Monday, February 20, 2017

Lea's Sunshine Adventure

What a Day?!

We are having spring weather in February! This weekend a few towns near us almost made it to 70. Today we're in the mid 50s. It's nice. So I tagged along with Xyra for a few errands.

Main Stop

The library! This is my first trip. What a great place! Books as far as you can see. Big ones, little ones, thin ones, thick ones, old ones, new ones, audio books, DVDs, places to work...and quiet! WOW! (whispers) I mean, wow! (giggles) We looked up one book then I went wandering on my own. I found a bunch I'd like to check out.

Look here's the next book for SHMLF Book Club, Meet Kit. Looks like almost all of the Tripp books are here.
Would love to read this one, but it might take more than three weeks. I've heard good things about it. Have you read Wondla?
Ooo, the others told me to check out the resident snake, Simba. He was moving around. I wonder if he saw me. I think he really liked the sun too!
I didn't see one of the books I wanted on the shelf, so I checked the online card catalog. Very easy to use. Xyra said she likes the old fashioned card catalog better; she had a hard time figuring out what would be on the library spine tag.
I ended up choosing book one of The Happy Hollisters. I've heard it's a fun mystery series.

Unplanned Stop

Driving by the reservoir, Xyra found a place to pull over so we could check out the snow geese. Bright white on the water.
I think they were having a meeting or choir rehearsal of some sort; sounded like a bunch were talking at the same time. 
A neat sound. Not at all like the Canada geese we normally hear flying overhead.

While we're being sunny...

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Back in November Flo posted about the Sunshine Blogger Award. We had hoped to work on it right then, but it slipped through the cracks until now! Sorry, Flo.

These are the 11 questions Flo asked:

  1. What is your favorite season? The current season. I love each season for different reasons. In winter it is the hush that falls with freshly falling snow and lengthening days.
  2. Would you drink orange juice with pizza? Yes, if that was all that was available. I prefer milk or soda.
  3. Madonna or Lady Gaga? This is tough. I love Madge she makes great music. I also love Gaga; same reason. I guess I have to say both.
  4. Do you like Dr. Who? And if you do, who is your favorite character that they have encountered? I keep trying to get into the series, but pop in with David Tennant as the Doc. his character is a bit too frenetic for he was also Barty Crouch, Jr. I also seem to fall in on the same episodes, The Fires of Pompeii and Silence in the Library. 
  5. What kitchen appliance could you not live without? Oven/stove. Trying to keep a fire going for cooking is terrible. The electric stove was a wonderful invention.
  6. Who is you favorite actor/actress? Ernest Borgnine. From drama to comedy he could handle the part and he was working up until he passed at age 95. Many of you may know him as Mermaidman from Sponge Bob. He had a great smile and was very handsome (not like your typical heartthrob). Favorite actress is much harder. I really like Reese, Anne, Sandra, Octavia, Viola, Lupita, America,..
  7. What is your pet peeve? Misusing there, their, and they're (although I do understand that once in a great while this can be a typo, but you can tell the difference).
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Hawaii so I could have a herd of guinea pigs mow the lawn.
  9. Have you ever ridden a horse? Yes,
  10. Are you a morning person or night owl? Night owl - most definitely.
  11. Do you play an instrument? And if you do, what do you play? I used to play clarinet. I could probably dust it off and start again, but I'm happy using my voice instead.

I'd like to nominate Geeky_Girl from The Dolls of Texas.

My 11 questions:

  1. Which is your all time favorite fandom?
  2. If you could only shop at one store, which would it be?
  3. Is your computer desktop wallpaper easily visible or covered with apps?
  4. Are you looking forward to the next installment of The Descendants?
  5. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
  6. Have you ever sung karaoke?
  7. Comedy or drama?
  8. Do you like marshmallows?
  9. What's your favorite fast food or healthy fast food place?
  10. Book or eBook?
  11. What color do you find most inspiring?

If you like these questions, please feel free to participate with this award in the comments below or on your own blog. 

Tchau! Até mais tarde!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tea Review: Simply Balanced Orange Spice

Thirsty Thursday #15

Simply Balanced: Orange Spice

Hi, again! I told you I'd see you again soon! Today I'm going to talk about a tea, well, herbal blend you can get at your local Target. It's the Simply Balanced Orange Spice
It's a fair trade and organic blend. Since there is no tea or yaupon in the blend, it is caffeine free.

