Movie Review – Eragon

My husband, my daughter, and I have all read the first two books in the Eragon series. We love them and we were very excited to hear that a movie was being created from young Paolini’s Fantasy novels. Since this movie was rated PG my husband and I ventured out on our own to view it – we screen all movies, especially PG and up before the children are allowed to watch them.

First, I want to say that the books, although great, are not for everybody. Magic and war fill the first two volumes (the third is not out yet). There is no sex or swearing – this series is completely clean of those things (so far). There are however, many scenes where magic is used, blood is shed, and one fortune-telling scene involving a witch of some sort. All of this, in my mind, was played up very well as being fictional – not at all like the very popular Harry Potter saga, which I believe comes too close to the real world of witchcraft and such, but closer to Lord Of The Rings, although not as graphic. Eragon, the books, come close to crossing the line a few times (magic stuff) but for the most part they are clean and easy on the eyes of young adults. The story line talks about using your gifts for good even when you are scared, family relationships and devotion, the respecting of parents and elders, good v/s evil, accepting other cultures and races, and patience. I personally loved that Eragon’s cousin opted to work hard to earn a living and develop the ability to take care of a family before he married the girl he loved. What an unheard of concept in today’s world. There are talks of prayer, of a god, and of “gifts” as well, but nothing points to Christianity and there was one time that the elves talk of there being no “god” but a power that comes from the earth, or something like that (one negative aspect of the book). I saw this as being just one of many different races with many different beliefs in these books and not an adgenda being played out.
As for the movie – it was well done in the content area. No sex, no cursing, no completely gorey scenes; although there is war, violence, and blood. An elf’s top is a little too low in a scene or two and a small bit of her leg shows in one scene. The elf’s armor looks a little odd on her, showing off a bit of her shape but not well. I don’t think these scenes were meant to be “sexy” but they could prove to be a temptation of sorts to a young teen boy.
Although the special effects were pretty good the flow of the movie could have used some help. It was choppy and bounced all over the place. Some scenes that were meant to be serious turned out to be humerous making it hard for the audience to take it seriously. Some of the acting could have used a bit more direction and the witch lady was laughable (this was probably a good thing).
Overall I think the movie was good and mild and kept to the overall young adult feel of the books. My real beef was the previews shown BEFORE the movie. Most of them were rated R and were VERY inappropriate for the young audiance that filled the theater. I am not sure who’s idea that was but it warned me to be extra careful when I take my kids to the theater (something we don’t do often).
To sum it up:
Although I enjoyed Eragon and will have no problems letting my almost 12 year old view it I strongly encourage you to view it first to make sure it is appropriate for YOUR children. Don’t take my word or anybody else’s word for it. As I said in the beginning, this story isn’t approriate for all children – be on your guard!
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Smore’s Pops

These marshmellow pops were an idea I found in a magazine and we modified it a bit to make smores marshmellow pops.
Step by step I will go through this very simple process. You will be very pleased at how easy this treat is to make.

First you will need these supplies:

  • Melting chocolate
  • Large Marshmellows
  • Gram Crachers (I prefer cinnamon)
  • popcycle sticks, lollypop sticks, or short scewers
  • Sandwich baggies (the kind without the zip-lock)
  • Twist ties

We purchased some chocolate pieces made for melting and candy making. They were easy to find in our grocers baking section near the chocolate chips.

I don’t have a double broiler – I have never needed one. I just use a pot on top of a pot on my stove. I simmer water in the bottom pot and then set a slightly bigger pot on top of it with my chocolate pieces in it. You can melt them in the microwave but the chocolate hardens so fast that I find it works better to just keep it warm on my homemade double broiler.

