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, July 30, 2010

Audio Books

I love to read.  It is just part of who I am.  Before children, if I had hours to relax, I usually did it with a book.

Since 2006, when my daughter was born, so has my reading.  Since then I have found great joy in audio books so that I can multi-task!  We have an under-the-cabinet CD player that really makes washing dishes, chopping veggies, or kitchen clean up so much more pleasant.  I borrow audio books from my public library every month. Some books, like the The Mysterious Benedict Society I don't want to miss a word and don't leave the room or talk to another person without pausing it.  Most books I miss a word or two here and there, and that is okay.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Radio Theatre)
I also enjoy listening to audio books in the car.  Though I don't work, if I drive somewhere, it is typically a 20-35 minute drive.  On our recent trip to family camp, I decided to enjoy some Narnia!  Typically Derek doesn't prefer audio books, but he likes Narnia, so he was happy to listen.  In preparation for release of the movie The Voyage of the Dawn Treader later this year, we listened to Focus on the Family's  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in radio theater.

I really enjoyed this dramatization.  Derek also liked it-much better than a regular audio book, which reads just like the book.  This radio theater version had a large cast of voices and sound effects which helped even our three year old understand what was happening though the story is actually quite a bit "beyond" her.  She would often ask us why something was happening.  (She didn't like the sword fight!  Oops!)  

The Chronicles of Narnia: Never Has the Magic Been So Real (Radio Theatre) [Full Cast Drama]It has actually been years since I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and I had forgotten most of it.  One of the reviews at Amazon said that the closeness to the book was astounding.  

Amazon actually has The Chronicles of Narnia set (radio theater) for two prices $19.78 or $99.99, and I can't figure out the difference.  Boy, I am tempted to get the set for myself! The unabridged set is less than $50.  However, I imagine all public libraries would have a set, though you may not have the option of unabridged or  radio theater.

Whether you watch (and there are several different versions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), listen, or read Narnia, it is bound to be a fun experience for you!  If you are interested in reading what some others think of it, you can head over to Reading to Know.  Carrie had a Narnia challenge this month!  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shape Owl Craft

Owl Babies: Candlewick Storybook AnimationsWe have borrowed the book Owl Babies from the library multiple times now.  It is such a sweet, simple book, and my daughter seems to relate to it well.

The last time we borrowed it, we also made a shape owl!  I had made an owl valentine for my husband earlier this year, and this was based on the valentine.  I have a thing for owls, and years ago I taught a class called "Who Puked" where we learned about owls and dissected owl pellets.  (The class title was geared to make middle schoolers interested!)

I choose to make the shape owl using mostly hearts, but you could use just triangles or circles or a combination of triangles, hearts,and an oval for the body.

For the details of how to create your own Shape Owl Craft or an Owl Valentine's Day Card made from hearts, visit us at This Simple Home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Home Stitched Card

Stitched are pretty simple to make. Marie at Make and Takes has lots of patterns available and I was inspired to make my own.

I created this little house pattern on my own though. Next time I make a card, I think graph paper would make it a bit simpler instead of just eye-balling it. Our friends had moved into a new home and I wanted to welcome them with a card.
To make your own design, you may first want to look at Marie's basic instructions post for stitched cards.  No fancy equipment is needed.  I used a push-pin, cork from a trivet, and embroidery floss with needle.  

I tend to make cards for birthdays these days with my Cricut though, and we still purchase some, too.  Last Christmas I tried to make our Christmas cards, but made less than a third of what I needed.  Lots of people still appreciate a handmade card!  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet Ruby!

Ruby is a terrific raccoon that is the main character in some God-glorifying beginner readers.  She and her animal friends like Dan Duck, Fiona Fox, Bunny Rabbit, Carlos Crow seem to find the good in not so great situations.

Ruby Paints a Picture (I Can Read! / Ruby Raccoon)Our favorite Ruby book is probably Ruby Paints a Picture.  Ruby loves to paint pictures of God's gifts, and begins painting a tree.  One by one, her friends come along and request that she paint them.  Ruby is happy to paint them because they are each a gift from God.  When they see the painting, they are each disappointed that Ruby did not paint their best feature (webbed feet, long ears, wide wings and red tail).  At the end of the book, Ruby explains that she painted four very special gifts from God.  Her friends quickly change their minds and say that Ruby did paint the very best part of them-their smiles!

Ruby's Perfect Day (I Can Read! / Ruby Raccoon)
Ruby's Perfect Day is another sweet book.  In this book Ruby awakens to a perfect day.  Throughout her day she tries to make to include her friends in her fun plans, but everyone is too busy.  Ruby perseveres and goes about her day on her own.  At the end of her day, she thinks about the day and all of the gifts from God.  Then she realizes that it was a perfect day for being with God!  A perfect book!  I especially appreciate that this book helps our daughter understand that even when a day doesn't go the ideal way, we can still find good in it...and God's gifts!

