Fabulous Find – Free NaNoWriMo Workbook Downloads for Elementary, Middle, and High School!

I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing NaNoWriMo right now. Okay, not really, but I am doing a bunch to prepare my novel for July. I have a solid outline–possibly the sturdiest I’ve ever had going into a writing project. I have a timeline going, which is a first for me.  I have also read and watched tons and tons of articles and videos on NaNo, writing techniques, writing snacks, and…well, you get the point.

NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Workbooks. Free Download!

In my various travels through NaNoWorld, I found these free writing workbook downloads at the Young Writer’s Program website. I browsed through them, and they are pretty awesome. The homeschool mom part of me, though enjoying summer vacation, was thrilled!

There’s three different levels: elementary, middle school, and high school.  Each one has the same basic information, but it’s tailored a little differently for each grade. The elementary workbook is definitely for older elementary children. I think third grade might be a touch young,  but fourth or fifth grade is just right.

You can also purchase a copy if you would prefer. It’s totally up to you.

I hope you and your kiddos find these useful!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Between

This week’s photo challenge is between.  Here’s how The Daily Post describes it:

Between. Capture something in the middle of two things. It can be a person or object, or simply the space in between. It can also be a feeling or relationship — a bond that connects people, or a space that separates. This word might also reflect a choice you need to make — the challenge of choosing one thing over another — or any kind of transition, from childhood to adulthood, single life to married life, day to night.

So here you go–between:

BaseBallTree copy


Check out the original challenge here.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2014

Remember that post I did on Thursday talking about planning things and actually getting them done?  Yeah,  it just tossed out the window–not organizing our school area, that must be done, but the bit about finishing up the novel I’m writing.

You see, I just found out Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in July.  You can choose any project you want, and you set your own word count,  so it’s a lot more flexible than the original NaNoWriMo. I, however, feel the need to start on a fresh project for the month, so that’s what I will be doing.

I’ll be working on another young adult novel, and I’ve set my word count at 60,000 words.  So…see you in August!!! Kidding. Totally kidding.  Since I’m not schooling the children during the day (like I was in Novemeber), I should be able to keep up with my regular posting schedule.

If you’re thinking about participating, but you’re not sure if you can, do it! There is something truly wonderful about writing a book in a month.  Best of luck to the other participants out there, and maybe I’ll see you in my cabin!


So Simple Lip Balm Recipe

This is Jake’s favorite recipe. I can make luscious, wonderful lip balms with all kinds of butters and oils, and this is still the one he wants. It’s basic–I mean basic, and that’s what he likes.

So Simple



So Simple Lip Balm Recipe

1 oz Beeswax

3 oz Coconut Oil

Peppermint Essential Oil (optional)

Vitamin E Oil (optional)

Lip Balm Tubes or Pots

Heat the beeswax and coconut oil in a small microwave safe dish on high for about 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until completely melted. If  you want, you can add in a few drops of peppermint oil and a few drops of vitamin e oil.

Pour into your tubes or pots and let cool. You can use the lip balm as soon as it’s set! 

Scrivener Review–Great Computer Program for Writers and Students

Last November when I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, I tried out Scrivener, a writing program that was a sponsor for the event. As a perk for completing my word count and winning NaNoWriMo, I was able to purchase Scrivener at a discount. I would have purchased it anyway; I love it.

Click the picture to learn more about Scrivener. While you’re there, you can try out the free trial!

So what exactly is Scrivener? Here’s what their website has to say: Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.  

I can’t imagine writing without it. Let me tell you why.

1. When you start a new writing project, you can choose Blank, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Scriptwriting, or Miscellaneous.  You don’t have to set up your format–Scrivener does it for you. So far I have only used Fiction, so that’s what I’ll cover.

2. When you choose Fiction it gives you three options: Novel, Novel with Parts, or Short Story. I really appreciate the short story format when I write Flash Fiction.

3. Whether you choose the Novel option or the Novel with Parts, it will take you to a screen with a ‘bulletin board’ and a chapter already started for you. As you write your chapters, you simply add to your bulletin board. Once you are in a chapter, you can add scenes. Your character, setting, and notes are on the left hand side of the screen and easy to see and access at any time. 

4. You can label your Chapters and Scenes with their status: To Do, First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft, Title, or Done. This is such a great resource when you’re in the editing phase.

5. When your story or novel is complete,  Scrivener will compile everything for you and save it as a Word document, pdf, web page, and more.  While I’m writing, I will compile large chunks of my book, compile it as a Word document, and then e-mail it to my husband’s Kindle. It reads just like a book. It’s an easy way for him to give me feedback.

