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...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Prints

Ten Red Apples (Bartholomew & George)Don't you just love it when your library displays a fabulous book or two for you to enjoy?  Well, that is how we found Ten Red Apples by Virginia Miller.  (It's a Bartholomew and George book, if that means anything to you.)  I plan to check out her other books because I enjoyed this one so much!

I think what sets this book apart from some others is that though it's a counting book, the story stands on its own.  Each set of pages has a sidebar where the counting of the red apples happens, though it's natural to do it with the main picture, too.  Another fabulous feature is that the number zero is featured.  Not all counting books do that.

This book just needed a craft to go with it, so we made some apple prints.  As basic as they are, using red and green paint to make ten apples altogether takes it a step further.

apple, cut in half
lids (to hold paint)
large paper

I add a bit of yellow to both my red and green paint to make it seem more realistic.

In the book, the green apples on the tree turn red, but there are always ten apples altogether (until they are made into a pie).

With that in mind, M got to print some red apples, and then green apples.  I let her decide how many of each color she wanted.  As it turns out it was five and five, as she is showing you.  The eleventh mark on the paper is her handprint.

I don't remember apple prints being so hard to do, but she struggled to get the  apples off the paint lid and the paper.  It was too slippery!

I'm linking up to ABC & 123's show and tell as well as stART at A Mommy's Adventures.    Both offer great preschool and toddler ideas!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fudge (Nut) Bars Recipe

This is a recipe from Derek's family, though I was eating them long before I met Derek through another family.  I remember asking what "that cookie" was called, and I was told Fudge Nut Bars.  I explained that it must be something else because that yummy cookie didn't have any nuts.  Silly me.  I've had these made by several different people, and no one I know uses nuts, but they are still called Fudge Nut Bars.  

Fudge Nut Bars are one of two ways my husband eats oatmeal.  The other way is with No Bake Cookies.  

This weekend I made a batch to help out with a fundraiser event for a family at our church since some finger goodies were needed.  It makes a good amount, so I kept the top and bottom edges for us, while sharing the "good" stuff with the others.
Forgive my blurry fudge nut bars.
Fudge Nut Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick oats

Beat together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Then mix and add flour, soda, and salt.  Then mix in oats.  Dough will be sticky!

1 cup sweetened condensed milk (14 oz can)
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt together over low heat.  

Optional-add 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired.

Spread 2/3 of dough in 11x15 jelly roll pan.  I need to use my hands to do it, (and remember the dough is sticky). Spread chocolate mixture on top.  Crumble remaining dough on top.  Some chocolate will show.

Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

When cooled, cut into bars.  My bars are usually 1x2 inches...give or take.  These freeze great!  If you have any questions, please just ask!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Name Pillows

This past week was very full for me.  You might remember that I had fabric letters cut.  Well, this is the final result!  Two name pillows!  They were gifts for two friends who shared a birthday party on Saturday.  They girls loved the pillows which made all the hard work worth it!

I think they are supposed to be pretty simple to make, but anything related to the sewing machine is complicated for me.  But really, if you can sew a semi-straight line, you can make this.

If you are interested in a really well explained pattern to make these, it is from You Can Make This.  You can also see my initial review here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tag...I'm It

Christy from Superheros and Princesses has some questions for me to answer.  And I actually did it!

  • What is your favorite fictional book? To Kill a Mockingbird is probably my all-time favorite.  (Click to read what I said about it last month.)

  • What was your college major?  If you did not go to college, what would your major be today if you had to pick one?  My major was Elementary Education with an art concentration.  Looking back, I wish I had a reading or special education concentration.

  • If you could visit one place in the world, where would  you go?  I really want to see the Sequoia National Park some day.

  • What is your biggest challenge as a mom?  Discipline.  No doubt about it.

  • What did you eat for breakfast today?  Cornflakes and orange juice.    

  • What kind of music do you listen to most often?  Honestly, I tend to listen to audio CD's in my car and kitchen, so the music I listen to most often is children's music.  Yep.  But if you are wondering what music I prefer to listen to it's probably oldies on the radio or Christian music CD's.

