Archive for Books

Ye Olde Pirates Teaser – Resources & Fun

Usually I don’t bother to post a teaser of the upcoming Poppins Book Nook theme but its one of my absolute favorites and I think everyone should join in!

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

The July 2014 Theme is Ye Old Pirates! We love pirates!!

You can find some of our favorite Pirate books in these posts:

And our favorite pirate activities here:

As usual, Enchanted Homeschool Mom, the lovely host of the Poppins Book Nook has some fun lap book resources to use this month for pirates.



Go to Enchanted Homeschooling Mom to download the July Notebooking pack for Pirates!

The linky and the other hosts posts will be going up on 7/28.  Please join us this month and share your ideas!  I need more fun ideas for Talk Like A Pirate Day (Week) for this year.

Jen S.

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St. Peter’s Bones {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


I originally had this review scheduled for a week or two out, but then I realized that today is the feast day of Saints Peter & Paul. What better day to share about St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found . . . and Then Lost and Found Again?

Written by Thomas J Craughwell (who also wrote Saints Preserved), St. Peter’s Bones is the fascinating story of the bones of St. Peter, the first Catholic Pope & friend of Jesus. This book is part history, part story and part bible study. And interesting in its entirety.

For those unfamiliar with the story, oral tradition has told us that the body of Saint Peter is under the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Funny thing, though — no one had checked for over 1000 years. Early on, they had built a church over Saint Peter. Constantine built a better one over the old one in 360, and the building there now was completed in 1626. The old one was completely dismantled.

In the course of some other repairs during WWII, workmen were given permission to investigate an area under the Basilica. They found an underground burial city of sorts and clues that led them to believe that St. Peter may be nearby. The Pope authorized work on the conditions that it not disturb the use of the church, nor would the public be told.

St. Peter’s Bones is an interesting story to read. He alternates between church history, world history, and the archeological expedition. Craughwell does a skillful job of transitioning from one to another and presenting them in a logical, yet still interesting way. It’s my favorite way to learn, honestly.

If you like archeology, legends, church history, or ancient history, this book will have something to interest you. If you are a Protestant, it may not be so interesting. But if you are interested in the early church, he does a great job painting the life and history. I recommend St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found . . . and Then Lost and Found Again to anyone who likes to learn about the Church’s history & ancient history but doesn’t have a lot of time.

Sound interesting?  You can read the first chapter here.


Jen S.


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{CLOSED} I Love You All The Same Review & Giveaway {Tommy Mommy Review & Giveaway}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; thank you for your support.


This month we received a book from Tommy Mommy that was a TOTAL hit. We’ve liked many of the books we’ve received, but I Love You All the Same has been loved above the rest. I Love You All the Same is a padded board-ish book. It’s not full on board pages, but more like an extra thick card stock or thin cardboard. Anyway you look at it equals durability for this book that has been well-loved at our house.

I Love You All the Same is a beautifully illustrated story about a bear family with 3 siblings who are a brown bear, a polar bear and a panda bear. Inspired by Donna Keith’s daughter’s interracial family, I Love You All the Same tells the story of how each bear is different from the other, but they all love each other.

While the book is intended to address the external differences in adoptive families, I thought it was fabulous in addressing the personality & talents of siblings. We are always explaining that certain things might not seem fair because each of our children is different and need to be dealt with differently. For instance, one child might have given time outs where the other was given laps or chores. Its also how we explain why your sister gets gymnastics lessons but you get art classes.

I love the message, but 3 year old loves the story & illustrations. The 6 year old puts down the book SHE’S reading to come over about 1/2 the time and our one year old comes over for I Love You All the Same, too, at times. He doesn’t do that frequently, so I call it high praise :). It’s a fabulous book about differences, even outside of families and animal lovers will learn about bears with a little bit of character thrown in ;).

You can see a preview of the style & illustrations for I Love You All the Same. If you would like to win a copy, please use the widget below.

Please comment on this post to answer the question for the mandatory entry. If you do not do this, you will be disqualified. Let’s all play fair, please.


Good luck!

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DIY Pantry {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This post contains affiliate links; thank you for your support!

Do love to make things from scratch? Do you frequently run out of something essential and need to find out how to make your own? Or maybe you are starting on a “real food” journey and need some help getting started. If any of those apply to you, DIY Pantry, would have a well used place on your cookbook shelf.