Make sure to stir your chocolate a lot while it is melted. You don’t have to stir it constantly just make sure you stir it often.
While you wait for your chocolate to melt get your large marshmellows ready. Take popcycle sticks, short scewers, or lollypop sticks (if you can find them) and push a marshmellow onto each one.
When your chocolate is completely melted you will want to dip your marshmellow-on-a-stick into the chocolate. Use a spoon to help cover the marshmellow completely with chocolate.Have your crushed cinnamon or regular gram crackers ready. As soon as your marshmellow is covered with chocolate you will need to coat it in the gram cracker crumbs. The easiest way to do this is to have the crumbs in a bowl where you can grab some and sprinkle them over your chocolate covered marshmellow. Yes, some of the chocolate will drip into the crumbs but that is okay.

Stand your finished pop in a short and thin glass like this:

The chocolate will harden quick but if you want it super quick you can put the pops in the freezer for 2 or 3 minutes.
We use cheap sandwich baggies to cover them with when the chocolate hardens. Then we twist tie them with some twist ties that our grocers deli workers gave to us (we have a great grocery store!) The finished product looks like this.

Here is a photo of a basket full of them:

We made 17 of these in 30 miniutes. They are so easy and the kids loved helping. Even Matthew (3) was able to help make some.

Next we are making hot cocoa cones. These are really cool and so easy! Photo’s and recipe to come tomorrow.

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Yummy Christmas…

I am home from church today – Ben (almost 2) is sick and, although he is in a good mood, the bug he has caused my 4 year old nephew to get pnumonia so I am not taking any chances on getting any other children sick. Ben really needs his rest anyway and I am not sure it would be a good idea to drag him out into the cold weather.


Our family absolutely loves to cook and bake during the holidays. We enjoy cookie, candy and desert making and the house smells so yummy every year. This year we have decided to put that love of baking into our Christmas gifts. My idea was to get baskets from Michaels and fill them with the goodies we make. We started baking and yesterday it was – cookies! There
are typically three kinds of Christmas cookes that my daughter and I bake. The classic Chocolate Chip Cookie, Egg Nogg Cookies, and Vanderhoos. My daughter (almost 12) is a wiz in the kitchen. Although she doesn’t bake the Egg Nogg cookies, simple because she doesn’t like them at all, she makes the Chocolate Chip and Vanderhoo Cookies most of the time.
I will
be adding our recipes to this blog as we go, along with pictures of our masterpieces. Most of these recipes are not our own but may be exact or modified from recipes we have found on packages, in books, and on the internet.

Chocolate
Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (butter flavored
    Crisco can replace 1/2 cup of the butter for a very nice flavor and
    texture)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (if you want)

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. In a different bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture a little at a time until combined. Add your chocolate chips and nuts (if desired). Drop rounded table spoon sized mounds onto a cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each cookie. You don’t want to place them too close together so take your time. Bake at 375 for 7 to 8 minutes
until edges start to brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack or a counter covered in wax paper. When completely cool you can place them in an air tight container.

Egg Nogg
Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups softened butter
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmega and mix well. Set aside the flour mixture while you cream sugar and butter in a separate bowl. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks
and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until combined and be sure not over mix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto un-greased baking sheets 1 ” apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes at 300 in a pre-heated oven until edges start to turn brown and IMMEDIATELY transfer them to cool on a wax paper covered counter to cool this is KEY to having an Egg Nogg Cookie that is not falling apart!

Also, there are a few flavored egg noggs that might taste good in these cookies. I think flavored coffee creamers might be tasty in these as an egg nogg substitue, as well.

 

Vanderhoos

Oooh, these are the absolute best, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet, crumbly, and gooey filled cookies you will every find and, NO, I will not be giving out the recipe – SORRY, my mother and grandmother would kill me!!! This recipe is family secret. You can find similar recipes
on the internet under divinity but I will assure you that it is not the same. I actually had a very sweet lady get angry and call me names once because I wouldn’t give her the recipe and she rarely talked to me after the fact. That is how unbelievably delicious these cookies are.


Today we will be making Summer Sausage from scratch. We have actually already started this one but it has to sit in the fridge overnight so all we will need to do is bake them to
complete them. Actually, my husband got busy mixing the ingredients yesterday morning. He absolutely loves to bake when he has time and even more than that he loves Summer Sausage. He was not patient enough to wait for me to start it today. We have never tried this
recipe before so I guess we will see this evening if our Summer Sausage is anything worth giving in our goodie baskets. I will post our Summer Sausage photo and recipe tomorrow.

