Thursday, 24 April 2014

Win a set of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle {ONE DAY ONLY!}

I have decided, because it's good to share the love, that I am going to give away not one, but TWO sets, of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, in Kindle format! (this means you get Kindle AND PDF to use - double bonus!!)

That's right, two of you ladies are in with a chance of winning one of these sets!

Who doesn't like to get something for nothing??

The give-away is simple, and there are just two, easy ways to get entries. You can comment on this post, and you can "like" The Joyful Keeper's page on Facebook. Simple!

Let's just remind ourselves why this Bundle is such a great thing to bag.

ALL these fantastic books to read and use, as well as some bonus extras!

It's simply one of the best book bundles you will find this year, and the set is only available for a few days.

So, to be in with your chance of winning a set, just enter in the giveaway below.  Don't forget to tell your friends about the giveaway, so they can be in with a chance of winning, too. Sharing is caring!

One day only - it ends at midnight (BST) tomorrow! (So, yes, just over a day!..... ) And, don't forget that if you are not the winner, this deal is still an AMAZING price, that's worth spending your money on, anyway!

Head on over to The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle site, to read more about what's included.

If you're just too impatient to enter the give-away, and want to buy it now, you can still do so below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! {getting your nest feathered}

(This post contains affiliate links)

I am so thrilled to share with you about this simply fantastic mega bundle of eBooks, available for a fantastic price, for only a matter of days.

It is such a joy when Christian women desire to bless others.  It's a blessing, alone, that they produced these resources in the first place.  It's an even greater blessing that they are willing to allow us to purchase them at such an UH-MAZ-ING price.

For only $29.97 for the PDF bundle, and $39.97 for the Kindle bundle (and, ohhhhhh yes, my fair, British maidens, that means it's a SNIP at around £18/£24!!) you will receive a positive treasure trove of ebooks and other resources. There are over 70 - YES, SEVENTY! - eBooks for that price. You do the maths - that's NOT many pennies per book!

 Which one of us is not looking for ways to improve in their role as a woman?  Whatever area of your life you can think of, it's covered here!  In fact, you don't even need to be in a situation to benefit or need ALL the items, to benefit from it.  Say you are a wife, but not a Mum, then there's still plenty for you. A mum, but you don't homeschool? You'll still benefit from this deal!

So, what's in this fabulous-o offer?

Well, here's just a sample of a few of the books on offer.

There's much, much more, but that's just a taster of what you will find.

If you head over to the Ultimate Bundle page, you will find the full list of what is available. There, you can also find an FAQ page, that should answer any queries you may have.

There are freebies included in this bundle, but not many of them will be of so much use this side of the Atlantic. Those, however, are just a BONUS! The books themselves are the real treasure.

So, what are you waiting for?? The clock's ticking, and with only 6 days to grab this bargain, you will want to head on over and get your own set, toot sweet!

To buy your fantastic bundle, just click on the appropriate link below, and you can snap it up.

What are you waiting for?

Go, buy!  And, don't forget to tell your friends to come on over here and see all about it, and buy it for themselves. Share the blessing.

I'm off to get mine now!

Chatting with Patrice {of puzzles and siblings}

Everyday Ruralty

Good afternoon, Patrice!  This week, I don't feel so "behind", as you are keeping me company by chatting on the day I normally get around to chatting with you! 

We've had some chillier spring weather, lately, and I am hoping it starts to warm up again, to get out a bit more!

So, let's get chatting!

  1. Do you enjoy crossword puzzles, word finds, or any "word" activities?
I love word puzzles.  I don't make as much time to play them as I used to, well, certainly not in a written format. My holiday treat to myself used to be a puzzle book. I especially loved the logic type puzzles, where you are given lots of clues, and you have to work out the relation between different things. I also like crosswords, especially cryptic ones (not that I am very good at them, but I enjoy the challenge). I reckon growing up with my Dad doing the crossword in the newspaper, inspired an interest in them for me.  He's WAY better at the cryptic ones than I am, but probably because he has been doing them longer.  You have to get your brain in the right place to "get" the answers.

