December 30, 2015

My Top 8 Favorite Curriculum Reviews for 2015

I was blessed with a large amount of quality curriculum and products to review in our home and homeschool this year. I only had a few less than awesome experiences, which is rather telling about the quality of the material out there. I thought that as I gear up for a NEW year with the Schoolhouse Review crew, I would share my top 8 favorite reviews from 2015.
8 Favorite Product Reviews for 2015

The products that made this list earned their spots, because they are things that we are STILL using, or products that were so great they even induced me to buy more from the company!

8. The Ultimate Homeschool Planner {Apologia}

I am happy to say that this planner is still rocking my world! I love having everything I need for homeschool planning and just a basic calendar in the same place--in paper form! I also discovered that small sticky notes fit perfectly in the homeschool planning form spaces, which is great for when I have an appointment or something. I am still recording test/unit scores in the back, and have already written in my monthly calendar through March! It is so nice to finally have exactly what I want in a planner! I am already going to be watching for the next year!

I love finding resources that help me work through the Bible with the boys. When we started our review of the Grapevine studies, I had a feeling it was going to be a good match for us. We have since continued using the product and it has been a great resource. 

One of the best things, is that I find the boys drawing the stick figures on their notebooks during church services too. This is a great way for me to see what they remember and enjoy for our studies! I am definitely going to be checking out the next portion of the series when we are done with this one.
In my review of some skin care products from Koru Naturals, I stated that I would update with how I liked the results of using the products...I love them! I have been using the Manuka Honey and Manuka Oil Facial Cleanser, and the Manuka Honey, Tamarind and Manuka Oil Facial Toner together every night. I have also been following these products with the Skin Care Cream which really seems to seal in the moisture! Interestingly enough, since I started using all three every night, I have not had as many "Tzone" breakouts! 

I also like using the skin care cream on my legs after shaving and on random rough patches I get on my elbows. I am very satisfied with the products and because they seem to last a long time, I may invest in another round when these are empty.

Science. If you are a regular reader than you know that science is not a subject I do well. I just don't like all the planning that has to go into everything! Fortunately, we reviewed Digital Science Online which provided the whole shebang for me: instructional videos, pre/post tests, writing assignments, and experiments! Since our review, we have continued to use Digital Science Online for our primary science resource. With access to all levels, we've even started Baby Britches in some of the primary level lessons. 

I find that having the bulk of the lesson planned out, allows for me to be more creative when it comes to the experiments or extending the lessons. We are currently finishing up a unit on plate tectonics, and I was able to work in using a "build your own volcano" kit, as well as a few plate tectonic activities (graham crackers and whipped cream anyone?). I don't feel so overwhelmed with this subject now, and Little Britches is getting the science he craves. I plan on using the lessons as long as I can, and will be considering purchasing an edition when my free subscription has ended.

Writing and a reluctant writer do not go well together...but the writing curriculum from IEW changed all of that for us! Since we reviewed the product, we have continued to work through it. I have been pleased to see a whole new attitude about writing, AND I witnessed for the very first time Little Britches writing his very own 1 1/2 page story all on his own, as a spin-off from another writing assignment he was doing. This is incredible and reminded me again, of the success that IEW have had in our family. 

We plan on continuing to use the writing program AND i invested in the Kindergarten level writing program to use with Baby Britches. I am happy to say that we are definitely an example of how well the IEW program works for auditory learners!

I had a feeling that I would enjoy Super Teacher Worksheets--and I did. What I didn't realize was that after the review period was over, I would continually return to the website to snag more worksheets, games, and activities for the boys to do. Little Britches has a unit study style Kindergarten, and it is great to be able to do searches on the Super Teacher Worksheets website to see if there is anything that works. I've been able to add in telling time activities, human body activities, states of matter activities, simple phonics books, and much more! 

When Little Britches was stumbling over some grammar exercises, I went to the website and found several worksheets and games that allowed us to do focused attention on areas he needed help with! I also was able to find cut n paste activities that fit several science and geography themes we were learning as well. I love having Super Teacher Worksheets at my fingertips, and plan on renewing my membership when my current one runs out!

Spelling! Oh how this used to be one of the most dreaded parts of our language arts curriculum...until we were introduced to Phonetic Zoo earlier this year. We have continued to use this fabulous spelling curriculum because...well, it works! Little Britches doesn't complain about spelling anymore. Do you even realize how shocking that statement is for me to make? 