On HLH, I talk a lot about quick and easy. Maybe it’s partially laziness, but I prefer to think of it as being efficient. Either way, I know that I can’t do it all, so I do what I can. Where food is concerned, this is where DIY Pantry comes in, for me.

It has a little bit for all types of people and it can all be done in 30 minutes or less. Kresha Faber has pulled together the easiest and quickest of the things you can make yourself and put them in one handy book. She even includes nutrition & allergy info for each recipe.

I purused DIY Pantry several times, making several different lists. On my someday list is homemade cola, among other things. There two hard to procure ingredients that I haven’t made time to get yet, but it’s at the top of someday. On the next-time-I-make-it list is baked beans. I have always thought their had to be a way to make baked beans that didn’t call for cans of baked beans and I’m really excited about trying it. On my as-soon-as-I-get-a-minute list is homemade black & white sandwich cookies. I even have everything I need! Except time. Though this recipe only takes 30 minutes of ACTIVE hands on, there is still baking time and my “help” to factor in. The next rainy day, ladies, the next rainy day. I’m so drooling just thinking about it. And a side bonus is that I won’t have to eat 1/2 a box by myself so they don’t get stale.


I did get to try both of her frosting recipes. My son’s first birthday is happening soon & I decided to try making my own chocolate frosting this time. I’ve made a white buttercream before, but not chocolate. It’s fabulous! I used Ghiradelli’s 100% cacao bars and frosting is great for people who hate super sweet frosting. It’s sooooo chocolatey and not overpowering at all. The white frosting was good, too, but I think 2 tablespoons of almond extract was too much. It was a little overpowering and the frosting is definitely as sweet as your typical bakery, but without the junk. I liked the texture and it will last for a week in the fridge. Which is great, because I won’t be frosting the cupcakes until Saturday :).

I can’t wait to try the chocolate shell topping, the homemade sugar syrup/corn syrup, the cake mixes, and the hot chocolate mix. I have had all those on one of my lists for years and just haven’t yet (or found a recipe I like). I’m also excited to try making my own extracts (I’ve made vanilla, but no others) and sweetened condensed milk. I never seem to have the latter when I need it. Oh, and the chocolate hazelnut spread. Need I say more?

So if your mouth is watering at the possibilities, you will love DIY Pantry. She includes sweet and savory pantry basics for all palates and eating styles. DIY Pantry includes crackers, breads, boxed/canned staples, dairy, dressings and more. It really is extremely versatile & accessible for all levels of cooks– it’s not all yogurt & kimbucha :). I’d consider myself intermediate at from scratch and these recipes look super simple.

If you make your own pantry staples, is because of health, taste, price or a combination?

Jen S.

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History, Catholicism, and Character Wrapped Up in One Short Read — A Titanic Hero {Book Review}

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links -- thanks for your support!

Around Christmas last year, I was emailed by a young author & entrepreneur who inquired about the possibility of reviewing her book, A Titanic Hero.  Cady Crosby’s book about Fr. Thomas Byles is sold both on her website and as supplemental reading over at Catholic Heritage Curricula for eighth grade.

In addition to the book, there is also a DVD, a study guide & training cards.  Catholic homeschoolers Cady & Benjamin Crosby formed Titanic Heroes, a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach, challenge & inspire others to live by the 3G principles:  Give what you have, give more than you take, and give it your all.   The tell the stories of heroes throughout history including the Titanic, the USAT Dorchester and nurses during WWI.

A Titanic Hero is a work of historical fiction.  It’s not a long book–only 72 pages total, but its a very well written book.  The reading level is probably about 2nd or 3rd grade, though the topic is probably better saved for a couple years beyond that for full impact.   Ms. Crosby painted a wonderful picture of faith in God, providence and serving as you are able through the life of Fr. Thomas Byles.  Her skill at being able to weave together his fictional story with the historical facts and letters she was able to find was extremely well done.

While my first grader is capable of reading it, I will probably save it until we get to modern history.  A Titanic Hero would be great as extra reading for Classical, Charlotte Mason & Unit Study styles of education.  Though the hero is a Catholic priest, it could be read by any faith tradition looking for historical fiction with character.  I haven’t seen the supplemental materials so I can’t speak to the contents of those.  I recommend this book to all Catholic Homeschoolers and can’t wait to get to this period of history :).

Jen S.

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