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A Heart For Home: July 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Early Learning Prize Pack Giveaway ($60 Value)

Are you looking for some fun new "school" stuff for the little learner in your life? If so, you've come to the right place!

I'm so excited about joining Jolanthe's Curriculum Clean-Out this year and I pray that this prize pack will be a blessing to one of our wonderful readers.
Year Round Preschool Reading
Crayola Dry Erase Fun & Letters Farm
Crayola Dry Erase Deep Sea Dot-to-Dots & More
Dry Erase Learning Book Printing and Numbers (unopened)
Dry Erase Learning Book Math Skills (unopened)
Crayola Washable Dry Erase Markers - Broad Line 6 Count (unopened) 
Crayola Window Crayons (unopened)
Color Your Own A-Z Border Trim (unopened from The Dollar Tree)

*$60 value based on current Amazon prices

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While you're here, why don't you check out some of our Free Early Learning Printables or browse through our Learning At Home links? And be sure to check out our Pinterest boards for tons of ideas to keep kids learning.


Also, be sure to check out The Back to School Boost for Moms Ebook Bundle of 5 ebooks designed to help you organize your time, set up a workable cleaning schedule, make the most of your wardrobe, get dinner on the table quick and create a year of yummy goodness. This bundle is on sale for only $10 ($28.95 value) today through August 8th.

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Our Early Learning Prize Pack Giveaway is open to those within the continental US only. Be sure to visit Homeschool Creations for more Curriculum Clean-Out giveaways!


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quick & Easy Dress from a T-Shirt & Skirt {Finished Friday #48} Come link up you projects, too!

Link up your projects at the end of this post.

Emahry, our five year old daughter, LOVES dresses! (Yes, she loves them so much that it's worthy of capitalization and an exclamation mark.)

However, she likes her dresses long, which we love, but it makes finding dresses for her much more difficult. While it's pretty easy to find more formal dresses in the length she likes (think Christmas, Easter, and flower girl dresses) it's really hard to find everyday play dresses.

So, once again, I decided to make a dress that I knew she would love. Even better was that I had all of the materials already on hand. (And obviously I didn't even bother to iron them.)

I started with a t-shirt in her size. The shirt fit the top part of her just fine, but had become awkwardly short so it had been moved to the scrap bin. I also had this juniors x-small skirt in my stash, a Goodwill find from a couple of years ago. Finally the wide, red gross-grain ribbon sash was originally the packaging for a fleece blanket I bought at a Valentine's Day clearance sale two years ago.

It worked out that the waist of the skirt and the chest of the t-shirt were the exact same width. So I simply pinned the skirt the whole way around the shirt and sewed it on with a long stitch. Then I centered the ribbon, pinned it to the front and sewed that on, too. I decided to leave the ribbon unattached in the back so that the dress could be tied tighter now and a little looser next summer (hopefully). Once I was finished sewing I turned the dress inside out and cut off the extra length from the t-shirt.

Emahry loves the pockets...
 and the bow...
and the twirly-ness.

All in all, this project took my less than 45 minutes even while entertaining four little ones.

Today's Questions: Do you like to sew clothes for your kids? If so, we'd love to hear about your latest project. If not, why not try a super easy project like this to get you started? 
I'm trying to hold myself accountable to finish some of the projects on my to do list by posting each Friday about a project I've completed.
Would you like to join in? Link up to your own projects below.

1.
Link to your project post, not your blog's home page, so we can find it easily.
2. Let us know what project you are sharing in your title, for example: Spring Wreath
3. We'd love it if your post links back here so that your readers can come join the fun. Feel free to copy & paste our Finished Friday Button into your post. (Just copy the text in the box below the button, click on the "Edit HTML" tab for your post and paste it there.)
A Heart for Home

Where the linky says "Your Name" please enter the name of your project or the title of your post!
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's in the Bible? Review Flashcards for DVD 4 {Finished Friday #47} come link your projects, too!

Link up your projects at the end of this post.

