Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Great Missing Flag Caper by MaryTherese Grabowski is a Wonderful Patriotic Book for Kids!

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing another of MaryTherese Grabowski's children's books recently and I wanted to share it with readers. "The Great Missing Flag Caper" is Ms. Grabowski's fourth book in her "Spirit of America Series" and I loved it! The book is available on Amazon in eBook and print formats. Below is my review.

Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

America Johnson is an elementary student who learns she will be raising and lowering the American flag in front of her school. America knows a lot about her country and her flag and is happy to share her knowledge with friends and family. When America excitedly tells her mom the good news, her mom reminds her to always treat the flag with respect and America promises she will. When the flag goes missing, America makes it her mission to find it as soon as possible and she ends up learning a valuable lesson in the end.

The Great Missing Flag Caper is packed with patriotic information for kids (and adults). I’m not quite sure how old the main character is, since I didn’t see that mentioned within the book. She looks to be a middle grade student. Since the book is heavy on text for most children in grades 1- 4, I'd say this book will appeal to middle grade readers and up. 

Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

The illustrations are vibrant, expressive and eye-catching – sure to keep the attention of kids. The author includes the Pledge of Allegiance and an educational quiz at the end of the book. I love that Ms. Grabowski dedicates this book to her Air Force Veteran husband, with a nod toward all military men and women.

I wish more authors would publish patriotic books like this for kids. Children, in particular, can benefit from the educational message in this book! Thanks to Book Crash and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My IBS Flare Up Was Caused By WHAT?!

I discovered that I have IBS back when I was in my early twenties. If you don’t know what IBS is, it’s an agonizing stomach issue, which seems to affect sufferers differently and to varying degrees. Flare-ups are difficult, if not darn near impossible, to predict. Triggers vary greatly among sufferers as well. The worst thing is there is no cure. You simply have to learn to sort of live around your IBS. There are now some medications available on the market, but I prefer to treat my IBS holistically. It’s what’s worked for me over the years so I’ll stick with that.

So…what has worked for me? Well, one MAJOR change I made was eliminating gluten from my diet. I won’t pretend to completely understand the ins and outs of how gluten is processed in the body. I’ll only say that, once I stopped eating gluten, I went from having biweekly IBS flare ups to having a flare up maybe once every six months or so. In other words, the difference for me was like night and day.

Recently, when I began having terrible IBS symptoms out of the blue, I was perplexed. I was faithfully eating a gluten-free diet. I don’t overeat fiber too many days in a row (another known issue for me). No more GMOs or premade, processed foods. What the heck was it? Well after finally narrowing down the one thing I was “eating” a light bulb went off. Could it be??

After consulting my good friend Google (via IBS message boards, of course) I was relieved and a bit shocked to find that it was the sugar free gum I had only recently started chewing. It just so happened to be Orbit in my case, but it certainly could have been any sugar free gum. It has something to do with the sugar alcohols that are released in the stomach.

Sugar alcohols aren’t actually sugar and they aren’t alcohol. There are FOUR sugar substitute chemicals commonly found in sugar free gum:  maltitolmannitolsorbitol and xylitol. These are the sugar alcohols, which are really non-sugar carbs. These are the culprits that can wreak havoc on your digestive system because they actually have a laxative effect in the stomach. I know! Some people are more sensitive than others (people with certain stomach issues like IBS, for instance).

I was shocked, since I consider myself so cautious about everything I eat (chew) and drink. Needless to say, I immediately omitted the Orbit and bam…problem solved. I've since gone back to my trusty peppermint candy (non-sugar free) and all is well - side note: peppermint is amazing for settling an upset tummy!

I hope you found value in this information. It took me a few days of agony to figure out what was going on and I was dumbfounded when I discovered that a little piece of gum was tearing up my tummy. Hopefully, my experience will help you too! As always, comments are welcome below.

Friday, September 15, 2017

FREE Activities for Kids: Free Fall Fun – Cookie Dough Recipe Included!

Fall isn’t quite here yet. In fact, it’s still in the 90s here in North Texas, but some areas of the country have already had temps dip down into the 50s. Regardless of where you live, fall is often the most favorite season of all. I’m thinking it’s because it’s that awesome in-between time – between the heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter.

Fall will be here before you know and that means it’s time to begin planning for some FREE fall activity ideas. Don’t you just love the word FREE?! I know I do, so I made a list of some fall activity fun for you and your kiddos below. Feel FREE to share your own family’s favorite fall activities in the comments section!

Local Library Activities

This one is first on my list because it’s probably my favorite. No matter where you live, I can guarantee that your local library will host a variety of fall crafty fun for kids.

Search your local library’s website and look for their events calendar – all libraries have these. Just as an example, my own local library lists dozens and dozens of wonderful activities for kids of all ages. Things like a Campfire Sing Along, Pony Roundup, author readings and much more, are on the list. And the great thing is everything is FREE!

