Reviews

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I'm so happy you dropped by! Stay and visit awhile and please leave me a comment- it's so encouraging to hear from you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The juices are a-flowin'!

Creative juices, that is!  FINALLY!  I found my mojo!  My inspiration! IT'S BACK!........must've been that episode of Downton Abbey....or the Ooey Gooey Bars........probably the hours of Pinterest drooling!

Yep!  THAT was it!

Ahhh, Pinterest....have you no end?

I digress- let's get back to my motivation.  The first spark to motivate me was a Batchelor's Chest.  "Huh?Why a Batchelor's Chest?" you may ask.  Well, we've been cleaning out Andy's parents' garage since his father passed away and his momma gave me this old, beat up, shambles of a Batchelor's Chest.  You see, I love all things old- particularly furniture.  If I believed in an after-life- I'm quite sure I was present for the turn of the 20th century in England's Yorkshire.  Anywho- so I could see some fabulous potential in this chest so I asked dear Andy if we could pay to have it refinished.  Now, that is a huge splurge for us- we are in the throws of a structurally necessary remodeling project which has sucked up our house painting funds- there really isn't any spare for a piece of furniture.  But here's my argument....Andy's parents never had much.  This chest could be the one beautiful "thing" he could have of theirs.  The one beautiful thing to pass down, if he ever wants to.  So, we had it done and it is gorgeous.  I wish I could get a better photo of it...

After splurging on the Batchelor's Chest, it came to mind that I could try to craft something to sell at our new City Arts Boutique.  The City Arts Boutique is a new shop just a couple of blocks from our house in Woodlawn.  It houses the most wonderful hand-crafted items for sell.  Think Etsy on a local store-front level!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  Brooke Fleming is a sweet soul who opened this shop and shares it's space (and charm) in a newly revived urban neighborhood.  It is picture perfect and I've even told Brooke that her shop makes me want to just sit on the couch with a cup of tea and enjoy the sights and neighbors.
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So here we are, delivered to the front door of my inspiration.....I saw this great post on Pinterest and decided I would give it a try.  Most that I have made are 16x20 and I can customize colors for you if you're interested in purchasing one for $30.  I will be trying a few new things in the next couple of days....I'll give you a hint......think "birds"!




Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fairies and Racecars!!

The two hardly seem to go together, do they?  Well we had two very notable events here at Cainberly last weekend- both worthy of blog representation!

First, Friday and Saturday marked a huge event in Ben's life..... his first Pinewood Derby.  Now I love that I have an "I can do all things handy- and have the tools to do them at my disposal" kind of hubby- but it was Ben's job to design and build his car.  Ben made a drawing of the shape he wanted his car and all Andy did was cut it out.  After Ben sanded, I helped him spray-paint the car by pushing his thumb down harder on the can. (Mommies have super thumbs, don't ya know?!)  Then he burnished some rub-ons where he wanted them with minimal help from Nonny.  The finished product........



That's right!  A trophy!  For best design!  He was THRILLED! (And Momma was just a little, too!)  So proud of his first car!  Now onto next year's design!

So....incredible thing #2-

Abby turned 10 on Sunday!  Can you believe it?  Where does the time go?  Seems like just yesterday.....


she was a tee tiny, peddled around everywhere- seeing the world from knee-high.  And now she's this...

A beautiful delight to my heart.  She's soft and sensitive, and opinionated, and bold, and innocent.  And I love her with all my heart.  We celebrated her all week long- and still could have celebrated more!

Now for the "icing on the cake"- pun intended, of course!  For Abby's first-ever-double-digit birthday, her Aunt Beth made her the most spectacular of all gifts....
 
Is that not the most awesome fairy house you have ever seen?  I was so impressed with my sweet sister!  What a labor of love!  Abby was totally THRILLED and loves it so very much!  After many exclamations of "You should totally SELL those!"- I'm hoping she will, because this thing is magical!  Now shipping it- THAT might be a doozy!  ;O)

Friday, January 13, 2012

TOS Review: Maestro Classics' "The Story of Swan Lake"

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I love classical music.  Infact, when I am alone in the car- that is my preference on the radio.  I started my children listening to classical music at a very young age- just different bits here and there.  Mozart for lunch, Handel for playtime, and their favorite was a lullaby CD that I played for them at naptime.  I remember when I had an opportunity to speak with them in the car about why I love classical music so....

"Well, I suppose I love music with no words so much because, in my mind, I can picture a story unfolding to the music.  Listen....hear that fast music?  It sounds like someone whipping up a fabulous baked yummy!  Uh oh!  The music slowed down, I wonder if their cake fell in the oven!"

And ever since that moment, classical music has grown on my babies. 

Maestro Classics


produces a delightful series of educational and entertaining CDs for children ages 5-12 called Stories in music. We had the opportunity to review "The Story of Swan Lake" and were instantly hooked!  There are many other versions that you can peruse here, everything from "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel" to "My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music" (which may be our next choice!). 


But let me tell you a little about this excellent find!

I could not believe the content of this CD once I got it in my hands!  If you're thinking it's Tchaikovsky's work with some fluff, then like myself, you are bound to be pleasantly surprised!  First of all, the London Philharmonic Orchestra performs the music!  Can you believe it?!  So beautiful!  Over the music on track one a narrator, Yadu, tells the story of Swan Lake. Track two tells of Tchaikovsky and his life (definitely myth-busting at its best! You'll just have to try it to see!)  Track three was a bit different.....

