All posts by Life of Joy

More Book Lists/Suggestions

The Read Aloud Revival released their June picture book recommendations recently. There are a lot of pond, frog, and duck stories, fun for summer.

I gave you the link to Read Aloud Revival’s suggested books lists for girls and boys a few weeks ago. So this week I thought I’d share another of my go-to lists for suggesting books to my kinds when they were young. Since I wasn’t well-read in my adolescence, I relied on lists like this to help me guide my children to good reads. I was always very cautious with what the kids read. I didn’t want them reading things that encouraged things I did not want them to emulate or at least, learn from.

It is important to have conversations with your children about what they are reading. Let them tell you about the books; it’s called narration and happens naturally when you are excited about what you are reading.  Narration is a beneficial skill for cognitive function, logic, and reasoning.

This is one list I used: 1000 Good Books it has book suggestions broken down into grade levels to give you an idea of the comprehension level for the books listed.

Another list I used was the literature and free reading suggestions for the different grades of Ambleside Online.

Then when writing up this post, I found these lists as well:

Well, that’s all for today. I hope some of these lists help you and your kids find some good books to read and talk about this summer.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

DooDah, Purk, and Hollibaugh

This week’s prompt for Today’s Tangles: Keeping it Classic (#TTKICPrompt052719) suggested we make a string with two lines. We were also to add some tangle enhancers. I wanted to add perfs but just felt like it would have been pushed and not a natural progression.

Here’s a picture of my string.

From the list of suggested tangles, I chose DooDah first because it is new to me and it looked very simple. I hadn’t used Purk in a long time, so it felt like a good one to use. I chose to use hollibaugh for the last tangle, as it is a favorite. The first two I chose to draw rather large.

Here’s a scan of my tile before shading.

Here’s a picture I took outside but it was a bit overcast, at least it wasn’t raining.

I think that the space I tangled DooDah could resemble a zipper opening. :)

As you may be able to see, I used rounding (at least I hope that is what it is ;) ) on the left end of DooDah. The only other enhancer I used was shading. Maybe I’ll feel more like adding some next time.

Here is the scan after shading.

Here is the picture in natural light.

Well, that’s it for me today. Tiffany’s birthday is this week and so between that and helping my parents pack to move, it’s a bit busy. ;)

I hope you have a good week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Pasta Salad ‘E’

I love pasta salad. I feared that following keto and now Trim Healthy Mama that I would never be able to really enjoy it again. My favorite pasta salads use Miracle Whip and that is not on either plan. I don’t like regular mayonnaise and I really don’t want to add another thing to make from scratch. See my dilemma?

Well, I found that I love the THM trimmy thousand island dressing . . . seriously, love it! I had some brown rice and quinoa pasta one day and decided to add a little of it to that pasta. Game Changer!!!!

So today I bring you one of my quick and easy variations on this pasta salad. It’s simple . . . boil the pasta. While it boils, prepare your veggies. Today I used one radish sliced thinly, some diced green pepper, and some cherry tomatoes, with a tiny bit of finely diced onion.

Drain and rinse the pasta with cool water and add to the bowl.  Add a couple heaping spoonfuls of the dressing, salt, and pepper.



I also added a few slices of turkey pepperoni. :)

I’ll be sharing other variations as I make them. This is truly a favorite for me and am glad to have such a delicious E meal.

Pasta Salad ‘E’ Version


  • Quinoa and Brown Rice pasta, cooked and drained
  • radish, sliced thinly
  • couple tablespoons of diced green pepper
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes, cut
  • about tablespoon finely diced onion
  • 2 heaping soup spoonfuls of trimmy thousand island dressing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 8 turkey pepperoni slices, quartered (optional)


  1. Combine all and enjoy.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Memorial Day and Thinking Marriage

It’s Memorial Day here in the USA and is supposed to be a time of remembering those who have died while serving in the military. Unfortunately way too many Americans don’t remember that and it is only a day off from work, a three-day weekend.

