Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kwik Stix! A Review

Happy Saturday! Hope this week has been a good one for you.

Today I have something fun and more fun to share with you.

You might share my life's mantra (at least one of them).

"One can never have enough art supplies or books"

Can I get a witness!!!



We've recently added a really, really (really) cool product to our art supply arsenal. Towards the end of last year, Kwik Stix (from The Pencil Grip folks) contacted me and asked if we would like to review their Kwik Stix Tempera Paint Sticks.

Would we?

Send them on down!

Now Kwik Stix promises that their Tempera Paint Sticks are basically mess proof. They dry in a mere 90 seconds AND that they leave a paint-like finish.



Josiah and I immediately put them to the test by sharing them during an afternoon with some little (and very crafty) little friends.

Josiah's first priority was to throw down a poster for his favorite team. A guy has to have his priorities. I've shared this before, but Josiah has dysgraphia, which makes writing difficult at times. Kwik Stix was easy to use. The paint pens went on smoothly.


And who could argue with a page of warrior ninjas and a rainbow? For this project we used plain brown craft paper. I was really impressed with the brightness of the paint...even on the brown paper.


You might not know this, but most of my work history as an adult has taken place in a classroom. In fact, my degree field is in Early Childhood. I can tell you that in my experience "tempera paint + little people = big mess." Nary a paint smock nor cup of water made an appearance. Best of all, I didn't have to bring out the paint brushes.


Those are some really crazy Ninjas!


I was concerned that the paint pen tips wouldn't be fine enough to do much more than coloring in shapes, but you can see that Josiah has done fine. More football scores! Imagine that!



I know what your thinking. I NEED these!

Of course you do!

We were sent the 12 pack (which is fabulous), but Kwik Stix also comes in a 6 pack AND a 96 pack! (for a whole class of little people).


Just a few thoughts.

Don't worry about a the Kwik Stix having a short life span. Each tube comes with quite a bit. You simply roll them down like a tube of lipstick. And unlike lipstick they don't crumble or break off.

Kwik Stix also promises to work on wood. We didn't try any on wood, but I'm thinking that would be a really neat project to work on for gifts.

Kwik Stix also was also nice enough to send me a couple of their fabulous pencil grips. More on that soon. Did I mention they are fabulous?

My friends! Go grab you some of these! Everyone needs crazy ninjas in their life!



*Kwik Stix sent me this product for free for my balanced review. All views are my own and completely honest. :<)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Night Asian



Happy Friday!

I'm presently curled up on my corner of the couch making plans.

Some of which include...

*cleaning house
*making valentines
*watching old Downton Abbey episodes
*contemplating the meaning of life

The Muffin and Josiah are off on a "Dad's Day Out." Which means I have some time to myself!

We will see what I get done today.

Also on my list for the day is preparing a fun Friday night menu.

Friday nights are generally a swim team practice night for Josiah Bevan, but he's been having some asthma issues lately so we might keep him home tonight. This also happens to be The Muffin's day off and I want to pamper him just a bit.

Which is why I'm fixing MY favorite kind of food.

Asian.

Do you know how much I LOVE Asian food? I WUV it soooo much I could it eat several times a week.

For my meal tonight, I am fixing this Chicken Satay recipe on my grill pan AND a mess of Egg Foo Yung. You can find my recipe and tutorial here.  I have a few veggies screaming for attention in my crisper. And I know they are just screaming to be used in some yummy Egg Foo Yung.

So, my friends. Do you have any fun Friday night plans?


Friday, January 15, 2016

What is Beautiful? 17 Weeks of Learning to Live A Beautiful Life





It's here! Week 17 of my 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life.

I hope that I have inspired you just a little bit.

Or at least given you some mindless reading material.

For my last week I want to talk to you about being comfortable in your own skin. This can be difficult for many women in particular.

I am 40something and still struggle with many aspects about "me".

As I write this I am multi-tasking. And when I say multi-tasking I mean the TV is on and I've got half an eye on what's on. There is a segment on about the new fashion trends for the new year.

One of those trends is wearing see-through netting. This, of course, reveals certain undergarments on the wearer.

I hope this doesn't become a "thing".

