Throughout my life I’ve tried to look for ways to be more “natural”. I’ve cleaned with vinegar and essential oils. I’ve tried the newest “all natural” cleaners. I’ve even made my kids do school experiments to see which cleaner is more effective with Petri dishes, mop water, and various cleaners. Within the last couple of years or so, I’ve stumbled across an American brand of cleaners that is natural and not harmful to the environment. The brand is Puracy. I love their cleaners. I especially love their stain remover. I love it so much that I make a point to carry some with me anytime I’ll be doing laundry (on vacation, short trips, every day of my life basically). We use their shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, lotion, stain remover, and general all purpose cleaner. My daughter even uses it at college. When one of her roommates, who works at a famous ice cream shop, came home with a shirt stained with chocolate ice cream my daughter told her she had to try the stain remover. Her roommate assured her she’d tried everything to get the stain out. My daughter told her she just had to try it. Of course, it worked and now she’s a Puracy devotee too. I don’t get anything for passing along my love of this brand to everyone out there. I just like to know what works and what is worth my time and money, and I want to pass along that information to anyone else who may be looking for something natural and effective.
It’s sadly been too long since our beach vacation, but I did discover the best beach towels ever before our last visit to my favorite place. They are from a company called Dock and Bay. The towels are ultra light and fast drying. Personally, I cannot stand coming out of the pool to find my towel is still wet from the last time I used it. It doesn’t get me dry or warm like that. I have bought too many towels over the years trying to find just the right ones. Finally, after way too much money and time, I think I’ve found it! They come in several sizes and shapes. They also come in a variety of colors. I love that they are soft to the touch and the colors are vibrant. Each towel comes in a canvas-type carrying case. We monogrammed the cases so we could keep up with whose was whose I also loved, loved, loved how they were packaged!! The plastic is biodegradable and says you could even eat it, but the directions say it doesn’t taste good so you shouldn’t. I just loved everything about these towels and the company. If you’re lucky enough to still have a vacation planned, go check out Dock and Bay Towels.
Everyone in my family loves a good deal. My daughters are very into fashion, but they always want a unique look. Whenever we visit Hilton Head in South Carolina we stop at Chella D. This consignment shop is a favorite and a much anticipated stop for our family. We love the ladies who own and run it. Donna and Carol are pure delights! If I lived in Hilton Head, I know I would be a regular. When a regular customer comes in they all talk and laugh and truly care about what’s going on with one another. Even though we only stop in once or twice a year, we are remembered and appreciated. This shop isn’t just a fun little shop, it’s full of treasures. Think Lilly Pulitzer, Gucci, Kate Spade, Armani, Versace, Jimmy Choo, and much more. We always leave with things we love and things we get for a bargain. If you make a trip to Hilton Head, plan a stop at Chella D.
A hundred years ago (maybe not really that long, but it seems like it), before Pinterest was a thing, I made jars for my nieces when I went away to college. Each jar had the same number of candies as the days until I’d be back home. Two of my nieces were religious about the one candy for each day and the other ate all of it right away. I still think this is a cute idea even a hundred years later ;0) and even if one ate it all in a day.
When my husband and I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I did a similar thing for our children. Since my parents were staying at our house, I wanted to give them a treat and something to do as well.
I made a package for each day that we would be gone. The first day it included a puzzle, movie, Oreos, a Paw Patrol gift for David, and little gifts for the girls. I also asked that they each find a happy story to share at dinner.
The second day, they received Goldfish crackers, an Oreo Dirt Creations kit, a lemon bar mix, seeds to plant, a movie, and a “fossil” for David to paint. I also asked that they share a special memory about the person sitting to their left.
On the third day, I included special chocolates, a movie, a gear art kit, a Jello pudding pop kit, lemon Oreos, and a fossil excavation kit for David. I also asked that they name two things for which they were thankful.
The very last day, I included a huge roll of paper, coloring book, a Matisse art kit, a movie, chocolate chip cookie mix, Jello pudding pop kit, and another dinosaur excavation kit.
