Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Follows After

9780800721206What Follows After
Written by Dan Walsh
Published at Revell

About the book

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy.

And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie--to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.
In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

My Thoughts

Dan Walsh is definitively one of my favourite authors.   When I realized that a new book from him was available for review, I immediately checked out the description of the book.   I will admit that I hesitated before requesting it.  The story seemed to be a bit more emotional than his previous novels.  But I figure that since I really like the author it would be okay.

The story is fabulous though it can twist your own stomach when the dramatic events unfolds.   I don’t particularly like stories where children are in danger.  And this book, though the child is not armed, will give you a chill that will go down your spine if you are a parent.  I can’t even imagine how the parents in this novel dealt with it.   You can their thoughts every once in a while but just enough to make you read more.    The story of this book is intertwined with the events surrounding the Cuban situation back in the early 60s.

In all, I was hooked with the characters and the events of this book.  Though I do not want any children to go through what Timmy experienced, I think the book helped to be realistic in what could happen even to this day and time.   Though somehow you hear more about kidnapping nowadays then back then, you will wonder up to about four fifth of the book is they will find the child.  

I won’t tell you the ending of the book.  But I will be honest in telling you that this novel from Dan Walsh was a bit harder to read for me – being a mom and all.    Even though I hesitated in requesting it, I am glad I read the book because I find that Dan Walsh writing is a delight for the eyes.

What Follows After is available at your favourite bookstore from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, even amazon.ca and amazon.com.


Disclaimer: The book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

All About Our Home: Earth

My kids and I are part of a Coop with other homeschoolers this year.  It’s the first time we are participating to one.  What I particularly like about this coop is the fact that we study a specific theme for three weeks and then take a break for a little while.  This year, we explored the following themes so far: Pioneers, Weather, Winter Olympics and Canadian Government.   We have one more theme to cover this year with the theme of Earth coming up at the end of April.

So imagine my delight when DK Canada asked me if I wanted to review some titles on their Earthly Pleasures Boutique.

9781465414373HSmithsonian Earth   

About the book

Earth: The Definitive Visual Guide is an extraordinary survey of our planet produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.

This stunning reference includes detailed, illustrated information about everything that makes up our planet, from Mount Kilimanjaro to the Antarctic ice sheet, as well as descriptions of more than four hundred of the Earth's most significant, unusual, greatest, and most dangerous features.

Specially commissioned new 3-D digital artwork provides a striking, informative guide to the features of our planet, explains the scientific processes that govern our world, and looks at the complex relationship between humans and the natural environment while providing a thought-provoking assessment on the state of the planet.

My Thoughts

This book is gigantic if you are wondering. With over 500 pages of detailed information on Earth no wonder that this book have a subtitled saying that it is the definitive visual guide.   Produced by the Smithsonian, the book contains thorough information on Earth and all that makes it so special to us.  From glaciers to deserts, you will find information on specific places on the planet like Gibson Desert for example.    Each section on a specific place found around the world will present the location, type, size, rainfall and temperature and sometimes show some photos from that place.  

The book is literally packed with illustrations, photos, graphs and much more on the planet, the land, the oceans, the atmosphere and the tectonic plates.

Here’s a quick view of the table of contents:

  • Planet Earth – The history of Earth, the anatomy of Earth with a view of its structure including the core, mantle, crust and more, the changing Earth
  • Land – mountains and volcanoes, rivers and lakes, glaciers, deserts, forests, wetlands, grasslands and tundra, agricultural areas, urban areas and industrial areas.
  • Ocean – Oceans and seas, coasts
  • Atmosphere – climate and weather (air masses and weather systems as well as precipitations, clouds and wind).
  • Tectonic Earth – North American, South American, Eurasian, African, Australian, Pacific and Antarctic.

While going through this book, I had great visual illustration of the surface currents in the oceans as well as the conveyor belt which we have learned in a recent lesson of geography.  I find the book is a marvelous book to own when you study Earth with your kids.   It is packed with detailed illustration which are fabulous to have when you read about a something like the different layers of the atmosphere or the circulation of air around the world.   These illustrations are very helpful to visualize the concept that is learned at the moment of the lesson.   Though I find the information contained in this book would be more for children in upper grades of school I also think that the illustrations can be use for all ages.  This is a great book to have when homeschooling multi-levels of school.

Smithsonian Geography a Visual Encyclopedia   9781465408853H

About the book

Created in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia explores every aspect of our world, from the North to the South Pole, and from the outer atmosphere to the fiery core and from natural processes to human impact.

Discover terrifying earthquakes, priceless gemstones, and storms that can destroy buildings. Understand how weather works, what causes the seasons, and the power of water to shape the landscape. Explore life on Earth, and countries and cultures from all around the world. Packed with facts, maps, explanations, illustrations, and photographs, Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia is the ultimate guide to our planet.

My Thoughts

This book is a great visual encyclopedia on everything related to geography on Earth.  

