Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Zucchini Bread as Cake (Recipe)

We have always tried to have healthy cakes or muffins for the children for their birthdays.  I happened to have a wonderful recipe for zucchini bread and my son wanted a cake in this train pan, so I combined the two and it was delicious.  The whole cake was gone within a day.

Here is the recipe!

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Zucchini Bread Cake

Grease and flour your pan.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add to the mixture:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable or olive oil

Stir them, then add:

  • 2 cups zucchini

Stir everything together, then pour the batter into the pan.

Bake 40-70 minutes or until done.  Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan.  Eat when it is cool enough!

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ideas for Christmas Books to Read

I have spent the past week reading and reviewing some great Christmas books from Abingdon press on Christ’s Bridge.  I would like to share those links with you now.  I hope you enjoy the books.  Click on the book and you will go to the review.

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

I hope you enjoyed these reviews and found some new books to read.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hot Buttons Bullying Edition and Hot Buttons Image by Nicole O’Dell

Hot Buttons Bullying Edition and Hot Buttons Image Edition (Hot Buttons Series)

By Nicole O’Dell

(received in exchange for an honest review)


Genre- Parenting

Published by- Kregel Publications

Copyrighted- 2013

Number of pages- 168 (Hot Buttons Image Edition) and 169 (Hot Buttons Bullying Edition)

Age Group- Adult and their teens

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $9.99 per book, ISBN 978-0-8254-4244-5 (Hot Buttons Image Edition), ISBN 978-0-8254-4243-8 (Hot Buttons Image Edition)

The Hot Buttons Bullying Edition and Hot Buttons Image Edition, by Nicole O’Dell, contain important information and strategic strategies to help you, the parent, and your teen to make the best decisions possible.

Each of these books have the same basic make-up with four parts and similar chapter titles, but the information is different. 

The books are made for the parents and the teen, with the parent taking the initiative.  Some of the topics are:

  • “Prepared:Answering Why.
  • “Watchful: Answering When.
  • “Proactive: Answering How.
  • “Identifying the Image or Bullying Hot Buttons.”
  • “The Armor of God.”
  • “Strategic Scenarios.”
  • and more.

About the Author-

Nicole O’Dell lives in Illinois with her husband and six children.  She is the founder of Choose NOW Ministries and is dedicated to helping guide teens and help parents.  She has written the Diamond Estate Series and also Scenarios for Girls interactive books.  Her two daughters helped her write the nonfiction book, Girl Talk.

My thoughts-

I recently read two of the latest books in the Hot Buttons series, by Nicole O’Dell.  I was very glad I read Hot Buttons Image Edition and Hot Buttons Bullying Edition, because as a parent of children who will soon be tweens and teens, these topics and how they are handled can be crucial to the success of the child.

O’Dell added a lot of pertinent facts in each edition, which lends to her credibility.  I liked how she added her personal story to the books as well.

I would have to say that my favorite part in each of these books is the “strategic scenarios.”  These scenarios with the situation and questions are a perfect way to practice the situation before it occurs.  I just wish these editions would include the best answer.  I have never been in most of these situations, so I’m not sure even from a Biblical point-of-view what could be the best answer.  I do know that the answer can be subjective, but the top two answers would be great.

These books are a great resource all parents need to read and implement into discussions with our teens.  I highly recommend these books.

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Hot Buttons Bullying Edition and Hot Buttons Image Edition, by Nicole O’Dell, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Picture of the Week!- December 15, 2013

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We had a birthday recently and this was our cake.  It was zucchini bread in the shape of a train.  It was gone in a day.  There will be a recipe and more photos posted soon.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Writings We Have Read!- December 10, 2013

We have had a busy week here.  We have been reading and trying to make sure we have gotten everything taken care of before we leave for Christmas.

