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, April 29, 2011

Writing Names in Children's Books

We have lots of children's books.  Some of the books are from my childhood or my years of teaching.  Others have been given to us or picked up second-hand.  We've been blessed to get plenty for review purposes, too.

My question is this.  Do you write your child's name-or the family's last name in their books?  What about books you give as gifts?

I've noticed a pattern...I love when people write in books they give as a gift, but I rarely do it...and I try to give books for baby showers and Christmas gifts and such.  I rarely write in books for my own kids or for others.

What's your opinion on writing names in children's books?

(If I loan out a copy of one of my own books, I typically put an address label in it in hopes of its safe return to me.)

The photo below is completely unrelated.  For three summers we had hay and corn in the field behind our home (since we moved in 2008).  Our neighbors have changed it to a pasture for their small herd of cows this year.  So now we have this beautiful view!  (The corn and hay was rather nice, too, and especially enjoyable to watch them work the horses in the fields.)  The cows are very friendly and all lined up to see us when we went to get a close look. 
 Of course with a great view like this, there is a minor drawback.  We now have a bit more of the "farm smell."  I'm hoping it doesn't draw too many flies to our home.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fun with Pop Beads

Granted, we have only had these pop beads since Easter, but they are a HUGE hit!  
 They were a gift to my four year old daughter from her grandparents.  Can you tell they make a great item for the bulldozer to doze?

In the picture below, you can see there are lots of different sizes, shapes, and even textures to go along with all the rings, bracelets, and necklaces that a child may create.
 My daughter LOVES to create!  Thankfully, she understands that the pop beads are intended for taking apart so that we can create new things all over again.

(Yes, my daughter likes to create a looong bracelet!)
If you are interested in these particular pop beads, they are B. Pop-Arty Beads.  I can see these being the only item played with when little (girl) friends come to play!  If we don't lose pieces to the bulldozer and a certain 2 year old throwing them, they will provide lots of entertainment for years to come.   These are certainly not the pop beads I had as a child!
Thanks, Grandma!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coffee Filter Flowers and Easter Wreath

When spring was officially here, I had to remove our coffee filter snowflakes from our French doors in the kitchen.  They really had been so pleasant to see, that I knew I wanted to do something fun for spring.

It didn't take long for me to think about how flowers could be made in the same fashion as the snowflakes. I wanted to make a little scene full of flowers, but as it turns out, the children weren't so interested in the process.  They did sweeten our view though.
 M knew she wanted to add stems and leaves.  She made the grass herself after I got her started.
 We used small coffee filters.  We colored with markers, and then spritzed with water, just like with the snowflakes.  After they dried, I folded them and cut them into varied flower shapes.  Consider skinny or fat petals and rounded or pointed petals.  

(The Frugal Family Fun Blog did something similar with water colors.  You might like to see that, too.) 

Since no one is looking to make an Easter wreath at this point, I'm just adding this project to this spring post.  We also made an Easter wreath when M asked to decorate before the family came to visit for Easter weekend.  (I don't decorate seasonally.  I just don't.)  I know a blog I love inspired this, but I'm not sure which one.  (If you know, please leave me a comment!)  The children colored and decorated eggs with markers and stickers.  I also wrote on a few.  I loved it when I drew a cross, and M wanted me to write, "My Jesus is alive!"  The "I ♥ Jesus" was also her idea.  So sweet!  I'm thankful that my daughter knows the reason we celebrate Easter.

I cut the center out of a paper plate to prepare the wreath.  After cutting lots of egg shapes, I let the kids decorate.  When they were completed, we glued them to the plate.  Voila!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Shelter of God's Promises, by Sheila Walsh

The Shelter of God's PromisesDespite her many books (over 4 million sold for adults and children!), I have not read any of Sheila Walsh's books...until now!  I thoroughly enjoyed The Shelter of God's Promises once I was able to give it my full attention.  (I read the first few chapters in distracted situations.  I truly need to go back and reread them to really get the most from this book!  Unfortunately, I do not know if the chapters were slow-going or if it was my circumstances and interrupted readings that made the initial reading a bit slow for me.)

