you also recommend that with a very small pantry?
L: Especially use them with a small pantry! A basket allows you to make the most of vertical space. For example, one basket could hold all of your types of pasta. Being able to pile them all in one basket maximizes your pantry. When you pile everything on a shelf, you can’t find anything but because the baskets hold a theme- and you label them- you’ll be able to find things.

A: I use my Kitchen Aid mixer, bread machine, and crock pot on a regular (weekly) basis. I keep the mixer on the counter top, Crock-Pot in the island, and bread machine on the floor of the pantry. Do you have any other suggestions for storing these large items?
L: I certainly don’t blame you for storing the mixer on the counter. Those things weigh a ton! The problem with some of the items you listed, like the mixer and the bread machine, is they tend to be tall. Larger lower cabinets should hold them but often a shelf is in the way. If you own the home, you might want to remove the shelf so that you can use the height of the cabinet. You can always store the shelf flat in the cabinet so it can be reinstalled if need be. It sounds as if you’ve a pretty good solution. The basic rule of thumb for kitchen countertops is if you use it daily or often, leave it out. If you use it occasionally, put it inside a cabinet.

Remember to check out Lea's blog at Organize Right Now.  You can purchase Growing Up Organized: A Mom-To-Mom Guide by clicking the link or visiting Lea's blog.

Lea is offering one reader a copy of her book, too! If you live in the continental USA, you have the choice of an e-book or print book.  All other addresses can win an e-book!  Thank you, Lea!

Please leave one comment for each entry.  Please be sure to leave an email address if you do not have a blog or if your blog profile does not show a way to contact you.

To Enter:  Giveaway is now closed!  Thanks for entering.  
Leave a comment telling me what you need the most help organizing as a mom.
Additional Entries:
Visit Organize Right Now and tell me one thing you learned. (1 entry)
Follow my blogs. (1 entry each)

Giveaway ends Wednesday, May 5 at 7pm (EST).  Winner will be drawn using

Thank you, Lea, for helping me be better organized and teaching my children, too!  Thank you for the chance to review your book!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Basement Finds

This stack of books (plus another five or so) came from my basement.  I have BOXES of books from my teaching days.  Every few months I look to see what might be age appropriate and add them to the children's book collection.  M was most excited about Danny and the Dinosaur since she has read that book at school.  Charlie Brown's 'Cyclopedia: Featuring Your Body went back to the basement after a quick glance.  We'll save that one for a few more years.  M gets so excited when we get "new" books. 

Monday, April 26, 2010


Congratulations to comment #10, Book Mamma! chose her as the winner of the Easy Lunch Boxes Giveaway!
Be on the lookout for Live, Learn, Love's next giveaway with a book to help moms get organized! You can take a sneak peek at Lea's blog, Organize Right Now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Family Name Game

Toddlers and preschoolers recognize many words before they can truly read.  With that in mind, I created a family name game for my daughter when she was first enjoying words.

I printed the names of our four family members (Daddy, Mommy, E, and M) in four different fonts each.  I used decorative scissors to trim the names, and then I glued the names to small rectangles of cardstock.   I also found one picture for each family member to help visualize the names just for fun.  Of course, you could use several pictures.  (I laminated all for durability knowing more than one child would use.  Though I don't truly homeschool, the laminator has been a great investment!)

We used a file folder to create a home for our Family Name Game.  File folders are a great way to contain little pieces!

When the file folder game's cover says, "The (Family Name)s."  I wrote the title on a piece of paper, and M found the letters she needed to make the title.

Inside we "wrote" each family member's name with the foam letters.  She didn't need too much help, but I sounded out the words, and she told me what letter should be next.  

We keep the game piece of names and pictures in a zipper baggie.

To play, we match name cards under the foam name in the game.  The pictures just add some extra fun.  

I just think it's great exposure for a pre-reader,  knowing our last name (and spelling it), as well as to identify us as a family.  Since the cards are all laminated, we can use this with E when he gets older, too!