  • What is your least favorite chore?  Just one?  Scrubbing bathtubs might top even ironing.

  • Pretend that money is no object and you need a new outfit; where would you go to buy it?  JC Penney's petite department?  I don't really know how to shop except at stores like Boscov's, Kohl's and JC Penney, but Penney's is probably my favorite.  

    Now I get to ask my friends some questions!   However, instead of "tagging" several blogs, I'll just let you decide to do it if you want.  It was fun!  You could even just leave a comment if you'd like.

    If you had to spend (not put in savings) $500, how would you spend it?  (I would get an upright freezer!)
    What is your favorite adult fictional book?
    What is your favorite children's book?
    What is your biggest challenge as a mom?
    What do you enjoy most about where you live?
    If you could visit one place in the world, where would you go?
    What is your favorite meal to make?

    Thursday, September 23, 2010


    Tonight I am NOT the winner.  I made apple crisp.  You know...super simple to make.  Peel and slice apples.  Mix together flour, oats, cinnamon, and butter.  Right?  Well, that's what I did.  I could not figure out why it wasn't as good as usual, but Derek pointed out that the topping wasn't sweet.  At all.  I had forgotten the brown sugar.  Yep.  That's me!

    Anyway, if you are reading this, you are probably curious about the winner of Intervention by Terri Blackstock. choose comment #6 Judylynn at Carpe Libris!  Congratulations!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Fabric Letter Fun

    I had these fabric letters completely cut and backed with paper that prepares it to be appliqu├ęd.  M saw them and claimed them for her own!  Since they were stiff, she couldn't hurt them.

    Very soon (before Saturday) they will be part of two gifts for two friends that are celebrating their birthdays.  Any guesses?  I've shown it before on this blog!

    I'm glad we don't go to many birthday parties!  I don't have much time to sew!  I actually looked downtown (small town) in the card and gift store for something appropriate, but I didn't find anything.  So I resorted to sewing a gift.  Doesn't make much sense, huh, especially since it won't be great quality.  Well, I figure if I can steal 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there sewing, it will be better than trying to shop at a store which, with the drive, would take almost 2 hours.

    I already have the fabric purchased to make this fabric letter alphabet!  The Activity Mom has a different version, too!  I can't wait to make those!  Apparently, they will be a big hit when completed!

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Friendship and Smiles

    Two weekends ago I went Women of Faith, a Christian women's conference, in Philadelphia with several friends. On Friday we heard Patsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews-and enjoyed both quite a bit. That evening Anita Renfroe made us laugh. Saturday we heard more from Patsy and Andy along with Lisa Welchel, Marilyn Meberg, and my favorite Mary Beth Chapman (wife to singer Steven Curtis Chapman).

    Some of the speakers spoke to my heart and my faith more than others.  There were powerful moments throughout though.  A couple things have really stuck out to me, and I thought I'd share them.

    Lisa Welchel spoke on friendship.  (She was on The Facts of Life and has the book Creative Correction that I want to read.)  This year I have been more purposeful in reaching out to other women.  And it's worked. By inviting a couple acquaintances over, we've gotten to know one another better.  Some friends I just email or call somewhat regularly...regardless, I've been trying.  Anyway, Lisa said something very convicting.  She shared how some friends once told her that they felt to get to know her on a personal level they needed to read her BLOG and books.  Um...yeah.  Do our friends and family know what is happening with us if they don't check in regularly with our blog?  I don't know.  Some do...too many don't.  But somehow, at times Iexpect my friends to want to read my blog(s) (we have a family blog, in addition to this one) to know what is happening with us.  I thank Lisa for pointing out my horribly faulty and sinful attitude.

    I'll share just one other thing.  Andy Andrews (author of The Butterfly Effect and others) talked about how by smiling when we talk it can really change our attitudes and the perception of us.  It's really just choosing to be happy.  He even suggests practicing in a mirror...because it is not as natural as you would think. Our daughter, M, has told me I have grumpy lips sometimes.  Um, yeah.  Convicted again.  I definitely notice a difference with her response to me when I correct or discipline while smiling.  I'm trying to make an effort to generally smile more.

