Thanks to Purex Insiders for product to review, and for providing coupons for the giveaway.
Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body WashImagine yourself at the mall. Close your eyes. What do you smell? The wonderful aromas from the candle store? The delicious spicy scents of baking cinnamon rolls? How about the fresh smells from the lotion shop?

This may seem like a strange lead-in to a body wash review, but stick with me: scent was my first and biggest impression of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash. I’ve tried (and enjoyed) other scents of Dial Body Wash, so when this one arrived, I wondered how it would be different. I know that Dial body washes are all moisturizing and good for cleansing.

What sets Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash apart for me is its scent. When I squirted some onto my bath puff, I think I left the conditioner on my hair for the entire two minutes, because I wanted to extend the time I was in the shower with that wonderful mango scent. It was like a little trip to a tropical paradise, without leaving my own bathroom!

From the experts, Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash contains coconut water, known to be rich in antioxidants and electrolytes that help with hydration. Mango is known for being nutrient-rich. It also smells GREAT, if you haven’t picked up on that already :)

Purex would like me to show photos of the product in action, but this is a family-friendly blog, so — this will have to be close enough.

Dial body wash

Thanks to Purex, two of you can win a coupon for a free bottle. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below by August 6, and I’ll choose random winners August 7. And hey — even if you don’t win, treat yourself to a bottle (it should be in stores by now). Really, it’s one of those small indulgences that keeps life fun.
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Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wherever the River Runs


There seems to be a glut of Christian books currently of the genre: I, a middle-class American, went on a short-term mission trip overseas and was shocked, SHOCKED by the joy and authenticity shown by all these native people that have nothing! I felt so.guilty.about those daily $4 lattes (why is it always a coffee drink that is mentioned? Frequently Starbucks, too …?).

Ornery as I am, I suppose, this whole scenario has always struck me as overly simplistic. I feared that Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel might be this type of book, but after reading the glowing reviews (If you read only one other book this year — except for the Bible! — make it this one!), I decided to take a chance.

Sure enough, author Kelly Minter begins her week-long boating trip along the Amazon with the familiar refrain: My head was spinning over the ingenuity of the Indians, the complexity and the sheer force of the jungle, the fact that all this grows and thrives without Wall Street, without smartphones, without us!

She comes to a deeper (to my mind) realization when she understands that the Indians don’t want the stuff she could give them as much as the glimpses of God. She is moved by a quiet little boy, and when she tells him so, the boy says to her, “No one has ever seen me before. God sent you to see me.”

She also realizes, upon her return home, that she needs to continue her missionary zeal in her “real” life — I point I feel is important. She recounts a conversation with a friend, where the friend admits that she would like to help a needy woman she knows, but … what if the woman starts needing her on a regular basis? What if she actually has to get involved personally on a more regular basis with her? I like this type of thinking, as it’s very real and gets to the nitty gritty of life. Sure, going overseas to a foreign culture for a week to feel all virtuous and star in photos with the little brown kids has an appeal. But mentoring a poor woman in your own town?Ay yi yi — that’s dicier, at least for most of us.

I really went back and forth with this book. There’s an awful lot of the superficial, where the author muses on how an Amazonian pastor has no Twitter followers, and yet he’s grateful to have the opportunity to earn money by cleaning toilets. Later, she is disappointed that she’s left off a magazine list of “Top 50 Most Influential Christian Women,” only to be dragged back to reality by a disfigured jungle woman who lives — with a smile — in a hammock.


Would you enjoy this book? I think many people would. If you enjoy books by Ann Voskamp, Rob Bell, etc., you most likely would. And it’s your lucky day, because one of you will win a copy!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. I’ll choose a random winner August 6.
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Menu Plan Monday

menuplanmondayHappy Menu Plan Monday!

This week is a relaxed one here. My husband is traveling for work, and we remaining girls all enjoy a fun set of dinners, featuring things he doesn’t like: broccoli, pancakes … dessert :)

Oh, and before I get started with menus, I came across this link that I thought was wonderful: crockpot meals you can prep ahead of time and store in ziplock bags in the freezer! I love most of these and plan to make up some of these “kits,” maybe even this week.

Monday: Chicken Parmesan – requested by daughter spending 8 hours in band camp … carbs, carbs, and more carbs!