I love that after every lesson he has 15 new words mastered--and the skills to spell words that are similar correctly! Phonetic Zoo is all about mastery, which is ideal for Little Britches--as of this point he's completed 10 lessons. Each lesson has 15 words...that means he now has 150 words in his brain that he can spell correctly! Big words! Tricky words! And I see it paying off in his writing too--as he remembers the various jingles he has learned for assistance in determining spelling rules. We will be continuing to use this product, and then will move into the next levels when done! 

This product could be one of the most valuable things that we did all year. I was continuously impressed with the presentation of the information relating to making informed decisions. The book succintly analyzes the main forms of arguments used in discussions, and did it so well, I understood it FAR better working through it with Little Britches than I ever did in my Introduction to Logic class in college 8 years ago! I wish THIS book had been our textbook! 

I believe that now that we have concluded the book, Little Britches has a very good base for analyzing information to form conclusions and decisions. We are even able to still reference things we learned regarding valid and invalid arguments thanks to the every increasing political campaign coverage! If my 9 year old can dissect their arguments and conclude correctly that they are invalid...well, that doesn't say much for the general population that buys into the spectacle! I firmly believe that it would be highly beneficial if children, teenagers, and yes, even adults worked through this book. I look forward to exploring more of what this company offers in relation to critical thinking products!

Well there you have it! These are my top 8 favorite products that I reviewed this year as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew! We were blessed with over 30 different products to review for 2015--and I am definitely getting excited about what is in store for 2016! There are a LOT of new to me companies, as well as some old favorites to look forward to! And it will all start next week!! 
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December 24, 2015

9 Nutritious Additions to Spice Up Your Daily Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to give yourself a pitcher of nutrition! There are so many fruits and vegetables that you can fill it with. With so many great combinations of ingredients, you can easily create a custom treat for yourself. Over the course of my family's smoothie adventures, I have discovered some great lesser known ingredients that pack a major punch and boost to the nutrition level of your breakfast (or lunch and dinner) treat--some are even on the superfoods list! These are the perfect additions to spice up your regular daily smoothies into high nutrition super drinks!
Nutritious Additions to Spice Up Daily Smoothies

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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for the support!

I have little boys with various levels of pickyness, who happen to adore smoothies. I love to try to find ways of amping up the nutrition I pack into the smoothies! It's an easy way to give them the good stuff they might otherwise turn their noses up at. Here are my top nine go-to additions beyond the normally expected smoothie ingredients!

1. Coconut Oil (organic)

I am sure by now you know the incredible, awesome, fantabulous benefits of adding coconut oil to your daily diet. It's called one of the superfoods for good reason! (google it!) I love the organic brand Carrington Farms AND the Kirkland brand that I can pick up at Costco. It's got the best coconut smell, and it lasts until...well until it's empty! I use it for everything--including my smoothies! Some people might not think of adding it to smoothies, because it is usually in solid form. Not only that, but when it gets cold it seems to stay hard. Not ideal for adding to a smoothie with cold and sometimes frozen ingredients. So what do I do? 

I keep my coconut oil in the pantry and that keeps it in a nice semi-solid state that works well for use in smoothies. I also don't like to add the coconut oil until I have everything else blended up, because it seems to mix a lot better that way. I typically like to add about 2 Tblsp to a pitcher of smoothie. It adds not only an incredible punch of nutrition, but also a delightful hint of coconut flavor.

I only recently started adding this to our smoothies, thanks to a suggestion by my dad and wow! It's a GREAT addition to our smoothies, not just for the flavor, but because of the high concentrate of good minerals and vitamins--did you know it has more potassium in it than a banana? And that's just ONE of the awesome minerals contained in this clear liquid! Add in the electrolytes and bioactive enzymes and you really can't NOT try this one out! I also love that adding one 11 oz carton takes care of pretty much all the liquid I need for my pitcher of smoothie. I use the Vita Coco brand, which comes in a nice case at Costco. As long as you get a good quality coconut water, I don't think the brand really matters.