The Shelter of God's Promises is not just a list of some Bible verses with a bit of application.   Sheila Walsh combines Scripture, personal experience, and thorough Bible teaching to create a book well-worth your time.  I found her to be real and the biblical teaching to be enlightening and informative.

Each of us experiences a time (or lifetime) of need.  We need God to survive, especially during those dark days when we are living in uncertainty.   Each chapter is full, typically 15-20 pages, of encouragement that we have from God.  Below is a list of the chapters.
      Promises, Promises/I Need Something to Hold on To
      Provision/ I Don't Have Enough
      Peace/ I'm Afraid and Feel Alone
     Confidence/ I Can't See God's Plan in this Pain
      Love/ I Don't Believe That Anyone Could Really Love Me
     Grace/  I Have Failed
     Hope/ I'm Broken
     Strength/ I Feel Things Are Crashing Around Me
     More/ I Know There's Something Better
     Home/ I Have a Future

Think about these statements when considering God and any promise that He boldly makes.
"This is the shelter of all God's promises: God not only keeps His promises, but He longs to keep us in them." ~ page 9
"When God makes a promise, He can never break it." ~ page  12
"We have to separate promises that may never be kept from God's promises, which will never be broken." ~ page 13
Personally, I really enjoyed the chapter on confidence.  I was surprised at how Walsh's teaching on the Samaritan woman spoke to me.  Maybe that is why she said that to some degree we are all the Samaritan woman.  Until we come to the foot of Jesus and let our sin be delivered from us...washed away in His blood, then we are just another the Samaritan woman.

I was also enthralled with the chapter on love, as discussed through the hemorrhaging woman.  I had never heard or read such teaching on her, but it touched me.  This unlovable, untouchable woman was transformed through the healing touch and love of Jesus.

As Walsh wrote about Peter and John the Baptist, I saw both in new light.  More importantly, I understood God's promises better.   When John is in prison, Jesus sends a message.  The message speaks of no freedom or liberation for John.  Instead, Jesus says, "Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me."  (Luke 7:23)  Consider this.
"Christ's statement to John the Baptist begs a question that each one of us must answer at some point in our lives: will you love and serve a God you do not always understand?" ~ page 181
Despite my slow beginning The Shelter of God's Promises, I do recommend it!  In fact, I will even recommend it to my Bible study for a future book study after I reread the beginning chapters.  Included in the back of the book is a book discussion and Bible study.  For each chapter about 10 questions are included and a suggested verse to memorize.

Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for providing this book for review purposes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ham Problems

Over the weekend we determined that it would be best to use the delay start feature of our oven.  (Having lived here for nearly three years, we had never used it.)  We wanted to have a mid-day dinner and would not be home from church until late morning.  Saturday night we practiced see how it worked.  Sunday morning my brother-in-law walked me through the steps that he had done the previous night.  Everything looked good to go.

We arrived home a few hours later...and the ham was cold.  (Boy, was I thankful to have already read at the Smithfield ham site to let the ham sit out at room temperature for a couple of hours before roasting.)  Derek's grandmother had the brilliant idea of just slicing the ham off the bone and frying it!

It worked perfectly.  I put Derek's aunt to work frying the ham, and she did a great job, despite her lack of cooking skills.  (I know she can cook a hot dog, but, and she admits, not much else.)  It turned out very tasty, and since we still roasted the remaining meat and bone, we were able to make gravy, too!  We were able to eat dinner at a decent time thanks to frying the ham.

I thought I'd share in case you have a ham emergency someday!  As it turned out, our electricity went off while we were at church.  My alarm clock was blinking when we went to bed, so that is how we found out!  Mystery solved!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mine Is the Night, by Liz Curtis Higgs

Mine Is the Night: A Novel
Liz Curtis Higgs has penned an incredible sequel to Here Burns My Candle (linked to my review).  Mine Is the Night did not disappoint me in any sort of way.  In fact, I enjoyed this tale of Elisabeth and Marjory even more than in the first book.

Here Burns My Candle begins this two book series interpretation of Ruth and Naomi, set in Scotland in the 1700's.  Elisabeth lost her husband, and vows to stay by Marjory.  After being wealthy and of the upper class, they are now poor.  Mine Is the Night takes them to a different town where they beg to stay with a distant cousin of Marjory's.