1 jar marinara sauce

4 chicken breast halves

2/3 c. shredded mozzarella

1/4 c. bread crumbs

2 T. olive oil


Pour marinara sauce in bottom of ungreased 12 x 8 dish.

Place chicken over sauce.

In small bowl, mix cheeses, bread crumbs and oil. Sprinkle evenly over chicken.

Bake at 350 30-35 min.

Serve over noodles.

Also probably fresh green beans I picked up at the market this weekend … of all vegetables, green beans are probably my favorite one to eat fresh vs. canned or frozen (I actually hate frozen green beans. They kind of squeak when you eat them).

Tuesday: leftovers. At lunch, the non-band-camp girls (including the vegetarian daughter) are heading to a local vegan cafe my daughter discovered.

Wednesday: pancakes for dinner :) Love this! Maybe with some fruit toppings in addition to syrup, and applesauce.


Thursday: Chicken and Rice

Friday: Spaghetti Pie — because tomatoes have finally begun ripening in the garden!

More menu planning ideas at OrgJunkie‘s. What will you be eating this week?

Childhood Memories Friday

It has happened again: something I saw on Pinterest has sparked a childhood memory. This time, it was a lunch tray. A school lunch tray.vintage school lunch trayAh, the memories of elementary school lunch time! We ate in the school gym, on tables that (very cool-ly) pulled down out of the wall, with seats attached! Two lunch ladies patrolled the room; Miss Cup, a petite lady with glasses who always wore a June Cleaver-type dress, and the more tomboyish Mrs. Kloecker, with short gray hair (but still a dress — this was the late ’60s/early ’70s). Mrs. Kloecker was the louder of the two, and she walked the room constantly shouting, “Eat your dinner! Eat your dinner!”

But it’s not dinner, I would think, it’s lunch.

Mrs. Kloecker reminded me of nothing so much as a chicken, strutting around. I was usually a quiet child, but occasionally a leadership moment or two popped out. One day, I was playing a favorite game with my lunch table classmates: “Raise your pinkie if you like the Turkey Manhattan. Okay, raise your thumb if you like the green beans. Okay, raise your pointer if you like the jell-”

“What’s that, honey?” barked Mrs. Kloecker.

“Nothing, I was just say …” but it didn’t matter anymore at that point. Mrs. Kloecker had picked up Richard’s tray and scraped all of his red jello/Cool Whip mix onto my tray. I was horrified, on several points:

  1. Despite its frequent appearance on our trays, I had never tasted the red jello/Cool Whip mix, and I didn’t think I would like it.
  2. Now I had not one serving of this to eat, but two. Because the rule was: if you asked for someone else’s food, you had to EAT IT ALL.
  3. I was pretty embarrassed that I now had Richard’s dessert, and for all I knew he had actually wanted to eat it.

Knowing that I had no choice, I tasted the concoction. To my surprise, it was good. Actually, it was great. For years afterwards I would always remember the incident with amazement. Who knew that such a mess could taste so good?

Also roaming the cafeteria at the noon hour was our principal, Mr. Coryell. Mr. Coryell had only one arm, yet this didn’t stop him from helping kids open their milk cartons (opening milk cartons constituted probably 50% of a lunch lady’s duties. Those cardboard tops could be stubborn). I remember always feeling sort of awkward when a kid raised his hand for help, and up walked not Miss Cup or Mrs. Kloecker, but Mr. Coryell. A man of few words, he would indicate with his hand that the kid was to hold onto the carton, and then Mr. Coryell plunged a fork tine into the lid, inevitably pulling out the opening. Triumph!

school lunch tables pull out of wall

Our tables were similar to this, but the seats were individual rather than a bench

The boys in my classes had a particularly gross tradition to fill the after-eating minutes of lunch (lunchtimes must have been longer then; when I go to school to eat with my own kids, it’s all I can do to choke down a meal before we’re dismissed. The school lunches of my childhood seemed lengthy and carefree). Anyway, back to the boys: they liked to stuff all their uneaten food down their milk cartons, and then squirt in a bunch of ketchup and mustard (these were always in bottles on each table) for good measure. It didn’t take long before Mrs. Kloecker was onto this, and whenever she saw it happen, she would force the offenders to eat/drink the entire contents of his milk carton. I can still remember the feeling of dread I’d get for the poor boy who was sitting there gleefully unaware of Mrs. Kloecker walking up to him, stern look on her face.

