In the wee small hours of the morning....two moms were chatting from almost 2000 miles apart. They were seperated by two times zones, 30+ driving hours, a very large mountain range and more rivers than you want to count...but connected by good friendship and four little girls who adore each other....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Little Drummer Mouse... in Washington!

Where has this month gone?! I think it's going at warp speed or something! We have been reading so many amazing books lately and working on crafts for fun and for gifts.... but there just isn't enough time in the day to do it all! So... I'm FINALLY getting to my post from last week... I see a New Year's resolution in my future. Maybe someday I'll have this book blog more organized in posting. Thankyou all for sticking with us!!

I thought I would start off by introducing our own little barn mouse who we have effectionately named Templeton (we are big fans of Charlottes Web). He lives in our chicken coop and comes out occasionally for snacks when we are out there... Can't you just imagine him playing a little drum?

Last week's book, The Little Drummer Mouse by Mercer Meyer, has got to be one of my very favorite Christmas books out of our entire collect. I don't know if it's the story, the pictures or just simply the fact that it includes a mouse that has me intrigued. For anyone that knows me, it's no secret that I like rodents. I think that a good portion of all our favorite books have some sort of rodent in it whether it be a mouse, rat or chipmunk! And my holiday list of favorite books is no different! I think there is something about little children being able to relate well with someone little and dainty and it just adds a bit of wonder when you imagine what their lives are like with tiny homes made underground and other woodland friends to explore with ...this book seems to capture that feeling of being small and thinking that you don't have much to offer the world... only to find out that he really had so very much to offer...

So on to the crafts!

This one happened to be fairly simple but I like the fact that they had to take their time and that in the end it will be a real keepsake!

We started off with this manger set from Hobby Lobby...

And then set off to an afternoon of painting! We used water color paint so it would still show the detail of the wood.

Ta da!!

As I mentioned, we like books with rodents in them. I really don't try to seek them out, they just seem to find their way to us! lol

Mortimer's Christmas Manger is another one of my VERY favorites... I know it's almost Christmas but I really think this one is worth reading even if you can't get a hold of it until after the holidays have passed. I like the sweet pictures of course and the fact that it is about a little mouse is just perfect but what I like about it the most, is that the mouse is much like our children this time of year... at times only thinking about themselves. Sometimes it takes a wakeup call to realize what this season is really about and this book captures it beautifully! Definately a must read!

I have hopes of sharing more with you about the next book on our list...

.... but lets be realistic... I might not get there... lol

So incase I don't~ Let me wish you a VERY MERRY Christmas!

I thankyou all for joining us on our very bumpy start to a new adventure and look forward to smoother travels in the coming months! No matter how busy your days get... don't forget to take a break, snuggle up with your favorite little person and READ!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cobwebs in Washington! lol

No, really... I did just clean my house! lol Perhaps that's why we don't have tinsel on our tree?

The funny thing about this book is that when Jackie and I were picking out our books to read this month we both picked books that had to do with spiders and Christmas... kinda odd I know, to have spiders and Christmas but even odder that we both had this sort of book on our list! lol

 Jackie picked Cobweb Christmas...

And I chose "Allie the Christmas Spider"  (Thanks to One Pink Fish!)

 So of course we figured that we'd make a spider for our tree too!!! We were in Montana when we did this so we got to head out to a bead store with Grandma and picked out some great ones for our spiders!!
 BUT, if you don't want to hunt down your own you can go HERE and get a kit sent right to your door!! :)

It didn't take me long to find some great tutorials online and away we went!!

Now, I have to warn you, this is more of a mom craft than a kid craft... the wires were hard to get just right so it was hard for the kiddos to do and they lost interest in watching me work on them but boy were they excited to have the finished product!! I imagine they will end up living with the fairies in the fairy house but for now they reside in our Christmas tree! It sounds like a good excuse to stop cleaning if you ask me... lol... perhaps we'll have tinsel on our tree come Christmas morning! :)

Christmas Magic in Washington

I'm sorry once again to say that I am late in posting this. Perhaps after the holidays I will get on a better schedule but until then please bare with me and keep coming back to check out the great books we are reading these days!!

