A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Month: January 2021

Sampling Book Clubs for Kids

If you have been following me, you have read my posts about Owl Post Books.  This has been my first experience in participating in a book club for my grandchildren.  We have thoroughly enjoyed it!  The mystery of discovering what new books and crafts are inside are fun for kids and adults alike.  So a thought hit me…let’s give other subscription boxes a try to see which one we like best.  The idea of sampling book clubs for kids was born and we are ready to embark upon this journey!

As I sample each club, I will update this post to give an honest review…from a Mimi point of view as well as from an Addi & Max point of view.  I hope as we try each one you can all decide which one you may want to try.  As always, if you have tried one or more out, PLEASE let me know in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Book Clubs for Kids ~

Owl Post Books ~

Let’s start with the box ~ even the box is a fun part of this subscription.  Each month is a different theme and the images are very detailed allowing for a fun coloring experience.  Look at this month’s cute animal theme…and it is on front and back of the box.  Of course, this box can also be used as a fun storage device as well!

There are two options to choose from when starting in this fun club.

  • Reader’s Imagination Mini ~ This one features one specially selected book and craft each month for $14.99
  • Reader’s Imagination Box ~ This one features 3 specially selected books and one craft each month for $32.99

It also breaks down into different age groups.

  • Ages 0-3
  • Ages 4-7
  • Ages 8-11

Click here to check out their website➡➡ Owl Post Books.  Depending on when  you go to their website, you may see an option for Young Adult (YA), however, this option is being discontinued.

Overall, our experience with Owl Post Books has been a very good one.  In fact, Addi just recently realized that we did this month’s craft without her and was NOT happy with Mimi.  The book choices have been loved by both kids and they have lots of fun coloring the box.  We highly recommend this monthly book club.

I have shared some earlier reviews of Owl Post Books here:  Read more about the fun we have had with Owl Post Books by clicking here!

They offer 10% off for teachers and you can cancel at any time.  Please check their FAQ page for details.

Bookroo ~

I am placing my first order for Bookroo today.  I have been researching this company quite a bit and it gets great reviews.  I am very anxious to see the type of books we receive.  The reviews all say that the choice of books is phenomenal!   Following is what I have read in my research about this fun book club subscription.

They offer options of prepay or month to month.  Both options are at a discounted rate of up to 50% off of retail value, however, the prepay offers an even deeper discount.  There are 3 options of age groups to choose from.

  • Board Book Club ~ Ages 0-3 ~ You receive 3 board books each month.  The books typically have 8 – 14 pages.
  • Picture Book Club ~ Ages 3-6 ~ You receive 2 hard cover books each month.  The books typically have 32-40 pages.
  • Chapter Book Club ~ Ages 7-10 ~ You receive 2 chapter books each month.  The books typically have 120-280 pages.

They offer a flexible delivery schedule which I personally love.  I like to have the books delivered here so the kids have something to look forward to.  Since they are not here all the time, I can choose a time for delivery that I know they are typically here.  Part of the fun is checking in the mailbox to see if there is something in there for you, right?  They also have a cancel at anytime policy, but as always you should check their FAQ page on their website.

Join me in trying this one out with the 15% coupon below…

Give the gift of reading all year round! Get 15% off today at bookroo.com

Lillypost ~

This one is also on my list as it, too, gets great reviews.  Bonus...you also are helping others with each box you receive!  Their website states:  Pick your box, choose a plan, delight your little one and give back!  How cool is that???  For each box shipped, a book donation to a child in need is given!  You and your child are helping others while still enjoying great books!

Kids Reveal Box ~

Another one that looks great and allows you to help others!  Their website states:  Choose your box, choose your plan, excite the kids and give back.  This club also includes an interactive box that the books are shipped in.  We definitely have added this one to the “must try” list.

Amazon Prime Book Box ~

Of course, we have to add Amazon Prime because I just love everything prime!  They have so many different options that it would be impossible to list them all.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Do you remember Highlights books?? Now you can have them delivered monthly…check it out here!

My First Reading Club – for ages 0-2 ~ Check out their adorable monthly selections here!

I Can Read – Kids Book Club Subscription for Ages 0 – 12 can be checked out here!

I have only touched the tip of the iceberg with my list of options.  As we continue to hear about more subscription boxes for kids, I will be sure to update this post.  I think the grandkids and I are going to have a lot of fun sampling book clubs for kids!

*Note ~ Through my blogging experience, I continue to partner up with different companies that have products/services I love to share with others.  As stated on my site, there are times I earn a commission and times I do not.  Please know any earnings I do make never affect the prices of my readers.   In fact, I am always trying to look for the best value to share with you and just love to find new fun goodies.  If you do see items you like, I hope you will click through and check them out!

