The Outlander Attraction: Part Deux

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

A little while ago, I wrote about my reactions to viewing the first episode of Starz’s new series Outlander.

The show is based upon the books by Diana Gabaldon, which were already on my wish list, but as of yet, still unread.

After watching the show, I immediately ordered the first book in the series.

And once I opened it, I was absorbed.

At first, all I could see in my head were the characters and scenery from the show, which actually wasn’t a bad thing as I feel the show did a good job in representing the novel, but, eventually, my mind took over and the novel transformed from a television show into a fully layered world.

I walked around, in between reading binges, seeing castles and forests and thinking in a Scottish accent.

I dreamt of Jaime and wondered what I would do in Claire’s position.

I often thought that I was so completely taken with the story because, even for Claire’s tendency to make hasty decisions and lose her temper, I felt that I would have made all of the same decisions had I been in her place.

Well – most of them, anyway.  But that’s part of what makes a story amazing:  its ability to surprise the reader.

And shock was certainly in ready supply.

The book was often violent, and the words often tore at me.  I sobbed into the pages more than once.

But for all of the violence, there was also a palpable tenderness.  In both the characters and the environment.  I longed not only to find myself nestled along the shore of a loch, with the breeze in my hair and the song of the birds in the air, but also firmly within Jamie Fraser’s arms.

I became so taken with the book, in fact, that as I found myself nearing the end, I made up an excuse to rush to the bookstore and purchased the second novel in the series.  I nearly shook with fear at being abandoned by the book when I finished reading it.  I needed to have the second one sitting next to me as I finished the first, for comfort.

It wasn’t all that necessary, though.  After I finished the book, and sat there with it clung tightly in my fingers, I felt no desire to pick up the second book.  I wanted to open up the first novel and read it all over again.

I loved it that much.

The witty words, the beautiful setting, the fierce adventure, and the burning passion…

It didn’t really end when the book ended.  It’s still playing in my mind.

But I’m still going to read the next book.

Tonight.  :)

If you’re at all interested in experiencing romance and adventure in the 18th century Scottish Highlands, I strongly suggest you read Outlander.  You won’t regret it.

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Letter B: Alphabet Activities for Kids

Letter B:  Alphabet Activities for Kids

Welcome to Letter B Day!

If you haven’t read the Introduction to the Alphabet Activities, you should start there.

And don’t forget to check out the Letter B:  Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids, too!

Letter Sorting:  B is for Beach Balls {Alphabet Activities at}

For our letter sorting activity, I made paper beach balls and cut out the capital and lowercase Bs into the shape of water drops.

The balls were made from 2 circles that I cut like a pizza, and we glued the triangles down in the shape of a ball first, before adding the letters.

B is for Bubble Painting {Alphabet Activities at}

The Bubble Painting was an outdoor activity.

I added a few drops of liquid food coloring to some cheap containers of bubbles that I picked up at the dollar store.

Then we blew the bubbles onto sheets of white paper.

Most of the bubbles popped on their own, and a few we popped with our fingers, but – either way – I recommend wearing old clothes for this activity.  You may manage to keep it off the clothing, but if you don’t, the food coloring will stain.

B is for Bear and Bison Finger Puppets  {Alphabet Activities at}

My daughter had some fun coloring the animals blue (for B Day) and we played with them as finger puppets for awhile.

When she was no longer interested in them as puppets, we cut off the finger cuff and glued them to some blue paper so we could add it into our Alphabet Activities Binder.

You can find the printout here:  Bison Finger Puppet and Black Bear Finger Puppet.

B is for Blue Bowling {Alphabet Activities at}

We did a bowling activity with a blue ball (one of those you find in the big bins at Walmart or Target for a buck or two) and some homemade blue bowling pins.

To make the bowling pins, I added some blue paint and a few drops of water to the inside of used water bottles.  I replaced the lid and shook them to disperse the paint.  Then I let them dry overnight with the lids off.

B is for Blue Bowtie Noodles with Broccoli {Alphabet Activities at}

Okay, I know the noodles look green in the picture.  There was just something wrong with the lighting in the kitchen and I couldn’t figure out how to edit the photo at the time to adjust the coloring – but I swear they were blue in person!

Anyway, my girls LOVE “Butterfly” noodles.  My oldest has been calling bow tie (farfalle) pasta “butterflies” ever since she started talking, so it seemed natural to make them for Letter B Day.

I added some broccoli in florets, instead of cut up, because my kids like them that way.  The noodles themselves have a basic sauce of a little milk, butter, and Parmesan cheese.

To make the pasta blue, add some liquid blue food coloring to the water while the noodles are cooking.  When they’re done, rinse them with water in the strainer to get rid of any extra dye.

B is for Blueberry Muffins {Alphabet Activities at}

You know what else B is for?  B is for Baking!

So….. we baked.  It looks like a lot, but only the banana bread was made from scratch (and it doesn’t take very long, either.)

These muffins were from a box mix.  Maybe not the healthiest thing to eat, but easy.

And we made mini muffins, as they’re friendlier for small hands.

B is for Banana Bread {Alphabet Activities at}

The picture’s a little dark, but trust me – the banana bread is amazing!

And my daughter loved making it with me.

And eating it.