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Rainsing Selfless Children

What is it about kids these days that make people think they are not capable of not being greedy? While I, along with my two siblings, were quite the greedy children my children have surprised me with being the opposite. Yes, they do expect gifts for birthdays and such, only because we have accidentally trained them this way, but when they only get one or two they are forever thankful for it.

Although we don’t participate in the whole Santa thing, we usually overdo Christmas. We set out with a list of what to buy for which child and we end up coming back with much more stuff than we set out for. We buy goofy little toys for the baby too, which he inevitably throws aside so he can play with the boxes they came in. As it always turns out, we end up spending $100 or more for boxes because they toys that came in them were just needless decoration to our youngest. This has been the case with each of our 5 children during their babyhood.

A few months ago my husband and I got this crazy notion in our heads to forgo Christmas gifts this year to focus on Christ and our family or maybe we will find a needy family and focus on serving this year. We talked to the kids about it and let them know what to expect this upcoming holiday season. We told them that we might go rent a cabin somewhere for a couple of days and just hang out together and enjoy each other. Unsure of what response we thought we might receive we were quite surprised when the three oldest were completely in favor of this idea. The two youngest aren’t really old enough to understand any of it but Matthew (3) did get excited along with the others.
Explaining this decision to extended family got us very mixed reactions, none of which were favorable. Many of our relatives actually feel sorry for my kids. They are under the assumption that my older children, ages 6, 8, and 11, can’t understand fully what they are agreeing to and will wake up on Christmas morning to no gifts and feel the truth of what my husband and I did to them.
Is it really that hard to believe that kids can actually not be greedy? Our kids have everything they need plus an endless supply of things they don’t need. We have been blessed abundantly and our kids are some of the happiest children I have ever known. The idea of giving is more exciting to them than getting. I see this as I watch them give away their own stuff to visitors, adults and children. They don’t want anybody to leave our home empty handed. I honestly have no idea where they get this from but I want to keep it growing.
I love to give to my children. I want so badly to be able to run out to the toy stores and buy them every toy they ever wanted. More than that however, I want to give them a gift greater than anything we could ever purchase. I want to give them the gift of a giving heart. I don’t want to overshadow that with needless stuff that will clutter our home, minds, and hearts.

It is true that the less you have the less you want. I could never imagine wanting all the stuff I have now when we were first married. We had to scrounge around in the car for change to buy milk and bread. A couch was a dream of mine. Any decent couch would do, just something to put in my completely empty living room. After many years of marriage, a large wrap around couch, a lounge chair, and a rocking chair my desires changed a bit. A big screen TV was next on our list along with nice speakers, a new computer, and an X-Box. I would never have dreamed of these things during those newlywed years but not long ago they seemed very important all of the sudden. We just weren’t happy with what we had ~ we wanted MORE.
Now, with 5 children and one on the way and a house full of un-needed stuff we have decided that we are absolutely GREEDY! What are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them to be giving instead of greedy? Nope. We are teaching them that a 65″ TV isn’t a bad idea although there are families that could have used that money to keep from having to skip meals.

I am rambling but my point is that kids aren’t going to die because they don’t receive Christmas gifts. The truth is they might learn to live for a more joyous purpose.

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A Small House, PLEASE!

I want a smaller house. I told my husband this the other night and he looked at me as if I had gone mad. Right now we live in a decent sized 4 bedroom house with a living room, dining room, recreation room, large laundry room, and two bathrooms. We live here with our 5 kids plus the one due in May. Our house is 100 years old and has great bones. I wouldn’t call it beautiful but it is very nice and does the job of sheltering us perfectly.
I still want a smaller house. My idea of a good sized house is a master bedroom, a room for the boys, a room for the girls, a dining room (only so that we can seat our family together at meals) a living room (big enough for our couch, table, sewing machine and computer), a laundry room, and one or two bathrooms. A nice sized storage area would be helpful, too. My store inventory does need a place to live.