    We stayed overnight in a hotel (even though we live about an hour away and could have driven). (The hotel had just opened on Monday so everything was brand-spanking-new!) We had more girl time together. It was such fun! We were quite the group. Four of us were in our thirties, two in their forties, and one in her seventies. Quite the age range, huh? Most of us had met before and were good friends, but two women I didn't know. Regardless of when we met, I think we all had a great time.

    I'm not sure I would go to Women of Faith again, but I did enjoy myself and took away bits of wisdom here and there.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Sticker Math

    When M had finally had a slight interest in numbers, I encouraged her with stickers.

    I made a simple chart with the numbers 1-6. In each block I had the number of dots to correspond with the number.

    M used some colored circles to cover the dots. She removed the stickers herself which is great for those little finger muscles!
    Unfortunately she wasn't too interested in counting the stickers or identifying the numbers, but it was a start.

    She was about 2 1/2 when I did this project with her.  She now can count to 13 without any problems, and 20 if we help her to go slowly.  I'm thinking we might use these stickers again for some new math.

    How would you use them with a 3, almost 4 year old for math or something else?  She especially needs help with numbers over ten.

    (I used the stickers when we moved to color code the boxes to correspond with specific rooms. It seemed to work well...just in case you plan to move soon.)

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Remy the Rhino Learns Patience (Review)

    My daughter is three.  My son is 1.  Patience is not running high in our home.  I wish I was only speaking of the children, but some days the grown-ups are just as bad as the young ones.  As author and illustrator, Andy McGuire has created a wonderful book to help children (and grown-ups) learn a lesson in patience from a very impatient animal friend in Remy the Rhino Learns Patience.

    Remy the Rhino Learns Patience (Little Lessons from Our Animal Pals)Remy is a rhinoceros who has anger issues and is an impatient rhinoceros.  The other animals of the savanna were scared of him, and one day Remy makes a mistake of charging an aardvark.  This aardvark is smart and gets out of the way, and Remy finds himself with his horn stuck in a tree!  No matter how hard he tries or how loud he shouts, he can't get free.

    The aardvark-the one he had charged-offers a solution.  The solution is having termites come and help.  This created a new problem for Remy because if he struggled or jerked it would scare the termite helpers away.  Slowly (and painfully for him) Remy learned to relax and finally, through the rain and thunder and visitors from far-away places, broke free from the tree.

    The pictures are realistic, yet very pretty as they show the different animals and the savanna.  It has a rhyming text, which when read aloud is very delightful for all involved.

    Apparently, this book hit a little to close to home for my daughter.    She is not patient, and like Remy, angers very quickly.  We were about halfway through our first reading of this book when she just refused to finish it.  Despite her reluctance to finish this book, I think this book shows perfectly how impatience gets us in trouble.

    If you like children's books, you should visit 5 Minutes for Books in the next few days!  They're having a Fall Festival of Children's Books with reviews and giveaways galore!

    Thank you Harvest House Publishers for providing me with this book for review purposes.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Intervention (Book Giveaway)

    It was probably six and seven years ago that I first found Christian suspense.  Dee Henderson and Terri Blackstock were my favorite authors.  Both my public library and church library had many of their titles, which helped me feed my appetite for more.  Since then, and especially since I started reviewing books, I have been able to add other great Christian suspense authors to my list.

    I prefer to read books that have 1) been highly recommended by someone I know (in real life or a blogging friend whose recommendations I trust) or 2) are written by an author I already know and like.  This allows me to skip reading book summaries, which sometimes give too much away.

    Intervention: A Novel (An Intervention Novel)As a reviewer for Zondervan, I was browsing their titles and saw Intervention by Terri Blackstock.  I hadn't read it, or seen it at our church library, so I decided to review it based on the author.  I was not disappointed.  As I suspected it was about a drug intervention.  At least the first few pages were, then it became about so much more!

    I'll just share the first sentence from the back cover.  Her last hope is the beginning of a new NIGHTMARE.  

