Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review: Secret Pizza Party

(Links in this post are affiliate links and I will be making a tiny amount of money if you make a purchase by clicking through. I am not being compensated for a favorable review, I just really like talking about books.)


Due to a twitter conversation, I've decided I must share my love of the book Secret Pizza Party by the incredible duo Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri, the talented two-some behind Dragons Love Tacos.

This book is hands down brilliant! Dare I say better than Dragons Love Tacos?!

I know, I know, you may be thinking Dragons Love Tacos is the bees' knees and I'm a sour-puss mom who's lost her way, but hear me out. I'm still a big fan of Dragons Love Tacos. (Have you heard they are publishing a Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel!!) But Secret Pizza Party is just plain fun to read!

It tells the story of a raccoon who wants pizza, but people keep bonking him with brooms. With the help of the narrator, he devises a plan to throw a secret pizza party. The racoon never says a word, but the narrator is amazing and anytime a children's storybook includes the phrase "sweet sassy molassy" you know I'm all over that crazy train. It's hard not to read this story with enthusiasm as the raccoon plots his way to pizza.

At this point, it would be customary in my reviews o share a few photos, but it is a secret and if you read the book, you'll quickly learn, regular storybook? ok. Secret Storybook? Hoo-ha! Let's read!

Ah! Who am I kidding, this is one of my favorite pages.  Sorry for the glare on the page, but look at the brilliant illustration. That stick! Oh man! That tiny feature kills me. This book is a fantastic collaboration between both author and illustrator. I highly recommend it! Heck I'm going to read it again to my kiddos today.

Ok, as a side note because I noticed as I was writing this review, Secret Pizza Party is currently on sale at Amazon for $7.99 right now! Run Reader! Run like the wind and buy a copy!

Little Raven wants to go home!

I've sent an email out to the winner of the Literary Yarns raffle!
Little Raven and I are anxiously awaiting a reply. The email was sent from Please check your email account, especially if your account is hosted by gmail.

I'm so excited, I may pop!


We've heard back from Little Raven's new mama! So please join me in congratulating Mary of Southern California! Congratulations!!!

If you'd still like a copy of this fantastic book, I just noticed they are currently selling for $10.52 on Amazon and if you preorder now, you can still submit your receipt to Quirk and get a FREE Raven pattern! Click here for full details.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Great Bean Race

Ah, sometimes a bit of competition is all you need to get a homeschool project to take off in the mind of a child.

I've mentioned we're studying plants this week. Well an experiment, we've decided to grow pinto beans, because they are what I had in the pantry. To allow the children to see how the plant grows, we used half-pint glass jelly jars and paper towels as a growing medium. This allows us to observe what usually happens underground. Each child received 3 beans and I nearly lost all the patience I was gifted watching the children put their beans between the glass and the jar.

(As a hint, wet the paper towel after you insert it into the jar and then add the beans. The wet paper towel sticks to the jar and keeps the beans from falling to the bottom. Much less stressful and I wish I'd realized this myself first.)
Beans are awesome for impatient 4 and 2 year olds, because they grow so fast. The beans began to sprout within two days and growing about an inch or two each day. The children have been competing with each other as to who's beans are growing the fastest. At this point, Bun has the tallest, but Bear has two growing out the jar.

Who's bean jar would you declare the winner?

I'm thinking we're going to put these beans into the children's flower garden once we finish this unit. I wonder if we'll end up with any beans from this?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Happy Mail Day!

Yay! Yay! Yay!
I got a brand new pin for my collection.

I'm lucky enough to be subscribed to Megan Baehr's pin of the month club, which means each month I get a surprise pin!

Each pin I've received has been fantastic! They range from adorable (like this little shark) to beautiful (like this luna moth I've featured before), which I probably don't need to tell you, is a pretty good range. I've loved each one.

The best part about being subscribed is that I always forget I am subscribed until I receive a package. It's always a surprise! I love surprises. Well, good surprises at least.

Are you subscribed to any subscription boxes service or monthly clubs? I want to hear about them. I always want to join some, but right now I'm low on the cash flow, and I'm never sure if it's worth it. Recommend me something!


PS. 33 hours until the Literary Yarns giveaway closes!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Will the Rain Ever Stop?

Hello from our wet and soggy homestead.

It has been raining here since Friday afternoon and it hasn't stopped since. Even our local river has flooded the road. So much rain! I'm ready for the sun.

I don't know about you, but rainy weather turns me into a slug. I don't want to anything. However the children and I did venture out to the store to purchase flower seeds. The exploration theme this week has been gardening. We are making a flower bed for the children to plant their own flowers. Unfortunately, we can't get much gardening done when we can't get outside. Also the children are going a wee bit stir crazy. So mama is going a bit crazy too. haha!