3. Spirulina powder (organic)

Now this is one of my add-ins that really is a lesser known ingredient. Spirulina is a micro-algae that has been used as a nutritional supplement for centuries--and another one of those "superfoods" that people really should consider. If you have ever purchased a green smoothie--especially one from grocery stores--chances are it has spirulina in it! According to the FDA, Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. It also has essential amino acids (compounds that are the building blocks of proteins). In fact, protein makes up about 60 to 70 percent of Spirulina's dry weight. ("Spirulina: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits"

One of the better brands for spirulina (because you REALLY want to make sure you have a high quality brand due to it coming from the ocean where toxins are possible), is Nutrex because it's from Hawaii--one of the few US suppliers for spirulina. I usually add just 1-2 tsp of spirulina powder to my smoothies because it's rather bitter. The boys like watching it turn our berry smoothies purple! I also suggest going with chlorella as well. It's another algae, that is known for helping pull out heavy metals from the body, and is used as a supplement for cancer patients to help deal with radiation treatments (among a host of other things!) A lot of green smoothies you buy at the store have BOTH of these algaes in them.

4. Flax Seed (organic)

Here is another one of those superfoods that I am sure you already KNOW is good for you. Everyone knows how awesome it is for the digestive system, but in general it is known to improve overall health and prevent disease. Flax seed is just awesome and it's one of the definite additions to our smoothies. Sometimes I will grind my seeds in my coffee grinder before putting them into my smoothies, and other times I will use my already ground flax seed powder. I like to add 2-3 tablespoons to my pitchers of smoothie.

5. Milk Thistle Seed Powder (organic)

Now this is one that I'm sure you are probably not very familiar with. But I urge you to do some research on the nutritional benefits of milk thistle--especially in regards to how it helps your liver health (and diabetes!)! Because I have a son who has issues with digestive stuff, I like to add milk thistle seed powder to help maintain a healthy digestive system and take care of our livers. I add about 1-2 tsp in every pitcher and we never notice any taste issues at all because it blends in so nicely.

6. Chia Seed

Chia seed is one of those known superfoods that is popping up everywhere these days! It's no surprise that I add a generous amount of this too! It also is a thickener which helps when you have a very "juicy" smoothie. I order mine bulk from various organic brand companies. I like to use about 1/8 cup in my smoothie, and I add it near the end and let it mix up very well to spread it around. A big power punch for my boys systems!

7. Maca (Ground)

(image source)
Here is another one of those lesser known, yet incredibly fabulous, herbs that you should consider for your smoothies! Maca is primarily cultivated in the central highlands of Peru, looks like a large radish, has a sweet, tangy taste, and an aroma similar to that of butterscotch. Maca root is commonly known to provide nutrients that nourish the endocrine system and is traditionally considered to be anti-fatigue, aphrodisiac, nutritive, immuno-stimulant, steroidal and tonic.("Maca Root: Health Benefits and Side Effects") It's just a great herb to consider adding to your diet! I would add about 1 tsp to a pitcher of smoothie. My mom especially likes to use this one in her smoothies!

8. Cinnamon (organic)

I love cinnamon. It's my most favorite spice and I find ways to add it into all sorts of things--and yes, smoothies is one of those ways! I love the bit of flavor that it adds--AND cinnamon is a very healthy addition to your smoothie! Did you know cinnamon is commonly known to lower blood sugar in diabetics? Or that it may be reduce inflammation and have anti-oxidant effects? (look it up!) I make sure an add 1 tsp to my smoothie...but not much more, because it will change the taste.

9. Elderberry Syrup

I make my own elderberry syrup to help keep our immune systems strong through the year. It is very very easy to make--the most basic recipe is elderberries, honey and water! I have adapted my recipe to include whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and grated ginger too--so it's extra good for you! I use my elderberry syrup in every single smoothie I make! It adds a kick of flavor, so it tastes great--and the nutritional benefits already in the elderberry syrup contribute to the goodness of the smoothie! I like to add about 1/4 cup or so to any smoothie...more if someone has a cold! If you don't think making it on your own will be a good fit for you, I recommend the Nature's Way Organic Sambucus Elderberry Syrup you can find at some stores with health food sections.

I hope this has given you some new ideas of ways to incorporate more nutrition into the already awesome smoothies you are making! Don't forget that you can also add some more common extras like whey protein, hemp protein powder, raw honey, nut butters, kefir...go beyond the dairy, fruits and vegetables! Give your smoothies a nutrition punch!
9 Nutritious Additions to Spice Up Your Daily Smoothie
A pitcher full of goodness to be shared with my boys!


