November 25, 2015

Ten Gifts Under $25 for the Star Wars Fan

It's that time of year. The time when the sounds of the light sabers, the Imperial March, adorable robot whistles, and "May the Force be with you!" fill the air! Yep, the newest installment of the Star Wars movie franchise is around the corner and the atmosphere is fandom filled to be sure! If you are looking for gifts for that Star Wars fan in your life, here is a collection that I have put together sure to bring a smile to their face--and they are all $25 or less!!
10 Star Wars Gifts Under $25

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Star Wars Classic Peel and Stick Wall Decals

Admit it. These are cool. And talk about easy to use for decorating a room! Whether for a bedroom or office, these decals are sure to put your wookie into a good mood! There are 31 decals in the set AND it's a USA made product!

Star Wars Silicone Ice Tray-Set of 6

Cookies, candies, soaps, crayons and even just basic ice. You could make them all with these silicone trays! The set of six trays comes with one tray each of: Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Millenium Falcon, X-Wing Fighter, R2-D2 and Han Solo Carbiner. Seriously. Who WOULDN'T want to float the Millenium Falcon in their glass? 

Playskool Mr. Potato Head Star Wars: Darth Tater Toy

The perfect gift for the younger Star Wars fan (okay, who am I kidding? ANY fan!) is this adorable Mr. Potato Head that is garbed with Darth Vader's attire. Wouldn't this be fun to have on your shelf at work? Prefer to avoid the dark side or go for a different character? Then make sure you check out Luke Frywalker, Spudtrooper, and Mr. Potato Head R2D2!

Star Wars Yoda Golf Club Driver Head Cover

Got someone who loves golf and Star Wars? Why not let them add this darling little Yoda to their golf bag?! It's sure to start a conversation out on the course! Yoda may remind them of this darling catch phrase as they line up their ball: "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." 

Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens Backpack and Blanket

What school-aged Star Wars fan wouldn't enjoy this delightful bundle? A backpack, cup, and fleece blanket is sure to bring a smile to the face of your young Jedi! 

LEGO Star Wars Stormtrooper Figurine Alarm Clock

Wake up your sleepy Jedi or Resistance Fighter with this Stormtrooper alarm clock. The clock features a digital, lighted display and alarm clock. The snooze and backlight functions are activated by pushing down on the minifigures head. At 8" it's perfect for the shelf or bedside table! You could also go for a Yoda or Darth Vader version too!

Battleship: Star Wars Edition Game

I always loved playing Battleship when I was younger--I still do! Here is the latest Star Wars Edition for your game night! It has a portable storage case and you can choose to play as the light side or the dark side. It also includes ships from Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

RISK: Star Wars Edition Game

When I was little, we always had a crowd of family gathered around the table at Thanksgiving. Around another table, was the group of cousins and uncles ready to conquer the world in their annual RISK challenge. If you love the game, you might consider taking it to the next level of "world domination" with this Star Wars edition! Available with three theaters of combat, you can play it as two players or two teams--choosing to be either the light side or the dark side!

Star Wars Darth Vader Talking Money Bank

Seriously. It looks cool, and when you put money in it, you activate the trademark breathing sound effect. Totally cool! Stands 5" tall, so it's perfect for on top of a dresser or shelf. 

Star Wars Character Apron

May the Force be with You as you create a meal for your family! These Star Wars Character Aprons are very fun, and are sure to be a conversation starter the next time you invite friends over for a cookout! Cotton and Machine Washable. Available in Boba Fett, Hans Solo, Darth Vader, C-3PO, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot, Stormtrooper and Yoda.

I hope that gives you an idea on some good inexpensive ideas for gifts perfect for the Star Wars fan in your life---even if it's you!

**As of the publishing of this post, all the above items were $25 or less. Price is obviously subject to change. Please let me know if you discover it is no longer available for under $25!

