Aileen Stewart's Blog

August 18, 2014

Back to School
Summer is just about over and kids everywhere are heading back to school. This year, we are doing something a little different__ we are homeschooling through the Independent Studies program of Emily's former Christian school. It's scary and exciting all at the same time since we have yet to establish a routine, but I think we are going to have a blast.

I have been collecting books from library sales, thrift stores, and garage sales to use in our reading lessons. I was most excited this past week when I found a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for only fifty cents. It is my hope that by the time Emily is an adult many of the classics I read and loved as a child will have entertained  her as well, classics like Tom Sawyer,  Black Beauty and Heidi.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
We also got a bit of a head start on our schooling by taking day trips this summer. Our first was to the Velvet Ice-cream factory in Utica, Ohio. And just this past week, we drove down to Dayton to attend the Flute and Arts Fair at the Sunwatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park. 

I can't believe what a great time Bobby, Emily, and I had. We learned quite a bit about the former Indians of that area called the Fort Ancient Indians. We learned about their diet, their way of living, their sun calendar, their lodges, and so much more. In the museum portion, we heard an audio clip about how their diet affected their height and how they had very poor dental health.
Sunwatch Indian Village
Native American Flute Player
Fort Ancient People
I thought this was interesting fact since the Kindle book I downloaded for this review was called Ethan In The Kingdom of Toothbrushes. I downloaded my copy during a free promotion, but normally it is $2.99. The idea of a small boy who doesn't want to brush his teeth and dreams of a forest of toothbrushes is a unique and clever idea. And if you can overlook the errors in capitalization, verb tense, and formatting, it isn't a bad book, especially if you have a small non-brusher of your own.


As we get ready to start our new schooling journey, I eagerly anticipate many more great field trips. Next month we are going to attend a Renaissance Fair and I even found a children's book on the Renaissance to read which I will share when the time comes. Meantime, I wish all of you and your children a wonderful new school year and continued happy reading!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on August 18, 2014 04:46

August 11, 2014

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our every day lives that we forget to slow down and take it easy. Children tend to especially be this way. Emily is always busy with a project of some kind, or a friend, or an event, etc... So busy, that she is barely done with one thing or another before moving on to the next. This is probably why I have a living room full of half completed Lego empires, craft supplies, and assorted stuffed animals and dolls.

Legos
And although I'd like to slow down a bit this week, I doubt it will happen because I have Cookbook Club on Tuesday, Baking for Farmer's Market on Wednesday and Thursday, Trip to an Indian Village on Friday, and Farmer's Market and a birthday party on Saturday. But the good news is that the following week I don't have anything scheduled and I plan to relax. I might even get some weeding done in my very overgrown flower bed. Don't worry, weeding is my therapy and quite relaxing.

My I'm too busy overgrown flower bed!With all of the business going on, I thought it was quite ironic that one of the books I had brought home from the library for reviewing was all about slowing down. It is a delightful book written and illustrated by Jan Fearnley and is called Watch Out! Although this book was published back in 2004, it is well worth tracking down a copy to read about little Wilf. Wilf is a small brown mouse who hurriedly scurries about and always manages to get into a mess. Wilf is not a bad mouse. He is just so busy being busy that he ends up in some predicaments. I can relate to this and what happens to his mom when she does the same thing. There has been many a time that I have spilled something or tripped because I was in too big of a  hurry.

Watch Out by Jan Fearnley
So take it from me, slow down once in a while and smell the roses as the old saying goes.
roses
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on August 11, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

August 4, 2014

This past week was a normal week full of both highs and lows. The kind of week most everyone has. The biggest high had to be the KitchenAid mixer and shredder attachment with which my sister surprised me. Of course, I had to immediately try it out by shredding cups and cups of zucchini as well as mixing the quick breads I sell at my local farmer's market. I even tried a new recipe for chocolate zucchini bread which I will post at the end of this article.


Another high was the night we went bowling and I scored the highest score of my entire bowling career... a 129. And just in case you might be laughing, I want you to know that what I lack in bowling ability I make up with enthusiasm!


