Thursday, May 31, 2012


I was so excited when I was asked to review this collection of products from If you have been a reader for a short time or a long time, you know that I love to be crafty and do projects, by myself and with my kids.

When I opened this package and showed my daughter these supplies she started planning out just what hers would look like.

What is great about these supplies is that they are all easy to apply (you just need an iron) and you can get customized, professional looking tote bags (or purses, aprons, bandanas, laundry bags, headwraps and other types of bags - which can all be purchased from their site, or any other type of iron-able fabric item that you own/buy.) You can buy them online through, which will take you to purchasing them from their parent site of or you can find many of these items at your area Wal-Mart.

Here are some tips when working with these supplies:

  • Layout your design before ironing
  • Slowly peel back the backing, some things are not ready yet
  • Some items you will have to iron several times
  • The rhinestones may stick to the backing, so peel off slowly, taking it one or two rhinestones at a time
  • The furry (zebra letters) took much more ironing that the non-fur (pink leopard) and needed to cool until it was barely warm
With all those tips you should be ready to start ironing away and make some customized items for yourself and for gifts. My daughter (with my supervision just to be sure she was safe with the iron) made the bag for herself and her friend all on her own. She picked out the appliques and designed the layout. This was really a fun way for her to individualize her own bag and the gift she will give to her friend.

And because there was a third bag, I got one too! Hmmmmm! Now what to carry in my new bag is the question.

Other places you can find

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using from Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Worm Discovery

After reading the book Wiggling Worms at Work, my daughter was fascinated to look more closely  at worms and take on a couple as pets.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Try-It Tuesday: Make Homemade Chalk

The chalk may look small in this picture, but these are the size of toilet paper tubes.

You need 3 ingredients to make chalk (2 if you just want white): Plaster of Paris, Water, and Food Coloring.

This 25 pound box of Plaster of Paris cost me a little over $10 from Lowe's, whereas they were selling a 4 pound box for almost $7. If you figure it takes 3/4 C to make one stick of toilet paper tube sized chalk, then 25 pounds is overkill. But we use Plaster of Paris for a variety of other projects and I was thinking I would maybe have a chalk making playdate this summer.

Who wants to come to our chalk making playdate?

I just used old whipped topping containers & plastic spoons to do my mixing in (could be tossed if it hardens & you can't clean, but it will clean easily if you clean while it's wet.)

The I lined the toilet paper tunes with a piece of wax paper that is about 6"x6" and tape the bottom with duct tape.

The great thing about re-purposing these items that would have gone to the trash or recycling is that if they do get ruined in the process I am not out any money I would have spent on buying supplies, plus it adds no additional cost to this project.

Mixing it is simple enough, it's 2 PARTS Plaster of Paris to 1 PART Water and add enough food coloring to get your desired color. If you add a lot of food coloring you may need to add a bit for plaster of paris since the food coloring in a liquid and will thin it.

I found that it takes about 3/4 C Plaster of Paris to make fill one tube. Since I was making 2 of each color, the math was easier. 1 1/2 C of plaster of paris and 3/4 C of water to make to tubes.

As you can see the green ones are smaller, I tried making these with only 1/2 C each, which was not quite enough. I used 3/4 C  each in the yellow chalk.

I think I may do this again with my kids and let my daughter experiment with mixing colors, that is always something she find fun.

Don't forget to check out my post on Northern Cheapskate about How to Make Chalk Paint.

Monday, May 28, 2012

GIVEAWAY: Zoom (book)

This is just a giveaway to have a giveaway!

Zoom (Picture Puffins) is a very neat book with NO words. It starts out with one picture and zooms out further and further with each page. It is a book for ages 5 & up, but kids of all ages (younger and older, even adult-kids) will enjoy this book.

TWO Lucky Readers will win a copy of the book Zoom!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This post does contain an affiliate link which is at no expense to the reader.

Make-It Monday: Artisan Bread

Artisan Bread

5 1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
2 C All-Purpose Flour
2 packets yeast
1 T Salt
1/4 C Vital Wheat Gluten
4 C Luke Warm Water

Measure & Mix all of the Dry Ingredients (I use the dough hook on the kitchen-aid). Mix until it appears well blended.