B has read:

  • Big Bad Bruce by Bill Peet
  • No Such Things by Bill Peet
  • Cowboy Country by Ann Herbert Scott and pictures by Ted Lewin
  • Huge Harold by Bill Peet
  • Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Coyote Invasion and also The Case of the Secret Weapon by John R. Erickson

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C has read:

  • Oliver and Amanda’s Christmas by Jean Van Leeuwen and pictures by Ann Schweninger
  • Pony Mysteries- The Clue in the Clubhouse by Jeanne Betancourt and illustrated by Kellee Riley
  • Under the Roof from The Crabtree Basic Series
  • A Home for Sandy by Romney Grey
  • Friends About Us by Grace E. Storm

One of the books I read this week was The Christmas Quilt, by Vannetta Chapman.  It was an excellent Christmas book.

Have a wonderful week!


Monday, December 9, 2013

The Advent of Murder by Martha Ockley (Review)

The Advent of Murder

(Book 2, A Faith Morgan Mystery)

By Martha Ockley

(received in exchange for an honest review)


Genre- Fiction / Christian / Mystery

Published by- Lion Hudson

Copyrighted- 2013

Number of pages- 256

Age Group- Adult

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $14.95, ISBN 978-1-78264-006-6

Vicar of Little Worthy, Faith Morgan can’t seem to keep away from police investigations.  It is Christmastime and she is going to visit one of her parishioners, but when she get there a body has been found by the river.  Faith used to be a policewoman, so she wants to prove her parishioner is innocent. 

It is one of her busiest times and now it got even busier. 

Why was the young man killed, drugs, jealousy, an accident?  Who could have done it?  Will Faith have time to help with the Christmas programs at her church?

About the Author-

Martha Ockley currently lives in the North-East of England and writes fiction and nonfiction.

My thoughts-

The Advent of Murder, by Martha Ockley, kept me guessing until the end.  I didn’t have any idea who the murderer was, not even any suspects.  I think that is the best kind of mystery, when the reader has no idea who did it.

I have not read the first book in the series, The Reluctant Detective, and it wasn’t necessary to do so to fully enjoy this book.  I would like to read the first book though, because I want to know why Vicar Faith Morgan is a vicar and no longer a policewoman.  A prologue would have been a great way to learn about her past.

I thought Faith made a great vicar, but with God’s help and I felt, his blessing, she was able to use her detective skills to help the detectives.  She was very good at her tasks, which made her a very strong character.

I highly recommend this book to everyone.  It was a great book.

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received The Advent of Murder, by Martha Ockley, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Picture of the Week!- December 8, 2013

I hope you have had a nice week!  I know the winter season is now upon us, so I thought I would show a bit of spring.  Have a wonderful week!

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Keeping Secrets by LeAnne Hardy (Review)

Keeping Secrets

by LeAnne Hardy

(received in exchange for an honest review)



Genre- Fiction / Christian / General

Published by- Birch Island Books

Copyrighted- 2013

Number of pages- 178

Age Group- Teen

Description of book- paperback and kindle, ISBN 978-065928890

Is it more important to tell the truth or keep secrets?

In Keeping Secrets, by LeAnne Hardy, Sindiswe Khumalo is the South African Skating Federation’s best figure skater.  The fifteen-year-old has a secret though, why her father is sick.  Nobody can be trusted with it.  One of her friends, Mboti lost his job and a girl in her class was bullied, because of AIDS and HIV.  Sindiswe want to go to the Olympics and she can’t let anyone know what is happening at home.  Will they find out anyway?  What will happen to her ice skating dreams?

Prologue and Sample Chapter!

About the Author- in Alex2

LeAnne Hardy has lived all over the world.  She has enjoyed many different cultural experiences.  She uses her experiences to write her books.

Here is where you can find copies of the book!




Crossovers is only $0.99 for both Kindle and Nook this week in honor of the release of Keeping Secrets.

My thoughts-

Keeping Secrets, by LeAnne Hardy, was about a subject that I rarely think about, AIDS and HIV.  I know that AIDS and HIV are still an issue today, but I don’t hear about it in the media, like I do other diseases.

I thought this book was interesting and thought-provoking.  I knew in previous years that AIDS was prevalent in Africa, but I thought it was just in the poorer parts of the continent, not in the richer parts of South Africa. 

I enjoyed reading the book about Sindi.  She was such a good figure skater.  It was too bad that her life had to change in such a negative way, but there were also many positive ways her life changed.

