Saturday, December 30, 2017

101 Kid Friendly Plants by Cindy Krezel

This book is full of "fun plants and family garden projects." The book consists of 10 chapters with the first 8 listing 101 kid friendly plants. Chapter 9 has a list of flowers one should not use with children. Plants are an important part of our world. They're beautiful to look at, they're a source of food for people and animals alike, they have medicinal properties, and are so important in many other ways (some of which you'll learn in this book). Despite all the good plants have some are toxic. This does not make them any less important to the ecosystem but it does mean they require more respect. Do not skip chapter 9. Read it and learn the plants children should be careful of. Go further and teach those plants to your children. You'll have to use other resources (like Google images) to identify the specific plant as visual aid is not included.  Chapter 10 has projects for the family to do to further their learning. It's great to have book theology but one can't just be an arm chair theologian. You have to get out there and learn hands on as well. 

 Each plant is accompanied with beautiful photography which allows children to see what the specific plant looks like. Great photography is a must in order to identify a plant. The book is not exhaustive in showing different parts of the plant so you will want to consult a field guide for any extensive research. It's very basic and most plants are easily recognized so we personally did not need a field guide. With that said, it's always a great idea to have a guide for your particular region lying around. 

Besides a beautiful photo being included with the 101 plants, you also get two paragraphs of information. For example, plant 1 is Clover (Trifolium repens). On the page there's a picture of a clover, the English and Latin name,  a box with projects for clovers which are included in a later chapter, and paragraphs of information on the plant such as, "It fixes nitrogen in the soil (which keeps plants green.)" 

Like I said the book is basic but it is an excellent jam packed resource for children. The writing is aimed for, in my opinion, younger children 5-12, but older students would pick up things as well. A good book is one that teaches multiple ages, including mom. Though the language of this book is simple it does the job of teaching multiple ages quite well.  

I used my copy to teach my children about plants for some of their science. I also had them copy a sentence or more, depending on the child, out of the book to help their handwriting. Killing two birds with one book, eh stone. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yellowstone by Stephen C. Hinch

This is the book for those people that would like to visit Yellowstone and can't. It's basically a virtual tour on glossy paper. You'll buy it, you'll fall in love with the place, you'll drool all over the paper, and then you'll cry because you're not there. Maybe that's not such a good intro? Let's try again...

This is the book for those that have been to Yellowstone! The photography is absolutely stunning! You'll buy it, you'll be reminded of all your memories at Yellowstone, you'll have a strong urge to pack a bag and walk toward the wilderness,and then you'll cry because you're not there. Wait a minute. This sounds familiar!!! 

Yellowstone! Such a beautiful piece of  country! It's full of bears, elk, deer, trouts, beetles, and bears! There's also tourists. A lot of them. But it's like no other place on Earth. When you pitch your tent in between mountains and sit around a campfire you'll be ever so tempted to quit your day job, throw away all electronics, and live in harmony with nature. That is until the park ranger comes around and tells you tent squatting is not allowed! Bummer! Stephen Hinch does not help anything! His book will just make you want to do that even more! The photography is amazing! He has quite the eye for beauty and is very skillful with the camera. Not only does he share jaw dropping photos but he goes the extra mile and educates you on Yellowstone. Your friends will be amazed when you tell them that you should go to the northeast corner of Yellowstone to find Moose in the winter. They'll also be impressed when you fill them in on when moose drop their antlers. Hint, It's January.  See you're impressed! It's all thanks to Stephen! You'll want to keep this on your coffee table so you can flip through it. It's educational and beautiful. A win win for bibliophiles! 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Montana Women Homesteaders Edited by Sarah Carter

Instead of diving right into the book review I'd like to first take the time to share a piece of a conversation that took place between me and my kiddos. I was reading aloud a book to my kiddos when the questions started coming in. I encourage questions because that's how we learn. Eventually we got onto the topic of the importance of reading. Hitler and the book burning was brought up. As well as the Roman Catholic Church and the Latin Bible. If history has taught us anything it's that an illiterate society is an easily controlled society. 1984 anyone? Before heading over here to write I watched a YouTube video where the person was talking about how they had too many books and needed to downsize. It left me dumbfounded. They barely had anything!!! Seriously! Downsize books?! Are you kidding me?! NEVER!!!! BOOKS ARE LIFE!!! LONG LIVE THE BOOKSHELF!!! Books are a gateway to another world! There you can be a princess in a castle fighting a dragon or being rescued from it, whatever your taste  You can be little boy living in the jungle! You can learn things you wouldn't know otherwise such as ladybugs are really carnivores! Books are knowledge. Books are powerful. Well my rant is long enough and not any where near be completed so I'll just have to end it with BUY MORE BOOKS. BUY THEM ALL!!! Onto the review.... 