I also enjoy an anagram app on the iPad - it's called Jumbline, and I like that I can just play it for a few minutes, then put it down. 

I've heard it help the grey matter to do puzzles, so that's why I do them... honestly....

2.  What's on your dining room table right now?

Hmmmmm... last time I looked, there were Atlases, school workbooks, pencils and maybe a small child? When we are doing school there is a cover with a pencil design all over it, and, when we eat, a green, spotty cloth goes on top, that's not covered in pencil marks and ink splodges. 

Actually, there is currently a lovely, red, ink splodge on my NICE cloth. What happens when children don't do as they are told, and get felt tip pens out WITHOUT taking the nice cloth off. 


3.  Do you like Italian food?

I LOVE Italian food. Like Patrice, however, I cannot eat gluten, so it doesn't involve pasta any more, or pizza. *weeps*  I was happy to discover that both Pizza Hut and Pizza Express now do a gluten free pizza option! YAY!

I love the flavour of tomato and basil, married together.  Yum-my.

I love Olives, which is a recent development. My first introduction to Olives, was when I was younger in America, and mistaking them as grapes, and being disgusted to realise they were NOT! 

More recently, I have discovered that they CAN be lovely, so long as you don't buy cheap brands.  I prefer green over red.

4.  Did you ever want a brother, twin, or sister, when you were a child?

Well, I had 2 brothers, and one sister anyway.  The old "the grass is always greener" thing went on, though.  I would have loved an OLDER brother, and a YOUNGER sister, but I had neither of those things.

(I'm back left)

(again, me on the left - the picture is 4 years old, though, and I am a bit slimmer than I was then!)

Aren't my children blessed?  Most of them will never want for those things - well, other than the oldest 2 children - one of which has an older nothing, and one of which has no older sister.  My youngest 2, whoever they end up being, will have the same issue. All those in between have a healthy dose of both!

I think I possibly thought a twin was a nice idea, at some point, but can't particularly remember!

5.  How far away is the nearest grocery store?

We have a "Co-op" (a grocery store, by that name) about a mile or so away. It's not very big, but has everything you need, at competitive prices, and some more. I only go there for emergencies, though.

The bigger stores are all about 10 miles away, and I rarely go.

I get my groceries delivered.


How lovely to chat again, Patrice! Look forward to joining you again soon!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {"eggy" phonics}

I wanted to let you know about this activity, with some urgency.

"Why?", you may ask.

Well, it is something you could do "On the cheep cheap" if you get into the shops this week, perhaps.

It uses something that very possibly will be reduced as of today, and at least IN the shops, but not for much longer.

I picked this handy item up a couple of years ago, and the younger children have had a lot of fun with it, when doing phonics.

It's these....

Plastic, fillable eggs.  They are perfect for spring-themed crafts, but they can also be used for lots of phonic-themed ideas!
I used them for learning about the letters of the alphabet.  As I remember, they came, inconveniently for my idea, in packs of 24, so I had to get 2 packs!  Silly alphabet having a number of letters MORE than 24. *rolls eyes*

I got my lovely Sharpie pens out, (which I got on offer at Tesco) , and wrote the upper case letter on the top half of the egg, and the lower case letter on the bottom half. Now, having got them out again for Abi, after using them for Susie, I see that I could actually have made them self-correcting.  Had I been a bit more careful about the colours of pen I used, on the colour of eggs, I may have been able to have enough variety to have no same-coloured egg with the same colour of "writing". I wasn't that smart first time round. Silly me. It's not essential, but have self correcting activities is helpful for the child to do an activity more independently. So, if the letter "S" was on a green egg, with red writing, the child would be able to check if they had got the right lower case half, by checking it was a green egg with red writing. 

Clear as mud?

We are currently using them as a matching activity, simply matching upper and lower case.

