Apr 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Tea Party


Click the pic above to get to other Wordless Wednesday Participants or go check out the following links:

Mothers Day Bookmark Crafts for the kids to make

Flower Bookmarks for Mom

Photo Bookmarks

Turn an old-fashioned film strip into a book mark

Easy Gift for Toddler to Make: Bookmarks 

Butterfly Bead Bookmark

Foam Bookmark Craft

Simple Bookmark any Mom would love

Bookmarks for Mom

Lil footprint bookmark

Vegetable Medley Pasta (vegetarian, high fiber, low fat, clean eating)

2 cups Whole Grain penne noodles, dry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow squash, halved and sliced
1 Japanese eggplant, quartered and sliced
1 large fresh tomato, grated (I chopped)
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup basil, sliced thinly
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
(use whatever veggies you have on hand that are fresh and tasty)

Cook pasta until noodles are soft but still have a bit of a bite to them.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan over medium heat with garlic and onion.
Add bell peppers, squash, and eggplant.
Let vegetables begin to soften.
Add grated tomatoes, broth, salt, and pepper,
Cook down until vegetables are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add basil and parsley. Stir into the vegetables until the herbs are wilted.
Drain the pasta, but reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Empty pasta into a large serving bowl, add pasta water, and top with vegetable mixture.
Stir everything together so that it's evenly incorporated.

Serves 4 to 6.

Apr 29, 2014


Prince Charming got a call yesterday that may really help us out.  He has an opportunity to upgrade and update his welding skills.  This may mean giving him a better chance at getting a job in that field!  Which would be wonderful and would make it so much easier to continue saving for our plans for the fall!  I have high hopes that this will work out well for us!

Smothered Cabbage (fat free, vegetarian, high fibre, clean eating)

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 or 2 yellow cooking onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt, pepper
  • little water or broth
  • drizzle of maple syrup or honey
  1. Take cabbage, discard the core, and cut the leaves into thin shreds.
  2. Slice onions.
  3. Press cloves of garlic.
  4. Water saute the onions and garlic until they start to caramelize.
  5. Add the cabbage shreds and stir/turn so it gets coated with the onions.
  6. Once the cabbage wilts (and it wilts down a whole lot) add salt, pepper, a little water or broth, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
  7. Cover the pan tightly, turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook for at least 1-1/2 hours, or longer.   
  8. You may want to take the cover off toward the end to allow the moisture to mostly evaporate. 
  9. At the start the pan is probably too full to stir, so it is good to keep covered it until the cabbage started to wilt down. By the time the cooking was completed the pan was only about 1/3 full, so it cooks down a lot.
  10. The cabbage should be completely wilted and soft and starting to caramelize, and the liquid should be mostly cooked away. 
  11. Taste and correct seasoning.
Great as is for a side dish or as a topping for baked potatoes, or in a soup with rice.

TOS Crew Review: The Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures Review
Princess Belle loves adventures and we both love homeschooling...so when we were the opportunity to receive The Brinkman Adventures audio-drama about a homeschooling family and some adventures they experienced, we were both really excited. We received a digital download ofThe Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24.

The Brinkman Adventures operates on a donation basis. The suggested price is $25.00 or $17.00 for the digital downloads.  The set includes 4 CD's which includes 12 episodes and 5 + hours of listening pleasure.

The dramas are stories for all ages, so they can be enjoyed by the whole family together.  Occasionally an episode will specify (on the recording) that it would be best for ages 10 and up due to intense situations.

You can listen to a sample of The Brinkman Adventures.  You can also learn more about the story behind each episode but you may want to listen to them first so the ending isn't spoiled!  I needed to download the digital files as either mp3s or mp4s to be able to play them on my computer.  I just downloaded them to my computer and played them through my media player, while Princess Belle on the couch and listened with headphones on. 

Brinkman Adventures Review

The Brinkman Adventures are family audio dramas made by a Christian family.  The Brinkmans have mom and dad and 9 children.  Princess Belle loved that their family was even bigger than ours and was totally thrilled to learn that the kids all play themselves!  She loved the idea that she was listening to the actual kids who went through the adventures.  She didn't care at all that the mom and dad are played by actors.

We were introduced to the Brinkmans in their second season, but I didn’t feel like we had missed any vital information not having heard season one.  I would suggest listening to the episodes in order because some story lines carry over from story to story.  Even without the first season, Princess Belle thoroughly enjoyed the stories, the acting, the sound effects, and the music.  The stories are compelling, exciting, and educational.  After she finished listening she insisted on going to the web page so that she could see the stories behind the stories.  And each episode is about fifteen minutes long- making them perfect for a little time to relax and listen after we finished our other homeschool world. Two of the episodes have two parts, a continuation in the following episode, which Princess Belle insisted on listening to all at once. LOL

The stories all weave in the family interacting with missionaries.  We travel to different countries and different time periods.  Sometimes when a missionary is telling a story, the drama goes back in time and acts out that story.  Princess Belle would often stop the Mp3 for a moment so that she could repeat some cute or interesting thing that she had heard. 

