Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Reading List


      I didn't read anywhere near as much as I would have liked to in 2012, but I still managed to finish about 10 books last year.  This year though, I've turned to my constantly growing "To Read" list to make a reading plan for 2013. I know I won't get through this entire list, but at least I'm not going to run out of things to read. :)


The Orchardist
This was a really beautifully written book with some very strong, amazing characters. Really fast moving at the beginning, but slows a bit in the middle. It's hard to believe this is Amanda Coplin's first novel. I'd definitely recommend this book and rated it 4 out of 5 stars.
A Grown-Up Kind Of Pretty
Some people may consider it cheating, but I didn't actually "read" this book, but rather I listened to it on  cd (unabridged).  I am so glad that I did though. When I saw that it was read by the author, I had mixed feelings about that, but when I began listening, it was fantastic. Being from the south, I'm a sucker for souther fiction and quirky southern characters. I enjoyed this book so much, I immediately want to the library for two more by Joshilyn Jackson - both of which I loved as well! 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
This was an enjoyable read, but not my favorite. Maybe I'm just not enough of a geek to fully enjoy this book. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but all in all, not a bad read. 3 out of 5 stars.

The Secret Keeper

The Hiding Place
Since I forgot to review this book right after I read it, I can't remember enough to give it a full review. Overall, I found this to be a pretty good mystery, however, I didn't like many of the characters and it just didn't compare to some of the other great mysteries I read this year. While I enjoyed the book, I can't say I'd would wholeheartedly recommend it to others and only give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The Light Between Oceans
This is one of those books where you find yourself not really sure who to root for, feel sorry for, or hate. It's a story of what happens when good people choose to do something really wrong, and what happens as a result.  4 out of 5 stars.
The Complete Anne of Green Gables
My hopes of reading this entire series may have been a little overly zealous. I did get through the first two books in the series though and loved them as much as I remember loving them as a young girl. I still plan on working my way through the rest of the series. 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Cleaning House

The Pioneer Woman Cooks
When I first discovered The Pioneer Woman, I found her first cookbook and sat and read it like a novel. I made several of the recipes, and as with all cookbooks, some were hits, and some were misses. When she came out with a second cookbook last year, I was excited to get my hands on it. Finally I was able to get a copy from my local library and I think this one far surpasses her first cookbook! While I loved all the personal stories in the first book, I was happy to see so many more recipes in this one. Flipping through it, I think just about everything looked like something I would make. I honestly can't rate the actual recipes as I had to return the book to the library before I had a chance to make anything, but this will definitely be my next cookbook purchase!

A Life That Says Welcome

French Kids Eat Everything
French Kids Eat Everything is a really fascinating book chronicling one Canadian family as they move to France for a year, and what it taught them about the French attitude toward food.  Some of her French food rules, I found to be very practical and have started implementing some of them in our home. Some of them were not as practical for us, but as with any book, you take from it what works for you, and leave the rest. My kids are not super picky eaters, but this has definitely helped in introducing new foods in a positive way in our house. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.
The Homemade Pantry
While I didn't actually read this book cover to cover, I did flip through it and concluded that it would indeed be a great addition to my cookbook collection. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of making my own yogurt.  There were recipes in this book for things I would have never even thought to make at home before seeing them in this book. I can't properly rate this book as I haven't actually made anything from it, but I can definitely say it's worth checking out.

Reading Magic
I think this book would be really beneficial for someone who doesn't regularly read aloud to their kids. For me, as someone who regularly reads aloud to my kids, and possibly the fact that I was raised by a librarian :) I found that this book didn't really offer anything new for me. If you already read aloud to your family, you probably already do most of what she suggests in Reading Magic. I personally gave this 3 out of 5 stars, but I would still recommend it for someone just starting out reading aloud.
The Creative Family

How Do You Tuck In A Superhero?

15 Minutes Outside

Give Them Grace

Families Where Grace Is In Place

Creative Correction

Personal/Spiritual Growth

Let. It. Go.

Jump Off The Hormone Swing

Made To Crave


Jesus: 90 Days With The One And Only
A group of ladies from my church all did this study together starting in January. I had done other studies by Beth Moore previously and really loved her insight into the scriptures. I enjoyed this Bible study, but was kind of glad when it was done. I thought it began to get a little repetitive by the end of the 90 days. I also felt that after about 60 days I was ready to move onto a different writing style and perspective. I will more than likely use this book again in the future, but in small doses, putting it down and moving onto something else when I want to. 3 out of 5 stars.
Excellent, Excellent book! Our pastor recommended that the whole congregation read this book as it goes along with our churches theme this year. I have had the privilege of reading and watching some of Paul Tripp's other materials and I've always loved his approach and sound Biblical teaching. This book will really give you a great perspective on eternity and how it affects your relationships, your job, your parenting, and pretty much everything in the here and now. I think this is a fantastic book and would highly recommend it. 5 out of 5 stars.

