Recently, a friend asked what resources I have used with my daughter in preparing her to read. I decided to organize my thoughts and share what has worked for us so far.

My daughter, Annabelle, is well on her way to reading and it is exciting to watch her develop this new skill!

From the time she was just a few months old, we have read books to her before nap and bedtime and of course during the in between times just because. She has always had an amazing attention span and seems to soak up every word we say.

When she was about a year old, we purchased Baby Einstein’s Alpha Books. I highly recommend adding these books to your child’s library for a number of reasons. There is one small book for each letter of the alphabet, and three corresponding words/pictures inside each of those books.

I love how they help with letter recognition, building vocabulary all while being just their size and baby friendly. They come in a small storage box, which my daughter loved to put all the books away into. We would also lay out all the books in order and practice the ABC song. Our set is very well used as you can tell :).

When she turned three, I found Starfall is an excellent resource for your preschooler. There are games and interactive songs that emphasize the sounds the letters make. I was surprised at how much she absorbed from just playing the games for a little bit every day.

Last week, I purchased an entire set of 6 boxes of the Hooked on Phonics curriculum from a garage sale. I am excited to open them up and work through them this summer!

I realize each child learns and his or her own pace and I think it is so important to pay attention to each child’s cues to set that pace. I am excited that my 18-month old son, Elijah is just now very interested in books. He hadn’t enjoyed sitting still for them until just recently and now he will seek books out and initiate looking through them and asking to be read to. It is also fun to see how much he loves the Alphabooks now too.


Learning should be fun, and when your child is naturally curious and interested in a subject it makes teaching seem effortless. It is very rewarding to see my daughter embark on learning a new skill set and see how proud she is of herself! 

What resources or ideas have you used with your kids?


I’m back. I have missed writing and sharing with you all and feel like I have all these pent up thoughts ready to explode. It’s been difficult get organized, focused, and back in action. For some reason it has seemed completely overwhelming! Today, I am starting – one post at a time, right? 

We recently celebrated our daughter’s 4th birthday {isn’t she sweet?} and I decided to bake my first cake for the occasion! I can’t remember ever baking a cake from scratch on my own. I have made cookies and cupcakes and muffins and brownies, but never a cake. {And never a pie, either, but we’ll save that attempt for another day}.

This cake was moist, flavorful, and had one of my favorites as a star ingredient: coconut. I found this recipe online and made a couple of minor changes and I just have to say that this was I am not a huge cake fan, which is probably why I hadn’t ever baked one.

I will post the recipe, with the ingredients I used here for your convenience, but please note: it is not my creation, it is just simply too good not to share! Click here for more detailed pictures and instructions. I do have to warn you, this particular recipe is not allergy friendly. I didn’t make it with any substitutions to make it gluten or dairy free, although I am sure it would be fantastic prepared that way as well.

Carrot Cake with a Twist

Carrot Cake with a Twist


  • 1 pound finely grated carrots
  • 4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups cane sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup golden raisins


  1. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coarsely grate the carrots in a food processor using the grater attachment.
  3. Next, chop them into finer pieces with the medal blade attachment in the food processor
  4. Mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest.
  5. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.
  7. Add the finely chopped carrots, coconut, and golden raisins.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  9. Bake cakes for about 30-35 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
  10. Let cakes cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. To assemble the cake: Once the cakes have completely cooled, remove from the pans and peel off the parchment paper from the bottom.
  3. Put the cake on a cake turn table.
  4. With a thin serrated knife, slice off the very top of the cake by using a sawing motion.
  5. Then cut the cake in 2 equal layers.
  6. Slide the layers onto a cardboard round or any other flat surface.
  7. Put about 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese icing.
  8. Using an offset spatula spread the frosting evenly over the surface of the first layer.
  9. Repeat for the rest of the layers.
  10. Place about 2 cups of the icing on the top of the cake and spread evenly.
  11. Spread the icing onto the sides of the cake.
  12. Lift the cake off the turn table and place on the serving platter.
  13. Using the spatula spread the frosting and create swirls on the cake.
  14. Press coconut onto the sides and sprinkle the top.{Note: I don't have any fancy cake decorating tools/equipment, so I just place the cake on a large plate and frosted it using the back of a large spoon :)}


Pasta with Kale, Cannelini Beans and Fresh Herb Vinagrette

March 22, 2012

Have you ever cooked with kale before? Kale is a dark, leafy green commonly known as a “superfood” meaning that it is packed with nutrition. It comes in several varieties – I used the curly kale for this recipe. Up until a few years ago, I had never eaten kale, let alone known how to prepare […]

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Garlic Green Beans with Tamari Glaze

March 19, 2012

There’s nothing like fresh green beans! This recipe is the perfect mix of sweet sautéed garlic and salty tamari. Feel free to use soy sauce instead if you are not sensitive to gluten. The best part: it is simple, fast and your kids will be asking for more! PrintGarlic Green Beans with Tamari Glaze Ingredients2 […]

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Brown Rice Pilaf with Almonds

March 16, 2012

When my husband and I changed our diet to include whole grains, one of the changes we made was switching from white rice to brown. White rice has been stripped of a good portion of its nutrients and contains less fiber. Brown rice has a slightly nutty flavor, and like other whole grains, is more […]

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Gripe Water: All Natural Relief

March 13, 2012

I wanted to take a minute to tell you all about a fabulous product made specifically for babies with stomach discomfort due to colic, teething, hiccups or excess gas. Gripe Water is an all natural, herbal digestive aid made without parabens or alcohol. Not only is it safe to give to your baby, it actually works! […]

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Sarah’s Simple Salsa

March 12, 2012

It’s time to spill my secret. {My secret salsa recipe that is!} The secret is this: I use canned tomatoes with green chilies as the base. So simple. I always keep them on hand in my pantry so I can throw this together in no time. I don’t know about you, but Chips & Salsa […]

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Fresh Spring Rolls & Dipping Sauce

March 9, 2012

I never knew that fresh spring rolls could be so easy to make! The main thing to account for is the time it takes to prep all the ingredients and then assembling them. My dear friend taught me how to make these and shared this recipe with me {hi Angie!} PrintFresh Spring Rolls & Dipping […]

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Kid Friendly Gluten-Free Snack Ideas

March 8, 2012

The picture on the left is a selection of the produce in my house this morning. We eat a lot of fruit and vegetables! {I do have a great resource for being able to keep fresh produce on hand that I will share in a future post.} In between meals, my kids usually need some […]

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March 6, 2012

Lately I have been… packing our belongings into moving boxes nurturing sick kids dreaming of our new home  planning out each detail             thanking God for each blessing new and old      thinking about this space and what I want to share choosing to put priority on other things […]

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