You’ll find inspiration in this new devotional book, Springtime for Your Spirit, co-authored by Michelle M. Adams and Pastor Andy Clapp. The seasonal theme focuses on spring topics and includes Scripture, prayers, and activities related to each. Down to earth and relevant to our daily lives, this book delivers hope, joy, and new beginnings. Bright spring photographs with inspirational quotes from Corrie Ten Boom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maya Angelou, and others are interspersed in the pages. Written from Michelle’s and Andy’s perspectives makes this the perfect couples read for Lent. I’m so glad I had access to a digital version of this book to help with the book launch. As a writer myself, I admire the openness and courage of authors who share their struggles and use them to bless their readers. I highly recommend this book.
Amy is the author of over 100 books for children featuring early learning concepts. She writes for both faith-based and mainstream publishers. Amy’s faith-based books include God’s Protection Covers Me (Beaming Books) and The Giant Book of Bible Fingerplays for Preschoolers (Group Publishing). Amy’s educational books include 60 retold tales for the series, Compass Children’s Classics, 2020. Her 10 nonfiction science early readers for Highlights Press were released in 2020.
Our dog Gina, a shepherd mix, is 11 years old. We got her as a puppy after seeing an ad in the newspaper for free puppies. Her mama was a stray and had 8 puppies. She was the only one with longer fur. Adorable!
We live on a gravel road, so Gina's paws are often muddy. We keep a large, flowered basket by the front door with her leash, a few towels, natural wipes, and more--everything we need to try to keep the house clean. When it comes to the sofa, I have found that a quilt works best. I can wash it weekly (or more often, if needed).
We had changed our 1990s farm scene to a watercolor blue, green, beige stripe. [Did you do this during COVID, too? Have the urge to redecorate?] Ever since then, with our Tiffany lamp reproduction (another garage sale find), the pieced quilt/early-American look didn't work for me. I searched online for something to take its place.
Over past 10 or more years we have tried different kinds of covers/quilts. Some were pieced quilts and more expensive ($80) and some were cheap (around $25). Some had stitching to keep the batting in place and some were like coverlets without stitching. Believe it or not the cheaper ones with stitching worked best. They lay down, they don't get torn, and they are thinner/easier to wash. The thicker ones with no stitching tended to get worn and torn. A beige or darker background is better than white, which gets dirty fast. We found this one at Dollar General for $20. What a find!
What do you do to keep your house clean with a dog?
Small Changes, Big Blessings
My husband, Steve, painted our glider swing. I'm embarrassed to confess that I have wanted to do this for a few years. Yes, years. The last time I painted it, from a pale yellow to a dark brown to match the foundation, it took hours and hours. I used a brush. The slats, movable parts, and bars made it tedious. So, I kept putting it off. But every time I walked past the glider swing, which was at least twice day walking our dog, Gina, took a little tiny piece of my energy. I had definitely chosen the wrong color brown. Our gravel road showed the dust. Spiders nested there. The whole area was an eyesore. So instead of the peaceful repose I intended, the glider swing was exactly the opposite. How happy, actually joyful I was when Steve rinsed off the dust, dirt, and spiderwebs. He found a beige outdoor paint in the basement cupboard and a used a spray paint contraption he had purchased years ago at a garage sale. It took him one hour and a lot less hassle and frustration. Every day, when I walk by, I breathe, smile to myself, and thank God for small blessings, this newly painted swing, and big blessings, my husband of 30 years. What small changes have you made?
I'm hopeful about this year. Are you? I hope so! The spring flowers are in bloom. Things are getting back to normal--or at least I can see they will be. We are actually planning a weekend to visit our grandchildren! We haven't done that in over a year. I'd love to hear from you. Did you complete a project? Read a book you have been wanting to read but never had time? Connect with an old friend? I've done all those things.
