FREE online books

This is one of the more exciting things that I’ve come across in quite a while. For individuals who have not downloaded or purchased an e-reader to receive free e-books, this is a great alternative (or addition). I recently stumbled upon TWO sites that have free books online. Truly the internet is a marvelous tool.

  1. Online Storytime at Barnes and Noble: Here you will find a nice selection of books read BY THEIR AUTHOR in a quasi-animated video. (The video pans in and out on the book’s illustrations.) Not only does it include some all-time and seasonal favorites (in December they’re spotlighting The Polar Express, Strega Nona, and Where the Wild Things Are, just to name a few), but I think it is especially neat that the authors are reading the stories. How many times have you read a children’s story and wondered where the emphasis would be placed if the author was reading it? Exactly. Not to mention, it might be a nice alternative to the TV when you need about 10 minutes to get your life in order with small children around.
  2. We Give Books: This site features online books that you actually read. You can click through the pages full-screen and zoom in and out on the pictures. It requires more attention by the adult, but it can be set up nicely with one switch for students with special needs. I think it truly is a great way to allow students to “flip” through a book, who might otherwise be entirely dependent upon others to turn the pages. (Also, it expands your personal library in a matter of seconds.) They have a number of popular titles (The Little Engine That Could, The Tale of Peter Rabbit) as well as some new books, too (Llama, Llama and Goodnight iPad). Added bonus? If you sign-up (it’s free, so why not?), for each book that you read, they donate a book to a literacy charity of your selection – until January 2012. SO. GREAT.

Happy reading!


Star Cave

How about pulling out the Christmas decorations a little early this year? (My sister-in-law showed me this idea, and I think it is totally cool.)

What you need:

  • large cardboard box
  • pen
  • strand of Christmas lights

What you do:

  1. Take the pen (or paintbrush or something with a similar tip) and poke holes in the top of the box.
  2. Push the Christmas lights through the holes and tada! You have a star cave.

You can make it darker by covering the opening with a blanket and such. Feel free to get really creative and make actual constellations that you can find outside at night later!

Big thanks to Play at Home Mom for the original idea!

All Saints’ Day Recipes

So, All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) are coming up, and I wanted to include some easy ideas that can be made at home to help celebrate a beautiful feast day on our Catholic tradition. It took some browsing, but I eventually found the following:

Holy Ghosts cookies

  • Nutter Butter cookies
  • almond bark (or white chocolate chips)
  • mini chocolate chips
  1. Melt the almond bark (or white chocolate chips) in a large bowl.
  2. Take the Nutter Butter cookies and dip them in melted almond bark.
  3. Use mini chocolate chips for the eyes. Let set on waxed paper.

Heavenly haystacks (to celebrate St. Isidore the farmer)

  • 1 large can of Chow Mein Noodles
  • 1 pkg Butterscotch morsels (melted)
  • 1/2 c peanuts
  1. Combine the can of chow mein noodles with the package of melted butterscotch morsels and peanuts.
  2. Drop into small haystacks on wax paper and let set.

Rose cupcakes (to celebrate St. Therese, the little flower)

  • 12 mini cupcakes (or as many as you want – bake as directed)
  • white frosting
  • scissors
  • 6 rolls of Fruit by the Foot (cherry or strawberry)
  • 1 roll of Fruit by the Foot (green)
  1. Bake cupcakes as directed and allow to cool.
  2. Frost cupcakes with white frosting.
  3. To make a rose, unroll a piece of the cherry or strawberry fruit leather and divide it in half along the wavy perforated middle line. (Note: If their isn’t a wavy perforated middle line, cut your own with either a pizza cutter or scissors.) 
  4. Take one of the halves and roll up about 5 inches to form the flower’s center.
  5. Set the rolled strip wavy side up in the middle of a cupcake.
  6. Continue to loosely wrap the remaining fruit leather around the center at a slight angle until the flower is completed.
  7. Cut leaf shapes from the wavy edge of the green strip, then tuck the leaves under the roses.

Soul cakes

A little history on this recipe/custom, first. Did you know that “trick-or-treating” actually began with Catholic children going around on “All Hallow’s Eve” (now known as “Halloween”) and asking for “soul cakes”? In return for the food, the children promised to pray for the deceased members of the household. Here are a couple of rhymes that the children sang as they went along their way:

“A soul cake, a soul cake,
Have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake.”

“Soul, soul, an apple or two,
If you haven’t an apple, a pear will do,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for the Man Who made us all.”

“Soul! soul! for a soul-cake!
I pray, good misses a soul-cake–
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.”

  • 1 c butter
  • 3 3/4 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 6 tbs milk
  • powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top
  1. Using a pastry blender cut 1 c. of butter into 3 3/4 cups of flour.
  2. Blend in the sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and allspice.
  3. In a separate bowl beat eggs, vinegar and milk together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Kneed thoroughly to form a stiff dough.
  6. Roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut out 3 inch circles with a cookie cutter or glass.
  7. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

Also, don’t forget to thank God for and honor our Church Triumphant members by celebrating Mass this Tuesday!

Big thanks to Catholic Cuisine and Catholic Missionary Family for the recipes.

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