Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

The book Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy is a second book in a series called the Cimarron Legacy. The book opens with action right away. As you read further you begin to see the story line.

Two brothers, Cole and Justin, and their newly-married sister Sadie are living on a ranch in the southwest. There seems to be some kind of conspiracy running against them and their ranchland. Cole has been shot (in the beginning of the book) and his survival is uncertain. The family wants to find the conspirators, stay safe (alive!), and save their land. The setting is the 1880s in New Mexico.

The parents of these adult siblings have gone by train far away because the father had a horrendous accident in a rock avalanche which could have caused the loss of his leg. He is being treated by a doctor.

When I began reading this book I had a slight recollection of having read the first book in this series. As the book went on, I remembered more of the story from the first one. Honestly, even having read the first one (quite awhile ago, I think), I had a very difficult time following the storyline for really the first few chapters. I think if I hadn't read that one, I would've been quite lost.

The story is okay, kind of a love story buried within a conspiracy/western type story.

I think this book would have been better as just some extra chapters added onto the first book. As it stands, I would not recommend it to someone who hadn't read the first one...or would suggest they stay patient and they'll eventually figure some things out. The story was okay, not really something I loved.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How to Pack by Hitha Palepu -- my REVIEW

I hate to pack for trips. Perhaps it is because I have myself, my husband, and 3 children to pack for. I dislike packing so much that awhile ago when we were all set for a trip and weather made us postpone it for a week, I kept all the suitcases packed up for that week so as to not have to re-pack the following week :)

The book How to Pack by Hitha Palepu is a book whose title tells just what it is about! The book (which adorably looks like luggage with a luggage tag) tells the reader all about packing for a trip. The author gives a little background of her own and why packing perfectly is so helpful. She goes on to give suggestions for what to pack, how to pack it, and also gives the "whys" of what she suggests.

There is a section about power pieces, accessories, dirty laundry, toiletries, and etc. There is a section on folding vs rolling, an instruction of how to actually pack your suitcase, and a section about what suitcase you actually need. She has included her "perfect packing lists" as well as some tear-out packing lists for you to fill in and use.

This book was kind of fun to read :) It was definitely written for someone who is single and on-the-move a lot. Think some executive who has to fly for work week after week. It has some great information that I think would be very useful to someone in that setting. Admittedly I am not the demographic this book is written for. I would suggest this book for someone who is.

It is a cute book, neat idea, written in an interesting fashion, and easy to follow.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

J is for Jars -- canning jars :)

I have a healthy appreciation for canning jars...partly because I do a lot of canning--so the pragmatic part of me likes them for their usefulness (who doesn't like jars filled with food ready to eat that you can keep on your shelves till ready to use?!)  But their variety is pretty cool as well.

Most of my canning jars are down on shelves in the basement, filled with yummy stuff ranging from salsa to venison to soups to jams to syrups to veggies to pickles and on and on! :)

I think I have a small fortune in canning jars (kidding!) Honestly, if I were to purchase all of the jars that I have from a store it would be a hefty investment. Not that it wouldn't be worth it (the fresh healthy foods I can we enjoy all year long!) but we have been blessed to buy them at garage sales and such. I've been able to pick up most of them in a scenario like a big cardboard box filled with canning jars with $2 written in marker on the side of the box. :) This method of procuring jars has yielded me a large variety of different canning jars. Before I started canning I guess I thought that they were all the same :) Now I have a little collection of different types on a shelf in my kitchen (also from a yard sale, haha!)

There are some really cool looking jars out there!  I honestly have no idea how old they are, but they're neat!  This one is called "strong shoulders" -- and it's Atlas brand (cute, huh? :) )

So the ones on the shelf are some of my favorites, but I also have favorite ones in the "use" rotation as well.  It's funny, some are just pretty neat and when I see them I can remember other things that have been canned in them in years past :)

This smooth one  contains grapey applesauce, but
held peach salsa a few years back :) 

So, yes, this is not a deep post by any means, but hey, in my life... J stands for Jars! :) 

For more "J" posts, check out this linkup!  :)

Hopkins Homeschool

Bessie's Pillow by Linda Bress Silberi -- my REVIEW

With the topic of immigrants in the news nearly daily, this book, Bessie's Pillow, from Strong Learning is a timely read for families.

