Friday, December 10, 2010

this moment

Participating in Amanda’s this moment project:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual - capturing a moment from the week.


(Taken this morning. Photo credit to my wonderful husband.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

power tools (uhn, uhn, uhn)

(That was my Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor grunt.)

Husky Tools sent us this super cool 13-piece Powertek Precision Screwdriver Set. Honestly, I thought I would have my husband reviewing this one, but it turns out to be a bit more up my alley.

Why I now own the screwdriver:

  • In the past, when I required the use of a screwdriver, I would dig through my husband’s tools to borrow one. He loves his tools. Sometimes I “borrow” for lengthy periods of time.
  • I make things! This screwdriver had tiny little bits in all sorts of shapes (crosses, lines, etc. – har, har, I know they are Phillips and flat head) which are small enough for craft projects. (I think they will also be useful for eyeglass repair, which happens too often around here.)
  • Because said screwdriver is tiny, it won’t fit the bill as much for my husband’s day-to-day uses. (He points out that the bits aren’t magnetized, which would be a plus for him when working with tiny parts. My hands are smaller so I don’t think it’s an issue with me.)

This screwdriver runs on two AAA batteries and seems quite powerful enough for me.  Husky also has a great guarantee on their products.

If you need to buy a few more gifts this year, check out the Husky products under $20 at Home Depot.  Some of them are big, manly screwdriver and rachet sets, but the Powertek suits me just fine.


I received a screwdriver set for review. Opinions are my own.

Monday, December 6, 2010

words of the month


December words are out in the world. I’ve linked to a few stories below. My story on the Poor Clares is in the winter issue of Sandlapper, but not yet online.



Friday, December 3, 2010

this moment

Participating in Amanda’s this moment project:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual - capturing a moment from the week.


Monday, November 29, 2010

cleaning (or please save me from the books)

Math U See Manipulatives (includes plastic case)

I have a 158 piece set of MUS manipulatives for sale. I did buy these used and we have used them, but they are made of sturdy plastic and should continue in good shape through many more students. Because this is more than one set, I am going to list them individually below.  $30, plus shipping and delivery confirmation

(Type: quantity included)
One (Green Units): 24
Two: 4
Three: 4
Five: 4
Six: 4
Seven: 4
Eight: 4
Ten: 20
Hundred: 4
Algebra/Decimal Inserts
Red blocks: 20
Red inserts: 8
Green inserts: 2
Blue inserts: 24
Grey inserts: 24


BJU Algebra 1 for Christian Schools, Second Edition -- I have the Student book (hardback) and the Teacher's Edition, Book 1 (this is wire, spiral bound with a hard back cover). Both of these are in very good condition. I do not have book 2 of the teacher's edition, but you should be able to find that used. We have chosen to go with "chalkdust" (sort of) after finding that we need DVDs.
Here is a link to the student book:
And the two-volume teacher set:
I am asking $12 for this set, plus media mail shipping and delivery confirmation. Books are in great condition, but I am discounting because you will still need to buy book 2 of the TE.


Earth Science for Every Kid (VanCleave)
The Young Naturalist (Usborne)
$8 for both, plus media mail shipping and delivery confirmation. The VanCleave book has been used repeatedly and shows it, but it is still in very usable condition. The only writing is a name inside the front cover. The Usborne book is in very good condition.


History Odyssey, Ancients, Level Two study guide -- like new condition. This comes three-hole punched with color covers for inserting in a binder. (I did not put this in a binder, so one is not included.)
Price is $15 plus media mail shipping and delivery confirmation.


Mary, Bloody Mary
The Phantom Tollbooth (has a tear on the edge of the cover, book is fine)
Catherine, Called Birdy
Shadow of a Bull
The Door in the Wall (Readable but written in)
$9 for all, plus media mail shipping and delivery confirmation.


