Friday, November 21, 2014

What I’ve Been Reading #66

Just yesterday, I finished reading Summer People by Elin Hilderbrand. I picked it up at the Library Book Sale at the beginning of the summer, and reading it now when it’s cold out is slightly jarring. However, the story ends in the cold weather, so that part fit in better with the weather outside. “Every summer the Newton family retreats to their beloved home on Nantucket for three months of sunshine, cookouts, and bonfires on the beach. But this summer will not be like any other. When Arch Newton, a prominent New York attorney, dies in a plane crash on his way home from a business trip, his beautiful widow, Beth, can barely keep things together. Above all, though, she decides that she must continue the family tradition of going to Nantucket, and at the same time fulfill a promise that Arch made before he died. Beth invites Marcus, the son of Arch’s final and most challenging client, to spend the summer with her and her teenage twins, Winnie and Garrett, who have mixed reactions to sharing their special summer place with this stranger. Always a place of peace before, Nantucket becomes the scene of roiling emotions and turbulent passions as Marcus, Winnie, and Garrett learn about loss, first love, and betrayal. And when they stumble upon a shocking secret from Beth’s past, they must keep it from destroying the family they’ve been trying so hard to heal.” I really enjoyed the various relationships explored in this book. Beth’s marriage wasn’t fully explored because of the death of her husband before the start of the book, but she is faced with her boyfriend from twenty years earlier – and to make matters more complicated, her son and his daughter begin dating. The twins and their mom have a complicated relationship as well, made more complicated by the guest their father invited before he died. I enjoyed reading the story from the viewpoints of the teenagers as well as that of their mother. Overall, the story is a sad one, but with the undertone of hope that the characters all share by the end of the book.

Have you read anything good lately?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monk Fruit In The Raw Sugar Substitute



Baking just got a little healthier! The Monk Fruit In The Raw Baker’s Bag measures cup for cup, just like sugar and can be used to replace all of the sugar in beverages, sauces, and dressings. For baked goods, it is recommended to only replace half of the amount of sugar with Monk Fruit In The Raw for best results. Try to substitute half of the sugar in your favorite baking recipes with Monk Fruit In The Raw or visit for recipe ideas.

Baking isn’t one of my favorite hobbies, but when Moms Meet asked me to try Monk Fruit In The Raw, I decided to make my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I substituted Monk Fruit In The Raw for half of the sugar the recipe calls for. And I must admit, my cookies came out good!

  • Monk Fruit In The Raw is a wholesome, zero-calorie sweetener made from real monk fruit, a vine-ripened fruit that is native to Asia.
  • Monk fruit, known as luo han guo in Asia, was first harvested in the 13th century by Arhats, or “Enlightened Ones,” which translates to Monks in English.
  • The sweet and delicious extract from monk fruit is blended with other sweeteners to create the perfect balance of sweet.
  • Monk Fruit In The Raw is naturally vegan, kosher, and gluten-free, and does not contain any added table sugar, sugar alcohols, or molasses.
  • Monk Fruit In The Raw has the closest taste to sugar of any non-caloric sweetener, and has the least amount of aftertaste.
  • One pack of Monk Fruit In The Raw is about as sweet as two teaspoons of sugar.
  • One box of Monk Fruit In The Raw (40ct packets) retails for $3.49, and the Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag retails for $6.99. Price may vary based on the retailer.

My helper!

Cookies before and after baking.

Simon says “Yummy cookies!”

Learn more at: | facebook | twitter

Do you enjoy baking?

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meets blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Frontier Trails Museum

Gabbie has had an interest in the history of people moving west in the United States for some time now. She reads historical fiction on this topic and enjoys visiting historical places in our area. We live about a half an hour from Independence, MO, a town that was once a frontier village and a main point for the three principle trails that crossed the west – the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails. It was in Independence where thousands met to purchase and load their wagons before organizing into wagon trains. On one of the days off the kids had two weeks ago, I took them to the Frontier Trails Museum in Independence for a closer look at the history of the area.

People would write their names on rocks as they passed and this rock has a paper on it for kids to write their names. Zachary found his name already on the rock!

There is an interactive area at the museum called “Pack Your Wagon,” At “Pack Your Wagon,” where you can pack a scaled-down version of a pioneer wagon with items suggested for a five month journey on the trail. The kids enjoyed this area for awhile.


After we finished at the museum, we tried to find the wagon swales left from the wagon trains. Swales are wagon ruts and are  left in a grassy area near the museum. There is a paved walkway around the area.  We weren’t sure we were actually looking at anything other than grass, but it was pretty cool to know that we were exactly where the wagons crossed so many years ago.

Do you like visiting historical places?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It’s Okay #47

It’s okay…

…that I’ve done a bit of shopping on Amazon using some saved up gift cards. Deals on future party gifts!

…that Gabbie went to a birthday party on Sunday where the invite stated “no gifts” and to bring food donations for the food pantry, and yet I somehow didn’t realize that and sent gifts, not food.

…that a few weeks ago, I inadvertently participated in revealing someone’s pregnancy to her parents. She was showing them a photo on her phone of her son wearing a “big brother” shirt and her mom couldn’t figure out what it said, so I blurted out, “It says ‘big brother’!” Luckily my help was fine with everyone.

…that the father of said pregnant woman happens to be Dave’s boss.

…that it was supposed to snow on Saturday and the kids were so excited. It flurried.

…that I knit a hat for Zachary and when I finished I realized I’d used the wrong size needle and it was way too small. Now I’m being lazy about starting over, but he really needs a hat! Too bad he lost the one I made him last year. I also want to make him some new mittens!

…that I really don’t care about Beyonce’s sister getting married. Up until a few months ago I didn’t even know she had a sister.