Boshka is a Lithuanian Jew, living with her family in "the Pale," which is an area in her town of Vilna where all the Jews live as close neighbors.  The residents of the Pale are terrorized occasionally by mobs of Russians who beat them, torture them, and worse.  As the book begins, Boshka is embarking on a trip to the United States--leaving her mother, her father, her brothers, her home, her the hopes of living in a land free of these threats.  She seems excited to take this step, though sad to leave behind those special ones.

Right before Boshka enters the train, a woman from her town gives her a special pillow to take to her son who is already in America.  This special pillow accompanies Boshka through all the experiences that she endures on her travels--a companion of sorts.

Boshka arrives in the United States and is given a new name, Elizabeth (which later evolves to Bessie, because, as her friend Miriam tells her, "(Elizabeth)...doesn't sound Jewish at all!"

I do not want to ruin the story for I do not want to give you more of the story.  Suffice it to say that the book follows Bessie to New York and then on throughout her life -- her friends, her family, her jobs, her sorrows, her joys, her successes, and more.

SO -- how did we like this book?  My 12- year old daughter was the first to read this book.  She read it straight through over the course of several days.  Her comments throughout her reading were consistently, "This is such a good book!"  She definitely enjoyed the fact that it is a true story, and there are photographs of many of the characters included within the pages.

She liked the fact that she got to learn about Bessie across her entire life, though she commented to me, "You'll be surprised at how fast it goes--it starts out taking a lot of pages to cover weeks, and then years pass by."

When she was done with the book, I took a turn and read it. Knowing how much my daughter had enjoyed it I was a little surprised at the sadness that permeated a lot of the story. Yes, there was hopefulness, but the truths of life were there as well.  It was not a story of a nice and easy life, but rather one filled with challenges.

Since we homeschool, we used the teacher's guide for some writing prompts to kind of further process what was read in Bessie's Pillow.   There are other resources to learn more about the setting and time of Bessie's Pillow on the website.  You can learn more about European immigration, famous people, food and recipes, health, housework, movies, music and dancing, and more!

I think that part of what my daughter wrote as an answer to one of the questions sums up Bessie's story,
                                        "Bessie's life was filled with struggles and hard-
                                          ships, but she also learned to move on in life,
                                         and she learned to love again." 

Yes, there are a lot of sad parts (watch out if you're using this book as a read-aloud!  You'll probably have a hard time reading through some parts without tearing up!) but I think it is totally appropriate for families to read together (even with younger children).  My daughter is 12 and I think that age and up will enjoy reading this book independently.  I would recommend this book, not as light or fluffy reading, but as a taste of an immigrant's life in the early 1900's.
Bessie's Pillow

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 20, 2017

I is for indecision

I hate being indecisive!!  This has been a hard week for us as we had a trip planned (which had been planned for several months) and then a blizzard came and turned our plan around!

Huge snowfalls left us wondering if we could just make the trip the following day or if it had to be postponed...through prayer and waiting for God's peace we finally decided to wait and not go.

This seems little, but was actually very stressful on us all...indecisiveness is not usually a trait of mine!  :/

Thankful that we have Someone to go to who will give guidance and assurance.

Proverbs 3:6 "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."

Creating a Masterpiece (monthly plan) -- MY REVIEW

Are you artistic?  I have never considered myself a matter of fact I consider myself non-artistic.  These past few weeks I (and my family) have had the opportunity to use the online program Creating a Masterpiece, which is an online subscription to an instructor-led art program.

