February Reading Challenge and List

20110212_183The reading list for February was pretty easy to choose this month.  There was enough going on during the month to give me quite a few choices.

Without further a do, here is the reading challenge list:

  • Animal in Storyline: Groundhog day is February 2nd.  I decided to go with a story that includes an animal in it.
  • Love in the Title:  With Valentine’s Day being the biggest holiday of the month, I couldn’t pass that up.  So find a book with the word “love” in the title.
  • Athlete or Sport:  Superbowl Sunday is also this month.  Find yourself a book on your favorite athlete or team and read up on them!
  • Feast, Party, or Religious Celebration:  Since we are celebrating Jewish holidays this year, I included this one in the list.  Purim is this month, which is the recognition of Esther and her sacrifice for her people.
  • Heart on the Cover:  To keep up with the Valentine’s Day theme, I decided to go with hearts on the cover.

Here is the list that I plan on reading for this month:

  1. The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
  2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. The Way of Karate by George E. Mattson
  4. Hanukkah by Frank Ra
  5. Cold Night Warm Belly by Paul Allen

Now you may notice that my choice for #5 is a recipe book.  I don’t care what type of book it is that you read, as long as you read it.  With recipe books, I don’t read ingredients and directions word for word.  But I do read all of the informative pages and other info, along with skim all of the recipes.  So to me, that is reading a book.  It counts on my list!

If you would like to join me this month you can leave a comment below!  Feel free to leave your blog link also if you feel like reading along with the challenges!



Book Review: Working in the Northwest Woods by Dennis Willard

book nerd word artI always enjoy reading books that take place in my home state, Washington.  I believe this book I found for free on my Kindle.  Working in the Northwest Woods by Dennis Willard took place in Washington, with a trip to Oregon or Idaho here and there.

I found that there wasn’t really any point to this book, or the stories in it, besides to bring enjoyment to the write and reader.  I found most of the stories were interesting and some even comical.

I enjoyed the descriptive logging section, that told of how logging was done in the old days.  It was fun to learn that.

I think that the author did a great job relaying the love that he felt for the forest and trees.

Maybe that is why I also liked the book.  I felt a connection between the author and myself because of my love for trees and the Pacific Northwest.  Mr. Willard definitely seemed proud to call Washington state home.

I would recommend this book to others.  Especially those with a love for the outdoors, the Northwest and those green giants that we depend upon so much.  You  may even learn a thing or two!

This book also completed my reading challenge for the month of January.


Celebrating Tu B’Shevat 2013

Bare Winter Tree
Bare Winter Tree

Saturday was Tu B’Shevat, a Jewish holiday that resembles the United States Arbor Day.  I wrote more information on it in my previous blog post, Something New, Tu B’Shevat if you are interested.  Things did not go quite as I had planned, so we didn’t get to the store to buy our food for our little feast.  But we made do with what we had.

We took out my camera and each child took photos of trees that they liked.  We had previously talked about what this day meant to the Jewish people so they knew what was going on.

I particularly like this photo because that is the way I like to shoot trees also!
I particularly like this photo because that is the way I like to shoot trees also!

Of course, since we do live in the green and lush state of Washington, it started to rain about a minute after we stepped outside.  I wasn’t willing to get myself or my Nikon wet, so we weren’t outside long.

I did take the time to thank God for such wonderful creations.

Unfortunately, our first Jewish holiday that we try to appreciate wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  That’s ok, though.  We did a little part to observe in a small way.

I leave you today, with the photos of the majestic trees that my children took.  While glancing at these photos, maybe you could tell God how beautiful you think they are.  How grateful you are for trees and the wonderful things they provide.  Maybe you can go out and read under the shade of a tree in your yard.  If you aren’t able to go out to see a tree or two, you can read about them.  Find more information online about how God’s wonderful creation grows and reproduces.  How some of those trees make us food.  It is very interesting!

Oh and I forgot to add that my daughter did eat raisins on Saturday.  Those are made of grapes, which is one of the fruits recognized and eaten on Tu B’Shevat.



Something new, Tu B’Shevat


This year, in our homeschooling journey, I decided to add in learning about Jewish holidays and festivals.  I found a great website called chabad.org and it explains a lot to me and it even has information for the kids so they can understand at their level.

The first holiday of the year is Tu B’Shevat.  I have been read about this holiday on chabad.org.  I read a great article tonight on the connection between food and Tu B’Shevat.  It’s called Celebrating Pleasure and it was a great read.  What really spoke to me was the comparison made about how a baby nursing stimulates more milk, which is what the baby wants, but it also gives the mother more satisfaction and how that was the same as us drawing closer to God makes us want more of Him and it gives Him more satisfaction.  I suppose as a past-nursing-mother, I can understand the comparison.