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November 24, 2015

A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love {Book Review}

A famous and beautiful actress fighting to uphold her un-spotted reputation after unjustly being accused of murder. A widowed lawyer trying to save his family plantation, who is hired to defend her. Throw in the Georgia low-country and the beautiful islands near Savannah set in the late 1800's and you have a making for a beautiful romantic mystery in the book A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love, is a book set in the 19th-century post civil-war era about India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, and Philip Sinclair, a widowed lawyer--the best one in Savannah, GA. Philip and India meet after India is falsely accused of murdering her co-star during their stage production. One of her loyal benefactors, pays for India to be defended by Philip. Philip agrees because of the potential clients he will reap from a successful defense in this highly publicized case...and he needs the money since he's trying to pump life into his family's worn down plantation on St. Simon's Island. 

In order to protect India from the mobs of people trying to get her in town, Philip gets the judge to let him take India home with him until her trial date. What follows is a rich story of mystery, lost loves, and oh so many secrets. Secrets which when revealed could very well hold the key to India's freedom.

What Are My Thoughts?

At first, I wasn't sure how I would like it. It didn't sound highly thrilling, and Dorothy Love isn't an author I am very familiar with. But I adore St. Simon's Island and the Georgia low country and was interested in the location the book takes place in. I was surprised that I really was enthralled from the get-go! There was no lag time to set up the story--something that makes my eyes glaze over at times. I liked that the plot started immediately!

I think the plot was interesting and multi-faceted. There was a primary story, but then a background storyline continuing throughout the plot--coming to a climax when both plots join each other! I think India is a good character, though I probably would have enjoyed a bit more about her backstory. It's scattered here and there, but you sort of have to piece it together. The same is true for Phillip. But it doesn't really take away from the story...

I was bummed to learn this book has characters in it from an earlier book The Bracelet by Dorothy Love. I hate reading books out of order...but I don't think it would have made one iota of difference in the story because they weren't even really supporting characters in this book. (But it did make me want to make sure I snag The Bracelet so I can read about the characters in more detail.)

Who was my favorite character? India. I thought her story of being an actress in a time when they were considered to be less than respectable was creative. She was spunky and fun. I enjoyed watching her story play out to the very end.

I didn't hate the book. I liked the book. I thought it was a good book. It has suspense and mystery. But, I think it was really just average for me personally. I don't know that I would recommend it to my friends as being a "you have to read this", but if they asked I would tell them it was a good story. Would I read a book by Dorothy Love again? Yes. But I probably won't pick this one up again because I didn't LOVE it.
A Respectable Actress
by Dorothy Love
ISBN #9781401687595
Available on Paperback and Kindle

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November 16, 2015

2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards ~ Who Won?

It is hard to believe that I have finished my final review for the 2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew! All in all, I shared THIRTY-SIX product or curriculum reviews this year as part of the team! It was a great experience and our family found many favorites (and some we didn't like) in the products. As is the annual tradition, the entire review crew of over 100 bloggers and their families, voted in 34 different categories to name what their favorite products were in order to award the winning companies a much coveted Blue Ribbon Award. Who won? Did any of my favorite's win? Here is the complete list for you to check out--and I've made side notes regarding the ones that I voted for!

Let's kick it off with LANGUAGE ARTS! 

Most of the ones I voted for won in each category, which tells you how we all thought the products were! If I used it, I linked you to MY review so you can get more information!

Favorite Reading Curriculum: Reading Kingdom

Favorite Writing Curriculum: Institute for Excellence in Writing
**Yep. No brainer here. This writing curriculum was incredible and we absolutely loved using it and continue to use it in our classroom.

Favorite Vocabulary Program: Dynamic Literacy
**Ding ding ding! Another one that I voted for and one we continue to use!

**See? I told you it was a great program...and most of the crew agreed with me!

**This one was a no brainer for everyone. It is just a fabulous program--and this is the second year in a row it won in this category! One of the few products that I actually bought more of after we finished our review product. You can read my more detailed Fix-It! Grammar review from 2014 too.

Favorite Penmanship Program: CursiveLogic
**This was exciting as this is a very new company--so to win the first year is a great accolade! We enjoyed using it.

Favorite Literature Curriculum: Progeny Press
**While I didn't love love this program, I definitely felt it was very well done. I personally voted for YWAM Publishing in this category, because I felt is was even better than Progeny Press for our family.