Yes, this does sound big but we have more than this now and every room is completely full of furniture. It all just feels like too much. I would really love to downsize, get rid of stuff, and live in closer quarters so I can be closer to my children all day, everyday.
My dear husband tells me to get used to it, that this is the smallest house we will have from now on. YECK!

Why is it lately that I feel the need to simplify everything? Smaller house, pre-made frozen meals (homemade), and reduction of junk. Maybe this is just part of my nesting this time around or maybe I am just wanting a simpler, cheaper, easier life.
I want so badly just to throw stuff away. I look at something out of place and my first thought is “toss it”. I cannot exactly do that – it would end up costing us more money in the long run, but I am just tired of having so much stuff with no where to put it all. I feel like a smaller house would force us to get rid of those things we really don’t need. It would cause us to have to re-evaluate our “need” standard.
My husband is in the Navy so we will be selling this house in just over a year and shortly after we will be moving across the country again. Maybe our next house will be the house of my dreams, maybe not. I am satisfied that God will put us where He wants us and I will be happy with it.
I am not really complaining, just having some feelings about our material surroundings. God has blessed our family with so much and I don’t want to clutter and suffocate that with stuff we don’t need.

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Those New Classics

Has this ever happened to you?
You are sitting with your family, young children and all, watching a new classic that you remember loving as a child, when suddenly you burst out making crazy noises drawing much confused attention to yourself. While doing this you are up searching for the remote, simply trying to turn the screen off, but you can’t do it fast enough so you continue screeching and dancing around like a crazy person until you can get to the TV’s power button.
Yes, I have done this. Many of you with children already know why.
It has come to my attention in the last year or so that not all movies I remember watching as a child are appropriate for my children. I also have learned that my memory is horrible as I don’t really recall much about these movies, only that I like them. My parents were somewhat sheltering so I have been completely surprised at what I was allowed to watch and even more surprised that my husband saw these flicks as a child as well.
I have come to the conclusion that my memory isn’t enough and I have to go back to screening everything that I haven’t seen in the last few years, that or perfect my attention diverting dance of lunacy.
And, just a tip here, “Short Circuit” and “Spaceballs”, both which I saw around age 11, are NOT appropriate for children, no matter how fond a memory you have of them.

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No More Television

I LOVE Frugal Fridays on Biblical Womanhood’s awesome blog. This one may not be popular. For years it wasn’t a popular idea in our family either. Over time, and with more children filling our house and better ideas of how we wanted to spend our days, the idea of no TV became much more ideal for us.

I wrote a blog on no TV a while back. It talked about our turning point when it came to television which had little, if nothing, to do with saving money. We have noticed since then how much money we actually save – and not just on cable alone! Let me explain.

Cable and satellite subscriptions aren’t cheap ($30 – $60 is average from what we have seen). You end up getting roped in to channels you didn’t know you had to have and when you miss a good show on a station that you don’t subscribe to you feel jipped.
Set aside the cost of the actual subscription. What about the commercials? You didn’t know you needed all that stuff to make your life more pleasant, did you? That special spatuala, that neat juicer that promises to make you 50 lbs lighter in 3 weeks, and the duster sent down from heaven itself so you could sit back and watch Opera while it cleans your house for you.
The truth is that the spatula broke the third time you used it, the juicer is covered with cobwebs on top of your refrigerator and the magic duster is in the babies toy box, collecting dust with all those other toys you saw on TV and just had to get him.

Turning off your TV can literally save you thousands a year.

If you are struggling with turning off your TV try this website. Trash Your TV can help you in your decision to cut those thick TV strings. They offer information and statistics to help you make the right choice for your family and tips to help families overcome TV’s addictive effects. Just give it a try!

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Online Co-ops are a good thing

Co-ops are groups of people who get together to buy bulk from manufacturers to get a discounted price. Sometimes the discount isn’t great but much of the time you can get great items for close to wholesale pricing!