    Oh yeah!  This book is gripping and good!  Barbara stages an intervention for her daughter, Emily, who is deep into drug addiction.  On the way to the drug treatment, Emily disappears...and is now wanted for a crime her mom is certain she didn't commit.

    Sorry, but that's all I really want to say about this book.  It's good.  The panic-level rises.  It takes you into a bit of a the life a good family who deeply loves a young woman who is an addict.  I think it might open some people's eyes of how a person can go down the road they never's for all families who have a loved one in a cycle of addiction.  Though I may not have an immediate family member in this situation, it really can be any of us, at any time.

    If you wonder if author Terri Blackstock would be able to write this type of book and keep it "real," she is speaking from her heart and experience.  Her own precious daughter was trapped in addiction.  She knows!

    My church and public library already have this I want to share my gently read copy with one of my readers.
    To Enter:
    Leave a comment telling me why you want this book.  Leave an email address if your email doesn't show in your blogger profile.
    Extra Entries: Leave a comment for each entry.
    As always, I like to reward my blogging friends, so if you are a follower with Google Friends, leave another comment.
    If the topic of this book is near to your heart for whatever reason (prison ministry, family member, personal experience), leave another comment.
    Giveaway ends September 23.

    This book was provided by Zondervan for review purposes.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Moldy Applesauce

    I could not pop the lid with my thumbs.  There was no "pop" when I checked the lid, so it did the proper pop initially.

    But still this jar of applesauce had mold on it when it was unopened.

    I don't know how that could happen since the other jars are fine that were made and canned at the same time.  At least it's just one quart!  

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Cecil and Friends Review

    Goofy characters and bold illustrations paired with important Bible stories make these books another resource for parents in teaching their children the sometimes difficult Bible truths.  Zonderkiz sent me three Cecil and Friends books to review.  I have to say I like these books created by Andrew McDonough!

    Jesus and the Children (Cecil and Friends) Jesus and the Children  emphasizes that God does not just love adults, but children, too!  This story is based on Mark 10:13-16.  Jesus is shown in typical Jesus-type clothing, but all the other characters (mom, children, disciples) are modern-day.  The disciples are a strange looking bunch and tried to stop all the children from coming to talk to Jesus, but Jesus put a stop to that.   (I do want to note that one of the disciples does have a tattoo just in case someone is sensitive to that.)  The last picture is awesome with all the disciples, children, the mom, and Jesus all hanging out (literally, like on the cover), happy as can be!

    Dave the Donkey, An Easter Story (Cecil and Friends)
    Dave the Donkey:An Easter Story tells the Easter story from a young donkey's perspective as he excitedly tells his grandpa how he carried the King into Jerusalem.  Dave gets a bit confused as his expectation of how Jesus should  have been treated and the reality were not the same.  Sadly, his grandpa sets him straight.  They both rejoice over the fact that the King is alive.  

    The Gardener and the Vine (Cecil and Friends)The Gardener and the Vine is, in my opinion, an excellent way to explain John 15:1,5 with a child.
    "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener...If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit."
    The "remains in me and I in him" is the part that really hits home with this book.  
     This is the story of Jesus, and I really like how it unfolds in The Gardener and the Vine.  Basil is the small branch who becomes part of the's not easy for him or the vine, but well worth it.

    I like the illustrations and the stories, but I think the last two pages will be an invaluable resource for parents.  Cecil's Page has an introduction to the story for the parents and gives suggestions for some discussion starters on what to do before the story and after the story.  On the following page you can read the verses of the Bible than inspired Andrew McDonough to create the story.

    The Cecil and Friends books are recommended for ages 4-7, and I wouldn't go any younger.  I know I won't be reading them to my daughter next month when she turns four, but maybe in six months or so.

    I was not familiar with Cecil and Friends (click for their website to get a better look at them) books, and I thank Zonderkidz for sending me these books for review purposes.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Snickerdoodle Blondies Recipe

    If you like Snickerdoodle cookies, this is a recipe for you to try. These Snickerdoodle Blondies are irresistible!  Not only are they delicious, but they are also very easy to make!