When we came home the puzzle was done, the treats were gone, and all the excavation things were finished. I know they looked forward to opening the package each day. Most items were from the dollar spot at Target. The Jello kits were on clearance at Kroger. The movies were all ones we owned. I like the idea of them having something to look forward to when we’re away. This was pretty inexpensive and only required a little time to get together.
Tomorrow’s holiday provides a theme I thoroughly enjoy- the color GREEN! This has been my favorite color my whole life. When I was tiny, I refused to wear anything that wasn’t green and pink.
I have thought about all the ways to celebrate tomorrow. Skittles and Rolos are great to provide that gold under the rainbow effect. I bought some chocolate coins from Oriental Trading to put into tiny jars. On my kitchen table, I placed Dove mint chocolates in a glass container. I have shamrock’s hanging from the chairbacks and small rainbow and shamrock balloons in containers. Most of my St. Patrick’s Day decorations come from the Dollar Tree. I bought potted Shamrocks for decorations from Publix.
Past St. Patrick Day dinners have included green enchiladas with guacamole and Funfetti cookies. Stuffed green peppers, spinach pasta, pesto, chicken Florentine, salads, lettuce wraps are all good ideas for a green-themed dinner. I like to make a mint or rainbow kind of dessert. Creme de Menthe brownies or rainbow sherbert are good ways to stick with the St. Patrick’s Day theme. If you want to stay with the green-theme, chocolate mint ice cream, pistachio ice cream, green Rice Krispie treats, and any green cookie or cupcake would be perfect.
St. Patrick’s day trivia, bingo, or Heads-Up would all be fun to play tomorrow night.
Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow!
As a homeschool parent, I am always looking for websites to help bring lessons to life, to enrich, or to explain in better ways all the things we are learning. Some of my favorites right now are Khan Academy, Mensa For Kids, and the History Channel. There are so many websites that are truly wonderful, but I want to share why I am particularly impressed with these three right now.
While my children do not yet realize it, we are going through the top eleven pieces of art recovered by the Monuments Men. The first questions of our second-semester art were: “Is art important? Is art worth protecting? Is art worth risking a life to save and why?” They each had to write out their responses to these questions, and we will revisit their responses at the end of the semester after we watch the movie. Khan Academy has been a tremendous help as we learn about these works of art. I just put the piece of art we are studying into the search area and a video with two professors explaining the piece of art comes up. It also has a quiz to make sure that the information is understood. I especially enjoyed the lesson on the Ghent Altarpiece. They explained so many tiny things that I would never have even noticed and most certainly not understood the importance of without the lesson.
Mensa For Kids is another great site that we are currently using for our science lessons. It presents the lessons and has great questions for review. It also includes other sites to visit that help teach the lessons as well. I am fairly picky when it comes to science and find this site to be a very comprehensive one for the lessons we are covering.
Obviously, the History Channel is a great resource for teaching history. Personally, I learn best visually and auditorily so watching things on History Channel is very helpful. We are currently learning about the slavery and the Civil War. Roots has been remade and is on the History Channel. Their website has a full guide to help students as they watch the show. It is very comprehensive and has many other sites to visit. It also has thought-provoking questions. There are activities that are suggested to help the viewers explore their own roots and to understand the time period better.
We are very excited to have discovered these sites and to be learning more from them every day.
I have a saved Zillow search for certain kinds of houses. These homes share one major quality. They’re all on the water. Lots of homes come through my email, but I found my actual dream home in my inbox the other day. As I scrolled through the pictures, I actually got a little teary. This home has EVERYTHING I could ever want or dream to have.
This home is gorgeous! It’s on the water. It is picturesque and romantic. It has a history. I think I long for something with roots. I want something with a story. I think that’s why I have a fascination with antiques and cemeteries (I don’t think I’ve ever told you all about that). I love a good story. As I look through the pictures, I can imagine so many different conversations. I imagine all the things the house could say if it could speak.
This search is really a dream search. I will probably never move from my landlocked home. I will probably never have the kind of money it would take to buy and maintain my dream home. So I will continue to dream of the stories of the past in the homes I find in my inbox.
Recently, I have a new fascination with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I knew very little about the Kennedy administration and that time period in general. Someone I know said that they would love to sit down and have a conversation with Jackie Kennedy. As I thought about what she lived through, my fascination grew.