I have enough trouble seeing folks at Wal-mart in their jammies.

But there will be those among us who jump on the "netting wear".  Just like there were those of us in the 7th grade who begged their parents for a pair of parachute pants. Preferably in purple.

More so than making questionable fashion choices, the challenge for many of us is being comfortable with who we are. Instead of embracing the beautiful creature God made us to be, we wind up at war with ourselves and spend most of our time trying to be somebody else.

If I could give any advice to my younger self it would be to focus on those qualities of inner beauty. And to recognize that there will come a time that all those trials and travails will bring about perseverance, kindness, loyalty...and more. They will add a depth of character that can't be mimicked by just knowing, doing or saying the "right thing" or the "popular thing".

Of course, there are always things we can work on as we grow. None of us will ever "arrive"...at least until we meet Jesus. But I think the recognition of that in itself is beauty. We are all flawed.

So my friends. On this last post of this series, I encourage you to see yourself the way God sees you.

I encourage you not to follow the trends and common practices of everyone around you. I encourage you to be really honest with yourself. Are you your biggest stumbling block to living a beautiful life? How can you improve the life your living? Are you enjoying the moment? Are you filling your life with lovely things?

As a Christian it is my ultimate goal to portray Christ. I also need to search my heart. Am I trying to please man? Galatians 1:10 tells us that we must seek the favor of God.

There also needs to be some defining about what is Beautiful in your own life. What are your values? Your hopes and dreams?  What do you inspire to be?

This is Beauty to me.

For me it is having new adventures. Even if that adventure is to wander through a book.

It is to treat others with kindness and compassion. To consider others more than I think of myself.

It is to surround myself with things I think are pretty and inspiring.

Beauty is enjoying the moment...even if the moment is filled with sticky messes.

It is spending time with people you love.

And radiating the love of Christ. Especially when I don't feel like it.

It needs to be taking small pleasures in those little treats I give myself. A long hot bath or a cup of tea.

Beauty is taking time to appreciate breathing in and out. And walking. Walking is a good one.

Beauty is creating special touches with my hands. Whether it be a crooked crochet chain or a dish of tomato soup.

Beauty is my son's contagious smile and quirky sense of humor. It is my husband's fierce devotion and loyalty.

And Beauty is looking in the mirror and not turning away in disappointment. It is understanding that between those extra layers, lines and wrinkles that one who loves and is loved in return resides there.










You can catch up with the rest of my 17 Weeks of Living a Beautiful Life by clicking on the banner below.





Thursday, January 7, 2016

Celebrate! 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life





It's almost over! This is Week 16 in my 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life series.

I'm a bit late. I meant to be done with the series before the end of 2015, but it didn't happen. In fact, I have been trying to get this particular post up for a week!

Don't you love it when "life" interrupts your "life?"

For the past few months life has been happening around our clunker cars. Just a few weekends ago, we went through water on the road (we in Missouri experienced The FLOOD) and a car part blew off. The car (The Studly Muffin's Ford) got us down the road for a bit and then stopped.

In the freeing rain. And hail. 50 miles from home.

This weekend (our our way to church) we experienced electrical problems in the same car.

We didn't make it church.

Just this past month, my car (fondly known has Bessie the Buick) has had to have 2 new tires and a new windshield.

I don't have to tell you that we didn't have the money for any of it, but God provided and we are confident that He is going to keep on taking care of us.

Most of us have those day-to-day struggles that, if we are not careful, will suck the "life" right out of our "life."


We all know people who seem to float through life with just a little extra sparkle.

I'm frankly a bit phlegmatic (and a little snarky) for too much sparkle..but I sure appreciate those who seem to dazzle.

I have come to feel that we all need a little celebration in our day-to-day lives.

When I think of the word Celebrate I think about commemorating a special day or occasion.

If there is birthday cake involved...I'll be there.

The point is that I don't want to wait for those special days or occasions to celebrate my life.

I want to make every day a little special. I want to approach my life as "the occasion."

Of course, this translates itself in my life in ways that might be different from someone else's, but this week I want us all to think of little ways we can add a little "celebration" to our life.

This week I tried to do something everyday that was just a little special and sparkly.