Yesterday I posted the simple, but effective ways we use the What's in the Bible? DVD series as part of a children's Bible study. In the same post I announced that the DVDs are on sale for only $10 for the next week!
I also told you that I'd be making Review Flashcards for the rest of the DVDs, so without further ado...

What's in the Bible? DVD 4 Review Flashcards
Part 1: Finally, the Promised Land
Part 2: Cycle of Misery

And here are the links for the other sets of flashcards:
Review Flashcards for DVD 1 
Review Flashcards for DVD 2
Review Flashcards for DVD 3

So, if you’re wanting a little extra review to go along with the What’s in the Bible? DVDs, I hope you’ll find these flashcards helpful.

And remember, the What's in the Bible? DVDs are on SALE for one week for only $10 each!

We’ll share the other sets of flashcards as I finish them. Sign up for free blog updates so you won’t miss out.

Today's Questions: Have you seen the What’s in the Bible? DVDs? Do you think you might like to use them with your children? Why or why not? 
I'm trying to hold myself accountable to finish some of the projects on my to do list by posting each Friday about a project I've completed.
Would you like to join in? Link up to your own projects below.

1.
Link to your project post, not your blog's home page, so we can find it easily.
2. Let us know what project you are sharing in your title, for example: Spring Wreath
3. We'd love it if your post links back here so that your readers can come join the fun. Feel free to copy & paste our Finished Friday Button into your post. (Just copy the text in the box below the button, click on the "Edit HTML" tab for your post and paste it there.)

A Heart for Home

Where the linky says "Your Name" please enter the name of your project or the title of your post!
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Teaching with What's in the Bible? plus all DVDs only $10 for 1 week

Our family loves the What's in the Bible? DVD series. The DVDs are an in depth study of the entire Bible, book by book. Yes, even books like Leviticus are made easy for kids to understand, without being completely watered down. 

The DVDs are fun and educational and are a great balance of silly kid humor and parts that are genuinely funny as well.

For the past few months, we've been using these DVDs as a base for a children's Bible study that I teach on Sunday nights.

The children in the group range from 11 all the way down to two babies under a year old (thankfully, one of the babies is mine and the mother of the other baby helps out with the kids as well). I think children of all ages can learn from these DVDs. In fact our two year old has repeated things she's learned and I usually learn a thing or two as well.

Even though we've made it part way through the series during our Sunday evening Bible study, our family is going to be using the What's in the Bible? DVDs as our Bible curriculum for this year of homeschool as well.

So, in case you'd like to use these DVDs with a children's Bible study, your own children as a homeschool Bible curriculum, or even as a part of your family Bible time I thought I'd share how we've been learning with What's in the Bible?

In our Bible study, we watch the same DVD episode twice, which means that each DVD takes us through 4 weeks worth of lessons. (Carisa @1+1+1=1 uses the DVDs with her own kids and chooses to have them watch each episode 3 times before moving on.)

Start out with Reading
I find that if I start the lesson with a read aloud it helps to get everyone focused and the kids seem to stay calmer throughout our entire lesson. Don't fall into the misconception that older children don't like being read to, from my experience, children enjoy listening to someone read a story long after they can read themselves

If you have older kids, you can get them involved as your story readers (you can help encourage then by giving them a copy of the story before hand so they can read through it first).

We read from a variety of Bible storybooks, mostly because some of the stories covered in the series are not the "major" Bible stories and not all kids' Bible storybooks have them all. It's also nice to be able to read the same story from two different Bible storybook since we watch the same DVD session twice. I also like to read an except of the story from the actual Bible as well.

Here are some of the Bible storybooks we frequently use:

The Jesus Storybook Bible (our personal favorite)
The Beginning Reader's Bible (read our review here) 
The Jesus Said Bible Storybook
The Young Reader's Bible



After we read the story I usually ask a few questions or make a connection between the story and our lives today. Some times volunteers act out parts of the story (the kids love this part).

Watch the DVD 
After our story time we watch the corresponding What's in the Bible? DVD episode. So far, there are 8 DVDs covering the books of Genesis through the Song of Solomon. The ninth DVD is scheduled for release in the middle of August.