For once I was actually going to be on time... we read the book last Monday night and started our craft on Tuesday. I thought for sure I was actually going to be early!!! That's what I get for thinking! lol I had seen an idea for this craft on a blog (sorry I can't remember which one!) and it was making a fall center piece...but after reading this book I thought it would work for making snowmen too!

I gathered all the materials....
And thought it thru enough to cut the bottom flat so it wouldnt roll....

So, in the spirit of my personal blog perceptions post I decided to still share this not so perfect craft with you....while the idea behind gluing beans all over these foam balls worked in my head.... in all actuality it SOO didn't... the girls tried and they tried but in the end we had about 10 beans on each snowman that actually took and more glue on our hands than I care to remember.... So, for now, this craft is sitting on top of my fridge gathering dust until I have time to attack them with a hot glue gun for round two of our "snowman" craft! lol

I know this isn't what you wanted to are looking for crafts you can actually do with your kiddos! lol  So we went back to the drawing board!! :)

Pictures to follow!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just to get you started...Christmas Magic

I don't know about you but I am SOO ready for some Christmas Magic! The last few days have been a flurry of decorating to create a little bit of Christmas magic right here in our own home.... it's all the little things around the house that make it really feel like Christmas isn't it?

I'll give you just a peak of our decorating...a peak is all you'll get cause this is the only room that we've completely finished as of yet! lol

 We just broke out our box of Christmas books and what was the first one we grabbed? This weeks book!

Be sure to check out all the snowman possibilities HERE! And as usual, Family Fun has some of THE cutest ideas too!!!

Don't forget to link up what you are doing too!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There was an old Lady...still in Montana!

I have to start off by apologizing for my entries being so late!! I really thought that I had it all planned out for doing things on the trip and during our visit to Montana, and well....the best layed plans....sometimes have to get adjusted! lol We have been having such a good time that the days seem to get away from me and it's not until today, the day we were supposed to be leaving, that I am having the chance to get caught up! lol Have you seen the weather in the northwest? lol We are getting an extended vacation so I thought this snowy day would be a good chance to get caught up on things!! We are just sitting tight in the warmth of Grandma and Grandpa's house...watching holiday movies and reading the books we've been collecting on our thrift store outings! lol What a great day for some good books and knitting! :) back to the books!

We actually haven't gotten to read "I know an Old Lady who swallowed a pie" yet, as I had it ordered in what I thought was plenty of time...only to find out out that it would be delivered in the mail the day after we left on our trip! So...we have been reading other variations of the story online including " I know an old lady who swallowed a cheeseburger"! that I found HERE (scroll down to the bottom for link). The girls thought it was hilarious and have been repeating it over and over .... and over....  :)

And they really liked the puppets that we made, which I found links for on Almost Unschoolers. The possibilities for this puppet are endless!!! I have been wanting to make one of my puppets to go along with this but until I dig out all my puppet stash, this paper bag one will just have to do!

In addition to the puppet, we've been gearing up for our second annual Random Act of Kindness Pies! These little guys are just too cute and super easy to make!

You'll need :

bottle caps (we have friends collecting them and then we spray paint over the logo or you can buy them in craft stores...but hey! Why not recycle?!)

little bits of brown felt

CLEAR craft glue (I used Clear Gel Tacky Glue)

Seed beads in your choice of pie colors!

First glue in a small circle of brown felt to the middle of the bottle cap, be sure to push it in firmly so that it looks like a pie crust!

Next, fill the "pie" with clear glue and top with beads...

Glue on small strips to the top of the pie and let dry for a day or two...