The box is filled with individually wrapped tea bags. Each package has the steeping instructions.

Tea bag in the tea pot. Wow! I can smell the spices already. Very exotic.
Setting the timer for 4 minutes. 
We filled the tea pot. The pot holds two fancy tea cups or one mug of tea. Now we wait. (humming, tapping foot)
[timer beeps]
Have you ever noticed how long four minutes feels. (giggles) But if I had walked away to do something else it would have blinked by. Check out the gorgeous amber brown liquid.
And the spices! (takes deep breath) Yum! I hope it tastes as good as it smells.
First sip is plain.
Not bad. The spices are well balanced with the citrus of the orange. I can pick out cinnamon and clove. I bet there is a bit of nutmeg too. I'll have to check. (looks at box) Okay, it has orange peel, hibiscus, chicory, cinnamon, clove, and rosehips. So no nutmeg.

Second sip I'm adding some bamboo honey.
Mmmm, That's better. Just an extra, light touch of sweetness. But you have to be careful what honey you choose. Buckwheat honey would have been too heavy.

The Simply Balanced Orange Spice herbal blend is really tasty. 
I think it would be best to drink on a cold winter day or a dreary day when you need a pick me up...not so much of energy boost, but brightness and warmth.

Xyra's Note

  • It has been my experience that one should not over steep a citrus based herbal. They tend to get really bitter.
  • The little teapot yielded great, robust, spicy flavor for the entire pot.
  • We have not tried to re-steep at this time.

Taking over is fun, but you know I think I'm going to take a vacation tomorrow,

See you again soon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Wonders #7

Inspired by a Book Club

Flo over at Say Hello to My Little Friends announced her new post series, a book club, back in January. The first book to be discussed, Lanie by Jane Kurtz. The discussion starts today. If you've read the book, pop over and share your thoughts. You can also read our review from the other day.

My Turn

How often have you found a book where the main character shares your name? This is the first I've seen. The best part is the book had a few illustrations so I could easily do two poses for you.


Walking Lulu

How did I do? I made mine slightly different. Here are the originals.

We could be twins, right? (giggles)

The Blurb

"Meet Lanie Holland—Lanie was born with 'outside genes.' She dreams of being an exploerer of the wide, wonderful world—tracking wildlife, trying new experiments, and recording factoids in her science journal. Trouble is, the rest of her family has 'inside genes.' It wouldn't be so bad if Dakota, her best friend and fellow nature lover, were around. But she's on the other side of the world, having awesome adventures in a real rain forest. What Lanie needs are some real adventures of her own. Things start looking up when her outdoorsy Aunt Hannah comes to stay—and Lanie finds a few surprises in her own backyard."


  • Lanie Holland was American Girl of the Year for 2010. 
  • This book could be a stand alone story with a few questions left unanswered.
  • Lanie Holland has two books sharing her story. The second is Lanie's Real Adventures.
  • You might be able to find these books at your local library or a used book store.
  • Jane Kurtz has written other books. You can see them listed on her goodreads page.

Hope you are having a good day.  I'm taking over this week.

See you again soon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sending love to all our readers! 
You are dear to our hearts. 
Even if we haven't met in person.
Do you have any special traditions or plans for today?
Are you wearing pink or red?
Whatever you do today...
We hope you have a lot of fun!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: Lanie


by Jane Kurtz


Back in January Flo announced Say Hello to My Little Friends' new book group feature. The first book assigned, Lanie by Jane Kurtz. Last week I got the rest of the crew on board to read this book! (giggles) Hey, the main character and I share a name; she has to be cool. (laughs)


What are you all up to?
Writing our reports for Lanie.
You're doing Lanie's homework?
No! (laughs) For the book group.
Oh! (laughs) That makes more sense.
Yeah. We're doing two. One like what we usually write up and then an abbreviated version to add to the discussion on February 15.
Move over. We'll do ours too.