Marjory and Elisabeth do all they can to help their poor cousin Anne.  After having servants all of her life, Marjory serves her daughter-in-law and cousin.  The changes in Marjory are amazing.  I love this humbled character!  Elisabeth seeks employment as a seamstress, a trade she is well-skilled in, though her services are not needed for long.  Eventually she finds herself employed by a wealthy man.  Strangely enough, some affection seems to develop between them.  Society would never have them together, especially since she has committed treason.

Liz Curtis Higgs wrote an endearing tale of redemption and restoration for both Majory and Elisabeth because both women were able to humble themselves.   This book will certainly leave you wanting to read of Ruth and Boaz in the Old Testament to see how God worked in these actual people's lives.  Our God is truly a God of love.  He shows it repeatedly as he wishes to redeem each one of us...and restore us to himself.  God offers us a gift of mercy and grace-salvation through Jesus-and we just need to accept it.

While Here Burns My Candle was a dramatic and emotional story of sorrow, Mine Is the Night is also emotional and dramatic, but it is a tale of hope.  I may not always enjoy romance, but this is a book that I am thankful to own.  Though romantic, it is even more so honoring to God...including the romance.  Without including spoilers, I thought Marjory didn't quite think through her suggestion of Elisabeth presenting herself without a chaperon.  I would have liked that to be a bit differently written, but still was captured by it.

Mine Is the Night is the conclusion to this two-part series.  Having read the first one about a year ago, I was able to pick this up and dive right into the language.  It read very easy for me (unlike HBMC which took some getting used to).  I think you could read and enjoy this book independent of HBMC, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Though sorrowful, HBMC is well worth it!  I highly recommend Mine Is the Night, especially if you like historical fiction.

(If you ever visit Net's Book Nook to see what titles I've been reading and listening to, you will see that recently I have been reading almost no books except the Bible.  I have just been too tired!  However, MItN kept me up LATE several times because I could not put it good...definitely read it for yourself!  I couldn't believe how quickly I finished it, especially since I remember it taking me a couple weeks to complete HBMC.)

I sincerely thank WaterBrook Press for providing me a review copy!  (If you are interested in Blogging for Books, you can, too!)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Read Alouds

I wanted to share our favorite Easter books with readers.  We have several great books, but really, the best one to use to explain Easter is the Holy Bible!  As we've been using our resurrection eggs, I have been reading a lot of text (more than just the single verses I mentioned in the post) to my four year old.  She loves it.

Easter at Our HouseEaster at Our House is a cute book that describes how one family celebrates Easter with an early egg hunt, Easter baskets, dressing up and going to church.  I love that the pastor shouts, "Christ is risen!" and it brings cheering and tears.  Before bed, the story of how Jesus gave His life for us all is read.  This is a cute book with a great message and rhyming text written and illustrated by P.K. Hallinan.
Little Colt's Palm Sunday
Though it focuses on Jesus' trimuphant entry instead of his death and resurrection, Little Colt's Palm Sunday is a book I am thankful to have added to our Easter collection this year.  Author Michelle Medlock Adams begins the book with the biblical text from Luke 19:30-36.  It goes on to tell the story of Little Colt and how he came to be the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  I really love this book, and how it honors Jesus, and yet is told from Little Colt's perspective.

The Legend of the Three Trees: The Classic Story of Following Your DreamsThe Legend of the Three Trees is a popular story that tells how three different trees had big dreams, but God doesn't fulfill those dreams the way they envision, but all were with Jesus at one time or another.  One tree becomes the manger that Jesus lay in.  Another became the boat in which Jesus calmed the storm.  The last was made into a rough wooden cross where Jesus saved the world from sin.  I was thrilled to find this at a thrift store!

The Easter StoryCarol Heyer has written and illustrated the incredible book. The Easter Story, explaining why Christians celebrate Easter!  I love how the life of Jesus is sandwiched between an introduction of Eastertime and some of the things that we think of at Easter-most of all, Jesus!  Then it goes on to tell the incredible story of Jesus life, accompanied by fabulous illustrations.  This is a fabulous book of explaining Jesus death and resurrection.  Though it is appropriate for a 3 or 4 year old, even older children would be engaged in this book.  I highly recommend it!