As we learnt each letter, some months ago, we used each egg to find things that started with that sound, and put them inside the egg.  You could put the items in yourself, and then get the child to open the egg, and work out the sound you are learning based on the item found inside. You could also get the child to draw a picture and fold it up and put it inside, and get them out to look at them again, as a review, when you have finished learning all the sounds.

An older sibling may enjoy getting involved by being the person responsible for finding the items to put in the egg, or by drawing pictures to put inside it, to surprise the younger child as they learn! I love having children help each other to learn.

Here are some pictures of items we have used in our home.

Starburst sweets! Two "S's"!

There are ever so many inventive and fun things you could put inside, that start with the letter you are learning. Edible items never go amiss!!

  You could use it as a lesson in alphabetical order, lining them up accordingly.  You could do it for the whole alphabet, in order, or just use a few and put them in alphabetical order.  If you actually do it slightly differently from me, and write the lower case letters so that they egg half sits flat on the floor when reading, then you can line them up more easily on the floor or table, without them wobbling! It would mean that when you match them up as a whole egg, one looks "upside down", but I don't think that matters.

Another idea is to use the eggs for spelling games.  Spread the eggs on the floor, and get the child to choose letters, randomly, one at a time, until they can build a word. How about spreading lots of little items on a tray, beginning with different sounds, and get the child to cover them up with the correct egg half? Alternatively you could cover items up yourself, then the child looks at them and tells you if the right sound is covering the item up. 

You could use it to do other types of matching - numbers matching with the number word, contraction words, with the contraction on one side, and the two words that make up the contraction on the other, or colours with the colour word. 

You could make the eggs more versatile by having removable words, letters, numbers or labels, that you simply stick on the eggs for each activity.  There's my frugal Scot's side coming out!

I'm sure there are many other things that I have not thought of, that could be done. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section, so we can all have fun with them!

I cannot suggest where to get them anywhere outside of the UK, but I can tell you of a couple of UK suppliers. Baker Ross has them in sets of 12, or you can buy 48 for slightly less money. If you know of other Mums who like the idea, and want to do it too, eBay has a bulk buy option, which is the cheapest I have found. I have also seen them in Tesco and Sainsburys, but I am not sure if they will still be available now that Easter is past, or whether they may actually be available for cheaper?

So there you have it - EGG-cellent fun with phonics!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Resurrection Mornings {looking for Jesus}

There are so many precious passages in the New Testament which tell us the events that surround the death and resurrection of our Saviour.  Many precious truths are contained in these passages, and it thrills my heart that you can read them time and time again and EVERY time you will be blessed.  How can God's children NOT be blessed thinking upon such things?

Robert was preaching from one such passage on the Lord's Day evening.  I literally felt like I was hearing words for the first time, yet I know I have read them and heard them many times before.

There are often many ways to look upon a passage - you can be rebuked and blessed at the same time.

The passage was found in Luke 24 - the account of those who came to the tomb on the third day, and what happened afterwards.

The first thing that spoke to my heart related to the time of day.

"very early in the morning"

These women sacrificed sleep, and rose VERY early, to go and find the Saviour, intending upon embalming his body with ointments and spices.   He was dead, and yet they still cared for the Saviour. They were willing to sacrifice, humanly speaking, to be there.

AS a daughter of the King, am I willing to put my earthly desires and wishes to one side, in order to put the Saviour first?  I know that not everyone can actually rise VERY early, in order to have their quiet time, but I still maintain, if it is at all possible, that having such a communion with the Lord, is worth the sacrifice of sleep.  You can, of course, go to bed sooner, and that helps! The principle is this - no matter the time of day - we need to prioritise our time, and consider time spent with the Lord as an important and vital use of our time.

The next thing that spoke to my heart, and which Robert referred to, was this - the angels rebuked the women who came.

I had never thought of it as a rebuke, and yet it was.

