Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Books You Should Know About

We've been reading some excellent books this fall and I want to tell you about a few of them.  Maybe you'll put them on your library list or maybe they'll help you get started or finish off (depending on who you are) your Christmas shopping.

I'll start off with three books that Sadie (age 5 1/2) and I have read recently.  The Hundred Dresses  is a book about bullying, but the actual bullying is very subtle.  There isn't any physical violence in this book or even any name calling.  Even though the mistreatment is subtle, it cannot be ignored, as it shouldn't, and is a wonderful (gentle) lesson that even making fun of someone gently hurts deeply and can cause great regret.  I highly recommend this book for girls and boys alike.

The second book we've read is Mary on Horseback, the true story of Mary Breckinridge, a nurse who devoted her life to the mountain people of Appalachia.  The book is divided into three stories of individuals whose lives were impacted greatly by Mary.  If you have a young lady in your life who loves horses, she'll be mesmerized by this nurse on horseback that rides over mountains to help people.  This book is a treasure.

Next is a book for animal lovers, particularly those who love dolphins.  Dolphin Adventure is a true account of what one scuba diver experienced when a dolphin family asked for his help.  It's an amazing peek into the lives and abilities of these amazing creatures.  It's a short and easy read, perfect for young listeners.

Two great books Sam and I read recently were The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Johnny Tremain.  I had never read either of these before and they both impressed me greatly.

There is no witch in The Witch of Blackbird Pond, although two characters in the book are accused of being witches.  One escapes harm when the village suspects her of harm (unfounded) and burns down her cabin.  The other is proved to not be a witch, so no harm comes to her.  Those are the two most intense scenes in the book.  The book tells the story of a young woman who comes north to live in a new colony when her life changes dramatically in Barbados.  She goes searching for her mother's sister and moves in with her and her family.  Ever thought colonial life was simple and bliss-filled?  This book paints an excellent picture of what it and many of the Puritan perceptions of the times were like.  For us romantic moms, there are even a few story lines that will keep us cheering for the girls in this book.  I LOVED this book.  Loved it.

Johnny Tremain is a fictional (although based on real events in history) novel about a young apprentice whose life changes drastically after an accident.  Soon, he finds himself working for the Sons of Liberty, even participating in the Boston Tea Party and the start of the Revolution.  This book is an excellent way to introduce kids to history without them knowing you're doing it.  And, it comes in a form that will be remembered- a well-written story.

Little Miss. Miriam (age 2 1/2) currently has a favorite book/naptime and bedtime routine.  It involves this book you see below, Oh, What a Busy Day.  I was given this book by my aunt and uncle on my first birthday and it is my all-time favorite children's picture book.  Can you tell it's 35 years old?

Miriam knows the book so well that before she can crawl into her "cribby" with her doll baby, we have to find and look at and talk about three specific pages in the book.  First, we have to look at the page that talks about times when we feel sad.  Miriam doesn't seem bothered by the friend that has to go home or the dog who is sick or the toy that fell in the toilet and got flushed.  What she wants to look at and "Awwww" over is the little girl whose dolly fell and broke her head.

Then, she wants to turn several pages and look at the "muddy children".  I must admit, this was my very favorite page as a child.  I, too, was fascinated by these children that got to romp in the huge muddle puddle.

Lastly, Miriam wants to look at "the children being nice".  This page show scenes where children are not using good manners followed by the better approach.  She just can't get over how the one boy is pulling the other's hair.  As if she's never seen or experienced it before.

When all the rather disturbing pages are looked at, she happily goes off to nap or bed.  Mind you that most of the pages in this book are sweet as can be.  One of my other favorite pages one of a breakfast table that requires a two-page spread.  A long table, set outside in the grass is loaded with breakfast foods and surrounded by children eating at the start of their day.  The book goes on to show the children playing outside and inside, dressing up, selling lemonade, taking care of an elderly woman and her home and saying goodbye to their friends at the end of the day (with many other lovely pages in between).

I just love books.  Can you tell?
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Open Fields Winner!

The winner of the Open Fields Giveaway is....

(who wrote..."I love Abbie's Brown Felt Flower Petal Pillow!")

Congratulations, EMW!  Please email me your mailing address and I'll get your information to Abbie.

If you didn't win, please don't fret!  Abbie is offering 20% off any item in her shop for the rest of the day!  Use coupon code thyhand20 at check out.

