Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Julia Child

{You know the drill.  Like most of my posts that discuss books, this one contains affiliate links.}

You know how I love to read my kids picture books about real people.  (If not, go here, here, and here to see some other excellent choices.) They're not really biographies.  Actually they're not biographies at all, but more like fanciful stories based on people that lived real lives.

I picked up three books this month about Julia Child, the famous chef.

Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Catby Susanna Reich was the first book we read.  Minette was Paul and Julia Child's cat  who sampled all of the food Julia made in her French apartment.  Of course, like most cat's, she had opinions about the food.

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Childby Jessie Hartland was crammed full of delicious detail.  Of the three books, it was closest to biography format and took fewest creative liberties with the facts. The creativity came in the layout of the book instead.  You would have to take a peek inside the book yourself to fully understand, but there were so many sketches, timelines, recipes,and tidbits tucked in the pages that it took us three days to get through it all.  Though it's a picture book, it would probably appeal more to older children because of the depth of content in this excellently compiled book. 

Julia, Childby Kyo Maclear was my least favorite.  In the book, a young Julia likes to cook French food and she has a close friend named Simca,  but that's where the facts end.  The story is entirely made up and involves teaching grown-ups to stay young so they can have a good time.  It was all a little silly for my taste. (Pun intended.)

Have you ever read anything about or by Julia Child?

I read Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously years ago after watching the movie.  I loved the movie, but the book was far more crass and I was unimpressed.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Re-reading: what do you think?

{This post, like most of my posts that discuss books, contains affiliate links.}

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all."
~Oscar Wilde

I read the above quote a few weeks ago and I'm not sure what I think. I have two qualifications for what earns a place on my at-home bookshelves. 
  • Will I read it again?
  • Would I loan it out to someone else?
Obviously that means there are books I consider worth a re-read, but with so many, many books on my to-read list, I wonder if it's a waste of time to re-read something I've already taken time for once. 

There are exceptions. I've read Keep a Quiet Heart3 times because it has such depth. I'm currently reading  Jacob Have I Loved because I haven't read it since childhood and it takes place in the county where I currently live and mentions places I recognize. I've also read two of my favorite modern novels twice each (Some Wildflower In My Heart and Not a Sparrow Falls).

I'm sure there are others, too.  One of my favorite tricks to accomplish a little re-reading is to read aloud to my kids a book I enjoyed in childhood.

So, how do you feel about re-reading books? Do you do it? Any favorites?

 For other posts in my Book Talk series, click here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Photos: Then and Now

My blog celebrates 7 years in April. When I started blogging, our family was smaller and the kids looked like this:

Easter 2008
Owen (19 months), Maddie (3.5), and Gavin (5)

Some years I've blogged a family photo with all its joyful imperfections-- the frowns, the squints, the looking away, the baskets on the heads (um, yeah) ...

Benjamin (3.5), Owen (5.5), Alaine (19 months, Maddie (7.5), and Gavin (9)

Owen (6.5), Benjamin (4.5), Gavin (10), Maddie (8.5), and Alaine (2.5)

Owen (7.5), Alaine (3.5), Benjamin (5.5), Gavin, (11), and Maddie (9.5)

This year we have noticed great change in some of the kids-- not the average growth that occurs in a  typical year, but a more dramatic change in appearance and maturity.

Easter 2015
Maddie (11.5), Alaine (4.5), Owen (8.5), Benjamin (6.5), and Gavin (12) 

Have I mentioned I'll have a teenager before the year is complete?

Saturday, April 4, 2015


{This post contains affiliate links. I received a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.}

I am never without a book on my nightstand. Reading is what I do in my "spare" time so finding myself without a book leaves me in a bit of a panic.  Before I finish one book, I make sure to have another waiting. Ironically the book I chose after Unbroken  (review here) was Undoneby Michele Cushatt-- from one book about a man whose strong spirit could not be shattered in the midst of great trial to another book about a woman who surrendered her broken circumstances to God, leaving her vulnerable to pain.

While I tend to skew more toward fiction books, this year about two-thirds of my reading has been of the non-fiction variety. Plus I've always loved memoirs so after seeing this one mentioned on another blog I added it to my Amazon wish list. When it was offered through BookLook Bloggers, I requested a copy for review.