These little pies work great for doll houses or attach a magnet or pin back and they make a great little gift! We'll be making them in mass quantities to hand out this holiday season. I challenge everyone to make a few extras this season and to pass them out when you come upon someone that looks like they could use a bit of kindness thrown in their direction!

Last year, we were known to hand them out to sales people (you know they could all use some extra kindness this season as I doubt they get much consideration while helping all those busy shoppers!) people working the toll booths on those much traveled highways (boy did we get some happy smiles!) and they were handed out to  number of greeters at Walmart (I wonder how many people walk right by them without even saying hello?) Six months later, we were still seeing our pies on the work vests of many retail workers and the girls were always so excited to see that their pies were so loved!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Night Before Thanksgiving... in Montana?

This weeks entry is being brought to you from Montana!

We are currently in Montana visiting family and having an early Thanksgiving (that just happens to coinside with deer season! lol) so the girls and I have been working on table decorations to use for our family feast! Most days we are busy with Grandma but today she just happened to work...which worked out perfect  for us! It gave the girls and I a whole day to do some school work and a lot of crafting fun and reading! Not only did we read "The Night before Thanksgiving" but we also read "Thanksgiving Mice" and "The Squirrels' Thanksgiving"


To get started, we made those adorable little napkin rings that Jackie showed us....

and of course had to make the Paper bag turkey (perfect for early munching!) and last but not least...the turkey cups! Perfect for using as snack cups for the popcorn out of the turkey!

We had such a good time making all these table goodies...what plans do you have for your Thanksgiving table??

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just to get you started- I know an old lady

...that swallowed a pie!!

I am SO sorry! I thought I already posted this!!! :) We are on vacation visiting family for an early Thanksgiving so my days have been a bit full! Please FORGIVE ME!! :)

We have lots of great ideas to share with you. This book is infectious and definately a new family favorite! While we are busy putting our ideas together for you, check out these links to easy things you can do along the way too!!

Lady pull thru


Make your own book!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Night before Thanksgiving from Texas

Hi ya'll I am Jackie from Texas, I haven't formally introduced myself, it goes. I am a homeschool mom of two girls, a wife, and a woman who loves to get crafty with my girls. Like Hallie explained in her first post we are friends that have girls that adore each other and ...well we miss each other like crazy. So what a better way to keep connected but with books and crafts.

As I was thinking today what I was going to write, I realized we have less than two weeks until we wake up to the smell of the turkey in the oven and the parade on the tv. This book reminded me of my childhood with the parade on the television while my mom was cooking. Then to go to visit relatives that we only saw that one holiday a year. Where the table was full of food and the dessert table was just as big.

So we started thinking about what could we use on our Thankgiving table that would remind us of this book. We decided to make napkin rings with pilgrim hats on them. Here are some pictures and directions if you want to create some to add to your table.

This is what our napkin rings look like for Thanksgiving day.

Supplies needed:
1 toilet paper roll
black yarn
6x6 in piece of black foam
4 small wooden flower pots
black paint
white ribbon

1. Cut the toilet paper roll into 4 equal parts, then use one of the rings as a pattern for the hat brims.

2. Wrap the paper rings with black yarn, you will need to use the glue to glue the yarn end on the
inside of the ring.

3. Then paint the wooden flower pots black.

4. Glue time!! My favorite time of the project when everything comes together.

You will have to bare with me I do not type or write a smoothly as Hallie, but I do love to come up with new crafts to try. I hope you enjoyed the book and would love to hear what treasures you have created to celebrate Thanksgiving with your kiddos.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We interupt our regularly scheduled book...

.... to bring you this breaking news! lol

I just discovered this and thought I would share! I am amazed at all the great resources there are for this book!!!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just to get you started...Thanksgiving

This weeks book is The Night Before Thanksgiving

Now, I know this is a bit early, but we wanted you to have your ideas BEFORE turkey day arrives! There is nothing more frustrating than finding a great project the day AFTER the big event! lol

We are actually gearing up for an early Thanksgiving with family so this book comes at just the right time! We have so many ideas and so little for now, he's a few links to get you started...and we're off to read and get crafty! :) Why not start off the week with a song? I can already hear the giggles that will go along with this! lol

The Turkey on the Farm
(tune of Wheels on the Bus)

The Turkey on the farm says, "Gobble, gobble, gobble;
Gobble, gobble, gobble; Gobble, gobble, gobble."
The Turkey on the farm says, "Gobble, gobble, gobble"
On Thanksgiving Day.

The farmer on the farm goes chop, chop, chop;
Chop, chop, chop; chop, chop, chop
The farmer on the farm goes chop, chop, chop
On Thanksgiving Day.

The turkey on the farm says "Please help me!!
Please help me!! Please help me!!"
The turkey on the farm says "Please help me!!
On Thanksgiving Day.

The children on the farm say "Come and hide,
Come and hide, come and hide."
The children on the farm say "Come and hide"
On Thanksgiving Day.

The wife on the farm looks all around,
All around, all around.
The wife on the farm looks all around
On Thanksgiving Day.

The family on the farm eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The family on the farm eat Kentucky Fried
On Thanksgiving Day.

The Turkey on the farm says, "Gobble, gobble, gobble;
Gobble, gobble, gobble; Gobble, gobble, gobble."
The Turkey on the farm says, "Gobble, gobble, gobble"
On Thanksgiving Day.

1+1+1=1 Lapbook

Isn't this just the cutest thing? I SO wish I had enough time to make this too! My list is getting too long! lol
The Pink Peony

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mitten and Hats from Washington!

This week has been a lot of fun getting to read "The Mitten" and "The Hat" by Jan Brett. I just know that it won't be the last time we'll read them! After doing these activities, the girls are coming up with their own ideas of things we can do that tie in with the stories...I know they are really going to get into the stories in the next few weeks to come...letting kids just go with their ideas is such a joy....some days I feel like it's them teaching me...I hope you've enjoyed these books as much as we have!

After reading the book, the first of many times this week, I had the girls go look thru their toys for animals to go with the story. They loved the idea of an animal treasure hunt and were quickly back and matching up the animals to the story as I read it again! What better way to tell a story than to act it out! It also gives an easy way for siblings (that may or may not read) to retell the story for younger siblings. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of their treasure finds, I hated to ruin the nice moment but taking posed pictures. I did however have a picture of the swap I made awhile back...I have yet to make one for the girls....add that one to the list! :)
We made these for our felt board! The girls colored them, cut them out and put a little piece of Velcro! Perfect for the felt board!

Print them HERE

And, of course we couldn't read "The Mitten" without doing a project dealing with mittens! :) The girls and I set off to scour the local thrift stores in search of a wool sweater to felt!
Have you ever felted a sweater? When you are looking for a sweater to felt, look for one that is ideally 100% wool, although I have heard that 80% + will work. I try to find all wool. Next, you are going to wash it in your washing machine with soap on HOT! I like to do an extra rinse cycle to be extra sure it is rinsed good and to give it that much longer agitation. Then, dry it in the dryer, also on hot! When you take it out, the fibers will have meshed together so nicely that when you cut into the sweater, it will be like thick felt and not unravel! If you are nervous about this tho, take a little cut into the fabric just to be sure before you cut out a pattern! :)
Next, we traced out little hands on paper for the sizing...

...and cut out the pattern on the sweater. Don't forget to leave an extra 1/4 inch for the seam! I try to line up my mittens on the edge so they have a nice and fitted part on the wrist area.

And the finished product! Aren't they cute? The best part? Wool is pretty much water proof so they are even good for playing in the snow! :) This project worked out perfectly last year when we were still living in Texas during that freak snow storm! We didn't expect to need mittens but the girls desperately wanted to play in our surprise snow! So... I pulled out some wool from my stash and made some in a matter of minutes! And you can too!! :) Please be sure to link up...I'd love to see your creations!

We just happened to get this darling little hedgehog in a swap and he has quickly become a favorite in our house...especially when reading this book! R liked to place him on the pages with each turn of the page! It was so cute!

I just happened onto these hats (in a different print) from Oriental Trading Company and it worked out perfectly for this week's book pick! Since I know not everyone needs to buy this kind of craft in bulk, altho they would be cute as gifts from the kids, I thought I would do a tutorial for you to make your own!

Get a piece of fleece that measures 22 1/2 x 16 and fold it in half. Cut a notch about 3/4 of an inch in and about 5 1/2 inches from one end (cutting thru both layers)

Next, sew the longer part  using a 5/8 inch seam. Turn the hat inside out and sew the other 5 inch seam. See picture below...

That brings us to where the kit would begin...

1. Roll the bottom of the hat two rolls so the rolled up cuff covers the seam. I'd put the seam in the back.

2. Glue a flower cutout from felt to a felt circle and finish off with a button in the center. Attach a pin back to the flower. Stick the pin through all the layers of the rolled cuff to stop it from unrolling. (I just put a couple extra stitches on each side, but the pin would work too)

3. While laying the hat flat, cut the fringe with 1 inch wide strips at about 2 inches long.

4. Use a piece of string to gather that material and tie off with a knot.

Simple huh?

This craft is so easy because it would be simple to make a number of them from one piece of fabric from the remnant bin at your local fabric store and depending on the print could be good for either a boy or a girl! I can just see this being a great project in preparation for a ski trip, a sledding day or even just to have on hand for a snow day! What would be greater than cozying up on a cold snowy day with a good book and a follow up craft?!


What a better way to kick off our first week of our Books2bridgemiles than a give-a-way!

Don't want to buy the materials on your own? Want a chance to win the kit shown above? Stop on over to my personal blog and enter for a chance to win!

It's your turn!! Please share your links for what you've been doing to go along with these books! Don't have a blog to link to? Leave a comment and I'll get back with you! I'd be happy to post any ideas and pictures you have to share! :) Now go link up!

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just to get you started...The Mitten

Have you read "The Mitten" with your kids yet this week? Anxious to get started on our books2bridgemiles adventure? We're busy doing things with our kids too, and can't wait to share them with you so why don't you check out these learning resources while you wait? :)

Enchanted Learning

Teaching Heart

Kids Soup

And of course THE best resource of all.....

Jan Brett

Don't forget....we'll be posting what we've been up to and you'll be able to link up and show off what you've been doing too! Don't have a blog but want to share? Just leave me a message with your email and we'll make a special post with your ideas and pictures!! Sharing ideas is a wonderful thing!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Books to Bridge Miles Introductions

Welcome to our online book club!

My name is Hallie and I recently moved to Washington state... leaving a world of friends behind in Texas and a wonderful book club (among other things) for my homeschooled little girls. We are finally settling in here in our new home and loving the area around us but still missing our friends and activities.

Last week, my friend Jackie and I were chatting about how things have changed and how much we are missing each other and the same goes for our girls too! The idea for Books2BridgeMiles was born....

Each month we are going to each pick out 2 books each to read both in Texas and in Washington. The first of each month, we'll post the list of four books total for you read with your kiddos too! At the end of each week, we'll post a blog about what we did to go along with that particular book and we'll have a linky at the bottom for you to put your ideas on too! Are you up for the challenge? :)

Week 1: The Mitten and The Hat from Jan Brett
Week 2: The Night Before Thanksgiving
Week 3: There Was an Old Lady that Swallowed a Pie
Week 4: Pumpkin Soup

(If you'd like to purchase any of these, please use the link/pictures on the helps to fund our personal libraries!)

This is just one little thing we can do to stay connected with good friends and to maybe even "meet" a few new ones along the way! Please join us!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stay tuned for more details!! We can't wait to share some of our favorite books with you!