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December 21, 2015

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck {Book Review}

The Wedding Chapel is the newest romance from the USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, Rachel Hauck. It's a story of an old, forgotten chapel that just might hold the key to love and forgiveness. I was tickled that it was one of the books sent as part of my November reading package from The Fiction Guild!

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty...

The Wedding Chapel
by Rachel Hauck is a mix of the past and present exploring the lives of two different couples who's lives are about to collide! We get to visit the past with Jimmy and Collette in Heart's Bend, Tennessee. Jimmy builds the chapel by hand to show his love for Collette. Collette is a WW2 teenage orphan who has come to America to live with her aunt, along with her overbearing manipulative sister. Jimmy and Collette fall in love and make forever promises to each other until a big misunderstanding and family secret forces them apart, never to meet again.

Jump ahead to the modern day where we meet Taylor and Jack. Taylor is a professional photographer who was swept off her feet by Jack, and is now trying to find normal after a whirlwind courtship and marriage. Jack is a workaholic, determined to leave his troubled past behind him...but it's jeopardizing his relationship with Taylor.  Now there are second guesses as they each battle inner demons struggling to choke their love.

When Taylor takes a photography assignment back in her hometown of Heart's Bend, she's suddenly spending time with her great-aunt Collette, a newly retired world famous soap opera star, who has come back to Heart's Bend for her own reasons. When all the journey's and stories collide at the Wedding Chapel and deep family secrets are revealed, second chances at love and forgiveness begin.

What Are My Thoughts?

I think the story was pretty well written. It was blending of three plots into one story, which is no easy feet! Thankfully, none of the characters get lost in it, though I think that more time should have been spent on Jack, Taylor's husband. He's the only one that really didn't get flushed out enough for me. Out of all the characters I liked faithful Jimmy the most. I honestly liked Collette the least...but that might be because not enough time was spent talking about the period of her life after she left Heart's Bend.

I think that some parts seemed rushed at times, as we tried to hurry to the climax. There are mentions of Taylor and Jack as teenagers back in Heart's Bend, but it's all written in memories of the characters. So I felt a little unsure as to what their relationship was back then--and how it changed when they got married and dated. When the story started for Taylor and Jack, I kind of felt like I was missing some pages---I think their backstory, needed to be talked about a little earlier.

I give the book 3 1/2 stars because while it was interesting, I was able to put it down several times and walk away from it. I also think that the story was a bit disjointed as the author tried to piece the 3 plots together--which she did, but I felt it could have been done a bit more smoothly in parts. I still enjoyed the story, but felt it was just average.

by Rachel Hauck
Available in Paperback and Kindle

I have read books by Rachel Hauck before, including her best selling The Wedding Dress. I prefer her Royal Wedding series, of which a couple characters are mentioned in The Wedding Chapel which was fun.

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Compose Yourself: Music in a Box {Product Review}

As a musician--and specifically a pianist--I have been asked MANY TIMES, "Why don't you write your own music?" Well I always like to say that my job is to play what others have worked hard to write. I just don't write music. I did it once. Would you believe it took me WEEEKKKKSSSS to just write 6 lines? Boy I wished there was a shortcut to inspired genius! LOL! Enter Compose Yourself. The ever awesome company Think Fun has released a product which claims to help people like me actually compose music--in just minutes! Say what??? I was so excited when the company contacted me to review this product and eagerly awaited its arrival!

Compose Yourself Product Review
The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Compose Yourself is one of the newest products from the award winning company Thinkfun, creator of learning games that are fun and family friendly. Compose Yourself was created by the famous composer and cellist Maestro Philip Sheppard.

After being called upon to write HUNDREDS of compositions, he got stuck one night in the middle of a composition. He thought for a minute about what Bach or Beethoven might do--they turned their measures of music and notes upside down and flipped them around until they "looked" right. Seeing a piece of transparent paper nearby, Maestro Sheppard created little cards that allowed him to manipulate the same set of notes and rhythms in simple new ways and boom--wrote three more pieces of music that night! That was the birth of Compose Yourself!