The book is broken into two sections, corresponding with two major trials in the author's life.  In part one of the book, Michele shares about her battle with cancer, specifically how it wrecked her views on stability and her desire to maintain control of her life. In part two, she shares how she and her husband were led to welcome three young children into their home just as they were preparing to enter the empty nest phase of their lives.

It probably goes without saying that I did not agree with everything the author wrote or suggested.  Isn't that true with most books? Given the same circumstances, I may have made different parenting or personal decisions, but the overall theme of the book was a lesson the Lord  has been planting in my own heart over the past few months: the need to surrender our will and completely trust the plan God has for each of our lives. 

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9)

Have you read any books that have spoken to you lately? 
Any scriptures that have been on your heart?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My Jamberry (+ a giveaway!)

Let's cut to the chase. In theory I like cute fingernails, but in reality I don't have time.  More specifically I don't want to take the time for something that gets ruined in less than 24 hours.  Of course my clean bathroom and empty hamper get "ruined" in less than 24 hours, too, but those things seem more worthy of my time. On the occasions when I do paint my nails, all the aforementioned cleaning and laundry leaves my nails a chipped up mess. 

So when my blog and Facebook friend, Jenna, offered to let me give Jamberry Nails a try, I jumped at the chance.  Jamberry Nails are incredibly cute and fun adhesive nail wraps that stay put for up to two full weeks! Now that I can handle.

Jenna sent me a pattern called silver floral on magenta.  The instructions freaked me out a little, not because they were complicated but because I wanted to be sure to get it just right.  The first time was admittedly a little time consuming.  Remember, its hard for me to justify time devoted to my nails, BUT I figured the 45-60 minutes (which included breaks to answer questions, get snacks, talk to my husband...) would be worth it if the wraps lasted as long as promised.

The wraps drove me crazy for the first 12 hours.  I wasn't confident in my application and I had a few air bubbles that were preventing the wraps from laying flat.  The next morning I trimmed and tweaked until I got a tight seal and a look that was more pleasing to me.  But here's the thing: aside from me, no one else would have even noticed the imperfections.  Who is looking that closely at another person's nails?  If someone can see a bubble or tiny nick on your nails, they are too close!

Even Alaine (4) wanted in on the action!

Alaine's nails: pale pink with magenta accents

My magenta nails lasted for 2 full weeks, but they were showing signs of wear by the time I removed them. Again, it was wear that I noticed, not something the grocery store cashier or the teller at the bank would notice.

Jenna also sent along a sheet of accent wraps so I tried those next.  I loved the pattern and I loved the overall look, but the four nails that needed polish were too high maintenance. On days at home, I left them bare.  A funny side-note: my boys and my husband did not "get" the accent nails.  Owen (8) said, "Why would you do that?" but my girls said, "Oh, yeah, that's like Aunt Amy's nails.  She does that, too."

A couple tips and then I'll get to the fun part-- the giveaway.

  • The application instructions say to chose a wrap that is closest in size to your nail.  I would revise that to say to chose a wrap that is smaller than your nail.  Otherwise, it is hard to get a good seal and the wrap bunches up.
  • Apply the wrap just a teensy bit above your cuticle.  No one will see the little strip of exposed nail  and it helps maintain a tighter seal.
  • After you've worn your nails for awhile, the tips are the first thing to start looking a little rough.  Instead of giving up or peeling them off, try trimming the ends (just like if you were trimming your nails) and reseal.  It should buy you a few more days.


Jenna is being kind enough to give away a sheet of Jamberry Nail Wraps of your choice!  

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below.

Do you paint your nails?  Do you have a favorite polish color? Any tricks for getting a manicure to last? Have you ever tried Jamberry Nail Wraps?  Do you have a favorite pattern or design? 
Tell me anything!

Giveaway ends Thursday, April 9 at 9 pm ET.  Giveaway closed.

The winner is Kati!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Words of Life

I spoke of my trepidation about the next school year.  Perhaps you harbor some fear, too. 

I have been meditating on these words today from Exodus 33:

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.

 “Now show me your glory.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015



Do you ever think about reading a particular book and then put it off so many times that you doubt you'll ever truly get around to reading it?

That book for me was Unbrokenby Laura Hillenbrand.  I first heard about it several years ago and considered reading it.  Then I found out it had close to 400 pages of small type and I changed my mind. But the book gained in popularity and I was intrigued again.  It was being made into a movie (a bonus!) and  the main character was a runner (though he was faster and more dedicated than I ever dream to be!).  Still, I hesitated.  History books are not my thing and this book certainly did not look like light bedtime reading.

When Kati put it on the Sisters Book Challenge, that gave me the incentive and motivation to go for it. Reading is sort of like running for me.  Sometime I have push out of my comfort zone and put forth a little more effort than is comfortable...but I'm always glad that I did it!

Unbroken is the true story of Louie Zamperini,  a member of the Army Air Force during World War II  who survived a plane crash and years in a brutal Japanese POW camp. The author shares amazing detail of Zamperini's childhood, early adulthood, and the horrific years of his capture. Knowing almost nothing about the man before I started the book, I found the handful of chapters describing Zamperini's life after the war fascinating.  What a story of forgiveness and redemption! 

The book is peppered with photos which was also a highlight for me.  I love to study photographs, illustrating and cementing what I'm reading.

Now I'm more excited than ever to see the movie.  I think we're number 22 on the library hold list so I have a few weeks to wait!

Have you read Unbroken? Have you seen the movie?  What did you think?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Notes On Next Year

After sharing my thoughts (and fears) on our next school year, I promised to talk curriculum.  I'm in the very beginning stages of planning.  It's barely beyond the thinking stage, though some subjects are easy.  We'll simply move onto the next chronological time period or grade level.  Also, I'm only mentioning the Big Four here-- history, math, science, and English. (We incorporate Bible, music, art, health, typing, and P.E. into our days, too, though not everything in every season.)  

As a frame of reference, I will have five kids in school next year, ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade. 


We'll more than likely continue reading though Genevieve Foster's books.  We'll start with George Washington's Worldand continue on to this one, too. We'll supplement with applicable literature or explore some topics in more depth.  Since we discovered that Owen (currently eight and in third grade) learns better visually,  he will delve into the same time period with a selection of books on his reading level.  We especially enjoy the series by the d'Aulaires.


Our kids start Saxon Math at the 5th grade level (Saxon  54).  Even my math-hating kids say they hate math a little less with Saxon.  My three oldest kids are in varying levels of Saxon and will continue next year. For elementary math, I've had tremendous success with cheap grocery store workbooks so Ben (currently six and in first grade) will probably use Second Grade Big Workbook. 


I'm not a science person so when I was reviewing what we had done for science this year,  I was surprised to discover that we had done a lot.  So much that we could quit science today and have more than enough credit for the year.  Between a forensics class the kids took over the summer, our nature study text, a series of at-home chemistry science experiments Gavin organized throughout the fall (and explained and demonstrated for his brothers and sisters), a long list of books we read for health, the Wild Kratts TV show (!), and at least a book a week someone brings home from the library about animals (or planets or rocks, etc.), we have science covered.

I think next year we'll continue to let science happen as it did this year and supplement with a reproducible workbook from McDonald Publishing, both to widen our science base and to give the older kids practice in expository writing.


I generally pull together an eclectic collection of resources for English. The three oldest kids currently use Daily Grams or something comparable. (One of them actually uses a book I found at a used curriculum sale in the same format but different publisher. We like it just as well.)  We'll continue with that short, daily practice and add in writing prompts, penpal letters, pleasure reading, copywork, or poetry as the urge strikes. We go in phases and we do not study it all at the same time or even the same year!

I think Alaine (currently four-and-a-half) will soon have interest in learning to read so it's about time for me to borrow Alpha-Phonics again.  Ben  loves Explode the Code  so he'll continue moving through the series and also reading lots of library books aloud to me. (It's our special one-on-one time in the evening.)

What about you?  Want to join the curriculum talk? Have you started planning for next year?

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