     I have so many more than this that I'd like to read eventually, as well as a long list of selections to read aloud to the kids, but that could fill an entire post by itself. So, what am I missing? I'm always looking for good suggestions, so if you have a favorite book that you don't see on this list, leave me a comment and I might add it to next years list. Also, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to reading that you can follow here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sundae Party!

We finally finished the last thing on our summer fun list, and can you believe I completely forgot to take pictures until everyone had left and all the fun was over. This is a picture of the kids standing in front of the aftermath. 

My Grandmother is a natural entertainer.  I, unfortunately did not get those genes.  The details of having people over really stresses me out for some reason.  Not just one or two couples, but anytime there's more than that I lose sleep over it.  I have to say though, an Ice Cream Sundae Party is definitely the way to go if you want to have people over without all the stress.  All we had to do was provide ice cream, cones, and paper goods.  The guests brought their favorite toppings, and we were all set.  It's that simple - easy peasy! (I did buy a few basic toppings in case nobody brought the ones I wanted.)  We had tons of fun, and I was actually able to just sit back and enjoy my company instead of spending all my time in the kitchen.  We really hope to make this an annual end of summer event at our house! 

Well, thanks for following along with us through the events of our summer.  Stay tuned for our Fall Fun List, and I hope to have a few preschool related posts coming up soon as well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Almost Finished!

I can't believe we're down to the last thing on our Summer Fun List! While summer vacation may be over, it is still technically the summer season, so we've still got time to squeeze that last thing in.  Before I get to what we haven't done yet, here's a few pictures of what we did check off the list over the last few weeks.

We also did a family talent show.  I know nothing about putting together and editing videos. You can be thankful for my lack of knowledge in this area as it spared you from the worst talent show in the history of mankind. Oh, don't get me wrong, we had fun and I laughed (a lot). In fact, most of the video you couldn't hear because I was laughing so hard the entire time.  To sum it all up though, Patty did "gymnastics", Petie karate chopped things, Peanut danced, and so did Penny (all decked out in a bumblebee costume).  The professor juggled and I, the uber talented of the group threw grapes in the air and caught them in my mouth. I know, it's a shame I couldn't figure out that video thingy.

 We also made postcards.  Don't tell the kids, but even though we made them weeks ago, I haven't actually sent them out yet.  I'm good at the planning, not so good at the follow through.

We also had on our Summer Fun List to bake cookies for someone.  I didn't have anyone in particular in mind for this, and it was nearing the end of the summer when an opportunity came up for us to get this one done. My kids really enjoy doing things for others, and I'm glad they didn't just look at this as something to check off the list, but as a way they could bless someone.

And that's it! Only one thing left on the list.  I could probably get away with leaving it at that and most of you would be none the wiser, but since there's probably someone out there keeping track ready to point out the few things I missed, let me explain.

-Camping: We had this planned; it rained.  Technically we had done it at the beginning of the summer for Petie's birthday anyway, so we just went back and counted that.
-Spend A Rainy Day in PJ's: The kids had me take this down. Believe it or not, they weren't the least bit interested in doing this.
-Take a Hike: We're actually just moving this one to our Fall Fun List, so technically, while we didn't complete it, we're just moving it. :)
-Go to a Movie: This one's getting moved to a Winter List.
-Donation Day: We did this, no pictures, no story, just that.  We picked things, we donated them. End of story.

So, there you have it, 27 (give or take a few) super fun activities for you to do with your family.  We've had a blast checking these off, and it really made the summer go by quickly without too many "I'm bored" kind of days.  Item 28 - Ice Cream Sundae Party is scheduled for this Saturday and it's the one I am most looking forward to! Stay tuned for our final installment of the Summer Fun List posts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Fun Successes....and Failures

     We've actually gotten quite a few things done on our Summer Fun List over the last few weeks, I'm just not very good at getting blog posts written.   Because of that fact, this is going to be one jam packed post. I'll try to keep it relatively short, but I still have to put up lots of pictures for my mom :)
     First, I'll start with what didn't go right, and progress to our huge successes.  The first thing that was an utter failure was something I thought would be relatively easy - a huge indoor fort. I think what went wrong with this was the "huge" part.  I really took that word and ran with it.  The problem was, it got too big and unwieldy.  I was getting very frustrated and it didn't help that the kids kept telling me, "Maybe we should just wait till Daddy gets home." Needless to say, I tore the whole thing down and we never really attempted it again.  I'm still crossing it off the list. (No picture for obvious reasons.)
   Our second failure was this idea I've seen floating all over pinterest to make a Giant Squishy Water Bag.  If you want to see what it's supposed to look like, you can go here and follow her instructions to make your own.  The reason ours was a failure had nothing to do with the construction of the thing itself, more the fact that we don't have a spot in our yard flat enough.  We taped the whole thing up as instructed, but as soon as we got a good bit of water in it, the whole thing started rolling and sliding down our slight slope.  There it got wedged under our chain link fence and ripped numerous holes in the bag.  The kids were so bummed that it didn't work, so I cut the whole thing open, laid it flat and turned it into a giant slip & slide.  They still had fun and that's really all that matters.

