Posted in Contests, Reviews

Canadian Dolls for Canadian Girls: Maplelea Friends Review & Giveaway!


Canadian Dolls for Canadian Girls: Maplelea Friends Review

My 8 year old daughter anxiously awaited the Maplelea Friends doll who looked just like her to arrive in the mail. While she was waiting, she even knit her doll-to-be a cute little doll-sized scarf. The day finally arrived (quite quickly, but a long wait for an anxious 8 year old)!

Canadian dolls
As soon as my daughter unwrapped her Maplelea Friends doll (KMF5 – no longer available), she gave her a name, Aveena, and gave the doll the present she had knit.
Canadian dolls
My daughter was equally delighted with the beautiful keepsake giftbox and the cute journal included. Aveena even likes to write in the journal:
Canadian dolls
The creators of Maplelea Girls, Avonlea Traditions, started in 1988, developing products based on Anne of Green Gables (today you can find a fabulous Anne of Green Gables dress-up outfit for Maplelea dolls in the catalogue). In 2003, Avonlea Traditions launched the Maplelea doll line. Three years later they sold off the Anne of Green Gables line and focused solely on Maplelea Girls dolls.

Now girls can choose one of 12 Maplelea Friends and use their imagination to create a name, background, and wardrobe for their new friend. Each doll comes with a cute, purple Journal with 64 pages to fill out on the doll’s likes, dislikes, family, stories, and more. Half of the journal consists of prompts and fill-in-the-blanks to create the doll’s story and half consists of blank pages for your child’s story. What a great creative writing assignment for homeschoolers! I didn’t even have to encourage my daughter to get writing – she started writing directly after giving her doll the scarf.

Your child can choose a doll that looks just like her (like my daughter did) or simply any doll that she likes. There are a wide variety of hair styles & colours, eye colours, and skin tones to choose from. Each Maplelea Friend comes dressed in a well-made purple outfit which consists of a t-shirt, skirt, striped footless tights and silver shoes decorated with a maple leaf (of course)! Maplelea dolls are 46cm (18 inches) tall, with a soft body and poseable arms and legs. They do stand on their own, and their eyes open and close. The hair is absolutely gorgeous and looks so much like real hair – I think mostly because it’s made up of a blend of different colours. It is a lot of fun to style – my daughter spends a lot of time thinking up and trying out new styles (and has become better at styling her own hair as a result).

We go everywhere with Aveena. She even went out for a break to eat with us during a recent trip to Halifax:

Canadian dolls
My daughter already loves her doll so much, that she spent some of the money she had saved up on the Maplelea hairbrush…

and a beautiful outfit, Belle of the Ball (Aveena looks great in blue):

Canadian dolls
The brush and outfit each came with additional journal pages for the journal – the brush included special pages on caring for the doll and her hair. Aveena likes to brush her own hair as well:

Canadian dolls
My daughter has always loved reading the Maplelea catalogue. She pointed out the Maplelea Spa to me one day – she is very impressed that if her doll gets damaged, Maplelea has a service to take care of her. The doll is sent to Maplelea and, for about half the price of the doll, is completely replaced and sent back in full spa gear.

We just received the brand new Maplelea catalogue in the mail today and my daughter spent time pouring over it, looking over the outfits and reading all the stories on the different dolls from across Canada. We made a gift registry for her on to share with our family so they can choose to shop there for Christmas gifts.

Canadian dolls
Maplelea Girls dolls cost $99.00 each. Shipping is just a flat $9.00 across Canada (regardless of order). In addition to the Maplelea Friends, there are 6 regional dolls who span Nova Scotia to Nunavut, with names and stories pre-made that can be added to in the accompanying journal. You will not find Maplelea Girls in retail shops – Maplelea says it keeps its costs down by selling directly to the consumer and wants to reach Canadian girls who may not live near retail outlets that sell high quality specialty toys. Orders can be placed online at or by phone at 1-800-668-4339, 24 hours/7 days a week.