Watched a ballet on youtube

Played a board game with Josiah

Soaked in peppermint oil and epsom salts

Made my family an extra scrumptious (but healthy) dessert and served it on china plates

Made 2 homemade cards

And tried to smile more than scowl...

Sounds simple enough. Right? I'm sure if you think about it you are already doing so many wonderful things to live a beautiful life. Just take the time to breathe them in and enjoy them!


My friends. I challenge all of us to Celebrate a little more!










You can catch out more of my 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life by clicking on the banner below.




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mom Fail




WEEK 15!

My 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life is almost over.

I'm currently basking in my post holiday endeavors.

Basking might be an ambitious term.

I have spent a few weeks days trying to get my act together.

My act is apparently on vacation until further notice.

I've decided to embrace the crazy...I'm throwing tinsel on the whole mess and calling it a party.

It's tough to come to terms with our expectations. It's especially difficult for us mommas out there.
My sister and I were talking about this just the other day.

Mom Fail.

We were talking about all the candy and cookie making my mom did back in the day. Divinity, fudge, peanut brittle, toffee, sugar cookies, Mexican wedding cookies....

My mom was not a stay-at-home mom. She was a Respiratory Therapist. In fact, for several years she was head of her department. This meant she would work double and triple shifts if needed. She took college courses on the side and even taught art classes.

I am a stay-at-home mom and consider it a triumph if a green vegetable shows up at supper.

How did she do it all?

If I were to ask her, I'm sure she would say, "I just did it."

I can't tell you how many times I have felt like a complete FAILURE when it comes to parenting. It seems all the more vicious to be because we worked so hard and waited so long to become parents to this beautiful boy.

I have lost my temper too many times to count.

I don't feed him the right foods.

I feel like I am struggling to school him the best I can (homeschool mom guilt).

He is growing up in this uncertain and scary world and all I can do is fuss at him to pick up his room.

Maybe I'm not alone. I have a feeling I'm not. The point is that there is a lot expectations we put on ourselves. We feel inadequate compared to those other moms out there.

You know the ones. They have spotless homes. Their kiddos are adjusted, well-behaved and learned all of their multiplication tables before the 2nd grade. They never get impatient with their families. They always look put together and classy.

My house has it's moments. Most of the time, I'm just happy we can find the toilet paper. And today I spent the whole day running errands in my workout pants, one of The Muffin's old t-shirts and mismatched socks.

And don't get me started about my parenting and homeschooling mom skills.

Here is the thing.

There are some things that I want to improve on. Nothing wrong with that.

Then there are those things that I just need to let go. We all have those things. And the truth is that we are missing life because our expectations are simply unreasonable.

I know you have heard this one.

"Spending quality time with your kids is better than spending quantity time."

Of course, there is truth to that statement. However, our quality time spent with our family members doesn't have to be all about epic adventures and awesome stuff.

Our kids just want US.

This week your challenge is to let some of the Mom Guilt go. If there are things that need to be addressed make a plan to do just that. I don't want to give you the impression that I think it's okay to be a Mom Slacker. Sometimes we do need to step it up.

On the other hand, we need to simplify our lives. Focus on those little moments and times with our kids.

We have to let go those expectations that things have to bigger and better for our kids.

I have struggled more with what I haven't been able to provide for Josiah.

Siblings.

I realized maybe I was overthinking the whole thing when, just recently, Josiah provided me with a whole dissertation on why it was cool to be an only child. He doesn't want a house full of kids. He is  perfectly happy with the way things are.

This week your assignment is to choose one activity to share with your child(ren). It doesn't have to be awe-inspiring...it just needs to be time shared together.

Let me know how it goes.









You can catch up with my Learning to Live a Beautiful Life Series here.






Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Review: The Pilgrim Adventure

We love history around here.

I think I’ve might have mentioned it a time or seven.

What I love most is when I can include great literature into our history lessons.

This past year, I was blessed to review great Science resource (which obviously has nothing to do with history).

The creator of Fantastic Unit Studies, Sue Kilbride, has also written an excellent historical fiction series called Our America Series for kiddos ages 10 and up.  