    Snickerdoodle Blondies
    2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    3/4 tsp salt
    2 c packed brown sugar
    1 c butter, softened
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    1 T vanilla
    2 T white sugar
    2 tsp cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.  In large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in flour mixture until blended.  Spread evenly in a lightly greased 9x13 pan.  

    Combine white sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle mixture on top of the batter.

    Bake 25-30 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Cut into bars when the Snickerdoodle Blondies are still warm.

    I saw this recipe at Dozen Flours.  I noticed some of the recipes she linked to include 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.  For nutmeg lovers, you'll want to consider this too!  Enjoy!

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Scripture with Discipline

    Several months ago I felt the need to teach my almost 4 year old Bible verses.  I am linking them in with her behavior to reinforce positive behavior and help her to understand her sin.  If you missed it, you can see how I introduced Scripture with discipline.

    This time I chose a verse from James.  You might notice that it is not an actual version of the Bible, but I reworded it a bit to be better understood by my daughter.

    "Whoever knows the right thing to do and doesn't do it sins." ~James 4:17

    One day during naps, I wrote out the new verse on a different color of paper and hung it on the pantry door.  Upon awakening, M noticed the new verse right away.

    The first few days we discussed it a lot, and she seems to understand it well.  Want to hear something funny though?  She still quotes Colossians 3:20 (the first verse we learned).  She will even go up to the new verse and run her finger under the words while saying, "Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."  It cracks me up!

    I have noticed that with the busyness of summer, I wasn't nearly as diligent in incorporating this verse into our daily lives as I was with Colossians 3:20.  Maybe it just wasn't a good choice?  I'm don't know.  I do think it is important for young children to understand what the Bible says about sin, and not just what Mom and Dad call sin.

    I'm not sure what verse we will use next, but I think I would like it to focus on God's forgiveness and love.  Any suggestions?

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Smooth Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

    One of the few meals that my daughter will eat without complaint and with a big smile is spaghetti and meatballs.  For years I just bought jars of spaghetti sauce because I thought homemade sauce would mean chunks of tomato.  Then my friend Jeanine made a meal for our family when E was discharged from the hospital after his seizure.  The sauce was homemade...and without large tomato chunks!  I asked for the recipe and have been making it ever since.  Next, maybe I will try to make sauce from fresh tomatoes!

    Smooth Spaghetti Sauce (easily doubled)
    1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 can of water (I use Contadina because I know it's smooth.)
    1- 6 oz can of tomato paste and 1 can of water
    Parsley - 1/2 T. (or more to your liking)
    Basil- 1 1/2 T. (or more to your liking)
    Oregeno- 1 T. (or more to your liking)
    Red pepper flakes- dash (I omit this for our preference.)
    1 onion (either finely chopped or quartered, depending on how big you like the pieces)
    4 cloves of minced garlic
    1 pound mushrooms-chopped (I omit this for our preference.)

    ~In large pot, combine first six ingredients.  Simmer over medium heat.
    ~ Saute chopped onion in olive oil until they are transparent.  Then add to sauce.  If using quartered onions, there is no need to saute onion.
    ~ Saute garlic for about 1 minute.  Add to sauce.
    Saute mushrooms for about 3 mintues.  Add to sauce.

    Once sauce boils, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for two hours.  Stir and taste occasionally, adding herbs if desired.

    For Meat Sauce:
    1 pound ground meat
    1 egg
    1/4 c Parmesan cheese
    salt and pepper to taste.

    Combine meat sauce ingredients.  Saute until meat is browned.  Then add to sauce.

    This is really very easy to make!  I make a double batch and freeze divided portions in zipper freezer bags.  It would probably be better to can it, but freezing it is simpler for me.  If you choose to freeze it, remember to freeze your bags flat and then you stack them or stand them up as you wish.


    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    I Was Wrong...And It Is Bad

    You might remember how I showed strips of fabric that I was trying to make into a patchwork purse for my sister.  My little girl had cut it.  Oh yeah.  Though frustrated, I was very thankful that the damage was minimal and would be easy to fix.  See here.