If we ate everything on our trays and brought along a nickel or a dime (can’t remember which), we could go up to the cafeteria window and buy a delicious, thin brownie sprinkled with powdered sugar — or one of the school’s magical peanut butter sandwiches. I’m not sure what they did to the peanut butter to make it taste so good, but some of the in-the-know girls insisted they added honey to it.

One of the perks of being a responsible sixth grader was that you could have kitchen scraping duty some days at lunch time. I remember happily accepting younger kids’ trays and dumping all their uneaten food into the big plastic barrels.

School lunch memories are good ones. What are some of yours?


Thanks to Kregel for a review copy of Love Letters From the Edge, which may contain affiliate links.

Love Letters From the Edge

“You were made to be honored.” That’s a line that stood out to me from Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life. As Christian women, we were created to be honored and cherished, even if life doesn’t always end up dishing that up for us. This is a devotional book intended for women struggling to move on after abuse, PTSD, depression, and other traumatic events.

Thankfully, I can’t say I’ve experienced an abusive childhood, and I don’t know that I qualify for PTSD status either. But I think that most of us with at least a few decades of life on planet Earth have been disillusioned by life events.

I think that this book will meet many needs.Even though I couldn’t relate to some of the specific scenarios, most mornings for the past several weeks you could find me in my bedroom with this book, bawling over its messages.

With one wave of your finger, you parted the Red Sea for the children of Israel. But you didn’t come for me.

You saved Daniel in the lions’ den. But you didn’t save me. Where were you, God? Wasn’t I important enough? Was I the one person who wasn’t worth it?

On feeling defeated, here is God speaking:

You have relentlessly attacked the Enemy on the battlefield of your mind with every resource within your reach. Your eyes do not see the blows you have successfully landed and the victories you have won … the hope you see as tattered is precious to me, my child, because it has cost you dearly. You offer me all you have. Your hope shines like diamonds and adorns the heavens.

On feeling betrayed, here is God again –

Sin runs so deeply in the hearts of mankind that everyone is capable of the most desperate and despicable sin. People do not see these things in themselves because they are blind to their capacity for evil and have not all been subject to the same combinations of genetics, circumstances, generational influences, choices, and consequences of others’ sin.

I know, it may be dangerous allowing God to “speak” in meditations, but these seemed on the mark to me, and were definitely comforting.

I recommend this book for any woman who is living through a really difficult time — in other words, for all of us at some point or another.

** NOTE that the Kindle version of the book is on sale for $2.99 through Friday!




Book Chat

This month’s book reviews contain affiliate links.

book chat


Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary MarriageI’m no fan of FDR, but I’ll admit to some curiosity about him, especially as it relates to the interactions between him and Eleanor. She seemed like such a strong woman, ahead of her time. So, I was curious to read Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage.

I learned that Eleanor lost both parents at an early age and grew up a very determined, conscientious oldest child. She always felt she needed to earn love from others. As an acquaintance said, “I always thought she was the loneliest human being I ever knew in my life; and so used to bad treatment … that it did not occur to her to ask for anything for herself. Not ever.”

Franklin, by contrast, grew up as the adored and spoiled only child of a mother and older father. When his father died, his mother became even more enamored of Franklin. When Franklin and Eleanor married, Eleanor’s uncle, Theodore Roosevelt (who was president at the time) escorted her down the aisle. TR apparently enjoyed the limelight, as his own daughter described him as “the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.”

I really felt bad for Eleanor (honestly, I’d probably feel bad for most women of that time). She had six children in her first 11 years of marriage (one died in infancy), although she wrote that she approached motherhood “with a keen sense of responsibility but very little sense of the joy which should come with having babies.” Near the time the last baby was born, Franklin began an affair with family helper Lucy Mercer. Eleanor discovered this when she found a bundle of letters from Lucy to FDR while unpacking his things as he recovered from an illness (and FDR always seemed to be suffering from one illness or another). She told a friend she felt as if the bottom had dropped out of her world.

At age 39, Franklin came down with the worst possible illness for an aspiring politician — polio, or infantile paralysis as it was apparently called in the day. He became crippled. Eleanor helped Franklin through the early days of his illness, although the self-sacrifice was hard to bear. A friend of hers who was caring for an invalid husband as well wrote, “Ours are the years when clear perception has come and with it the intense desire to live while we may.”