The whole article was very moving and insightful.

I also went to the page for kids and read to them “What is Tu B’Shevat?” today.  There is coloring pages, audios to listen to and other articles to read there.  We listened to one audio story today and will listen to more tomorrow.  I also have planned for them to do some kind of art project.  Saturday is actually Tu B’Shevat, so we will celebrate that day with a little festival of our own.

I am still in the process of searching and researching all that has to do with this holiday.  We will definitely be eating some fruit.  I am hoping that I can find myself something to eat that won’t flare up my Oral Allergies Syndrome.  Maybe God will bless my food to my body and not let it give me a reaction.  I will pray for that.  I’d really like to eat an apple and some grapes.  The custom is to eat fruits that come from trees.

Tu B’Shevat is the beginning of the new year of the life cycle of fruit bearing trees.  Well, all trees, really.  But especially the fruit bearing ones are recognized.  I would tend to stick to more Israeli type fruits, such as pomegranates, grapes and maybe olives.  Traditionally, it is those eaten along with figs and dates.  I don’t think that I can get a pomegranate in season now.  The last ones we bought  not too long ago were icky old.  Yuck.

Chabad.org also tells me that this day is a day to reflect on the Bible verse, Deuteronomy 20:19, “…is the tree of the field a man…”.  I read the whole verse, and it all kind of confused me.  I think I’ll go back and read the verse before and after to see what the context is.  I will also read some articles on chabad.org about that verse.  There is a page called, Man and Tree, that have lots of articles that have to do with this verse.  There’s so much to explore on that site!

Hopefully I will remember to take pictures so that I can blog about how neat our party is on Saturday!  I have blogged before about trees, and my love for them, so I am looking forward to this holiday.


Book Review: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham

book nerd stickerThe Life of Abraham Lincoln was a book that I chose to read for my January Book Challenge.  When I choose something to read for a challenge, it really bugs me not to finish the books.  I feel like I fail the challenge then.   Plus, I ordinarily hate to stop a book unless it really offends me.

This book started out well enough.  It was slow going, but I think it’s due to the time when it was written.  But then it started talking all politics and things that I don’t understand.  I tried to follow through.  I really did.  I got 58% of the way through.  I really hate to stop when I’m that far.  But when I am making myself read something like it’s a chore, then it’s no fun.  So I am better off just stopping.

Penguin in the Snow

Winter on the Farm

20110212_24Waking up in the morning to the ground white and hard does not make me want to get out of bed in the morning.  Knowing that I must go out and tend to the chickens and ducks in the cold weather just makes me cringe when I wake up.

I am normally a morning person.  It’s my favorite time of the day!  I love to wake up early, be alone and have some quiet time to myself.  Even when it’s cold out, I like the mornings.

But since having these chickens the cold mornings are colder when I am out in it taking care of the animals.  Taking care of animals is a huge responsibility.  I tell myself this every morning.

My morning dialogue to myself goes like this:

“Ahhhh, it’s morning!  If I hurry and wake up, I can enjoy a cup of coffee and read my Bible in the quiet!”

“Oh no.  I have to go take care of the chickens.  It’s freezing.  I don’t want to!”

“Danielle, you know that you love having these chickens.  Just be a big girl, suck it up, and go take care of them.”

So after that conversation, I get up, turn on all of the space heaters (our furnace is broken, which makes it harder to get out of bed), turn on my electric blanket so it’s all warm for me when I sit down, put water in my kettle and on the stove, prepare my coffee press, get creamer and mug out and then I use the restroom and feed the cats.  By this time, usually, my water is just about ready and I wait to pour it into my press.  Other times, I use the restroom before I start it, so I go outside and take care of the chickens and ducks while my water heats up.

After my water is poured into the press, I get boots, hat, jacket on and I put the dog on the leash.  I take the dog with me if my daughter is asleep, if she wakes up, she likes to help me and she takes the dog.  This morning, I knew that their water would be a solid chunk of ice, so I was prepared with a new water tub.  I have a little sand bucket that I use to take warm water out for them when the hose is frozen.  It takes me about 3 trips to fill up the tub they drink out of.  I did this first this morning before letting them out.  I usually just let them out first.  After I got the feed and went into their yard.  This morning was the first time that it had froze the coop door.  Other mornings I do have to breathe on the lock to open the yard door.  I finally got the coop door open and the chickens come running out.

My daughter has a rooster, a Delaware, that is the greediest little pig.  He literally follows me around trying to get the food.  He makes me laugh.  So I have him hot on my heels while I am pouring several piles in different places for everyone.  I watch Louis, my blue faverolles rooster, stomp his feet at Bill the duck.  Bill just stands his ground and quacks at Louis.  I watch this every morning.  It cracks me up.

I always pour a little pile on the other side of the fence for my salmon faverolles, Philip.  He gets picked on and I always give him his own pile of food.  He knows that I do and none of the others have caught on.  Yet.  Philip is my special rooster.  He is the same age as Louis and Harry Clucker, who is a Lavender Orpington, yet he has never crowed.  He is not quite as big as either of them.  It’s very strange.  Our young roosters even are crowing, but not Philip.

After feeding, I usually water if my daughter hasn’t already.  But since I did it first this morning, I go into the coop and check for eggs.  I didn’t get one this morning.  Yesterday though, we got our first brown egg!  That was pretty exciting.

Tonight, I knew that it was once again going to be cold.  And right now it is 23 degrees and 9:55pm.  It is supposed to get down to 20 degrees by 4am.  So I emptied the water that was already in the tub and hadn’t froze today.  The chickens and ducks are all cooped up until the morning, so they don’t need the water in there.  This way, I can just take out the warm water and put it in the tub.  I won’t have to worry about frozen water.

I noticed today that the ducks had gone swimming in the water because the ground was frozen with ice all around the watering area.  Naughty little ducks.  The ground is hard enough with the frost.  But then to have ice?  Thankfully it was thin enough that it was not slippery.

The snow that we have doesn’t seem to bother any of the chickens or ducks.  They don’t have snow in their yard, because it has tree cover.  But the bigger chickens get out every day and they hang out in the grass where all of the snow is.

I do love having a small farm.  I love having our own eggs.  And if need be, we could eat our chickens.  Hopefully it doesn’t come to that yet.  I am not quite prepared for that step.


Book Review – Dreams & Relationships by Nicholas Heyneman

book nerd blueThis book I suffered through because I had it in my TBR pile and I put it on my 2013 Reading Challenge.  I did not enjoy it.  It made no sense for the most part.  Using imagery to control your dreams is what it referred to a lot.  That seems silly to me.

I don’t put much stock into these sorts of things anyways.  But I was a curious about what it said.  And it didn’t say much.  The majority of the book made reference to you and a lover.  I wasn’t interested in learning about my lover’s dreams and how they go along with mine.

Anyhow, it is now finished and I can move onto the next book that I am going to read.  I’m reading The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham on my Kindle Fire right now.  But I also need a book that I can read that’s not electronic, so I will be starting The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice.  I just love Anne Rice and her books.  I’ve never read one of her books and not liked it.  Most of them I’ve read twice!  So this oughta be good!

Here is an updated list of my Reading Challenge for 2013 list:

D Dreams and Relationships by Nicholas Heyneman   1/3/13 – 1/10/13

A – The Americas by Daniel J. Boorstin

N – Natural Flea Control

I – The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

E – Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

L – The Littles go to School by John Peterson

L – Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

E – Edible History by Cassandra Cookson

D – Declutter by Ava Connor

E – Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas Ph.D.

C – Contend Earnestly for the Faith: A Survey of Christian Apologetics by Phil Ferndandes Ph.D.

K – Kill the Clutter by Heather Lane

E – An Elementary Study of Islam by Mirza Tahir Ahmad

R – The Rising by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins



Book Review – Proverbs of the New Testament: A Relevant Study of the New Testament by Lara Velez

20110212_30Last night I started reading Proverbs of the New Testament: A Relevant Study of the New Testament by Lara Velez.  I really enjoyed this study of the book of James in the Bible.  I read this as part of my January 2013 Reading Challenge List.  I chose this to read because it had the word New in it.  As noted here in the list that I chose.

This study was interesting and convicting.  The author broke down the verses and chapters within the book and explained about them.  All of it was easy to understand.  I enjoyed it.  As I said, there was some convicting material in it.  I believe that there will be something convicting in it for everyone.  Only because none of us are perfect, and these chapters seem to touch on most of the sins that we would commit.

It was written in such a way that it is easy to read in bits to really get the information.  Ms. Velez sounds very knowledgeable, and is a fellow homeschooling mom such as myself.  I believe that I have a couple other books written by her on my Kindle with this one.  If you’d like to order this book on Amazon, click here.

My updated reading list for January is as follows:

  • Celebrate President’s Day – The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham
  • Birthday Book A Collection of Stories by Jack London 1/4/13 – 1/7/13
  • Who’s Got the Blues? – The Blue Hill Farms Guide to Basic Chicken Keeping by Kim Hamilton
  • Bringing in the New Year – Proverbs of the New Testament: A Relevant Study of the Book of James by Lara Velez, Founder of Moms of Faith  1/7/13 – 1/8/13
  • Snowy Days – Working in the Northwest Woods by Dennis Willard


Book Review – A Collection of Stories by Jack London


For my reading challenge for January I started with reading A Collection of Stories by Jack London.  This was to fulfill my challenge to read a book by an author that has a birthday in January.

If you’d like to see the original post where the list is go here.  If you would like to see my list that I plan to read for the challenge, go here.  I chose to read a book written by Jack London.  I have read The Call of the Wild and White Fang and I enjoyed them.  In fact, I believe that I have read them both two or three times.\

I got the book A Collection of Stories on Amazon for my Kindle Fire.  Inside this book, the short stories that are included are The Human Drift, Small-Boat Sailing, Four Horses and a Sailor, Nothing that Ever Came to Anything, That Dead Men Rise up Never, A Classic of the Sea, A Wicked Woman (Curtain Raiser) and The Birth Mark (Sketch).  The first six stories are tellings of experiences that Jack London himself experienced.

The Human Drift appeared to be a basic essay on the expansion of humans.

Small Boat-Sailing told of the days that London learned to sail and the excitement of it.

Four Horses and a Sailor was a story that he told of how he learned how to drive a team of four horses and toured the neighboring counties near his home in California.

A very strange store about Jack touring a town in Ecuador called Nothing That Ever Came to Anything tells an odd tale of him trying to buy leopard skins.  There wasn’t much of a point to this story.

More tales of his sailing days, this time on a ship, was told in That Dead Men Rise up Never.  Interesting story of the ghost sighting that London saw.

A Classic of the Sea had me lost.  I had no idea what this was talking about or who it was really referring to.  It says it is an “introduction to Two Years Before the Mast“.  I have no idea really.

A comical little skit called A Wicked Woman is included in this book.  It tells of a young lady who wants to marry one certain one man.  But she is being pestered by another young man whom she does not want to marry.  This was really not something that I pictured Jack London writing.

The last story included in this book is called The Birth Mark.  Another comical sketch written for Robert and Julia Fitzsimmons.  This is a little skit written about a woman in disguise and getting caught.  Once again, not sure of the point of the story, but cute none-the-less.

All in all, this was an ok book.  I wouldn’t read it again, there wasn’t much story and action.  But it wasn’t so boring that I wanted to pick my eyeballs out.


  • Celebrate President’s Day – The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham
  • Birthday Book A Collection of Stories by Jack London 1/4/13 – 1/7/13
  • Who’s Got the Blues? – The Blue Hill Farms Guide to Basic Chicken Keeping by Kim Hamilton
  • Bringing in the New Year – Proverbs of the New Testament: A Relevant Study of the Book of James by Lara Velez, Founder of Moms of Faith
  • Snowy Days – Working in the Northwest Woods by Dennis Willard


Living Intentionally Update and Focusing on Your Man

20110212_131Living Intentionally Day 2 Update:

Original blog post found here: http://www.upsidedownhomeschooling.com/living-intentionally-day-2-decluttering-surroundings/

Today my daughter and I cleaned up and rearranged my Living room.  We got just about the whole room cleaned.  I’m hoping to finish it tomorrow.  I have also started working on my kitchen.  I don’t know if that was in my last report or not, but I have not gotten real far on it.  I’m hoping to do better this week.

Living Intentionally Day 3 Update:

Original blog post found here: http://www.upsidedownhomeschooling.com/living-intentionally-day-3-decluttering-calendar/

Since I have cut out all of the church activities that I had to do, I have not been to church.  I have missed it, but I have seriously enjoyed not feeling guilty about  not going.  Well, I can’t lie.  I still feel guilty.  But I feel less guilt.  On the other hand, missing the pressure of having to be there at a certain time sure has been relaxing for me.  I needed a break I suppose.

This week I may take them to AWANA.  They asked me the other day if we could go.  So I suppose I really should take them.

I have also added time in the morning to reading Bible studies and listening to the Bible be read to me on my Kindle Fire every morning by using the app called YouVersion.  I LOVE IT!!  You can also find it here, online.  I just find the app much cooler to use.  I have been trying to do it while I’m still drinking my coffee in the morning and before I get online.   I have actually found that my mornings and days go much smoother by making sure that I make this priority.

That also plays into Living Intentionally Day 4.  Those two days pretty much go hand in hand.

The next part of the Living Intentionally series that I am doing is Living Intentionally Challenge: Week 3 – Being an Intentional Wife.  So after reading that post, it looks like tomorrow I will focus 30 minutes of my day on my hubby.