Compose Yourself consists of 60 transparent cards (30 pairs), each containing a measure (in 4/4 time) of treble cleff notes. The notes come in three types (half, quarter and eighth) and are in 30 different sequences--BUT each card can be used FOUR different ways as it can be flipped upside down or turned over.
Four different rhythms and note sequences from one card!
Each possible sequence has a code which can be found in the upper left corner. This will be used when entering your card's codes into the website to put your music together.

The "guidelines" are simple...put together rows of four cards. This creates a line of music. The program will accept up to four lines worth of cards, so you have 16 card options! Remember that you can enter the same card code more than once--so imagine the possibilities! Once you have decided your cards order, it's time to login to the Compose Yourself website and plug in your codes to get your composition! Each deck comes with a card that gives you your composition code to be able to use the website. Simply enter that in, and you are ready to start adding in your card codes!

As you type in the code and hit submit, your card will appear on the screen. The nifty thing about this is that you can flip your card over and HEAR how it will sound in each of the four possible options the card has. As you enter your other codes, you can simply DRAG your cards to new spots, if you feel like mixing it up! And of course you are always able to clear your composition.

Once you have the cards entered in an order you like, it's time to hear what it sounds like! At the top you have the option of hearing your cards played by marimba--with just your melody. There is also the option of hearing it played by the orchestra. The third (And my favorite way) is to have both marimba AND the orchestra play the piece. Trust gives you a bit of thrill to hear it for the first time! If you like it and want to keep it, simply title your new composition, and SHARE IT! You can share via email, facebook or twitter! You also have the option to PRINT out your composition, and/or save your tune in mp3 form to listen to later. 

It seemed super simple, so I decided to give it a go with the boys help. I gave the stack of cards to the boys and explained how they could flip and turn around each card until they found something they liked. Now the boys can't read music yet, so they were just going based on the shapes the "note pictures" made. But in about 4 minutes each boy had lined up a row of 4 cards of their choosing. In turn, I also picked 4 random cards doing the same thing as they did. We then worked together to create our 4th line. 

Now, I simply took our card with the website information and registered us, entered our composition code to use the site, and then we were ready to enter our cards! It was super easy to enter all 16 card codes.

We decided not to move anything around and eagerly clicked the PLAY buttons to hear what it sounded like! I alerted the boys when it was each of their lines which brought them great glee. When it was done we deemed it a success and named it Octopus Garden (we were studying octopus at the time) and shared it with our friends and family on Facebook. Everyone loved our song and the boys listened to it over and over again. We printed out a copy and took it to the piano so we could hear our melody again--this time played by MOMMY! 

It was very very fun, and they are eager to give it another go--this time, they each want to write their own music.

As a pianist, I CAN read music, and if you can do this, you can "cheat" your way to making a composition that goes together without randomness. I picked a few cards, and while sitting at the piano, discovered some measures of notes I liked together. So, using these as my guideline, I quickly analyzed each card I grabbed for the particular notes I wanted. When I was done, I had put together a simple melody in F major. 

Done. As in, I did it in like 15 minutes tops. FOUR LINES in 15 minutes. That TOTALLY beats my weeekkkssss and weeeksss time of a previous composition! In my own composition, I did a trick from the website, of entering the same card two times. The program allows for repeats which is great!

I loved my piece when it was done!

What Are My Thoughts?

So after using this product, I just have to say that it's very, VERY clever! It totally delivers on what it declares by saying "Start Writing Original Music in Minutes!" I love how even my 5 year old can create without having to "know" music theory! The website is very easy to navigate and the boys were able to enter their own codes and play the music themselves. They loved being able to share their music with family and friends with a simple click of the button, and to be able to have a sheet music copy for us to keep. 

As a musician, I appreciated having some of the hard parts eliminated--like "where do I start??!" The melody combinations are nearly endless--the product information says there are over 200 million musical composition possibilities! Reading music allowed me to piece together something I thought would sound good based on the notes each card contained. A nice bonus for the music theory trained. 

But here are some things (as a musician) I wished it also did...
#1 All the cards are in the Key of C to keep it simple...but I like to mess around with different keys. I would be cool if after you entered your piece, you could transpose it with a simple click of a button. That would be very awesome. 

#2 It would be cool to have the option of doing some sort of matching guitar chords for whatever cards you picked. This way, even though you wouldn't have a bass cleff, you could still fill it in quickly via guitar accompaniment or playing the chords on piano. Making it a full composition when it prints out for anyone wanting to play it on piano or guitar.