Add water all at once and mix (NO KNEADING!) until all flour is worked in (again, using the dough hook on the kitchen aid - this works so easily, otherwise you will have to use a spoon.)

Allow to rise in a large bowl with a lid. Place the lid on top but do not seal it. If you don't have a lidded bowl you can use plastic wrap over a bowl, just don't seal it all the way. Allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, then place in the refridgerator. Let it be in the refridgerator for at least 3 hours before making your first loaf. Leave the lid unsealed for the next 48 hours.

Dough will make four 1-lb. loaves. Use dough within 14 days.

To bake, take out a 1 pound section (you make need to cut it off) which is about the size of a large grapefuit. Shape it into your desired shape (circle, oval, etc.) Gently stretch the dough from the sides around the bottom of the ball, this should take about 20 seconds.

Allow the loaf to rest on pizza stone  a silicone mat on a cookie sheet (or use a greased cookie sheet, but coat the bottom of the dough in cornmeal to create a pizza peel). Allow to rest for 90 minutes before baking. Cover loosely with a thin towel.

Thirty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put pizza stone in the middle rack while it preheats and an empty metal broiling pan on the bottom rack.

Just before you place it in the oven you can sprinkle with seeds and herbs and make decorative slices across the top (none of this is necessary if you don't want to.)

Quickly place the dough on the pizza stone (you can leave it on the silicone mat or cookie sheet, but remove those items after 20 minutes. Pour 1 Cup of Water in the broiler pan, this will create steam necessary for baking this type of bread. You need to do these steps quickly so that the oven doesn't decrease in temperature too much while it is open.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire cooling wrack before serving.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: Snapatoonies Educational DVDs

Snapatoonies is an award winning, highly interactive and fun toddler TV show that entertains while it educates kids.

Their videos have already received a couple awards:
  • Dr Toys Best Picks Award 2011
  • Kids First Endorsement Award 2011
Here is a short video clip of my children  (ages 2 1/2 and 6) watching the video "Abby Apple and her Fruit Friends" (which is episode 3) and responding to the questions and requests to engage in the video. You can also watch clips of the first 8 episodes HERE!

They enjoyed the video. It is filled with brought colors and animated fruits. It helps teach them the names of fruits and identify colors and shapes and encourages children to eat fruits and have good health. The catchy singing characters are entertaining to children.

I loved that they had a good mix of cartoon fruit as well as showing actual children eating actual fruit. Children are such little modelers that seeing other children eating something is very encouraging to them. My kids really enjoyed being asked questions and being able to shout out the answers.

Snapatoonies is available for sale on Amazon: Snapatoonies 4 Set Library Starter: Episodes 1 - 4

"Each show is a different story, and every show is packed with more fun and adventures with a new character/host and new and exciting things to learn. The Snapatoonies kids on the train are always encouraging your little ones to shout out the answers and keep interacting with the show. Kids love it, parents adore it. Go take a look at all of the DVDs and find the one you want to watch first."

You can also fine Snapatoonies on Facebook.

 I received this copy of Snapatoonies for the purpose of being able to review it on my blog. All thoughts, opinions, photos and videos in this post are my own. 
This post does contain an affiliate link that is at no additional cost to the reader.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fix-It Friday: Updating Paint/Stain on Planters

 I finally got sick of looking at this fading wishing well (which my parents made us for our wedding as the cardholder - instead of the pot there was a cardboard slot to place cards in - that would serve as a planter afterwards), I decided it was time to apply a new coat of stain to that the color would liven up this flower bed (now to pull all the weeds from it so that it looks nicer.) It really becomes a focal point and it much prettier to look at with a new coat of exterior stain. It's easy enough to do, I just needed to notice it needed attention.
 I wish I would have thought about this blog post before I took these planter boxes down. These were something my parents made me as a gift (birthday, maybe? I can't remember). I had given them a new coat of exterior black paint a few years ago, but now they not only needed new paint but also to be put back together.

They used nails to assemble them and after many years (we're talking around 10 years now) the wood was pulling off from the nails. All I did was remove the entire planter boxes, hammered them back in to place and secured them with a couple screws on each of the side of the back & front.