If you don't have foam letters, you could use stickers or even go on a letter hunt through magazines or newspapers.  I imagine the process of the letter hunt would be great fun for a young one!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Easy Lunch Boxes Review and Giveaway

Baggies. We use a lot of them! Several years ago when I saw a reusable sandwich keeper for packing lunches we started using it for all of my husband's lunches, and now we have found something even better to use!
I'm excited to share with you a product that is new to me. Easy Lunch Boxes make more than a sandwich keeper. It helps you organize and prepare lunches while keeping waste to a minimum. In addition to a compartment for a sandwich, there are two more compartments. The lunch bag also has plenty of room to keep a drink, piece of fruit, and yogurt along with an ice pack. Easy Lunch Boxes products are FDA approved. No BPA, phthalates, lead, vinyl, or PVC. Safe for dishwasher and microwave. Our Review: We have had the chance to use the Easy Lunch Box System for a couple of weeks now. My husband is the only one who needs to pack a daily lunch, so he used it, though it'd be fun for picnics, too. It's a good choice for families who want to cut down on waste in lunch boxes and use a variety of unpackaged foods. The lunch bag is sturdy and plenty big enough. The food containers (they come in a four pack) work well too. There is plenty of room for a full sandwich and two side items. I would prefer that the containers be able to hold liquid items like applesauce or yogurt, but each individual compartment does not have an airtight seal. (Kelly explains why here. She also offers a great solution here!) These are still great for families and quite practical. You can buy the containers by themselves or get a lunch bag, too! Visit to learn more about the products, get lunch ideas, read about Kelly Lester the creator and founder, and to make any purchases. On the blog I read this interesting fact: A disposable lunch costs $4.02 per day, versus $2.65 for a waste-free lunch. That translates to a savings of about $246.60 per child per year. I knew it saved money to not buy individually packaged items, but it also saves the landfills! I'm a former teacher; I know how quickly those giant wastebaskets get filled during lunch time at schools. Keep in mind that grown-ups need to eat lunch at work, too! They can also save money and have less waste.
Kelly Lester has graciously offered to give a set of four containers and a cooler bag to one of our readers! To Enter: Leave a comment telling me why you want to use the Easy Lunch Box System in your home. Be sure to include what color bag you would like if you win. Leave a way to contact you! Bonus Entries: Visit Easy Lunch Boxes and tell me something you learned . (1 entry) Tell me your favorite on-the-go lunch! (1 entry) Visit the blog and tell me something you learned. (1 entry) Follow my blog. (1 entry each) Leave a separate comment for each entry. I will choose a winner with Contest ends Sunday, April 25 at 7pm (EST). Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize! Thank you, Kelly, for providing these products for review purposes!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saving Paper Towels

Since having children three and one half years ago, we have used a crazy amount of paper towels. During every meal their little hands and faces need to be cleaned. The table and high chair need to be scrubbed instead of a quick wipe of crumbs and often needed a bit more than just soapy dish water.

 Until recently, I used a lot of paper towels. Around the same time that I started using vinegar to clean, a friend explained to me how she is able to not use so many paper towels. This may be common sense to most people, but I had never really considered it before.

 So I'm sharing it. Taking my friend's lead, I bought some simple waffle weave dish cloths . I don't prefer them for washing dishes, but they are fabulous for cleaning the counters, stove top, and table. (I love knit and crocheted dish cloths best for washing dishes. If you have never tried them, I recommend it!) I bought some just for cleaning because 1.) I wanted a lot of them and 2.) I wanted them to be easily distinguished from dish cloths, dish towels, and the old cloths/rags that can be used in the bathroom.

 I don't know how many paper towels I am saving, but it is a lot! We do still use paper towels to wash the children's faces and hands, as needed, but unless the mess is awful, we rip a paper towel in half before wetting it.

 I have a good reason for using paper towels instead of a dishcloth or other wet cloth...when I was a child, my mom would clean my face with a dishcloth and I hated it! A paper towel is somehow better...and I know it is clean.

 Cleaning with vinegar and using dishcloths to clean are just some simple ways that I am trying to be nicer to my home planet while saving money. I may not be too green, but every bit is helpful in being a steward of God's creation. Do you have any other simple tips for me? (I know Earth Day is this week, but I had fully intended to post this for the past month, and just finally wrote about it.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Rewards of Simplicity (Review)

When I was given the chance to review the book The Rewards of Simplicity: A Practical and Spiritual Approach,I was pleased to take the chance.  I definitely feel that living simpler is beneficial though I don't necessarily practice it as much as I could or should.

It's easy to feel stressed out and too busy.  It's hard to connect with your immediate family, let alone make or maintain relationships outside of the immediate family when we get bogged down with life.  Obviously, this  impacts our spiritual life, too.  Too often I, like many others, don't give God the time he deserves daily.