Each of the stories are based on real life missionary stories. Princess Belle enjoyed the stories while learning about topics such as witnessing in Muslim countries, Bible smuggling, rescuing children in slave trades, and searching for Mayan treasures.  There is an amazing amount of information and excitment packed into the stories - everything from famous people, character building, geography, vocabulary, and historical facts.  My kids love learning about different countries and cultures, so it was fun for Princess Belle to realize that these stories take place all over the world: China, Mexico, Belize, and even a fictitious middle Eastern country called Bazakistan.  And I really loved that wonderful lessons such as doing hard work and not complaining. 

Overall, I am really happy to have had this opportunity to review Season 2 of The Brinkman Adventures! Princess Belle thoroughly enjoyed these amazing missionary stories. I highly recommend this wonderful series to any family who have the desire to teach their children about missions through highly captivating, true life missionary stories. You will not be disappointed with The Brinkman Adventures!

Check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brinkman-Adventures/152895116079 and click the banner below to read what other crew mates had to say about them. 

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Apr 28, 2014

Mother's Day Flower Crafts

Here are some fun ideas for Mother's Day that are inspired by the flowers we hope to see growing outside soon.

Flower Cards Made by Kids

Celery Print flower card

Pen Flowers

Children’s Art Vase

Clothespin Planter

Easy Mothers Day craft for kids

Easy Cut & Paste Flowers 

Fingerprint Candles

Fingerprint Flower Vase! 

Pipe-Cleaner Bouquet

Flowers for Mom with coffee filters

Tissue Paper Flowers

Handmade picture flowers in a pot 

Flower card

Paper Tulip Bouquet

Egg Carton Daffodils

Basket of fun

daffodil bunting

daffodil bunting

Pop Out Flowers 

Paper Flowers

Cornbread (vegetarian, fat free, clean eating, high fiber)

Yummy served with chili!

preheat oven to 425*F

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole grain medium grind corn meal (bob's red mill)
  • 1 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or honey or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 cup of soy milk
  • 3/4 cup of water ( or you can just do 1 3/4 cups of soy milk)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

1. lightly grease pan (you can use something like this):
2. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
3. Pour into pan.
4. bake for about 25 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean from the center.

Apr 27, 2014

The Medici Boy


Astor + Blue Editions is proud to release perhaps the most passionate work of master storyteller, John L’Heureux, in The Medici Boy [ISBN:  978-1-938231-50-6 (Hard Cover); ISBN: 978-1-938231-48-3 (E-book); US $25.95; Historical / Literary Fiction; 346 Pages, April, 2014].

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/1kkIpLL
Astor+Blue:  http://bit.ly/1dIUz2I
Reader’s guide (great for book clubs):  http://astorandblue.com/bonus-stuff/

I was lucky enough to be given a chance to review the novel "The Medici Boy" by John L'Heureux.  As soon as I read the first page of "The Medici Boy" I was transported to a different time and place. I felt like I was right there in the 15th-century, in Renaissance Florence, learning so much about that time in our history.  I was with the great sculptor Donatello in his bottegas (workshops) in Florence and Padua, in awe of his immense talent and sharing his passions.  Learning life was like in that era.  The book was filled with details regarding the thriving mercantile economy, the treacherous social lives of prostitutes and homosexuals, the brutality of the bubonic plague, and, of course, the making of glorious, unparalleled works of art such as Donatello's David:

I love that we take this journey through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant.  Luca suffered a rough early life, until at age twenty, he becomes an apprentice/assistant to Donatello.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written novel and it prompted me to do further research on the things I learned.  I wanted to know more about the historical times that I was reading about.  

The author, John L’Heureux, is an award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer.  He has taught at Georgetown University, Tufts, Harvard, and for over 35 years in the English Department of Stanford University where he was Lane Professor of Humanities. L’Heureux has written more than twenty books of fiction, short fiction and poetry. John L’Heureux was awarded a Guggenheim Grant to do research for The Medici Boy, his new novel. He is retired and lives in Palo Alto with his wife Joan.

Gratitude Sunday

Gratitude Sunday
Sunday's heart felt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.

Here are some things I am grateful for this week:

1. Today I am feeling grateful for my kids, for how cute they are, for how sweet they are, for how very special they are.  They make me smile every day, like in this pic, where Princess Snifflefritz feels like her fingers are cold so she is trying to put them in her little pockets to warm up.  She looks so cute in the rain jacket she insisted on wearing and her baggy jeans. 

2. I am grateful for sweet babies that love to play outside and that the weather is finally starting to get warm enough for them. 

3. I am grateful for the deck they like to sit on and catch some sun, even if they do it wearing mittens, and a jacket.

4. I am grateful for impromtu musical numbers on the sunny deck!

5. I am grateful for how much Princess Magpie adores her little brother, and how excited she is every single time she sees him.

6. I am grateful for this sweet baby boy who makes me smile every day.

7. I am grateful for every single new thing he learns and for each time he takes an interest in the world around him.

 8. I am grateful for Princess Belle and how much she adores each and every one of her younger siblings.  She is a great big sister.

9. I am grateful for the middle girls and how much they depend on and enjoy each other.  They really have a special bond.
10. For finding a diet that makes me feel better.  Here's hoping I continue to get healthier and healthier.