Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beach Pics from Assateague Island

The ocean is good for the soul. 

Unless you're 2 years old.  Then it involves many tears and a few screams.  And you warily watch your dad and your older brother go play in the waves.

And your older brother has the time of his life playing in the waves.  But you won't even get your feet wet.

Mom tries to help.  Both you and your twin brother.  But neither one of you is a willing participant.  No way no how, get me away from those waves!

You'll keep your feet safely on land, thank you very much.  Although you will start to finally enjoy the sand between your toes.

And soon you realize that your older brother is having a grand time driving his truck around.  So you start driving your truck too.

And then there is much contented truck driving, and motor-sound making, and once in a while you double check to make sure those blasted waves aren't getting too close.
Oooooh, big hole!  A most excellent truck driving find!

Maybe, in the end, this beach thing IS kind of fun after all.  Although not the water.  Not gonna go there.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival

It's been several years since we've taken a real vacation.  We've done a few weekend trips, but were overdue for something more substantial.  So this year we blew the tax return on a week at the beach.  We rented a little townhouse called "Shoes Off" and settled into island life.

The first full day we discovered that there was a blueberry festival going on.  Seeing as how the boys woke up for the day super early, we were just about the first to show up at the festival.  We sampled a bunch of delicious jams and bought a jar of blueberry preserves.

There were many little artisans throughout the festival.

We bought a quart of blueberry ice cream from the Island Creamery.

We sat outside, in a light drizzle, to listen to music while we ate.

Have you ever had ice cream for breakfast?

Turns out, ice cream is pretty tasty any time of day.

Bottle trees--

On the walk back to the little townhouse we rented, we got sidetracked by a souvenir store.

The boys had each been given a beach allowance as a special treat for the trip, from my parents.  Pierce picked out a stuffed Alvin the Chipmunk, Cort got a wooden snake, and Reid got a set of construction trucks.
Read more about our adventures in Chincoteague, coming soon! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Space Dogs and Kiara the Brave DVD Reviews

We recently received two family films from Phase 4 Films to review.  We took them along on our trip to the beach, with the thought that if it rained we could watch them.  It never rained, but we had a couple of nice afternoons watching them during the hottest part of the day.

Pierce wanted to watch Space Dogs first.  He is really into all things space right now.  From the back cover, it says: The exciting, animated tale based on the true story of Belka and Strelka; two dogs sent to space in 1960.  A circus dog and a stray dog embark on an out-of-this-world adventure to become the world's most famous cosmonauts!

The movie runs 88 minutes and is rated G.  Pierce's favorite part was when they launch up into space.  I loved that this movie has a historical aspect to it.  It was clean and funny and musical too - I found nothing objectionable in the film, and Pierce enjoyed it. 

Pierce watching Space Dogs -

The second film we watched is called Kiara the Brave.  From the back cover:  Dreamzone has been a peaceful and magical kingdom under the rule of King Maximus.  That's about to change when he is captured and imprisoned by his evil brother Dreadmis.  When Dreadmis unleashes his vengeance upon the kingdom, the King's daugher, courageous Princess Kiara must conquer evil and restore harmony in Dreamzone.  Together with her best friend Super Kloud, they embark on a magical journey to protect their kingdom and bring the rightful owner back to the throne.

I wasn't sure if this movie would be too girly for the boys or not, but it wasn't because there are dragons and swordfights and plenty of action.  It is rated PG for scary scenes and images and runs for 80 minutes.  The boys were initially pretty interested:

But they did eventually wander off to play.  They came back to it bit by bit as it continued to run.  I think the plot may have been slightly advanced for them.  Pierce said his favorite part in this movie was when two lizards (he called them lizards - not sure exactly what these funny creatures were - one of them had 3 eyes) had a fight over who would be king.  They went back and forth about it and Pierce found it amusing.

These two films may be purchased at Target, Walmart, and on Amazon.com.  Both movies include Special DVD features: a slide show, a trailer, and a downloadable activity kit.

Disclaimer: I received two dvds and some movie snacks for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Eshakti Dresses Review

I had never heard to Eshakti before, but it's a really unique women's apparel site that allows custom changes of their garments - you can make adjustments to sleeves, length, etc.  Sizes range from 0-26W and shipping takes place within 5 days, even with custom orders.

The name 'Shakti' means power in Sanskrit, so Eshakti means the power of the net.  The power, in this case, resides in the buyer, who can order clothes to fit specific needs.  In addition, many of the items on Shakti are embellished by print, embroidery, and fabric texturing. 

I loved how so many of their styles were classic and timeless.  They have so many dresses to choose from (and a wonderful assortment of shirts as well). 