Thank you, Abbie!!
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Leaves: Trash or Treasure?

I know a number of people who really dislike leaf removal- to put it mildly.  We have a good number of mature trees but either their leaves are small (in the case of our black walnut and mimosa) or they get blown away because we often have a nice breeze blowing where we live.  The poplar and the chestnut require some minimal raking, but it's an easy job and the kids have fun jumping in the medium-sized pile.

Jamey decided that this year, instead of driving around or to the city leaf disposal area to pick up leaves, he would just ask for them.

He's as happy as a clam because in just two days, this is what arrived.

 This pile came in the back of a small dump truck.

One man's trash is certainly another man's treasure in this case.  As you know, we use leaves and straw to mulch our garden.  This year, we've also incorporated oats (planted in the fall knowing that they will grow and die before going to seed) into the equation.  Once the oats are dead, he'll layer on the leaves and in the spring, top everything off with straw.

The lush green oats are in the background.

Our soil tends toward the clumpy and dry, so mulching the dickens out of it helps add organic matter and holds in moisture.  Good soil is crucial to a good crop.

Next time you want something, consider a sign at the end of your driveway.  Just prepare to talk through your back door to the nice people who bring it by.  Do not open your door to a stranger.


Open Fields winner will be announced this afternoon.  If you haven't entered yet, feel free to do so here.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shopping Online with Ebates

I've never enjoyed shopping very much.  At least not since I have things to do, money I actually want to save (for things like the electric bill, groceries, Jamey's schooling-turned-student-loans), and kids who make shopping a lot less fun (no offense, kids).

For me, buying what I need online is SO much easier.  In minutes, I can scour products and reviews and feel like I am making an informed decision instead of running to three different stores comparing prices, etc.   It's nice having what I need delivered to my door instead of getting coats and shoes on everyone and loading us in and out of the van while ignoring the curious stares we get when people see my school age children out and about on a school day (it does not take all day, people!).

The only bummer about online shopping is having to pay shipping, but if you watch for deals, it's sometimes cheaper than buying your item at an actual store and sometimes (especially this time of year) stores off free shipping (yippee!!).

You all know about how much I love swagbucks.  It was my friend, Mavis, who introduced me to them.  Well, she's a money-saving genius, so when she started talking about Ebates (it's FREE), I thought I should listen up.  Here's how it works.  When you're ready to make an online purchase, go to the Ebates website and search there for either the item or the store you wish to buy from.  If the item or store you want is there, use their link to the store or item and you'll receive cash back in the form of a check (in three month intervals).  You can also check for coupons there that may be available for the store you'll be shopping from.  You might already use a credit card that gives you cash back in a similar way.  Just think- you could be earning twice for one transaction!

If you're planning on doing any Christmas shopping online, you may want to give it a go here soon.  I signed up last week and am excited to earn a little extra because of something I do anyway.

Of Note: The $10 gift card bonus for signing up will be sent to you if you spend $25 through Ebates links within a couple months of signing up.  For details of payment, etc., explore the "My Ebates" section once you've signed up and are logged in. Pin It

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

With Thanksgiving

"The LORD is my strength and my shield;
   my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
   and with my song I praise him."

 Psalm 28:7

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.  Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whoever you're with, I hope you are at peace and feel God's amazing love for you.  

I am thankful for you.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Projects, Then & Now

I used to dive into projects.  Whether it was re-organizing my recipes, making a quilt or a stocking or cleaning out flower beds, I would start with laser-like focus, work my butt off and get it done.  It was so rewarding to accomplish tasks that way.  I would put my mind to it and I would do it.

Then, I became a mom.

Actually, it wasn't until the second child that my projects really started to suffer.  Because even though my sleep and energy were somewhat compromised with one, there was always nap time and early evening time after he went to bed.  After the second one (and the third compounded it even more so), things certainly changed.  I've never had two napping at once and my first was (and still is) quite the talker, so even though I sometimes don't have to lay down what I'm doing, my mind (now for years) has been interrupted by chit chat and questions.  Years.

No wonder Jamey gets the evil eye if he accidentally interrupts me while I'm speaking.