    Well, last night after the children were to bed, and Derek was doing his schoolwork, I went up to work on the purse.
    What I found shocked me.  

    Now, before you think that M had returned to the spare room and found the scissors again, let me assure you that I am certain THIS horrible mess happened at the same time as the last one.

    This time, I am thankful that it was not a finished or semi-finished purse or my stack of new fabric that was also on the bed.  Last night I spent a couple hours taking apart the patchwork squares.  Notice that eight of them had to be removed.  Soon (maybe) I will replace them.  And I hope this is the last post about the purse until it is completed!

    Now I am thankful that I have fully lost the motivation to work on this.  Amy's birthday is in October.  Let's hope it's done in time!  (In addition to the lesson of keeping scissors away from  my fabric, I also learned that I do not like patchwork.  I am not skilled enough to make the lines match well.)

    (And if you don't believe me that it was 8 blocks, please just trust me!)

    Hurricanes and Earthquakes

    Natural disasters and concerns are all around us.  Often times we shelter our children from some of life's difficulties, but there are certainly times when it is most appropriate to educate our children instead of ignoring their concerns or educating them before it is a concern.  Ready, Set...WAIT! and Panda's Earthquake Escape offer insight as to animals' reactions to hurricanes and earthquakes.  If you live in a region where earthquakes or hurricanes are the norm, it's most critical to teach your child how to prepare and react.  These books will help parents and educators comfort children and teach them how animals prepare and react to natural disasters.

    Before I share with you the books, I want to tell you what Sylvan Dell books offer for those of us who teach, whether at home, school, or other setting.  Their books are aimed for children ages 4-8 (and 9).

    Sylvan Dell Publishing educates children in science and math through the means of literature.  They're doing a fantastic job, too, offering informative, educational books with realistic and beautiful illustrations.  The books alone are really great, but they help classroom teachers and homeschooling parents in huge ways.  Each book (and ebook) comes with great resources!
    • 3-6 pages For Creative Minds which is an educational section in the back of each book.  It extends the story and gives additional information.  
    • 40-60 pages of Teaching Activities!  These activities are incredible!  They allow a teacher to customize a unit study to meet their students' interests.  The Teaching Activities go beyond math, science, and literature.   Just click Teaching Activities and choose a title to see for yourself the plethora of activities there are.  The table of contents gives an overview and makes it easy to find what you want. With so many choices, the teacher can choose what is right for the age group they are teaching.  (I love that!!  Unit studies really benefited my students, and I think it's very enjoyable to teach and learn from a unit study.)
    • 3 Interactive Quizzes per title.  A Reading Quiz evaluates reading comprehension from the book itself.  The For Creative Minds (FCM) Quiz is based on the 3-6 pages from the back of the book.  The third, th Math Quiz uses information and context appropriate to the book and creates word problems for the student to solve.  
    A hurricane forms over ocean. Humans board up windows, gather food and supplies, and then wait for the storm to arrive. But what to wild animals do? Written by Patti Zelch, Illustrated by Connie McLennan.Being September, we are in peak hurricane season.  Living just a couple hours from the Atlantic Ocean means that we watch the weather for hurricanes, though they typically do not impact us too significantly here.  Ready, Set...WAIT!, written by Patti R. Zelch and illustrated by Connie McLennan offers children a look at how people and animals prepare for an approaching hurricane.  It begins with what children know best-people.  After boarding windows and gathering supplies, we go inland.  Then the book continues to answer the question of what animals do and if they know that a storm is coming.  Nine different land, sea, and air animals sense, react, and prepare for the approaching hurricane.  I think this is an excellent way to reassure children of God's special and unique design of all his creatures!  Through their instincts, animals are able to sense approaching danger-even that of a hurricane.  (FYI: This is not a Christian book, but I still think it shows God's greatness and design.)