Rewards of Simplicity, The: A Practical and Spiritual Approach is written by Pam and Chuck D. Pierce.  The first half of the book is written by Pam and helps us understand what simplicity can be in our lives.  She shares how we can simplify our lives, home, and soul.  It's not just about removing the clutter from our lives and materialism.  From the first half of the book I was probably impacted most about what Pam had to say about preserving the Sabbath rest.  She explained what is work to one person may be relaxing to another, and gave the example of gardening.  Pam also called not taking a day of rest what it is-sin, as it is a commandment.

The second half of the book was written by Chuck.  This part addressed the anxiety in our lives and how it impacts us.  He had a lot of good things to say that would help an anxious person (or even somewhat anxious).  Honestly, I felt like I was reading a new book.  Though parts of it seemed to really relate to living in simplicity, I felt that it was mostly disconnected to simplicity. Some of it may have been beneficial, but I just felt that the flow of the book was interrupted since half of the book was dedicated to anxiety.  I would strongly suggest reading the review of this book here.  She wrote a much more thorough review that makes me think that I slept while reading this book!

This book was provided to me from the publisher for review purposes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Buttercup Bag (#3)

I have now made my third Buttercup Bag.  It's simple enough for me to sew, though I have modified it to better fit my personal needs.  It's a free pattern that I definitely recommend.

Since the Buttercup Bag was designed to use just two fat quarters, it makes a pretty small purse.  I made my first a year ago with an orange outer fabric, and followed the directions.  Since it was a bit small, last fall I made a larger bag (115% enlarged) and included a dividing pocket and a little pocket for pens.  I also added interfacing to the outer bag and handle.  I made this bag the same way.  You can see the other bags here.

My daughter is modeling it for the picture.

When my husband saw that I had made a purse for me, he asked if I would tell my older sister.  You see, she requested me to sew her a bag last year.  Yep, for Christmas.  BUT my dear sister does not have my taste in fabrics and designs.  I gave up looking and asked her to buy her own fabric!  Pathetic, I know.  Since our visits are short, it wouldn't even be easy to get together to shop.  (We live hours apart.)  The good news is that she found some fabric...lots of fabric, actually.  She wants a patchwork style bag.  I just hope her expectations are low.  :)

So I will work on her bag after I get the fabric, and attempt another wallet for myself.  I also have intentions to use the pattern to make a couple for Christmas gifts for 2010.  Maybe if I start now it will happen.  Just don't hold your breath.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Under the Lamb Shopping Spree

One lucky person will win a $100 shopping spree at, a site for high-quality, traditional toys, books, and stacking blocks!   Shipping is free, so it is $100 of products.

Every person who buys a copy of Flip Along Fun will receive 5 (five)chances to win $100 of toys and books from  Use coupon code L-01 for $3 off!  You can read my review here.  We do enjoy it.

The contest closes at midnight (EDT) on May 15, 2010, so buy your book before then to get five chances at the shopping spree!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unsuccessful Wallet

Yesterday and today I worked hard on this wallet.  The exterior is the blue floral pattern that coordinate with the stripes.  Though it may appear to function well, it does not.  It is my fault, not the pattern.  The far right pocket can hold stamps, but not a credit card.  I hate how the edges are crooked and mostly not lined up.  And it doesn't even fold evenly in half.  The picture doesn't show just how bad it is.

However, I am not through.  I will try again.  But a different pattern this time!  Maybe two!

The picture above is the Easy Peezy wallet...a free pattern I found.  I like the pattern, and might even try it in the future if I buy some good felt.  If you look at the pattern, it calls for felt and fabric.  Silly me wanted two fabrics. (You know, to match my new purse that I haven't started yet...and yes, these are the fabrics.  I did use interfacing to give it some extra form.)

So instead of a quick and easy wallet, I have a wallet that doesn't quite function.  And it was NOT quick (due to me and my sewing issues and complicating the pattern with two fabrics).  Unless one of my readers has a use for a , it will become my three year old's wallet.  If interested, leave a comment telling me you have use for a wallet that is unloved by its maker, but have no expectations!

I have a pattern to try out and am trying to make my own, too.  (CRAZY, huh?  I have such limited sewing skills...)  But I will ask you a question.  Have you ever heard of the Wonder Wallet?  I'm intrigued, but don't want to spend $7 on a pattern when there are free and less expensive ones out there.  I'm also looking for a daily wallet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie and No-Roll Pie Crust

Want an easy recipe for a good pie?  I've got it for you!  This chocolate chip cookie pie is rich and full of flavor.  By itself or with a scoop of ice cream...yummy!  I've been making it for about ten years.  One of my students gave it to me as an end-of-the-school-year gift.  The following school year I asked her mom for the recipe and was shocked at how easy it is to make.   The pie crust is a no-roll type.  Just pat it in the pan!

