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Monday, August 25, 2014

Front Yard Makeover

I decided to redo the front yard. The area next to the house and grass. It was looking worn out, old bark, the border wasn't straight and we had random large rocks just placed haphazardly.. I needed a cleaner, fresher look. 

So I kept the existing pots I had (which in the past I couldn't get the bulbs to grow so they've been empty for a couple years), and purchased some hostas plants and some other part shade plants that would be easy maintenance. It took me a few days to get this completed.

Thanks to my kids for hauling all the rocks away (which we gave to our friends to use as a walkway to their front door), and my two neighbors for coming over a few times to either keep me company while I worked or getting down on the ground and helping me out. 

Here below is the end result. I'm very happy and it looks so clean now.

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What I Used:

Hostas plants to go in pots (purchased at Walmart)
Two kinds of shade plants that I planted. Every other after each pot. (Purchased at Walmart)
Rubber mulch and weed barrier (Purchased at Home Depot)
Rubber L shaped border- (Purchased at Home Depot)
 (this now allows me to run my lawn mower up to this without the need to trim)

I absolutely love the new look and now I just hope and pray my plants will survive in the pots and will continue to come back each year. All the plants I have are perennials or bulbs so they will return again next Spring..

Celebrating the Big 4..0..

This month I turned the big 4..0.. I know I'm probably one of the select few that's embracing getting older. I've come a long way since the 70's. Had my kiddos in my twenties, in my thirties I've worked towards becoming healthier, by eating right, exercising and taking up running. Now it's time to hit the 40's and do it with style. I'm going to keep exercising, running and eating healthy. I look forward to the years ahead. Each year giving me the many blessings of seeing my kids grow up, being in love with my wonderful husband and enjoying what God has in store for me..

I thought I'd show you some pics of my birthday and party I had below...

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On my actual birthday, the family and I celebrated by going bowling. I scored a 168 in my first game. I was so excited. My daughter gave me a wonderful apple slicer/corer which I have already taken advantage of recently making some yummy canned applesauce for our pantry. Hubby gave me this awesome camo shirt that I wore on my birthday and then had to snap a photo with two of my kiddos while we were bowling.

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Since my birthday is in August, it was in the low 90's so what a great time to have fun at the pool and water park. Took the kiddos there for an afternoon of fun while hubby went to work. We met up with my hubby for dinner and celebrated with a meal out...

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My birthday party came two days later. I love having a fun photo booth. Got all my friends and family involved. Don't you love it!

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While waiting for the food to BBQ we sat on the deck and enjoyed each others company and of course enjoying the silliness of my kiddo who decided he wanted to wear ALL the props from the photo booth..

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My birthday cake I made

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Enjoying the cake.. mmm... And another goofy pic of my youngest son..

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Opening gifts.. My friends and family know me really well..

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Friends together, my hubby and son being silly and me sporting my awesome 40 sign! 
What's a party without some games! I put together three fun games to play that were themed to fit the big 40..

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I put together this game above. Found 16 pictures of myself when I was younger and my guests had to figure out how old I was in each picture..

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Another game was Guess Who's 40? 10 famous folks, 4 of which are 40 this year.. My guests had to figure out which 4..

I also had another game which I didn't take a picture of. It was 36 items that were fad's from the 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's. The years since my birth.. That was fun walking down memory lane of things we used to wear or have.. 

I had a blast ringing in the next decade of my life with wonderful friends and family.. Great memories for sure..

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson


Cover Art

A Bouquet of Love
Weddings by Design Series
by Janice Thompson

About the Book:

She didn't expect to fall in love--but roses aren't the only thing blooming on Galveston Island
Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family--especially her father--has other ideas. They've all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand--directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John's--and they want Cassia's full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston's premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family's faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi's good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

My Thoughts on This Book:

 What a fantastic read. If you've had the opportunity to read any of the books in this series then you will love this one as well. You get to revisit the Rossi's and get to know new characters like Cassia and her Greek family. The storyline was gripping and I couldn't put it down until I was done.. Look forward to reading more from this author..

Janice Thompson 

 Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect, The Icing on the Cake, and The Dream Dress. She lives in Texas. Learn more at www.janiceathompson.com.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

School Photos 2014-15

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I'm a bit behind in posting this week's Not Back to School Blog Hop which is "Student Photo Week". I was even excited that I took my kiddos out last week while the weather was cooler and photographed them for their 2014-15 school photos, thinking I'm going to be on the ball. Well, life happened and things took the place of others and time got away.. I think I'm still good though as we have the entire week to showcase our lovely children...  Here is my three kiddos...

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DS12- 7th Grade

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DS15-10th Grade

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DD19- College Sophmore

I really enjoyed taking the kids out around the town and photographing them. I haven't updated their photos since 2012 so it's amazing to see how much they've all grown and matured..

Pittstop Photography is my personal photography blog name. These photos are copyrighted to me, owner of Pittstop Photography and can't be duplicated or copied without written permission.

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Grand Design
Abingdon Press (August 19, 2014)
by
Amber Stockton


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Words from the author:

Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my mid-30's, married to the love of my life since July 2007, have a daughter and a son, and live in Colorado. Here, I am content to do what I love—write, speak, and offer virtual assistance.