She was gracious enough to send me the first book in the series, The Pilgrim Adventure, to review.  

It sure wasn’t I expected.

For one…there is time travel involved.

Sign me up!

The series revolves around twins, Finn and Ginny. In The Pilgrim Adventure, the twins are living with their aunt and uncle. Their parents disappeared mysteriously and it was discovered that they went missing courtesy of the time machine the twin’s Uncle had invented.

The twins decide to find their parents and take off on a fantastic adventure.

They wind up aboard the Mayflower!

This isn’t the run of the mill historical fiction story. The author does a terrific job of painting a true and sometimes painful picture of our history. I think that we become so fixated on the picturesque scene of Native Americans and Pilgrims sharing a Thanksgiving feast that we forget the hardships these folks experienced.

The Pilgrim Adventure also tries to clear up some of those historical fallacies we’ve come to accept as truth (say it ain’t so, Squanto!).

The book itself is an easy read. I think it’s a nice length and moves along quickly.

I am not going to give too much away, but obviously Finn and Ginny don’t find their parents in Plymouth. The Our America Series moves along and we are treated to more adventures.

Sue has also provided a collection of FREE activities to accompany each of her books. And true to form…they are all engaging, hands-on experiences.


This collection of books are excellent additions to any American History study.  We look forward to continuing the adventure! 

Sue's website (Funtasticunitstudies.com) is a great resource for homeschoolers. Be sure to check out her other products. 



















Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Use Your Words: 17 Weeks of Learning to Live a Beautiful Life






It’s Week 14 of my Learning to Live a Beautiful Life series.

Week 14!

This was a bugger of a week for me.

I have been struggling with a few health issues.

It’s hard enough when one has personal “stuff” going on, but it appears as if the world has gone crazy.

This past week a young man made threats to blow up a college campus. This happened to be the college my niece attends. Thankfully, local authorities acted and the young man was found and taken into custody. There was an explosive device found. My heart aches for this boy. What drives a kid to such desperate acts?

It’s hard to watch the news nowadays.

There seems to be angst, tragedy and mayhem at every corner.

We have to understand that there has always been evil in the world. But it sure is hard seeing it in action.

I think we often get confused about what Living a Beautiful Life means.

It doesn’t mean living a life free from conflict or difficulties.

It means living a beautiful life despite those conflicts or difficulties.

It means that you aren’t consumed with circumstances or expectations.

You learn to take each moment as it comes and develop a beautiful attitude in midst of the “whatevers.”

Let’s look at this moment in time. What is in your heart right now?

Chances are there is some sort of anxiety. Maybe some doubt or disappointment.

I want to talk about words just for a minute or two.

When Josiah was a baby he babbled constantly. His babble was also very specific.

“Ducky, ducky, ducky, ducky…”

That is all we heard.

“Ducky, ducky, ducky, ducky…”

There eventually was a “momma and dada,” but you can imagine our surprise when, at just over a year old, he came toddling in to tell me the phone was ringing while I was vacuuming.

And it wasn’t just any old conversation.

“Mom! AT&T is calling!”

Apparently, he associated the phone ringing with AT&T (who says there is no power in television commercials) and he spoke in such this little man voice. 

Life was never the same again.

When I taught little bitty kids I would often have to admonish them to "use your words" instead of the grunts, facial experiences and squeals that are associated with toddler speech. 


Think about what kind of words come out of your mouth throughout the course of the day? What kinds of words do we allow to penetrate our souls?

For myself, I find the Word of God to be a much needed balm in times of trouble.  I also find comfort in reading about other folks who have overcome great challenges.

This week I want to challenge you to fill your life with beautiful words.

First, ask yourself this.

Are you just babbling? 

Are beautiful words coming out of your mouth? Are your conversations encouraging? Are you proclaiming God’s goodness?

Consider measuring every word that comes out of your mouth.

Let’s talk about what kinds of word we are filling our hearts and minds with. 

Do you have a favorite scripture? A favorite song?

Write them on note cards and post them around your house.

Above our TV I have one of those vinyl Scripture murals. It is found in Isaiah.

The extended version goes like this.

 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV)

I can tell you that my family has needed that constant reminder of God’s promises in our lives. 










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