 

 

Mother-Daughter Bucket List

Give me a show of hands for those who LOVE spending time with their daughter(s)!  🙋‍♀️  Whether we are sitting with a cup of warm coffee or a glass of chilled wine, my heart soars every time I get time with my girls to just chat.  However, we also go on a lot of fun escapades as well.  We are continuously looking for new adventures.  This led me to create a mother-daughter bucket list.

Now, I must admit that I am the boring one of the group as I don’t particularly care to travel far.  I wish I did, but it just gives me anxiety.  While I am being so open, I will tell you that most of my anxiety comes from packing a suitcase.  Yes, I am that silly!  Luckily, I have amazing daughters that realize this and are just fine with more locally based activities…or ones that are within driving distance.

Bucket List ~

Most people are aware that a bucket list is a list of things you wish to do or accomplish during their lifetime.   I would venture to guess that it became more popular after the wonderful movie The Bucket List.  You have seen this great movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, right?   Of course, in the movie both characters were terminally ill and went on very big adventures before passing.

When you research, you see so many extravagant titles such as 50 Amazing things to do before you die, or 100 Unique bucket list ideas that will change your life.  Those tend to be the ones I read first…and you probably do too.  They are filled with great ideas…some that I have truly never heard of but am still fascinated by.  However, my bucket list isn’t quite that extravagant.

Fun Activities Close to Home ~

  1. Haunted Indianapolis Ghost Walk ~ Those of you who know me are not surprised that this is on the top of my list.  Of course, my daughters share the love of everything scary as well!  Going on a chilly October evening to hear of local haunts while also catching up on local history sounds fabulous!  I would love to hear your reviews if you have done this.  If you have not yet, check it out here … Check out the Haunted Indianapolis Ghost Walk here!
  2. Walk the Entire Monon Trail ~ We have walked portions of it, but have never in its entirety.  It has been improved upon over the years with so many fun stops along the way.  Exercising, Dining and Shopping….sign me up!
  3. Drive on Gravity Hill ~ Another fun thing to do with my girls in Mooresville, Indiana.  Rumor has it that if you put your car in neutral at the “bottom” of the hill, the hill will start to pull it up – in the wrong direction.  Have you heard of it?
  4. Wine & Canvas ~ Surprisingly, we have not yet done this…but we will!  There are so many different options out there now and they all look great.  Does anyone have a favorite they want to recommend?
  5. Go to a Drive-In Movie ~ This was one of my favorite memories as a child and I would love to share the experience with my children and grandchildren!
  6. Go on a Wine Tour ~ Need I say more about this…doesn’t everyone love wine tours?
  7. Ride on a Brew Bus ~ My kids have done this, but I haven’t gotten to experience it yet!
  8. Newfields Winter Lights ~ The pictures I see look amazing and I can’t wait to experience it with my family.
  9. See the Mind Tripping Show ~ A comedy with a psychological twist!
  10. Weekend at Brown County AND Story Inn ~ Hiking, shopping and an overnight in the legendary Blue Room at Story Inn…😨👻
  11. Murder Mystery Dinner ~ We have participated in a murder mystery dinner at a restaurant and it was fun but not quite what I was expecting.  Since then I have always said I would host one at home.  I have looked at many over the last couple of years and have finally decided on this Mardi Gras Mystery.  I think it will be fun to dress up and play this one out.  You can check it out here ➡Murder at Mardi Gras – Host Your Own Murder Mystery Dinner Party

Fun Activities With a Light Drive ~

  1. Salem, Massachcusetts ~ Ok, Ok….so this one will need a flight instead of a drive…the girls and I want to go here so bad that I will give in and fly for this one!  We are going to need several days to explore all of the “witchy” areas!
  2. Indiana Dunes ~ a fun weekend of hiking, biking, dining and exploring will be in store for this fun trip!
  3. Midwest Antiquing ~ There are several fun day/weekend trip plans available to hit all of the local antique shops.
  4. Run, Scream, Run ~   We love 5K’s but so far we have only done local runs.  A 5K/10K run in Michigan with yes, you guessed it, some scary fun added in!

As you see, the non-local mother-daughter bucket list is smaller, but hey, I am  very open to suggestions.  Basically, I just want to do more fun things with the family.  Many times these events are done more with the girls because we have a hard time pulling the guys away from their sports.  Of course, finding activities with the grandkids is just an extra bonus.