     Now, on to our successes.  We made two different flavors of Kool-aid slurpees using the instructions found at My World Made By Hand.  These were so easy to make and turned out great.  Honestly, I haven't actually bought a slurpee anywhere lately, so I don't really know how they compare, but I thought they were delicious!  We also made a copycat recipe for Sonic's Cherry Limeades that I found on Pinterest, and while I thought they were good, I still prefer the ones from Sonic.

      Another fun success - Living Room Sleepover.  Complete with a movie and Marshmallow Popcorn - so yummy! I could not stop eating this stuff!  You can find the recipe at The Craft Patch. (FYI: I've made this recipe twice now, once with store brand marshmallows, and once with name brand, and the name brand version was much less sticky.)

    Painting T-shirts was an activity we were all looking forward to.  It took me a while to gather all the supplies though, and in the end, I think this was probably one of our most expensive activities this summer. If I had already owned fabric paint or freezer paper it would have been much less, but I had to buy everything for this project.  I followed the tutorial at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar for the freezer paper stenciling and they turned out great!  I did find that painting a darker paint on a lighter shirt worked much better than trying to use white paint on a darker shirt.  Those just took too many coats and ended up bleeding a little under the stencil.

     We had a rare rain shower one afternoon last week that wasn't accompanied by thunder, so we were able to cross Play in the Rain off our list.

      And finally, our biggest success had to be the Gigantic Bubbles. I don't know why, but I was a little skeptical about this one.  I shouldn't have been though because they turned out AWESOME! I followed the tutorial at Tatertots & Jello for the bubbles and wands, but I only made about half her recipe of bubbles and that was plenty.  If you're looking for something fun to do with your kids, they will most definitely love this activity! At least mine did :)

     Well, that's what we've been up to.  We still have 11 things left on our list and school is fast approaching.  Enjoy those last few weeks before school starts and I hope your all busy making summer memories of your own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We've Been Busy...Having Fun!

     More progress has been made on our Summer Fun List! First off, I found a basic recipe in a magazine for funnel cakes, but this recipe is almost identical to the one I used. I can't believe how incredibly easy they are to make, and SO DELICIOUS!!  My kids actually said they were better than the ones at the fair :)

     Since we didn't get enough of a sugar high from the funnel cakes, we also made S'More Cones last week. (Not the same day - that would be insane!)  We used waffle cones, stuffed them with mini marshmallows, chocolate chunks, sprinkles, white chocolate chips, and mini peanut butter cups. You can really put anything in there you want, that's the beauty of these!  Then we wrapped the whole thing in foil and put them in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.  We would have done these on the grill or over the fire pit, but it was storming outside the day we made them.  They still turned out AMAZING and were so much less messy than s'mores.  We will definitely be making these again soon.

     After all that sugar, we needed an activity to get us out and moving.  Unfortunately, it was raining that day, so we chose bowling off our list.  We signed our kids up for the Kid's Bowl Free program at our local bowling alley, and the professor and I purchased the parent pass when it was offered at a 20% discount. This was a really fun activity for all of us, but by the end of the second game Peanut was getting a little tired of bowling.  The rest of us took turns finishing out her game and of course, she beat us all.

     Another activity we completed on our list was feeding some ducks. When we first got out at the lake all that was around were these nasty, mean geese.  Then, from way across the lake we saw all these ducks jump into the water and start making their way across to us.  Once the ducks got over to us, the kids had fun feeding them bread while I tried to distract the geese.  The geese were so mean and aggressive, hissing at us and getting a little too close for comfort when they wanted more bread.  When we were all out of bread, I told the kids to make a run for it to the van.  I was seriously afraid of being attacked by these hissing geese.  We made it safely to the van with no injuries, but needless to say, feeding ducks is no longer an activity I think of as fun (at least not when there are geese around).

     We were also able to check off Make Slime, but I forgot to get a picture of it.  We used this recipe for our slime and it turned out great.  
     We also checked off Watch Movies All Day. This was meant to be done on a rainy day, but we had a string of days in the high 90's, so after a few days of the kids playing outside in the heat, I thought they needed a break and so I allowed them to watch movies instead.  As I sit here looking at my board with 18 more things on it I'm beginning to think I may have been a little ambitious when I made our list. We may not get them all done, but we're sure having fun trying :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Parks and Trying to Stay Cool

     A friend was just telling me about a great new park that was put in recently in our area.  We haven't had a chance to go yet, so when I saw "Discover a new park" on our Summer Fun List this morning, I decided to load the kids up and head to the new park before the day got too hot.  I love to see great new playgrounds go in that actually look like traditional playgrounds. For some odd reason, so many of the parks around here look more like art installations than playgrounds, and kids have no idea how to play on the weird equipment.  We all had a great time, and we get to check another fun thing off our list!

     We haven't been suffering the brutal heat lately that some of the country is feeling, but it is summer, and the temps have been climbing into the 90's around here - which is hot for us, especially for June.  In an attempt to stay cool, we chose some things off the Summer Fun List to help with that.  A few weeks ago we made popsicles, and also had a Sponge Bomb Water Fight.  Two more things to check off the list - only 24 more to go :)