I think every little girl would love one of these imaginative, well-crafted dolls. And I have very good news for one lucky little girl in Canada! Maplelea is giving away ONE Maplelea Friend (worth $99.99) of your choice! Giveaway is open to Canadians only and ends at midnight Atlantic Time on Wednesday, December 12, 2012:

*This giveaway has ended*

  • MANDATORY entry – visit the Maplelea Girls Website and leave a blog post comment below letting me know your favourite Maplelea friend or simply something you learned about Maplelea
  • EXTRA entry – Like Homeschooling in Nova Scotia on Facebook and leave a blog post comment below letting me know
  • EXTRA entry – Like Maplelea Girls on Facebook and leave a blog post comment below letting me know
  • EXTRA entry – Follow @HomeschoolingNS on Twitter and leave a blog post comment below letting me know
  • EXTRA entry – Follow @MapleleaGirls on Twitter and leave a blog post comment below letting me know
  • EXTRA entry – Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and leave a blog post comment below letting me know
  • EXTRA entry – Like this post, below, on Facebook and leave a blog post comment letting me know

I received a Maplelea Friends doll in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Love, Luck &

Posted in Reviews

Holy Clothing – Review

I’ve been gazing at Holy Clothing‘s gorgeous ladies’ wear for years now, but have never seen it in person here in Canada.  Turns out my son was even paying attention to my desire for Holy Clothing – we were playing a game and he guessed correctly that my “Best store to buy clothing” would be Holy Clothing 🙂  I was delighted when Holy Clothing accepted my request to review one of their pieces.  I received the “Liana Princess Neck Renaissance Medieval A-Line Dress Gown” in exchange for an honest review.

I chose the dress completely for the sleeves – I love those sleeves!  It was so hard to choose which colour though, there are SO many absolutely gorgeous colours to choose from!  Finally I decided on Purple Fuscia.  I received it in mere days, shipped right from India.  I couldn’t wait to wear it, so I wore it around the house for the day as soon as I received it.  I had ordered a size Large because that’s what the website suggested for my measurements, and it fit beautifully.  I also wore it all day long at two homeschool conferences and I found the 100% rayon/viscose garment very comfortable.  I still love the sleeves even after having worn it – I find that when I raise my hands, they fall back and don’t impede my activities at all!

I have ironed and steamed my dress and both methods got the wrinkles out quite nicely.  I washed it separately on the gentle cycle on cold (in my high efficiency front load washer) as suggested in the FAQ’s on the website.  Unfortunately, the very first time it came out of the wash, some of the hem on one sleeve had come apart and was completely frayed.  The sleeves and insert are a different, jacquard, fabric than the rest of the garment and a lot more delicate.  If you are going to buy this garment, I highly recommend hand washing it. I contacted Holy Clothing and they graciously sent me out an immediate replacement dress – great customer service!

You can see the frayed hem here:


My replacement dress was in beautiful Sapphire Blue. Here is what the package looks like – it is packaged in minimal plastic inside a shipping envelope:


Here I am wearing it at a dinner date with my husband to celebrate our 18th anniversary:


And here I am wearing my gorgeous princess dress at the local “Princess Tea” with my daughter:



So from special occasions to medieval faires, to Hal-Con in the fall, this dress is going to get a lot of wear.  I get compliments wherever I go!  Be sure to check out Holy Clothing’s Facebook page at There you will find real photos of people wearing the clothing along with great discounts and giveaways!

The Liana Princess Neck Renaissance Medieval A-Line Gown Dress is available in sizes Large to 5X and costs $44.99 US.  You have to check out all of Holy Clothing’s other beautiful items: tops, bottoms, and dresses – I keep eying those tops with the big sleeves, one of those may just be my next purchase!  Check out my Pinterest Page under My Style for some of my favourites.

Love, Luck &

Posted in Resources, Reviews

The World’s Greatest Stories Bible Story CD’s – Review


The World’s Greatest Stories are a series of Bible stories.  We received Volume 1: The Prophets CD in exchange for an honest review 🙂

Each CD wis available in both King James and NIV versions, and we chose NIV.  Unlike other audio books, where the Bible stories are retold, each CD story is taken completely word-for-word from the Bible.  They are told by storyteller and actor George Sarris, who dramatically presents characters with different voices and a lot of enthusiasm, bringing them right to life!  I love this idea, especially since we are a drama-loving family 🙂

They are suggested for ages 4 and up, but I believe even younger children would enjoy listening to them.  My children, aged 7 and 12 enjoyed them for the most part, although they found one of the characters annoying and always ask me to skip that part of the CD.  These CD’s would be great for Children’s Church as well, and I plan to use them for ours in future.

Six volumes are available, including The Life of Christ, Joshua & Esther, and more.  Each CD is about one hour in length.  To listen to a sample of each of the CD’s, click HERE.  Each CD (or casette tape if you prefer) is available for ONLY $7.95 US plus $1.25 shipping – what a great deal!  And order 6  or more items and your shipping is free.