Table of contents:

  • Planet Earth – the solar system, the planets, how earth formed, the moon, scarred surface, inside our planet, magnetic Earth, Northern Lights, Earth’s crust, impact craters, moving plates, plate boundaries, earthquakes, ground shift, tsunamis, making mountains, volcanoes, eruption, cataclysm, hot springs and geysers.
  • Rocks and Minerals – elements and minerals, crystals, crystal types, crystal cave, igneous rocks, igneous intrusions, weathering, dynamic landscape, Coyote Buttes, sedimentary rocks, fossils, ancient life, rock strata, Grand Canyon, metamorphic rocks, rock cycle, and soil.
  • Water – water cycle, rivers and valleys, glaciers and ice sheets, iceberg, rivers of ice, ice ages, underground water, caves, sculpted in stone, lakes, lakes of the world, oceans and seas, world oceans, waves and currents, making waves, tides, coasts
  • Climate and Weather – atmosphere, air currents, climate zones, seasons, oceans and continents, cold desert, climate types, weather systems, cloud and fog, cloud types, rain and snow, storms and hail, tornado and hurricanes.
  • Life on Earth – a living planet, kingdoms of life, ecosystems, freshwater life, tropical forest, temperate forest, autumn color, northern forest, moorland and heath, temperate grassland, tropical grassland, desert, living deserts, desert in bloom, life in the mountains, arctic tundra, icy oceans, winter chill, life beneath the waves, deep ocean, coral reef, vital light, and on the shore.
  • The Human World – population, farming, transformed landscape, mining, industry, transportation, cities, modern cities, city lights, pollution, climate change, and conservation.
  • Mapping the World – the physical world, the political world, population density, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica.
  • Country Factfile – North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Essentially, this book would be perfect for kids in grades 3-6 as it contains just enough information on each subject for them to retain.   It presents various aspects of the Earth’s geography throughout the book and put emphasis on specific places like for example the important lakes found around the world including the Lake Nakuru in East Central Africa where flamingos gather every year to have their babies or Lake Titicaca found at the border of Bolivia and Peru which is considered as the highest large lake in the world.   Each subject covered in this book is beautifully illustrated and accompanied with stunning photos.    I have just gone through the notions of seasons with my kids and the image included in this book is pretty self-explanatory.   The book not only present the geography of our planet but also the different kind of weather, precipitations, water cycle and so on.    A whole section of the book is about life on Earth and will present the kinds of plants and animals we can find on it.   Another section will highlights how humans can affect the planet and you can also get interesting facts about countries through the world.   I find this book is a great addition for your personal study of Earth’s geography.

9781465415929HWhat’s that Rock or Mineral?  

About the book

Compact and portable, What's That Rock, Mineral or Gem? is an indispensable beginner's pocket guide to identifying the 150 most common North American rocks and minerals.

My Thoughts

I love the What’s That books from DK because it forces the kids and I to open our eyes and explore our surrounding during the warmer months.    This new book from the series that DK has will provide a beginner introduction about rocks and minerals.   This particular book will be easy to slide in your backpack while going on an expedition with your family if you want to go find some special rocks or minerals.   To be honest, there is a possible trip to Northern Ontario for the family if my husband gets a contract with a former client.  If it happens, chances are we might go with the RV and bring the kids as well.  The town is a former mining town and I am sure we could find some gems in the outdoors while my husband is at his contract.   Though we will have to be careful not to encounter any bears while doing so.  

The book will introduce you to the world of rocks and minerals while guiding you in identifying the ones you might find in your outings.    Four main sections will concentrate on specific types of rocks and minerals:  Coarse-grained rocks, medium-grained rocks, fine-grained rocks, and minerals.   A rock gallery as well as a mineral gallery complete the book and would help you to find quickly the ones you have discovered. 

In a nutshell, this book is perfect for the amateur and those who love to learn more about things you can find in nature.

Smithsonian Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals  9780756690427H

About the book

The new DK Nature Guides form a comprehensive, accessible, and informative series of illustrated reference books that tackle key natural history subjects in DK's uniquely visual style. Produced in collaboration with expert consultants at the Smithsonian Institution, each guide is expertly written and will give you knowledge of the natural world at your fingertips.

From blue schist to blue granite, malachite to meteorites, and taconite to travertine, Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals is packed full of stunning images that reveal intricate details and unique characteristics of each rock and mineral.  Using close-up photographs of every specimen and profiles containing examples from all over the world,Nature Guide Rocks and Minerals brings revealing key facets and details perfect for quick identification.

My Thoughts

This book is a little more complete than the one previously shown.   It contains more example on how to identify the rocks and minerals you might find in your explorations in nature.   There is definitively more information about rocks and minerals in this book as well.   Each rock and mineral presented in this book will have its own profile which provide information on the hardness, specific gravity, cleavage, fracture, streak, luster, type, origin, temperature of formation, pressure of formation, structure, grain size, major minerals, minor minerals, color, precursor rock and fossils.   It will also present the chemical formula of the mineral, and example of the rock or mineral application, variants panel containing named varieties and additional specimens, the name or the mineral or rock group, as well as detailed information about it.   Fabulous pictures about the rocks and minerals found in this book are also included.