Oh well, I'm kinda looking forward to going mushroom hunting with them after all this rain. Here are just a few of the photos I've taken over the years. Our yard is apparently perfect for mushrooms. We always get a wide variety. (click any to see the photos larger.)


* * * * * * * * * * * *

2 days left to enter the Literary Yarns giveaway! I can't wait to see who will win!

PS. I've finally linked website addresses, so now type and you'll be brought right here. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: Good Night! Good Night!

(Links in this post are affiliate links and I will be making a tiny amount of money if you make a purchase by clicking through.  I am not being compensated for a favorable review, I just really like talking about books.)

Bedtime at our house seems to become an ever extending laundry list of activities, which must be followed or sleep won't happen. One more story! One more hug! So, when I picked up this book I was delighted to find a familiar storyline.

Good Night! Good Night!, by Carin Berger, is a darling story about three little bunnies who don't want to go to bed. The story is gorgeously illustrated with paper cut outs as the bunny children request one more thing before bed.

The book begins with a comforting Goodnight Moon tone, but soon dissolves into sweet, bedtime-avoiding demands, such as "good night, jumping beans," which my children delightedly giggle over and have to partake in too.
But fear not weary parent, finally mama bunny gets her little bunnies into bed and fast asleep. Hopefully you will too with this story.

Two big thumbs up from me. A very sweet story worthy of your bookshelf.

Ps. Don't forget!
Three days left to enter the Literary Yarns giveaway!

Friday, April 21, 2017

That's Some Damn Good Coffee

(We're studying plants this week. Also bonus pokemon)

My friend, Kelly, recently took me to Colonial Williamsburg and while there, I discovered Aromas Coffee.

So, let me start the story, because I can't simply jump to the conclusion. We were staying in a very place, but they didn't offer coffee for their coffee pot. We decided to pick up some coffee while we were out and I didn't want to get just any coffee. I wanted a souvenir coffee.

We found ourselves at Aromas on Prince George Street. The place was crazy packed. Did they sell their coffees? Luckily Kelly is crazy boss when she wants something and she marched up and asked if they sell their coffees by the bag.

The barista was sweet enough to give us small cups so we could taste their drip coffees and we both fell in love with Brandy Alexander. Like this coffee is serious good. I'm not crazy for flavored coffee, but it is so good. According to their website, it flavored with notes of distilled wine, chocolate liqueur and creme. Crazy good. 

(A view from the cafe tables at Aromas)

But tragedy! They didn't have any in stock to sell. Consider me weeping! So we both bought two cups of Brandy Alexander and purchased their Magnus Brew to take with us. A very strong bold coffee but if you like dark coffees, this was delicious as well. (No Brandy Alexander, but still tasty.) 

I wasn't overly sad, because I was sure they would sell the Brandy Alexander online, right? 


I got home and it was not on the site at all. Now I'm really weeping. So what do I do? In an uncharacteristic move, channeling Kelly, I email them and ask if it's possible to get a bag. 

Geri contacted me right away, having checked with their roasters to see if they were still offering this coffee. It was! And gosh darn it, Geri (bless your heart) put the listing up on their site just for me so I could buy it. 

Today was my first brewing day. Today! I had a cup of some damn good coffee!

(Mine all mine!)

Disclaimer: I am not being paid anything for this post. I really, truly love this coffee and I want everyone to buy a bag, because it is so good. 

But I did totally mean to reference Twin Peaks. Good on you for catching it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Giveaway: Literary Yarns by Cindy Wang

What! A giveaway so soon. Why not!

I was fortunate to work with Cindy (aka Geeky Hooker) as a tester on a few patterns for her new book, Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books and she sweetly sent me a free contributor copy!

Since I've already preordered a copy, I'm giving you a chance to win a copy and get a little raven buddy I made from her pattern.*

This book, you guys! It's awesome! If you're into collecting amigurumi books, this one needs to be on your shelf. It's a heavy duty hardback book featuring 22 adorable patterns.

I've included a few photos of the book here. Can everyone say, "cute! Cute!! CUTE!!!"

(Hello Cutie!)
(This is the pattern I worked on! It's so cute!)
(Shut up! Isn't this an adorable set?!)
How can you win a copy of this crazy cute book? Enter the handy-dandy Rafflecopter widget here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Now this cutie-poo Raven, is not a pattern in the book. Instead you can receive his pattern FREE when you preorder the book. Quirk Books is offering the pattern for  FREE to preorder from any retailer. All you need to do is email a photo or screenshot of your receipt with the subject line “LITERARY YARNS PRE-ORDER” for a free copy! Click here for full details.