#3 Because you register on the website, I'd like the website to have a user composition library. This would allow the users the ability to save any compositions they make online, in case they want to reference it later.

#4 I would love for the program to allow you to enter as many codes as you want. While 4 lines of music is great for many, more advanced musicians (like me) would love to be able to print out multiple pages of work. One way to get around this right now, is to just enter another 4 lines of music as a "new" composition and then continuing this. Sadly, you won't be able to hear it played all together, but at least you would have all your pages of sheet music if you chose to print it.

Would I Recommend This Product?

In summary, I absolutely recommend this product! It is perfect for any level of musician--especially those who struggle to create from scratch. Although the ages state age 6+, I think it's perfect for even the little guys, as my 5 year old had no trouble with the process or entering his codes. 

*Note that the website did ask for the person being registered to be age 14+, so a parent may need to register a student user.

As a piano teacher, I would absolutely recommend this product to my students! I encourage and have a portion of our lessons devoted to music composition. This would save many of them a lot of agony if they had it to fall back on. 

I honestly think I could hand this to anyone and they would enjoy being able to create music so quickly. Once you do your first one, it inspires you to think how you could swap it up to make it different--that's getting your brain involved!! Proof that this product makes learning fun!

We absolutely will continue to use this product, and I will continue to recommend it to others--especially those with children involved in music. Think of the possibilities!! Someone could quickly write lyrics to their selection and before you know it, the next #1 billboard hit will be made!

Compose Yourself is exclusively available at Amazon for $19.99, but right now, it's on sale for $14.99! Really, it's an excellent deal! 

If you want to learn more, please watch this great video about the product:

This was the third product from Think Fun that I've been fortunate to review, and the third recommendation I have made! Out of all of them, Compose Yourself and Code Master are our favorites--but we look forward to checking out more of Think Fun's products!
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December 15, 2015

Free Printable: Recipe for a Complete Sentence

While recently working through our grammar studies using Fix It! Grammar from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), we have come on a snag. Little Britches has been having some difficulty with telling the difference between a main clause and a dependent clause. The primary difference is that the main clause is a complete sentence, while the dependent clause is not. I decided we needed some additional help to remind us of what makes a complete sentence. After looking around on the internet, I decided to create an 8 1/2" x 11" poster for us to laminate and put up on the wall. This will help him have a quick and easy-to-find reminder, when he gets stuck. 

Because I know there are probably others of you who would like this, I turned it into a printable for you to grab for your own classroom! Simply click the link below the photo and print it off for yourself!

Grab My Recipe for a Complete Sentence Poster

I hope that it will help you, as much as I hope it helps us!

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Copywork: Romans 1:20

Copywork is always useful when you are striving for memorization. I like to make copywork for whatever quote or scripture we are working on--and I am going to start sharing them with you!
scripture copywork for Romans 1:20
I am going to be keeping most of my copywork on my google drive account, which makes it very easy for any of you--because you simply click the link and print!

Romans 1:20 Copywork--print:
Romans 1:20 Copywork--cursive:

Do you have any scripture copywork requests? 
Feel free to comment below and I will work it into my upcoming printables!
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December 11, 2015

All Is Calm, All Is Bright by Colleen Coble {A Book Review}

Colleen Coble is one of my most favorite Christian authors. I love her style and she writes some of the only contemporary Christian books that I like. She has a several series that I love--so when I received her newest book All is Calm, All is Bright (a novella duet) from The Fiction Guild team, I was tickled to discover each of the stories referenced a previous series from her collections---however, I was worried about the book being a Christmas collection. I typically avoid any books with a Christmas theme--so I was concerned that this book review was going to be over before it began, but I decided to give it a try and hope for the best.

December 5, 2015

And the Lord Strengthened Me...graphic and FB cover

I haven't shared any of my graphics lately, so I thought I would share the ones I made last night. I really love this particular passage from the Bible. 

Please feel free to use these for yourself--the second one is suitable for a Facebook cover. To use these, simply right click and "save as". I hope you will enjoy using these!