Essentially, the table on contents is divided into three mains sections:

  • Introduction -  what is a mineral?,  mineral groups and associations, classifying minerals, identifying minerals, what are crystals?, crystal habits, crystal systems, gems, what is a rock?, collecting rocks and minerals, equipment, organization, storage and cleaning.
  • Minerals – native elements, sulfides, solfosalts, oxides, hydroxides, halides, carbonates, borates, sulfates, molybdates, chromates, tungstates, phosphates, vanadates, arsenates, silicates, and organics.
  • Rocks – igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks, meteorites.

The book is packed with detailed information on a specific rock or mineral like the one showed below.


In all, you will find over 270 pages of full profile of various rocks and minerals that you can found around the world.  This book is great to have in hand, easy to carry around and could provide much information to someone who would like to learn more about rocks and minerals.

9781465408976HEyewitness Earth  

About the book

The most trusted nonfiction series on the market, Eyewitness Books provide an in-depth, comprehensive look at their subjects with a unique integration of words and pictures.

How are earthquakes recorded? How was the Grand Canyon formed? How much of the Earth's surface is covered by water? Where do icebergs originate? With full-color photography and 3-D models of geological equipment, rocks, and minerals, Eyewitness: Earth is the perfect guide for gaining a better understanding of the secrets of life on our planet and how animals, plants, and the environment coexist.

My Thoughts

Earth is a marvelous planet.  Of all the planets included in the solar system, it is the only one who can sustain life.   This book contains a clip art CD that you can use in presentation as well as a poster that you can use to emphasize the lessons on planet Earth to your kids.  

Below is the table of contents:

  • What make up the Earth?
  • Early ideas about the Earth
  • A cocoon of gas
  • Climate in the past
  • Watery planet
  • The properties of water
  • Realms of ice
  • The building blocks
  • Investigating rocks
  • Igneous rocks
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Metamorphic rocks
  • The challenge of the ocean
  • Modern oceanography
  • Continental drift
  • Plate tectonics
  • The formation of the ocean floor
  • Exploring the interior
  • Earthquakes and seismology
  • Volcanology
  • Mountain Building
  • Plateaux and rifts
  • Weathering processes
  • Life from rock
  • Deposition
  • Glaciation
  • The age of Earth
  • Naming the Earth
  • Did you know?
  • Geoscientists at work

The book is packed with photos, illustrations, explanation as well as information about our beautiful planet.   I love seeing the image of what an iceberg looks like as well as detailed pages on the different types of rocks.  This specific book has a marvelous image representing the tectonic plates around the world.  The book will definitively help you discover the secrets of life on our planet and learn how animals, plants, and the environment interact with each other.

Eyewitness Endangered Animals  9780756668839H

About the book

Eyewitness: Endangered Animals takes a look at creatures around the world that are currently threatened with extinction, along with the ways that we can help them survive. Starting with an overview of biodiversity and the web of life, the book then examines the threats facing a wide range of species, including polar bears, sea turtles, tree frogs, river dolphins, jaguars, pandas, gibbons, and the California condor.

My Thoughts

This marvelous book will allow you to discover why some of the world’s amazing creatures are dying out – and what you can do to protect them.  The book comes with a clip-art CD as well as a poster that you can use as part of your lesson on endangered animals.    This book is packed with stunning photos , illustrations and information about the various aspects of endangered animals.    Here’s a quick view of the table of content.

  • Wildlife under threat
  • What is a species?
  • Adapting and Survival
  • The Variety of life
  • Links in the chain
  • Measuring risk
  • Watching animals in action
  • Going, going, gone
  • Lost and found
  • Boom and bust
  • The rise of humans
  • The impact of farming
  • A world without bees?
  • Crowded out
  • Damaged landscapes
  • Climate change
  • Global amphibian decline
  • Rivers in crisis
  • Polluted world
  • Wildlife for sale
  • Sharks in peril
  • Alien invaders
  • Fighting back
  • Saving habitats
  • Captive breeding
  • California condor
  • Grassroots conservation
  • Living with the relatives
  • The future
  • Species at risk

This book can give your kids a good understanding on why some species disappeared, why some are in danger of being gone forever and how we could protect the rest of the species throughout the world.   Mind you, not everyone would agree with some of the content of the book but I think it could be useful to have at home when you consider how humans have impacted the biomes of some of the animals presented in this book.

In conclusion, I am very grateful of DK for sending me these books.  As I am preparing my presentation for the first session of the coop on Earth, I know that I will have enough references to check out in order to present the continents, the oceans, the globe and the tectonic plates.   I am confident that these books will help me to bring the lesson on a visual level for the kids attending.    Mind you some of these books also cover some aspects of the theory of evolution which we don’t really believe in this household.  But I do believe strongly in exposing my kids to both side of the coin – evolution vs creationism – in order to prepare them for higher level of school and to be able to defend their faith.  

If these books do not interest you, don’t forget that there are many more books available on the Earthly Pleasures Boutique.  Swing by their website to discover other titles that could encourage you to garden more or simply discover our planet in a more in-depth way.



Each of these books are available at your favourite bookstore, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The end of an adventure

Three years ago – on February 2011 to be more precise, I was approached with an opportunity to write for Woodall’s.   They had a blog and were recruiting bloggers to write about anything that was camping related.  After discussing with my husband and talking over the phone with the person in charge back then, I decided to embark on this new adventure.   In exchange of a weekly blog I would get paid by Woodall’s.     

