DIY: Pretend Play Shakers

I don’t often post Do It Yourself projects on here, and with good reason. While I am a little crafty and a lot cheap, I feel like there other people who far surpass me with their amazing DIY abilities! However, this project was so fun and simple that I really wanted to pass it along.

First let me tell you that I know my child is spoiled! This is not news to me, but she generally behaves very well and I enjoy making or purchasing interesting and fun new things for us to play with. That’s where this post comes from…I am always looking for nifty new toys and accessories for her that can show off her style + be tons of fun. She enjoys things that are a little retro and her favorites are housewares type toys, so when I saw the Salt and Pepper Shakers on Homemade By Jill and Nap Time Journal I knew I wanted to give it a try!!


Wooden spools (you can buy these at craft stores, we had several in a drawer)

Domed Buttons (again, you can choose to purchase 2 or 4 holed buttons with a slight dome, we have several waiting to be used!)

Acrylic Paint (I purchased Apple Barrel Paints by Plaid *affiliate link*)

Glue (I used some Aleene’s tacky glue, with some glitter glue for the holes to look ‘realistic’)

Letter Stickers (I used Stickers meant to go on ‘foamies’ so that the adhesive is much stronger. Optional)

Seed Beads (optional)

Small disk (optional—you can cut these from cardstock or other heavy material. Dad cut thin disks from an old wooden dowel to make sure they were sturdy. Not pictured)

IMG_20150715_010109 IMG_20150715_010058IMG_20150715_021926

Here are my supplies and beginning set up.

First, I glued the buttons to the wooden spools (before painting anything)

IMG_20150715_011337 IMG_20150715_011331

Next, I painted everything with two coats of white. (I took a handy nail file and roughed up the buttons a bit, but that is not necessary).


The third step paints the very top with a coordinating color for our—I mean—for her kitchen. Her playroom is a bright green color so I chose this fun green to match. Two coats covered well since I had base coated everything to begin with.

IMG_20150715_021755 IMG_20150715_021742 IMG_20150715_021810

The Fourth, possible final, step is to add the “S” and “P” to these adorable little shakers. Since my handwriting is not the best, I used letter stickers meant for foam decorations, so the adhesive is very durable. The other best option would  be to draw on the letters yourself.

And that could be where your DIY ends…an adorable little set of salt and pepper shakers ready to be loved by the little in your life. However, there are a few more ways to add pizzazz to these guys:

Step Five is to add dabs of glitter glue to the holes on the buttons. Not only does this seal the holes a little more, it adds what looks like spice to the top. Now it REALLY looks like salt and pepper (and cilantro and mint and cinnamon etc etc etc)

The sixth and seventh steps walk hand in hand, and those are to fill the spool with seed beads (or other noise making bits) and secure your circular disk over the bottom hole. Now when your little shakes out spices onto their food, the event is a multi-sensory extravaganza!

Finally, use a clear sealer to give that glossy safety to your paint job!

If you have any cool DIY ideas, I would love to hear them! Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve done (or seen)!
I hope you enjoyed this post.

Leonard the Lemur

A few years ago I wrote an early elementary book about a little lemur. The lemur’s name was Leonard and he LOVED lighthouses. Now Leonard was raised by a sweet lady who read to him and taught him about all sorts of things, and when he was old enough to move to the zoo she still came to visit him often. I have always loved this book and intended to edit, illustrate, and include lemur and lighthouse facts. However, by the time I finished Stone Dragon 1 and 2 and thought to take a break for Leonard, the old computer had lost most of his story again.

I felt dejected and upset at myself, so I went back to my dragons and tried to remember what I had lost with the lemur. Fast forward 2 years. I am sitting at my desk observing while a classroom full of 22 students takes state tests. Suddenly, a little lemur begins to dance across my mind again. Not to give me the story I had already written, but to show me how it began. So I wrote a new book. A picture book prequel. Leonard the Lemur Who Loves Lighthouses. 

A few days later came the realization that I would have had to re-write the 1st (now 2nd) book anyway, even if it hadn’t been lost, because it is actually TWO books! So Now my illustrator (Mom) is really going to have a load of work to so this summer because there are 3 early literacy (hopefully leveled) readers to get done. Leonard the Lemur Who Loves Lighthouses, Leonard the Lemur Takes a Trip, and Leonard the Lemur Finds His Home.