As many of you know, I homeschool my children. We’re still in the low end of elementary, and aren’t ready for a program like this…yet.  What a great resource this will be when they’re older.

Click here for several tutorial videos if you want to learn more. The very first video is a great introductory.

I love this product, and that’s why I’m doing a review.  I’m receiving no compensation from Scrivener. 

Planning, Procrastinating, and What I Want to Accomplish this Summer

I wish you could all meet my mother.  She is a woman who knows how to get things done. She recently moved to the lovely little mountain community of Eckert, Colorado.  The yard was big and beautiful…but needed a whole lot of work.  I don’t get up there as often as I would like, but she sends me pictures. You should see it now. Every time I speak with her she’s finished another little project.  New fences, painting, planting, weeding,  transplanting, she’s tackled them all. She’s a wonder. They’re putting in a green house soon. Seriously.

I, her daughter, am nothing like her in that respect. Nope, not me. I have projects all right, and I’m pretty handy with Pinterest, if I do say so myself, but I’m not so great with the action part of getting things done.



I’m sort of stuck in the planning stage. I love to plan. Oh, it just makes me so happy to sit down with my planner and dream of all the lovely things I’m going to accomplish. And after you plan it, you must highlight it with all kinds of colors according to category and importance. After that, you must make a list of everything you need, and that list has to be organized and categorized and amended fifty-billion times!

It’s the step after the list-making stage where I get stuck. It’s the doing.  I don’t know why, but sometimes it’s scary to start. Overwhelming, even. Maybe I take it too far, make the task too big. We’re not talking about remodeling a house here, people–we’re talking about small things like organizing a closet or cleaning out the fridge.

Once I start, if I ever start, I’m fine.  In fact, I usually enjoy whatever it is I’m doing. It’s like writing. Sometimes you stare at your computer screen, and you wonder, how am I going to turn this blank document into a story…a chapter…80,000 words? But then you’re clicking away at your keyboard, and you have no idea what you were so worried about.

We’re starting school again the third week in August. I have just two months to tackle my to-do list. The most important thing on that list is reorganizing our school area.  We have a fairly simple set up–a kitchen table and a bookcase–but toward the end of last year I came to the conclusion that wasn’t going to cut it for much longer.  My other big project is a book I’m writing. I’m at 50,000 words, and I would like to be finished around 80,000. As long as I don’t get distracted, I should have plenty of time.

There’s a few more little things I want to accomplish before the summer is over, like building a new bed for Weston, keeping up with the vegetable garden, and canning lots of summer produce.  I need to do quite a bit of freezer cooking, and I have a lot of sewing and soaping I want to get done.

I’m starting my lists and plans today, because frankly, I can’t live without them. This time I will progress past the planning to the doing stage. I’m thinking of starting with something really, really easy today–like organizing one shelf of the school bookshelf–just so I can check it off my list.  I figure that once several small items are checked off, I’ll have some real momentum to tackle the big stuff!

What are your summer projects or goals? How are you going to accomplish them?

Pattern Review – Butterick See & Sew B5939

We have been back from my cousin’s wedding in Texas for a week now, and I think we’re getting back into the flow of things. The trip was great, even if it was a little short.

My cousin’s wedding was gorgeous, but I didn’t get any pictures. Weston was ring bearer, Chelsea was flower girl, and I was in the house party as a candle lighter–which I found out I’m really bad at,  by the way.  Apparently I can’t get a wick to light when there’s a bunch of people watching. Oh, well, I got ’em in the end!

A few months ago I wrote this post trying to decide what pattern to use for my dress. At that time I didn’t know I was going to be in the house party. When my cousin asked if I would, that made picking out fabric much easier. We were all to be in mint.

At first, I thought I might buy a dress. Not as easy to find mint around here as I thought, though I am seeing a bunch of it in stores now (of course). I realized I was going to have to make it or order one online. The idea of ordering one in made me nervous; I’m very picky about the way things fit.

When I went to Joann fabrics, the pattern table was busy. While Chelsea and I waited for a couple spots to clear up, I noticed the See and Sew rack by the pattern cabinets. I was browsing,  not expecting much, when I found a pattern I really liked. I usually stick with McCall’s and Simplicity patterns with a few Vogue tossed in now and then, but I have only sewn one See and Sew.  Since the nightgown I made turned out well, I decided to go for it.

Here’s the pattern I chose:

See and Sew B5939 (Butterick)


I made the dress with the fuller skirt, but I left off the sleeves. It went together very nicely, though I did have to take in several inches off the waist.  That’s pretty common with me and patterns (and why I didn’t want to buy a dress online).