For forward three years and it’s now April 2014.   Lot of things have changed through the years and I was informed this week that my services were not required anymore since the blog was going to change in the near future.   Three years of blogging of camping and being paid – a great adventure indeed.

Now, I am somewhat relieved.   I was sensing that my time with them had come to an end.  

I don’t know what the future has in store for me.  In the meantime, I have a few things I want to blog about and I think I can put more of my own energies on my personal blog.    My kids are growing up.  Homeschooling is still a choice we have made and we enjoy it quite a bit. 

Thank you Woodall’s for the adventure.   I had a blast during these three years.

Monday, April 14, 2014


imageFighter – Five Keys to Conquering Fear and Reaching Your Dreams
Written by Manafest

About the book

"It's too late it's my fate I can't turn around, there's no fear in the mirror to hold me down"

Musician Chris “Manafest” Greenwood lost his father to suicide at the age of five, and found himself with nothing to cling to but a single mom and his childhood dream of moving to California to become a professional skateboarder. But God had different plans; by the age of 18 Chris fell in love with hip-hop music and quit his corporate job to join the ranks of Toronto’s competitive underground hip hop scene, choosing the name Manafest as a reflection of his goal to manifest his dreams. After years of fighting for success in one of the toughest industries in the world, he found himself living in his dream— a 3-time JUNO award nominee, Top 10 Billboard charted rock artist, living in southern California, selling hundreds of thousands of records worldwide.

Named after his highest charted song, Fighter, this book is the story of how Chris conquered his fears and found success in five stages, which he calls the anatomy of a fighter—courage, perseverance, mindset, discipline, and willpower—the five resources we can all draw on in order to reach our dreams, no matter what they are. The message is simple; we have to replace fear with faith. If God can do something great with a skate punk from Pickering Ontario, imagine what he can do with your life!  

My Thoughts

I was curious when I signed up for this review.  One, the author was a popular Christian musician from Ontario, Canada.  Second, I love reading biographies.  And I was not disappointed.  This young man is being totally honest and transparent with his story.  The goal of this book is to encourage the reader who feels like the dreams are gone, he/she doesn’t know where to start, has regrets, and needs inspiration from someone who went through it as well.   You will discover how Manafest had struggles, battled adversity, let God into his heart, and conquered his fears.

Reading his testimony was uplifting in some ways because I was able to somewhat connect with him on some levels.   I also experienced God’s life changing ways in my own life and I find it inspiring to read about other people who went through though times and were able to raise above it all to pursue their dreams.  

Manafest will show you how you can also conquer your own fears and find success with five stages – the anatomy of a fighter: Courage, Perseverance, Mindset, Discipline, and Willpower.    These five resources will allow you to rise above the circumstances in your life and reach out for your own personal dreams, no matter what they are.   Life is a journey.  It’s not always easy and you will have some blocks on the road at times.  But with God on your side, you can be certain that the Spirit will provide all the things you need to be able to realize your dreams.

Whether you are a youth wondering what to do in life or someone who need to rise above whatever is happening to you, this book will give you’re a great testimony from someone who pursued what he wanted to be in life with the help of God.

Fighter is available for purchase at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca and amazon.com

Disclaimer: Thanks to Chris Greenwood, Manafest Productions Inc. and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for sending me the above mentioned book for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Celebrating Easter with Hasbro and Target.


hasbro_2009When spring arrives (and we sure know it took time to point its nose in Canada this year!), we also know that a big holiday is just around the corner – Easter.   Every year, many parents and grand-parents purchase chocolate to the kids.  I recall getting my traditional Easter Egg from Laura Secord when I grew up.   Nowadays, I don’t get them on a yearly basis for various reasons but I also find that sweets are not as popular as they used to be either.   Many companies like Hasbro offers other type of Easter goodies to kids young and old.   Once again this year, I am presenting you with some ideas for your children that won’t bring cavities or hyper-energetic kids once the long week-end is passed.

And please keep reading because I have a huge announcement from Hasbro and Target at the bottom of this post.

Here’s some fun ideas to bless your kids this Easter season.

208D5CD650569047F5723814E156B066Mouse Trap Game

You’ve probably played the game when you were younger yourself.  MouseTrap is an iconic game from Hasbro for many years now.   But this time around, the game is specially designed with little ones in mind.   This specific edition of Mouse Trap will allow your kids to run through the maze as Sneakers Mouse, Nacho Mouse or Pepper Mouse.  All you have to do is spin on the cheesy spinner and start the game.  When one of your friends' mouse is in the cheesy trap area and you land on the right space, you've got a chance to catch them in the zany trap made of Hungry Hippo and Girafalaff contraptions.  Keep scurrying and scampering until someone gets caught. If you're the first to trap a mouse, you win.    The game includes 3 game board pieces, 3 mouse figures, cardboard spinner, cheese wedge spinner and base, tub, ladder, tree trunk, banana branch, cheese wedge slide, boot, branch, seesaw log, tree leaves, trap, Hungry Hippo, Elefun, Jock Croc, Chasin' Cheeky and Giraffalaff figures, 2 marbles and instructions.

