Friday, September 27, 2013

The Small Things {September Edition}

Now that the month is nearly over, here's my September happies. :)

The Goodness of Baked Things

Summer + no air conditioning = no baking, so once the weather starts to cool to a tolerable temperature I happily return to my cookie sheets, bread pans, and muffin tins. In my opinion, coffee/tea/chai without some sort of baked good is just plain wrong and should only occur in the most desperate of circumstances. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through this time of year's crazy days of homeschooling, design work, ballet, and soccer is that golden moment in the afternoon when I can brew a cup of coffee or tea, grab a treat and pretend for ten minutes that I have absolutely nothing else to do. Thankfully the weather has been rainy and chilly and wonderfully fall-ish so I've been able to keep up a steady stream of baked delights to satisfy my mid-afternoon cravings. You can visit my board of deliciousness on Pinterest for some of my favorite recipes.

Watership Down

I'd never heard of this book until one day I was Googling "anthropomorphic animal novels" (say that three times fast) and it popped up on a must-read-classics list. I tried to borrow it from my local library, but it was checked out. Then, in a fantastic turn of events, I stumbled upon a copy in a little used bookstore we visited while on vacation back in August. Typically I'm a very fast reader and a good book lasts about as long as Captain Jack's rum, but I found this book to be a lovely one to just meander through, picking it up here and there to read a chapter or two as I found time. It was absolutely delightful and I can definitely see myself returning to the world of Hazel, Fiver, and their stalwart band of bunnies for many years to come.

Star Wars

Now that I'm done waxing poetic about bunny books, it's time to get my geek on. Or would that be nerd? (According to this article, I could be both, honestly). This month marked a very significant point in my children's lives--their introduction to Star Wars. My five-year-old son is already obsessed, thanks to his love of Angry Birds, which turned into a love for Angry Birds Star Wars, which turned into a love for anything and everything related to Star Wars--especially if it involves Chewbacca. This was his reaction when he finally got to bring home the coveted Angry Birds Star Wars bedding...

Of course my husband and I have strongly encouraged him and decided he was ready to experience the wonder of the real thing. So off to the library we went, where miracle of miracles we were able to snag Episodes I-VI (with III reserved for mommy and daddy only, much to the boy's disappointment. He has now added "...and help me grow faster so I can watch Star Wars three" to his bedtime prayers). I have now heard Darth Vader's theme song being enthusiastically hummed at least three times a day for the last two weeks.
The force is strong with this one.

Be sure to check back in next week...I'm very excited to be introducing some special posts for the month of October!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Second Spring}

If you read my seasonal post a couple of weeks ago, you know that fall is my favorite season. This quote sums up why quite nicely. Autumn always seems to be a time of renewal after summer's nonstop days. And now that the calendar--and the weather--agree that this wonderful season has arrived, I shall revel in it.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Recommends (aka my 6am fail)

This week has been one of those weeks where I've been lucky to have ten minutes to do anything that wasn't part of my URGENT MUST DO RIGHT NOW list. Which means after repeated late nights, my attempt to get up this morning at 6am to compose a blog post utterly failed when I turned the alarm off and immediately fell back to sleep. However, since having only one blog post this week makes me feel really, really lame, I've decided to share a few of my favorite recent internet reads and finds...

I love reading @AnneBogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. Not only is her blog title awesome, but we share the same love of indie bookstores, and she's a fellow homeschooling mom. (She's also a pro blogger and huge inspiration.) Last month, her post The Book Isn't Better Than The Movie sparked one of the most interesting discussions I've ever been a part of and it goes to show how varied people's tastes can be when it comes to literature and film. Check it out and then do yourself a favor and browse the rest of her site!

J. Kent Messum's How I Got My Literary Agent feature on Writer's Digest was a huge encouragement to me this past week. His story of determination, audacity, and victory in his journey to publication gave me hope as I face the insanity inducing process of querying. Plus, he ends it with a Hans Solo quote. 

Sometimes it's really easy to get incredibly frustrated and angry over the state of the world. When we're constantly bombarded with stories of people hurting one another and spreading hate (like the recent horrible and ignorant reaction to the newest Miss America), it's no wonder we sometimes fall into the jaded opinion that people are mostly just jerks. Then there's stuff like this, that reminds us how many awesome people really are out there.