These days, the interruptions include cleaning up the occasional puddle of pee, refereeing countless disputes, redirecting semi-dangerous behavior (like children launching their small bodies off the back of the couch), pulling up underwear, putting socks back on, getting tissues, getting drinks, putting on a band aid, opening something, tying someone's shoe, finding someone's missing shoe, putting on another band aid (the first one fell off), getting something down from a shelf, untying knots, helping to start a book on tape, and asking children to stop shrieking so I can hear my own interrupted thoughts.

I have three projects in three different stages of completion that I hope to give as Christmas gifts.  The anxiety that this produces in me is embarrassing.  I know I can't expect to get done what I used to and, believe me, the expectations I have for myself in general have changed significantly, but I want to complete those gifts!

I may be in denial, though.  Would having four books started at once be an indication?

Breaking projects into smaller tasks has helped a little bit.  Projects that I once tore through in one fell swoop, now get broken into 10 manageable pieces.  Even if the unpacking and clean-up of the project every time to keep it away from little fingers is driving me a tad batty.

Would I trade my kids for project time?  Yes.

But only for a couple hours.

(That was not a plea for you to watch my kids.  Unless I can swap and watch yours sometime.) Pin It

Monday, November 21, 2011

Open Fields Giveaway!

 This giveaway is closed.  Please go here to see who won!

I love introducing all of you to fellow readers.  Today, I want you to meet Abbie, owner of the Etsy shop Open Fields.  Here is what she'd like you to know about her...

"I am the wife of a military doctor and a stay at home mom to a beautiful little girl.  I love visiting antique shops, thrift stores and yard sales - always on the hunt for that "perfect" treasure!  I have always loved decorating my home with my own hand-sewn pillows and curtains.  Recently I decided to share my passion for making pillows with others by selling them in my Etsy shop."

Abbie has so generously offered to give away one of her shop items (priced $15 or less) to a lucky reader this week.  Here is a glimpse into Open Fields...

To Enter:

Visit her Open Fields Etsy shop.  Come back here and in the comments tell Abbie and I what item you would choose if you won (keep in mind, it must be an item priced $15 or less).  If you want to mention other items you love, you may do that, too.  Please one comment per household.  If you comment Anonymously, please leave me initials so I can identify you if you win.

I will draw a winner sometime next Monday (November 28th)!  If the winner does not contact me within a week, I will draw another winner.

To Receive a 20% Discount from Any Item in Open Fields:  Enter thyhand20 at check out! (This coupon code will expire Monday, November 28th).

Thank you, Abbie!  It is lovely to meet you! Pin It

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cupcakes

My favorite {sweet} flavor combinations are chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and mint (think Peppermint Patties- swoon), and chocolate and pumpkin.  Notice a theme?  Anyway, when I saw this recipe that combines chocolate and sweet potato in my mom's Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I had to give it a try.

This proved to be another winning combination.  The cupcakes themselves would be delicious, but topping them with chocolate made them twice as good (maybe even three times as good).  And!  These cupcakes hold a surprise.  There is a Hershey's kiss in each one.  Now, I did not have enough kisses for all the cupcakes, so it was like a lottery at our house the two times I served them.  Some had kisses, some didn't.  Fun, fun, fun.  These would be a lovely Thanksgiving alternative to traditional desserts, particularly for the youngsters at your table.

*I did run into some trouble with the chocolate icing in this recipe.  The melted chocolate seized up on me before I added the butter and confectioner's sugar, so I had to add milk to soften it so it could be spread.  I felt as if I was plastering the cupcakes instead of icing them.  The flavor was still excellent.  It's up to you if you'd like to give the icing below a whirl or use your own.  If you do use your own, I would recommend an icing that is richly chocolate-y, not a fluffy, mild frosting.  But, that's just my opinion.

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cupcakes (adapted slightly from Better Homes and Gardens, November 2011)
Makes 24 cupcakes.

For the cupcakes:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
24 Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped
cupcake papers

For the Frosting (OR substitute your own favorite chocolate frosting):

8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp. softened butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

To make the cupcakes, in a large bowl, combine flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter, add sugar and beat for 2 minutes.  Beat in eggs.  Add sweet potato, milk and vanilla, mixing until just blended.  Add flour mixture and blend.  Fill muffin tins lined with cupcake papers 2/3 full of batter.  Press one Hershey's Kiss in each cup (do not press it all the way to the bottom).  Top with remaining cupcake batter so that each kiss is covered.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cupcakes no longer look wet and when a knife inserted to the kiss comes out clean.  Remove and let cool completely in their papers on a wire rack.