I find this version of the game to be very creative.  The giraffe, the monkey, and the hippo are all fun to look at.   Even the mice themselves have a special color and smiling faces.    I think it is great to have adapted an iconic game for this smaller version for younger kids.   Two to three players can play this edition of Mouse Trap.  The pieces are easy to put together and you can expect laughter when your kids will play it.

FurReal Friends Butterscotch, My Walkin’ Pony Pet53D43C5E50569047F54635DF7B4BD2B4

FurReal Friends have been on the market for a few years now.  It reminds me of a small dog I used to have when I was younger.  It would yap and then at some point jump backyard.    Theses animals from Hasbro will react at the touch of your child.  Butterscotch is a sweet little pony pet that possess a soft and cuddly fur.  When you pet her, she will move her head in your direction or nuzzle up to you to show how much she loves you. She makes sweet pony sounds and even moves her ears.   This little pony is always ready for a treat, and when you feed your pony friend her ""carrot,"" she makes munching sounds. She'll be the fanciest pony in the show when you groom her soft coat with the brush. With such a caring owner, you both might win best in show!   The package contains one pony, a brush, 1 clip and pet care guide.

My sweet daughter loves pony and I know she will totally enjoy this one.   The fact that Butterscotch is so interative makes it interesting for my daughters doll.   I know she will be able to sit them on the back of this little pony for a ride

288DDFEB50569047F54AEF82D80E530DFurby Furblings Creature

When Furby first came out on the market many years ago, I was already too old.  When it came back on the market a few years ago, I never had the chance to review one.  I thought they were cute and adorable though.   I kept seeing them on the shelves in stores when I would visit one of the local toy store.   More recently, Furby was once again on the market with the help of a new app.  Well this Easter, check out the new generation of Furby creatures.   This Furblings creature has a mind of its own, but it needs your love and care.   You don't have to do it alone, though, because it will also share a special connection with your Furby Boom creature (sold separately). When you put the two of them together you will be able to watch them talk to each other.   Again you can also download a free app and unlock a virtual Furblings creature to add to your collection.   Get virtual eggs and hatch and raise your Furblings on your mobile device (sold separately)!   The Furby app is optional and works with iPad, iPod touch and iPhone with iOS 5.0 or later.   The app is not compatible with prior Furby generations.    For more details, check Furby.com for device compatibility.

Okay I will admit that I seriously think these little furblings are adorable.  Though we don’t have a Furby Book in our home, I still think this toy will bring some fun time for my  daughter.   It is soft and doesn’t take much place.   In fact, your child can slide it in a purse and bring it with her if needed be. 


Finally, the last item I have received to present you as part of the options for Easter is the Furby Boom Surprise Egg

Again, these are new for this Easter.  Conveniently package in an egg shape you could surprise your kids with a few of these mixed with the other Easter eggs hidden in your house or backyard this year.   In fact, a whole new generation of Furby creatures is hatching.  These Surprise Eggs possess a hidden toy inside each one of them.   I have taken the liberty to include some of the samples you might stumble when opening one of the eggs.  You can scan your toy in the free Furby Boom app and unlock a whole bunch of new Furby fun.  Hatch them all (each sold separately) for a whole slew of virtual Furby hatchlings!   This is original but the toy is quite small.  It’s perfect for collectable and to exchange with friends during recess time.  



As you can see there are many ideas for Easter for all your kids whether they are young or older.  If you prefer blessing them with something different than sweet during Easter, you can be certain to find numerous ideas with Hasbro Canada and Target.   In fact, all the Hasbro Games are on sale now through to April 24, 2014 at Target Canada with a 30% off special on them. 

Now, here’s my special announcement for my readers…

GREAT NEWS!HasbroGames_Target

Hasbro and Target Canada have teamed up to offer a wonderful giveaway to my readers.  

to win the below prize pack:

To participate, all you need to do is click on the button below and swing by my facebook page.


Disclaimer: Thanks to Hasbro Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.


Monday, April 7, 2014

A Year with Six Sisters’ Stuff

Six-Sisters-Stuff-A-Year-with-450x450A Year with Six Sisters’ Stuff – 52 menu plans, recipes, and ideas to bring families together
Published at Shadow Mountain

About the book

With more than 150 new recipes, complete with individual pictures, shopping lists, and easy-to-follow instructions, Six Sisters’ Stuff transforms an overwhelming list of recipes and ingredients into a no-hassle, tasty meal schedule the whole family will enjoy. You’ll also learn how the Six Sisters bring their families to the table with their fun family traditions and kid-friendly meals.

My Thoughts

I love having a new cookbook.   I was contacted to participate to this blog tour because I have reviewed a previous book from the Six Sisters.  Learning that it contained 52 menu plans, recipes and ideas I thought it would be great to review this book and applied to be part of the blog tour.