For one week only you can get each DVD for just $10. What's in the Bible? also offers FREE shipping on all orders over $15. Check out all of the DVDs in the What's in the Bible? Store.



Review with the the Flashcard Questions
When the DVD is finished, I use the questions from the What's in the Bible? flashcards to review the information we've learned. Some of the questions may be a little too difficult for very young children, so don't feel like you need to use all of them, just make them work for you.


I'll be making flashcards for all the other DVDs, too. Go ahead and subscribe for free updates so you won't miss them.

You can laminate the flashcards keep each episode's cards on a different book ring or make the flashcards more interactive by having kids pick a card and read the question to the group. Non-readers can pick a card and hand it to you to read.



Color a Picture
Once we've answered and discussed the flashcard questions we usually color a picture about the Bible story or book of the Bible we learned about.

My Bible Coloring Book (This 119 page coloring book was created by Shirley Dobson and has lots of coloring pages for some of the lesser known Bible stories.)

As you can see, the planning of the Bible study actually takes me very little time, but the kids really enjoy it and are learning a lot

I love that even as a busy mom who doesn't have time to make up my own Bible study curriculum, the What's in the Bible? DVDs allow me to teach and impact children beyond my immediate family for Christ!

Today's Question: Have you watched the What's in the Bible? DVDs? Do you have any more ideas for extending our learning?




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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tips for Taking Family Photos {TIPsters}

Make sure you visit Kristin & Christy for their thoughts on today’s topic.

I am by no means an expert photographer. In fact, although I dream of having a fancy DSLR, my only camera is a Canon point and shoot. 

But I don't think that has to stop me from taking pictures of my family. I love taking pictures of our daily lives. I love capturing the ways our children are growing and the interaction between family members.

So here are my Top Ten Tips for Taking Family Photos
Be sure to check out my Photography Inspiration Board for lots of great ideas.

1. Use natural light. Take pictures when and where you don't need to use the flash. Also, make your subject's eyes sparkle by having them look toward a natural source of light (like a window).

2. Take lots of candid shots, but sprinkle in a few posed ones, too. Candid photographs tend to capture personalities and emotions better, but it is nice to try to get a photo of everyone smiling at the camera every once in a while.

(Yes, Amelia was this pink when she was a newborn.)

3. Realize that with small children, having someone not looking at the camera is better than having someone crying :)


4. Take lots of pictures. This is the huge benefit of digital photography, you can take 50 pictures and only decide to pay for printing the very best one or two.

5. Capture the same event every month or year. Since Amelia was born last August, we've been taking a photo of her in the same location (and onesie) each month. I love seeing how she's growing! I had a friend growing up whose parents took a picture every year of their children's expressions when they first came down the stairs on Christmas morning.

6. Take pictures of the messy. Don't just fill your albums or scrapbooks with the beautiful, staged, cleaned-up-for-a-photo shots, but let your children remember life how it actually was. Pictures of laundry mountains and cookie-baking kitchen disasters could bring back wonderful memories for them. This also goes for simply taking pictures in general. Looking back, your kids won't care if you didn't have the best camera or didn't really know how to take good pictures.


7. Don't always be behind the camera. I'm actually really bad at this one, but find ways to get yourself into pictures with your family. Ask someone else to take a picture or use some of these creative ways to photograph yourself with your kids. And don't worry, they won't care if your shirt has a spot on it or if your hair is a mess, looking back, they'll just love seeing you involved in their childhood.


8. Edit your photos. Even with free online editing tools (my favorite is picmonkey.com) you can make a photo look much better than it did straight-out-of-the-camera.


9. For the posed family shots it helps to have a photographer's assistant. Recently our extended family got together for Father's Day and decided to take a new family photo. Unfortunately, the only time we could take one was after the older kids woke up from a much-too-short nap and before Amelia went down for a much needed nap. Having a family friend there to dance and act silly was so much better than just telling the kids to smile.

10. Your turn...What are some of your tips for taking family photos? Please, share your ideas in the comments section.

Check out the blog parties we like to join

A Heart for Home




Coming Soon:
August 7: Schooling Kids of Different Ages
August 21: Teaching Kids to Read

(Remember if you'd like to guest host an upcoming TIPster post,
just let me know.)
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Month-by-Month Baby Photos {Finished Friday} come and link up your posts, too!