Have a most blessed weekend!
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December 1, 2015

Feasts Around the World {Poppins Book Nook}

Another Monday came and went--and being that it was the last one in the month of November, it was time for a new theme for Poppins Book Nook. This month the theme was Feasts Around the World. I had such a crazy busy month that I wasn't able to even get you together any book lists about this theme--but fortunately for you, there were several in my team who did! So please make sure you check out what my other team members came up with, so you can get some new ideas for books, activities and/or printables!

We will be taking the month of December off, but join us again (and hopefully I WILL be joining) the last Monday in January 2016 for the next Poppins Book Nook theme! Have a lovely day!

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November 25, 2015

Ten Gifts Under $25 for the Star Wars Fan

It's that time of year. The time when the sounds of the light sabers, the Imperial March, adorable robot whistles, and "May the Force be with you!" fill the air! Yep, the newest installment of the Star Wars movie franchise is around the corner and the atmosphere is fandom filled to be sure! If you are looking for gifts for that Star Wars fan in your life, here is a collection that I have put together sure to bring a smile to their face--and they are all $25 or less!!
10 Star Wars Gifts Under $25

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Star Wars Classic Peel and Stick Wall Decals

Admit it. These are cool. And talk about easy to use for decorating a room! Whether for a bedroom or office, these decals are sure to put your wookie into a good mood! There are 31 decals in the set AND it's a USA made product!

Star Wars Silicone Ice Tray-Set of 6

Cookies, candies, soaps, crayons and even just basic ice. You could make them all with these silicone trays! The set of six trays comes with one tray each of: Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Millenium Falcon, X-Wing Fighter, R2-D2 and Han Solo Carbiner. Seriously. Who WOULDN'T want to float the Millenium Falcon in their glass? 

Playskool Mr. Potato Head Star Wars: Darth Tater Toy

The perfect gift for the younger Star Wars fan (okay, who am I kidding? ANY fan!) is this adorable Mr. Potato Head that is garbed with Darth Vader's attire. Wouldn't this be fun to have on your shelf at work? Prefer to avoid the dark side or go for a different character? Then make sure you check out Luke Frywalker, Spudtrooper, and Mr. Potato Head R2D2!

Star Wars Yoda Golf Club Driver Head Cover

Got someone who loves golf and Star Wars? Why not let them add this darling little Yoda to their golf bag?! It's sure to start a conversation out on the course! Yoda may remind them of this darling catch phrase as they line up their ball: "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." 

Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens Backpack and Blanket

What school-aged Star Wars fan wouldn't enjoy this delightful bundle? A backpack, cup, and fleece blanket is sure to bring a smile to the face of your young Jedi! 

LEGO Star Wars Stormtrooper Figurine Alarm Clock

Wake up your sleepy Jedi or Resistance Fighter with this Stormtrooper alarm clock. The clock features a digital, lighted display and alarm clock. The snooze and backlight functions are activated by pushing down on the minifigures head. At 8" it's perfect for the shelf or bedside table! You could also go for a Yoda or Darth Vader version too!

Battleship: Star Wars Edition Game

I always loved playing Battleship when I was younger--I still do! Here is the latest Star Wars Edition for your game night! It has a portable storage case and you can choose to play as the light side or the dark side. It also includes ships from Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

RISK: Star Wars Edition Game

When I was little, we always had a crowd of family gathered around the table at Thanksgiving. Around another table, was the group of cousins and uncles ready to conquer the world in their annual RISK challenge. If you love the game, you might consider taking it to the next level of "world domination" with this Star Wars edition! Available with three theaters of combat, you can play it as two players or two teams--choosing to be either the light side or the dark side!

Star Wars Darth Vader Talking Money Bank

Seriously. It looks cool, and when you put money in it, you activate the trademark breathing sound effect. Totally cool! Stands 5" tall, so it's perfect for on top of a dresser or shelf. 

Star Wars Character Apron

May the Force be with You as you create a meal for your family! These Star Wars Character Aprons are very fun, and are sure to be a conversation starter the next time you invite friends over for a cookout! Cotton and Machine Washable. Available in Boba Fett, Hans Solo, Darth Vader, C-3PO, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot, Stormtrooper and Yoda.

I hope that gives you an idea on some good inexpensive ideas for gifts perfect for the Star Wars fan in your life---even if it's you!

**As of the publishing of this post, all the above items were $25 or less. Price is obviously subject to change. Please let me know if you discover it is no longer available for under $25!

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