I picked the Sunny Garden Shift Dress, because I loved the details of the birds, and the golden yellow color. 
I absolutely love the dress itself, however, it is cut way too large for me.  I normally wear a size 4 in dresses (and a 6 in clothes) but according to the sizing charts on the site, I needed to order a 6.  Which is what I did, but I was swimming in this.  I held the side of the dress in this picture so you could get an idea of how it would've fit if I'd ordered the proper size.  Granted, it's a shift dress, so it's supposed to be roomy, but in my case I had an extra foot of room.  At any rate, I think the dress itself is adorable and I'm hoping my mom can take it in a little for me so that I can enjoy wearing it.  I love how versatile and casual this dress is, and I found it very comfortable on. 

So bottom line - really cool site, beautiful dresses of all styles to choose from, and wonderful unique ideas.  If you're on the fence about sizing, go ahead and choose a size down, because their sizes may run large, depending on style.  If you like what you see, you can follow Eshakti on Facebook and Twitter too!

Disclaimer: I received one item from Eshakti of my choice for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All Natural Garden Bug Spray - Rural Thursday

After squash bugs killed every last zucchini and summer squash plant in my garden (sob) I have been on a quest to figure out how to derail them.  For next year.  Because it sure hurts this year to not have the huge baskets of squash and zucchini to cook every day. 

I came across this recipe for an all natural garden spray that you can make with ingredients you have at home in my Vegetable Gardener's Companion book.  It was easy to make and this stuff smells AWFUL.  If I was a bug, I wouldn't come near it!

You mix 3 cups of hot water, 1 tbsp cayenne, and 7 cloves of garlic.  Let it steep for 4 days.  Strain it and toss it in a sprayer. 

The only issue I've had from it is finding a sprayer that doesn't get clogged from the ground cayenne.  I think next time I need to strain by a cheese cloth instead of just by wire strainer. 

In other garden news, I planted a few things to see if I can get a fall harvest.  Last year the only thing I planted midsummer was beets.  This year I found seed packets on sale for 20 cents each, so I picked 4 items to try.  Maybe I'll get lucky and redeem my garden before the season is over.  For now, the only veggies we're enjoying are cucumbers and beets.

It's Rural Thursday, hosted by myself and Nancy from A Rural Journal!  Time to share your stories of the rural life (even if you aren't living it yourself) with other bloggers.  Just grab the code below the button and paste it into your blog post.  Then come back to link up.  Be sure you visit and comment on the blogs of at least 5 other participants - it's the visiting and commenting that make a blog hop like this so fun and successful!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NC Zoo Trip

Remember last week when I took Monday off from blogging?  Well the boys and I met my aunt and uncle, Pam and George, in Greensboro and then headed to Asheboro to spend the day at the North Carolina Zoo.

The NC Zoo is immense.  It was a very hot day (around 92* or hotter) and we certainly felt it as we walked around.  I kept refilling the boys' sippies though and they seemed to handle the heat pretty well.

Pierce said he most wanted to see an elephant.  Reid said he most wanted to see a lion.  Both of them were excited they got to see their special animals.  Cort on the other hand....he wanted to see a cow.  He had to settle for the bison in the prairie section.

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore lilly pads?  Possibly my favorite as far as flowers go. 

Pam and Reid check out some ostriches, zebra, and a giraffe that was peeking out from a rock formation.

Pam and George treated us to a dinosaur 4-D movie.  I wondered what 4-D was, and it turns out that it blows air at your legs, the seat vibrates, and you get poked in the back.  Pierce and Reid did pretty well, but Cort got a little scared.  After the movie, Cort threw a huge tantrum (as only an almost-3-year-old can do) over having to return his 3-D glasses.

George, Pierce, and Cort check out the inside of a bee hive.  Reid refused to go in initially, because he thought the huge bees on top were real.

My favorite section may have been the desert.  I just love the southwest so much.  I hope I get to venture back sometime, but for now I got my fill in the zoo!

Cort said that this ocelot was "his" cat.

And in the nocturnal section of the desert, we found this huge frog.  The glass was a little smeared, so the picture isn't as clear as it should be.

After that, we saw a very large grizzly bear.  We also saw the black bears.  We recently had a black bear run across the highway in front of our car, which really made an impression on the kids.  So they were happy to check them out from a distance.

The zoo geyser, in the prairie section.

In addition to the desert, I also really like swamps.  We had fun checking out all of the gators. 

Reid looks at the huge American alligator on the shore across the water.  Not so scary from a distance.

Overall, such an excellent day, and one that the boys will be talking about for months to come.  Extra thanks to my aunt and uncle for this special day!

Readers, what is your favorite animal at the zoo?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

VeggieTales The Penniless Princess Giveaway

Do you remember The Little Princess?  It was not only a beloved book for me, but I adored the PBS television mini-series that came out in the late 80s.  I watched it over and over again as a kid.  So when I heard that VeggieTales would be releasing a new cartoon based on the book on August 11th, I was so excited to see it.    
 From the back cover of the movie:  Sweet Sara Crewe has everything a little girl could want - a loving family, lots of friends and a closet full of frilly dresses!  But when life takes a turn and Sara goes from riches to rags, will she realize that her true worth lies not in what she has, but what's in her heart?  Find out in this inspiring story from VeggieTales, based on the beloved classive novel "A Little Princess," that reminds kids who they are in God's eyes.