    Pandas' Earthquake Escape
    Panda's Earthquake Escape is a fictional story based on real-life events.  A mother panda, LiLing, and her one year old cub, Tengfei survive an earthquake and its aftershocks, but in fear they ran.  LiLing's instinct is to protect the cub, but they get lost.  They eat strange food, but come through just fine and are returned to their reserve.  This book would fit perfectly into a unit study of endangered animals as well as teaching children about animals when they are learning about emergency drills.

    I can honestly say that I wish I had had access to Sylvan Dell books when I was teaching.  (And am thankful for the opportunity to review them now and use them with our family, even if we are not homeschooling.)  You may be thinking the same thing.  If you are, consider the School and Library Resource Grant.    This grant is available to public and private schools, libraries, and homeschool associations.  

    Thank you Sylvan Dell Publishing for providing these books for review purposes.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010


    Comment #1, Laura Fabiani is the winner of the Chicken Soup for the Soul: RUNNERS book!  Congratulations, Laura!

    (Laura is the author of Daughter of Mine...a book I really enjoyed!  Click her name to go to her site and see reviews for clean books!)

    Serving Others

    About six months or so ago, I knew I wanted to serve more and differently in our church.  Previously, I have worked in the church nursery, but then I realized there was more of a need for teachers in the toddler church.

    When I was struggling with being in the same classroom as M, I talked to the children's director about the stress, and seeing if I might be able to serve somewhere else as a teacher, without the weekly commitment of being a Sunday school teacher.  In our church, often couples serve together to teach, but I would need to team up with someone other than my husband, which isn't always easy.  Well, as it turns out, I am now teaching with a young woman in our children's church time.  So far, it is working out great, and it is so good to work with and get to know someone new!
    I continued to think about other ways I could serve, in addition to teaching.  Then an idea presented itself, but at a bad time.  (Back in November or so when M had just started school and we were concerned about E's health and getting used to anti-seizure medicine and wondering how bad it would all be.)  The opportunity to serve was to order and process books for the children in the church library!  What fun, but, as I said, it was not a good time for me to commit to something.  I let my desire to help be known, but also said I could not at that time.  Well, as it turns out, no one else stepped forward (and had not in years, so the children's books were definitely in need of some new books).  

    It took a long time to make it happen, but earlier this summer I was able to figure out what books our library already had, which ones we needed (that were part of a series or requested), and which ones I wanted to pick for the library.  

    The books have arrived, as seen above in the boxes.  This past week I spent several hours learning how to process the books.  That means putting them into the computer, finding the ISBN, filling in all sorts of information, creating labels, protecting the books, and I don't know what else!  I still have to get started!  It will be a huge job, but I think very rewarding, too.  Thankfully, there is no hurry to process these books since in November they will get stored away as our church prepares to expand.  I've been told that right now the goal is to process them, and when the addition is complete, then they will go on the shelves.  It's a big task, but I think I'm up for it, especially since there's no hurry.  

    I love being able to serve connecting with two things I am passionate about: children and books!

    Have you been able to find a way to serve in your church or community that you really enjoy?  I'd love to hear about it!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Pencil Cookie

    M started at her new preschool last Wednesday.  It wasn't a fabulous start to a school year.  I was really hoping she would love school this year.  She loves to learn, but is so determined to do her own thing, that following directions isn't always easy for her.   

    To encourage her a bit, I made her a pencil cookie to celebrate the beginning of her school year.  She LOVED it!  I made sugar cookies. (Click for a delicious recipe...and I am happy to report I had a bit more self control than the last time I made them.)  After chilling the dough, I rolled out a long rectangle on parchment paper and then cut a simple pencil shape.

    I am not a big fan of cake, and actually never eat icing.  Yep, that's right, I scrape off my icing and share it or throw it away.  However, icing is the one way you can decorate  a cake, so I wanted to practice a bit.  Since we'll be having cake at least two times next month, I opted for practicing on a cookie, and the pencil was a great way to practice.  (In case you are wondering, I didn't eat any of the pencil.  WAY too much icing for me to eat.  I ate the plain cookies happily though.)

    I had been wanting to practice using cake decorating tips before the kids' birthdays in October.  My mother-in-law makes beautiful cakes (and gets paid for all types of occasions, including weddings), but if she can't come for both birthdays, I want to be prepared.  I was fairly pleased with how the cookie turned out, since it was my first attempt at using tips.  Ever.

