Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

This is another favorite book of mine so far in 2011!! I have been seeing the movie trailers on TV, so I thought I'd give the book a try! It was so good, I started reading it yesterday afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it!

The book is about the main character, Jacob and his youth with the circus. In the beginning, we are introduced to 90, or 93, year old Jacob that is living in an "old age" home due to a broken hip. When going to lunch one day, he notices a circus has come to town and causing great excitement in the home. Jacob goes to his usual table for lunch and is greeted by a new patient that claims to have carried water for the elephants while working at a circus. Jacob is outraged by his out right lie and is immediately returned to his room. Jacob begins to flash back to when he was 23 years old.

It's during the Great Depression and Jacob is enrolled at Cornell University getting ready to take his final exam for a veterinary license when the dean pulls him out of class. The dean tells Jacob there has been a horrible accident and both of his parents are dead. Between his parents death and finding out they are broke because all of their money went to pay for his Ivy League education, Jacob takes off. He just starts running and doesn't stop until his feet cannot take it anymore. Jacob then realizes he is lost and happened to hear a train coming. He hops aboard the train to find out it is a circus train.

He makes friends with a guy on the train, Camel, and Camel is able to get him on working for the circus. The owner of the circus, Uncle Al, appoints Jacob as the official circus vet.

As soon as Jacob sees Marlena, the wife of the head animal trainer, August, he falls in love. August is a strange man and violent man. He is out right cruel to the animals and anyone that gets in his way, yet is he married to a beautiful and compassionate performer. Jacob is determined to have Marlena, but August stands in his way.

The book describes the horrid condition of the animals and their treatment while being apart of a circus. And, circus life in general for the workers and performers. It's just a really good book about how the circus was ran in the 1930's and the impact it had on peoples lives.

(photo from

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baby Log Cabin Variation Quilt Top

These are the 2 quilt tops I made for my new niece and nephew. Very simple to make, you just have to know how to sew a straight line. Yes, it's that easy! I didn't have to buy any fabric to make these, I had everything in my fabric stash! Approx size of finished quilt top is 45"x36".

I went with pinks and purples for Alexa and blues and greens for Braiden. You could make this with 2 different colors, or make each row something different. I am sure there are several different ways to pick a theme.

I am going to use the pink and purple color theme for the tutorial.

Material Needed:

2- 4.5 x 4.5 squares
2- 12.5 x 4.5 strips
2- 20.5 x 4.5 strips
2- 28.5 x 4.5 strips
2- 36.5 x 4.5 strips

1- 4.5 x 4.5 square
2- 12.5 x 4.5 strips
2- 20.5 x 4.5 strips
2- 28.5 x 4.5 strips
2- 36.5 x 4.5 strips

1. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew pink squares to purple to form the center of the quilt. Press seams to one side.

2.Sew 12.5 x 4.5 purple strips to center strip.

3. Sew 12.5 x 4.5 pink strips to bottom and top of block.

4. Continue sewing strips in size order, starting with purple until quilt top is finished.

With several distractions, it only took me about 3 hours to cut the pieces and sew them together to make 1 quilt top. They go together pretty fast! This would probably make a easy quilt to finish for the Linus Project!

This up coming week, I will be finishing the quilts and I will post another tutorial on how to finish them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"The Pact: A Love Story" by Jodi Picoult

It was a very nice day yesterday and the girls wanted to play outside, so I brought out a new book from the library. It is called "The Pact: A Love Story" by Jodi Picoult. Once I started reading, I just could not put it down! As of right now, it's the best book I've year this year! And, that is saying a lot because I read about a book a week, sometimes 2!

From the cover, "...comes a riveting, timely, heartbreaking, and terrifying novel of family in anguish and friendship ripped apart by inconceivable violence. Until the phone call came on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, the Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone when their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was moving beyond lifelong friends. But now 17 year old Emily has been shot to death as part of an apparent suicide pact-leaving 2 devastated families stranded in the dark and dense predawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they really never knew."

The book starts in present day when the parents get the call to come down to the hospital. Emily is pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, but Chis is alive. Chris tells the police it was a suicide pact and he wasn't able to go through with it on his end. The parents are shocked, they had no clue either of of their children was contemplating suicide.

After a short stay, Chis is released from the hospital and that's when the police start to disbelieve his story of the "pact". A case starts to mount up against him, accusing him of shooting Emily in cold blood.

Many times during the book, you are taken back in time to various points to show the strong relationships between Chris' family, the Hartes, and Emily's family, the Golds. Chris and Emily had known each other since birth and they even shared a crib together at one point.