Thanks to the gentle nudging of a fellow author -- Tracie Peterson -- in 2002, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers and wouldn't be published today without them. For those of you who are also fiction writers looking for a wonderful support group, check them out! My very first book, Promises, Promises, sold in December 2006 and released in February 2008. I've been going steady ever since.


ABOUT THE BOOK

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Grand Design, go HERE.

Here To Stay by Melissa Tagg

Cover Art

Here to Stay 
by Melissa Tagg


About the Book:

After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he'll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he's stunned at not only a warm welcome from his hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events...

If there's one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it's Whisper Shore. For years, she's been stuck running her family's inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.

The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn's the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade--she'll help with the Festival and he'll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who's done running away joins forces with the girl who can't wait to leave.

My Thoughts on This Book:

WOW! I was so excited about reading this book after reading the first one in the series "Made to Last". Following Blake Hunziker, aka Blaze in the first book as Miranda Woodruff's fake husband. We now get to dig deeper into Blake's character in the second installment. After coming home from years astray, he was unsure how his presence would be taken since he feels guilty over his brother's death. Wanting to find purpose in his life, he helps his father resurrect the Christmas festival by coordinating. Not sure if his existence in town would be welcome, he asks inn manager, Autumn to help out. Since Autumn has good standing in the community and has helped out in previous years he knows he could win over the town with her help..

Autumn is in desperate need of someone to take over her run down inn. She's looking for someone to invest so she can find a new life in Paris, France. She decides reluctantly to help Blake with the Christmas Festival, only to employ his services to help fix up the inn. Sparks fly quickly as both work closely together on festivities and inn repair. Will Autumn find love in a place she can't wait to escape and will Blake finally feel content with his life to seek out love and stability? You will find out and more in this wonderful book by Melissa Tagg. A new favorite author of mine... Awesome!


Melissa Tagg 

 Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft-and-coaching community for writers.  When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She's passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

I received an e-book advanced reader copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review of this book. No other compensation was given.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lesson Planning Begins...

It's that time of year again.. Time to get the fresh, clean lesson planners out, the new curriculum that's recently purchased and get back into school mode.

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That's what I'm doing today. I'm excited about the new school year that's fast approaching on August 25th. Why? It's because I have both my boys back home with me homeschooling again.. My oldest son DS15 went to public school last year for the 1st time ever. This was mainly due to his reluctance to see the benefits of homeschooling. He disliked public school and looked forward to returning full time in homeschooling this coming year. 

So with that, I'm excited about seeing what this year will bring to my two boys. DS15 is in 10th grade this year and my youngest DS12 is in 7th grade. Both on new adventures in homeschooling. One is homeschooling in high school for the 1st time since his 9th grade year was in public school and my youngest is entering the middle school years homeschooling.. 

I'm now back to planning two kiddos which I'm not worried about one bit. I have my homemade lesson planners all put together and now just filling in their daily work load for the 1st quarter of school and making sure all of their paperwork copies are ready to go in my trusty planner box that I keep all my papers.. You can read more about both these wonderful tools HERE.

Are you getting ready for your students/kiddos to return to school? When is your start date? Would love to hear from you.. Please leave a comment.. Thanks..

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Family Fun at the Fair

The family and I went to the fair with my friend and her family and had a blast of a day. Spent time looking at my cards on exhibit and rode some rides. Of course we had to have some fair food which included an elephant ear and funnel cake.. mmm... I know not the best food to consume and of course totally processed but it was one day and we enjoyed the treat.

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After going through some of the exhibits and grabbing some fun photos, we ventured off to riding a couple rides.

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The carnival company was having a special where you can ride 7 rides for just $10.00.. Instead of worrying about how many tickets the ride needed, we just needed one per ride. Made for an easy and relaxing day.

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The kids and I loved the bumper cars.. We had a blast riding around the track looking for each other. The weather was perfect that day. In the upper 70's, low 80's. We couldn't beat that since the following day the temps soared into the low 90's.. We picked a great day to enjoy the fair and we made some wonderful memories along the way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Showcasing Our School Room

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Week 2 already for the Not Back to School Blog Hop.. This week it's all about the school room. In my case it's our old dining room turned school room. We updated it last year and love the new look. Fresh paint, crown and floor molding. The window was redone and new wood mini blinds added. And of course new decor to invite positive learning.

Heading into our new school year on the 25th of this month, I will be homeschooling both my boys grades 10 and 7. I've simplified quite a bit and now only house current curriculum and curriculum I know I'll use within the next six years. Everything else is gone. I've limited my storage for supplies including pencils, paper etc just holding onto the items I know we will be using in the next year.

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Since my kids are no longer in elementary school, our supplies list has diminished and now just focusing on things we would need for science experiments and the basic staples such as paper, pencils, notebooking supplies. The white shelving on the left of the picture above is where we store all of our basic schooling supplies described above. Construction paper, markers, glue etc. The black box on the bottom right is the lesson planning box that holds all the papers needed for the kids.