I wasn't too sure how three little boys would feel watching a movie about a princess, but they were immediately captivated by it.  There is one part where Becky and Sara sing a silly song called Best Friends Forver that had all three boys cracking up.  I was really amazed by how all three boys were rapt throughout the 50 minute dvd.

In fact, as things heated up, Cort and Reid got off the couch and stood right in front of the television, so that they wouldn't miss anything.  That's the mean Miss Michin you see on the screen!  The VeggieTales version stuck closely to the events in the orginal classic, and I had fun reliving the highlights of the book through mirthful vegetables. 
I am thrilled that this cartoon is based on The Little Princess, a classic that I myself loved as a child.  I love that the deeper purpose in the film is in helping little ones understand their value as a person, regardless of circumstances.  It's the sort of kids' show that will build a child's confidence.  When I asked Pierce what his favorite part was, I was expecting him to say the silly song, or one of the other fun songs in the show.  Instead, he said, "When she learned that God loved her no matter what."  Wow, he really was paying attention! 

Would you like to win a copy of The Penniless Princess for your own children?  Just click on the "Read More" below my signature for a chance to win!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the dvd along with a book for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Fresh From the Garden on Muffin Tin Monday

Our garden, while pitifully destroyed in large portions by those rotten squash bugs, is at least producing a few things.  We are enjoying what we can harvest at our meals.
To keep in the garden them, I pulled out our mushroom and spider muffin cups.  We had roasted beets, egg salad sandwiches on homemade white bread (the eggs were from our hens), and cucumbers.  Pierce loved this meal and ate every last bite.  Cort and Reid mostly ignored the veggies, but ate the sandwich.

For more fun lunch ideas, visit Muffin Tin Mom.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Key to the Treasure

One of my favorite things to do with my boys is read them books.  I especially love to read the books that I remember being read to me as a child.  Pierce and I have been working our way through several chapter books this summer, and just finished one of my old favorites, Key to the Treasure.  I was delighted that he was as enthralled with it as I was as a child. 
 In the story, Liza, Jed, and Bill must unravel a long-standing family mystery by tracking down clues, written in code.  Along the way, they stumble into several misadventures as they try to hide their activities from their grandparents.  Pierce and I couldn't wait to see if they would really discover the missing treasure.

Pierce became fascinated with clues written in code, and since reading the book I've crafted many different treasure hunts for him around the house.  He loves using the secret code to decipher the clues.
 This one says "Clue Two is in the wood stove pot."  Pierce had never even noticed the wood stove pot before, so it took him a minute to figure this out. 
Even if the prize at the end is just a tiny piece of candy, or a special letter I've written, Pierce is delighted with the results and eager to know when his next treasure hunt will be.  It's a fun way to spend a rainy day.

What book do you remember fondly from your childhood?

Linking up today with Read, Explore, Learn.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Homemade Pretzels Recipe on Rural Thursday

As I continue to search for portable, easy homemade snacks for my boys, I've been trying all sorts of new recipes.  Recently I made homemade pretzels, which went over very well.
This recipe comes from The Tightwad Gazette II.  Paul made fun of me for reading this book, but it has really wonderful ideas.  Although it's slightly outdated now, I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for easy ways to economize in the home.

1 package yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
4 cups flour
1 egg

Combine yeast, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in flour.  Knead until dough is smooth.  Shape dough.  Place on greased cookie sheet.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake at 425* for 15 minutes.

It's Rural Thursday!  Time to link up with Nancy from A Rural Journal and myself, to share your rural life stories, adventures, and home tips.  Just grab the code beneath the button and paste it into your blog post.  Then come back, link up your webpage, and take the time to visit and comment on the blogs of at least 5 other participants.  Have fun!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paddle to the Sea

I was thrift store shopping last week and I stumbled upon something that reminded me of Paddle to the Sea.  I was immediately taken, and at 95 cents decided to bring it home. I thought the boys could paddle him around our little swimming pool.
 If you've never seen the film, you should make a point to watch it.  Paul even remembers watching it in his elementary school.  It's only 30 minutes, about a wooden hand carved boat's journey down a river to the sea.  I watch it, and I feel at peace.  It just draws you in.  Even the boys love to watch it - which is interesting since it isn't exactly high adventure compared to most kids' movies.

Sadly, our Paddle to the Sea didn't fare too well.  Even after I taped up the holes at the bottom (which I hadn't noticed in the store), he collapsed to the side.

Oh dear.  Well, maybe our Paddle to the Sea was meant to be a garden whirligig?

This post linked with Outdoor Water Play series at JDaniel4sMom.