A Walk Through the Woods

Even if you live in a large city, you’ll still likely find a park or two. Take the kiddos for a walk and have them gather up twigs, leaves, acorns, etc. to use in their very own nature art.

Children can decorate poster board by gluing their nature finds. To make an even sturdier piece of art, try using scrap wood. Older children can use hot glue. Younger children can use a good tacky glue. Get creative and personalize nature plaques with names made with twigs.

Host a Kid’s Craft Party

I know when my kiddos were young they wanted craft-themed birthday parties for every birthday celebration. Well, you don’t have to wait for birthday time to roll around to host a kid’s craft party! This idea can be done with just your own family, as a family craft night, or you can have your children each invite a friend over to join in. Recycled items make excellent and FREE materials for craft party projects.

Save things like foam packaging (the kind that come with meat and produce – washed super duper well, of course) or scrap wood to use as a base. Then gather feathers, sequins, beads, magazine cutouts, Popsicle sticks and more to use as art elements. Chances are you have tons of these items already at home. Have the kids glue to their heart’s content and presto – instant artwork.

Bake Some Cookies

Fall is a great time to turn on that oven and do some baking. The smell of baking cookies makes any home smell heavenly and…well…homey. Gather your baking supplies and let the kiddos go to town decorating a simple sugar cookie recipe. Most children love rolling sugar cookie dough ala play clay style into shapes and letters. Enjoying the delicious cookies of their labor with an ice cold glass of milk is pretty fun too.

Super Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe


1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 ¾ cups flour


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine butter and sugar together, then add egg and vanilla, and mix to a creamy consistency.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
Slowly add creamed butter mixture to dry ingredients and mix until soft and all flour is incorporated.
Turn out on a lightly floured board. Have children pull off pieces of dough to create their masterpieces and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for easy removal after baking.
Bake for 7 – 10 minutes, watching for light browning on edges. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Upcycled Funky Denim Cuff Bracelet Idea

Since I've been doing so much old clothes upcycling, I have lots of bits and pieces left over. I save all the elements from the thrift store jeans I cut up and use for skirts, bags, etc. so I decided to make a funky denim cuff bracelet.

I know this certainly isn't a new idea - there are tons of upcycled cuff bracelets online, but it's new for me and I wanted to share a really simple idea here. 

© 2017 Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

I used parts of the waistband from a thrift store pair of jeans (hence the Coldwater Creek brand that I don't personally wear).

© 2017 Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

I added some "sloppy" stitches and X's with embroidery floss to attach the two pieces together and left the button to function as the clasp. Super simple, just the way I like it!

© 2017 Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

Friday, September 1, 2017

Doody the Dinosaur is Another Wonderful Uncle Amon Children's Book - 5 Star Book Review

Uncle Amon just released another one of his wonderful children's story book collections and, as usual, I have only good things to say. Doody the Dinosaur is another 5 Star book for kids!

Doody the Dinosaur is a happy little dinosaur who enjoys doing what most other dinosaurs his age do – swimming, playing and eating yummy tree leaves. Doody is also very special, because of the yellow spots on his back, that increase in number every year on his birthday. His friend Tara Dactyl is graceful and strong and Doody wishes he could fly like her. Isabel Iguana is bored with the same old activities so she searches for adventure and finds a yummy treat. Big Grape is tall and majestic, but there’s just one thing he can’t get over – his fear of thunderstorms. Grouchy Gramps is very old and grouchy indeed and the kids are not always nice when they talk about him. Doody takes a chance on making Gramps his friend and is nicely surprised.

All of these stories come together in another one of Uncle Amon’s wonderful story book collections. Readers will be delighted to find the usual puzzles, activities and jokes that Uncle Amon includes in his children’s books.

The stories are geared toward 4 – 12 year olds, which is certainly a wide range. However, what’s so great about Uncle Amon’s books is they’re wonderful for parents and caregivers to read to younger children, but still interesting and engaging enough for older children to enjoy. Another wonderful collection and well worth the download!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Funky Wearable Art Tote Number Two is Finished and Ready to Wear

I'm having so much fun making these adorable wearable art bags. This one's smaller than the last one. It looks perfect for a little girl (or big girl!) who wants something artsy, fun and unique! 

© 2017 Susan Barton, DIY Mom

© Susan Barton, DIY Mom

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Funky Wearable Art Tote Bag Made From Recycled Clothing by Susan Barton

To go along with my previous post, I'm sharing my latest funky wearable art tote. I love the way this came out. I had a bunch of leftover pieces from other projects so I decided to put them together to create this wonky, roomy tote! 

© 2017 Susan Barton

I added some shabby, primitive style embroidery stitches and my own handmade patches. The skull was made from a piece of white denim, that I cut out and added features with fabric markers. Super simple!

I encourage you to try this. It doesn't have to be at all perfect...mine clearly isn't, but that's the funky part. This one measures a generous 18" x 12", excluding the strap - which was made from T-shirt yarn by the way - but you could start with a smaller project. Please let me know what you think about this idea by leaving a comment below.