To see what other TOS Crew members thought of The World’s Greatest Stories, click below:


Love, Luck &

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Fractazmic Card Game – Review


Fractazmic is a mathematical card game created by I See Cards.  We love to have fun with math in our homeschool, incorporating everything from cuisenaire rods and pattern blocks, to chess and other board games, and even video games.  We were delighted to receive Fractazmic in exchange for an honest review 🙂

Fractazmic covers all the fractions pictured below:


This is fantastic, because while we often deal with 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 while baking in the kitchen, we don’t often have practical experience with the other fractions.

Fractazmic is for 2-4 players.  The object of the game is to get the most hands equalling a whole before one player runs out of cards.  Game play is fast, although sometimes it can take awhile to figure out what in your hand equals a whole.  The good news is, there are pictures that show what each fraction is equal to (very handy for the younger children especially):


So the 1/2 pictured above is very clearly equal to 6/12 or 6 of one dozen eggs.  The pictures are sometimes handy for Mom too 🙂  My 7 year old, 12 year old and I all enjoyed playing this game, and will be enjoying it for years to come!

You can see if you and your children like a solitaire version of the game FREE right now: Play FracTazmicTM Speed Online for a chance to win a free deck!

The best part about Fractazmic is the cost – just $6.95 US for this 60-card game!  Shipping to Canada is $4.00 US.  If you’re buying for a group, you can also buy in 5-packs and 10-packs.  I See Cards also has a variety of other games, including Pyramath and Time Bomb, which you can buy packaged with the Fractazmic game altogether for $18.95 US.  You can download a FREE 28-page e-book on how to play Fractazmic various ways, as well as the other card games I See Cards offers, by clicking on Dr. Ron’s Succeeding in Mathematics with Games on the I See Cards website.

To see how other TOS Homeschool Crew families enjoyed this I See Cards game, click below:


Love, Luck &

Posted in Reviews

Heroes & Villains of the Bible by Thomas Nelson – e-book Review

PhotobucketFor the past couple of weeks, we’ve been enjoying the Heroes & Villains of the Bible e-book on my iPod touch.  This is a children’s Bible, with selected text from the International Children’s Bible version, and is recommended for ages 9-12. Excerpts from 50 Bible stories, about heroes from Noah to Mary and villains from Satan to Judas, encourage children to be “real heroes”.

While my 7 year old daughter is capable of reading the text, she would still rather read a Bible story in more of a story format instead of in chapter and verse (and is currently enjoying her Thomas Nelson First Study Bible).  So, I will be keeping this handy for when she is just a little older and can enjoy it more.  She did enjoy discussing the stories though.  There are thoughts and discussion questions at the end of each chapter, and always a statement about what “real heroes” do.  This is great for character-building.  I found the full-colour illustrations kind of odd looking, like not-very-well-done 3D animation, but my daughter didn’t seem to mind, just exclaimed in excitement at recognizing some  of her Bible favourites.

Heroes & Villains of the Bible is available as a hard cover book or as an e-book, in EPub, Mobi, and PRC format (I downloaded the EPub version for my iPod touch).  Check for availability at your local or online bookseller.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Love, Luck &

Posted in Parenting, Reviews

Regret Free Parenting – Review

PhotobucketRegret Free Parenting: Raise Good Kids and Know You’re Doing It Right is by Catherine Hickem, founder of Intentional Moms.  I received this book free, in exchange for an honest review 🙂

Although it is called Regret Free Parenting, it’s aimed at and speaking directly to mothers.  The overall theme of the book encourages you to be an “intentional” mother.  Its seven chapters cover purpose, knowing your child, vision, emotional intelligence, respect/position, fears, and leaning on God.

At the end of each chapter, you’ll find questions that you can answer, to help you become an “intentional” mother.  You will determine your purpose as a mother, list decisions you are going to let your children make on their own, and face your fears.  At the end of the book is a Regret-Free Parenting Plan, designed to help you to tackle one of the principles of each chapter a month.

I like to read at least one book on parenting a year, to gain some perspective and inspiration when mothering my children, 24-7.  I really like the whole idea of being an “intentional” mother – instead of stumbling along, I can plan how I want to parent, and be intentional in every aspect of motherhood 🙂

Regret Free Parenting is available in paperback at your local bookstore or in Kindle format.