We have a couple more books worth mentioning.  The Miracle of Easter  is a beginner reader.  Though published by a secular company, I thought they did an overall good job of presenting Jesus life as an important Christian holiday.  There was one statement that I didn't agree with (that before Jesus no one could go to heaven), but really, it was a good book.  A "fun" easter books for younger children is Corduroy's Easter.  With lift the flaps it's a fun book.  (But then again, we love all the Corduroy books!)

We have a houseful of family coming to visit us this weekend, so I will say to you now that I hope you have a blessed Easter.  May your hope be in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is truly the risen Savior...His gift of salvation is a gift...just accept it.  None of us deserve it, but God gave his son so we could join them in heaven one day.  I hope to see you there, my friends!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Our celebration week is completed, though the real celebration will be in October when the baby arrives!

Here are the winners chosen by!   I hope you all enjoy the goodies!

Emily of Deep Valley- #3 Bluerose
Zondervan's Two Books- #6 Bluerose (That's just the way it worked out folks!)
It's My Favorite Boutique- #7 Carrie
Big Cat, Little Kitty- #14 Crystal
Deep in This Desert- #16 Rivka Belle
The Glaciers Are Melting- #40 Lisa
Habitat Spy- #33 Artsy Momma
Meet the Planets- #1 Christy

Winners should have received an email from me and will need to reply with contact info soon.   May your day be greatly blessed...not because of winning, but by living life fully, and I hope to please God!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring's Bird Nest-Edible!

Don't forget this is the last day for the FOUR GIVEAWAYS!
M had her Easter party at preschool last week.  She brought home this incredibly cute bird's nest!  Though I didn't make it, I did help eat it.

M formed her own little nest (and was very proud of this).  It is made from chocolate flavored crsipy rice treats.  Under the little peep are three blue jelly beans pretending to be eggs!  They were quite a surprise.

I love that she attends a Christian preschool and as we've been reading and teaching about the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the same exact things are being reinforced and taught at school.

Though this Christian school goes through eighth grade and has a good reputation, we are only intending to use the school for M and E's preschool years.  After that our plan is to transition to the local public school.  It is a purposeful decision on our parts, though we recognize the benefits to homeschooling and using a Christian school.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Counting Spring Beauty

Spring has sprung here in southeastern PA.  A week ago, on our (35 minute) drive to church we noticed all the lovely spring trees.  What stood out especially to our children were all of the pink trees.
Image Source
On the way to church we pointed out each pink tree we saw.  Then on the way home we counted each pink tree we saw.  (Actually, we counted each pink tree the children saw or the obvious ones that the parents saw.)

It was quite the blessing to enjoy God's beauty in something as simple as a pink tree.  I can't wait to show M lilac bushes since she loves purple!

This week on the way to church, M noticed that there are not too many pink trees the few miles we have in Pennsylvania or Maryland on the way to church.  It's not until we get to Delaware (and town) that they are really noticeable!  We counted over 25 trees!  Even our 2 year old enjoyed pointing out the pink trees!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giveaway: Emily of Deep Valley, by Maud Hart Lovelace

Today one of my readers will have the opportunity to read a fabulous book.  It's a classic and takes place in the early 1900's.  Written by the fabulous author Maud Hart Lovelace (especially if you like books of simpler times like Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, yet still quite different from both of those series).

Emily of Deep Valley stole my heart when I read it.  It seems to be one of my favorite books of all time!  I already shared a review of it, but here is just a bit of it.

Emily of Deep Valley: A Deep Valley Book (P.S.)Emily Webster is just finishing high school and longs to go to college.  She lives with her grandfather and is fully committed to staying with him to care for him.  She sees all of her friends off to college and is left alone and lonely.  Depression sinks in.  Emily fights it.  She  thinks about others-especially the Syrians.  She reaches out first to the Syrian children by creating a Boys Club (that a girl is welcome to be part of), and then by teaching the Syrian women English!  Wow...remember this was in the early 1900's!

Not only is Emily amazing in her love toward the Syrians of Deep Valley, but she also had a deep love and respect for her grandfather, as well as others of his generation.  She sacrificially cares for him.  At first it is hard for her, but then it becomes her joy....continue reading by clicking the link!