Montana Women Homesteaders was a gift to me from my husband. He knows me so well! The book consists of letters from homesteading women in the early 1900s. Some of the women have a borderline  feminist attitude but they are the exception not the rule. Most were just thrown a curve ball in life such as a husband's death. They had no choice but to make lemonade out of lemons. Life is not a walk in the park. There are bad times and good times, both of which these women were no strangers too. The women faced hard times such as drought, crop failure, delivering babies without proper knowledge, ill animals and sometimes the loss of the animals just to name a few. It's a firsthand account of survival and will power. Homesteading, especially back in the day, was not for the faint of the heart. If your crops failed you, you couldn't run to the store and buy back up produce. You most likely weren't even lucky enough to have a neighbor that had food to share. You had to survive on what you had. At times the women faced starvation. The women weren't always alone. Some had lady friends, children, brothers, mother's, etc join them on their stead but it was registered in their name and they were the sole care taker of the place. There was no pattern in ages. Some were young and some were old but they all shared one thing, the will to live. They survived. They shared their stories. They shared their pictures. They shared their documents. It's a humbling read of history. While it is history it is not your highschool dry textbook. Pick it up. You'll be amazed at the strength of the women and will be ever so grateful for what you have. Also you won't see these women running around burning bras or crying for safe spaces. These are the real powerful women. They didn't think low of men. Some actually rather that their man was still alive so he could handle the dirty work and stress of life on a homestead in Montana. They did amazing things despite hardships thrown at them. 
 It's a great book. You won't regret reading it. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Montana Coloring Book by Ted Rechlin

Ted Rechlin is one of our favorite illustrators! His art is so fun! So, obviously, when a colorable version of his work became available we just had to have it! 

Coloring in general is a nice stress reliever. Coloring is definitely not just for children.  In fact, it's becoming quite trendy for adults to embrace their desire to use crayons with funny names like macaroni and cheese, banana mania, and outer space. Those are legit crayon names. Seriously. Who doesn't want to color with those?! 
The best thing about Montana Coloring Book is that BOTH children and adults can use it! The pages are detailed so it would be a challenge for kids, but it's a good challenge. A great way for them to work on their motor skills. Or you could just let the preschooler go to town and see what their beautiful mind comes up with. Montana is a pretty state. Ted does an awesome job of potraying it in all its goodness. The marks of a child will just add to the beauty.  You could also parent-child team it, i.e. work together, feeding off each other's individual creativity.  If you've never been to Montana but would love to visit it you could pick this book up and virtually visit it through the pages. Seriously, Ted's work is that good. There's plenty of wildlife, scenery, plants, etc to color. It will appeal to nature lovers of all ages. Ask me how I know? I've got a house full of diverse ages and we ALL love it!! So pick yourself up a box of crayons with a built in sharpener and have fun while relieving yourself of stress. Do not forget the built in sharpener on your crayon box. That's important. Thanks Ted and Farcountry Press for making this available to a little nobody like me. 

Check out Ted's other work. You'll love em'. 

Check out Farcountry's other publishings. They are one of our favorite publishers!! So many of their books are on our wish list. Plus they're based in Montana so that automatically makes them cool (just like it automatically makes the Montana Coloring Book cool ;)). 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A quick hello

Hey world!

I'm popping in to let you know that I'm still alive! I have fallen way behind in my reviews and am working hard to catch back up. Be on the lookout for multiple posts here soon.

We just moved cross state which is a HUGE deal for my family! We're chasing dreams and with this move we're a step closer to what we've been working so hard to achieve. Also our family has grown by two feet. 😊 Our newest little bundle arrived just a week ago. We're grateful for a healthy baby!!! Our homeschool year has started back up too. We're gently entering it as we adapt to life with a newborn. Our "curriculum" this year is more literature based. I'll be reviewing tons of our school books as well so make sure to check back often!!!

Well I guess this sums everything up! I shall be on my way now!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How to Spin by Beth Smith

I have no idea what Beth Smith looks like and I hope I don't offend her but, when I read this book I just picture my grandma sitting beside me teaching me the basics of spinning. That is of course if my grandma possessed the skill of spinning. Beth writes in such a gentle way. It's like she is sitting there with you and not just words on a paper. Again, to sum up what I picture is my loving grandma beside me. The fact that Beth is able to draw up such a thought makes me like the book even more. 

The book is definitely a how to. It's an informative read. I wouldn't consider the book long. It's 123 pages, counting the glossary. The book is light weight and small measuring 5x7. The size makes it ideal for on the go travel. There are seven chapters ranging from Spinning in a Nutshell to Plying. Through the pages Beth teaches you how to tie on a leader, how to draft, about wheels-their parts,etc, how to card, how to join new fiber, how to master twist, how to rewind bobbins, how to measure the length of your skein, and so much more!!! For 123 pages you'll learn a ton! Of course, Beth is not afraid to encourage you to try the things you're reading about instead of just reading them. As she knows from experience, there is no teacher quite like hands on learning. In her own words, "Throughout this book, I talk a lot about sampling and trying things out - it's the best way I know to improve skill and confidence. Don't be afraid to experiment." (pg 3) 

If you're new to spinning I highly recommend this book. It will give you the knowledge you desire to know which will boost your confidence. In return, you'll enjoy spinning that much more. Seeing how spinning is a lost art but a definite need to know I can't stress enough to pick up a copy and learn this new skill. The next time you sit down to crochet or knit remember to thank a spinner. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't have yarn to enjoy your hobbies with. Thread is the exact same thing but a smaller version. Again, thank a spinner. 
They say actions are better caught than taught so here's to you Beth Smith, THANK YOU! 

Picture Malfunction

Dear Reader,

 You may have noticed that my pictures for book covers are missing. I am unsure of the exact cause behind that.  I am slowly working to replace those starting with the most recent one and working my way back. Please be patient during this time.

Also, please note that any upcoming reviews will have pictures.

Thank you for understanding.