Our big project was taking down the wallpaper border in both the living room and kitchen. BIG job! But really, is it? To us it was, but thinking about it, it's all relative. We didn't knock down any walls, and it didn't upset our routine--it was just time consuming, frustrating, and messy! We have lived in this house for 30 years, so I felt it was time to remove the sunflowers, which had taken hours to stamp on the wall. I love our new look! It's so bright and cheery! Tag me on social media with your project pictures--big or small or in-between @AmyHouts on Instagram and Twitter and "Author Amy Houts" on Facebook. Here are the "before" pictures. Under the white paper we exposed unfinished cedar, then tried to cover it up with paper, but look closely. You can see a shadow of the sunflowers.
Amy Houts is an award-winning author of over 100 children’s picture books, cookbooks, and board games that feature early learning concepts, family themes of love and friendship, and holiday celebrations. Amy’s numerous short stories, articles, and poems have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, Highlights Hello, and Mysterious Ways. Her books include: God's Protection Covers Me (Beaming Books); Think Like a Scientist (Pearson Learning Group); and Dora the Explorer Safety (Learning Horizons). She began Houts & Home Publications LLC in 2011. Celebrating 10 years!
Makes me so happy to see my daughter and granddaughter baking together! So sweet. From my daughter:
"She helped make cranberry-blueberry muffins this morning! As she folded in the berries, she said it was like putting them to bed, and so of course she sang to them. We had just enough batter left for 3 extra muffins.
Instead of trying to fit 2 muffin pans in the oven, I just used silicone cupcake cups inside a cake pan. I even used the parchment liners inside the silicone because they are such great liners - they don't stick at all and make cleanup super easy.
Our silicone cups had been just sitting in the cabinet. Do you use these? What tips and ideas do you have for using them?"
Years ago, I found out that my friend, Mary Scarbrough, was interested in women's voting rights. So, when I saw a headline in the newspaper related to it, I cut out the article and mailed it to her. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart, Mary is my closest friend. We often email several times each week.
In 2013, it occurred to me that I should start reading the articles I was sending Mary before mailing them. One in particular caught my interest. It described a trip that a local ladies marching band had taken a hundred years earlier to a suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. I was hooked. I spent the next 7 years writing, revising, and submitting a manuscript featuring this fascinating event.
While there was interest in the subject from both agents and editors, and I was nearly awarded a contract (twice!) I ultimately decided to publish it myself.
It took many years, hard work, and dedication by both women and men to gain the vote. And while this was a huge victory for women, it didn’t include women of all races. It took many more years for Black, Native Peoples, and Asian Americans to gain suffrage. In fact, people are still being disenfranchised. Voting is a precious right I'm proud the women of Maryville fought for. Soon you can read all about their experience in a parade that stirred the course of history!
Amy Houts is an author of over 100 children’s picture books, cookbooks, and board games that feature early learning concepts, family themes of love and friendship, and holiday celebrations. Amy’s numerous short stories, articles, and poems have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, Highlights Hello, and Pockets Magazine. Her books include: God's Protection Covers Me (Beaming Books); Think Like a Scientist (Pearson Learning Group); and Dora the Explorer Safety (Learning Horizons).
Do you enjoy watching birds in your backyard or at a park? Want to get kids excited about birdwatching? This picture book is the perfect way to begin! Here's the description. This charming picture book featuring intergenerational birdwatchers will capture your heart. Based on a true story, Lester and his granddaughter, Hope, take a trip up the mountain to see the largest bird in North America, a condor. On the way down the mountain, they are surprised by another exciting sighting! A book to inspire the birder in all of us.
Amy Houts of Houts & Home Publications LLC is thrilled to announce she is releasing artist Lester Feldman's first picture book, HOPE SEES HER CONDOR. Lester is a birder--that's a new word for a birdwatcher, one who travels to see birds. He's made many trips and has seen hundreds of birds. As an artist, Lester draws the birds he has spotted. Ever since Amy was a young girl, she has admired Lester's artistic talent and is thrilled to be helping him make this dream come true.