If you want to make the chocolate frosting included with this recipe, please first read my above experience marked with an "*".  If you're okay with that, please proceed.  In a double boiler or in your microwave, melt the two chocolates together until just smooth.  Beat the chocolate using your mixer for 30 seconds.  Add butter and confectioner's sugar and beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes.

These freeze well. Pin It

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Rich Family in Church

Reader Michelle shared this article with me and I had to pass it along.  It's an amazing story and reminder especially at this time of year.  Don't worry.  It has a happy ending:-).  Thank you, Michelle, for sharing.

The Rich Family in Church
by Eddie Ogan (found here)

I'll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1.

We made $20 on pot holders. That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.

We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night.

We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn't like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed—I didn't even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!

I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn't know. We'd never known we were poor. We didn't want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way.

Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people?" We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering.

When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn't expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich people in this church."

Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100."

We were the rich family in the church! Hadn't the missionary said so? From that day on I've never been poor again. I've always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Pie Party

This past weekend, my friend hosted a pie party.  "What is a pie party?" you may ask.  It's really not complicated.  You make a pie and you take it to a party.  But, wait.  There's a little more than that.

When you get to the party, you oooh and ahhhh over all the other pies because they are beautiful and scrumptious-looking and they make you hungry even though you just ate lunch.  You hug the friends you haven't seen in awhile and you get introduced to new ones.

You sit on the back porch with your back to the warm sun and talk about blogs and chimneys and chickens and having babies.  You let a sweet little boy you don't know take your finger and lead you inside to help him find the toys and then coax him outside with said toys so you can continue visiting with the grown ups.  You take pictures of the pies and you wear a party hat because Mavis is there, too.

Then, when you think it just can't get any better, you get to eat pie.


And you rave about the pies and you ask questions like, "Who made this peanut butter pie?" while you smack your lips and "Did you really bake this delicious grape pie on your stove top?" She did.

You sit at the table or stand against the counter or in the rocking chairs or on the sofa in clusters of two or more and you talk about life- kids, jobs, homeschooling, gardens, gluten intolerance and tank tops that help hold in that baby belly.


You go back to the island to try more pies because they all look so good and your plate somehow is empty.  Again.

Then, as the sun starts sinking and more candles are lit, you thank your gracious hostess, say your goodbyes and gather up your things (including two tiny slices of red raspberry pie that you know your dear husband at home will be grateful for) and drive away down winding roads high on sugar and the love of friends.

Now that, my dears, is a pie party.


Red Raspberry Pie (I consider this my mom's recipe, but she found it in The Woman's Day Encyclopedia, Volume 10 from 1966.)
Makes one 9-inch pie. 

6 cups red raspberries (fresh work best, but I made this last pie with frozen berries that I let thaw in the fridge overnight so they retained their shape mostly)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
dash of salt
9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
whipped cream and a handful of fresh red raspberries (if you have) for garnish

Mash two cups of the red raspberries and push them through a sieve.  Add water to the juice to make 1 1/2 cups.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Add raspberry juice.  Cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and bubbly.  Cool to almost room temperature.  When it's cooled, place the remaining four cups of raspberries in the baked pie crust.  Pour juice mixture over the berries and chill the pie.  Garnish before serving.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Tally 2011 & Gift Ideas

A couple things I want to mention...

It's that time of year when we start using (eating) what we've put up.  Sometimes the transition is a little tough for me.  Going from squirreling away to emptying jars is doing a 180 and it takes some getting used to.  Except for potatoes and butternut squash, everything that's been put up this year is as follows...Sorry the image isn't clear.  It was this or retyping it all.  I chose this.

In an attempt to be deliberate about using it up, I'm going to start sharing my weekly menus in the margin.  No longer are the days of using whatever is ripe in the garden.  If we kept that up, we'd only be eating lettuce, spinach and leeks.  Not a terrible idea, but still.  I hope the menus inspire you to use what you've put up and help with meal ideas.


As we approach Christmas, keep in mind your fellow readers as you shop for gifts.  I've updated the list of reader Etsy shops in the sidebar.  If your shop was empty, I took it off the list.  Once you replenish, let me know and I'll be happy to add you back in.  I've updated my favorites from everyone's shops and those can be seen in the Etsy thumbnails in the margin.  I'm working on finding out how I can display more of the favorites as currently the thumbnail showcase only holds sixteen.  You are some talented folks.