The first low which actually wasn't all that bad was the day I mowed my mother's lawn and it started to rain. At least it was light and It cleared up after only about fifteen minutes. The next not so great moment occurred during the farmer's market where it once again started to rain. Not having a tent when you have books for sale, does tend to worry one a bit. But I just popped the books into ziplock bags and waited for the sprinkles to stop. Despite the misty start to the morning, my sales of baked goods were pretty darn good.

The final low showed its face at the end of the week when I entered photographs in my local county fair. I entered nine photos and thought I would do pretty well. To my surprise, I only received two second place ribbons, one for a rooster and one for some pampas grass in winter. Of course I was disappointed, but I really was happy to have won any ribbons at all.




But that wasn't the low, the true low, the one that almost made me cry, the low that brought a frown to my face was the fact that so few people entered anything in the fair. The arts and crafts building was almost bare. There were barely a dozen jars of canned goods. There were only a half dozen decorated cakes. There weren't that many photos. And there weren't even that many fruits and vegetables entered. You don't know how truly sad the only plate of grapes looked despite its first place blue ribbon. How can a person be excited about winning when they are the only one that entered?

So saddened by the demise of fair participants, I rode home in silence. And for anyone who knows me well, that is an almost unheard of happening. Thankfully, I had a pile of good books to read. And thankfully, that and writing this review worked wonders and cheered me up immensely.

The first book I read was truly funny read called Captain Pajamas: Defender of the Universe. I'm pretty sure you can only find this book used or at your library, but I recommend  you make the effort to find and read it. It is the hilarious tale of a super boy and his super dog working hard to defend his sister form the aliens he believes are in his home.

Captain Pajamas
The second book I read was The Paint Box and it was a beautifully told story of  a young Venetian girl in the late 1500's who had to dress like a boy in order to accompany her artist father around  Venice to galleries and workshops. Although this story is fictional, the main character, Marietta, really existed and was a fine painter.

The Paint Box
And now for the promised recipe:

Mini Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup extra light olive oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini

NOTE: (If you are using zucchini that has been frozen be sure to use the water as well as the zucchini. If you are using freshly grated zucchini, be sure to add about 1/4 cup of water to the mix)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour five mini loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. evenly divide batter between the five loaf pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center of a load cleanly. Cool a few minutes and remove from pans to cool the rest of the way.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on August 04, 2014 00:00 • 5 views

July 28, 2014


This summer we have been having tons of fun. No long vacations, just day trips and local events. This past week involved lots of water. First, we rented our local pool for the evening and hosted a pool party for several of our friends. It was a great success with snacks like watermelon, strawberries, grapes, chips, cheese, and so forth. The kids had fun diving, swimming, and sliding, and the adults got to chat and catch up on everyone's goings on.


The very next day was my husband's company picnic which was held at Zoombezi Bay water park at the Columbus Zoo. We floated in the lazy river, hopped waves in the wave pool, rode the water rides, and of course I took pictures.


When it came time for my book review, I grabbed a book from my library stack and smiled. One of the books I grabbed just happened to fit right in with all the water fun we had been having. It was called Who's A Clever Girl by Rose Impey. It's a tale of a clever girl who tricks some pirates into making her the captain of their ship. She's an adventuresome girl and leads them on some merry chases after other pirates. She soon grows tired of the escapades and tells them they are going back to raid and loot her school. The pirates are none to happy about that, but she's the boss so they go along. What happens when they enter the school isn't quite what you might suspect, but is mighty interesting. To find out more, grab your own copy and start reading with your own little scallywags!


The next book I read didn't include water, but it did bring back great summer memories for me. It was called Take Me Out to The Ballgame. The book not only tells the story of two girls whose grandma takes them out of school for a special day at the ball park, but it also shares the famous tune of that same name. I remember singing that song as a youngster. I remember attending Cleveland Indian games. And now, my daughter sings that song as well. There is just something about baseball that implies summer fun.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on July 28, 2014 00:00 • 3 views

July 21, 2014


Hey everyone. I trust you are having a fabulous summer so far. Our family has been having a terrific time eating ice-cream, attending bluegrass gospel concerts, bowling, participating in our local farmer's market, and so much more. But rest assured, I always leave a  little time to read and review some children's literature.