I review for BookSneeze®

Posted in Reviews

Reading Kingdom – Review

Reading Kingdom is an online learn-to-read program for children ages 4-10.  I received a free account in exchange for an honest review 🙂

Setting up Reading Kingdom was very easy and completed in about 30 seconds – both registering myself and adding my “Reader”, my 7 year old daughter.  Your child’s guide is the adorable and gentle-voiced Reading Kingdom owl:Photobucket

My daughter is already adept at using a computer and tested out of Keyboard & Mouse Training.  Since she was already at the beginner reading stage, able to read small words and sound out many larger ones,  she tested out of the Seeing Sequences test.  My daughter then completed the Skills Survey 1 and headed into “Letter Land.”  The Letter Land section involved learning keyboard geography, as well as learning how to type a period and capital letters.  This took weeks of doing a lesson a day and seemed like it would last forever, but finally she was on into Skills Survey 2 and then starting Reading Level 1.

For each Reading lesson, your child will first be asked to type the word they hear.  If they type it correctly, they move on to a new word.  If they are incorrect, they begin a series of repetitive activities to learn the word.  One of the activities involves choosing the word out of several very similar words such as in this screen shot:

Another activity is typing the missing letters.  The child is also asked to click on every example of the word in a story.  Here is an example of one of the little stories your child will read:

Each lesson is only about 5 minutes long.  The child is given the option of doing some extra activities (more of the same word) or exiting.  In order to move on to the next lesson in the same sitting you have to exit first.  In case you aren’t sitting alongside your child while they are working, Reading Kingdom sends messages to the parent’s email inbox to keep you posted on the progress of your child.  “Progress Updates” let you know when your child is done each section or level of the program.  Each Reading Level ends with a Progress Check and Review, and there are 5 Reading Levels total in the Reading Kingdom program.

Reading Kingdom was designed by Dr. Marion Blank, an expert in literacy.  Her approach is a whole language approach to reading.  Her belief is that phonics do not work – click on Reading Kingdom Approach to learn more.  I personally have seen phonics programs work for both my son (now 12, reading Tolkien & writing novels) and for my daughter.  I believe Reading Kingdom can be a great supplement or follow-up to any phonics program.  Reading Kingdom may be a great tool in particular for parents of children who just don’t seem to be “getting it” even after a phonics program.  For my daughter, already at a beginner reading level and able to sound out new words, Reading Kingdom served more as a spelling program.  She enjoyed learning to spell words that she wasn’t sure about.

Reading Kingdom has some freebies to offer.  Receive Free e-Books when you “Like” the Reading Kingdom Facebook page.  You can also subscribe to the free Reading Kingdom newsletter, full of tips on reading and educating your child.

You can try Reading Kingdom too, just set up your FREE 30-day Reading Kingdom trial right now (no credit card required) HERE.  Once you’ve set up your account you can purchase a subscription for $19.99 US per month OR $199.99 US per year, plus $9.99 per month for each additional child.  Also available at the Reading Kingdom store is a learning-to-write workbook, a book for parents called The Reading Remedy, a collection of 30 digital stories to read, and a paper-and-pencil version of The Reading Kingdom.

To see what other TOS Homeschool Crewers thought about Reading Kingdom, click below:

Love, Luck &




Posted in Resources, Reviews

City Creek Press: Times Alive – Review

I received Times Alive! from City Creek Press in exchange for an honest review 🙂  I just love City Creek Press’ tag line: Helping kids get a kick out of learning!

Times Alive! was easy to download and install on my Windows Vista laptop.  Just a minor note, I had to open up the containing folder and click on the .exe file in order to start the program.   It didn’t show up automatically on my Start menu and didn’t put a shortcut on my desktop.  I didn’t want to search for it in my folders every time we ran the program, so I generated a shortcut myself and dragged it out of the folder onto my desktop manually 🙂

Times Alive! is based on the book Times Tables the Fun Way!, also by City Creek Press.  When you start up the program, it gives you a warning – Warning: This Program is Only For Kids Who Want to Have Fun!  LOL.  There are 18 lessons in all.  Before the first lesson, there is a pre-test of all the 0-9 multiplication facts.  The first lesson then goes on to teach about “Zero is the King” and “The Lonely Ones”.  Every multiplication fact or Times Table is taught through a story of some sort, with rich visuals, and often a rhyme and/or music.  After almost every lesson is presented, there is a little quiz about the math facts just taught.  Along the way there are longer quizzes covering the multiplication facts taught up to that point.  At any time, you can click on “Student Progress Report” in order to see which Lessons your child has completed or viewed and how they are doing on their quizzes.

My 7 year old daughter, who loves music, thoroughly enjoyed watching each and every lesson, and almost in one sitting – I told her she was done after the first lesson and she just kept going.  “Zero is the King” especially stuck with her and she enjoys demonstrating that she knows that particular Times Table.  She also loved the “paint” activities which involved clicking on paint colours to fill in colouring pages on the screen.  My son, 11 years old, enjoyed the pre-test, but wasn’t really enthused about the rest of the program and found it a bit too “young” for his tastes.