The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, new edition $12


Prentice Hall Science Explorer $8 for all
Animals (2005)
Earth's Waters (2005)

Sonlight Language Arts 6 with student activity sheets (2007 --old style): $8


Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse $2.50

Christian fiction:
Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure
The Quest for Thunder Mountain (Tales from Terrestria)
The Isle of Dragons (Tales from Terrestria)
$9 for all, plus media mail shipping and delivery confirmation, paid via paypal. These are in excellent condition.

another giveaway coming soon

Soon, I will be doing another review and giveaway for CSN Stores, purveyors of pretty much everything -- sling backpacks, snow booties for dogs (no joke) and the coolest Lego sets ever made (I want this).  And today is Cyber Monday, don’t forget, if you are still working on that Christmas shopping list…

(On another note, this is my first post using the updated Windows Live Writer. It’s very, very nice. Thank you, Bill Gates.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

homeschoolers, black friday is early for you

I’ve met some wonderful people through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. They have terrific resources for homeschooling and their Black Friday sale is already underway. They also have a terrific subscription package that includes a planner (look for a couple of my recipes in the 2011 Schoolhouse Planner!), a tote and all sorts of goodies. Some freebies are also available. Enjoy!

hot stuff (the cocoa)


If you are still buying hot cocoa mix in those little foil-lined packets, I am about to change your life. Run, don’t walk, to Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa recipe. Make a double batch. Trust me on this. Store it in an airtight container and scoop out 3 T. per steaming hot cup of water (or milk!) as needed.

Winter’s coming, people. Be ready.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

curious vicarious volcano

I always wanted one of these, but I thought $15 for a plastic form and some sandy plaster (that I could get from Hobby Lobby for $2) was stupid. At Goodwill last week, I saw a complete, unused kit for $1.25. Score! All my earth building dreams fulfilled:


The boy had fun, too. I am hoping for some seismic activity and ash clouds today. (OK, so it’s baking soda and vinegar. Whatever.)



Monday, November 22, 2010

the everyday

I don’t update my phone enough. It probably has something to do with the fact that it’s only sort of a phone and more like a little computer that can be “bricked” (this is bad) if I screw up. In any event, I always find that my phone photos are a true glimpse at the norm around here.

Behold, I get extra dorky when we’re almost there:





I was amused by the giant cow at Whole Foods:


I am fortunate enough to see this every day:


I stopped in the middle of the road to take this. It was perfectly safe because I didn’t encounter another human being for miles. I also didn’t have cell service. It was both liberating and unnerving. Mountain roads always make me think some suicidal deer is about to take both of us out.


The boy got cold weather camping gear:


The girl got college mail:


And somewhere in the middle of it all, there was a bounce house:


Friday, November 19, 2010

this moment

(Scroll down for giveaways below…)

Participating in Amanda’s this moment project:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual - capturing a moment from the week.


(One more thing: Dog lovers, you really need to check out this post. Funniest thing I  have read in a long, long time.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

hey lady, it’s the last gasp before winter

(Giveaways below…)


You know it’s the end of fall here when we get the ladybug invasion. Some (my husband, for one) think they are a bit, um, odiferous, but I think it’s kind of pleasant to sit in the sun with ladybugs flying all around. No word on whether or not they were flagrantly violating the rules with little tiny skateboards.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

prematurity awareness day

(Grocery giveaways below… Please scroll down and enter.)

(Great information below, but there are some sick little ones in this video. FYI.)

I have been privileged to help tell the stories of several families whose babies were born far too soon. The March of Dimes has made dramatic steps in saving these babies. (Surfactant, which helps tiny underdeveloped lungs inflate, is probably the single greatest advancement in saving the lives of preemies. Babies as young as 23 weeks gestation have a chance at survival now.) However, there is much to be done. Our state got a big fat F on the prematurity report card issued by MOD last year. 

Please watch the video, click over to the March of Dimes’ site and learn more about this. If you are pregnant, know the signs of preterm labor!

grocery giveaway #2

Mrs. White, says you won!

Blogger Mrs. White said...

I'd love to win this! Thank you!!
Mrs. White

Another giveaway for you today – This gift pack was sent to me by Progresso and MyBlogSpark and they are offering an identical pack to one of my readers. I would love to tell you how much I enjoyed this soup, but my teenager took both varieties, Chicken Gumbo and Tomato Parmesan, for lunch at school. Sigh. In any event, we are big Progresso fans here, and I keep plenty of it stocked in my pantry. The girl loves it and it makes for a hearty school lunch, especially during the winter. These low sodium varieties are a welcome addition here, because one of my biggest concerns with non-homemade food is the often high sodium content. These were devoured with no complaints about the reduction in salt, so I take that as a ringing endorsement.

The gift pack includes two cans of low sodium soup, a super (souper?) cool soup mug and an exercise ball and pump.

If you would like to give these a try, please leave a comment below by noon on Nov. 23. will select a winner on or about that date.


Progresso and MyBlogSpark provided these items for review, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

best walt disney world character meal

(Tired of Disney posts yet? :) )

I realize there are other opinions on this, but it’s hard to beat the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom. We have dined there many times and always find the food delicious and the atmosphere less hectic than some of the other table service restaurants. And the company? Well, you can’t resist Pooh, of course.