I only belong to 2 coops right now but the more I look into them the more I think I might want to join a few more. The 2 groups I belong to are fabric coops and there are a bunch of great hard to find fabrics at great prices!
By looking up “coops” or “co-ops” on Yahoo Groups I found one for hot process soapmaking, candles, crafts, toiletry making, baby shoes, cloth diapers, Momufactured Co-ops, and even biodeisel! Those were only on the first three (out of 31) pages that came up!
If you do a lot of sewing or other needle crafts there are a ton of sewing and knitting supply groups.
I simply LOVE the idea of co-ops!
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Use Cloth

We use cloth diapers (Fuzzi Bunz, Rumpsters, and a few others thrown in here and there). These newer cloth diapers are so easy – no rinsing or soaking needed. Our first cloth diaper stash was over $200 but we made up that cost in just a few months of not having to buy disposables! Also, many modern cloth diapers have an excellent resale value and can be resold on eBay for just a small bit under what they cost new!
We also use cloth wipes in a wipes warmer with a really great wipes solution that I make here at home. I use cloth feminine pads (preggers now so I don’t need them). There are also other reusable feminine protection products if you don’t like pads. The keeper, I think, is one of them. You can find many different options if you Google “reusable feminine products”.

We use the same kind of baby cloth wipes as our swiffer refills. I mix water with whatever cheap cleaning formula we can get and we soak the wipes in a Gladware container until they are needed ~ very convenient!

When I need them I use cloth nursing pads, too. I have some by Mother Eve that are contoured to fit in a bra so they don’t bunch up and show funny shapes through my shirt. They are so much more comfortable than paper.

We have saved thousands of dollars by using cloth over the years. I am SO VERY lazy but the switch wasn’t tough like I thought it would be!

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A Sinful Past and a Beautiful Future

Every so often I get the feeling that I need to tell my story. I don’t know where the feeling comes from or who it is, if anybody, that may need to hear an encouraging story of somebody who made it out of the miry clay. Maybe it is for me, so I don’t forget. Maybe you have a similar story, or your child is going through something much like what I put myself through.
Either way, here it is in its abridged form.

My daughter, Kait, is 11. We had an amazing talk the other night (we always have amazing talks) and I was impressed, as always, at her ability to grasp and understand tough subjects. She has a heart for God and a love for Jesus. The talk we had was of our past, of where we have come from and how we got where we are now. Kait doesn’t remember, but I do. She and I were in it together and how close we are now is a reflection of the path she and I have shared, even though she has no recall of it. I have, over the years, given her the age appropriate details so that she can see the truth about sin, redemption, and God’s faithful promise of forgiveness.

Up until the weeks preceding my marriage to my dear husband my life was in disarray. I was 22 then and I already had a 2 year old child out of the sanctity of marriage, a very low paying job, absolutely no ambition, trouble to get into, parties to go to, an eviction and loss of almost everything (much of what didn’t belong to me), and many other things that my non-Christian life called for.
By the time Ryan and I married I was ready for a break from my sinful, painful past. Like Hosea, my husband swept me and my lovely 2 year old daughter away from our path to eternal death but unlike Hosea’s wife, I stuck around out of sheer desperation. Ryan was my rock. I felt no need for anything but the gift of him. It was only months before I followed my husband as he led me to Christ. A year later I was baptized. That is when I found true contentment.

My dear daughter will be 12 in January. She is a beautiful picture of a Christian girl. I feel I can honestly say that the sins of my past will not fall on her head and I give all thanks and glory to the Lord for her firm grasp of His word and her desire to live it everyday. Ryan loved her as a daughter from the get go and he adopted her when she was 3. All of her memories are of a completely united family. She knows the truth about our past (or as much as she can understand at her age) and although she is appalled at my behavior, she loves seeing how much God loves us and how he pulled her dear mother out of the depths of death even after such horrible sin. Kait sees what God’s grace has done for her. She understands that she was not the sin, it was my sin that got us in trouble; however, Kait knows that her life would be much different if it weren’t for God’s saving grace.

Changes are possible. Complete 180’s happen. If I can change anybody can.

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