Over the last several years, the girls and I have done many fun things together…at home and away from home.   The times we don’t feel like getting out we still enjoy family game nights, cooking together, and watching movies or binge watching the latest drama series, working on puzzles and walking.  So, as stated earlier, the bucket list doesn’t always have to be extravagant.  I just feel very blessed to get every moment I do with these two beautiful girls that I am lucky enough to call my daughters…and my best friends!

 

Do you have a mother-daughter bucket list?  Let me know what is on yours!

Hope to hear from you soon…..with love, Shelly (Mimi)

Social Media Fasting

I’m sitting here literally laughing at myself as I just typed the title of this post.  I have been diligently working and learning all about blogging….and I LOVE it!  As you all know, blogging is all about writing about what you love and sharing it with others.  In order to share, you have to make yourself known…and this of course mostly happens through social media.  So WHY am I writing an article about Social Media Fasting???

As much as I truly love technology and everything social media, I also love everything family!  I have had many debates with others over the years about the positives vs. the negatives of social media.  Both sides have very valid points, but for me it’s a good thing.  I have reconnected with so many people I had lost touch with…followed family fun of others…enjoyed seeing pictures…celebrated milestones with my children’s friends that have grown up and started work and now have families of their own.  This list goes on and on.

WHY???

However, I do think taking a break from social media…short, intermittent breaks….can bring many positives into your world.  Try this for 24 hours.  Then try it once a week or once a month.  I’m betting you will be very surprised.  I just finished a 24-hour fast from social media and game apps.  I surrounded myself with blank paper and books.  Every time I went to pick up my phone to check the latest updates, I set it down and picked up a book or paper instead.  Those books were about prayer and positive writings.  I then prayed after I read each time.

I have been following a local family that has gone through a great tragedy with their children.  I tried this fasting upon the request from a large following that asked everyone to give up something and pray in return for the family.  I am a strong believer in the power of prayer, but I have gained more from this than what I expected.  You, too, can follow this family on Facebook ~ Light for Levi and Lainey.

What I Gained From Social Media Fasting ~

  • More time in prayer, not only for this very precious family, but for my own!
  • Relaxation – my brain relaxed!
  • Sleep – Ahhhh, this was amazing and I’m assuming it was because of the above bullet point!
  • Time to read – something I love but tend to put off to play “just one more game!”
  • More time to communicate with my family….talking and LISTENING!  I have been working on listening lately.  Really listening.  My mind is so often moving on to the next thing that I have realized I do listen, but I’m not always fully “hearing”…or my head is buried in my phone too much to listen intently.

What I Expect to Gain Long Term ~

I am setting a date on my calendar to do a 24-hour fast each month.  Eventually it may be each week, but I want to take it slow so I can make it stick.  I have no intention of giving up social media…I love it too much!  Just taking time once a month to make myself enjoy the other things in life I have put on the back burner.  Once you start letting those other important elements back into your life, you may find how much you miss them.

What to Do While Fasting ~

  • Read!  Read passages in the Bible, self help books or that novel you have been wanting to dig in to!  Did you know that you can do a quick search on Amazon of New York Times current best sellers….it doesn’t get any easier than that!!!  I’ve put a quick link in for you here to check it out:    New York Times Best Sellers
  • Write!  Jot down what is in your head, write poetry, write a letter (remember snail mail???), write a story…just write!  I love to have loads of different pens and paper available for this.  I have recently become an affiliate of a couple of really cool stationery companies..I hope you will check them out!
  • Yoga!  Whether you have done yoga before or not, it is something everyone should look into.  So take that social media break and spend some time stretching and destressing!  I wrote about this in an earlier blog post.  You can do yoga as a family too…Yoga with Meddy Teddy!
  • Get Outdoors!  There is nothing like fresh air…whether it’s hot or cold!  Take a walk, do some yard work or just sit and get some natural vitamin D.  Leave the phone inside for a bit!
  • Cook!   Ok…you can use your phone but ONLY if it is to look up a recipe…don’t cheat….no social media or games!
  • Pray and Meditate!  It’s just good for your soul!  Mark 10:27 ~ All things are possible with God!
  • Call Someone!  Reach out and catch up with a friend or family member.

Whether it is something from the list above or another favorite hobby, try a little social media fasting and see what a mere 24 hours can do.  Seriously, 24 hours doesn’t seem like a long time but I know I sure was amazed by it!  I slept better and woke up with a fantastic start to my day feeling good about what I had read the night before!

It’s Time for A Challenge!