"Why seek ye the living among the dead? 
 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 
Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."
Luke 24:5-7

They were basically saying

"what are you doing looking for the Lord HERE? He TOLD you He would rise again.  So, why are you looking for a dead body?"


When we come looking to commune with the Lord, whatever time of day it might be, you may find it's a rebuke you get, when reading His Word.

So, what of these women? What is their error that needs rebuking?

We read of it happening over and over again in the scriptures - people seem to so easily forget what God has told them.  Their memories seem so short.  They get  caught up in the emotion of a situation and forget God's words. Whether it's a time of fear, of conflict, of trial, of challenge, they seem to forget so quickly.

We'd never do such a thing, especially as emotional women.  Right?...

Sadly, I see myself in that scenario.  God makes promises, and He keeps them.  Yet, I doubt, and I forget so easily. My mind and my focus moves away from the Lord, and onto myself and my situation.

I hit hard times, and I forget His promises.

What the chapter says next, is what *I* need to do.

"And they remembered his words"

They remembered what the Lord had told them, for themselves.

You see, God's Word is dependable.  If He says it, it's true.  If He says He will do something, He will do it.  If He says He will give something, He will give it.  If He says He will strengthen, He will strengthen.  If He says He will give rest, HE will give rest.

Think of the promise you need, and remember His Words. Whatever sorrow, trial, struggle or challenge you are facing, God has a promise, and He keeps His Word.

He's dependable.

He is true.

He is faithful.

I am so thankful for my risen Saviour, and that I can trust Him to keep His Word, just as He did centuries ago, when He rose triumphant over death and hell, to claim the victory over sin, for ME!

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Tots on a Tuesday {chick printable}

I want to start sharing with about some of the activities I do with my younger children, of pre-school and early years age.  There are many things that I have found to have both fantastic play and educational value.  I think that it's good to share, so that's what i plan to do!

Today, you have the added bonus of being my "guinea pigs" - I am sharing my first ever set of printables! So, please have grace if things are not perfect! I have tried to pick up on any errors and sort them out, but please let me know if I have missed anything.

When I was recently at The Range (a large store with LOADS of craft/home items of all sorts - LOVE IT), and they had cute little packs of craft style chicks, for £1 per pack of 8. They CALLED to me.  They said "I could be very useful - BUY ME"! Of course, I did.  *aherm*

Cute, yes?

 I was looking at them today, and thought "you could be part of something wonderful".

I have been working on identifying numbers with my younger children, and these chicks seemed the ideal candidate to become a fun, soft, cute little manipulative.  I began with the concept of cards, with pictures and numbers.

I thought these could be used with the chicks, and the child can place the right number of chicks to match the picture and number.

Like so..

I also printed the number words to match the numbers (1-10), which can also be matched up.

You can also see (just about, amongst my spots on teh tablecloth!!) that I have little circle "counters" with the chicks printed individually.  If you didn't have the craft type chicks, these could be used instead.

I also produced little cards with just the chicks on them, in groups of 1 to 10.

If you printed two sets of these you could play "pairs" - the memory games - or snap. 

I also thought you could use these as a clothes pin activity, matching peg with the correct number, to the picture with the right number of items. 

I already had the pegs with the numbers written on them, and added the printed chicks.

You could also use the pegs to match the numeral with the number word.

At the moment, I have no cute pictures of my children using these, because they are fresh off the press! As with any printables that I use, I have laminated them for durability. You could do it on card, especially if you don't want to be able to see the picture or words through the back.

There may be other ways to use these cute chickie items, and feel free to share anything you do with them! 

You can find the printable here. As I mentioned before, let me know if there are any problems or errors.  


Monday, 14 April 2014

Roots {don't get the bitter ones}

 I have been out in the garden today, again, and the Lord has, once again, been using it as a time to speak to my heart.  Today, I want to share with you about something that has come to mind several times whilst working in the garden.