Ruby Bakes a Cake (I Can Read! / Ruby Raccoon)Another sweet book is Ruby Bakes a Cake.  Ruby wants to bake a cake, but she doesn't know how to do it.  She consults her friends, and they all give her a different item to include, to their liking.  It's so cute how they suggest nuts, carrot tops, snails, wiggly worms, and flies.  What's funnier is that Ruby goes home and includes each thing!  She's a bit concerned about how it smells, but her friends still come over to eat it.  Despite Ruby saying it doesn't taste good, her friends encourage her.  They compliment it's size, shape, color, and how juicy it is.  Ruby thanks God for her friends and the cake!

These books are adorable!  I really like them and think they are great for read alouds as well as beginner readers!

Thank you Zonderkidz for providing us with review copies.

Monday, July 26, 2010

ABC Speech Picture Book

About a year and a half ago, it became very clear to us that our daughter, then 2, was more than just a late talker.  At 27 months she was diagnosed with a speech disorder, apraxia.  (You can read our apraxia story by clicking the link.  We praise God for her leaps and bounds developmentally!)  

Knowing M would not outgrow this, but she could overcome it definitely motivated me to do what I could with her.  My husband and I learned a lot from M's speech therapist, but I also made sure that we played purposefully as much as possible.  M loved to complete crafts with me, and the ABC Speech Book is just one of the projects we had fun doing together.  

First, I cut all the letters of the alphabet as large as possible, of the alphabet.  (I just eyeballed the letters as I cut them.)

Please read the newly updated directions and suggestions for the ABC Speech Book at my new blog.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Woo-hoo!  My friend, Jennifer, from My Two Happy Homeschoolers put together a great new look for the blog that I really love!  I think she did a great job bringing my favorite colors and the viney leaves.

Her site is a great source for homeschooling ideas-preschool fun and early elementary...definitely worth checking out for some great ideas.

Thanks, Jennifer for a great new if only I  could get a makeover.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Free Behavior Chart

You might remember that a while ago I had a giveaway for Doorposts.  I wanted to share with you that their If-Then Chart for behavior is now free with any order until July 31.  Free If-Then Chart with your order

I wasn't asked to post about this, but wanted to share it with you in case you were interested in making a purchase.  Personally, I think very highly of Doorposts' products, and just thought I'd pass it along.  I still want the For Instruction in Righteousness book, and now is the right time to order!

Friday, July 23, 2010


I wanted to share with you that I have added a "recipe" link on the menu bar at the top of the blog!  I hope this helps you find what you might be interested in a lot easier.

There you will find my favorite recipes, and they are easy!  Probably the ones I most highly recommend are the French dip recipe and chocolate chip cookie pie recipe.

I intend to do this with crafts and maybe book reviews, too, but it may take a while.

Explore and enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Back...

Yea! I'll be back to regular posts next week! I am planning a summer giveaway soon, too!

Camp was awesome. Following camp, Derek and I took an overnight trip to State College, Pennsylvania. Derek is a Penn Stater, and I lived there for two of the years that we dated.

This is Derek and me at the top of Mt. Nittany. Hot and sweaty. Check out the cool tree behind us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Little Break

Just a little note to let you know I am going to take a little blogging break.  Last week we were at family camp.  Now I'm recovering with many loads of laundry and lots of photos to enjoy.  However, Derek and I are heading out of town tomorrow for our own getaway while the kids stay home with their grandma.

We'll only be gone two nights, but I want to give myself plenty of time to recover before trying to blog again.  (Yes, I did schedule out last week.)

In case you are wondering, we are off to State College, PA.  (It's the location of Penn State University, Derek's alma mater, and where I lived for two years before we were married.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bringing Up My Girl

Four years ago I was about to become a mom...for the first time.  That means my world, as I knew it, would changed dramatically.  At a baby shower, my mother-in-law gave us a bib embroidered with important words on it.  Warning: No instructions included!  Isn't that the scary truth?  Despite all the advice we are given and books we read, we really don't know what to expect.  We knew we were having a baby and it would be a boy or girl.  But what did that really mean?  Our firstborn is a GIRL, but we still didn't know what would be in store for us.

Well, little did we know that I would have a new phrase, "Parenthood is not for wimps."  Not because being a mom and dad was difficult, but because it broke our hearts to see our little girl of 17 days in a very life-threatening situation.  Well, our little girl is healthy now, having outgrown the SVT.  Days can still be tough though.  Now we deal with all that makes a little girl a little girl.  Each day is a blessing, but that does not mean that our days are easy!

