The Pencil is Mightiest When it is Sharp!

Here we go on the new year with homeschooling! We have started off the new year with a bang and a fabulous set of sharp new pencils.🙂 Any teachers out there, and homeschooling mamas (or dads!), can probably identify with the difficulty of finding a pencil sharpener that reliably works and does a really good job of getting your pencils sharp without being lopsided or sharpening until the tip actually falls out. I have been through several manual and electric sharpeners but still find myself frustrated. And don’t get me started on the cranky complaining of my little ones when I badger them to get a better pencil and they can’t seem to comply!

Our new pencil sharpener!

Our new pencil sharpener!

I am pleased to announce that I think my problems are over! I have been trying out this fabulous sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies for the past few weeks. It is a manual sharpener but it is far superior to my current options, electric or otherwise.

Beautiful sharp tips!

Beautiful sharp tips!

Here are the pros:

-It is easy and quick to use.

-It sharpens to a perfect tip without breaking.

-The tip is even all the way around.

-It holds the pencil for you!

-It has a bin that is super easy to empty.

-It is less expensive than most electric options.

-It comes in all different colors!

Easy to put in and work for the little ones.

Easy to put in and work for the little ones.

Here are the cons:

-I haven’t found any yet! I just have to see how it will hold up over time but it seems very well made and sturdy so I suspect that it will last very well. (I think this makes the pros list doesn’t it?)

So the short answer is: this is a wonderful pencil sharpener that I will readily recommend!

What shall they write first?

What shall they write first?

I hope all you homeschoolers are having a good start to the year and feel free to share any new tips or tricks that you are trying out.

Peace and health,

Jennifer

*Disclaimer: I received this pencil sharpener for free for the purposes of testing and review but all opinions are completely mine. I will never recommend a product that I don’t love and use in my own home.

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Sunset Café Saturday – A Frugal, Organized Week

Join me for a warm drink?

Join me for a warm drink?

Happy Café Day friends! I know my post is usually up much earlier in the day but forgive me because I have been busy, busy today! If you know anything much about me, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of winter. Christmas helps but eventually even Christmas must end so I was working hard today to undecorate and redo my mantle for the rest of the winter. I usually do a little something on the mantle for Valentine’s day but I’m not really into that holiday so it’s nothing overpowering.

Pretty blooms!

Pretty blooms!

I also spent a good bit of my day sorting through some clothes for the children – removing that which isn’t worn and putting in a few new things that will fill out the needs of the moment. This makes for a frugal score in the respect that I gave Mr B and Miss S several new articles of clothing for free, thanks to hand me downs.

Frugality was also in effect when I meal planned this week for the entire month of January. I ordered groceries online for all my non-perishables for the month, so that part of the shopping is done without me even having to leave the house! This usually make for a better use of my grocery budget, not to mention saving my sanity.

Organization is also the name of the game this week as I cooked ahead a bit and even managed to get a sweet treat made for immediate consumption and one to put in the freezer for a future needy date.🙂

How was your week? Any frugal or organizational achievements?

Peace and health,

Jennifer

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A Book Review: “What Alice Forgot”

As some of you might know, I am an avid reader. I like all kinds of genres and I usually have several books going at once across several topics. Of course sometimes it takes me a while to get through my books, depending on how much time I get to read. (Let’s be real folks, I do have five children!) But I squeeze in the time because I think it is important, especially when you have kids. (If you need convincing, see my post about reading around children here.)

 

Mmmm...books!

Mmmm…books!

 

Today I want to share with you an awesome piece of fiction that I enjoyed recently. I actually listened to this on audiobook and even the narrator was excellent. The book title is What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty. I found this book to be several things. It is engaging and well-paced. It is funny and sad by turns and it makes the reader think about her own choices and what she values in life. The premise of the book is that Alice falls and hits her head at the gym and encounters a case of amnesia that erases the last 10 years of her life. Instead of being a happily married 29-year-old on the cusp of the birth of her first child, she finds herself the mother of three and going through a contentious divorce. Not only that, but her other relationships have changed and she comes to realize that the type of person she has become is the someone who her 29-year-old self would have really disliked. The interplay of Alice’s shock, comprehension, and eventual adjustment is fascinating to watch but the reactions of her friends and family even more complex. The book traverses the entire continuum of what Alice used to value and why, to how those values changed and challenged her as she matured.