Click to get the recipe:  Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

B is for Banana Split {Alphabet Activities at}

Okay, okay… at this point we’re getting a little food-heavy in this post.  I know.  I couldn’t help it.  :)

Anyway, the Banana Split was made with a scoop of each flavor of a Neapolitan ice cream, some whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and a cherry.  Plus, of course, some banana.

We shared it, though:  this big bowl of ice cream wasn’t meant to be consumed by a single child.  Talk about sugar rush!

And here are some of the supplies I’ve mentioned in this post, including the food coloring and muffin mix:

food coloring bubbles mini farfalle blueberry muffin mix

I’d love for you to share if you’ve done any of these projects with your little ones!

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to see my latest posts.

Have fun!

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Letter B: Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids

FREE Printable Letter B Alphabet Activities Worksheets

If you’re new here, please read the Introduction to the Alphabet Activities first!

Here are all of the printable PDFs for the Letter B.  They are free for home and classroom use, but please don’t sell them.

B is for Bat and Banana

B is for Bears

B is for Bluebird

B is for Boomerang

B is for Bowling

B is for Brachiosaurus

And don’t forget to check out all of our Letter B Alphabet Activities.

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to see my latest posts.

Have fun!

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Frozen Hairstyles of Elsa and Anna

Okay, I’m kind of terrible at styling hair, but these how-to pictures got me pretty excited.

I think I might be able to at least manage Elsa’s braid.

Anyway, the pics were shared by Zulily, who is having a sale on Frozen items starting today.  And my little girls LOVE to play dress up, so I’m pretty excited about all the outfits.  Click here to get up to 60% off of Disney’s Frozen products!  (This is an affiliate link – I’ll get some compensation if you purchase something, so many thanks in advance!)

Guide to Anna's Royal Updo:  Disney's Frozen HairstylesGuide to Elsa's Side Braid:  Disney's Frozen Hairstyles


Guide to Anna's Coronation Updo:  Disney's Frozen Hairstyles Elsa's Braid Tutorial:  Disney's Frozen Hairstyles

Don’t forget to Pin your favorites, and follow me on Pinterest!

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Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

This is some awesome bread.

I came up with this recipe to get a bread that was moist and soft and very, very chocolatey.

It’s kinda rich, too.

If you prefer to have a little crunch in the middle, though, you could substitute half of the chocolate chips with chopped walnuts.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

It’s a pretty basic banana bread recipe.

All the usual suspects.

Plus the chocolate chips, and a little cinnamon for an extra layer of flavor.  I love cinnamon.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

It will look pretty wet as you’re mixing it, but that’s okay.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

Here’s the dough in the pan.

The little bit of moisture around the edge is from the baking spray I used.  I don’t usually have the patience to butter and flour a pan, so I use the baking nonstick spray that has flour in it.  Maybe not the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s easy.

I did add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan, as well, just in case.  Better safe than sorry.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

Doesn’t that look amazing?

And it smells even better than it looks.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

Like I said:  very, very chocolatey.

That chocolate in every bite is what I think makes the smoothness of the bananas and the spice of the cinnamon extra awesome.

Sometimes I eat it just like that, and sometimes with butter.  Sometimes for breakfast, and sometimes for dessert.

Either way, it’s pretty filling.

And awesome.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread


3 large, ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, smash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth. Mix the melted butter into the bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla until combined. Then mix in the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until browned. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

[Note: This is a moist bread with chocolate in every bite. If you want less chocolate, and a little crunch, you could substitute half of the chocolate chips for chopped walnuts.]


For the printable PDF version of the recipe, click here:  Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Banana Bread


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Lemon Scented Play Dough

Lemon Scented Play Dough

I came up with this recipe because my 4yo was asking to make play dough and I’d just found an extra lemon hanging out in our kitchen.

So:  lemon scented play dough.

Because scented sensory play is fun for everyone, including moms.

Seriously.  I love playing with this stuff.

Lemon Scented Play Dough

Anyway, the ingredients are pretty basic.

And it’s easy to put together – you just throw everything in a pot:

Lemon Scented Play Dough

Then you keep stirring it over medium heat until it looks like this:

Lemon Scented Play Dough

And then you knead it to make it smooth.

As you can see in the blurry photo below, my daughter was already grabbing pieces of it to play with before I had a chance to knead it.  :)

Just be careful, because it will be hot.  I kinda like digging my hands into the warm dough, tho.

Lemon Scented Play Dough

My girls like to roll it out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, or cut it using a small angled spatula.

Here are a few pics of them playing with the deliciously scented dough:

Lemon Scented Play Dough

Lemon Scented Play Dough

Oh – and playing with it on their easy-to-clean Jake placemats, of course!

Lemon Scented Play Dough

Lemon Scented Play Dough

Lemon Scented Play Dough


1 cup lemon juice (or water added to squeezed lemon juice to equal 1 cup)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
Zest from one lemon
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. lemon extract
Yellow food coloring

Begin by zesting and juicing one lemon.

Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a glass measuring cup. If it is less than one cup, add water until it reaches the 1 cup line.

Mix all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, adding enough food coloring to reach your desired color.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together into a ball.

Remove from heat and knead until smooth.

Store covered.

[Note: even though all of the ingredients are technically edible, please don’t let your kids ingest this. Also, if your child is going to help with the kneading, please remember that the dough will still be hot when you first remove it from the pan. If stored in a sealed container, this will last many months.]


To print the free PDF of this recipe, click here:  Lemon Scented Play Dough

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