Want another video to warm your heart and--unless you're much more stoic than I--bring tears to your eyes? Look no further. You may have seen this video of a foreign cell phone ad pop up in your social media feed. If you haven't watched it yet, you should.





Have a great weekend, folks! I promise to be back next week, even if it means waking up while it's still dark outside. (Hold me to that, will ya?)



Monday, September 16, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Nonsense}

Last week I discovered (thanks to Twitter) that Friday was Roald Dahl day. Which makes today the perfect day to share this quote I've had saved on my list of favorites. And if you're looking for more words of wisdom, head on over to my friend Chelsea's blog, Little Red Chair, for her post on Dahl, what his books meant to her as a child, and a collection of more great quotes from the children's book master.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Tis the Season

Even though it's not officially fall yet, with the start of a new school year, it certainly feels like it's begun. Which makes me very, very happy. Fall is my favorite season. There's a reason every book I've ever written has been birthed during the fall months. There's something about autumn that reinvigorates my creative spirit. The changing colors, the crisp air, the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg and pumpkin....even my favorite music seems to take on a richer sound. (I'm listening to the new The Civil Wars album as we speak. Best. Fall. Music. Ever.) Plus, I am not a hot weather person. Me + any temperature above 75 = cranky pants. I like my skinny jeans, my scarves, my hot drinks, and my comforter. So by this time each year, Summer and I have stopped speaking and I'm ready to move on--even if Summer isn't. So what's an autumn girl to do when it's mid-September and still eighty-five degrees outside? Don the jeans (heat be damned), stockpile the apple cider k-cups that were on sale, and put up the fall decorations, of course.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book + Dice = Learning Fun!

Let's be honest. Our kids don't always think "fun" and "school" can coexist. As a homeschool mom, my kids are quick to let me know when they're not having fun. While they may not be brave enough to complain to a teacher outside of our house ("Would you talk that way to your ballet teacher, young lady?") they certainly have no qualms about whining to Mom when they're less than excited about the day's assignments.

So today I thought I'd share a project we're currently doing as part of 3rd grade History/Geography that has actually earned my almost-eight-year-old's approval. I figure any teachers out there--home or public school--can always use some new ideas! All it takes is one of Sleeping Bear Press's State Alphabet Books and an alphabet die. (By the way, I love these books! They're such a great resource for learning about the 50 states. Each one contains fun facts, from A-Z, about the individual state. And it's not just a sentence or two. Every letter has a short rhyme accompanied by a solid paragraph or two detailing the letter's subject.)

Note: We're using the die from our travel sized Apples to Apples game, but you could use one from another game like Scattergories, purchase one like this one from Amazon, or even use an iPhone app. Another free option would be to draw letters from a bag, or deck of flashcards.

B is for Big Sky Country: A Montana Alphabet

My daughter's assignment is to compile a folder filled with reports, pictures, maps, etc. on our home state. I couldn't wait to show her my own Pennsylvania folder (thank you Mom, for saving it all these years) that I put together in the fourth grade, and which would eventually become the inspiration for my first ever publication. I want my daughter to have as much fun as I did with this assignment, so I decided to make it even more interesting by turning it into a game.

Each week, she gets to roll the die. Whatever letter it lands on, she looks in the book and finds out what that letter stands for. Then it's her job to find out more information about that particular subject and write a report. For example, this week she rolled "N". N stands for Native Peoples. To help her narrow down the subject for her report, I asked her what she would like to know more about regarding Native American culture. She decided she wanted to learn how Native Americans used to hunt buffalo. It's been so awesome to see how proud she is of all the notes she's collected so far! It's also been a great lesson on researching and learning more computer skills. And as an added bonus, we'll be making buffalo burgers for dinner next week. Home Ec, anyone?

Check out the list of books (there's one for each state + Washington D.C.) and the accompanying FREE teacher's guides on the Sleeping Bear Press website. I'll definitely be picking up more from the library as we move on to study individual regions and states throughout the school year.

What about you? Any fun tips, tricks, or projects that have been successful in your classroom? I'm always looking for more new ideas, so I'd love to hear from you!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Library}

I always said I wanted to instill a love of reading in my kids. The fact that the library is one of their favorite places makes me very happy.