Before we even began, I was encouraged when I saw some of the photos on their website of students with their completed projects...check out those little kiddos with great pieces!!  Here's what I mean:
Creating a Masterpiece

So after seeing what the younger children had done, I was actually anticipating some success when we gave the program a try.  Looking over the website I saw that there are reviews and testimonials of students as well as MANY different levels of  projects.  There is even a free sample project that'll get you hooked! :)   The rates for this course are also listed, and families have the option of a Monthly Plan or other longer time or level-limited subscriptions.  There is also an option for using this for a class/group membership for using this to teach more than just 5 in your immediate family.  Are you interested in finding out more?

Here's my review!  Our family began with the free sample lesson (which is accessed on the front page of the site.)  This project is a drawing with pastels of a beautiful mountain.  Looking at the picture that we were about to create we were all sure that we would not be able to draw something so nice.  We got out our new pastels and taped our paper to the table and hit "play" for the first lesson.  The teacher slowly and clearly talked us through each step of coloring with the pastels, marking out areas, and rubbing the colors to blend.  Four of us did this lesson, my 7th grade daughter, my 9th grade son, my 11th grade daughter, and myself.  We were SO pleased with how these pictures turned out, and how easy it was to follow the instructions!

 Here are our first pieces of art!  Aren't they nice?  I could never imagine that we would draw these!

We went on to complete several more projects, and Dad even joined in the fun!  He is very non-artistic as well, but when he saw what we had created he was interested to see the lessons and try one. He definitely is enjoying using these lessons with us (it's a fun whole-family project!)

Do you want a glimpse at some of our other projects?

Here's our first watercolor:

and another soft pastel (what a cute baby bluebird, right?)

and another watercolor!

How about a venture into colored pencils?

Okay, enough of my showing off, right?  :)  The website is very easy to navigate.  You can browse the list of projects as well as the list of materials needed for each project.  The projects are separated into different levels, from beginner to level 5.  There are projects in all sorts of media, from the types I have shown above to things like silk dying, pencil, pen and ink, woodburning, oil painting, and many more!

To begin a project you select it on the website and begin the first lesson.  The projects that we did were made up of multiple lessons.  Sometimes we could go right on to the next "lesson" in the project and sometimes we had to wait awhile, for instance, to let one layer of the paint dry.

The teacher is an enjoyable instructor, Sharon Hofer, who gives very clear directions.  We all enjoy these lessons!  You know what they remind me of?  Those "paint and sip" parties that are all the rage these days!  I'm sure you've either been to one or seen friends' posts on social media showing their cool artwork and wondered how they did it, right?  :)  Well, these lessons make it possible!

These art lessons would make a GREAT addition to a homeschool program of most every age.  I'd also recommend using it with your entire family!  When we used it as a whole family (including Dad) it was a really fun, relaxed, unique way to hang out and do something together.

Would you like to find out how other families used and liked Creating a Masterpiece?  Check out this link below!

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, March 17, 2017

NIV Faithlife Study Bible -- my REVIEW

Are you looking for a study Bible?  This NIV Faithlife Study Bible is worth looking into!  Maybe you don't even think you need a study Bible...well, I think you'll be interested in this!  This is a review NOT of the Bible (of course!) but of the book/study guides/etc.

This Bible is an NIV Bible, the full Scriptures, with many many study assists added in.  There are explanations on the bottom of each page that cover passages as well as individual verses or segments of verses.  There are parallel passages cited, cultural references explained, historic references, alternate usages of words, and more.

There are many "extras" in this Bible as well,

Each book of the Bible begins with background information, some with maps of the area in which the book occurs, an outline of the book, the themes of the book, a timeline, how the book is structured, and more!

On the lower segment of each page are helps, explanations, and other things that will help you to better understand the different passages and verses.

Timelines are a great visual help!

I really like the family trees--

as well as the little explanatory diagrams/pictures.

There are many other helpful things, among which are  
essays on certain topics by Bible scholars and preachers

Ths size of this study Bible is not gigantic -- it is quite large, but not too intimidatingly large to take with you!  You can use this Bible at home or take it to a Bible study or elsewhere with you!  You will be glad to have these extra study assists available for you!

I would recommend this study Bible, it would be a great help in your own Bible study, it would make a great gift, and it would be helpful for any student of the Word of God.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Booklook Bloggers Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”