Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun and Fast Friday- organized and out the door

Every family seems to have a weakness or two in their organization and planning.  Ours is getting out the door on time. 

My tip for this week:

When you get home from an outing, pack up the bag of essentials and have it by the door with the items you will need.  Water bottles, diapers or a change of clothing (as age requires), a snack or two, hygiene products, etc. 

Quick, simple, time saving and sanity saving... as long as no one moves that bag or "borrows" the contents before your next outing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fun and Fast Friday- copying recipes

Every weekend gets so full of plans and ideas, visiting with friends and relatives, doing yard work, catching up on household chores that get neglected or put off during the week, the list goes on.. My plan is to share one simple, fast tip each Friday so that my "lessons learned" can be your time saver... and hopefully we can all share. 

This week's tip:

Instead of hand writing each recipe you want from someone, snap a quick picture with your phone or camera! Do be sure to be mindful of copyright laws (this was fun to do a bit of research before I hit "publish" on this post!).  These were taken from my phone, so the quality isn't great, but it is functional.

Freezer coleslaw always fascinates me!

Canned bullhead.  This one just hit my "that's weird" side and I needed proof the recipe existed!

How many times do you want to bake a cake and don't have a mix?!  We don't keep mixes on hand usually, so this was a welcome recipe from an old asylum.

Do you have a Fun and Fast tip to share?  Post in the comments!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waterproof Bible - REVIEW

Have you ever come across something that makes you share your head and say, "HUH??!?! A what?!?!"  Yeah, me too.  This happened to be one of those things.  Bardin Marsee Publishing is really taking something classic and turning it on its head, as the saying goes.  Or are they?  Any book lover knows that you don't mistreat these beloved creatures, no matter how big or small.  Those of us who are of the Christian faith hold the Bible in an even higher regard.  Making a Bible waterproof and having reviewers put this claim to the test is such an amazing opportunity.  I admit to being a skeptic.  I admit to also being very challenged by the thought of intentionally trying to cause harm to a book. 

The story behind the Waterproof Bible really is a practical one.  The company motto is "Be Inspired.  Anywhere".  We've all had that moment of regret with a book.  A spilled drink, dropping it while carrying it outside, something causing us to forget it in a place that gets it wet or dirty..and for parents, the ultimate horror is that moment when a young child grabs that book by the pages and they end up ripping it.  My very first Bible was damaged at the teeth of my beloved Irish Setter, and so I know well the heartache of having something as precious as my Bible permanently damaged by something so simple as daily life.  The publishers, being outdoorsy and adventurous, found a gap that needed to be filled.  While camping, hiking, and even just having fellowship outside are normal things, your average, every day Bible is not likely to be a regular part of it because those delicate pages don't tolerate the wind, the rain, the rigorous trekking without showing wear and tear.  Let me tell you, we put ours to the test. 

I waited for the best possible days to get good pictures and show what we really did, as much as I could.  That meant waiting until the last minute to get the best pictures to go with the review.  The weather here has been rather wild and not conducive to being outside and taking pictures.

We took it to the creek and let it go for a ride. 
Picked it right up, squeezed it firmly to get the water out...
KJV Waterproof Bible
NT, Ps & Pr Blue Wave
ISBN# 9780984085712

• New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs
• Extremely Durable Synthetic Pages
• 100% Worry Free
• Stain Resistant
• Ultra Clear Text
• Ideal for Gear Bag or Backpack, Tote Bag or Purse
• Dry Highlight
• Write and Underline
• No Bleed Thru
The durability of the Waterproof Bible gives you the freedom to take God's Word with you anywhere - lounging, fishing, exercising, traveling, camping, missions... with worry free confidence that your Bible will withstand the test of time.
Specs: 376 pages, 4 1/4" x 7", 7 pt font
Material: 100% Waterproof Synthetic Paper and Binding

Price: $24.95 

These Bibles are made of synthetic materials that are not only waterproof, but allow some of the Bibles to float.  These Bibles come in both the full version and the New Testament Version with Psalms and Proverbs.  They come in the 5 most popular translations (King James Version, English Standard Version, New King James Version, New International Version, and New Living Translation).  There are 4 different options for the cover (Camouflage, Blue Wave, Pink Brown Floral, or Lily Pad).

There is a whole list of buying options on the shopping page.  You can find anything from accessories to a clearance section with affordable options for fulfilling the needs of a family on a tight budget.

I really appreciate that there is the ability to personalize these Bibles!  My dog-chewed Bible has always been special to me because it has my name embossed in the leather cover.  It was a big deal to get that first Bible from my church back in 2nd grade, and I worried that these Bibles wouldn't afford that opportunity.  I was wrong. I found that the prices are VERY affordable for a quality Bible, and was impressed with the options.  The company also offers a BOGO opportunity where you "Buy One, Give One" that is used within the ministry they choose to partner with and they do all the leg work to get the Bible into the hands of those who need it.

We sprayed it with a garden hose to be sure there was nothing left of the sediment and sand from the creek.

Nice and strong....

See the water run right out of it?
Squeeze out what you can (two hands works better, but it is hard to do that and use the camera!)

Stand it up to let it air out a bit...note the pages seem to cling together...just fan it out when dry, and all is back to normal.

Right back to where we started.
Weathered, but not worn.

I am totally thrilled with this Bible and the materials with which it was made.  I would LOVE to recommend this to anyone!!!

 Now, I can tell you what we did NOT do: 

  • I didn't try any writing utensils or highlighters in it.  I couldn't do it.  I was always taught to not write in my books, not even my Bible.  Note pads are for that job. 
  • I was sorely tempted, but never did try red beverages.  I just couldn't imagine what it would feel like if it didn't wash off as easily as the mud, dirt, cracker crumbs and frosting did.  
  • We did not try any petroleum based products.  The publisher was clear that those types of products could affect the integrity of the materials used to make the book.
  • We did not leave it outside for any extended periods of time.  While the publishers were clear that the book is durable and could handle some exposure, our weather has been so very extreme, I didn't feel safe for fear it may have been damaged by wind or flying debris, if not disappear on me. There was also that concern of stray or wild animals that I'd rather not discuss.
  •  We discussed a run through the dishwasher to simulate a good cleaning.  I opted not to because of the heat.  I do not want to risk damaging this book, as I rather like it and want to keep it in usable condition. 

    To reach the publisher:
Find them on Facebook

And last, but not least?  I got the video to work!  Here you go! Don't mind the amateur flaws, it was fun to do anyway.  My tester was not thrilled to participate, but it was fun to see how the Bible would hold up.

Waterproof Bible put to the test from Stacy Erickson on Vimeo.
As a reviewer for Mosaic Reviews, I had the opportunity to review the Waterproof Bible and put it to the test.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ooka Island - REVIEW

Created by a leading reading researcher in the U.S., Dr. Kay MacPhee*, Ooka Island was born out of a project that originally started out of a need in the 60's for her own child who was hard of hearing.  She found a strong correlation between speaking and reading, and put her ideas to work.  More recently, the idea came to incorporate technology and engage a new generation in a format that is familiar and appealing to them, and to be able to reach them at a younger age.   The methodology is rigorous with 6,698 skills to master at 75% to complete the game.  There are more than 80 hours of activities to complete.

The program is a self contained, web based application geared towards children from ages 3 to 7 that is compatible with both Mac and PC computers.  This format was chosen to protect young children from having to be online and deal with safety issues, pop ups and other hazards of being online and visiting a website.  As a child plays the games, they incorporate the original Eye/Ear Method that is the foundation of Dr. MacPhee's work.

As they go through each level, there is a set pattern for them to follow with work, practice, and "free play".  A child can stop at any point during the play and the program will pick up where they left off. 


The Ooka Island team didn't want to focus solely on screen time and offers printable workbook activities and downloadable songs as well as motivational tools and other great information to help parents and teachers utilize this program to its fullest potential.  The "Lighthouse" is the page for parents and teachers to track progress, print reports and check up on their students' progress and time spent playing. 

From the Ooka Island website:

This learn-to-read program is Ooka-riffic!

The Ooka Island Learn-to-Read Adventure offers adaptive instruction, a narrated e-Reader, and real-time progress reports. Young learners play and learn in a safe, 3D virtual world and take part in a heroic quest!
The program features an adaptive learning algorithm called READirectTM and ensures skill mastery in the five foundations of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
Here is the Ooka-mazing news!
5 year olds are breaking into reading after just 8 hours
4 year olds are breaking into reading after 13 hours
Children that complete the program are reading at the 2nd Grade level


Homeschool and Home Editions
$12.95 per student
$19.95 per family (up to 4 students)

$124.95 per student
$149.95 per family (up to 4 students)

School Edition provides and annual license, per student
$10 per student with a District subscription of 500+ students
$15 per student for a school with 31-500 students
$20 per student for less than 30 students

All of the Books are available for purchase through the website as well.

 30% off  Special through this blog through June 1, 2013

Personal thoughts:

In our house, we have a wide range of reading abilities and skills and interests.  Our family is a video game loving group.  We have a 4 year old that was my intended student, but I was pleasantly surprised by a bit older "reluctant reader" who was enthusiastic and excited by the game from the moment he heard the songs when I first installed the program on my computer.  He partnered with the 4 year old and they played as a team.  I was honestly very skeptical about the play being anything more than a chance to have screen time and a reason to play on mom's computer.  I was quite surprised to find them practicing sounds together at various times when NOT playing at the computer.  I hear them coaching each other through the activities and games, and correcting each other whenever possible.  I am seeing a MAJOR boost in the confidence of my reluctant reader and my little guy is becoming more interested in reading words rather than picture books.  The catchy little tunes have made it a familiar part of our home very quickly. 

While I am still a book lover at heart, I am glad that researchers and leaders in education are finding new methods to reach students and help them learn.  I have seen how learning styles and methods can impact a student, and this program helped me see that technology isn't always something to be wary of.  I was able to reach a student in my house who hasn't been all that enthusiastic about learning to read until now.  This program, for whatever reason was able to pique an interest that I haven't been able to do yet with other programs for this particular student.  I had hoped to get a picture of my reading team, but Mr. Reluctant Reader was a bit too shy about it and asked me to not do so.  I can tell you though, that the sight of his face when things finally connected that had challenged him before has been priceless.

Find Ooka Island at the following links for more information:

YouTube Channel

Facebook Page


Blog- Village Voices

Contact Us page

*Should you want to check her credentials, they are listed here.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saving Memories Forever - REVIEW

Many of us treasure the stories of our family and friends.  The memories of childhood, the reminders of things long forgotten. Time slips by, stories are forgotten, voices fade, memories dim.  Saving Memories Forever was created out of the desire to keep those stories alive, in their original voices.  Written stories hold the details, but they lack the emotion, the energy, the highs and the lows that seep through inflections and changes in the spoken words.

This handy little app and website combo can help ANYONE with access to a recording device and a computer become a record keeper of some of those beloved stories and tales.  The app itself is intended for use on either the iPhone or an Android based phone (certain specifications apply, of course. Some of us still have dinosaurs for smart phones and technology is moving along faster than we are!).  To use the program, you simply download the app to your hand held device, register your account online, and start recording and uploading the stories as they happen. 

The creators of this program shared with us that they learned at a genealogy conference that 40% of the people alive today will leave no record of themselves....did you read that?!?! 40%!  To me, that is huge.  The memories I have of my grandparents and others who have passed on already in my life are very special, I can't imagine if I had nothing available to me to remind me of them and share their stories with others.

Harvey and Jane Baker took this to heart and set to work, after realizing what they were lacking in their own desire to record family history.  Their website was released in June 2012, the iPhone app was released in August 2012, and the Android app in November 2012.  They took great care in organizing some clear tutorials on their website, a user's guide, and even a video.  Your audio files can be categorized, tagged, shared with others.  They set up the program so that you may record and upload an "audio biography", and then share the link so that others can appreciate that same recording. 

There are some pretty cool features available with this program: 

  • There is a free version as well as a monthly subscription for $3.99 or yearly subscription for $40. The free version is more limited, but gives you a good taste of the possibilities!
  • They took great care to create a question list or "story starters" that you can print off and keep handy or use right from the app.  These also help categorize the stories so you can remember Uncle Joe's story about school and go look for it under the "school" themed category of childhood.
  • They have some AMAZING customer service!  I have been emailing back and forth with Harvey trying to get my "semi-smart, smart phone" to work as the program is intended, and he has given me great insight, ideas, and tools to make the app and program work even if my phone won't. 
  • A facebook page full of genealogy tidbits and news.You can also find their blog, twitter, and a regular newsletter for more info and updates!
  • You can "manage" your files and delete those you do not like from the website.  
  • You can add photos and biographical info about your various storytellers (and the opposite is true of them as well, you can simply leave some parts blank if you have concern for privacy on the internet!  I had this concern myself with some of the info when I am just "trying" something new, and it worked even with blank data fields).
  • Should "forever" not really happen, and the unthinkable happen, the website allows you do download all of your files for saving with the paid apps.  You can find more info on the Free vs. Fee page about what each subscription offers.

This low cost, affordable program is a great tool for genealogists everywhere, dabbler, novice, mom who wants to keep memories, or professional.  My only regret with this program so far is that not one member of my household has willingly been recorded, aside from my own silly test recordings of myself.  I have tried recording a couple of little people to share with family, but they all get shy as soon as the "record" button is pushed. 

I will say that even with my nuisance phone, the app is easy to use, relatively easy to work around, and easy to understand.  I look forward to using it more in the future and am thankful to have had this opportunity.  I am excited about the gift possibilities within my family, and the ideas that were shared with us on how to use this program are pretty much endless...from recording those silly little mispronunciations of your preschooler to "pass the phone" at a family reunion, this app is going to be a hit amongst the family history enthusiasts that I know!