For the detail oriented among you – breakfast on Sept. 12 included puffed French toast, eggs, grits, fruit, an omelet station, various breads and pastries, a peach casserole and much more. The coffee was actually not bad either. (Yucky coffee is an infamous and rare WDW weakness.) Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger were patient with guests of all ages and the 8:20 a.m. reservation time meant we were finishing up just in time for the park’s 9 a.m. opening. We walked right on Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. Awesome.






grocery giveaway #1

Leslie, says you’re the winner! Enjoy!

Blogger Post Grad said...

I would love to win. Mashed potatoes are definitely a quick, easy staple.
Thanks for doing the giveaway!

(Click on my banner above and then scroll down for grocery giveaway #2.)

Want to win some cool kitchen gadgets? Betty Crocker and MyBlogSpark sent me this set, including a silicon hot pad, a mixing spoon (dishwasher safe) and a lovely bamboo bowl – as well as two packages of instant mashed potatoes – and they would like to send the same gift set to one of my readers. OK, I only ever buy instant potatoes for making potato bread, so I am probably not the best person to ask about them from the perspective of making and eating them according to packages directions. I do like that each box contains two packs of potatoes, so if you are making bread and just using a cup or so at a time, this is the way to go. My teenager did make a beeline for the roasted garlic variety and we ended up making it right away. No, they don’t taste like homemade (think butter and whole fat, local milk – good, not good for you), but they were pretty tasty. I bet garlic potato bread would be good, too.

If you would like to give these a try, please leave a comment below by noon on Nov. 20. will select a winner on or about that date.

In the meantime, if you would like a coupon for this product, click here.


Betty Crocker and MyBlogSpark provided these items for review, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

i care, I really do

Big, huge, overdue diatribe of a post over at Basically Green. It includes info on screenings for an upcoming documentary.

Monday, November 8, 2010

words (my own, thankyouverymuch)

Boy howdy, writers of the world are getting their vicarious revenge today over the Cooks Source alleged plagiarism brouhaha.  (Not that I advocate revenge, of course. But I do have a fondness for copyright laws.) Google it, if you haven’t heard. Anyone who has ever had their intellectual property misappropriated will find it interesting.

Anyhoo.. I wrote these words all by my lonesome. And I am super excited to have my photos used with an upcoming story. I will post as soon as it’s out. My photography is indeed a work in progress, but it’s fun to see it in print.

  • I do a lot of work on custom publications.I rarely post any of it here because it is typically for a specific audience. Custom work is different and sometimes challenging (in a good way). I love working with the folks in Easley, S.C. They are a kind bunch and always easy to work with – and here’s their Chamber of Commerce’s annual guide.
  • I just found out that WNC Parent stories are linked on the Asheville Citizen-Times’ site. (OK, so I was Googling my name to see if someone had pilfered my work. Cooks Source inspired me.) By the way the Cit-Times owns WNC Parent, so it’s all good – no theft at all. :) 
  • This was a lot of fun – Learn about volunteering with your children. It’s never too young to plant seeds of gratitude.
  • Happy parents?
  • How to keep your child out of the ER (but it’s never a sure thing…)
  • This sweet family might have lost their little girl but for the quick work of medical professionals and the mom’s willingness to trust her instincts.
  • November is Prematurity Awareness Month. The March of Dimes saves lives, no doubt about it. When I was in law school (not THAT long ago), the gold standard for fetal viability was 28 weeks. Babies are now surviving as early as 23 weeks. Miraculous. Having said that, it’s best to let them bake as long as possible, so know those warning signs of premature labor, people.
  • And here’s the story of a little one, born at 25 weeks, who is now thriving.
Thanks for your support!

Monday, October 25, 2010

winner, winner, chicken dinner

OK, Liz – Since I couldn’t contact the first winner, round two with says you get the cart!

Liz said...

Love the cart! It would also be great for craft supplies and all kinds of other uses!

October 23, 2010 9:30 PM


Thursday, October 21, 2010

it’s still just barely october

So I will link up to some stories running this month. Where did the month go? I remember saying around the first of the month, “If I can just make it to the end of October, then I can rest.” Still counting on that, but rest is relative, you know?

I will add other that are online. Enjoy.

the least among you

least among you KA flat

Breaking news here in my corner of cyberspace: I think the days of “Christian movies” are behind us. Now, we have mainstream movies that are Christian. Big difference – and a much bigger audience.