Bringing Up GirlsWell, there are now some new (because we all know there are lots of books out there) instructions for parents in the form of research, life experience, and advice for parents of boys and girls in the books Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls.  Bringing Up Boys was published years ago, and finally, Dr. James Dobson has written for the fairer sex...Bringing Up Girls.

I really liked the way that Dobson wrote this book (in his typical style, if you have read any of his other books, such as The Strong-Willed Child.)  There is plenty of research to back up what he says, but he shares it in an easy to read book.  

One thing that I read over and over again is how important fathers are to their daughters and for the future of their daughters.  Dobson included information from everything from hormones to bullies.  

One thing that Bringing Up Girls helped me to understand is that it is very important for us, as the parents, to tell our daughter that she is beautiful.  In the past, I had limited saying things of this sort, despite my daughter's outward beauty.  Now I am really trying to change that, letting my little girl know she is beautiful, while making sure she knows that it is the inner beauty that truly matters.  At three years of age, I don't think it is too soon for these discussions!

Like any book on parenting, it is hard to agree with all of it.  Some readers may be surprised by this, but I disagreed with his perspective on the princess phenomenon that needs to be addressed in every home that has a  little girl in it.  First, I will say everything in moderation...but when it comes to princesses I tend to be careful, but would never ban them from our home.  Even Christian marketing seems to have jumped on this with using the phrase, "God's Little Princess."  Sorry, friends, I'm just not convinced.  Dr. Dobson didn't convince me either.

Dobson did give some credit to those who dislike all things princess, but mostly portrayed these mothers as feminists.  I did like the following that he had to say (pages 121-122).
The better approach, I believe, is to carefully scrutinize and select that which will be allowed into the lives of our children.  
Our job is to teach and itnerpret for them what they need to understand.  They will learn farm ore directily from us than from 
storybook fantasies...Ultimately, mothers will have to decide whether or not to introcude their girls to this 
and other forms of make believe.  It si my belief that the good outweighs the bad in the princess movement, 
and it is certainly better than Bratz dolls or the adolescent world of Barbie.  

So for our children, we won't be having a princess birthday party, but we still read fairy tales and even own several Cinderella books and even a dress-up doll that was a hand-me-down that is well-loved.  We just don't want it to become a focus of all of our pretend play.  Thankfully, our daughter is happy to act out Jack and the Beanstalk and David and Goliath even more than Cinderella.

Dobson brought something up that surprised me.  He suggested not to allow boys (teenagers) babysit your children due to all of their hormones.  His thought is that you can't be too cautious when it comes to protecting your children.  I'm not sure if I fully agree with that.  I have a (much) younger brother just out of his teen years that I would be happy to let my children spend time with him.  

This is definitely an excellent resource for parents with many, many valuable lessons in it.  I have asked my husband to read it next, because I think its invaluable for fathers!  This may be a Christian book, but I think just about all of the information in it could be appreciated by someone that is not a Christian.  

I don't have to agree with every word in Bringing Up Girls to highly recommennd this book to any parent of a girl...infant through college, and maybe even beyond!  This is a book worth buying, or at least borrowing just to read it.

Thank you Tyndale House Publishers for a review copy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Right Click Disable

Designer Blogs explains how to right-click-disable on your blog.  Not only that, a box also pops up to warn the person clicking they need permission to proceed!  I love this!  (You can see it in action by trying to right click on this blog!)  Get more information here.  It was really easy to do!  Of course, there are ways around this, but I do like the idea of a little alert for someone who mistakenly tries to copy a picture or text.)

Now if everyone would just give credit where credit is due...I try, and I hope you do, too!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Button Sort

Buttons are intriguing to little people!  About a year ago we started playing with buttons-a lot!  They are great for counting, sorting, and identifying colors.

Using an egg carton, I made a color sorting game for M, then 2 years old.  She was able to sort the buttons into appropriate groups.

I began with only the colors she knew at the time (shown), but later filled most of the sections of the egg carton with different  colors.
I used an egg carton and colored small pieces of paper to show M where to sort the buttons. I colored both sides of the paper in case they flipped, and I was glad I did.
 I thought the brown, black, and navy blue would be confusing since they are all so dark in color, but she did great. Though I had selected which buttons she would sort, there were three buttons that confused her a bit. One was blue/gray, though more gray. She quickly decided that it would be on its own. A bright pink, nearly red button became a color of its own, too. I can't blame her since the other pink buttons were very pale. A maroon button went from the red to the brown to the red pile. In the end she did choose the red pile for the maroon button.

If you have a child who still puts objects in their mouth, the button sort activity should be supervised.
(Photo from spring 2009)
We keep the button sort activity on top of the refrigerator since when we began she still mouthed objects and we had a baby in the house.  It remains up there, though it still is used upon request.  I keep the buttons  for this activity separate from the rest of our button collection.

