Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fairy Tea Garden Kit Review

Today I want to introduce you to one of the new Fairy Garden Kits produced by Horizon Group USA, the Fairy Tea Garden! My girls have made fairy gardens with their grandma before, but I knew they wouldn't be able to resist the tiny tea set in this kit! (We received this kit in exchange for our honest opinions!)

The kit includes a planter, arbor, little fence, two chairs, a table, a tea pot, two teacups, and a little fairy. It is also supposed to include fairy dust, but ours was somehow lost during opening; I am afraid it got thrown away with the packing in the box thanks to all the help I had!

As you can see the girls were thrilled with the garden kit. Flowers and soil are not included, and we chose to go with silk flowers since fresh aren't too plentiful right now. Once we had those picked out I filled the base with soil and turned them loose.

I did make suggestions along the way, so we were still able to see the fairy in the end, but they chose where most of it went. And even though we lost the fairy dust I did have some glitter (kindly provided by to sprinkle the garden with.

And here is their finished product! 

The fairy looks quite content in the pretty garden too.

I do think we will be reworking this at some point because the little chair didn't sit well on the dry soil. Either I will buy foam and moss for the bottom, or we will plant real plants in it so the soil will be firmer with water. Either way should work fine, but I wouldn't recommend going with real soil and fake plants!

I was a little concerned with how quickly the fairy could be broken, and we tested that right out of the box (not on purpose of course). Nadia dropped her during the unpacking! Her wings came off, but they were easy to put back on. If it happens again they may get glued on.

The girls really loved this kit. I honestly think they each would have loved one of their own. I mean, what little girl wouldn't want to decorate her own little fairy tea garden! 

The Fairy Tea Garden Kit along with a Traditional Fairy Garden Kit or a Terrarium Fairy Garden Kit will hit WalMart Garden Centers for 6-8 weeks starting now with limited availability through the holiday season. Then they may be back for spring. They are expected to retail for $19.97. These would definitely make a good gift option for your fairy loving little girl as they allow her to create something beautiful and yet all her own. If you use real flowers you can introduce gardening too!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hedge Apple Flowers

As part of a nature exchange this fall we collected some hedge apples.  For those of you who don't know, those big green, wrinkly looking balls in the picture below are hedge apples. They come from the Osage Orange Tree and are also called Osage Oranges or "green brains" according to Bria.

I have been told they are good for repelling bugs, and even though I don't know how true it is, they are kind of pretty, so we kept some around. A co-worker (thanks Cathy) of mine mentioned that her grandma used to slice them and bake them to make flowers for all the grand kids. She couldn't remember anything exact about them though.....challenge accepted! 

You need a sharp knife to get through these suckers, and I would recommend wearing gloves because the thick fluid that comes out of them takes some hard scrubbing to get off! Slice as thin as you can. It isn't easy to get them very thin, but they cook better if you can get them thin without breaking them.

If you want to add stems after they are baked I would make your holes before baking because they become hard after they are cooked! Lay them on a foil lined baking sheet (the foil is just to keep the sticky stuff on your pan) and put them in your oven at the lowest possible temperature for several hours (It took ours about 4 hours to dry, but this varies with thickness). You will notice they curve up a bit once they are baked.

Allow to cool and then add whatever color pipe cleaner you like for a stem! We went with sparkly! 

Here are the completed flowers with a couple whole hedge apples. Quite festive on our piano, don't you think!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mom's Library Spider Edition

Welcome to Mom's Library!

Filled with parenting tips, activities for young children, devotionals, crafts, recipes, and more!
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(We have a great Giveaway too!)

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My Spider Features This Week! 

Preschool Powol Packets made some awesome Bubble Spider Webs!

Chicken Babies created an obstacle course to escape the spider queen!

Sugar Aunts made an amazing spider web maze!

Fantastic Fun and Learning did some spider painting!

Fantastic Fun and Learning also had fun with spider themed play dough!

JDaniel4's Mom swatted some letter spiders!

The (mis)Adventures of a Born Again Farm Girl created an adorable spider candle holder from a pumpkin!

If I have featured you please feel free to grab my featured button!

For more great features visit my fellow Librarians (Please follow them too!):

Want to see all the great posts added last week? Click HERE to see the whole collection!

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This week we have 2 great giveaways for you! The first is 5 sets of printable, emergent readers from Jackie over at Ready-Set-Read! Read my review here or head over to Home is Where They Send Us to check out her review!

The second giveaway this week is a one month subscription to Appleseed Lane Monthly Science Box. Read more about it over at Home is Where They Send Us!

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How Not to Bake Shortbread

Having stumbled across my 1970s cookbook as the sun was setting late this afternoon, with play options of park, beach and library having already been exhausted, I was heartened by a step by step recipe for shortbread.With just four ingredients, and five simple pictures of a child effortlessly making shortbread I was lured into cracking out the caster sugar, butter, and two types of flour...