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie and the No-Roll Pie Crust

Monday, April 12, 2010

Absence Makes the ♥ Grow Fonder

If you are a regular reader you may have noticed that I have not been posting as often recently.   Though this post may be titled poorly...oh well.  I am still going to share good books, resources, and fun ideas, but I am trying to be better rounded and more purposeful with my time, which means not posting daily.  Please don't get me wrong; blogging has great purpose: learning and sharing ideas and developing relationships (that is MY short list).  

I am trying to spend more time with the children when they are awake and more time cleaning and organizing when they are napping.  I also want to be more purposeful in my Bible study and even recreational reading.  After they go to bed, sometimes I will blog as I watch television with Derek...and sometimes I won't.  

Other than some serious cleaning and organizing, I have some sewing to do.  The first is a spring purse for me.

Here is a taste of the past.  I love the fabrics for this spring bag, however it is too small.
This is the bag I made for fall/winter.  It is the same pattern, just a bit bigger.  You can see and read more here (including a link for the free pattern).
 I purchased the fabric this weekend.  Does anyone want to guess what color it will be this time?  


Congratulations to #6, Heather from Swallowing a Moose!  She is the winner of the book A Praying Life.  

Saturday, April 10, 2010


How about you?  Do you pray?  As a Christian, I know my heavenly Father desires to talk to me and to hear my thoughts a regular basis.  In fact, He says we should pray continually.
       1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) 
                 16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in    Christ Jesus.

Yet despite prayer being my lifeline to God, along with the Bible, I just don't do it enough.  I certainly cannot say that I pray continually.  I cannot even say that I have a special time devoted just to prayer during my day that never changes.  

What I can say is that I am ever thankful for the grace that God gives me daily.  He gives me so much more than I deserve!  And he extends His mercy to me, too. 

Easter may be over, but I am ever thankful that Jesus died for me.  That He willingly gave himself up...for me and for you.  Without His blood, I'd be eternally separated from God.  

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with prayer, so I just wanted to remind you about the book that someone will win tomorrow.  It's called A Praying Life and you can win it by going here.  You don't need a blog to enter...just make sure you leave your email address.  It's a great book that has really addressed some of the issues that I (and many others) have regarding praying.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Helping Hands

After a messier-than-usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I explained to M, our three year old, that E's hands needed to be washed, she took it upon herself to help him, just like Mommy sometimes needs to help her.  

"Suds, suds, suds."  She even dried his hands!

We use an adult two-step stool in our powder room for easy access to the children.  It was not until today that learned two children fit on it though!  If you have a short toddler, I highly recommend a bit sturdy stool!  (It's great for M when I "need" help in the kitchen, too.)

If you are curious why M uses the words "suds" instead of "soap," it's because of a little book that we have that she enjoys called Rub-a-Dub Suds.  It's a First Start Easy Reader.  We like it because it has simple words that M has been able to say for quite a while.  She loves it because it's all about Tammy, a pig, who loves suds during bath time.  M can relate!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mrs. Wishy-Washy Early Readers

Recently Hameray Publishing Group sent me several books in the all-new Joy Cowley Collection to review. Joy Cowley's beloved character Mrs. Wishy-Washy was introduced in 1980 (just before I was learning to read) with lots of titles and additional characters added over time. These books offer high interest stories written at the first and second grade reading levels.
My 3 year old loves these books. The mom and former elementary teacher in me loves every bit of these books, too! M truly enjoys each book, but Meanies in the House and The Hungry Giant's Baby are by far the ones she requests most often (and sometimes multiple times in one day). We also have Mrs. Wishy- Washy and the Big Wash, Smarty Pants at the Circus and Dan's Lost Hat.  Problem solving seems to come easily with these stories, whether by the characters in the book or the child reading the books.   The characters are fabulous and return in additional books (not listed here).  Our three year old laughs out loud to the incidents in these funny books!

Joy Cowley is a multi-award-winning New Zealand-based author of more than 800 titles. She is widely recognized for supporting literacy programs and writing materials for struggling readers in the primary grades.
For her services to children’s writing, Cowley was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen of England in 1992. Other honors include an honorary doctorate from Massey University, and a Dame Order of Merit from the Royal Crown in her native New Zealand.
The all-new Joy Cowley Collection is specifically written for early readers. The Guided Reading Levels of the titles within the series range from H to M, and the Early Intervention Levels range from 14 to 20. Teacher notes are included in the back section of each book.