Scroll down to link your finished projects & posts.

I finally edited Amelia's 9 and 10 month photos. So today's a two for one deal.

Amelia's waving...

and making cute little kissy faces.

Here's a recap...only 2 months left.


For those who have asked, I use a very simple point and shoot camera with natural light and no flash. All images are edited for free at picmonkey.com.

Today's Question: Have you been taking lots of pictures of your kids this summer? What are some of your favorite photos so far?
I'm trying to hold myself accountable to finish some of the projects on my to do list by posting each Friday about a project I've completed.
Would you like to join in? Link up to your own projects below.
1. Link to your project post, not your blog's home page, so we can find it easily.
2. Let us know what project you are sharing in your title, for example: Spring Wreath
3. We'd love it if your post links back here so that your readers can come join the fun. Feel free to copy & paste our Finished Friday Button into your post. (Just copy the text in the box below the button, click on the "Edit HTML" tab for your post and paste it there.)
A Heart for Home

Where the linky says "Your Name" please enter the name of your project or the title of your post!
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Squash Soup for the Freezer {Finished Friday #46} come link up your projects, too!

link up your finished projects at the bottom of this post

During the past two weeks we've been harvesting some more produce from our garden. First there were lots and lots of carrots.


The carrots had to have the stems cut off, be scrubbed clean and placed in the fridge. We were able to fill over 10 gallon-sized bags!


Next there was a steady stream of yellow summer squash.

Most of the squash was washed, chopped, and placed into freezer bags for using in soup and pasta sauce later (since we'll be using the squash in the next couple of months we chose not to blanch the squash first.)

Yesterday, since we had gathered even more squash, we had a fresh batch of homemade vegetable broth, and Tim had a day off from work, it was time to make a double batch of one of our favorite soup recipes for the freezer.

First, Tim and the kids washed and chopped the squash. Then they washed, peeled, and chopped the potatoes and carrots. Next, I was called in to chop the onions since Tim's eyes water like crazy if he tries to chop onions.



Making a telescope out of the squash is completely optional :)
Once everything was chopped, most of the work for the soup was finished. (And we made sure to save all of those veggie scraps to make even more delicious homemade vegetable broth.)

We could barely fit all of the double batch of veggies into our 10 quart pot, but we piled it on and once everything cooked down a bit there was plenty of room to stir.
After it simmered and we blended it up with a handy immersion blender (we've blended in batches in a regular blender before, too) we ended up with 7 quarts of deliciously creamy soup.

Creamy Summer Squash Soup
adapted from Epicurious

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds (about 8 small) yellow summer squash thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 yellow-fleshed potato (1/2 lb), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Melt butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. 

Cook onion and garlic with salt, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. 

Add squash, carrots, potato, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. 

Remove from heat and cool soup, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a bowl. Return puree to cleaned pot and thin with water or more broth if desired. Or use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt.

We also made a batch of Parsley Mint Pistou to freeze in an ice cube tray. This pistou is wonderful swirled into the hot soup.

I'm linking up to these parties.

Today's Questions: Did you plant a garden this year? Have you harvested anything yet? What produce would you love to be able to grow yourself? (The big thing I'm waiting for is our own land so we can plant some fruit trees.)
I'm trying to hold myself accountable to finish some of the projects on my to do list by posting each Friday about a project I've completed.
Would you like to join in? Link up to your own projects below.
1. Link to your project post, not your blog's home page, so we can find it easily.
2. Let us know what project you are sharing in your title, for example: Spring Wreath
3. We'd love it if your post links back here so that your readers can come join the fun. Feel free to copy & paste our Finished Friday Button into your post. (Just copy the text in the box below the button, click on the "Edit HTML" tab for your post and paste it there.)
A Heart for Home

Where the linky says "Your Name" please enter the name of your project!
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Modest Dresses: Lengthen a Dress (or Skirt) by Adding a Ruffle


Our oldest daughter, Emahry, loves to wear dresses. For some reason she's convinced that long dresses equal fancy dresses...not that we're complaining about that at all!