Today, as before, and as will be again, I have been dealing with weeds.  It was my huge task to deal with a positively HUGE patch of nettles and dandelions. Well, I say HUGE, it was about 6 feet by 4 feet, perhaps? It FELT huge, and my back is telling me it was ENORMOUS. I digress. Dandelions and nettles have something in common. Obviously, one has a relatively pretty, yellow flower, frequently gifted to mothers by children (or in Simeon's case today, used as a mobile phone??...) and the other has nasty, horrid prickly stems and leaves, which I am still feeling the effects of. The commonality is this -  HORRENDOUS roots.  One, the dandelion, has a deep, deep, thick root, that you have to dig out, carefully and completely.  The nettles have a maze-like system of strong, wandering roots, that seem to spread out forever under the soil.  It's a positive network of roots, strongly making its way into the ground. The nettle plants shoot up from the root system, all over the place.  Both of them need diligent attention to getting the root out, or it will spring up again.

It made me think about the verses in Hebrews.

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 
 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; 
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, 
and thereby many be defiled"
Hebrews 12:14-16 

Do you see that there?  

Roots of bitterness.

It's so easy in life, to allow roots of bitterness to form. They don't spring up, they burrow down.  They work their way, insidiously, into our hearts, until our spirit and heart is all twisted up, and infiltrated, by the bitterness. 

It can happen in our marriages.  Something that bothers us, or we have a disagreement about, or that we are struggling with, starts to become that root of bitterness.  We allow it to dig down, and to eat away at us, until we feel bitterness about it. It puts down its tap root like the dandelion, or spreads into our whole life, like the nettle. If we don't sort out these bitter thoughts quickly, it can ruin our marriage.

It can happen in so many other ways.  

It could be an unfulfilled "ambition", regrets about the way we have done things as a parent, friends who have let us down, words spoken by others, issues that have been misunderstood, children taking up our time,  a house move, a husband needing to change jobs, loneliness, discontent.  All these things, and so many, many more, can cause a root of bitterness to grow deep, deep into our hearts.

How do we combat these thoughts and bitterness from eating away at us - from harming us?

Like the weeds in my garden, we need to "pull out" these bitter thoughts, before they can put down roots at all.  We need to get rid of them quickly.

How do we do that, though?

Like my weeds needed digging up with some proper tools, a similar "attack" is needed with bitterness in our lives.

The verses above give us a 2-pronged attack against these roots.

"peace with all men"

Invariably, thoughts of bitterness are the polar opposite of peaceful thoughts. Bitterness tends to rile us and  make us feel discontent - ill at ease. It makes our minds and our hearts turbulent - torn and tossed about, as we mull over what's bothering us.  If we call out to the Lord, and ask Him to give us peace - if we keep Him in our hearts and minds, and cast out all wrong emotions - then the bitterness will be sweetened.  Peace and unrest simply cannot exist in the same space. If we have peace in our hearts, bitterness cannot be there too.  If we first have God's peace, then we will have that "peace with all men". We are more inclined towards a peaceableness, if we have peace within us, first of all.


Having holiness - separateness from sinfulness - will guide us away from bitterness.  Bitterness in our hearts is plain ol' sinfulness.  If we strive after that which is holy - being like the Lord - then the bitterness will be sweetened.  

The holiness that we need to look for, is summed up in Ephesians.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 
 And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:31-32

We often quote that second verse to our children, do we not?  It equally applies to our own lives!

We need to put that bitterness away - the anger, the arguing, the using nasty words, which can all stem from the bitterness, if we let it take root.

Instead, we have to be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving.

Oh, how hard those things can be, if we are starting off with even a hint of bitterness.  We need to push it out with these purer and more sanctified behaviour.

Demonstrating kindness, instead of unkind thoughts.

Having a tender heart, instead of a prickly and hard heart.

Forgiving, instead of holding wrongs against another.

I pray that the Lord would grant me grace and strength, not to allow bitterness to dig its way into my heart and life.

Off to do some "weeding" now...