I really liked the glossary of the South African words and the Acknowledgements at the beginning of the book.  They helped tie the book together.

I would highly recommend Keeping Secrets to young adults.

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Keeping Secrets, by LeAnne Hardy, for free from LeAnne Hardy.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Writings We Have Read!- December 3, 2013

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Did you read any interesting books about the Pilgrims or Thanksgiving?

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

The Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Jane Chapman.

Hank the Cowdog and The Case of the Prowling Bear, by John R. Erickson, is the book that B had a fun time reading.  He has checked more of the series out of the library and he can’t wait to get started.

Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder and illustrated by Garth Williams, was being read by C. C gave up reading it.  I’m not sure why.  She doesn’t like reading very much though, so I’m not going to press the issue.  We will just find something easier for her to read.

We hope you have had a fun time reading this week.  We can’t wait to learn what you have been reading.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Picture of the Week!- December 1, 2013

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I can’t believe it is December 1st already.  This year has gone by so quickly.

This Lego car reminds me of a special car that was both in a book and a movie.  What car is that?

Stay tuned and I will tell you later in the week!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Can’t Believe It!

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is over and December 1 is tomorrow.

Have you gotten everything accomplished this year that you had planned on doing?  I don’t know if I have or not.  I never made a list.  That is something I will need to do this next year.

I plan on having a fun December with the children.  We are going to work on the school basics, but we are also going to have fun.  We are going to finish decorating the tree, bake, and learn more about the events surrounding Christ’s birth.

What are you planning on doing during December?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Picture of the Week!- November 27, 2013

I recently saw this as part of a wood floor.  I thought the idea of three-dimension on a two-dimension surface was really neat.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- Sunsets

Sunsets are one of my favorite things in nature.  They can either look very pretty or not.  When I see pretty colors I tend to take some photos.  I was very grateful this passed weekend to see a beautiful sunset. 

The sunset reminds me that tomorrow is a new day.  We can start fresh and renewed.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- Camouflage

Today I am thankful that wild animals have camouflage.  It is always fun to drive down the road or go hiking and try to find the animals that are hiding there, like the deer in this photo.

As I think of us and our relationships with God and others, we are not to be camouflaged as the wild animals are.  We are to stand out from the background and the crowd.  We are to be the light of the earth.  We need to shine for God.  We should not be afraid either, bad things may happen to us, but we are His.  He will make sure we are protected on this earth.  We can also lead others to Him by being the light and not camouflaging ourselves.

Be the light today.  Shine for God!

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Gratitude Challenge 2013- Protective Coverings

Today I am grateful for protective coverings.  In Wyoming, and much of the West, that protective covering is sagebrush.  I am currently enjoying the protective covering of a warm house and warm clothes.

More importantly though, for all of us is the protective covering which comes from God.  Ephesians 6:10-20 shows us how to put on the armor of God so that we can be strong in Him.

I pray that all of you today will put on God’s protective covering.  Have a glorious day in the Lord!

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Gratitude Challenge 2013- The Little Things

Today I am thankful for the little things in life.  My family and I were recently hiking in the woods and my husband saw this little mushroom along the path.  I hadn’t even noticed it. 

This mushroom reminds me of all of the other little things that we miss every day, because we are focusing on the big things.  I know that I need to take time each day to focus on those little things.  I could potentially be missing out on something big that God has in store for me.

So, today I would like all of you to focus more on the little things and less on the big things in your life.



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Gratitude Challenge 2013- Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of my all time favorites.  We usually just cook it and mix it with sugar, but there are so many things that can be made with it.  You can make pies, crisps, jellies, and more.  When I typed rhubarb into Google, I got over eight million results.  I realize that a lot of those are probably duplicates, but wow.  So versatile, that is why I am thankful for rhubarb.

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Picture of the Week!- November 21, 2003

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I could not believe all of the flowers that bloomed this past summer.  There were many months of flowers.  Yellow was a prominent color.  They were so fun to look at! 

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- The Sunflowers of Nebraska

I am really enjoying putting together my nature theme this year for the Gratitude Challenge.  It has been a lot of fun!  Today I am continuing with flowers in Nebraska.


