Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bird Watching

We just put up a new squirrel-proof bird feeder. The birds seem to like it—We’ve had a lot of activity there lately! We have a good view through the kitchen window.

We’ve seen chickadees, tufted titmouses (titmice???), nuthatches, cardinals, Carolina wrens, goldfinches, and hairy woodpeckers.










We have had several young cardinals that seem nervous about perching on the feeder and stay on the deck, eating what falls. Occasionally, one will make some noise and the male cardinal will bring it some food.


Here’s a hummingbird at the hummingbird feeder.


The squirrels and chipmunks spend their time on the deck eating what falls. The seed in the feeder is lasting a lot longer now!



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Give Them Grace (Review)


Give Them Grace, by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson is written by a mother-daughter team. The authors explain what so many of we Christians understand, but fail to implement in our parenting—that teaching our children to understand and embrace the GRACE of God should be our most important goal.

I want my kids to be good. I want them to obey the rules. I want others to think them well-behaved.   But in making these things my goals, I teach them that following the rules will grant them not only my approval, but God’s approval.

I am a Christian only by God’s grace. God loves me, a sinner, and sent His Son for me. There is nothing I can do to earn salvation. It is a gift. I want my children to understand that. I don’t want them to think that God rejects them if they are bad or accepts them if they are good. One thing I like about this book is that is continually emphasizes that our little rule-followers need God just as much as our little rebels. And they need to be reminded of this continually.

The authors provide examples of conversations to have with your children to point them to God’s grace at every turn. I thought the examples, as given, were much too wordy and would cause kids to tune out, but the ideas were good.

When I started the book, I was afraid that I might find the authors advocating ignoring rules, but they don’t at all. They just distinguish between teaching proper behavior and leading children to Christ. Both have their place, but they are not the same thing.

My thoughts:  I liked the premise of the book and will be implementing some of the suggested strategies. However, I had a hard time getting all the way through it. It wasn’t gripping reading and was somewhat repetitive. It just wasn’t a book I loved even though the ideas are good.

I received a free review copy of this book from the Crossway Book Review Program. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker (Review)


Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving

The title of this book intrigued me! The Amish are known for their simple lives. Obviously, they don’t spend money on gadgets and “stuff” like most of the rest of us do. But I have really never thought of looking at their lives as models for thrift.

The author, Lorilee Craker, realizing that Amish people seem to thrive in a good or bad economy, spent time visiting Amish communities, getting to know the people, and interviewing them about their lifestyles of frugality. In doing so, she extracted many principles that are valuable for any of us who want to save more money and stretch our resources.

I found this book to be a very enjoyable read. I enjoy learning new ways to save money and also find the lifestyle of the Amish people fascinating. The principles that were brought out in this book: reusing and recycling, de-spoiling our kids, avoiding debt, buying in bulk, delayed gratification, and bartering are useful concepts for anyone and I picked up quite a few new tips to try in my own household. The author’s interviews with various people made them come to life for me. I enjoyed reading about such things as one community’s “Trivial Pursuit night” –played with a  $2 second-hand game,  a 2 1/2 year old helping to wash the silverware-because everyone works hard(!), and bartering of a quilt for midwife services.

She has a great sense of humor as well, which added to my enjoyment of the book. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in moving toward a more frugal lifestyle or if you are just fascinated with the Amish, like I am!

I received a free review copy of this book from C. Grant and Company. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saving Money at Disney World


When I saw the topic for this week’s Destination Disney, I knew I had to participate! Over the years, we have found LOTS of ways to save money on a Disney vacation. Some of the things we do are:

1. LODGING  We really like to stay on site. For us, it’s just part of the Disney experience. If you go off season and watch for specials on room rates, they can be reasonable. We stayed at the Pop Century Resort two years ago for about $70 a night.  Our very favorite place to stay is the Fort Wilderness Campground. We’ve usually brought our Pop-Up Camper, but last fall, we did stay in a tent for the first time. (Since Chris didn’t go on this trip with us, I was  a bit nervous about handling the camper all by myself.) We’ve paid as little as $35 a night in the off-season. Fort Wilderness is a very very clean, well kept up campground with a nice pool and a lake, where you can watch the Electrical Water Pageant each night. There are sidewalks everywhere for biking or walking and even a lovely bike trail leading to the Wilderness Lodge.