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Here above is the brain's of each year's homeschool operation. It holds every ounce of paperwork for the entire 36 weeks of school. I've divided the school year into four quarters. Each quarter represents a color.
1st Quarter- Pink
2nd Quarter- Blue
3rd Quarter- Red
4th Quarter- Black
I have 9 colored folder representing each color since each quarter is 9 weeks of our schooling
 
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Here is a folder of Week 10. This quarter is represented by the Blue Folder. I labeled the side Week 10 in the same color as the folder.

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On the inside of each colored folder holds 2 manila colored folders as shown above. Each of these folders were cut down on the side to remove the tab so you could see the outside tab when this is closed. You can see that on the blue folder picture above. The reason I have two folders inside is to represent two of my children. My two youngest. I have the appropriate color coded dot on the folder to remind me this is this particular quarter and next to that I wrote the first initial of each child and the week number.
Example- Kids name would be Adam so I wrote it like this below
A
1
Some of the dots I had to color myself with the pens I purchased when I bought the folders to match. I just purchased the regular white sticker dots and filled them in. I did the dots and the dates like this above so in case any of the folders get misplaced from the outside one, I'll know where it goes.
 
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Each manila folder holds the appropriate copies for each child. I then took it a little further and dated the copies as I did the lesson planning to make it easier for the kids to know which papers to do when.
All of this is coordinated with my calendar. I didn't take a pic of my calendar but I have a circle dot like above on each week that we school. 9 weeks has one color, then another 9 for the next color etc. I've already marked the dates we will be taking off school and then I filled in the lesson planners with all this info.
All my copies for the entire year are done and filed into this awesome box streamlining my school year.

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The silver cupboard holds our future curriculum and science experiment supplies as well as basic office supplies on the bottom. The top shelf holds all the empty folders, composition notebooks and page protectors we would need throughout the school year.

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On the right side of this picture is our erase board for when we need to further our discussions or study with the boys. Usually pertaining to math.

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This book shelf houses our current curriculum on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th shelves. Study materials are housed on the 1st and 5th shelf..

So that is our homeschool room.. Thanks for stopping by so I can show it to you.. I'll be posting next week to show off my kiddos in the Student Photo Week.. See you then..

Monday, August 4, 2014

Winning Cards @ The Fair

The fair was here in town for the past week and a half. Last year I decided to start entering my cards that I make and loved the experience so I did it again this year. I decided to enter 10 cards this year. Also last year I found out you can go and watch them judge your cards. I loved hearing what they had to say about each one, even those cards that weren't mine. I learned a lot about what they were looking for and also saw some new techniques to use in future cards..

I got my cards back on Sunday afternoon. With my 10 entries, I placed with all of them. Eight of my cards earned 1st place, one earned 2nd place and one earned 3rd place. With those eight cards that earned first my deer card which you can see in the photo just below here on the bottom right earned the top 3 for the Best of Show. I didn't win it but the judges said really great things about it so I'm happy!

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The cards above and below earned 1st Place Ribbons and $5.00 each for a prize..

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The cards above earned 2nd and 3rd Place Ribbons and $3.00 winning and $2.00 winning.. Which gave me at total of $45.00 that I won this year.  

Through the Deep Waters Book Giveaway

I'm so excited about giving away a copy of this book to one of my blog readers. I've had the opportunity to read and review this book in the recent past and loved it. You can read my thoughts on this book HERE. The publisher would like to offer a free copy to one lucky winner. Details below.....

Through the Deep Waters


About This Book

A past filled with shame can be washed away with a love that conquers all

Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.

The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her. Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?

How to Enter:

It's simple.. Just go to this link HERE, type in your info and you are entered.. 

The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email. For a complete listing of the rules, please go to the link where you enter to win above.
 
Good luck and happy reading!

All About Curriculum for 7th & 10th Graders


nbts-blog-hop-calendar-2014 
It's that time of year again. It's the 6th Annual Not Back to School Blog Hop.. I love participating in this each year..  This week's post is all about Curriculum....

I have three kiddos. One graduated back in 2013 and will be attending her second year at Montana State University to achieve two associates degrees- Graphic Design and Web Design.

I have two left to homeschool. My 10th grader and my 7th grader. Both boys...

7th Grade- Middle School Curriculum

Math:

 
Apologia - Zoology 3 Exploring Creation - Land Animals of the Sixth Day




Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal (Apologia) - Spiral-bound


Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? Biblical Worldview of Self-Image  -     By: John Hay, David Webb

Language Arts/English/Writing:

Language Lessons for the Elementary Child Volume 2  Queen Homeschool Supplies-



10th Grade- High School Curriculum

English/Bible/History

Exploring America Curriculum Package | Main Photo (Cover)

Science:








Writing:

Learn to Write the Novel Way Text | Main photo (Cover)



Foreign Language:

We are still looking for a good inexpensive German curriculum for him to use. We do have a lot of supplemental materials and will have Mango Languages online for a few months into the year before we have to think of other ideas or whether we stay with Mango Languages for him to finish a complete year. We will see. 
Guitar:
He took a Semester's worth of Guitar 101 at the public school last year and he loves it so we will have him continue with this for at least another Semester so he can get a full year credit and then go from there.


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