As the years went on, Eleanor and Franklin came to an understanding: although they remained married, they each largely lived their own lives. Eleanor spent much time with women friends. “You must learn to allow someone else to meet the need, without bitterness or envy, and accept it,” she said of Franklin’s female caregivers, who often became romantic interests as well.

This is the second book I’ve read about FDR (the first being “FDR Goes to War“), and I found it interesting how events can be portrayed differently by different authors. In “War,” I read that Eleanor wanted to help Jewish refugees from Europe seeking to enter the US, but FDR was opposed to this. In this book, both Roosevelts were said to want to help the refugees, but Eleanor was outspoken about  supporting them, while FDR told her “it’s better if I don’t.” This author suggested that often FDR would “float” an action he wished to take by having Eleanor support it. He would observe whether it went over well or not, and then decide his public position.

The Roosevelts had 5 sons (one died in infancy) and a daughter. I found myself feeling sorry at times for the daughter, Anna, who even in adulthood sometimes had to play the role of “protecting” her dad from her mom’s temper and heavy-handedness. “Mother, can’t you see you are giving Father indigestion?” she said after one contentious dinnertime ‘debate’ between the two.

Over and over, I kept comparing FDR and Eleanor to Bill and Hillary Clinton. There seemed to be so many similarities. Like Bill, FDR was jovial and charming, and always had a group of women around to cater to his every whim. “You realize that like all people who work for this man — I love him,” said Daisy Suckley, one of his admirers. “If he told me to jump out of the window, I would do it, without hesitation.”

While Eleanor was aware of her husband’s female admirers, higher-ups tried to keep the entire story from her. When FDR died, she learned for the first time that longtime “friend” Lucy Mercer had been with him for his final days. “I had an almost impersonal feeling about everything that was happening,” she wrote. “Much further back I had had to face certain difficulties until I decided to accept the fact that a man must be what he is, life must be lived as it is …” I can totally see Hillary Clinton writing something similar.

The author was definitely of a liberal bent, using phrases like “a thick fog of conservatism settled over the United States,” Republicans “snidely” reported on the Roosevelts, a mention of the 1960 election being “frightening close,” etc. I suppose I might expect this from someone writing about a democrat subject, but still it always surprises me that so many non-fiction authors don’t seem to mind letting their biases come out in their books.


Saffy's AngelA friend recommend Saffy’s Angel to my youngest daughter, who read it, enjoyed it, and then recommended it to me. I liked it a lot as well. It tells about Saffron, whose siblings (Rose, Cadmium, and Indigo) were all named after paints on the color chart (their parents are artists). Saffy discovers that her name isn’t on the chart, and sure enough — she’s adopted. She ends up on an adventurous journey looking for an elusive angel figurine that her beloved grandfather left her in his will.

I won’t go into much detail, but read this book! I loved it. It’s especially great for a child who is bright in an artistic (rather than a conventional) way. The characters are all quirky and vividly created. They reminded me a lot of those in the Mysterious Benedict Society books. I’d say this is aimed at upper elementary or middle school kids. It’s just a wonderful story blessedly free of vampires, zombies, and romance (well, there is a bit of that with an older sister, but it’s sweet and serves a purpose).


I Want It Now Willy WonkaI got I Want it Now! A Memoir of Life on the Set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when it was free for Kindle. As you can probably guess, it’s a memoir of Julie Dawn Cole, or Veruca Salt, as you know her if (like me) you grew up watching “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” She’s the famous, bratty “I want it NOW” girl who ended up as a “bad egg” in the factory.

I really enjoyed this book! It wasn’t perfect (had some editing issues), but overall it was a fun trip down memory lane. Cole tells various things about the filming of the movie that I found interesting. She turned 13 during the filming, and since she lived with a single mom and didn’t have a lot of money, she was the only one of the “Wonka kids” who spent the few months of filming at the Munich hotel on her own, without any family along.  She took weekend trips to Neuschwanstein castle and other Bavarian spots (and she includes postcards and photos from the time).

The movie was made in 1970, and the sets were all “real” as opposed to computer-generated. Harper Goff, who worked with Walt Disney, designed many of the sets and they were kept secret from the kids until the actual filming, so that the wonder on the kids’ faces would be real. The Chocolate Factory was filmed in Munich Gas Works.