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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- Clouds Again

Since I am doing a nature theme this year, I have decided once again I will be thankful for clouds.  They are always so pretty.

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Gratitude Challenge 2013- Beautiful Wyoming

I am always thankful for Wyoming!

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At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Volume One: Nothing That Eats, by Franklin Sanders (Schoolhouse Crew Review)

We received At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Volume One, Nothing That Eats, by Franklin Sanders, for review purposes!

Product Links: At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

Vendor Contact Information:   Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

Age Appeal: Adult

Format: 379 pages, is available in paperback, Kindle, ePub, or PDF

Price: $22.95 for the paperback, $16.95 for ebook formats

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Volume One: Nothing That Eats, by Franklin Sanders, covers the time from June 1995 to September 2002 and has been taken from his newsletter, The Moneychanger.

In this volume, Y2K is foremost in the minds of Franklin Sanders and his wife, Susan.  They also want to leave some of the stresses that modern life brings, behind.  They decide to move to a farm with their children and their families.

They move several times and finally settle on a farm near Dogwood Mudhole.  There the families have lived together with a variety of dogs, chickens, horses, and other livestock.

Please check out this Sample Chapter!

Our Experience: 

I always enjoy reading memoirs and my children enjoy listening to them.

I decided that I would read the book first, then I would read the parts that I thought would be best for the children.  B and C listened to stories about chickens, pigs, and dogs.

I gave the book to Dad and he read it on his own. 

Mama’s Thoughts:
  • I liked the use of photos and maps.  It made it more personal for me.  It was fun seeing the family at Civil War functions, their horses, dogs, and more.
  • Since I have never read his newsletter, The Moneychanger, it was great being able to read what was happening in their lives over the years.  I would think that it would have been fun for Sanders to go over what had happened in his life while he put this book together.
  • I thought it was great to have the addresses and websites of different places that he thought were important like Redwood City Seeds.  It would have been great to have a list of them in the back of the book for easier access.
  • I grew up on a ranch with horses, cows, dogs, and chickens.  I found that I could relate to the life the Sanders live.
  • My favorite parts of the book involved the chickens and pigs.  I couldn’t believe the antics, especially with the pigs.  These stories had me laughing, really laughing.
  • I thought the length of each chapter was great.  They were short, so I could read them when I didn’t have a lot of time.
  • My brother and father enjoy reading books like this so when I see them again, I plan on sharing it with them.  I know they will enjoy the book as much as I have.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age nine, officially in fourth grade):   

I liked what Mama read to me.  I liked the parts about the Sanders family getting poultry.  Those parts were kind of funny. 

I think this book would be good for people older than me.  I think this book is a very good product.

C’s Thoughts (girl, age seven, officially in second grade): 

I liked the photos.  I liked the stories Mama read to me.  It would be good for people my age and older.

Dad’s Thoughts:

I found At Home in Dogwood Mudhole to be an enjoyable read.  Franklin Sanders  provides an entertaining story telling of his life events that will keep you coming back for more.  His chapters are just the right length for good stopping points, even though you won't want to put the book down.  This is a book that we'll read to the kids at home and on road trips.  I personally look forward to reading volume 2.

Mama thought this book was great!  You should buy a copy today.


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Writings We Have Read!- November 12, 2013

B and I both read the Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm by Patricia MacLachlan.  It was not a very good book, because it was about how happy they were, then tragedy struck.

I’m not sure what B has been reading by himself this week, and it is too late tonight to ask him.

C has been reading Little House on the Prairie.  I’m so proud of the improvement she has made in the past couple of months.

Together we have read:

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Earl the Squirrel by Don Freeman

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and illustrated by Arnold Lobel

Ladybugs Can’t be Tall by Kevin Hill

Those were wonderful picture books and we finally finished Detectives in Togas, by Henry Winterfeld, for history.  I think we will go to the American West for our next history book.

Have a wonderful week of reading!


French Essentials (Schoolhouse Crew Review)

We received French Essentials for review purposes!