 

 

A major element is the relationship with her sister. The amnesic Alice believes her sister and she are still very close when in reality they have grown quite distant due to the way their lives have unfolded.

While reading this book I found myself deeply thinking about the choices I’ve made in my life and how they have shaped the person I am today. The story really makes you question if you are satisfied with your reactions to life and also throws into perspective the expectations you may have had about what would result from your choices. I did also feel very thankful for my relationships with my spouse and family, but at the same time it illustrated how these relationships can become quite brittle and fragile if not tended to with care.

Of course I won’t ruin the ending since I hope many of you will enjoy the book for yourselves, but I will say this much: As the story was winding down, I feared it would end the way I didn’t want it to. Happily, it ended the way I would have preferred but it was well thought out and had a nice twist at the end that made it feel genuine and true to the complexity of the characters.

Please feel free to share your thoughts here if you have read it, or if you do in the future. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Peace and health,

Jennifer

*Disclaimer: I do not earn any money through Amazon for this link included. I truly loved the book and thought you all might like to read the other reviews from the Amazon website.🙂

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Personal Paradise – Repurposed Furniture

My personal paradise!

My personal paradise!

It’s Personal Paradise Tuesday! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Here we enjoyed some good family time together and it was great.🙂

For today’s installment I am smiling about a furniture repurpose. When we moved into this house we had a mostly unfinished basement. We are now up to an almost half-finished basement. Of course in the process of finishing new spaces there has been a  bunch of furniture shifting: Moving some, using some, changing some. Suddenly, I found myself with a cubby-style shelf that we weren’t using for anything. Well I now have a good use for it!

In our dining room I was keeping this little metal cart. As we are pursuing our bilingual adventures (updates on that soon!), I take any opportunity to snatch up french books and magazines at a good price. Our collection started out small and I wanted it right in the middle of our high traffic areas so they would get frequently used. Since we “do school” a lot at the dining room table, plus being in there so much since the kids are constantly eating, I put this little wire rack in the dining room and it was stacked neatly, about half full, with our french resources.

This cute little thing served a purpose for a while.

This cute little thing served a purpose for a while.

That was then and this is now! We have been lucky in many acquisitions and our collection was falling all over the place!

One day I was in the basement and when glancing over this shelf I thought it just might be flexible enough to use for our french stuff. Here’s the result:

Gorgeous and so well organized!

Gorgeous and so well organized!

I even had a spare bin or two so these hold flash cards and a few french toys. I didn’t have to buy anything new yet and it works great for now. It’s also a height that the little ones can reach so they can enjoy the language exposure.

So many books! And many include CDs.

So many books! And many include CDs.

We have quite a number of french children's magazines now. :)

We have quite a number of french children’s magazines now.🙂

I wonder how long it will be before we out grow this shelf?😉

How about you? Any repurposed items or great finds lately?

Peace and health,

Jennifer

Posted in bilingual living, frugal finds, home skills, Homeschooling, Learning activies, Paradise Moments, Reading and reflecting | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Everything Old is New Again! (And an update!)

This year is winding down and we are about to embark upon another year. Recently I had the pleasure of constructing a favorite sewing project again. I gifted a friend a pillow that I created. This pillow is a work of art but it is also part of my family heritage.

A rose colored beauty!

A rose colored beauty!

Many, many years ago my Great-Grandmother had a pillow on her couch that I was completely in love with.  Years later, after my Great-Grandparents deaths, I was given the then threadbare pillow. It took me over a year to tear it open and discover how to recreate it, but I finally did and since then I have had the pleasure of creating these beauties – just like my Great-Grandmother!

I love the big buttons.

I love the big buttons.

Sewing these soft accessories gives me a sense of renewing something that should never be lost. It connects me to my past but it brings beauty into a future of many people who can now enjoy them. This is very similar to the process of life. We must keep the things that are right, true, and beautiful. The things that give us joy and help us to know from whence we come. But we must be willing to cut the worn out threads in life so that we can clearly see the way to move forward.

This technique works wonderfully with satin.

This technique works wonderfully with satin.