So, what do you do when little girls grow taller and their dresses don't magically grow too? Or when someone gives your little girl a dress that is already too short for her (or your) liking?

In our house, those scenarios are often fixed by an appointment with my sewing machine and a pretty new ruffled hem.

When a dress or skirt needs lengthening I typically head to my fabric stash first to see if I already have something that coordinates. If not, then I'll wait until I have a couple pieces that need fabric before I make a trip to the fabric store. Four kids in tow helps deter me from becoming a Hobby Lobby regular.

Whether I find fabric in my stash at home or have to go to the store looking for it, there are a few criteria I'm looking for.

Picking a Fabric for the Ruffle
I want the ruffle fabric to coordinate. It doesn't have to be the same exact color or pattern, but I want it to look like it belongs. (For the daisy dress, I chose a yellow fabric with white polka dots.)

I also make sure that I have enough fabric to make the ruffle strip 1 1/2 or 2 times the width of the bottom of the dress depending on how "ruffly" I want it to be. With Emahry, the more "ruffly" the better, so I tend to double the bottom width of the dress most often.

The ruffle fabric should also be the same type of fabric as the dress (or skirt) itself. If I'm working with a cotton dress, I'll add a cotton ruffle. If the dress is knit, I add a knit fabric and so on.

Tips for Buying Fabric for the Ruffle
Before going to the store I figure out how big I want the ruffle to be and add in my seam allowances and hem. Then I have the fabric cut slightly larger to accommodate crooked cutting and possible shrinkage. Usually I only need somewhere between a quarter and a third of a yard, so the cost is fairly minimal.

When I do go to purchase fabric I take the dresses (or skirts) with me so there's no guessing about color while I'm at the store. I normally just hunt down a sales associate when I go in to let them know that I'm bringing some items to match.

I also read the fabric labels at the end of the bolt to make sure I know what I'm getting. It may help to write down the care instructions to refer to later.

*Make sure you also have matching thread for the ruffle fabric.

Preparing the Fabric
I think it's very important to prewash all new fabric before sewing. There's nothing like spending precious time making something and then having it shrink the first time through the wash.

I simply prewash all fabric on the same setting the finished garment will be washed in. If I have any doubts, I play it safe and run it through on the hottest setting for the type of fabric.

Once it's dried, I press the fabric to get out any wrinkles. Then I fold it back in half (like it was at the store), make sure both edges are straight and cut the fabric to the width and length I need. I also make sure to cut off any edges that frayed in the wash. I like to have two long rectangles, one for the front and one for the back of the dress. 

Getting Ready to Ruffle
Since I don't own a Serger, I like to use french seams to keep all the raw edges contained.

To do this, place your ruffle pieces with wrong sides together, then sew these two pieces together along the short ends using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Next, flip the fabric the other way (right sides together) and enclose the raw edges of the first seam. It really helps to iron now to get the seam to lay flat. Now sew both the short ends with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Then open it back up and those raw edges are nice and neat with no fraying. Iron both of the seams open and flat. 

Next hem the bottom edge under. I like to fold over a 1/4 inch and then another 3/4 inch to get all of the loose strings enclosed.

Gathering the Ruffle
Now that we've taken care of all of the other edges of our ruffle fabric, it's time to gather the top.

Ashley @ Make It & Love It has a very detailed tutorial for gathering and attaching a ruffle so I won't try to reinvent the wheel here. I use the "short-cut" method most of the time although I do prefer the look of the correct method. I attach the ruffle to the bottom of the dress the same way that she attached the gathered ruffle to the tube. Scroll down until you start seeing pictures with the orange polka dot fabric.

Finished!
Now that you've attached the ruffle to the dress, trim any loose threads, sit back and let that little girl twirl.



here's where we share our projects

This project will be entered in Kristin's Summer Dress Challenge.

Today's Questions: Have you ever altered clothing for yourself or your children? What's one way you've changed a piece of clothing to make it work for you?

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