Munich Gas Works Wonka

Munich Gas Works

Other trivia: the boy who was obsessed with TV’s was annoying and obnoxious in real life as well as in the film. Augustus Gloop, the German boy who loved sweets, only spoke German and thus was somewhat isolated during filming.

Julie talks about how kind Gene Wilder (Willy) was to the kids, and how she had such good memories of the time overall — eating lunch in the chocolate factory, as the song “Pure Imagination” was played in the background, etc. She and the other girl, Violet the “blueberry girl,” both had a bit of a crush on the boy who played Charlie. Charlie didn’t act again after Willy Wonka, but went on to become a veterinarian.

Fun book if you enjoyed the movie.

More reviews at 5MinutesforBooks!

Post may contain affiliate links.

William And Kate Name Baby Prince GeorgeOne year ago. Remember? Prince George was born July 22, 2013, putting an end to the “great Kate wait.” It’s hard to remember now, but we were all feverishly waiting for the royal baby’s arrival, which was rumored to be July 11. The days dragged on, and on and on. We were anxious for the royal princess (remember, bets were that it was a girl?). I was anxious too, because I was waiting to publish my Kate biography until the royal baby made his/her appearance.

Then, the news came out that George Alexander Louis Mountbatten-Windsor had arrived. The next day, the world got its first look at him.

William Kate Prince George christeningIn October came George’s christening, and another look at the heir. Who did he favor? A bit of both parents, although I think he looks more like Kate:

Kate Middleton as a baby

Kate Middleton as a baby, at her own christening

Then we had to wait months for another glimpse at the royal tot. Just in time for the royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, this adorable photo was released.

Prince William, Kate, George, and dog LupoI love the way family dog Lupo even made the photo. In fact, Lupo appeared to be capturing George’s total attention.

Prince William, Kate, and Prince George arrive in New Zealand

Then, in April, came the long-awaited royal tour of New Zealand and Australia. We were treated to lots of adorable photos of growing Prince George.

Baby Prince George at playdateWe learned that he played well with others, although he is apparently showing “leadership skills” from an early age.

Silly Prince George

We learned that he was a master of interesting facial expressions.

Silly Prince GeorgeAnd now, he’s walking. Here are the three official photos released in honor of his first birthday.

Prince George walking

Prince George first birthday with Prince William, Kate, and butterflies

Prince George first birthday with Prince William, Kate, and butterfliesWith the royals, one always has to read between the lines a bit to get an idea of the reality behind the happy-happy gorgeous photos. Judging from what I’ve read about little George, I’d say his parents have had their hands full this year. William has mentioned his son’s great lung capacity, and I’ve read of “weeks and weeks” of non-stop crying during George’s early days. His confident manner and not-always-amused faces indicate to me that William and Kate have a strong-willed little … well, future king on their hands. It will be fun to see how his personality develops and matures over the coming years.

Happy Birthday, little prince!

Menu Plan Monday

menuplanmondayHi everyone! Welcome to this week’s edition of Menu Plan Monday. With the fair behind us, things have definitely seemed quieter this week. Band camp starts today for the oldest, so the girls and I celebrated the end of the “normal” phase of summer with lunch and frozen yogurt eaten out last Friday. How much longer until school starts in your neck of the woods?

Monday: Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles — my daughter found this on pinterest, and it does look good. I like that it’s made in the crockpot — great for nights with lots of piano students. I’ll probably make homemade noodles instead of using Pillsbury biscuits, though. I am trying to get away from using those, with their nasty little trans fats …

Tuesday: Cincinnati Chili — because what’s a week without a recipe from the famously large Duggar family, of “19 Kids and Counting”?

Wednesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – I was sorting through my “loose” paper recipes last night and found this one on a card I picked up at Kroger. Apparently it was “good” when I made it in September 2011. Hopefully it still will be :)

Thursday: Black Bean Soup – we usually have beans as the focus of a meal about once a week.

black bean soupFriday: Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas — using homemade cream soups. Have I written about making your own cream soups? No? Hmmm … one day soon.

What are you eating this week? Share in the comments! More ideas to be found at OrgJunkie‘s.

Childhood Memories FridayMany of my childhood memories posts feature a memory of a place, or a thing. My Pinterest board about growing up in the ’60s and ’70s is about visual memories. But recently I read an article about sound memories — specifically, sounds that we don’t hear much anymore. Sounds that today’s kids may not even be familiar with.