I received a DVD of “The Least Among You” and I was taken aback by the cast: Louis Gossett, Jr. (“MAY-YO-NAISE!” – remember that?), Lauren Holly and William Devane (who shares a birthday with my husband). The movie features a solid performance by Cedric Sanders as Richard Kelly. I think Lauren Holly might steal the show here though. Her performance was heartfelt and dead on point.

“The Least Among You” is based on a true story. I haven’t researched the background here, so I don’t know how much creative license is taken, but the story is quite powerful. In the 1960s, Richard Kelly gets a chance at probation instead of jail, by attending seminary – an all-white seminary. Personal prejudices, money, politics and power struggles all come into play as we see Richard, and those around him, changed.

“We are all called to act on our faith, not our fear,” Samuel (Gossett, Jr.) says. This movie shows that faith in action.

I think the audience for this movie is broader than Christian films of the past that were perhaps pigeon-holed due to theme. Bringing an undiluted message that isn’t prohibitively heavy-handed remains the challenge of Christian movies as they gain a wider audience. The key – and I think this film hits a homerun with it – is telling a good story first. This is an evangelistic tool, no doubt, but your non-Christian friends can find something here on which to hang their hat. Who doesn’t love Lou Gossett? This is a nice addition to the trend I am starting to see unfold. Support this movie and others like it by voting with your pocketbook.

Parents, please note that the Christian point of view doesn’t mean this is a movie for kids. The themes are for middle school and older, in my opinion. There’s a word or two you might not want littles to hear, but more importantly, kids need to be old enough to understand the context of this story. It’s a good one, but enjoy it for at-home date night or with the teens.

“The Least Among You” is available on DVD.

 I was provided a copy of the DVD for review. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

for you they signed

For You They Signed

This week, we are knee deep in the Declaration of Independence. Oh my, what a great place to be. As enrichment to our study, we are reading about some of the signers (particularly those from our state) in “For You They Signed” by Marilyn Boyer. The book includes short biographies of each signer, some of whom I guarantee you have never heard of before. I love the concept of this book. It is decidedly Christian, so know that in advance, and in fact, Boyer suggests that families can use it as a devotional. Whether for personal reading or as a history supplement, the book is a treasure trove of information. I consider this a starting point to the discussion of these men, however. The biographies don’t claim to be in-depth – that’s not the purpose of this book. Since we are using this in our history class, I never want to gloss over the warts of these very human individuals, though their place in history is undeniably important. This was a time when the compatibility of Christianity and slave ownership wasn’t questioned – at least not publicly – and I think it is important to present a balanced view of these men. They were, after all, merely human.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful family resource. It is appropriate for elementary and older and can be a wonderful addition to your homeschool history studies. 

 New Leaf Publishing provided me with a review copy of this book. My opinions are my own.

Monday, October 18, 2010

want one? win a workbox/storage cart

Alvin and Co. Blue Hills Studio Storage Cart with Six Drawers - SC6MC / SC6SM

We tried plastic shoeboxes for Sue Patrick’s Workbox System last year. Meh. Too messy for my taste and we don’t stick to the workbox plan anyway. CSN Stores sells pretty much everything, from Legos to console tables and since I had been seeking something a little more compact and more attractive, CSN sent us this drawer cart to review. The cart is perfect for homeschooling. It is not incredibly sturdy and even though it has casters, we don’t roll it. However, it is plenty strong enough to hold Nolan’s massive books – that algebra book is heavy, I tell you. Even the shallow drawers hold a great deal, but the bottom two are quite deep. We added a plastic bin to the top for works in progress.

The cart does require assembly. I wouldn’t know much about that because the boy put it together by himself in about 10 minutes. Admittedly, at the ripe old age of 12, he is probably handier than I am.

By the way, I priced this item on a number of sites and CSN had the lowest price, even with shipping. I have been very pleased with their prompt service and fast shipping.

And now for the cool part --- Homeschoolers, want to win one of your own? (Actually, you don’t have to be a homeschooler to win, but I think this item lends itself well to school stuff.) CSN will send one of my readers their very own cart. Leave a comment below by noon on Oct. 25 to enter. No hoops to jump through – One comment will be randomly chosen.

CSN provided me with this item for review and is also providing the item for the giveaway. My opinions are my own.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the mysterious islands – enter to win at hotm

I have a review of “The Mysterious Islands” running today at Heart of the Matter. Click on over and enter to win your very own copy. It is definitely not just for homeschooling families.