I was delighted when I received my copy as I find that both books is a feast for the eyes (not to mention the belly eventually).   Through the pages of this book, you will discover marvelous photos of all the meals included in it.   Each menu – all fifty-two of them – includes a main meal, an accompaniment and something for your sweet tooth.  This book is definitively packed with mouth-watering recipes that I can’t wait to try with my family.

On March 17th, I decided to do a meal from the Six Sisters’ STUFF book in order to celebrate St-Patrick’s Day.   Note that we have incorporated green food coloring in our mashed potatoes as well.  Since we had just purchase some pork that we cut in chops, I thought that the Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops recipe would be perfect.    So here’s the recipe for you.

Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops


1 (20-ounces) can pineapple rings, juice reserved
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 to 6 pork chops

Mix together pineapple juice (reserved from the can of pineapple rings), brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder in a large resealable plastic bag until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add pork chops and zip closed.  Store in the fridge 8 to 12 hours.    NOTE:   I find used plastic bags is not environmentally friendly when you end up throwing the bag afterwards.   We have a special container for marinating that we use all the time.   So I mixed all the ingredients and made sure the sugar was dissolved before including the pork chops in the container.   A few times during the 24 hours period of the marinating, I make sure the container is flipped in order to have all sides of the pork chops soaked in the mixture.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  Remove the chops and place on the grill.    Brush the pork chops with marinade while they are cooking to let the flavor soak in.  

Grill until pork chops are browned and no longer pink inside (about 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chops).  Internal temperature should register 145 degrees F.

While the chops are cooking, place the pineapple rings on the grill and cook until they are warmed through and have a slight grill marks on them.   Serve pork chops with grilled pineapple on top.

Make 4 to 6 servings.

The results was fabulous.   Everyone in the family, from the child who is six years old to the adult who was forty-four at the time, enjoyed the recipe.   Mind you I didn’t do the whole menu suggested for this recipe.    That’s the beauty of this cookbook, you can decide to do a menu or just a recipe from a menu.  You have also the possibility of mix and matching the recipes and create a brand new menu if you feel like it.   The possibilities within this cookbook alone are phenomenal.    Alongside recipes and menus, you will find some tradition suggestions, crafts, and other useful information like a measurement conversion chart or a 52 weeks of food storage to avoid being needy when a crisis happens.    You will also find 52 conversation starters for family dinner (assuming you eat together as a family only once a week which I find is not enough) and many other ideas.

Once again, I am impressed with what the Six Sisters have come up in order to offer you a marvelous book packed with menu ideas.   But to be honest, I find that many of these recipes can be find on Pinterest and are not new.    It’s just a matter of if you want to spend the time to search or not.  If you are not a digger (like me), then this book would be a marvelous addition for your personal cookbooks library.   But if you like searching and discovering new recipes you might want to continue to dig in Pinterest.   Since I love both – Pinterest and new cookbook – I am quite pleased to have A Year with Six Sisters’ STUFF in my kitchen.   What makes it even more interesting is that my kids can pick the cookbook, chose a recipe and make it without me worrying that they will stumble on inappropriate images from the internet.

When you see tantalizing pictures like this, how can you not resist trying the recipes included in the book?  The Aloha Burger (picture below) is one of the recipes we want to try as a family.    This burger is already making my kids salivating just by looking at its picture. 

imageimage image



Great news! For this special blog tour, 10 books will be given away. Follow the instructions below for a chance to win!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A Year with Six Sisters’ STUFF is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca and amazon.com.

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition

Disclaimer: Thanks to Shadow Mountain for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

First Meals

9781553630906HFirst Meals – Fast, Healthy, and Fun Foods for Infants and Toddlers
Written by Anabel Karmel
Published at DK Canada

About the book

Give children the best start to life with the hundreds of recipes in this bestselling easy-to-use cookbook from children's food guru Annabel Karmel. From flavourful first purées and easy-to-make family meals to finger-licking picnic and party noshes, First Meals features over 200 enticing recipes for babies and toddlers.

Helpful tips from Annabel as well as nutritional information and tips on how to handle food allergies and fussy eaters complete this delicious book. Crammed with delicious recipes, practical advice and time – saving tips, this is an essential cookbook for all families with young children.

  • Recipes tried and tested by a panel of babies of toddlers
  • Nutritional breakdowns of recipes included

My Thoughts

When I had kids, I thought I would feed them the processed food found in stores.  After all, I was raised on such items and I turned out fine.  But after a couple of months when my oldest son joined our family, I discovered the possibility of making his purée food at home.  We got a book titled First Meals and proceeded to making out-of-the-ordinary purée for him (and eventually his siblings) with the help of our blender.   My husband was so amazed with the quality of the food made with this book that  he quickly told me to keep the book so that I can feed him good things if he ever has to eat only purée food.   Needless to say that the book is safely tucked in a box in our basement for the future – hopefully more for our grandkids than for my husband…

The new edition of the book contains over 200 tasty and healthy recipes that have been tested on babies, toddlers and young children.    These recipes will help you to assure that your child is getting all the benefits of a balanced diet from the younger stages of his/her life.     The book is packed with mouth-watering recipes that will develop the taste buds of your little one as he/she grows up.  From the creamy vegetable purée to the  sticky mango chicken you will find a huge variety of ideas that will allow you to introduce new flavors and textures in the mouth of your kids.   Since we cracked open our older edition of the book, I find new recipes that I want to try out – like that sticky mango chicken found in the 3 to 7 years old section which sounds delicious if you ask me… 