May I make a suggestion?  If you don't have a button collection, ask a woman from another generation if she might.  Derek's grandma gave us an incredible amount of buttons to use that she had saved over the years.

If you are looking for another use of your buttons for a preschool craft, you can check out our button book, too!

I'm linking up to ABC and 123's show and tell!  They are a great site for preschool (and older) ideas!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Alternative Pool Play

I had no idea that a waterless pool could be so much fun!  My children had a blast in it, and it was completely my 1 1/2 year old's idea!  He threw the two plastic softballs in and then climbed in after them!  My daughter joined him.

I promise she has shorts on.  

They enjoy this a lot and have played in the waterless pool several times!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Spiedie Recipe

First, I know that unless you are part of my family, you are likely saying, "Huh? What are spiedies?" (SPEE-dee)?  They are a marinated meat, typically chicken, traditionally lamb, that are grilled on a skewer.  These delicious and tender bits of cubed meat are often served on Italian bread or even hot dog rolls.  They are a regional food to the Binghamton, New York area, close to where we grew up (though we both grew up in Pennsylvania).  You can read a bit more about the history here if you like, but that is the run-down.  (Correct me if I'm wrong!)

Original State Fair Spiedie SauceI recently went to visit our families, and after eating some pizza with chicken spiedies as a topping, I decided it was time to make my own spiedies.  From scratch.  Chicken spiedies from a recipe.  Not from the spiedie sauce that you can buy.  (It is shockingly even at my local Acme, though I can't imagine anyone here in southeastern PA knowing what a spiedie is!)
These spiedies are plenty to make one sandwich.

Well, I did it!  And they were GOOD!  My husband let me know it, too!  We had my mom and stepdad visiting for the weekend, and they enjoyed them, too.  (I think my mom was shocked that I wanted to try a new recipe.  She has a crockpot recipe that she uses for spiedies, though Derek and I like traditional spiedies best.  But if anyone is interested...I can share hers.  She even won an award for her recipe!)

UPDATED: Please see our best chicken spiedie recipe at my new blog, This Simple Home. Also, if you want a slow cooker recipe, I talked to my mom. She uses the standard recipe and cooks on high for 1 1/2 hours or low for about 4 hours. When I tried this, I did not have to add any liquid cooking them on low, but she said you may have to add a bit of water if you cook on high.

Obviously, five pounds is a lot of meat, this recipe halved easily for me, and made plenty, with leftovers for four adults.  My only variation to the recipe is that I used my neighbor's fresh mint since I didn't have any dried mint and my pepper was not freshly ground.

This a recipe I hope you will try!!  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1-2 Chronicles Bible Commentary

As a Christian, I feel that the Bible is my's the way I get to know God, His ways, and His desires for me.  The Bible gives me God's own words to teach me His ways.

Psalm 25:4-5 states, "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."  (NIV)

Well, if I really believe that I should be reading, and even studying, God's Word.  I am not a pastor, Sunday school teacher, or seminary student.  But if I am going to learn more in my faith, then I need to be connecting with God through Bible study.  I had never used a  true Bible commentary,  nor did we own one, until Tyndale provided me with 1-2 Chronicles (Cornerstone Biblical Comme,ntary) New Living Translation copy to review.  Though I have been using this commentary, I should point out that I have not read it cover to cover to study 1-2 Chronicles.

First and Second Chronicles are not books in the Bible that I have studied in depth.  Recently, I have been using the commentary to help me better understand it though.  The 1-2 Chronicles Bible Commentary is extremely thorough in every sense of studying these books of the Bible, as I suspect all commentaries are.

1 & 2 Chronicles (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)For well over ten years, I have been reading and using The Life Application Study Bible (NIV) for most of my Bible study.  Just over a year ago, we got the MacAurthur Study Bible (NKJV) to read, as well.  Both of these Bibles have excellent reputations, and I highly recommend both of them.  Despite all that they do to help a person understand a passage, often a bit (or a lot) more depth is needed for a full understanding.  That is when a trusted Bible commentary would be helpful.

This commentary includes a lengthy (appropriately so) introduction to First and Second Chronicles that includes information including (but not limited to) author, date and occasion of writing (with timeline), audience, canonicity and textual history, literary concerns, major themes, theological concerns, and an outline. That's just the introduction!

The commentary itself includes Scripture (a chapter or so at a time) in boldface text with verses labeled, just like in a regular Bible.  Also included for each passage are some footnotes, notes, commentary, and end notes.  Charts, tables, and maps help with further understanding.

I do recommend the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary for 1-2 Chronicles, written by Mark J. Boda for anyone looking to dig deeply into this book of the Bible that is often overlooked.  I also suggest taking the time to learn how to navigate this commentary before diving into the study!

Thank you, Tyndale, for providing me with a copy to review.

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