A neat read. It's not often I find a character with my name, so I had to give this a chance. We are definintely different people. The things we do have in common include a love of gardening and an adorable pet house bunny. Book Lanie draws much better than I do and likes writing observations in her science journal. I have a lot more sisters than she does. Anyway, I really liked this book and following the caterpillar's metamorphosis. I hear there is a second book; I'll have to find that one too.

Our Lanie suggested this book; the main character shares her name. I'd probably be excited to read a book with a character named Haley in it. I have an unusual spelling. The author tells a tale through the middle sister's point of view. The story flows nicely and has some ups and downs. I was the youngest for a while, but I guess am now in the middle. It's not that bad, but in the book Lanie seems so much different than the rest of her family; like she doesn't get much support in her ideas. But you know she really does. Fun read.

The book seems to be just as much about Emily, Lanie's litte sister, as it is about Lanie. The author focuses on their relationship. Emily is in first grade and wants to be like her 9-year old sister Lanie. Many times when she "helps" the results can be not so good. The author does a good job at showing the frustration and the forgiveness between the sisters. Big sister, Angela, has to step in to help Lanie see the way. Not bad. I might read it again.

I'm starting to see a pattern in the American Girl books. Plot points including someone being away in a foreign country; having someone doing something cool while another is going about a normal routine; feeling left out; envy; not dealing with the envy in a productive way; having to apologize for something; smoothing out hurt feelings. Not an entirely bad thing, but here I started to get some flashes of Jess's and Lea's stories with the animals; and then Grace's too. It was good, but I don't need to read it again.

Lanie's story is interesting on many levels. First you have the scientific field study of the caterpillar and the first graders. Lanie has interesting journal entries with illustrations. Then, with Aunt Hannah's help, she branches out to include a study of birds and local plants and vegetables. Pretty cool. It was hard for Lanie to take over when her aunt left, but she...oh, that's a spoiler. Liked this story, especially the illustrations.

Lanie chose this story because the main character shares her name, but the three sisters - Angela, Lanie, and Emily - spell out LEA. Really though, this story offers an interesting look at being a sister. Sometimes it's not pretty, but things can work out. I think some of the arguments were worked out too easily, but what can you do with 108 pages. I was inspired to look up information on caterpillars and milkweed.

If you have siblings and have experienced sibling rivalry first hand, this book might be annoying as the conflicts are resolved quickly like they are on TV. Otherwise, it's pretty good. It would have been nice for Lanie to have a movie, but maybe they couldn't find a rabbit trained to walk on lead. Seems like a really great family. They even came up with a way for the youngest to try foods she would usually refuse. Pretty interesting idea too. A nice, easy read.

Xyra's Review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is book one for American Girl of the Year 2010 Lanie Holland.

A fun and interesting read. The story in this book wraps up in the end and can stand alone if you can't find the second book.

Lanie is a 9-year old fourth grader and the middle sister. She gets to help in her little sister's first grade classroom. Her older sister is in high school. She loves science and being outside with her house rabbit, Lulu. The rest of her family prefers indoor activities. News comes that Aunt Hannah will be staying with the family for a few months. Her arrival is joyous as she is a scientist and loves the outdoors too. Lanie can only email the good news to her best friend who is currently in Indonesia with her family studying orangutans.

The story is nicely crafted with highs and lows and a range of events and emotions. Everything seems to hover on the surface (not a lot of depth), but the target reader is around 7- to 10-years old. The messages are plain but not so obvious you feel like they are being shoved in your face.

If you have read a lot of the American Girl books, you may have noticed the stories are formulaic. The historical characters had a certain order of events to create a 6 book look at their lives. The Girl of the Year books are similar. Early on the Girl of the Year story was told in one book; over time the story expanded to three. I've come to the conclusion that American Girl provides the author with an outline and the author creates and fills in the details. The authors do a wonderful job and provide fascinating details; the only drawback, the challenges and results get predictable.

One thing I really enjoy about this book (and the older American Girl books) is the use of illustrations. Here the reader gets to see snippets of the sketches Lanie puts in her scientific journal chronicling the progress of caterpillars to butterflies. In addition, we get a few other illustrations giving the reader a peek at Lanie's family and activities. There are not so many to make this be a picture book. No, it is a chapter book with supporting illustrations. The illustrations are drawn nicely - not too vibrant, nor too dull.

Overall a fun read.

Happy reading!