If you have followed me for a while, you have probably figured out that my first love is children's fiction, but I do indeed read non fiction as well. So this week, I thought I would mix it up a little and share some of that non fiction with you.

The first book I read was Parrots Over Puerto Rico. This book is a bit unusual as the cover has no title just a beautiful picture of parrots. And that is not the end of the surprises which you will discover when you open the book and realize that the pages are printed sideways. But once you turn the book sideways and begin to read, you will find the extraordinary story of the parrots of Puerto Rico and how they were almost driven to extinction. Along the way, you will also read about the history of Puerto Rico, it's people, and how it came to acquire its name. This book is definitely a good read and would make a perfect addition to a science report, project, or possibly a home school science curriculum.




The second book I read was also about wildlife and was titled What's The Difference Between A Turtle and A Tortoise? This book was simple to read but not at all boring. Not only did it explain the differences between the two, but it also shared the similarities and unusual facts. This book would also  make a lovely addition to any science themed project or curriculum.




Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on July 21, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

July 14, 2014


It was another busy week. Now that I think about it, busy weeks have seemed to be the norm lately. This is possibly because my husband and I have vowed to do more fun things with our daughter, Emily, this summer like riding bikes and bowling. Or it could be because I have entered the Farm Market season and have baking to do. It could be because we had a flea infestation and I spent hours and hours washing bedding after I bug bombed. It could be the Celbridot I created for my friend Terry Shay's website (a site you should totally check out after you are done reading my post). But most likely, it's just what happens to a person when they are passionate about everything!

My Celebridot
But despite the multitude of mini quick bread loaves and tiny tarts lining my kitchen counter, the long bike rides to pick wild black raspberries, watching the fireworks during our town's Bicycle Days, the laundry, and the matting of photos I intend to enter in our county fair, I still managed to read two really great books last week.

quick breads and tarts
The first book I read, Apples to Oregon, was so totally delightful, I couldn't decide just what I enjoyed most. The cover was intriguing and the illustrations divine. When I opened the cover of the book I was greeted with a beautiful  map of the west coast. The subtitle claimed to be a slightly true narrative of how apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, and cherries (And Children) got to Oregon which was just so silly it made me laugh. And the story was expertly and hilariously written.

Apples to Oregon
The second book, Winston & George, was also a great read with a cleverly disguised message about playing pranks on your friends. The brightly colored illustrations add to the fun tale and will keep children six to eight fascinated. An added bonus, at the end of the story there is a page about real life crocodiles and crocodile birds.

Winston and George
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
                             
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Published on July 14, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

July 7, 2014

This past weekend was our family's annual vacation. Every year over the week of the fourth my  mom, sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephews, niece, hubby, Emily and I all pack up to spend three nights and four days at the local KOA campground. The weekend was chock full of bouncing, wet hayrides, bubbles, and wildlife, but I still managed to get some reading in.

   


About a month ago, I won a middle grade novel which I just hadn't had the time to read until now. But once I started, I could hardly put it down. What was I reading? Henry & The Incredibly Incorrigible, inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human by Lynn Messina. The story takes us to a world where robots are the predominate life force and humans are created to do the menial tasks robots do not want to perform. Robots have to be careful though, because sometimes the drooling zombie like humans go beserko. This is Henry's greatest fear until he gets to know his human and finds, much to his surprise, that he is quite intelligent. 
The adventure that they embark on when they run away together is fraught full of  the kind of danger that keeps you on the edge of your seat while reading, and the secrets they discover will amaze even the most skeptical of readers. Miss Messina has created a wonderful piece of fiction that is sure to keep both boys and girls between the ages of nine and thirteen intrigued from beginning to end.
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
                             
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Published on July 07, 2014 00:00 • 3 views

June 30, 2014





Last week's book review involved cats because I am a cat person. I mean I would have to be to have three wouldn't I? But, I want to give dogs a fair chance as well, so here is are four of my favorite dog books in no particular order.
1. Harry The Dirty Dog

Harry hates to take a bath, so he runs away. He spends the day getting so extraordinarily dirty that his family doesn't even recognize him when he returns home. Will Harry ever get his family to let him back in the house, and if they do, will it involve a bath?