If you are a regular reader and you'd like your Etsy shop or hand made craft website to be included, please email me.

I have a couple (possibly three) giveaways lined up between now and Christmas from some of your Etsy shops.  If you'd like to give something away from your shop, please let me know this as well.

Have a wonderful weekend, darlings! Pin It

Wholemovement DVD Winner!

I am happy to announce that the winner of the Wholemovment DVD is...

Congratulations,  Sarah!!  Please email me your mailing address and I will make sure your DVD is mailed out to you.

If you didn't win, don't be discouraged!!  You can still purchase the Wholemovement DVD at a great discounted price by doing the following...

To Obtain a Coupon Code to get the DVD for $10 versus $29.99 (shipping not included):

1) "Like" the Wholemovement facebook page here.  Check out the cool videos while you're there.

2) Write on the Wholemovent facebook page's wall that you came from here (Thy Hand Hath Provided) and you will get a facebook message which will include the coupon code to purchase the DVD at the discounted price at Red Hen Books & Toys!

3) The coupon code is good until December 31st, 2011.

(If you've "liked" their facebook page and haven't received the coupon code, it may be because of your security settings.  Please email me if this is the case and I'll send you the code.)

Thank you Red Hen Books & Toys!!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Party Will Have to Wait

I was going to post about a party today, but then I watched this video.  And looked {and cried} over these pictures.  I'm thinking it's a bit more important and I'm guessing you would agree.

This is a huge opportunity to give out of our simple living.  Let's put our money where our mouths {and hearts} are.

I love you guys.
Jane Pin It

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ticklish Nickel

This little trick came from a sweet book called Tricks Every Boy and Girl Can Do, Age 9 to 15This book was published in 1953 and came from my grandparent's house.  Our copy is literally falling apart, but Sam has been spending lots of time pouring over it's contents lately.  I was thrilled to find copies on Amazon.   Just knowing books like this still exist out there makes me happy.

In case you or your child would like to give it a try, here are the {very} simple instructions.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wholemovement: Folding the Circle Giveaway!

 This giveaway is closed.  To see who won, go here.

What do cheap paper plates, bobby pins, masking tape and a straight edge (like a metal ruler) have in common?  With them, you can make objects like these....

We didn't get quite that far, but Sam and I really enjoyed watching the Wholemovment: Folding the Circle DVD we were given to preview.  Talk about combining a craft with math!  Bradford Hansen-Smith himself talks about the different aspects of the circle including the radius and diameter and the concepts of congruent shapes and even fractions as he turns just an ordinary paper plate into something mathematical.   For real, I don't think I'm ever going to look at a white paper plate at a picnic the same ever again.  Then the fun part begins- he shows you how to fold paper plates into three-dimensional structures.

  We went a little crazy with the masking tape and Sam is still learning to use the straight edge properly to crease the edges neatly.

Sam is almost 9 years old and he was able to do many of the initial folds himself, creating a tetrahedron and then an octahedron out of eight tetrahedrons.  Don't I sound smart?  Really, I'm not.  I promise.  Talking math just makes me sound smart.  It's a trick.  I can't wait, though, for Christmas break (when I have more time) so that *I* can sit down and do more folding- just wait until you see all the amazing objects you're able to create.

I'm happy to announce that Red Hen Toys & Books wants to give one of you a copy of this DVD.  It would make a very unique Christmas gift for a creative child (10 and up would be my recommendation) or grown up in your life.


For a Chance to Win the DVD: 

Visit the Wholemovement website and look around a bit.  Then, come back here and tell me what intrigues you about this concept of folding circles.  That's it!

Please only one entry per household.  If you comment anonymously, please leave me some initials so I can identify you if you win.  If you have trouble commenting, please email me and I will enter your comment for you.  I will draw a winner on Friday afternoon!

To Obtain a Coupon Code to get the DVD for $10 versus $29.99 (shipping not included):

1) "Like" the Wholemovement facebook page here.  Check out the cool videos while you're there.

2) Write on the Wholemovent facebook page's wall that you came from here (Thy Hand Hath Provided) and you will get a facebook message which will include the coupon code to purchase the DVD at the discounted price at Red Hen Books & Toys!

Feel free to enter and become a facebook fan of Wholemovent so you'll have the code to use if you don't win on Friday:-). Pin It

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Case You Wanted to Know...