What I Like: Everything! The stories and illustrations are engaging, yet short enough for young reader to not be frustrated. The stories rhyme! The font is large and readable. They often have some bold-faced words repeated throughout the book that is especially fun for a pre-reader. Every book has a teacher notes in the back. Each book states the word count. Whether you are just a parent reading with your child, a homeschool family, or a teacher, it's very helpful to have the teacher notes right there.  
What I Dislike: One thing that I think would be helpful would be to have the Guided Reading Level and Intervention Level written on the book. As a former teacher, I do understand why it is also beneficial to leave it off. Children in a classroom "compare notes" and know which books are more difficult than others and who are reading the "easy" books and who are reading the "hard" books.
If you are interested in purchasing these books you can click on the above links. You can also find many more great books and resources at Hameray Publishing.

If you are a fan of Joy Cowley's books, you can show it by becoming a fan of Mrs. Wishy-Washy on facebook.
Thank you Hameray for the opportunity to review these books.  


Congratulations to Lisa! picked #10 as the winner of the What's in the Bible video giveaway!
If you are interested check out our current giveaway!
Have a blessed week!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Prayer Cards and a Book for YOU

A new giveaway! Don't forget that tomorrow is the last day for the other giveaway. With my Bible study at church, we read through the book A Praying Life
by Paul E. Miller. Honestly, I was not thrilled about reading this book. I guess I just thought it would say the things that I had already heard or read that just didn't work for me. I WAS WRONG!
This book was so real and refreshing. I found that it spoke to my heart about prayer. It was an easy read on a difficult subject.
It also gave me a great idea for using prayer cards that is actually working for me. Prayer lists and journaling had not been too effective for me.
I have permission from NavPress to share Paul E. Miller's guidelines for creating prayer cards.
  1. Use short phrases to create a snapshot of a person's life to help the cards work for you.
  2. When praying for the person, pick out one or two key areas and pray for them. Miller doesn't linger over a card for more than a few seconds.
  3. Use Scripture to express your desire for the person or a situation.
  4. The card does not change much. Miller may add a new line once a year or so for something that is an ongoing area of the person's life that needs prayer.
  5. Miller does not write down answers since they are obvious to him.
  6. Miller sometimes dates a prayer request by putting the month and year.
The prayer card helps me to focus on one person at a time. As you can see in the picture above, I "bold-faced" some key words by going over my handwriting twice. You can see many of the verses I chose to use for us. I spent a lot of time in the Bible looking up verses on different subjects deciding how I really wanted to pray for us. Now these cards are actually helping me to memorize more added bonus.
Above are my immediate family members' cards. In chapter 27, where Miller discusses the prayer cards, he also explains about cards for those suffering, non-Christians, and friends.
I keep my prayer cards above the kitchen sink. It works for me, though I don't change the cards with wet hands. My cards are a bit larger than the suggested 3x5, but they work for me for now.

This blog post shares enough to get you started, but if you are interested in reading A Praying Life, NavPress has agreed to give a copy to one of our readers!
For a chance to win A Praying Life, leave a comment below telling me why you would like it. Make sure I have a way to contact you!
For a bonus entry, leave an additional comment if you follow me through Google Friends Connect. (If not, just click the button to follow in the sidebar!) Giveaway ends Sunday, April 11th, at 9pm. Winner will be chosen by
A Praying Life, Paul E. Miller, copyright 2009. Used by permission of NavPress, all rights reserved. This post is just about a book that I like and a system that works for me. I was not provided the book for review.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

May your day be blessed as you celebrate the risen Christ!

 6"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him

~Mark 16:6

Friday, April 2, 2010

Polka Dotted and Striped Eggs

Don't forget to enter our giveaway!

We had some fun making these eggs.  M's favorite part was squirting glue all over the paper eggs!  Last year we made button eggs, but this year we added the rickrack to them for stripes.  I think it adds a great touch!

Two cautions: 1) Little girls with long hair need their hair in pony tails, bun, hair that you are not attempting to scrape glue out of her hair for so long.  2)  If you have a 1 1/2 year old child...they might be a bit young for this if you have not done many other crafts together.  E put four buttons on an egg, but really he wanted to eat the buttons and play in the glue.  Silly me.

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