Each one will come complete with a small section of facts about lemurs, lighthouses, and other animals/areas he encounters during his adventures.

I am SO EXCITED to get this project back up and running again.

I always look forward to hearing what you think. Leave a note and let me know!

May your inspiration lift you up from the mundane and let you dance in the clouds today!

Parenting New Year’s Resolution

Ok, so I’m a few weeks early. But Courtney DeFeo’s new book In This House We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life has me anxious to get started.

DeFeo has offered up a book on parenting that is not only applicable AND virtuous (which are occasionally difficult traits to find now a-days) but is also GODLY. She has come up with advice, anecdotes, memory verses, and activities for each of 12 virtues, and then outlined a month’s worth of focus for each.

Since my daughter is only two, some of the activities may have to be put on the back burner for a bit but I am very excited to see how this wonderful book can help me teach her to be a Godly and virtuous girl. The advice and anecdotes are already helping me to see that I’m not only mom in the world who does the hurry up offense every day (among other things).

If you are a parent/grandparent or even aunt/uncle I would highly suggest giving this a few moments of your time. Throughout the entirety of the book the one thing that has struck the biggest chord with me is that she cares about her readers and their families. This is not a self help book designed to make the author a little richer, but a family life book designed to make the reader’s life a lot richer.

There were a few areas that came off a little bleeding heart preachy to me, though that could just be coming from a woman who teaches hyper fifth graders all day! But overall I truly enjoyed the read and am excited to implement some of the ideas provided.

I give Courtney DeFeo’s In This House We Will Giggle 4.5 out of 5 dragons!

*I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


This morning my daughter looked very seriously at the wall in our restroom and told me that there were sheep eating RIGHT THERE MOM! I suppose it is true that inspiration can come from anywhere…Enjoy!

There were sheep on the wall in the bathroom,

grazing on grass we could not see.

Sheep on the wall in my bathroom,

not one, not two, but THREE!

Sheep on the wall in the bathroom,

Wandering by the corner happily.

Sheep on the wall in my bathroom,

Where are they from? You can search me!

Multi-genre authors search

HELP!!!!! I am in search of authors for my students to be able to research, discuss, and read in our writing class. I would like to do an author of the month every month (maybe two authors a month?) so that my students can learn about the world as seen through the eyes of authors and readers outside of their insulated environment.

However, I am trying to find an author that writes across genres for children or middle grade readers because we are learning more about genres this month. Does anyone have any ideas?

I need your help please! If you have any ideas for me, please leave a note or message me. If you don’t want to leave a note here, head over to and catch me there.

Thank you in advance! Have a blessed weekend everyone!


The Yellow Coat

The Yellow Coat

We have made it halfway through National Young Readers Week! I hope that everyone, young and old alike, are enjoying some new friends and beloved childhood memories as you go through this week together, reading all the way!

If you are looking for a new story to capture your fancy, I would suggest looking up Author Christina Montano’s new children’s book, The Yellow Coat. Based on a family story told to her by her husband, Nielson, and illustrated by her mother-in-law, Ade van Duyn, this book is not only a beautiful tale, but is truly a family affair.

According to Eugene Schwartz, a worldwide educational consultant:

“In this book Christina Montano has captured the essence of loss and transformation that is such a crucial part of childhood. Like a butterfly, the story’s little boy protagonist must experience the falling-away of his early childhood to re-emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis. The delightful illustrations tell their own story even as the narrative moves forward. Altogether, this is a perfect tale for a child facing the certainty of growth amidst the uncertainties of modern life.”
-Eugene Schwartz, Educational Consultant,

To learn more about this book, as well as the author and her family, please visit:

Or drop by her blog at:

May today, as every day, be full of joy and books (which are really the same thing if you think about it!) I hope that you all have a Blessed Day!

Book titles: How do you know when it’s right, and when it’s just you?

Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I am addicted to books. I love to look at them, to read them, even to smell them! Most of all, I love to write books. I currently have several children’s stories and young reader books that are waiting on me to get my act in gear and get illustrations and editing completed. But here’s the thing…how do you name these amazing works of art?

Over the past few years I have come up with a few titles for my books and short stories that I thought were GENIUS…and that nobody else got. I wish now that I had kept a list of all of those potential, but not quite there, story titles. Not to actually name a book that, but to make an art piece or a list on the wall to have something to laugh at when I suddenly run into a wall of thirty foot deep writer’s blocks.