If you are trying to figure out how they made the planter box, they made an insert with 3 circles cutouts for 4" pots. We did this so that we wouldn't have a rotting wooden planter box, although over the years I realized with such small pots, that they needed to be water every other day and I would often forget which would leave the plants to dry out & die. So, I put artificial flowers in here because I do want that pop of color but I don't want the maintenance.
So, here you can see the planter boxes put back in to place over one of our flower beds.

GIVEAWAY & Review: "The Genesis Code" (DVD)

The Genesis Code is a faith-based movie (rated PG) with a topic that is very interesting. It is about the Book of Genesis (we're talking bible) and the reluctance that some people have to believe in the bible because the story of Creation is just too unbelievable to some and how one group of people made it their mission to discover how to prove the possibility of the story of Creation by supporting it with scientific evidence.

I was very interested in the topic of the movie and appreciated that is is family friendly and is free of sex, foul language and violence. At times the acting is kinda cheesy and and it is slow moving initially, but it does have an interesting point of view of how science and Genesis can both have happened.

Here is the movie synopsis from the movie website:

"Kerry Wells (Kelsey Sanders), a college journalist and committed Christian with an effervescent personality, has been assigned to do a story on Blake Truman (Logan Bartholomew) the college’s newest and very popular hockey superstar. As a relationship between them begins to develop Kerry finds that Blake, who hides behind a tough and independent fa├žade, is actually struggling through a difficult personal crisis and that he bears the cross of a secret he has kept hidden for years. Blake rebuffs Kerry’s suggestion that prayer might help ease his burden; he is convinced that modern science completely disproves the Bible, especially the opening verses of Genesis. Kerry — who is herself suddenly confronted with a challenge to her faith on another front — sets out to prove that science and Genesis are not in conflict and her quest leads to a startling revelation. Could it be that what science teaches us about creation and the Story as told in Genesis are both true!"

The Genesis Code DVD
(Released Tuesday May 8th)

Check out the Trailer!!!!

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“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Reading Programs

PBS Kids: This is a summer reading challenge that begins June 6th (my daughters last day of school coincidentally!) It 's a free 6-week program. You’ll also get book suggestions and discounts, free downloads of PBS KIDS shows and a daily chance to win $1,000 and other great prizes.

Barnes and Noble: Kids can earn a free book when they complete their reading log. Free Books start at the 1st grade reading level.

Half Price Books: Read 300 minutes to earn  $5 HPB Bucks for BOTH JUNE & JULY to use towards the purchase of a new book (s). For ages 14 and under. Parents may read to kids who are still learning to read.

Scholastic: Log your minutes to earn prizes.

Chuck e Cheese: Kids can earn 10 free tokens every 2 weeks for filling out their reading chart. Other types of reward charts for tokens are also available.

Pottery Barn: When a Child 10 and under completes a reading list they can earn a free book. Limit of one free book per child.

Sylvan Learning: This is a free way to earn prizes online for kids K-8 (we have not tried this one yet, but we intend to)

Libraries: Don't forget to check with your local libraries about reading programs they offer. The ones near us offer an incentive at different intervals if you meet a reading goal and they offer weekly live programs, storytimes, and entertainment for the kids. They are really great programs

Don't forget you can also check out the online storytime from Barnes & Noble. This month it is the Very Hungry Caterpillar. They change books monthly and the story is often read by the author, which is quite a neat experience for a child.

And there is always that your children can have books read to them, as well as some other online storybook options.

Review: Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Today I am going to share my review of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil with you.

The possibilities of cooking with olive oil is endless. What do you like to use olive oil in when you cook?

This is a fantastic tasting olive oil and smells divine. It is made with high quality oils from Italy, Spain, Greece and Tunsia.

Pretty much all of my sauteing and stove-top cooking, grill marinades, and salad dressings are made with olive oil.

The picture to the right is of some fresh mushrooms, onions, and garlic that I sauteed using this olive oil and served on top of our tri-tip steak. Sauteed mushrooms, onions and garlic just tastes so delicious served with a steak. The flavors complement each other nicely.

I also use olive oil in my water that I will prepare spaghetti in. I find that having oil in the water before you add the spaghetti will help it from sticking together so much because as you place the pasta in the water the oil will cling to the pasta.

I also like to served olive oil along with balsamic oil (make sure you get a good quality one and it will have this wonderful natural sweetness to it) as a dipper for a nice good crusty bread, like my Artisan Bread.