I bought a book written by her Secret Service agent, Clint Hill. The book is entitled Mrs. Kennedy and Me. I began reading the book not knowing much about the Kennedy family in general and finished the book even more intrigued by their lives. She was the epitome of class and strength in the face of so much. Clint Hill obviously saw Mrs. Kennedy in the best and worst situations, and he was also constantly impressed with the way she handled things.
There were so many stories in the book that I absolutely loved. One of my favorites was the story of how she so charmed the French writer, Andre Malraux, that he would offer to bring the Mona Lisa to the United States. This exhibition would be the first time that the painting left France. She was so excited for people who were not in the position to travel all the way to France to have the opportunity to view this incredible work of art. The History Channel tells the historical story of the Mona Lisa’s trip to the United States.
There are so many great stories in the book. If anyone has even the slightest interest in Jackie Kennedy this is a great book to find out more about the former First Lady. Not only am I completely intrigued by Jackie Kennedy now, I am also fascinated with Clint Hill and the other Secret Service agents of the time. Since finishing Mrs. Kennedy and Me, I have finished a book about all the Kennedy wives and am currently reading one about the agents who were present that fateful day in November when the whole world was turned upside down.
The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.
In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.
Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.
Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.
Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.
This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.
I highly recommend Mrs. Kennedy and Me.
Last summer, I purchased my ALL-TIME FAVORITE antique ever!! My eldest daughter went wandering around on her own and stumbled upon a 5 year diary. This was a rare find because each day (literally) for almost five full years was filled in. The diary belonged to a Texas teenager. She was sassy and funny. She wrote about days of playing cards with her mother and sister. She also wrote about days in church with the guys from Texas A&M (according to her: they weren’t much to talk about). She also chronicled her love for one boy in particular. We sat around the kitchen table after we brought it home and read all the way through the many entries. There were many laughs and even a couple of tears. After we finished reading, I googled her and her family. She sadly had passed away a couple of decades before. Her family is still in Texas. I wonder how in the world her diary made its way all the way to our home state. I wonder if her family knew about the diary she wrote back in her teen years. I struggle with the idea that I should contact them and let them know of its existence. I treasure it so very much! It’s a reminder of simpler times. It’s also a reminder that feelings never really change. We all feel happiness, sadness, joy, worry, hope, fear, love, and jealousy. It’s those things that I hold close to my heart when I revisit the pages of the daily writings of a Texan teenager in the 50s.
I just finished Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. Most people don’t realize that Mark Twain ever wrote a book about Joan of Arc. He published it under the name of Samuel Clemens. This book, he said, was his favorite. He didn’t want it compared to any of the more popular books. This one took him 14 years to prepare and write while the others took little time at all.
Joan of Arc is a truly remarkable figure. I knew just what the paragraph in the history textbook says. I had no idea how her story truly went. From every movie I’d seen about her, I was left with the idea that maybe she was a little bit crazy. After reading this book, I know that is not true. She was truly inspired and the men who prosecuted her and ultimately killed her were nothing but cowards. But I want you to read it for yourself!
I laughed. I cried. I got chills. I was touched.
It’s one of those books that you want everyone to read because the value that is in it.
If you’re looking for a great book for spring break or summer vacation, put this one on your list! I gave it to my dad for our last vacation and he still speaks of it with tears in his eyes.
Here is what Goodreads has to say about it:
“I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.” –Mark Twain
“Mark Twain comes furtively like Nicodemus at night with this tribute to one of God’s saints. In doing so he tells a secret about himself. It is as though the man in a white suit and a cloud of cigar smoke thought there just might be a place where people in white robes stand in clouds of incense.” –Fr. George Rutler, Author, The Cure d’Ars Today
“Joan of Arc is the lone example that history affords of an actual, real embodiment of all the virtues demonstrated by Huck and Jim and of all that Twain felt to be noble in man, Joan is the ideal toward which mankind strives. Twain had to tell her story because she is the sole concrete argument against the pessimistic doctrines of his deterministic philosophy.” –Robert Wiggins, Mark Twain: Jackleg Novelist