What about the favorites for HISTORY, SCIENCE, AND MATH? 

We reviewed quite a bit in these categories...who won?

Favorite History Curriculum: Home School in the Woods
**We didn't use the winning curriculum, but I voted for YWAM Publishing again in this category, as I felt the depth of history it provided was phenomenal!

**Yep--We used this one! It was so hard to vote because both of the Heirloom Audio Productions audiodramas were up for nomination! I personally picked With Lee In Virginia as my choice, but only because I couldn't pick them both--and because Little Britches helped me with that one.

Favorite Science Curriculum: Visual Learning Systems
**Woot! This was the one I voted for because it was MY favorite of all we used this year. We are still using this one in our school year.

Favorite Science Supplement: Ann McCallum Books: Eat Your Science Homework

Favorite Math Curriculum: CTC Math
**We did not use CTC Math this year...but we reviewed it last year and we LOVED IT! It was another product that I actually purchased after our review subscription was over. We are using it as our math core. This is the second year in a row that CTC Math claimed this award for this category!

Favorite Math Supplement: SimplyFun

What about the extras? The products for BIBLE, FINE ARTS, and FOREIGN LANGUAGE?

Favorite Christian Education Curriculum: Grapevine Studies
**Ding ding ding! Here was another one that I voted for and we are continuing to use!

Favorite Christian Education Supplement: Brinkman Adventures

Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum: Middlebury Interactive Language
**We did not use this program this year, but we had experience with it last year

Favorite Fine Arts ProductMaestro Classics
**I voted for ARTistic Pursuits because I just love their art books...but Maestro Classics is a definitely close second!

Favorite Elective Curriculum: Apologia Educational Ministries: Field Trip Journal

Favorite Audio Drama: Brinkman Adventures

Favorite Video:
**Absolutely! No contest here...they were fantastic! We reviewed Metamorphosis/Flight and Living Waters and loved them all!

The winners of the generic GRADE LEVEL products:

Favorite Preschool Product: La La Logic
**Totally deserving of this! My youngest adores being able to do La La Logic and I love having a critical thinking program for his age level for him to work on!

Favorite Elementary Product: Star Toaster
**While not the one I voted for (I can't remember what I DID vote for. LOL) this was a program that a lot of the crew's children enjoyed!

Favorite Middle School Product: The Critical Thinking Co
**Not a surprise. I love our The Critical Thinking Co. product!

Favorite High School Product: Writing with Sharon Watson

Favorite College or College-Prep Product: Freedom Project Education

Favorite Parent Product: Koru Naturals
**Totally deserving! I reviewed their products twice: A shampoo/conditioner set, and a skin care cream, cleanser and toner set!

**Totally!!! I love love love love this product!

These are the ABSOLUTE BEST OF EVERYTHING winners! 

They were so hard to vote on! I changed my mind several times!

Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: Homeschool Planet
**I picked something else--I think I picked The Critical Thinking Co. because I was just blown away by how great this product was and how it helped us.

Best Online Resource: Super Teacher Worksheets
**I think I picked this one as well. I just know that it was fabulous and I loved it.

Best e-Product: Home School in the Woods
**I think I picked Grapevine Studies for this one. It was one of the main ones that we continued to do in our curriculum of all the e-Products we reviewed.

Just for Fun: USAopoly
**The boys sure loved these games!

Kids' Choice: La La Logic
**I let Little Britches vote for this one...He picked Standard Deviants Accelerate as his personal favorite.

Teens' Choice: YWAM Publishing

All Around Crew Favorite: Institute for Excellence in Writing
**This was the most difficult to vote on. I had to pick from ALL the companies for the whole year!! So I just tried to think which company scored more of my votes than any other, as well as what company had the biggest impact on our curriculum for the year. Institute for Excellence in Writing was my pick hands down. They revolutionized our Language Arts in Spelling, Writing AND Grammar!


So there you have it! Have you experienced all the winners in your home yet? Do you see any new companies that you need to check out? It's always fun to explore these lists because they are being voted on by over 100 different families!

Later this week, I'm going to do a post where I share my top 10 most favorite products I reviewed this year as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew--It will be fun to check them out again!

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