2. Hugs and Kisses   Hugs the puppy sets out early one morning while his family is still sleeping because he has something he needs to find out. The kind farm animals along the way help him with his requests and when he returns to the barn and his family he finds the answer for which he was looking!

3. Buddy Finds A Home

This story of how one family found a very imperfect dog and how he made a perfect addition to their family is a good lesson in how love can overlook differences. My daughter truly enjoyed this book, especially when she realized it was a true story. I would recommend this book for children six to eight.

4. Schnitzel Von Krumm Forget-Me-Not

Told in rhyme and accompanied by beautiful illustrations, Schnitzel Von Krumm: Forget-Me-Not is a great little book for children four to eight. As Schnitzel's family busily packs for vacation they remember everything but him. To find out what happens to Schnitzel when this happens you need to read this book for yourselves!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
                             



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Published on June 30, 2014 00:00 • 5 views

June 23, 2014


This past week was busy with both work and play as we took one of Emily's friends bowling, went geocaching, visited the Velvet Ice Cream Factory, set up tables at our local farm market. It was so busy in fact, that for this Monday's book review, I actually had Emily read a book to me on the way to Bible school Sunday evening.

Bowling   
She read Captain Cat by Inga Moore. The book started by stating that Captain Cat loved cats so much that he had more cats then crew. I started laughing and asked Emily if that reminded her of anyone. She responded by saying that it reminded her of her friend that had gone bowling with us. A friend that loves cats so much that she even calls herself cat girl.

Captain Cat
Quickly I stopped laughing and she continued to read. We learned that Captain Cat was a trader, but not a good one. He loved cats so much, he always traded his goods for  more cats. One day Captain Cat decided he was going to travel to places he had never seen. He, his cats, and crew set off, but a large storm causes them to sail off course to an island over run with rats.

I don't want to give too much away, so I will just finish by saying that you really will love how this extremely amusing story ends. The illustrations are quite captivating too.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.










 
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Published on June 23, 2014 00:00 • 4 views

June 16, 2014



As you have probably figured out by now, I love books and authors. All types of books and authors. And when I am able, I like to introduce you to new authors you may never have read before. Recently, Indie author, Pat Brannon, asked if I would be willing to review a couple of her children's books which promptly arrived in the mail this past week when I agreed.

I have known Pat through Face Book for a while, but had never read any of her many books, so I was curious. What she sent me were the Meet The Darlin' Dujeeszys and Violet's Not So Velvet Voice.

The first thing I noticed when I received them was that they are a little larger then the usual children's book. They are about the size of a coloring book. Although a little unusual in my experience, the size is not a negative. In fact, children five to eight for whom this book seems appropriate, will more then likely enjoy the large colorful illustrations.

The Darlin' Dujeezy's are a very large family who reminded me a little of the real life Duggar family. The message in this story is team work. It really doesn't matter if your family is large or small, everyone working together causes life to run much more smoothly. This is a lesson that Emily's father and I are trying to teach her as well. Each of us pulling our own weight and doing different chores, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits.

Meet The Darlin' Dujeezys  Helping OutEmily Helping Set Up The Trampoline
Violet's Not So Velvet Voice took a totally different direction. In this story, Billy Carl Thomason has a problem. His problem is Violet, or to be more precise, Violet's horrible singing voice. Only violet doesn't believe him when he tells her she sounds awful. Violet has always been told by her friends and family that she has a lovely voice. Violet is so incensed that Billy Carl doesn't like her voice that she follows him everywhere he goes singing and tormenting him until he can't take it any more. Billy Carl appeals to his teacher for help and blessedly she finds a solution.

Violet's Not So Velvet Voice
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on June 16, 2014 00:00 • 2 views