2. TICKETS  In 2002  and 2005, we bought 10 day non-expiring tickets for each member of our family. By doing this, we only paid about $25 a day, plus had water park tickets as well. Each time we go, we use a few days off these passes and still have enough left for another trip or two.  Since Disney tickets seem to go up at more than the rates of inflation, I think they’re a good investment!

3. FOOD  I’m the ultimate cheapo when it comes to food! We eat breakfast at the campground or hotel room (cereal, etc.). We carry snacks with us—granola bars, fruit, string cheese, etc. Then we usually eat one main meal in the early to mid-afternoon and treat ourselves to a snack, such as Mickey Mouse bars. If the meals are large (and they often are), then two of us may share.


4. MOUSESAVERS.COM Visit this site and subscribe to their email list!  You’ll find, not only useful information about closed and future attractions, but notifications of lodging specials and links to discounted tickets.


What are your money saving tips for WDW? I’d love to hear them! Reply here or visit Destination Disney to join in the blog hop!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Have you ever made “slime” with your kids? If not, here’s a fun and easy recipe to try.

In one bowl, mix:

1 cup water and 1 T Borax

In a second bowl, mix: 4 oz white glue, food coloring, and 1/2 cup water.

Add contents of one bowl to another and stir. The slime will form into a glob that can be mixed further by hand. Some liquid may be left in the bowl. Ours didn’t solidify enough and we had to add a tiny bit more borax to make it perfect.



Thursday, June 9, 2011

No Place Like Holmes (Review)


Emily LOVES mysteries and detective stories, so I thought that No Place Like Holmes, by Jason Lethcoe, would be a fun book for her. We received a review copy in e-book format, which was also fun, since she has a new Kindle as of a few weeks ago.

This fast paced mystery takes place in London; in fact right next door to the renowned Sherlock Holmes. The hero, Griffin Sharpe, is a 12 year old boy with uncanny powers of observation. His uncle, Rupert Snodgrass, who Griffin is visiting for the summer, is a bungling, inefficient, detective-want-to-be. Nefarious criminals, a man-eating Loch Ness monster in the Thames River, kidnappings, and a disappearance of a boatload of Chinese fireworks all come together to create a challenging adventure.

I enjoyed this book and think it’s a fun mystery for kids. It’s fast-paced enough to keep the attention of even reluctant readers, I think. It is a Christian book, and introduced some themes of forgiveness and faith, although I felt that those parts of the book were a bit forced and awkward.

Emily told me that the book was exciting and was one of her favorites. She finished it in two days, which is pretty fast for her. The last chapter included a teaser for the next book, which did confuse her, leaving her feeling that the story wasn’t finished yet, with a new mystery being introduced in the last pages!

This is the first book of a series featuring Griffin Sharpe, boy detective.  I’ll look forward to reading more!

I received a free review copy of this book from BookSneeze, in exchange for my honest review.

Do You Buy Store Brands?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


I am very much a bargain hunter and always try to get the best value for my money. One way I implement this is to carefully shop sales and to use coupons when possible. Another way is to purchase store brands instead of the more expensive name brand products. In many cases, I have found the store brand to be just as good and much cheaper, especially  when it comes to over-the-counter medications.

A quick look in my cabinet revealed several Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products.  One of these is the A thru Z Multivitamin/ Multimineral Supplement. In comparing the labels, it is evident that this complete supplement is quite comparable to name brand vitamin and mineral supplements on the shelf. I've been happy with this product and the other Walgreens products that I've used. In fact, Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products are Walgreens pharmacist recommended, usually  contain the same active ingredients as other national brands, and have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Purchase of every Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Product supports bringing preventive wellness services to local communities through the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™.

Visit http://www.walgreens.com/walgr… to learn more about Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products. Several bloggers are offering giveaways of Walgreens Gift Cards, so be sure to enter for a chance at even more savings!


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