After Chris is arrested on charges of murdering Emily, the Gold's and the Harte's relationship is dramatically changed. Mrs. Gold believes the reports that Chris actually killed Emily, that he was able to put aside the feelings he's always had for Emily and shoot her in the head in cold blood. Mrs. Harte, on the other hand, is defending Chris to the end. She believes her son is incapable of killing his one true love.

Will Chris be found guilty of murder, a crime that means life in prison, or will his story of a suicide pact be proven? What will happen to the 20 year relationship between the Harts and the Golds?

Friday, April 29, 2011

More Babies!!

We had some excitement 2 weeks ago Wednesday!! My sister, who was pregnant with twins, delivered her babies!! She has had a very hard pregnancy, there were several foods she couldn't eat and was still getting sick after eating. Last Wednesday, she called me to tell me she was having severe cramps and didn't know what to do. (She had a scheduled doctor's appointment 30 minutes from then.) I told her the babies were probably laying on her wrong or tumbling around. She went to the doctor and he determined that she was in labor!! We were all in shock!! She was only 25 weeks pregnant (out of 40)!! The doctor told her to drive to the local hospital, about 10 minutes away, and a helicopter would be waiting to take her to the University of Cincinnati Hospital (about 35 minutes away by car). She arrived at the local hospital and the babies decided not to wait!! She was in full blown labor, right there in the emergency room entrance. The helicopter didn't even have time to arrive yet, nor the delivery doctor. The hospital staff had to do an emergency C-Section!

They took the little boy out first and he stopped breathing, we are not sure of how long. They were able to resuscitate him. My mom was in the hall and said it looked like a scene from a movie. They have the boy on the gurney, running down the hall while massaging his heart and pumping the bag ventilator on his face. He was rushed immediately to Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. (Children's was full, so that's why he went to Good Sam)

The girl was a little better off, but not by much. My sister, Tara, was able too see her and touch her before she was rushed off to Good Sam also.

The babies weighed in a less than 2 pounds (900 grams) each!! Neither one of the babies were expected to make it through the night! Everything was such a flash, we couldn't believe it was happening!!

Tara stayed in the local hospital for 2 days while her babies were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Good Sam (again about 35 minutes by car). Tara is doing well physically, but not coping well well emotionally. WE are in the process of trying to find a support group for her.

After the babies made it through the night, she gave them names! My nephew is Braiden Asher and my niece is Alexa Kristine. They are currently still struggling in the NICU, but no longer struggling to live! Alexa has fluid on her brain (used to be known as "water on the brain") and is recovering from a collapsed lung. Braiden has some breathing issues and has a turned in leg that will require therapy.

I was sick when the babies were born, so I didn't get to see them until they were a week old. I took lots of pictures of them!



I have already made them some outfits for micro preemies and their first quilt! I will post the quilts later in the week along with the tutorial. They are going to be the best dressed babies in the NICU as soon as she gets the green light to dress them!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hello Again

Hello again to everyone! I been away for awhile keeping busy! We finally began remodeling our kitchen! I now how a sink, cabinets, and counter tops in my kitchen like normal houses do! We're doing all the work ourselves, so it is a little slow going. Here are a few of our "in progress" photos

We decided to go with purple, yes purple, for the walls! I love it! Our floor is called "lay down vinyl" and it's the best thing ever!! You just unroll the vinyl like a rug and cut off any excess! No glue or anything! I love it!

You can look at the "before" pics under the label "House Remodeling". We've come a long way!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Turkey Guest Blogger

Be sure to stop over at Sun Flowers at Home today! Ginny is running a series called 10 Days of Turkey and I am the guest blogger today! I posted the instructions over there to make this super cute turkey with your kids.
Thanks Ginny!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bounce Dryer Bar & Scotch Brite Toilet Scrubber

It's been a long time since I did a product review, so I thought it was time. Today I am reviewing 2 different items, Bounce Dryer Bar and Scotch Brite Toilet Scrubber.
First up is the Bounce Dryer Bar.

The Bounce Dryer bar is meant to add tons of convenience to your every day laundry. Instead of putting a new dryer sheet in your dryer each time you do laundry, you just stick this bar into the dryer and it last for 2 months or 4 months. Let me just say,this wonderful!! You get your choice of 2 or 4 month bar and your choice between 2 different scents. Since I didn't know if it would work, I bought the 2 month starter kit in outdoor fresh scent. The starter kits comes with 1 dryer bar and the holder. The holder simply sicks on the inside of your dryer and has little release tabs that allows you to insert a new bar when it's time. The nice thing about this bar is that you do not even have to keep track of when it's time to change the bar, the bar has a built in indicator that lets you know it's time. You simply remove the old bar and insert a new one.
I do a lot of laundry having 2 small kids, at least 2 loads a day, and my dryer bar is keeping up really well. I thought it would go a lot faster than 2 months, but I am 1 month in and it is not showing any signs of needing to be replaced.
My laundry comes out of the dryer smelling fresher than it ever has!! This is something that is definitely worth the money!!
5 out of 5 stars!!