Let’s explore the table of contents together so you can see what the book covers;

  • Early Nutrition
  • Healthy Eating
  • Food Allergies
  • Kitchen Basics
  • Weaning your Baby:  Starting solids, exploring tastes, first tastes recipes, new tastes and textures recipes
  • 9 to 12 months: growing appetites, a varied menu recipes
  • 12 to 18 months: changing needs, food for the senses recipes
  • 18 months to 2 years: the active toddler, fast food for toddlers recipes, the picky eater recipes
  • 2 to 3 years: early childhood, fun foods recipes
  • 3 to 7 years old: preschool and beyond, healthy snacks recipes, family meals recipes
  • Menu planner

Here’s my four kids in the age of purée food – they all tasted recipes found in the First Meals book we had back then (born in 2001, 2004, 2005, and 2007).



Now my kids are all grown up – respectively ages almost 13, 10, 8, and 6 – and though they are far from having kids of their own, I cherish my older version of this book (and the new one obviously) so that my grandkids have healthy options when they grow up.   Already the two oldest wants a copy of the book for their own kids (*grin)  and I told them they could share.  I also truly believe that my kids are not fussy about food and willing to try a variety of new flavors because of us being proactive in presenting numerous recipes from the older version of First Meals when they were young.

The author has also published other titles like More First Meals, Baby’s First Year, Mom and Me Cookbook and The Toddler Cookbook.   First Meals is a great idea for baby showers or new parents.  

First Meals is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca and amazon.com.

DK Canada is offering numerous books that are baby related in their April Baby Boutique.  Check them all out to see which one you think would be beneficial to you or someone in your family.


Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Phonetic Zoo Level C

I was introduced to the Phonetic Zoo by another homeschooler in town who shared how it was helping her sons with their spelling.   I wasn’t too sure about it but she then mentioned that I could test my oldest child with their placement test.   My curiosity was picked and I was wondering how Alexandre, who is in grade 7 this year, would do in this placement test.  So one day back in early November 2013, I sat down with him at our dining table and proceeded in giving him the placement test.   At first, he wasn’t thrilled about it because he knew that he might have one more subject to do.   But he complied and wrote the test.

The placement test is quite easy to do.  You first give the spelling placement test I which would challenge kids from grades 3-5 (Level A).   Immediately, I knew that he would have facility in doing this spelling placement test but we went with it anyway.   Turns out that he had two errors with one of them was just because I had not given him a sentence using the word.  The word was wait but Alexandre had written weight.    So technically, he had only one wrong.   Because he missed between 0 and 6 words, the placement test suggested that I give him the third test (Level C).   So that’s what I did and started giving him the words in the Spelling Placement Test III.   As I gave him the words, he dutifully wrote them on a piece of paper.   After he finished the 50 words, I took his sheet of paper and started correcting the ones he missed.  Based on the Spelling Placement Test III, he had missed 10 words.    With this score in hands, I knew that if I wanted him to use the Phonetic Zoo, he would have to start at the level C (which is for high school and beyond).

What is Phonetic Zoo?image

Phonetic Zoo is a phonics-based program that uses auditory input to ensure that the correct spelling of each word is absorbed by the brain.  The program is based on audio CDs which allow students to work independently much of the time, while allowing for the repetition in order to achieve mastery.

A package of Phonetic Zoom would include:

  • 6 audio CDs
  • Spelling and the Brain DVD with the following:
    • Spelling and the Brain video seminar
    • Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo video
    • The Phonetic Zoo teacher’s notes PDF file
  • Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards, which serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards

This program is designed for children ages 9 and up. If your student is younger, begin with All About Spelling.  There are three levels of the Excellence in Spelling program: Level A (primary), Level B (intermediate), and Level C (highest).   By giving your child one or more of the three spelling tests available on IEW, you can determine at which level he/she should begin. http://iew.com/spellplacetest

Our Experience

Now, when I gave the placement test to Alexandre it was impossible to purchase this right away.  However, I figure that I could always ask to review it.  Imagine my delight when I got a positive answer and received the Phonetic Zoo Level C in the mail one day.   Now, my son wasn’t thrilled at first.  But seeing how easy it was to use and how flexible the program was in term of progression, he agreed to do it.  

Phonetic Zoo Level C is specifically geared for grades 9-12 students.  However, my son, being in grade 7, had done the placement test and could comfortably use it at his level.   So we embarked on a journey of discovery in using Phonetic Zoo Level C late in November.   It has been four months we are using it on and off because of Christmas and the Olympics in February, but so far I like the way the program is presented.