I received the above bottle of Filippo Berio Olive Oil for the purpose of reviewing the prodcust. All thoughts and  opinions are my own. I did not receive any monetary contributions for this post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Try-It Tuesday: Dinosaur/Monster Feet from Shoe Boxes

Make These Fun Monster Feet
(for your little monster)

All you need is:
2 boxes
duct tape
glue & water
4 pieces of tissue paper
acrylic paint

First thing I did was get 2 boxes that were the same size. Next I taped the lids on, cut holes in the top to insert feet in to, and then made "claws" and taped them to the box.

I made the claws by folding the duct tape in a triangle. Please check out this little video tutorial on how I made them.

 I covered a section of my table with some plastic wrap just so I don't have to worry about glue or paint making a mess.

My glue mixture is 50:50 water & glue. 2 Tablespoons of each. And I used 4 sheets of white tissue paper that I tore up. I applied the glue with my hands and decoupaged the tissue paper over the entire foot (except the bottom). I used 2 layers of tissue paper.

If you have colored tissue paper, you could skip the step of painting and just leave it as is when it is dried. Although, I would add one extra layer of the glue/water mixture after it has dried.

 Here is how they look after I finished decoupaging 2 layers of tissues paper on each. Decoupaging the layers is necessary to give it an outside layer than pain will stick too.
 Once it is dry, the glue will dry clear and it will be the color of the tissue paper. If you did not use color tissue paper or if the color of your boxes still comes through, you will want to paint it.

I like to paint with acrylic paint because it covers well with one coat and you can easily buy a small bottle for under $1. If you are letting your kids paint, don't worry about the mess. Just make sure you have covered your table (hence the plastic wrap) and dress them in play clothes and/or a smock. And if they do spill, it will clean up very easily with water when it is still wet.

And then let dry.

Begin play!

GIVEAWAY & Review: Storyland Yoga DVD

My Thoughts:

We have had Storyland Yoga for about a year now, so when I found out about the opportunity to tell my readers about it and offer a giveaway to you, I had to jump at the chance. We have tried out several other kids yoga dvds, as well as Storyland Yoga and we really enjoy Storyland Yoga. What we like best about it is:

  • They are learning lifelong habits of stretching through yoga poses.
  • They are entertained by the story.
  • They are able to remember how to perform the poses by referencing the "animal" names.
  • It is something we can do together and yoga is not just "mommy's thing".
  • Access to this dvd is great when the weather is not conducive to playing outside.
  • It is easy to follow along with and moves at a comfortable pace.
  • You have the choice of 2 programs to do, as well as some not to be missed special features.

My daughter's physical education teacher has been teaching them yoga stretches as a way of conditioning their body and helping them calm their bodies as a part of his curriculum. This teaching in the school really helped solidify to her that this is valuable and not just a tv show. We'll continue to use this dvd through the summer months when the weather is not cooperative for outdoor play or just to keep up go yoga stretching habits.

Some More Info:

Winner of Parent’s Choice Approved, Mom’s Choice Gold,Dr. Toy’s Best Green Product and Creative Child Magazine “Preferred Choice”in the Environmentally Friendly Category.

Storyland Yoga is a fun-filled adventure that infuses children with an eco-conscious message. Two unique stories, “Save the Whale” and “Condor Trek” engage a child’s imagination through storytelling. Kid’s learn yoga postures by becoming part of the story and imitating animals. Yoga is great exercise and helps to calm children giving them greater focus and increased clarity. Storyland Yoga is equally fun for parents and family members who can benefit from yoga, while enjoying ‘organic time’ with their children.

General Information:
Ages 3 – 8
Condor Trek Run Time: 23:18
Save the Whale Run Time: 18:30
Produced by Playful Planet:
‘Empowering Kids and Their Families to Be Healthy and Live Sustainably.’
100% Recycled Packaging

There are a couple options if you are interested in buying this kid yoga DVD. You can purchase the full DVD from their site, you can download each of the yoga programs individually on your computer (so you pay a cheaper price to download them & save yourself some green) or purchase it from Amazon: Storyland Yoga: Yoga for Kids and Families (ages 3 to 8).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This blog post does contain an affiliate link which is at no expense to the reader. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.