When Jamey works evenings, I feed the kids macaroni and cheese.  Out of a box.  Applesauce counts as a vegetable, right?

I have fallen in love with my neighbor's Bissel steam cleaner.  I borrowed it to clean our painted wood floor hallway upstairs and ended up steam cleaning the whole house (minus the carpeted areas, of course).  Maybe I can give her some applesauce or zucchini bread to borrow it every couple months.  It's that or those floors just are not going to get mopped.

We already have Christmas lights up.  In four rooms.  I love Christmas.

My darling Miriam is potty trained (except for bedtime) and weaned.  Both happened in the past month.  Both were welcome accomplishments, but bittersweet since no more biological babies are in my future.  That, and no more nursing means no built in calorie extractor.  Humph.

I've taken to dumping leftover icing in the bushes.  Better there than in my mouth.

I'm barely getting everything done each day now that school has started.  School is going well, but now that there are two in school and one is in 4th grade, there is little time to get chores done between school and meals.  Hats off to you moms who work outside of the home. And those of you who homeschool three or more.  I don't know how either of you do it.

Sadie was watching me wash dishes the other day (she washes our breakfast and lunch dishes every afternoon while I do school with Sam).  She said, "Oh, that's how you wash that.  One day, I'm going to put that on my blog."  I let you know when she starts hers.

I'm semi addicted to websites like this one and this one.  I've ordered all our Christmas photo cards (from three different places) using their deals and some diaper code points I earned, all for just $6 (including shipping).  Just be careful that you don't get sucked in to buying things you don't need.  If you do that, it totally defeats the purpose.

I had a very awesome house guest over the weekend.  Do you recognize her?

One more thing.  I have three giveaways in the works for you lovely people, so stay tuned.

Okay, now.  What is it that I need to know about you these days?  Because I do want to know. Pin It

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I'm one of the lucky ones who can say without hesitation that I had a very best girl friend while I was growing up.  I didn't meet her until I transferred to her school in the 7th grade, but we became fast friends and were soon inseparable.  Before long, we spent every minute together at school, spoke on the phone every night and spent the night at each other's homes regularly.

We listened to music, mused over many a J. Crew, Tweeds and J. Jill catalog, frequented record shops, attended more concerts than I can count, and watched countless episodes of Twin Peaks and the X-Files over bowls of Breyers Vanilla Fudge Twirl ice cream.  I went with her family to Cape May for vacation and she came to Florida with my family where we would take turns reading chapters of mystery novels to each other before going to bed.  We were pros at double-dating.  And, thankfully, our dates always got along (as far as we knew).  We dyed our hair together, hers black, mine red.  We even made up our own short hand so we could take school notes faster and pass notes more discretely.

We may sound like we could've been trouble-makers, but we weren't.  Both Christians, we may have walked the edge sometimes, but together we were stronger and stood our ground among friends who didn't always.  There was safety in the pair.

We laughed a lot.  I specifically remember a time at a Dairy Queen when I slipped on a wet floor and landed hard on my bum.  Laura and the two boys we were with fell into open booths laughing their heads off.  I can't quite remember if they checked to see if I was okay first or not but I was, so I was soon in tears with them.  I can picture her laughing that night as clear as day and remember laughing along with her, the tears spilling over, oh so, often.

I can't remember ever really arguing over anything.

We went our separate ways after high school and have lead pretty different lives since.  She's an interior designer in Manhattan and me, well.  You all know about me.  In spite of the paths our lives have taken, I will always be connected deeply to my Laura.  I feel so privileged to know her and to have shared so many formative years with her by my side. Watching her get married this past weekend surrounded by all of her friends and family was such a joy.

Laura, I thank God for you and I thank you for taking me on as your best friend all those years ago.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cashing in Swagbucks

It's been awhile since I've written about swagbucks, but I'm still searching away and redeeming swagbucks on Amazon for things I need!  Recently, a friend asked me what she should do to cash in her swagbucks to make some real purchases.  Below is how I responded to her in my email.  I hope it's helpful to you as well.

Those of you who stopped searching with swagbucks, I encourage you to start up again.  Even if accumulating bucks comes slowly for you, it sure is an easy way to earn some extra money toward Christmas gifts or necessities.  For more information on how swagbucks work and how to sign up if you're ready to give them a try, go here.