…that after I finished binge watching Castle, I decided to start Outlander. I heard it is wonderful, but after 2 episodes I’m only semi-interested.

…that this week’s Homeland made me say “Oh my God!” out loud. And I was alone in the house.

Looks like I had a lot to say this week. How about you?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don’t Forget The Batteries! Duracell #PowerTheHolidays


Haven’t we all had this happen? We buy a toy for our child, or someone sends our child a present, and batteries are not included. We rush to the cabinet only to discover we have plenty of AAA batteries, but the toy requires AA and we have none. Queue panic! This lovely big set of 16 batteries from Duracell will help us to be sure we have plenty of AA batteries on hand the next time we need them!

Duracell Coppertop AA Batteries in a Doublewide pack deliver efficient and reliable power in popular battery powered devices such as toys, Wii remotes, portable gaming systems, smoke alarms, clocks and radios. Use them in all of your devices and enjoy the fact that they are long-lasting. The Duracell AA batteries come in 16 count pack to provide plenty of power.

Duracell CopperTop All-Purpose alkaline batteries are not only dependable, they’re also long-lasting. You can take comfort in a 10-year guarantee in storage with Duralock Power Preserve Technology. They’re great for many of the devices you use on a daily basis in your home. And from storm season to medical needs to the holidays, Duracell is the #1 trusted battery brand of first responders, pharmacists and parents, so you know it’s a battery you can trust. CopperTop batteries are available in AA, AAA, C, D and 9V.

The smaller 4 pack is also excellent to include when you send a gift to someone else, so that family doesn’t have to do the lack of batteries panic dance either!

AA16pk_11052014114327AA 4 pk_11052014114503

Do you keep batteries on hand for when you need them?

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Scandal Sunday 4.8–The Last Supper


My reaction at the end of this episode was “What just happened?” And from my twitter feed, it looked like I wasn’t the only one. The show started with Fitz, Olivia, and Jake in the bunker. They eventually bring in David Rosen and all four work together on a plan to bring down Papa Pope. I’m not sure if we were supposed to actually believe that Olivia would go crying to her father, but we were definitely supposed to believe that HE believed she needed him and therefore showed up to dinner, which was in fact a set up. However, somehow he knew about the plan and not only made all the B613 files blank, but killed all of the snipers who were set to capture him.

On the one hand, I can hardly believe that the writers would make Jake the one who told Papa Pope the plan, because all they have been doing since he came onto the show is to build him up and try to make him the fan favorite. On the other, it wouldn’t be Scandal without a crazy twist. So once everyone believes Jake is an innocent man, it turns out he actually is working with Papa Pope still? I am really not sure. What is interesting though is that Fitz still understands that Papa Pope is Olivia’s father and that this may be difficult for her. Jake, on the other hand, claims to want to kill him with no regards towards Olivia’s feelings on the matter.


In the dinner meeting between Olivia and her father (The Last Supper), Olivia looks terrified and before it was revealed that Papa Pope knew the whole plan, I almost thought Olivia would call it off – he is her father after all. He keeps trying to tell her that neither Jake nor Fitz will be there for her in the end and that he is her family, that he has been doing everything for her all along. I don’t believe it though – he abandoned her when she was 12 for her own good? Not to mention killing the President’s son. That was for her benefit?

And then there’s the whole thing with Cyrus and Michael. Michael apparently had a lot on Cyrus but only told Elizabeth harmless details, proving that he actually cares about Cyrus. Michael also was the source of the info on Elizabeth’s secret apartment where she’s meeting with Kubiak and the Vice-President. Now we know that Kubiak (now dead) was working with Elizabeth, who is either having an affair with the Vice-President and he is in on it too – or he’s actually not in on it but is working against her – who knows. The sad part of the VP thing is that he supposedly loves Mellie and then he starts making out with Liz. Is no one on this show real? The only person who is honest with how he feels and who he loves is Fitz! So how does the stalking and hundreds of photos of Olivia fit in?

Also going on is the side plot of Huck and his son, who witnesses Huck killing Kubiak. It was out of self-defense, but obviously that’s gotta have an effect on a kid.

Next week is the winter finale and I wonder if I’ll finish it with anything clarified or more confused than before! I wonder if anyone else thinks so much about TV show plots. Ha.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What My Kids Are Reading #6–The Playground Playbook

While some kids are happy playing on their own, other kids sit on the sidelines and hope they will be asked to play with their classmates. This book is excellent for those kids as it provides practical advice on making friends and joining groups. I believe it would be worthwhile for tweens and early teenagers to read this book, and I can also see it being used in social skills groups for the same age range.

“After working for twenty years with children throughout the Tri-State Area in sports training, Todd Rosenthal noticed that the same mistakes and misunderstandings were taking place during group play. Two years ago, the former USA Today NY State High School Athlete of the Year and Two Sport Daily News All Star felt it was time to finally write a simple and fast guide to the basics. The Playground Playbook, Rosenthal’s new book for children and the adults that work with them, suggests many tips on how to effectively join new groups, get along equally with teammates and opponents and properly conduct oneself in a healthy social environment. The Playground Playbook stresses the essentials of cohesive teamwork, such as determining one’s role in each new group of players. Rosenthal also explores solutions for those affected by bullying and other disruptive behavior. Rosenthal’s goal is to help kids feel more comfortable and equipped with the social skills that all games require. Readers will discover newfound happiness and confidence so that recess, lunchtime and after-school can be much more fun and new friendships can be forged.”

Gabbie read about half of this book before she decided that it wasn’t really applicable for her, as she is the type to play on her own or in small groups. However, we would recommend the book to those looking to join in and play with a group of kids on the playground.

I received this book in exchange for my review. No other compensation was received.