The Poppy became the flower of remembrance in the United States back with WWI according to from a poem, In Flanders Field, written by a brigade surgeon. The article is a short read about how the poem came to be and how two women in two different countries chose the poppy to remember the fallen soldiers.

When we get married, there are some things we have to give up. But the benefit of having a life partner is worth the trade-off. It’s important to remember that we are trying to build a stronger “us” and not striving to get our own way. Thinking “what is better for our marriage” may be a better thought process than “what I want.”

Now I realize this is coming on the heels of saying that sometimes I have to just do something that refreshes me. This is true but not at the expense of “us.” It’s a big balancing game. ;) But with God’s help, we can learn to find that right balance.

I hope these thoughts encourage you today,

Michele ºÜº

Rain, Celebrate, Library, and Packing

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a crazy weather week here in northeastern Oklahoma. We started the week out with rain, thunderstorms, and tornado watches. I got this snap from my baby sister at seven in the morning . . . definitely too early for that.

That round of storms (at least I think it was that round) caused flooded roads on our route into town.

And just to the right of this, which is our main way into town, is this.

This is our other main way out. I know this one doesn’t look that bad because it isn’t moving but it is enough to block us in. We prayed because the next day we had Tiffany’s long awaited driver’s license test appointment.

We made it out and left early enough for Tiffany and I to get our hair cut. We just go to Great Clips–it’s economical. ;) We did stop and get new windshield wiper blades on the car at Auto Zone because there was a threat of more rain and she definitely needed to have great working wipers for her driving test. I love that the auto stores will install them for free and right then.

We got to the testing place early and had planned for that, so we both sat and read the books we’d brought. Speaking of books–this week was library week too. I finally got some pictures of our quaint library.

I really should try to get a better picture of the exterior next month because it is a nice building. It has some lovely flowers outside.







Here is a picture of some of the adorable lamps on a few tables.

These lamps really make the environment hygge and not so institutional. On a table to the right of this one, with the same lamps, there is a jigsaw puzzle that we’ve seen some senior citizens working on. So neat!

Then I looked up on top of one of the bookshelves and saw some of these.

I love our small town library. I don’t limit myself to any section; I even peruse the children and young adult sections because I know there are MANY books I missed as a child. I picked up Peter Pan this week. It is hard to read a retelling of a book if I haven’t read the original (and seeing any movie adaptation does not count).

Well, before I got on that bunny trail I was telling you about Tiffany’s driving test! Hurray! She passed!!!! We went and got her license and mine renewed, followed by celebratory loaded sweet potato fries from Ron’s Hamburgers and Chili.

I’m very serious about my sweet potato fries.  ;)Both of our hair was struggling having been handled by the beauticians (no, we do not pay to have our hair washed, as luxurious as it is, we go frugal) and being blown by the wind and attacked by the heat. ;) Yep, that is cheese and bacon on those sweet potato fries, with a healthy dose of salt. :)

It was delicious! We left there content and stopped by two grocery stores on our way home. They guys beat us home and helped us get the groceries inside before it started to pour and watch the weather report (and pray) concerning tornadoes!

There’s been so much rain this week that they had to open the dam some more and thus the Arkansas River actually looks like a river.

Sorry, thought I’d show that good lookin’ man I’m married to, as I showed you the river. ;) Usually you can see the bottom of much of the river through here.

Yesterday Tiffany and I helped Mom pack some more. We are making progress. Video cabinet and entertainment center almost empty.







Tiffany worked on the special tea cups with saucers and fancy ladies that Mom collects and displays on those shelves behind Tiffany.

Yes, it’s been quite the week! And the next couple seem to be stacking up to be just as busy. We will all be very glad when Mom and Dad get settled in just a few miles away. :)

Well, I’m going to run. I get to have my nieces spend the night tonight and visit with my sissy for a bit. I hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Learning about Weather

It’s storm season here in Oklahoma. This week has had several storms and tornadoes springing up. Living in tornado alley, my kids have grown up with this threat and have learned what we do when one arises.