Product Links: Full Access Program (one full year, all modules, of their French lessons)

Vendor Contact Information:  French Essentials

Age Appeal: ideal for grades 3-8

Format: online exercises and tests, downloadable lessons (PDF format), and workbook (PDF format)

Price: $149.95 for one year of access for all of the modules, $69.95 for 90 day access per module

Does your family want to learn French with a combination of PDF Lessons, workbook, and online exercises?  French Essentials could be just the program for you.  It is divided into five modules and each module can take a year if the children are younger, and less if the children are in high school.  

Our Experience: 

B has been wanting my mother to teach him how to speak French for a while, but their schedules have never worked out.  He was very interested to try French Essentials.

C was not interested in learning French, so B and I worked together after she went to bed.  I did have C work on a couple of lessons, so she would know if she liked the program.

B and I would usually work on the PDF lesson on Monday night, then Tuesday night he would work on the workbook, and the rest of the week he would work on the online exercises and the test.  We would spend time during the day speaking the French we had learned.

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • B was always excited to learn and work on his French lessons.  It made me happy to see him so excited.  He was even happy if he got the answer wrong.  This has been one of the few subjects that does not upset him when he gets the answer wrong.
  • In the PDF lessons were the links to videos which had different speakers.  We had a hard time knowing how to correctly pronounce the words, because each speaker said it differently.  It would be nice if each person said the words the same, especially for those of us who have never worked with French before.
  • I thought the combination of online activities and PDF exercises were perfect.  B was able to learn how to say and spell the words correctly with all of the practice he did.
  • I would like to see a basic daily lesson plan.  I was not sure what to do on a daily basis, so B and I accomplished what we could do in 30 minutes.
  • The parent’s section of the French Essentials website includes a FAQ section, details about each module, free samples and more.  I thought it was a great resource.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age nine, officially in fourth grade):   


Comment vous appelez-vous?

Moi, je m’apelle B. Et Toi?


I really liked French Essentials. It was a good product if you want to learn French. I liked how the online exercises opened up in a new tab, however in module 5 it did not. I did not like that. I liked the workbook.

I think this product is good for kids my age and older.

Au revoir!


C’s Thoughts (girl, age seven, officially in second grade): 

I liked what I did.  It was fun learning how to speak French.  It would be good for children my age and older.

Dad’s Thoughts:

B has been working on their French at French and thus in the last few weeks I have been met with various French greetings and phrases upon my arrival at home.  I work for a French multinational company so I interact with the French language on a weekly if not daily basis and I am impressed with how well B is learning his lessons.  The lessons are presented audibly with visual aides and are reinforced in English.  This method works well.

While the teaching method is solid there are some rough edges that need to be addressed about the website.  One is that the program runs best in Firefox.  That's ok with me as I am used to using multiple browsers and Firefox can be downloaded for free, however, this fact should be boldly stated on the Parent page even though it is listed on the Free Registration page.  Let parents know from the get go.  At the beginning of each module instructions are provided on how to make the most of the lessons.  I found the instructions wordy and lengthy.  People like quick and simple.  If the instructions are put into single line bullet points it will clarify the instructions and get people into the lessons quicker.

The biggest issue is web page navigation.  Once you select your module the page quickly comes up with the instructions and you can scroll down to get a listing of lessons and their respective tests.  Click on the lesson you want and you are redirected to Quizlet's simple and clean lesson web page.  It's good, but, when you want to navigate away from this page back to the instruction/lesson page you can't.  You're taken to a different page on and you can't easily get back to You can get back to what you were doing by clicking on "Flashcards" but that still doesn't return you to the instruction/lesson page.  Anyone should be able to do that with just one click.

The teaching is solid, it works, and is a good program for learning French, but until the web page navigation flows better I would hold off on signing up.  Once that issue is resolved French Essentials will be time and money well spent. 

Mama definitely recommends French Essentials!


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Monday, November 11, 2013

Picture of the Week!- November 10, 2013

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Does anybody know where this is?

Gratitude Challenge 2013- Wind River Canyon

There are many wonderful things to see in Wyoming.  This past summer I was in Wind River Canyon, it was beautiful.  Today I am very thankful for Wind River Canyon.

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