Are you up for it?  Subscribe to my page and work along with me!  Let’s do a 24 hour challenge once a week for the next 4 weeks.  #SMFChallengewithMimi.  Respond in the comments or click on the subscribe button (at the right on desktop or at the bottom of the blog on phone) so we can support each other.  What are you waiting for????

Loving Life ~ Shelly (Mimi)

 

Valentine’s Day Family Fun

Valentine’s Day ~ The celebration of romance and love!  My dad always said it was another Hallmark holiday…😂!  As a child, it is such a fun day to share Valentine’s cards and specialty candies with your friends.  But it can be so much more than that.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I have always loved this holiday and I still do.  For us it evolved into a special time to have some Valentine’s Day family fun!

If your children are of school age, you are probably already working ahead with them to create their decorated box or bag to collect their precious valentines in.  IF, due to Covid this year, you don’t get to do this at school, take the time to still make one for home.  Ask family members to send valentines to fill their goody box!  While in the planning process, why not make a special breakfast to start their day out right?

Valentine’s Day Breakfast ~

Mornings are hectic, I know!  But with just a little planning, it doesn’t take much to make breakfast special for this day!   Over the years, we have added food coloring to different food dishes to match the theme of the holiday…some have been great…and some not so much! For example, I urge you to NOT make green oatmeal on St. Patrick’s Day…I promise…it does not go over well!

Last year, Lauren got pretty creative with her breakfast ideas for the kids.  Suffice it to say that they LOVED it!  It consisted of red, heart shaped pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

They also had some festive strawberry milk.  She made a batch of strawberry milk ahead of time and poured it into heart-shaped ice cube trays.  When it was time for breakfast, they popped those ice cubes into a plain glass of milk….and voila!

There was a little planning ahead time.  Not too time consuming but oh so fun!  Next, let’s get to work on how we are going to present their Valentine goodies!  Need those fun ice cube trays….Get this 24-cube silicone heart mold by Wilton!  The trays can be used for ice cubes, gelatin, baking and candy molds!

Some other fun food ideas are:

Valentine Fruit Wands by afewshortcuts.com ~ This is an oh so easy yet festive snack recipe the kids will definitely love!

Valentine Grazing Board by ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com ~ Shove the diet aside for one day because you are going to love this Valentine’s Day grazing board!  yum!

Valentine Candy Poster ~

For many years, I would make a valentine candy poster for the kids.  It is such a fun way to give them their Valentine goodies.  It warms my heart that Lauren has continued this tradition.  They are so much fun to make and even more fun to receive.

I think it is easiest if you buy your candy first before making your Valentine poem.  Of course, you will want to try to work in their favorites.  This way you know what candy names you are working with to create the clever wording needed to make your poem work.

Types of Candy with Sample Sayings ~

Please don’t

You are  Extra Sugarfree Bubble Gum Slim Pack - 10 / Boxspecial

I love you to Image result for Reeses pieces

I wouldn’t trade you for Image result for 100 Grand bar

You are the best kid in the See the source image

Sending you hugs & Hershey's Kisses - 1 piece

This Valentine’s Day is going to be a Image result for Whoppersof a day!

To my   Sweetarts - 1.8 Oz Roll

You are A--zing!

You’re no!

You Skor - 1.4 Oz Baran A!

These are just a few examples of how you can create your own personalized Valentine’s poem.  There are so many clever sayings you can create with the names of the candy in it.  In fact, it is not only fun to make one for the kids but have fun and make one for your honey too!

Valentine’s Day Family Fun Continues ~

Now you weren’t planning on just handing these works of art to the kiddos, were you????  Of course not!  They need to work to get their special treats!  After all, you put a lot of time into making that Valentine poster for them.  So how do you suggest we do that?  Glad you asked!  Have you ever played the Yarn Scavenger Hunt game?

Items Needed for the Yarn Scavenger Hunt ~

1 color of yarn for each person playing

A room that has items to crawl under and over

Not too bad, right?  You will start off by choosing one color for each child and tying one end of each ball of yarn to something in the room.  This will be the starting point.  You can start everyone off at the same point or in different areas.  Weave the yarn over couches, under chairs, around tables.  Safety is key, but you want them crawling over and under as much as possible….even over each other at times when their yarns cross each other.

They will collect the yarn as they go in an effort to get to the end and ultimately to their Valentine candy!  For such a simple game, you will enjoy watching the children laugh hysterically as they race to get to the end.

Of course, once they get to the end of their yarn, they will be gifted with their candy poem poster.