To purchase, visit the checkout page.
Lester Feldman, both the author and illustrator, has been a Birder since he was Hope's age. He has seen 650 plus bird species in North America where he prefers to "Bird." A retired Advertising Art Director, he now birds mainly from the windows of his house.
Bernice, Lester's wife of 70 years, created the typography for this book. Lester refers to Bernice as his "Creative Director."
Please tag me with bird photos, @HoutsHome or @AmyHouts on Twitter, @AmyHouts on Instagram,
Looking forward to connecting!
Twitter: @AmyHouts @HoutsHome
Pinterest: Houts & Home Publications LLC
What kid doesn't love s'mores? These jazzed-up classic camping s’mores feature a flaky croissant crust and heaping portions. You'll get that hint of smoky flavor you'd get at the campsite without having to scrounge up sticks. All ages can follow along with this simple recipe, and the littlest get to show off their newly-learned counting skills. All told, this snack can be ready in less than five minutes — if all your Masterchef Juniors work together.
TASKS FOR CHILDREN
Ages 3 to 5 Count out the marshmallows Break and count chocolate squares
Ages 5 to 7 All tasks above Slice mini croissants in half
Ages 8 to 12 All tasks above Layer marshmallows, chocolate squares on hot croissant half, top with the other half
Ages 13+ All tasks above Turn on grill, set temp, monitor Toast sandwiches on grill
STAY SAFE AND HAVE FUN
The past 4 weeks, the Houts & Home blog has posted 4 grilling recipes. The activities in these four recipes will give kids an age-appropriate introduction to key cooking and grilling tasks. Make sure you always supervise as they work, and pay close attention to tasks they're trying for the first time. These simple recipes should make the process foolproof and fun.
See here for the overall Kids in the Kitchen cooking guide from Traeger Grills.
BIG THANKS TO TRAEGER GRILLS for sharing their recipes!
GRILLED BEEF SLIDERS
Give kids a lesson in that grilling classic — burgers, but start them with a kid-size version. Don’t let the size of these sliders fool you, they are big on flavor. High-quality 80/20 ground chuck and caramelized onions make this simple recipe a tasty intro to Burgers 101. Younger cooks can focus on the condiments while beginning grillers have a low-stress entry point to cooking with fire. The burger patties are thin so they'll cook fast, meaning you shouldn't need to worry about undercooking.
-- BIG THANKS to Traeger Grills for sharing this recipe!
TASKS FOR CHILDREN
Ages 3 to 5: Shred lettuce Split slider buns for toasting
Ages 5 to 7: All tasks above Measure salt and pepper for burgers Brush burgers with oil
Ages 8 to 12: All tasks above Shape mixed beef into burgers (supervised) Garnish burgers with cooked onions, other condiments
Ages 13+: All tasks above Mix ground beef Turn on grill, set temp, monitor Cook burgers, toast buns
Recipe adapted from our Beef Sliders recipe.
This brightly-colored grilled vegetable salad is loaded with flavor—and you can add your own with extra herbs and seasonings if you'd like. For your youngest, this recipe is an opportunity to give them their first knife skills lesson — the zucchini and summer squash can be sliced with a kid-safe plastic knife. The oldest can get an intro to grilling with this lower-temperature recipe, where there's less chance of burning the food.
BIG THANKS to Traeger Grills for the recipe!
TASKS FOR CHILDREN
Ages 3 to 5 Wash vegetables Brush sliced vegetables with oil Sprinkle with pre-measured amounts of salt and pepper
Ages 5 to 7 All tasks above Slice zucchini/squash with kid-safe knife Layer cooked vegetables per instructions
Ages 8 to 12 All tasks above Place vegetables on grill grate with long tongs
Ages 13+ All tasks above Turn on grill, set temp, monitor Slice tomato, red onion with sharp knife Monitor and flip vegetables while cooking
Recipe adapted from our Grilled Ratatouille Salad recipe.