I also wanted a bodice in lace, so once I sewed it all together, I cut the skirt away at the waistline, added a lace overlay to the top, and then stitched it up again. It worked great.

This is the best part–the entire dress, including pattern and notions, was only $21.00.  The special occasion fabric was on sale for 50% off and the pattern was only $2.99.

This picture was taken after we got home, and even though we hung it up, it got wrinkled the night of the wedding and in the car home. It’s not the best picture, but it will give you an idea of how it turned out.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra

This week’s challenge was to share a photo with a little something extra. The flower is this photo was lovely, but the little bees made it ‘extra’ special.


To check out the original challenge, click here.


Rustic Lemon Hot Process with Ginger and Lemongrass Tea Recipe

I have to admit, there was only one reason I decided on hot process for this recipe–we needed soap immediately. I’m glad I was forced to do hot process, though. The lemon essential oil is strong in the finished bars, and I’m pretty sure it’s because it didn’t have to survive the saponification process.


This recipe is nice and bubbly, and it makes a hard bar. The tea and oil gave it a very pretty yellow color (almost as yellow as in the pictures, though not quite). I’m giving you the exact recipe I used. In case you’re curious, I ran out of olive oil and had to add in a little canola.  If you choose to use all olive oil instead of a tiny bit of canola, make sure you run it through a lye calculator.

You must use caution when working with lye. Wear goggles and long gloves, don’t breath in the fumes, and make absolutely sure there are no children or pets in your work area. If you’ve never made cold process soap before, please read up on it before attempting this or any project. 

Rustic Lemon Hot Process Soap with Ginger and Lemongrass Tea

8 oz palm oil

8 oz coconut oil

6.8 oz olive oil

1.2 oz canola oil

3.463 oz lye

7.92 oz chilled ginger lemongrass tea–I used Celestial Seasonings Jammin’ Lemon Ginger (you could also use water instead of tea)

1.2 oz lemon essential oil

2 pound mold or individual molds

Stick Blender

Crock Pot

Safety Gear–Goggles & Gloves

Though this recipe has been calculated carefully, it’s always a good idea to double check any recipe with a lye calculator. 

To Make the Soap:

1. Heat the oils in the crock pot until melted. Turn off the crock pot.

2. In a heat safe bowl (not aluminum), carefully sprinkle your lye into your chilled tea. Do this in a well ventilated area, and be very careful not to breath in the fumes. Stir the mixture until it is clear, and then set it in a safe place to cool.

3. Very carefully add your cooled lye mixture to your oils, and blend with a stick blender until it reaches light trace. This will look like thin pudding.

4. Turn the crock pot to low, and then cover with the lid. In fifteen minutes, stir the soap. It should be starting to thicken up.

5. In another 10-15 minutes stir the soap again.  Continue to stir and wait until the soap is the texture of mashed potatoes. It will be somewhat translucent and waxy.

6. At this point it’s a good idea to test the soap’s ph. If the soap is finished (below a 10) then transfer it to a heat safe bowl to cool for a few minutes. You don’t want to wait too long, just a few minutes so it isn’t quite as hot when you add the lemon oil.

7. After a few minutes, stir in the lemon oil, and then transfer the soap to your mold. Press it down firmly with your fingers (since the soap is still hot, I keep my gloves on the entire time). Wait 24 hours, or until set, and then cut your bars.

The soap is ready right away, but the longer you let them cure, the harder they will be–and the longer they will last.


For a great step by step hot process tutorial with pictures, check out this post by Chicken’s in the Road. The Apple-Oatmeal soap at the bottom of the page looks wonderful!






Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub with Pink Sea Salt Recipe plus Free Label Download

If this sugar scrub doesn’t scream summer, I don’t know what does.  Scrubs are the easiest bath and body creation you can concoct. You can whip this scrub up in five minutes–and that includes digging everything out of your cupboards!


Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub with Pink Sea Salt

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup pink sea salt (or regular sea salt, if that’s what you have on hand)

1/4 coconut oil

1/2 tsp vitamin e oil

15 – 20 drops lime essential oil*

Mix everything up! It might take a few moments to combine the oil with the salt and sugar, but just keep stirring. Transfer to a pretty jar. 

The oil in this scrub can make the tub or shower slick, so use extra caution not to slip! 

*using certain citrus oil, like lime, in a scrub could make you more sensitive to the sun (since you rinse the oil off, this isn’t nearly as much of an issue in a scrub as it is in something like a lip balm). If you plan on going out in the sun, just make sure you play it safe and slather on some sunscreen.

Click the picture below to go to the free label download.