How to Cash In Earned Swagbucks for Amazon E-Cards

Go to the swagbucks website and log in.  You'll see how many bucks you have in the top right hand corner.  Then, look along the top at the left side and put your cursor on the tab that says "Redeem".  "Swag store" and "swagstakes" will show up- click on "swag store".

Look down along the left hand side and click on "Gift and Rewards Cards".  If you hover over it with your cursor, you can choose the $ amount of the cards if you know what you can afford (how many bucks you have).  Look on the first page and find the amazon $5 cards for 450 swagbucks.  This card is the best way to get the most actual money for your swag bucks.  There are larger amount amazon cards, but they are more expensive swagbucks-wise to buy.  Another thing to note...  You can only buy two of one kind of card per day and only five of the same card in one month. 

Okay, to purchase that $5 Amazon card, click on it.  Then click "snag this".  Then you will need to confirm your information on the next screen.  Once you do this, they will send you an email to confirm that you want to buy the card.  It may take a few minutes for it to come to your inbox, but when it does, follow the instructions to verify that you ordered it (it involves clicking on a link that then tells you it was verified).

Now you have the card ordered.  It can take up to two weeks (depending on what time of the month you ordered it) for you to be able to use it.  You know it's ready to use because they will send you an email telling you it's ready.  When this happens, log back in to swagbucks and hover your cursor over your number of swagbucks at the top right and a drop down menu will appear.  Click on "My gift cards". You may have to type in your password to verify who you are.  Then, you'll see your amazon code for each card you ordered that is ready.

Keep that tab open and go shopping on amazon.  When it comes time to check out, copy and paste the code into the place where they ask if you have any coupons or discount codes on the checkout page.  Hit apply or update or whatever and the $5 credit will be applied (it goes toward shipping as well).  If you have more than one, just keep entering the codes into the box until you've used the ones you want and you're set!  You'll see the reflected credit.

Back on your gift cards page on swagbucks you can mark that you've used the codes so you know how many you have to use for next time (instead of trying to use old codes which will not work).

Does this make sense?  Once you do it a few times, it's easy, but as I type this, I realize there are a lot of instructions!  Printing this out and keeping it handy until you do it a few times may help.  Happy shopping, friend:-).
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Four and Twenty Black Birds

Did you know that 2011 has been named the year of the pie?  My little world makes sense now, even as 2011 is coming to a close, because in the past couple months I've experimented with a new pie crust recipe, been invited to a pie party, made 9 pies for a dear friend's wedding and have been seeing pictures of pies and recipes for pies everywhere.  Did I mention I've eaten pie, too?

Fall is pie time, what with all the apples and squashes and sweet potatoes.  And, if you're squirrel-ly like me, you keep blueberries and concord grapes and red raspberries and pie crusts tucked in your freezer just in case.  In case you need a pie, of course.

This past Friday my mom and I spent most of the day baking 12 pies for the above mentioned wedding.  My mom made three pecan pies and I made four grape and five pumpkin.  We had our crusts made ahead of time (frozen in their pie plates) so between oven loads only the mixing of the fillings needed to be done.  There was a lot of peering-into-the-oven-window throughout the day and just as much discussion about if the pies were done.  If recorded, I'm sure our conversations would have sounded hilarious, but such is pie baking, particularly when it's for a special occasion.  And it's not your usual oven.  And you've got three or four in there instead of one.

But the following day, seeing all our pies lined up amidst warm apple cobblers, mini creme brulees, pumpkin cheesecakes and spiced cookies was so rewarding.  I wish I had a picture to show of that, but on the joyous day when my friend became a wife, the power had gone off due to a winter storm and my camera cannot handle dim, albeit beautiful candle-lit, lighting.

So, here's to the year of the pie!  And, just in case you don't have a pumpkin recipe that you love, this one should do nicely.

Pumpkin Pie
Makes two nine-inch pies.

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
4 large eggs
3 cups cooked and pureed pumpkin or squash (we use butternut squash)
18 ounces evaporated milk

Sift dry ingredients together.  Stir in eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk until blended well.  Pour into two nine-inch pie crusts until 2/3 of the way full.  Pour remaining pumpkin filling into a glass measuring pitcher.  Place the pies onto the center oven rack and pour remaining filling into pies until very full.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes then decrease the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes.  I know they're done when the center puffs up level with the edges and the custard begins to brown.  Let cool completely or refrigerate before serving. Pin It
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