However, I do have a few names already tossed out for the newest work in progress. While I don’t know the real name of this book yet, I have been calling it “Dragon on the Sea”. So far, I’ve thrown out a few other titles that were even less likely to succeed than this one. Things such as, “Undertow Dragons”, “Scales in the Sea,” “Seafoam Dragon,” and, my personal favorite, “That’s Dragon, with an Arrrrr.”

I think they all have merit, and certainly make me giggle, but I don’t see everyone looking at the book at immediately saying “Oh, I want that!” or, “hehehe, Pirate Dragons right? YES!” So the quest continues…although I may have to actually paint that last title over my work station soon.

My question to you is this…do you start with a name in mind? Do you randomly assign a title just to have one? Or do you wait and let the story tell you what its name is? What are your thoughts and suggestions on this quest? Help me out guys because the good Lord knows I don’t have a clue!

Until next time, Have A Blessed Day!

Children’s Mystery Series Suggestions

Mystery Series Week Continued: Early Reader/Children’s Mystery Series


One of my favorite areas to visit in a bookstore is the children’s section.  Not only are there all different kinds of fabulous books, the fun atmosphere can draw a young person into the section, and thus into the books. Though usually broken down by age levels, reading levels, and then genre, each book has the potential to catch a young reader’s imagination and open their minds up to a vast world of new possibilities and thus, hopefully, instilling a love of books that will last their entire lifetime.  All they have to do is open the book and fall in, which can be difficult to make happen at times.  Mysteries can often snag a reader’s attention, and help with their reasoning skills, while other books seems boring to the active child.


I have found just a few of those mystery series that were very popular in the school I taught at, and am including them here for you:


Busy Town Mysteries:

                Written by: Natalie Shaw

For toddlers to kindergarteners and beyond, the Busy Town Mysteries series is an engagingly bright and fun series of board books and paperbacks that follow a group of animal friends as they discover mysteries and the clues to solve them, working together to find the answers and learn a thing or two along the way.


The Curious George Series:

                Written by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey

Technically not a mystery series, I have included the George books because he is always curious and searching for answers, which is exactly how children know to learn from birth.  George, and his young readers, are all detectives in their own ways.

Though the main core of Curious George books are written for the age range of 4-8 year olds (pre-k to 3rd grade), the books are often made into board books, touch and feel books, and flap books suitable for babies and toddlers.  


Young Cam Jansen Series:

                Written by: David Adler

This series follows the escapades of a young girl with a photographic memory who strives to solve mysteries in the world around her.  A young reader early chapter book series, these books are meant for children ages 4 – 8 (pre-k to 3rd grade) and feed into the Cam Jansen series, which follows a little older Cam, who has grown through school with her readers.  The older series is meant for ages 8+, and all are a fun read.


Trixie Belden Mysteries:

                Written By: Julie Campbell and Kathryn Kenny

These books follow the title character, Trixie, and her group of friends, The Bobwhites, as they help solve mysteries throughout their small town and even across America.  Originally written between the years of 1948 and 1986, the series has been brought back in reprints and is now available to love all over again.  As with the similar series of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys (both of which I also highly recommend) these books have been written with clear morals, clean speak, and none of the overt sexuality that seems to be seeping down into even mid-level readers. Trixie Belden and her friends are a great choice for some good clean fun and an escape into a simpler time; even with a mystery to solve!


100 Cupboards

                Written by: N. D. Wilson


                A trilogy which follows 12 year old Henry as he moves in with his Aunt, Uncle, and cousins and discovers that everything may not be as he has always believed. The sudden appearance of cupboards in his attic room’s ceiling ushers the family into adventures beyond Henry’s imagination.

Written for age levels 9-12+ (4th – 6th grades), these books may be a little violent for some readers, but the story is well written, magical, and mysterious.


I encourage you to always read a book before handing it over to young readers, especially if you’re at all concerned that they might be sensitive to anything in those books. Remember, innocent minds shouldn’t be inundated with frightening or odd things that could cause nightmares, then the entire house is up all night! I also encourage you to read with the children, to the children, or both with and to the children.  The benefits are numerous for everyone involved!

I hope this blog has helped you in some way. I will now get off my soap box, tuck it away, and get back to writing my own book for now.  Until we meet again, Have a Blessed Day!