Oh this was a lot of fun. If you remember Bruce Willis in the original “Die Hard,” I am happy to report that he is back. (I just looked it up – “Die Hard” was 22 years ago. Sigh.)

My husband and I attended a screening of “Red” last night. The cast is incredible: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, Richard Dreyfuss and a short but sweet appearance by Ernest Borgnine (he’s 94!). I suspect this movie will be vastly underappreciated by anyone younger than 40, but for our demographic it is bound to be a hit. I have reached the ripe old age that allows me to fully appreciate the notion of “grandpa” sticking it to the young whippersnappers who think they know it all. Without spoiling it, the REDs (Retired Extremely Dangerous) have become targets due to their past work in the CIA. The story becomes a life or death road trip as they try to get to the bottom of who wants them silenced and why. And it’s an awfully fun ride.

Despite the fact that a couple of people brought their kids last night, this is not for the littles. It is rated PG-13 and has some foul language (but unlike some other PG-13 movies of late, it isn’t replete with vulgarities) and there is a lot (a LOT) of mostly bloodless violence. This is based on a graphic novel (I haven’t read it) and I suspect that might lead some parents to think it’s a kid-friendly movie. It’s not, but then again, I don’t think most graphic novels have very much in common with the comic books from 30 years ago. Make it a date night sans kids.

Edited to add: Helen Mirren is drop dead gorgeous and she is 65 years old. I just read a wire story in my local paper in which she refers to Bruce Willis as a geezer. Love that! Geezers rule.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Crazy good apple crop at the nearby orchard (Sky Top) this year.



I know wooly worms are supposed to be harbingers of a cold winter, but how exactly does one assess the relative wooliness of said worm? Next year, I need to bring a chart.


You are never too old to feed a goat, apparently.



I am going to attempt to freeze apple pie filling. Yikes.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

disney’s polynesian resort

Our favorite hotel – no question about it. It is indeed over the top expensive, but there are ways around that. We had a PIN code for this trip. (Sign up for Disney’s emails, etc., and they occasionally email or snail mail discount codes. Forty percent off rack rate? Yeah baby.) How do I love thee, Polynesian? Let me count the ways.

It’s a tropical paradise, truly. I know it’s in Florida and by definition, a tropical paradise, but the Poly is beautifully themed. If you have never stayed at a Disney-owned hotel, trust me, it is worth the price. The magic never ends, as they say.* The lobby is breathtaking. Click to enlarge this photo to see my kids downstairs – we were upstairs. And that, folks, is the magic of having older kids with cell phones. This was the first vacation that didn’t leave me in constant fear of abduction.

kids in poly lobby


The boy at the top of the volcano pool slide:


And at the bottom:


I picked up a hot guy at the pool. It’s Florida; it happens.



In addition to the hotel’s theme, I can highly recommend the Poly because of its location, the fact that it’s on the monorail loop and because the rooms are huge, relatively speaking. We spend the vast majority of our Disney time at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The monorail runs right up to the Great Ceremonial House (hotel’s main building) and provides unmatched ease of access to MK. (I know there is a walking path from the Contemporary to MK, but in my opinion, the Contemporary can’t compare to the Poly.) We stayed in the Tahiti building and I highly recommend it. We have stayed there before and couldn’t be happier with the location. It’s far enough away from the luau and the volcano pool to avoid the noise associated with both, but very convenient to everything. It is also quite close to the Ticket and Transportation Center, which has a direct monorail to Epcot. Awesome.

From the Poly’s beaches, you can watch the Electrical Water Pageant and (even better) the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. White sand beaches, hammocks, palm trees AND fireworks? A little taste of heaven on earth.


*If I had to choose between staying off-site and staying home, obviously I would be happy to hold up at the Kissimmee Motel or some such place. But if you can, stay on Disney property.

Friday, September 24, 2010

this moment

Participating in Amanda’s this moment project:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual - capturing a moment from the week.

At Epcot:


Thursday, September 23, 2010

what a thrill

The boys likes thrill rides now.

I can do this one. It’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (Get a Fastpass if the line is too long. Or go in September, when the line is awesome.)


I love this one. It’s Expedition Everest. It is lovely in the early morning light, especially when the stand-by line is 5 minutes. All. Morning.


I tried to convince my husband to let me decorate the house with Tibetan prayer flags (and somehow not insult my beliefs or theirs in the process). I don’t think he’s buying it. But they are gorgeous, no?