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Book Review ~ The Berenstain Bears’ Harvest Festival

Ah, the joy of autumn: crisp leaves, bright colors, fall festivals, and more. It’s something I look forward to annually, so I requested a copy of The Berenstain Bears’ Harvest Festival by Mike Berenstain to review.

 

 

 

Full of colorful pictures depicting the beauty and fun of fall, the Bear Family attend the gathering at Farmer Ben’s where they enjoy apple picking, pumpkin picking, a hayride, and meal while giving thanks for the harvest and their blessings. Our 4-year-old son enjoyed the story and asked if we could “do that too” as the children picked apples and more.

Recommended for ages 4-8, I would say ages 4-6 as the story is nice but light. It is a good addition to seasonal readings and focusing on being grateful to God for the firstfruits and blessings of the day, but it isn’t a story I would add to our personal library to read often. The end of the book includes three questions to discuss and two activity suggestions.

In exchange for my honest review, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Book Look Bloggers program.

3 out of 5 stars

 

 

Butterflies

Fluttering wings, delicate landings, pretty colors – those are three things that came to mind about butterflies until a year and a half ago. I’ve always liked them, but they’re even more special now.

I started noticing many butterflies around me. It was April, so spring was here, and butterflies were expected. The number of butterflies, how often they arrived, and that they stayed with me (and us) represented something much more: Mom was sending butterflies. She had passed on earlier that month, but she made (and makes) her presence known through butterflies.

There are many stories I could tell, but this one is the most recent.

Two dear friends surprised me this Christmas with unexpected, touching gifts. At different times they presented me with a thoughtful keepsake I never considered looking for and purchasing: a butterfly ornament for our Christmas tree. They are lovely and touching. One is a deep purple, which is my favorite color. The other has many colors, but mainly turquoise, which was Mom’s favorite color. The fact that Christmas was Mom’s favorite holiday adds to the sentiment.

I cannot look at the ornaments without tearing up, but I’m thankful for the ladies who chose to unexpectedly gift me with them.

A Positive Approach to Resolutions

Seriously? Is tomorrow (today for some of you) really the first day of 2014? I still feel like Christmas should be next week.

Do you create resolutions for the new year?  I know many who do, and they often look like this:
-I will lose 10 pounds.
-I won’t spend as much money.
-I’ll meet THE one.
-I’ll take a vacation.
-I’ll only eat healthy foods and work out every day.

Etc.

I like the idea of a “new start,” but often this push towards a new beginning and opportunity to change and improve leads to negativity, especially when those resolutions are forgotten three weeks later. Instead of thinking about what you don’t like in yourself, why not focus on how fabulous each of us is? There’s always room for improvement, but we could choose to embrace the goodness. We could appreciate our abilities, experiences, talents, and things that make us special. Anticipating the future with a bright outlook, not one shadowed with beating ourselves up about our perceived failures, sounds more enjoyable and doable.

In that vein, I found this printable to share with you. Click here for the original post from A Mom with a Lesson Plan.

A new New Year's Resolution Printable

I hope you have a fun-filled, happy, and loving 2014.  Thank you for reading Tidbits! 🙂

Pumpkin Bread (or muffins)

In an effort to speed autumn along, I thought I would make some Pumpkin Bread.  Really, it just sounded good, and I had a can of pumpkin in the pantry.  Instead of loaves, I made muffins.  Muffin tins are a pain to clean, but it’s easier for little hands to handle a muffin than a slice of bread.  Muffins are also easier for the hubby on his way to work.

This recipe will make 2 regular loaves, 3 or 4 small loaves, or about 30 regular muffins.  The changes I made are in parentheses.   I hope you like it!

web_pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin Bread

3 eggs

3 C sugar (2 1/2 C, will reduce further)

1 C oil (3/4 C applesauce, 1/4 C oil)

2 C pumpkin (used 15 oz. can)

3 C regular flour

1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg (omitted and used dash of cloves)

1/2 teaspoon each: salt and baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat eggs.  Add sugar, oil, and pumpkin; mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Put in pans and bake.

Regular loaf– 1 1/4 hours

Small loaf– 50 mins.

Regular muffins– almost 25 mins.  (start checking after 20 mins.)

Serve plain or with butter or with cream cheese.

Non-candy Gifts for Valentine’s Day

You may disagree, but personally I think Valentine’s Day has become too commercialized.  I like to recognize it, but going all-out is not on my list of priorities for this single day.

Inevitably, the question “What do I buy so-and-so?” arises.  Candy tends to be the automatic answer.  Really, though, how much candy or chocolate does someone need?  How much do you actually want to pay for your dentist’s next vacation?

What are some different gifts for Valentine’s Day? If you’re struggling, here are a few ideas.  They’re basically in order from least to most personal and a variety of prices:

Magnets

Pens, pencils, and erasers

Cute puzzle

Popcorn or favorite snack with a sweet note put around it

Bookmarks

Stickers

Keychain

Stationery or personalized notecards

Stuffed animal

Mug & favorite coffee, tea, or hot cocoa mix

Make your own card

Flowers

Gift Certificate for a massage

Something related to the recipient’s favorite hobby

Coupon book (you create and choose the topics)

Nice dinner out

Tickets to a movie, play, or concert

Pajamas or other clothing

Jewelry

Happy (early) Hearts Day!  What gift would you add to this list?

It’s my birthday, another “first”

My birthday is February 2nd (today!).  It’s fun having it on Groundhog’s Day.  Most people remember it, and it’s a quirky holiday.  I joke about seeing my shadow and just enjoy it.

Birthdays have always been special, but this year it’s also bittersweet. This is my first birthday without my Mom (at least in person).  I have many wonderful memories of her, of us, and of traditions she created.  One tradition was calling the day (or two) before my birthday and singing, “Happy birthday to you, tomorrow!”   Sometimes she surprised me a day or two earlier, but I looked forward to that phone call.  There were years she’d call a few times throughout the day and sing just because she could.

It saddens me that my phone isn’t ringing with her on the line.  I miss her a lot, especially with these “firsts.”  My “little man” and I got to have breakfast with my Dad yesterday, and he kept up the tradition — sweet Daddy.

Now it’s time to plan a small celebration (as in, out for a meal) since this writer isn’t cooking on her birthday.  Oh, and for those who may be wondering:  Yes, I saw my shadow.  It’s a beautiful, sunny morning in Georgia. 😉