First the child has to use a CD in order to get the list of words to spell in the notebook we had purchased.   Once he had gone through the first lesson, Alexandre was able to correct the ones he missed by himself.   Afterwards, the student has to redo the lesson until all the words are mastered.   Let me tell you that initially, my son wasn’t too happy about the fact that he had to redo the lesson, but to be honest I think it is the best way to learn.   After all, isn’t there a saying that tells us that practice makes perfect?   Anyhow, one of the lessons he had to redo three times.   But when he finally got all the words right, he was very happy about it.   Each lessons will challenge the child to spell correctly 15 words.  The pronunciation of the words is well done and allow the child plenty of time to write the answer in his notebook.   Following the spelling test, the next track on the CD will guide the child in correcting any words that he has missed.   If one or more words are not spelled properly, the child will have to redo the lesson until mastery is achieve and all the words are spelled correctly.

In all the level we have received has 6 discs of lesson containing over 47 lessons.   At intervals during the lessons, the child has to spell words from a personal spelling list.   At that point, the student and his teacher can select 15 words from previously done lessons that need to be correctly spelled two days in a row.    Once that is achieve, the student can continue the lessons with the CD until the next personal spelling test.   The last CD also contains the final exam divided in two parts and asking the child to spell correctly a total of 70 words.  If the child is able to spell correctly 63 words from that list, they are considered a mature speller.   However, if the result is less than 63 correct words, the child is asked to go through the whole set of CD again in order to better grasp the spelling rules, jingles and hints that had to be memorized.  The goal of this curriculum is to achieve excellence in spelling.

I am very impressed with the quality of the Phonetic Zoo curriculum.  To be honest, the more I see my oldest son using it, the more I look forward for my younger kids to use the lower levels.    And just the other day, I decided that I would also go through the Phonetic Zoo curriculum in order to deepen my English vocabulary (I am French Canadian).   So I asked my son to give me the placement tests and I also need to start at Level C.  

I highly recommend the Phonetic Zoo curriculum to anyone who would like their kids to improve in their spelling abilities.   It is a great tool to have that will also teach the child to become more independent in their lessons as they grow up. 

The price tag for Phonetic Zoo Level C for the CD alone is 79$.   If you wish to purchase the CD with the printed materials (Lessons cards, personal spelling cards, zoo cards) then expect paying 99$ for them.   (Note:  all prices are in US dollar).    Also available are Level A for grades 3-8 and Level B for grades 3-8.   Phonetic Zoo Level C is also available in Canada via Excellent Resources

Disclaimer: Thanks to Excellent Resources for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Captain America The Winter Soldier Toy Line

hasbro_2009Captain America: The Winter Soldier Toy Line
By Hasbro Canada

If they are movies that my husband and I are waiting patiently to come out in theatres – its definitively the ones that involved comic characters.   And this coming Friday – April 3rd, 2014 – the new Captain America movie will be out.     Along with the movie, Hasbro Canada has released numerous toysimage based on the character found in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Being comic books fans, we are looking forward for the movie to come out and see it in theatre.    It’s a date that we never miss, my husband and I.   We always go see a comic book movie at the theater.   Our two oldest boy would love to see it as well but they will have to wait until the movie is out on DVD.

Once again, Hasbro has come out with fun toys based on the new movie of Captain America.  The characters from Captain America: The Winter Soldier will more than likely find interest in boys and girls throughout the country.   For the purpose of this blog post, I have received three items from their new selections of toys based on the movie.

imageCaptain America Marvel Platinum 6” Legends Assortment

I specifically requested Black Widow as my girl loves Super Heroes movies just as much as her brothers.  Knowing that we have previous Captain America figures, I thought it would be nice to get one for her.   Imagine my delight when I opened the box and saw that I did received the Black Widow character.    

This Black Widow figure is no ordinary super-spy! She's got the same combat skills and weapons that make her so effective against evil. But she also comes with a torso that you can use to build a menacing Mandroid figure.   You will have to collect all the parts (other figures sold separately) to complete the armored droid, then send him and your Black Widow figure and her partners into battle.   This figure is much larger than the regular ones that we usually see everywhere.  Also included in the kit are an extra head and two hands which are good to have if you loose one.


Captain America 3.75” Super Soldier Gear Assortmentimage

For the 3.75” figure, I was very happy to discover the Winter Soldier in the box.    Because we are comic book fans, we know who this character is but I won’t give you the mystery just yet in case it is clarified in the movie.     As we know, in the fight for freedom, Captain America battles foes packing an array of diabolical weapons. Your Captain America figure will  his match when he battles against the Winter Soldier who is armed with a precision strike weapon which will launch a missile right against him.


imageCaptain America Quick Launch Vehicle Assortment

Finally, I also received  a Combat ATV vehicle on which Captain America will be way too fast for his enemies to handle.   On this heavy-duty combat vehicle, Captain America will be protected from behind with his shield on his back and chase his enemies down.   Thanks to the launcher, Captain America will be able to take them down in a matter of seconds.  


As you can see, there are numerous new toys based on the new Captain America The Winter Soldier movie.  You will be able to also find numerous other characters in the 3.75” and 6” size.   Don’t forget that in order to be able to build the Mandroid, you will need to get other 6” Captain America Marvel Platinum figures in order to build it.  Other vehicles are also available as well.

Each of these toys – as well as the others one available in this new line – are available at your favourite toy store through the country as well as on amazon.com.




Disclaimer: Thanks to Hasbro Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.