In our second year here there were monumental tornadoes that occurred. Since we both lived in a mobile home and only five minutes from my parents, we all went over to wait out the storm together. We quickly found that OK is on top of any tornadic weather. The kids all played together (or slept) as we watched this weather coverage. Of course, we adults prayed as we watched too.

I believe that it is important to teach children about storms and what we need to do to protect ourselves but balance it out, so as not to frighten them.

There is a book entitled Storm in the Night that we used when the boys were little with Five In A Row (FIAR) that talks about storms. Looking back, it is possible that this book and our study with it may have contributed to my children liking rain and storms. Although, this was not a favorite book, it is a good one.

Here are some links to blog posts others have shared about Storm in the Night:

Then if you are interested in some study with tornadoes, click on over to and click on Title Index. Scroll down and you will find MANY MANY learning ideas for many ages. :) (I hesitate to share the link here because they may be notified and I don’t want them to try and get rid of the archived page link above. ;) ) The study called Tornado looks interesting as does the Weather Lapbook and Printables from the Lapbooks tab.

For more tornado specific ideas, check these out:

I hope these ideas help you in your study of weather.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Fife Indy-Rella

For this week’s tile I decided to participate in Today’s Tangles: Keeping it Classic facebook group’s prompt. Sandy has a very thorough prompt each Monday, although I do not know how she handles holidays yet. There are about a dozen suggested tangles, a suggested string, as well as a tangling term of the week.

I attempted to draw a string similar to hers and proceeded to try and select tangles that I was ‘drawn’ to. ;) Here is my tile with the string; please forgive the quality of the picture, I was too lazy to get up and take a scan or go outside and take a picture. I thought the lighting I had would be sufficient. I never did get the entire tile in the picture. :D

I thought the loops of the string lended themselves to Indy-Rella rather nicely and had hoped that I could do an auraknot in one of the triangular sections. My Auraknot was not pleasing to me but I moved on. I then decided to use Fife ‘behind’ the Indy-Rella. Once again, I placed my dots too closely together and wished I’d made my ‘grid’ larger. But I pressed on and I’m okay with it. ;)

So here is my tile (scanned) before shading. Oh, I opted for the blackening of the ‘triangular’ sections in Fife.

My eyesight got blurry as I was tangling Fife and blackening in those little triangles. I’ve given up hoping for much in the way of precision. ;)

Here is the pre-shaded tile in natural lighting.

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time shading . . . Fife was too small for much shading and highlighting, as I already mentioned, I should have done my dots further apart and fewer of them.

Here is the scan after some shading.

I used a white General’s pencil on part of Fife and afterwards even used a white pen on it but my cheapo tile is too white to even notice it. :D

Here is a picture of the tile taken in natural lighting.

You may have noticed that I rotated the tile. It happened when I drew Fife. I know there is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ with Zentangle, but this is how I like it best I think. ;)

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll let me know you did so in the comments.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Easy Salad 2

Today I thought I’d share another quick salad we like to have for lunches. I use cooked chicken, either leftover from dinner or that I’ve cooked up in the crock pot and shredded.

We add this to a bowl of torn lettuce. My favorite lettuce is either a nice crisp green leaf or tender butter leaf but enjoy a quick romaine heart as well. Point is that we just either chop it quickly or tear it or dump it out of a bag. ;)

I really like to make this an ‘E’ salad by adding a piece of toasted sprouted bread, tearing it into pieces and adding it as croutons. :)

To this I add my fuel pull trimmy thousand island dressing from the THM Cookbook. If I’m out of my dressing, then I massage 1/2 teaspoon of oil (generally MCT oil here) into my lettuce before adding anything else.