You can also have fun decorating cookies in fun Valentine’s Day shapes.  Although the cookie and icing recipe I shared in an earlier post was for Christmas, you can still refer back to it for the recipes.  Click here to find the cookie recipe and icing for your Valentine’s Day cookies!  Making cookies is always a fun festive idea!

Whatever you choose to do to make this day special….be sure to have a full day of Valentine’s Day Family Fun!!!!

Love ~ Shelly

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Sausage with Fennel

Pappy on the Penarve is at it again….this time making homemade sausage with fennel….AH…MAZING!!!!!  He has been perfecting this recipe for quite some time, and the end result is worth all of the work.  Let me tell you, there are quite a few steps to the end result…but oh is it worth it!!  That being said, it would be a great idea to purchase quite a bit of meat to work with so you can store some for later!  By doing this, it makes the time spent making this delicious sausage even more worthwhile!

In our recipe a KitchenAid mixer with the meat grinder attachment is used.  I absolutely love my KitchenAid and use it for so many different recipes.  Check out the Black Storm KitchenAid Professional Series Mixer ~ it is a FANTASTIC addition to any kitchen!

There are, of course, other great meat grinder options:

This electric meat grinder gets great reviews…check it out here!

This manual meat grinder has a suction base and gets great reviews…check it out here!

These grinders work for so much more than just making sausage.  I grew up with my mom making homemade ham salad.  We still put in requests for her secret recipe to this day!  Yes, I said secret!  And yes, that recipe will be coming soon so stay tuned!

Back to the Homemade Sausage with Fennel ~

As stated earlier, buy the pork shoulder butt in bulk.  When we find it on sale, we go hog wild….yes, pun intended! 🤣  The savings you will notice will astound you!

What you will need ~

  • The fattest pork shoulder/butt you can find…seriously buy that fatty stuff!
  • Fennel seed – if you are like Brad (Pappy), you will want an abundance of this!
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • Red Wine or cooking wine (we used a nice Cab)
Step 1 ~

Cut the pork shoulder/butt into chunks for grinding and place in a disposable foil pan.

Step 2 ~

Cover the meat with foil and move to the freezer to get to a cold state.  This helps the grinding process go much smoother.  Brad kept it in the freezer for about 1 hour.

Step 3 ~

Grind the meat chunks.

Step 4 ~

Generously season the ground pork shoulder/butt.

Step 5 ~

*After completely blending, make 1 or 2 small patties.  Fry these patties for tasting.  This is an important step before moving on!  This will enable you to decide if it is seasoned to your liking.  If you are preparing meat to store for later use, you will want to be sure you are happy with the flavor.

Step 6 ~

Add additional seasoning if you prefer.  Cover ground meat and place back in freezer for about an hour.

Step 7 ~

Remove from freezer and prepare your mixer for the final prep stage of your homemade sausage with fennel.  *If you don’t have a mixer with sausage stuffer capabilities, you can make it into patties.  We actually prefer to make different types of sausages for various serving options.  When using the sausage stuffer, it is helpful to watch videos first to aid in the process.  I have provided a link from KitchenAid.com right here ~  Use this handy link from KitchenAid to view how to use the sausage stuffer attachment!

If you are making into patties, there are many options on that process.  I prefer rolling the sausage out and using a glass or biscuit cutter to be the best option for more uniform patties.  However, sometimes we just form them with our hands as we did in the picture above.  If you choose to roll out it, there are different methods, I like the method that HappyMoneySaver.com uses here ~  Happy Money Saver describes the rolling out and cutting process in detail here!

 

Freezing Homemade Sausage with Fennel ~

We love the Food Saver Vacuum Sealer for so many freezer foods.  It does such a great job protecting food from air and freezer burn.  It is also ideal for food prep.  You can double so many of your recipes and save half of them for later, making busy nights or lunch time woes a cinch!    Get your own Food Saver Vacuum Sealer here…you will love it!

Like so many kitchen gadgets, you may ask yourself, “Will I really use this?”  From experience, this is one gadget we are very happy to have and we find ourselves using it often.

We will use this sausage for breakfast and dinner ideas.  Our favorite is grilled sausage with peppers and onion served with a side of rice.  However, we will definitely be looking for new fun ideas to use this yummy sausage as well.

 

Meal prep has become widely popular for busy families and lunch preparation.  This homemade sausage with fennel is an ideal recipe for just that!  Not to mention the savings you will see.  For this recipe we bought almost 10 pounds of pork for $9.  Seriously $9!  The amount of sausage links it yields (depending on how big you choose to make each one) is phenomenal!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!  Let us know in the comments below!  Also, follow MimiBlog with the link and you can stay up to date with all the great recipes!

Have a great week!

 

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