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Nope, I didn't paste that on the wrong review!  Joe Stump- metal shredder extraordinaire! Joe shreds some Tchaikovsky for us!  Now you may be wondering........but go with me on this.....perspective.  It's all about perspective.  Joe had my 7 year old up and banging- playing a mean Tchaikovsky air guitar!  I loved that the folks at Maestro Classics included a sample of how music may be interpreted by someone with a different perspective!

Track four is about the music itself which goes perfectly with the CD cover.  Ahhh the CD cover.... a review in itself! Music instruction via piano, games and activities, information on Joe, Yadu, and Stephen Simon (conductor).  There's also some very interesting facts about Tchaikovsky! Did you know that he traveled to America to conduct one of his compositions for the opening of Carnegie Hall in New York City?

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So here's our opinions and observations..........

We LOVED "The Story of Swan Lake" by Maestro Classics!  Abby found it very interesting and said she really enjoyed it.  We liked how the story was shared with the music so that we could feel the story unfold in the rhythm, pitch, and volume of the notes.  We also like how the cover was chocked so full of good surprise stuff!  At $16.98/$9.98 (CD/MP3 download) I found this to be a great deal! 

I also want to share with you that, on their website, is a free kids club!  It has answers to the puzzles in the CD cover, and a downloadable coloring page for some of the CDs (Swan Lake had one!).  But ohhhh wait til you see the Educational Materials page!  Curriculum guides, lesson plans, and even lapbooks through A Journey Through Learning's website!  It is a great website, even if you don't buy their product, just to have on your radar!

I hope you will consider giving Maestro Classics a shot if you are interested in teaching your children about classical music!  If you do, or if you have already used it, let me know!  I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TOS Review: Zeezok Movie Z-Guide for "My Side of the Mountain"

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Jean Craighead George has written many wonderfully adventurous children's books.  My husband's fondest memories or reading in his early childhood include memories of her My Side of the Mountain trilogy.  In fact, this series made such an impression on my dear hubby that as soon as he thought Ben was old enough, he suggested we read these during our read-a-loud time each evening.

Blew my socks off!

That lady certainly does her homework, and Andy was right to suggest that we would enjoy her books! (I believe a pre-requisite for being in the Andy Cain family is that you must, to some degree, be a naturist at heart!)  My Side of the Mountain is about Sam Gribley, a teenage boy who leaves the harried life of the city to seek his grandfather's land in the Catskills.  Sam proves himself quite the survivalist, and you can't help learning a thing or two yourself from reading of his day-to-day life in the mountains- and of his friendship with Frightful, a Peregrine Falcon he trains.

Yep, right up our alley.  Soooo I was thrilled when this opportunity came to review the movie guide Zeezok has developed to go with the 1969 movie of the same name!

Movie???!!!???

That's right, a movie was made of the novel in 1969 and the creators over at Zeezok have made a unit study movie guide to go along with it.  A brief description:

"This guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and ten learning activities based on the film. Learn more about Henry David Thoreau and peregrine falcons. Plan your own wilderness adventure. Design a suitable shelter for living in nature. Engage the whole family with a discussion section based on the movie and the learning activities. A brief bibliography lists suggested resources for additional reading and study. You’ve always wanted to be a rugged individualist; here’s your chance to be one vicariously through Sam’s experiences in My Side of the Mountain!"


The Z-Guide comes as a printable PDF and is chock full of fabulous comprehension questions, puzzles/games, activities, and information.  Even thouh this particular guide is geared toward middle schoolers, we were able to make it work for us.

Zeezok has a ton of guides and you can find a complete list of them here.  There is quite the range from "The Hiding Place" to "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" to "Kit Kittredge" or "The Red Badge of Courage"!  All guides are $12.99.  We located our movie on Netflix, but Zeezok also sells the movies to go with the guides at a reasonable price ($12.98-$22.98).

Our opinion.....
  We enjoyed answering the questions.  Also, we like a good excuse to go on a nature work or study Thoreau!  The only obstacle that we encountered, and it is NO fault of the folks at Zeezok or the guide itself, is that the movie is nothing like the book.  This was difficult for us to get past because my children LOVE THOSE BOOKS.  The ending of the movie was VERY different from the book.  In fact (<<<<>>>>) they kill Sam's companion Frightful, who is a peregrine falcon in the movie.  Needless to say, this totally freaked my kids out!  "Momma!  How are they supposed to make The Far Side of the Mountain or Frightful's Mountain if she died???" (The sequels to My Side of the Mountain)  Also, Sam leaves the mountain and goes home in the movie, not so in the book- that's right, we wouldn't get two more books if he went home at the end of the first one!
  As I stated, these hurdles were not the fault of Zeezok and we still enjoyed learning about the things that intrigued Sam Gribley.  I may revisit this again in a few years when we study Thoreau more deeply.  The guide was actually quite fabulous if you are interested in incorporating a few movies into your lessons, which I really enjoy doing.  Everyone enjoys a good movie club!  I'm very excited about trying some of the other guides, such as Kit Kittredge and Mr Smith Goes to Washington, in the near future.


Disclaimer: I was given, free of charge, a Zeezok Z-Guide to the Movies for My Side of the Mountain in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A new meeting place....




I've been inspired....  Have you ever heard the saying by Gandhi
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Well, I was wanting a FB group that could share recipes, talk gardening and crafts, and occassionally throw in some homeschooling/homesteading/homemaking advice.  I couldn't find a group with the peeps I already know on FB so..........

I made one!!!

I would love to have you come chat with us, try a recipe, share a good place to get seeds, post a pic of your sewing project you're working on....the possibilities are endless!  (You can see the first post of what I made today that even my supremely picky-eater liked!) Feel free to share with YOUR peeps too!  Look forward to seeing you over at Sincerely Home FB!