Next up is the Scotch Brite Disaposible Toilet Scrubber

The Scotch Brite Toilet Scrubber allows you to clean your toilet and then throw away the gross scrubber head. The starter kit comes with 1 handle and 4 disaposible scrubber heads. The scrubber head is a stiff sponge like pumice stone the fits onto the tip of the handle. You simple slide the scrubber onto the handle and scrub your toilet as usual. When you are finished, you slide the button down on the handle and the scrubber pops off into the garbage. This elminates the need to store a gross toliet brush that is full of germs, hoping your kids are not playng with while they are using the bathroom.
I bought the starter kit and have bought several sets of refills of the scrubber, but I do have pros and cons with the product. I really do lke the fact of not having to store a toilet brush, just a handle. Another plus is that I have never had my toilet cleaner! This scrubber does a great job of really scrubbing the toilet and really gets under the rim.
On the negative side, you have to buy a refil for each time you clean your toilet, which adds up. You have to make sure you have a scrubber in the cabinet before you go to clean your toilet or you're out of luck. My only other con is that the handle is so short. I feel as though I am "elbow deep" evertime I clean. When you are scrubbing the bottom, you're almsot down to your shoulder in the toilet, putting your face a little too close fo comfort.
3.5 stars out of 5
(Photos from

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meet the Flintstones

As you guessed, we went as the Flintstones for Halloween this year! It was so much fun! We got our pictures taken by a lot of people and tons of wonderful comments on our outfits!!
All of our outfits were homemade by me, saving a ton of money. Wilma's and Fred's outfits are made out of sheets. I just traced tank one of Ryan's tank tops and one of mine to get the outline of the top of the toga and dress. At the bottom of both, I cut triangles out to give them a jagged look. My necklace is made out of small styrofoam balls and the blue tie is just fabric. I cut a stencil of a triangle out of cardboard and used black craft paint to make the triangles on Fred's toga.
Little Miss Pebbles, aka Arya, outfit was the easiest! I just bought a plain green over sized Tshirt and just triangles out of the bottom and arms. I used black paint and painted triangles on the shirt. She wore black pants and a ponytail on the top of her head.
Dino's, aka Jaiden, costume gave me the biggest challenge. I just made a jumpsuit out of purple fleece. I made a simple velcro closure in the back and used black paint for the spots. Her hood was a separate piece made out of fleece with black felt loops of the hair.
My sister, BIL, and nephew also got into the fun by dressing up as Betty, Barney, and Bam Bam!!

(You can click on the pics to make them larger)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Extra Crispy Fried Chicken

I love chicken and I think fried chicken is one of my favorite foods!! This chicken is so easy to make and tastes so yummy!! I think fried chicken tastes better in a cast iron skillet, but any deep pan will work fine. It also tastes better fried in shortening rather than oil.

Extra Crispy Fried Chicken

Chicken breasts or strips
1-2 c. flour
1 c. buttermilk (reg milk okay)
1 egg
assorted seasonings: salt pepper, seasoning salt, garlic salt, thyme, sage, rosemary, poultry seasoning

1. Heat shortening in pan until hot. Make sure there is enough to cover the chicken.
2. In a bowl, mix egg and milk.
3. In another bowl, mix flour and seasonings.
4. Dip chicken in milk then flour, then milk, then flour, then milk, then flour. This builds the breading up to be extra crispy.
5. Place chicken in hot shortening and fry until done. This will depend on how thick your chicken is, You want your oil to be hot, but not too hot because it will burn the chicken quickly.

My favorite things to eat with fried chicken are: fresh green beans, cole slaw, and biscuits!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kentucky Lemonade

This is an awesome drink that I just discovered recently. It's perfect for your outdoor summer parties!! Be sure to serve in a Mason jar.

Kentucky Lemonade

1 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1 cup fresh lemon juice, about 5-6 lemons
3-4 cups cold water
6 shots of Kentucky bourbon

1. Dissolve sugar in hot water.
2. Add lemon juice.
3. Fill pitcher with ice and add cold water.
4. Stir.
5. Pour a shot of bourbon in each glass.
6. Add ice and pour lemonade in glass.
7. Enjoy!!
Makes 6 servings