And if you aren't lucky in raffles like myself, you can always preorder a copy of Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books. It's releasing May 2nd, so what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Exploring Nature

I'll be the first to admit, I'm not an outdoor person. I have no need to be outside. I'm not a big gardener and most of the things I need to do require I stay inside, so I'm not the best about getting my children out of doors. I do have a note to remind myself to get them some out of the house time and usually we're pretty good about getting out on nice days for at least an hour or two.

I try to remind myself that getting the children out is good for them, but in the back of my head, I can hear all those deadlines chanting, "you're wasting time. you're wasting time." But I can't be the only person who struggles with these sorts of things, right? Oh gosh, please tell me I'm not.

Anyway, yesterday we went outside to enjoy the warm weather. The children went exploring through the woods on our property, pretending to be paleontologists and finding stick "bones" to bring back and explore.


Bear made friends with a little ladybug, which refused to leave him, so it rode on his hat the entire time and even hung around while they played in the sandbox. We finally had to pick it off his hat and place it on a plant. I was worried its wings had been damaged until it flew back onto him from the plant. A very friendly ladybug indeed.

Both children came inside, a sandy, dirty mess, but they had fun and for once they didn't fight with each other or dump sand on each other's heads, which is a thing and it's a nightmare at bath time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Guardians Enamel Pins

Have you gotten into the enamel pin crazy? Because I have.
I honestly tried to avoid it for as long as I could, but when my favorite artist, K. Ryan, started making pins, I had to jump on board.

Today, not much is happening at home, so I thought I'd have fun and share some pins I like.

First, check out the Guardians series by K. Ryan. They are currently only available through this Kickstarter and are gorgeous! Of course I've already pledged!

Look at this beautiful Luna Moth pin by Magan Baehr. I have one already, but you can preorder one for yourself. It's a beautiful statement piece.

I just love this knitting pin by Bombasine. It's definitely on my "to buy" list.

Not all pins I love are serious business, in fact, I love cutie pins too. Look at this sweet little Babushka Chicken pin at Doctor Cat Shop. (PS. follow that link to see a cute kitty bum pin.)

Sorry for calling it in on today's post. I promise you'll hear more about our family soon, when the children aren't being awful to each other every 15 minutes.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Homeschool Preschool: Birds

(Links in this post are affiliate links and I will be making a small amount of money if you make a purchase by clicking through.  I am not being compensated for a favorable review, I just really like talking about books.)

Our Tufted Titmouse couple.

Because people seem to be interested in what we do at Bear and Bun's homeschool, I've decided to make a feature of some of our studies.

We usually have a Reading/Writing/Mathematics session daily, but I like to have also have a portion of the day devoted to "Exploration." This subject is all those fun extracurriculars that get the gears turning in little heads and they're plain fun.

This past week, we studied birds!

I love Bun's drawing of the Chipping Sparrow. Pretty good for a 2 year old!

We started out with an introduction to basic bird watching. I found Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds: Eastern Region (Stokes Field Guide Series) to be an excellent bird watching book for the children, with gorgeous photos. I loved the organization by bird color, which helped us quickly find birds.

I also used the Merlin Bird ID app, to help with bird calls. I honestly love this app and use it pretty regularly, because Bear is always asking me what sounds a particular bird makes.

Finally combining it with Buggy and Buddy's Free Printable Bird Book for Birding with Kids.  Every day, we would sit at the sliding back door and watch birds as they visited our feeder. Bear and Bun would each draw a picture of a bird we observed, usually using 1+1+1=1's FREE Backyard Birds Montessori Nomenclature Cards and a bird from our Safari Ltd Backyard Birds TOOB, so they would have a still model to draw from.

It's Chippy!

We ended up making friends with a particularly bold Chipping Sparrow who by the end of the week was bringing a mate along to enjoy our offering of seeds. Although we aren't sure, we've decided it's a boy and it's name is Chippy. The children are now happily making up stories about Chippy and his girlfriend as they likely prepare for a new family. The children also set out 5" pieces of cotton packing twine in case Chippy would like something soft to build a nest with. I had to stop them from giving our Border Collie, Rory, a hair cut so Chippy could use his hair as well.


After lunch, we have story time and I've been reading the children stories from The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Dover Children's Classics). The children are big fans of the stories of Peter Rabbit and have been happy to hear of new adventures. The book does have photos of beautiful paintings, however the paintings are reproduced in black and white. I'm considering coloring them in with colored pencils. But for now, we're looking the birds up in the Merlin Bird ID app. (I did say I love this app right?)

A surprising hit for Bear was The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12). It was a storybook retelling of John James Audubon as a young man and Bear was enchanted by the story. I must admit I purchased Audubon's Birds of America Coloring Book so I could color the birds. I've shown Bear and he was moderately interested in the cover (Blue Jays eating eggs), but he's really not big on coloring books, to my immense disappointment. I love coloring and I look forward to a few spare minutes of coloring, someday...