    When my husband ate the icing (there is still tons left over in the fridge), he asked if I used his mom's recipe.  Hurray!   That means they tasted the same!  

    Please excuse the lovely parchment paper.  I didn't think about how to store a pencil cookie...and forgot that I had a cake carrier until the cookie was almost gone!

    Today I'm linking up with ABC and 123!  Visit to see more cool activities!

    Don't is the last day for the Runners book giveaway!

    Monday, September 6, 2010


    This is a personal blog written by me. These are just my opinions and experiences. I cannot offer any  guarantee that you will have same experience as mine.

    Other than product for review purposes, I am not paid to share my opinion. If I ever choose to accept payment, that will be stated in that post.  I often share my opinion on products that I have purchased or borrowed (typically from the library).  Regardless of how I come by a product, I give an honest opinion.

    The only advertising here is from Amazon. I like and use the site regularly, and am an associate. This means I get a tiny percentage if a reader makes a purchase through them by going through any of my links. (When I say tiny I mean about $4.00 over the course of several months.)

    If you leave your email address in the comment section, please note that this will be seen by anyone, and not just me.  If this makes you uncomfortable, feel free to email me.  In the event of a giveaway, you can also email me and I will count your email as entry.  I would never give, rent, or sell your information, however, if you win a giveaway, I would need to pass along your contact info. After submitting to the sponsor, it would be out of my control how they would use it; however I have had no negative experiences with this.

    Please contact me at with any questions or concerns.

    Last Updated: September 2010

    Tumtum and Nutmeg (Review)

    Earlier this year I learned about some adorable mice named Tumtum and Nutmeg.  After reading about Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall from Carrie (click for her review), I knew I wanted to add these mice to our collection.  I was absolutely thrilled to be able to read the newest mouse adventure, Tumtum and Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Tales, with an Advanced Reader Copy from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  This is a chapter book, for ages 8-12, but it also is a perfect read aloud for that age or even younger children, with illustrations every few pages.

    Tumtum & Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Tales
    Tumtum and Nutmeg are two mice who live comfortably in Nutmouse Hall, looking after the human children, Arthur and Lucy of the Rose Cottage.  Adventures abound with these mice!  The Rose Cottage Tales contains two stories, "A Christmas Adventure" and  "A Seaside Surprise."  I thoroughly enjoyed both stories, written by Emily Bearn.  Illustrator Nick Price brings these little mice to life and takes me back to my childhood when I wanted a mouse for a pet!

    "A Christmas Adventure" tells the tale of how Tumtum and Nutmeg seek out special Christmas gifts for Arthur and Lucy.  They have quite the run-in with Baron Toymouse, who they went to for help.  To give you a taste of his character, the sign at the bottom of his door reads, 
    When Tumtum is captured, Nutmeg seeks the help of General Marchmouse.  I won't spoil the adventure for you, but it's a great Christmas story!

    In the next story, Lucy and Arthur go and visit Uncle Jeremy in "A Seaside Surprise."  Tumtum and Nutmeg stow away in Lucy's backpack to make sure the children are looked after during the time away.  As it turns out, Lucy and Arthur help Tumtum and Nutmeg with a bit of a mystery.  General Marchmouse reappears in this story as the good guy who makes many mistakes. 

    I took advantage of the adorable mice, big adventure, and a great story with  Tumtum and Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Tales and tried it as our first chapter book read aloud with my almost 4 year old!  We'll save "A Christmas Adventure" for the Christmas season, but we are reading "A Seaside Surprise" together.  She seems to understand most of the story and is enjoying it.  We usually read it when she is eating a snack, but occasionally we just sit and enjoy the book, too.  (I couldn't wait to read the full book with her and had to finish it on my own!)

    If you are interested in winning the first book in the series, Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall, head over to Reading to Know for a giveaway!  In the meantime, mark your calendar for October 19th, when Tumtum and Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Tales will be released!

    Thank you, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with this book for review purposes!

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