There is so much more to this book!  It's full of rich personality and even history.  I highly recommend reading it!!  (And of course, being the last day of our celebration week, this is the final giveaway!)  I hope you've enjoyed them!   If you win this book, you might be interested in taking part in the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge, but I wouldn't recommend waiting until October to read it!

Harper Collins is offering a copy to one Live, Learn, Love reader!   Just leave a comment below!  Make sure I have a way to contact you through email or your blogger profile.

Extra Entries: Leave a separate comment for each entry.
~ Follow Live, Learn, Love.
~ Blog (once) about our celebration week.

Giveaway open through April 19th.  

Thank you, Harper Collins, for bringing back these wonderful books to print again!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Your Choice Giveaway! Two Books!

Today I am excited to let you choose a couple of books for our giveaway.  I hope you are enjoying the celebration week!  Don't forget to check out the other giveaways, too!

I have really enjoyed working with the folks at Zonderkidz to review books.  Of course, we've purchased plenty of their titles and have even received some as gifts.  Even if you don't have children of your own, these would make a great gift!!

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His NameOne of my all-time favorite children's Bibles belongs in every home.  It is the Jesus Storybook Bible.  It's written by Sally Loyd-Jones.  The reason I love this Bible is because every story points to Jesus.  The only thing that could make this children's Bible better would be more stories!!   You can read my review here, (and the Bible was NOT provided for review purposes). 

Now, quite honestly, I am not a huge fan of all the princess stuff that is available (sometimes in-your-face-style) for my daughter.  However, we do pretend play, and that includes princess-type play.   I was actually impressed with the Princess Parables books that were sent to us.  The focus is NOT on the princesses, though.  Each of these books shares a different tale similar to the parables that Jesus told.  Included in each book is also the actual Scripture and story that Jesus told making it even easier for children to understand how the Princess Parable is similar to the Jesus Parable.  These books are written by Jacqueline Johnson and illustrated by Jeanna Young.
Princess Grace and the Little Lost Kitten (Princess Parables)
Princess Grace and the Little Lost Kitten tells the tale of how Grace finds a litter of kittens.  After vowing to care for them, one of the kittens becomes lost.  Just as Jesus told of the shepherd leaving the other sheep behind, Princess Grace does all she can to find that lost kitten.  
Princess Joy's Birthday Blessing (Princess Parables)
In Princess Joy's Birthday Blessing , the sisters plan a surprise birthday party for Joy.  Unfortunately, none of the princes and princesses can come to the party.  When Joy learns this, she wants to invite all the ordinary children of the village to the party...and she is indeed, blessed!  

I did notice that in both of these books, though the princesses are blessed to be daughters of the king, there is no mention of the queen.  (Maybe this is to keep our focus on God?  I'm not sure.  But it was very noticeable to me.)  Overall, I do like the cute illustrations, however, in Princess Joy, there is an illustration of a long line of children who are coming to the party.  It clearly shows the first ten or so children.  The rest of the children in line (less than ten children) are shown as gray silhouettes.   Though children may not notice this, I found it to be distracting in these colorful pictures! 

Brave Young KnightPrincesses are not for everyone, especially boys.  However, even my daughter thinks knights are worthy of her attention!  Karen Kingsbury has a new picture book out called Brave Young Knight.  It's the tale of a young knight who is smart, strong, and fast.  However, in the king's competition, he gets beat every time by the other knights because he plays by the rules.  In the end, his honesty is rewarded.  I love everything about this book, and my daughter requests it often.  It's illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard.

Zonderkidz is offering one Live, Learn, Love reader their choice of TWO of these titles!  I definitely recommend all and any of them! 
  Just leave a comment below telling me which two titles you would choose if you are the winner!  Make sure I have a way to contact you through email or your blogger profile.

Extra Entries: Leave a separate comment for each entry.
~ Follow Live, Learn, Love.
~ Blog (once) about our celebration week.

Giveaway open through April 19th.  

Thank you, Zonderkidz, for providing the Princess Parables and Brave Young Knight for review purposes and offering a reader the chance to some great books, too!

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