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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ghoulish Goodies (A Frightful Cookbook)

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My boys look forward to Halloween every year. From planning creative costumes, choosing the perfect pumpkin to carve, and joining in the neighborhood festivities, everyone enjoys walking in the crisp fall evening to share the fun (and goodies). Usually around late August, my boys start talking about their costume ideas. When the first pumpkins appear on store shelves, the countdown begins. 

When the boys come in from making their trick-or-treating rounds, Ghoulish Goodies inspires my youngest chef and me to create some surprising and fun munchies to fill them up. Sharon Bowers' collection of frightful recipes includes sweet and savory goodies including appetizers, drinks, snacks, desserts, and even meal ideas. Many of the recipes are accompanied by photographs, and both the ingredients and the instructions are simple.

Some of our favorite choices include:
  • Candy Corn Pizza
  • Orange Rice with Bacon (Pumpkin Risotto)
  • Spidery Cupcakes
  • Choco-Bats
  • Worm Pie
For the squeamish, there are plenty of fun, not-so-scary options in Ghoulish Goodies, and in addition to being fun and festive, everything we've made has also been delicious. Some of the treats are even easily adaptable to other holidays, and we made the Chocolate Mice and Pumpkin in the Field for our family Christmas dinner party, using red and green candies for the mice features, and switching out the pumpkin candy garnish with a Christmas Mellowcreme tree.

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weird & Wonderful Creations

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Weird & Wonderful Creations, a four-in-one compilation of Made by God books, includes these titles: 
  • Spiders, Snakes, Bees, & Bats
  • Big Bugs, Little Bugs
  • Sea Creatures
  • Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants
An excellent nature study resource, Weird & Wonderful Creations features detailed photographs, large fonts, colorful sidebars, and short sentences. The engaging format of this large hardback book begs kids to delve inside, and emerging readers will find the content fascinating. 

My son loves looking at the pictures, but he also enjoys learning about God's wonderful creation. This book makes an excellent transition across the curriculum in our homeschool as my son practices reading and vocabulary skills while learning science. Plus, with features like an index, which is rare in children's books, he can practice finding information and conducting research.

Alongside his nature journal, my son uses this book as a reference for learning more about his discoveries. For example, Weird & Wonderful Creations taught us that butterflies live in groups called flutters, live for six to eight months, and can fly up to 12 miles per hour! I love how the nature facts point to God as creator:
"God blessed butterflies with colorful wings. These colors help protect and hide them from danger" (p. 41).
Weird & Wonderful Creations also teaches young readers to respect all of God's creation, and to appreciate even the weirdest bug or plant as a creation from God with a distinct purpose. 

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Beautiful Mess: Happy Handmade Home

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The sisters behind A Beautiful Mess, Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, share their decorating DIY ideas in Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space

Filled with lots of eye candy, Happy Handmade Home features projects for indoor and outdoor spaces, with a special section on small-space living. There are recipes, party planning tips, and unique "one thing/different ways" projects so you can bring your own personality to them. The familiar funky style of A Beautiful Mess is evident throughout this fun book, and I even find that many of the inspiring ideas are perfect for creating handmade gifts.

My favorite sections of the book are the Playrooms and Kid's Birthday Party chapters. The simple, doable decorating ideas for kids are practical, affordable, and fun. Ideas include a kid's art gallery wall (LOVE), a wagon bookshelf, and more. Throughout the entire book, Elsie and Emma pay particular attention to small details that make a room more personal, and they offer advice for using everyday items (like tin cans) in unique ways. 

Oftentimes, decorating books are unrealistic for "real" budgets, so Happy Handmade Home really hits its mark. You don't have to be a professional crafter or artist to tackle the projects inside, and even if your style doesn't mesh with theirs, their designs are easy to adapt with your own personal flair. 

Happy Handmade Home is a resource that I'll return to again and again, whenever I need a little inspiration.

  {The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The One Year Devotions for Active Boys

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The One Year Devotions for Active Boys is full of stories related to real-life issues boys face, as well as science experiments, puzzles, jokes, riddles, and more. Geared toward pre-teen boys, this devotional contains a reading for each day of the year.

Each daily devotional is one page long, and includes a brief section to read, followed by a hands-on activity, a prayer, and a Scripture verse. With themes that boys can relate to, like cheating, lying, bullying, sports, responsibility, and self-control, The One Year Devotions for Active Boys is relevant to the modern lives of boys, while also continually pointing to the Bible.

The style of The One Year Devotions is fun and accessible, and even boys who aren't strong readers can tackle the easy-to-read passages and activities. My kids especially like the hands-on projects and the riddles. This book is a wonderful supplement to Bible study, as it teaches boys to spend time pondering and praying, reading and researching. The directed prayer prompts also help boys learn how to pray, and they show them that prayer isn't complicated or "for adults only."

I especially like how this book is written to boys, and although parents can read the passages aloud and prompt their sons to do the activities, the book is really ideal for boys to read independently and spend time with on their own. The One Year Devotions for Active Boys is a great way to get boys started with daily quiet time in God's Word.

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Friday, September 26, 2014

The New Astronomy Book {Wonders of Creation}

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Danny Faulkner's The New Astronomy Book from Master Books is an affordable all-in-one science book. It is easy for homeschool moms to implement, and it ingeniously includes three levels of skill, while presenting the subject of astronomy from a biblical worldview.

Part of the Wonders of Creation series, The New Astronomy Book contains 15 chapters plus a complete glossary, with just under a hundred total pages. Large, colorful photographs, illustrations, charts, and graphs add visual interest, while a system of color coding points parents to the appropriate content for different ages or skill levels. Younger learners are directed to one section, intermediate learners add another level, and advanced learners read everything. This arrangement is ideal for the homeschool classroom, as everyone in the family can use this resource together.

Topics include the planets and solar system, the night sky and telescopes, stars and other cosmic bodies, and the history of astronomy. This book can easily be used over the course of a semester, is all-inclusive for younger grades, and with a few additional resources can be used for a 1/2 high school credit. The color-coded advanced skill section provide opportunities for research and projects that add substance to a high school level course. Because of the clear divisions within each chapter, parents and students can cover astronomy in as much or as little detail as desired.

The New Astronomy Book wonderfully presents science from a creationist perspective in a non-forced way. This book doesn't just present science with a few Bible verses randomly placed. Instead, the entire course is approached with a Christian worldview, but touchy topics are not ignored. For example, the Big Bang theory is discussed at length, with evidence presented to refute evolutionary views.

A pull-out poster of the planets makes a nice addition to our classroom walls. The glossary includes page numbers, so students can easily reference information they need. To top off all the goodies in The New Astronomy Book, it is priced under twenty dollars. My family has certainly found its value as a homeschool resource to be exceptional. Highly recommended!

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}