How do you stay connected to the past and still move forward in your life? Don’t ignore your past but keep looking forward to a fulfilling future!

It looks good on my friend's chair don't you think?

It looks good on my friend’s chair don’t you think?

And now, a little update! I’m sorry for the confusion that I may have caused to some people, but my announcement is NOT the arrival of a new little person.🙂 I am however moving this blog to its own domain! You can now find me on risingeden.com! I will continue to cross-post here and at the new site for just a short time so that everyone will have a chance to catch up with me at my new home on the web. So don’t forget to go subscribe at risingeden.com so you won’t miss a post.

Peace and health,

Jennifer

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Christmas Memories and Future!

A flash back to Christmas 2006!

A flash back to Christmas 2006!

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree with the colored lights twinkling amidst the total darkness of the room, silence pressing softly around…

Thumping feet and excited voices tearing into the room searching for holiday surprises…

Smooth, thick, warm, hot cocoa sliding down my throat while I snuggle into the couch and enjoy a slow rise to the day…

Rolling over and wishing your beloved a sleepy good morning before embarking on extended family celebrations…

A lovely gift from a friend a few years ago :)

A lovely gift from a friend a few years ago🙂

What lovely holiday memories do you have? Or perhaps it is time to make new ones? No matter what your winter holiday time traditions are, I hope you can take a few minutes to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

For many of us the holiday season is a time when we get caught up in a collection of expectations and rushed events. Then the actual days blow through like a fierce March wind. After the holidays, do you feel let down, exhausted, or have a sense that you missed something? I have often been in that place and I don’t enjoy the feeling at all. Then a couple of years ago I read something helpful. With many jobs or events in our lives we spend time in formal debriefing after events. Why not do that with our holiday season?

A favorite ornament from our tree this year.

A favorite ornament from our tree this year.

So think back to your last holiday. What did you think of how things went? Were there parts that worked well? Things that you did that you didn’t like? What can you do this time that would change the outcome of how you feel after everything is all over?

This ornament is Mr Hubby's. :)

This ornament is Mr Hubby’s.🙂

For some of us, we will want to take some shortcuts. Maybe buy some side dishes so we don’t have to make everything from scratch. For others we might want to be more involved. Maybe try our hand at hosting a party or do a craft with our kids. Whatever it is, really try to figure out what will make you enjoy the experience and leave you and your loved ones feeling rested and connected.

Another view of our Personal Paradise perhaps?

Another view of our Personal Paradise perhaps?

I sincerely wish peace and happiness for you all this Christmas season and share your tips with me below – we could all use fresh ideas!

Peace, health, and Merry Christmas!

Jennifer

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Personal Paradise Tuesday – New Traditions for the Advent Season

My personal paradise!

My personal paradise!

Happy Tuesday Friends! This week’s paradise moment is a fun holiday craft that I did for our family. There are so many meaningful activities that one can do that it is impossible to do them all every year. Of course most of us perform our favorites, and many times these are the same traditions that we grow up with. As a child my family did not do the Jesse Tree tradition. For several years I have wanted to try it with my own children. I felt that it would be a great way to incorporate biblical history with the Christmas traditions. If you don’t know about the Jesse Tree or the advent tradition that is based on it, you can learn a lot from here, but I used this website for the actual practice of it this year.

So after several years of false starts, I finally managed to get the ball rolling! I looked at many options and decided to craft the ornaments out of felt. I figured that the felt would be pretty and fairly easy, and they would hold up relatively well to the ‘love’ they would receive from little hands.🙂

The shell with water dripping off for John the Baptist

The shell with water dripping off for John the Baptist

To hang the ornaments I had the kiddos go out and find some interesting fallen branches and we put them in a beautiful old blue wine bottle. I am very pleased with the effect!

Our Jesse Tree!

Our Jesse Tree!

The verdict? I love it! They are cute, fun, and we have had a great time reviewing all the stories together. I might not do the Jesse Tree every single year forever, but it is a great tradition worth practicing.

Several of our ornaments

Several of our ornaments

What new activities have you started in your home? Or are there some wonderful favorites you wouldn’t ever give up? Enjoy this next week friends – Love each other and I hope you have fun!

Peace and Health,

Jennifer

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