I like to serve some fruit with this to round out the meal. On this day, I had a half an orange. If I had been out of my dressing I probably would have squeezed one slice of my orange over the salad as well. :)

It’s a quick, easy lunch that is tasty.

I hope this helps you with your lunch ideas.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

A Refreshed Me is a Good Wife :)

This year, I am sitting outside more. I’m absolutely loving the breeze as I sit in the shade of the mimosa tree. I’m even writing this post, sitting outside. :)

There are times that you just have to do something for yourself, that makes you happy. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I am not that self-sacrificing, :( I do things for myself on a daily basis. But there are some times that you have to do something a bit more.

This year I asked for a porch extension for my Mother’s Day gift. We have had a good portion of it for several years sitting around here but it has never been a priority to put together. This year, I decided I wanted that instead of my usual flower bed for my Mother’s Day gift–I’ll probably buy some flowers and plant them myself soon. ;)

Any way, last week Tiffany and I decided to go sit outside for a bit. OH! We loved it! I remembered part of what I enjoyed about going camping in the first years of marriage. I love the outdoors when it is breezy. I don’t like heat and get hot too easily. ;)

I decided to take one day each week and call it my ‘vacation day.’ A day where I’ve done the meal prep ahead of time and do the required chores immediately following breakfast and go outside and sit and read and drink southern sweet tea and just enjoy nature and the Creator, my God.

I really believe this is going to be a very good thing for me (and Tiffany). I also believe that it will be a good thing for my marriage because a relaxed and peaceful me is a good wife. :D Now I’m writing all this before I have even put it into operation yet but last Monday was so wonderful in spite of having other things I still needed to do, that I’m pretty sure that this is going to be a great thing. :)

So all that to encourage you to find something that refreshes you and find a way to incorporate it into your life. I cannot do a lot of traveling or go on many excursions right now but I can go outside and enjoy the peacefulness of the beautiful outdoors. (Don’t be mistaken, I will hightail it inside to the air conditioning when it gets too warm and breezeless for my liking. :D )

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Fruit and Tree Update

I’m loving sitting outside more this spring! (Writing this outside. :D )

I checked on our fruit trees and the ones we planted have some fruit on them. There are a couple dozen peaches and plums on each of those trees and a womping 3 pears on the pear tree, as far as I can tell right now. I don’t know how a pear tree produces fruit because I didn’t see any blossoms but I’ll learn as the years go by.

Shows plums growing on new tree.Shows pears growing on the planted tree.Shows two pears growing side by side.

It looks like they grow upside down. I had no clue!

Shows height of the pear tree.
It’s not very tall at only about 8 feet or so.

I don’t believe it is time yet for the apple trees to start blossoming or whatever it is they do to produce fruit, especially since I cannot find any hint of fruit there yet. ;)

However our volunteer peach tree in the chicken pen is doing AMAZINGLY!!!! It has oodles of peaches on it. I’m so excited!!!

Shows some of the lovely peaches on the tree that got planted by accident.

There are a few other volunteer trees in the chicken pen; I don’t know what they are yet.

I wonder if any are other fruit bearing trees.

The grape vines I planted years ago and thought they had died out, seem to be full of life. I hope that maybe they will be better than the ones I got off of the vine a couple years ago. Those grapes were very small and the seeds almost filled the grape. Yeah, I know I could’ve gotten a grape vine that produces seedless grapes but that didn’t seem as natural to me–it seemed genetically modified, so I went with the ones with seeds. :p

Indicates grape vines and mimosa treesAs you can see, we have a lot of volunteer Mimosa trees. :) I’m okay with that because I love Mimosa trees but we’ll see. They may have to be removed, since they did root themselves in what used to be our garden area. There are about six of them, even though there are only about 3 or 4 different ones in the picture above.

I hope you have some fun planned for this weekend. I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing. I thought Brian, Lauren, and Liam were going to come up but they won’t be able to after all. So, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing. :o

Sure do miss them!!! =))

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº