Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 Favorite Christmas Books For Kids


I have fond memories of Christmas books and movies from childhood. The classics that held on year after year, never diminishing in their charm and wonder - the welcoming presence that celebrated Christmas alongside of me. I wanted to share 5 of my favorite holiday children's books. Some are new, some old friends but I believe each has a personality and unique story that can bring delight to any child (or adult!). I have a longer list of family movies - coming soon - so I wanted to make the book list a bit shorter. Each of these give me a wave of happiness every time I read them and really help in making that Christmas spirit sparkle and shine.



How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Dr Seuss

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 




The Night Before Christmas
Clement C Moore

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there."




A Wish to Be A Christmas Tree
Colleen Monroe 

"Every year as traditions go,
they get in their cars at the first sign of snow,
and head to the farm at the edge of town,
to cut the family Christmas tree down."




The Polar Express
Chris Van Allsburg

"ON Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed. 
I did not rustle the sheets. I breathed slowly and silently. 
I was listening for a sound - a sound a friend had told me I'd never hear-
the ringing bells of Santa's sleigh."




Snowmen at Christmas
 Caralyn Buehner

"One Christmas Eve I made a snowman,
Very fat and jolly.
I dressed him up in red and green.
And trimmed his har with holly."


What are some of your favorite books to read at Christmas-time? Are there any that bring up nostalgia from childhood? Please share them with me! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November Roundup


Well, hello! I have been very bad in updating for the month of November. A total of four posts! Whoohoo! All-time lowest number! I should have an award.

I had a lot of ideas that I had wanted to post but life, as always, seemed to get in the way. I have been away from home for the past 6 days, visiting family for Thanksgiving and before that I....(drumroll)…... GOT A NEW JOB. Wow! Excitement.

Loads of work on that. Going from a small business to a corporate setting... I am slightly in awe at the amount of work there is in being set up as an employee. I have a car sticker. I will wear a name badge. That sounds like silly things to be excited about. I do want to explore this topic further and will write up a post later this week as this post is...

{ NOVEMBER ROUNDUP }

{ Monthly Favorites }

Book: None  (See below)
Event: New job!
Movie: Miss Potter
Pinterest Pin: Harry Potter Monopoly
Product: Sheer Love Eau de Toilette from Victoria's Secret
Purchase: Dirty Dancing from $1 at Black Friday
Site: Cupcakes and Cosmetics
Song: Royals - Lorde
YT Video: Careoke 2013 with Louise and Zoe


{ Goals }

1. Finish October Budget Sheet
2. Plan and Prep for Thanksgiving Holiday
3. Knock of 3-5 Christmas Gifts
4. Write up book review for:   Brain on Fire, Rewind
5. Find dessert for Thanksgiving

(4/5)


{ Events }

2:    Baby Shower
11:    Job Offer #1
15:   Accept new job. (3rd time is a charm.)
28:   Thanksgiving


{ Books Read }

None finished. Three halfway done.


{ Movies Watched } 

1. The Matrix
2. Whisper of the Heart
3. The Heat
4. Star Trek – Into Darkness
5. Miss Potter
6. Looper

Sunday, November 17, 2013

12 FREE Thanksgiving Printables

Thanksgiving in next week and I am super excited. The holidays are officially upon us and it feels like everything is moving quite quickly. Yikes!



I am a Printables Fanatic and I thought to gather up some of my favorite FREE printables for this Thanksgiving to share with you guys. Please venture over to these blogs and sites to see even more amazing content. And don't forget to comment if you use anything of theirs as a thanks for sharing these with us!

{1}

Kind Over Matter 

{2}

Sisters Suitcase Blog

{3}

Paper Glitter

{4}

Skip To My Lou 

{5}

Snapfish.com

{6}

Snapfish.com

{7}

U-CreateCrafts 

{8}

Sissy Print

{9}

The Idea Room

{10}

Dimple Prints

{11}

Chaos and Gloss

{12}

How To Nest For Less


Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Bookworm's Report (#3)

Book Review for...

Unwind
Neal Shusterman

Summary: Set in the future, the second civil war is fought over abortion. To end the war, a compromise is reached that ends the practice of abortion but creates an alternative called "unwinding." Between the ages of 13 and 17, parents or guardians can choose to have their children unwound, which involves having every part of their bodies harvested to be "donated" to another person so, technically, they don't really die. The complex and compelling plot follows three teens whose stories intertwine when they escape while on their way to the harvest camps. 

I have two weaknesses in books: Tudor England and Dystopian fiction. This book fell into the latter category and it was well written. As the summary explained, it follows three teenagers and while that sometimes can be difficult - to separate yet keep each character important and unique - Neal Shusterman wound everything together seamlessly and kept the story gripping.

Before Unwind, I haven’t heard of the plot before so I believe it to be original. And boy, what an idea! You would think, reading the summary, that it’s silly to think any society would allow such a thing to happen but while reading, you understand where the idea came from and why the adults believe this to be ok and more importantly, needed.

The most disturbing part of the book was witnessing the process of being unwound from a kid’s view. That chapter was amazingly well-written. It horrified me and gave me great sorrow.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It’s a YA novel but it’s clever enough to keep any adult entertained, I think. Also, it’s part of a series and at the time of writing this, there are 3 books with another being released next year. I haven’t read any of the others but it’s not a lack of want. These will be on my Christmas wishlist and I hope I can continue the story in the unsettling world Neal Shusterman has created.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November Skoshbox

November's Skoshbox Review

(My apologies for the poor quality of photos. I had to use my old camera which is ancient and pitiful.)


Explanation: What is Skoshbox? It's a monthly subscription box that is delivered the first week of the month filled with foods, sweets, and misc fun items all from Japan. It's $12.00 a month and you can cancel at any time. The items are mostly all small sample sizes, enough for a good taste to make you wanting more.


I am terrible! I was so excited for this month's box that I couldn't wait long enough to share with Husband and hardly could be patient enough to snap photos. (Another reason for the poor quality of this month's box.) I absolutely love this box - more so than Birchbox. I'm just a huge food lover. Shame!


This month's non-food item was a cute paper book for Origami. There were instructions and colorful paper inside the booklet. A note of importance: Skoshbox will be discontinuing the "extra" non-food item starting January 2014. So December will be the last month for this fun addition.


Bisco Creme Biscuits | The description mentioned these are a treat for children and I can easily see why. They reminded me slightly of the snacks sold for toddlers that dissolve. The biscuit was firm but melted almost instantly in your mouth while the strawberry filling was your generic artificial strawberry flavor. (Think strawberry milk!)


Hanatsumi Jelly | These were adorable! A slightly sweet, firm jelly candy. The outside was coated with sugar crystals and really, that's all I could taste. The candy itself was a soft jelly, not as firm as Dots which we have here in the US but I couldn't really distinguish a difference in flavor between the colors. Still - cute!


Sakuma Drop Candy | The iconic candy featured in Grave of the Fireflies. I, sadly, has to get a grape flavor which isn't my favorite. Boo! Though, I did get two of these. I forgot to picture the other! It was a white candy with a slightly different shape and it had a nice flavor of peppermint.

Fujiya Lollipop | Adorable packaging! I think something is off with my tasters this month because I couldn't pin what this lollipop tasted like! I'll just say - a generic lollipop.


Meiji Fruit Gummies | Grape! But you know what? I still ate them! They were nicely shaped like a bunch of grapes and upon opening the package, I was a bit worried because the smell of grape was amazingly strong. But I am a champ and went along with it anyhow! They remind me of the Welch fruit gummies we have here in the states. Not something that is very new to me but I did enjoy them!


Choco-Pie | When I opened my box and saw this, I was ecstatic and couldn't wait. It looks just like a Moon Pie and I love Moon Pies! What Southerner doesn't! But - it just wasn't the same. I could be a bit biased but the cake part was dry and crumbly and overall, it didn't have the strong flavor that Moon Pies do.


Pretz Salad | I love Pocky. I love Breadsticks. Anything in stick form is fun to eat! And I think this was a mixture between those two! Very nice crunch, small sticks with a strong flavoring. The ingredients said consomme seasoning and I could taste it! Yum!


Yakiniku /Unagi Strips | Described as jerky strips in grilled eel or beef flavors. Honestly, I don't know which one I got but it was interesting! I felt there was a somewhat seafood-like taste but I can't use that to determine I received the eel one. The flavoring on these were strong but I like bold food! The texture threw me off a bit. They were tough of course but almost like hard foam. Spongy and... odd. I was happy to have tried this!


Yuki No Yado Senbei | Senbei! Senbei! My favorite treat! So happy to have gotten another one and boy what a treat! The bottom of these had a salty coating while the top had a frosted sugar coating - perfect for that mix of sweet and salty. I wanted more of these!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Southern Living: Foods

I live in on the coast of South Carolina and through my job, I meet people from all of the US. Something that constantly surprises me is the bafflement or humor some express over southern cuisine. These foods have been so common in my life that it's hard for me to realize most (if not all) are a local cuisine. Now, it goes without saying the south is known for comfort foods: fried chicken, green beans, cornbread but maybe there are a few other dishes/food items you haven't heard of! Here's a sample for you.

Source: Istock/NRedmond

Grits
A breakfast food make of boiled ground corn.


Source: Eatgood4life.com  {Recipe}

Fried Green Tomatoes 
Unripe tomatoes that are battered in cornmeal and fried.

Source: Prairie-table.com

Pimento Cheese 
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese mixed with mayonnaise and pimentos.

Source: Roadfood.com | Bertha's Kitchen

Hoppin John 
Rice with field peas, pork seasoning, and snaps (green beans) mixed in.


Lowcountry Boil / Frogmore Stew 
A boil of crab, shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes.

Source: SavannahNow.com

Carolina Red Rice 
Rice cooked in a tomato sauce with onions, smoked sausage, and a kick of hot sauce. 
Similar to Jambalaya.

Not included are items I think are more common and not specifically set in southern cuisine. These include: Banana pudding, cheese straws, fried pickles, pecan pie. chicken fried steak, liver and gizzards.

Note: The South is a pretty big place. A dish can be made differently from one place to the next so the explanations I've given only reflect what I know and am used to.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday #6 - Halloween Edition!

Source: 7429

This week's Thankful Thursday is a special one celebrating HALLOWEEN! I hope you all have a happy and safe night filled with lots of sweet treats!                           
My Halloween Thanks:
  • Hats
  • Candy
  • Witches
  • Pumpkins
  • Costumes
  • Black Cats
  • Broomsticks
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Party Music
  • Nice Weather
  • It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
 Have a great day, you guys!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Steps to self-education. Part 1

Source: Pinterest

I have been out of school far longer than I care to admit but one thing I miss most about those days is the easily accessible source of knowledge I was given. I didn't really pursue a higher education (ie: college, university) as it was much too expensive to go into without a set goal in mind. I didn't want to gather a degree for a career; I wanted to learn, to explore, to open myself to new ideas and discoveries.

Which is basically what this post is about - taking knowledge into your own hands. There are so many different ways I gather information on my interests and maybe you can take one of these away to use yourself. Always be curious. Always learn. Teach yourself if others cannot. The moment you stop, you waste away. Your very being exists to grow and gain experiences and knowledge. Don't waste that!


Read books that interest you.
This is the non-fiction sort, of course. When I was 16 I stumbled across Tudor England. You know, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. And to this day, I still have such a strong passion to read everything I can about this period of English history. What interests you? A particular time in history maybe? Feudal Japan? Ancient Egypt? Colonial America? Or perhaps it’s more in the science area! You can find anything about subjects ranging from Forestry to Astronomy to Psychology. Take a day to visit your local library and browse the aisles until something catches your eye.

Watch documentaries.
This is an easy one! You can find such a range of topics on Netflix or even YouTube. I recently watched Pompeii - The Last Day and Happy. Animals, earth, emotions, culture, society... you can find a documentary on probably anything you might be curious about. And this would be a great place to start, especially if you aren't a reader by choice.

A puzzle a day.
There are so many apps you can download for your tablet or smart phone. As I posted just recently, I play a lot of word games. This helps my vocabulary. Every day I come across a new word and I like to find the definition of that word so I can challenge myself to use it in a sentence. Sudoku, word finds, hidden objects, tangrams... anything that keeps your mind active and on the ball helps you in the long run. There have been studies about this!

Learn a new word.
Open a dictionary and find a word you aren't familiar with, then challenge yourself to use it at some point in the day. I have a horrid memory so I often can't retain all of these words as I don't use them often enough but the simple action of this ritual opens new ideas and ways to think. And I do remember quite a few of them! It gives me pride to know I taught myself something as simple as a single word!

Talk radio.
Ok. This can be a boring option for some people. I know quite a few that have confessed to talk radio making them sleepy. But I love it! I now have the habit of listening to NPR on the drive to and from work. Sure, they give regular updates to the daily news but many of the programs they offer are very educational! I especially love Science Friday and StoryCorps. This summer I listened to the NPR Cities Project. It really opened my eyes (and ears) to things I never took account of!!


These are just a sample of ways you can grow your brain! There are many more ideas that I use for self-education. Which I will have to make a follow-up post about! I’m excited just for writing these down. Yay for learning! 

Do you have any habits of self-knowledge? Share them in the comments below! I love to find new ways I can open myself to knowledge.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Carving

Last night, after our magical trip to the pumpkin patch, Husband and I went about carving our pumpkins! It was such fun and a great end to a perfect day. We listened to a Halloween party mix (yay Rocky Horror!) and I had yummy coffee.

Our pumpkin family.

 Brom wanted to join the fun.

Guts!

Hello in there!

My owl template.

Husband's Decepticon.

Pumpkin seeds for roasting!

My finished product!

Decepticon and the Owl. Obviously the owl is the winner!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

A trip to the pumpkin patch.

Husband and I went to a local pumpkin patch today. Such fun! This pumpkin patch is an activity farm of sorts. They have many games geared towards the kids such as barrel racing (with wooden stick horses!), steer roping, milking a (wooden) cow, tricycle races, water duck racing, a bouncy house, horseshoes, and more. They also have a corn maze, petting zoo, pig race, live band, face painting, bonfires for smores and "general store" that sells cheap novelty Halloween items. You take a hayride on a covered wagon pulled by a tractor out to the pumpkin patch, pick your favorite out in the field, and have a nice ride back. While the whole thing is made for families, Husband and I had fun with it just the two of us. (And his pig won every race! Cheat!)

 They had Snoopy!

 And oh-so-bad-for-you food!

 The petting zoo was nice!

Pig races! Green kept winning.



 My pumpkin! I love the stem.<3