See some of Times Alive for  yourself, by clicking on this YouTube video:

You can subscribe to the Times Alive Youtube channel to get free links to learn times tables with samples from Times Alive HERETry it free online right now!

Times Alive! is available from City Creek Press as a digital download for PC or Mac for $44.95 US, or for $48.95 US as a CD-Rom.  If you buy an entire “Times Kit”, you can purchase the Times Alive! CD-Rom for 50% off.

Other products available from City Creek Press:

Click below to see what other members of The Crew thought about Times Alive!:

Love, Luck

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Illustrated Bible Dictionary For Kids – Review

LifeWay Christian Stores is a chain of stores located in the U.S.  On their website you can see and purchase all their available products online.  You can also find them on Facebook.  I received the Illustrated Bible Dictionary from LifeWay Christian Stores, free, in exchange for an honest review 🙂

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary is designed for children ages 5-10.  It’s a beautiful book and my 7 year old loves leafing through and reading it.  One of her favourite pages is “Birds in the Bible” (unfortunately there is a minor publishing error on this page, the sparrow has a dove pictured by mistake, but just flipping to Sparrow under “S” I can show her what a sparrow really looks like).  The 212 pages are full of people, plants, animals, places, and various words that appear in the Bible.  Each entry ends with a verse where it appears referenced so you can look it up in the Bible.  Alternatively, if you are reading the Bible and come across a word that the child doesn’t understand, you can look it up together.  This dictionary is full of photographs and illustrations – the illustrations make me a little nostalgic as they remind me of the ones in a set of Bible books I had when I was a child 🙂  To see inside the Illustrated Bible Dictionary for yourself, click HERE.

There are a variety of books, music, software, DVD’s, etc. available through LifeWay.  The Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids is just $14.99 US at LifeWay Christian Stores.  Unfortunately, the lowest shipping charge to Canada is a whopping $25, plus a processing fee and taxes made this $14.99 item total $47.24 US.

To see what other TOS Crew Members thought of The Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, click below:

Love, Luck &

Posted in Reviews

North Star Games: Wits & Wagers Family – Review

We are huge board game enthusiasts.  In fact, my son and husband recently participated in the Great Canadian Board Game Challenge in Halifax, playing board games for a full day, and placed very well. We also have bi-annual Board Game Days at our home, where we play games all day and into the night with our friends. We often incorporate boardgames into our regular homeschool day.

Our whole family was delighted to learn that a board game from North Star Games was on its way. I received Wits & Wagers Family in exchange for an honest review 🙂 When we opened the package, I was immediately impressed by the quality of the game. The box is sturdy (unlike some other popular games whose boxes fall apart easily), and the game pieces are all nice and sturdy, including

wooden Meeples just like those in a game we already have, Carcasonne.

You can play Wits & Wagers Family with 3-10 players: up to 5 individual players, or 5 teams. The game is very simple, easy to explain, and only takes 15-20 minutes to play. It is SO nice to have a quick and easy game we can play with the whole family, even in the time between my husband’s two jobs! Each round, a trivia question is asked. The answer to that question is always a number, which each player guesses at and writes on his own write-on/wipe-off board, which is then placed on the table. Each player then places their two Meeples either on one board or two boards, deciding who they think has the correct answer. Players get points for writing the correct answer, and for placing their Meeples on the correct answer, until somebody reaches 15 points. Wits & Wagers Family is the family version of the original Wits & Wagers game (also by North Star Games). The box recommends players be 8 years old and up, but we quickly realized that this is a game easily played by a 6 year old as well. In fact, Wits & Wagers Family is now my 6 year old daughter’s favourite game. After the first time we played it, she demanded we play it “Again, again”. She now requests we play it often. She also takes it out just to play with the Meeples sometimes, LOL.

Guess what? Wits & Wagers, like all board games in my opinion, is educational. If you would like some ideas for linking it to your math or history curriculum, go to for lessons and downloads for using it in your school or homeschool. Just a note: this is referring to the original Wits & Wagers game for 10+, but can easily be tweaked for use with the Family version.

Wits & Wagers Family retails for $19.99 US. Ask for it at your local retail, toy, or gaming store. It would make a great gift for any family! Would you like to win a free game or t-shirt? Visit North Star Games on Facebook and learn how to enter their monthly draw.

To see what other TOS Homeschool crewers thought of Wits & Wagers Family, click HERE.

Love, Luck &