Yet by step 2 I was flummoxed. Toddler was bored, not content mixing things in the bowl the majority of the kitchen floor, worktop and the toddler himself were under a good covering of flour. The mixing I could handle, but the kneading to form dough just was not happening.

After ten minutes, which is epic in toddler years, having prevented the scales vanishing into the microwave to be 'cooked' and the cat being forcefed butter (much to its delight) I gave up ridiculous kneading and settled for shortbread 'lumps'.

Failing to comprehend what Regulo 2 was in my ancient book I assumed a modern gas mark 2 for an hour would suffice, with a turn halfway. After grumping about the kitchen trying to ensure the once-black cat was black once again... I was more than surprised to find the lumps pretty palatable!

Toddler dipped his in yoghurt as clearly they weren't up to his exacting standards. Luckily I'm less fussy now I've learned to survive on toddler's rejected toast crusts... but come on lovelies: how does one make shortbread easily? And no more 70s children's cookbook suggestions please!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Printable Books for Emergent Readers Review and Giveaway

Do you have an emergent reader in your home? If so you may notice how difficult it can be to find books on their reading level! It seems the easy readers (even the level 1) at the library (at least our library) are all too advanced for very early readers! Seems silly when reading books (not just words on a page) gives kids a sense of accomplishment and helps early readers gain that much needed confidence! 

Jackie over at Ready-Set-Read, a reading specialist turned stay-at-home mom, created several Printable Books for Emergent Readers just to help those beginning readers! I received a copy of her books in exchange for my honest review, and we have a great giveaway too!

Jackie offers a variety of books for different levels of beginning reader. Each group of books contains 4-6 books, and you can read about each set in more detail in the links below. The 5 groups of emergent readers she currently offers are:

Nursery Rhymes
Dolch Sight Words Pre-Primer 1
Dolch Sight Words Pre-Primer 2
Christmas Books
Fall Holiday Books

Her readers are created with pictures that aid the text and a single sentence per page for beginner readers. There is repetition in them too which helps them remember the words they just read! For more information about the books head over Ready-Set-Read!

When you print them each book is a half page, so you get two books out of each page! This was perfect for us since I have 2 beginning readers! Most of the books are in black and white, so your child can color the picture which gives them more ownership of the book (at least in my mind it does). The few readers that are in color focus on finding specific colored objects.

My girls were super excited to see the little books. It had been a while since I had printed out any little readers for them, and they immediately grabbed them and started reading! The books I printed were actually a little too easy for Bria who is mid-1st grade level, but they were perfect for Nadia!Nadia read one and then declared, "I read this book all by myself!"  Honestly, Bria lacks confidence in her reading, so even though they were easy for her they were also good for building confidence.

These are great little books for early readers and can be used at home or in a classroom setting. They help improve reading skills while building that confidence kids need to read well! To purchase any of Jackie's great little readers head over to Teachers Pay Teachers!

Jackie is also generously giving away a set of ALL 5 GROUPS OF READERS to one lucky winner! Enter below! 

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Poppin's Book Nook #8 - Seasons and Snow Globes


This months theme for Poppin's Book Nook is Seasons! Instead of choosing a single book about seasons we went with The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder because each book goes through an entire year of seasons. 

We haven't made it all the way through the books, but we just finished The Long Winter (book 6), and it is interesting to compare the weather in the various books and various locations of the country.  We all agree that we are happy to not be dealing with the blizzards they had in the Dakota Territory!

This month we also threw in a book for Eli, I am a Bunny. The girls enjoyed this book when they were younger, and now Bria can read it to Eli! It goes through each of the seasons in through the eyes of a bunny and the activities he enjoys with each season.

To go along with the book we made some seasonal "snow" globes! We started with 4 small jars and a toob of plastic trees. The trees didn't cover all the seasons well, so I added snow to an evergreen and a few pink flowers to one of the deciduous trees using acrylic paint.

I  also decided the trees alone were too short, so I glued them to a small, flattened marble with hot glue before gluing it to the inside of the jar lid. Make sure you use a lot of glue!

The inside of the lid was a bit dull to me, so I super glued some glitter inside it too. I just squeezed out some glue and used an old paintbrush (you will have to throw it away after this) to coat the inside of the lid. Then you add so glitter! Once it is dry dump the extra!

Next I filled the jars to the lip with water, added just a splash of glycerin, and a pile of glitter; then I stirred it all together.

Screw on the lid, flip over, and watch your snow, flowers, or leaves float around.  I had really wanted to find little confetti shaped like leaves or flowers, but everything I found was too big for our little jars! 

I tried hot gluing the lids on, but I didn't have much luck getting it to work well. I guess I will have to keep working on a way to prevent little hands from unscrewing the lids! So far they are just mesmerized by the glitter, so we haven't had an issue!

This month we are giving you a chance to win the book Four Seasons Make A Year (US residents only please)!

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Visit the other participating bloggers for more seasonal fun too; then come back and link up your Season Activities! Next month join us for Animal Fun!