How many do you remember?

  • Rotary phone dialing — and getting away from the sounds, other rotary phone memories: getting tangled up in the cord. Seeing how far you could get with the cord. Trying to work kinks out of the cord. Loving phone numbers with lots of low digits because they didn’t take as long to dial …
  • Manual typewriter — sure, computer keyboards make noise too. But who could forget the sound of that carriage return, or the warning “ding” when you reached near the end of a line? (remember trying/hoping you could fit just one or two more words on that line??)
  • Flash cubes — remember the click as they turned?
  • TV channel changing knob — again, before remote controls, remember the way you actually had to click on the TV and click through to the channel you wanted? And didn’t the TV even have to ‘warm up’ a bit before the picture appeared?  We also had an outdoor antenna for the … um … uhf?? vhf?? channels? and that involved more clicks as the antenna turned to the proper position.
  • Record changer – ah, the sound when a record began playing, before the music started. Then the “white noise” at the end too. I remember when we got a record player that would play several records in a row. I thought it was so cool watching the records drop down. And of course, who can forget hearing a record get stuck? Then maybe jumping nearby and hoping that would “unstick” it.

record player with drop down

  • TV sign-offs — TV stations weren’t always 24/7. Remember the days when the programming ended with the National Anthem and then you got the color striped test pattern for the rest of the night?
  • Movie projector — anyone who went to school in the 1970s is quite familiar with this sound. Remember when the film would break sometimes? Or when the teacher had a problem and couldn’t get it started? Even worse than movies were filmstrips, remember? They didn’t have sound, and often the teacher would just read the (usually very dry) script that came along with the strip.

What are some other sound memories that you have?

McCall's Hippo pattern M6484This cute little fellow is currently sitting at our county fair, admiring a Lego creation.

My 7th grade daughter made him as her 4-H sewing project, using McCall’s pattern M6484.

The pattern was fairly easy for her to create, with a little help from mom (of course). Our county requires a 7th grade sewing project to use at least five skills from a checklist. This was a bit of a challenge with Mr. Hippo, because many of the skills are things that you’d expect on an outfit rather than an animal (when is the last time you made a stuffed hippo with cuffs or sleeves, for instance?).

The skills we used were: making darts (this pattern had many darts) — sewing on buttons (actually the buttons used for the eyes and nose were called “Safety Lock” and were positioned and popped into place rather than sewn; nevertheless, this was a new skill for her) — using fiberfill — applying trims (we counted the yarn tail as “trim”) — and hand applique (more on that later).

The pattern was easy to follow, and you can also use it to create an elephant in two sizes.

mccalls 6484We chose the hippo because honestly, I think he’s cuter. An elephant in a seated position just doesn’t look natural (or maybe that’s just me).

So we planned to make the big hippo, until we looked and discovered that big hippo is 33″ long. That’s a whole lot of hippo to put someplace. At 15″ long, small hippo seemed like a better choice. When patterns went on sale at .99 (please buy your patterns on sale, which happens frequently around here at JoAnn’s. The list price on this pattern is $18.95. I am not making this up), we purchased it and were ready to go.

A visit to an enchanting nearby fabric store resulted in a choice of two coordinating fabrics. It’s hard to see from the pattern, but Mr. Hippo is made from two fabrics: a main one, and another one that makes up his underneath/stomach.

The pattern was easy to cut, with just four pattern pieces (actually three if, like us, you use yarn rather than fabric for the tail). You’ll also need fusible fleece interfacing. We had never worked with that before, but it was not difficult (here’s a video we watched showing how to use it).

Directions were clear for making the darts and then sewing the hippo together. Dad helped with popping in the eyes, and then it was time to stuff.

Stuffing can be a challenge. You’d think you could just stuff in fiberfill and that’s that — but you would be wrong. It’s important to tear the fiberfill into small pieces, and to stuff extremities (like the little ears and feet) first and firmly, before moving on to the body.

Going back to our applique skill — we needed to decide on something to applique onto Mr. Hippo. What better than a heart? (remember the “I Love You” heart appliqued to all Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls?) So daughter looked online to find a heart shape she liked, cut it out double, adding a seam allowance so she could sew it and turn it (no easy feat there) before appliqueing it on with a primitive-look stitch suggested by Grandma.

McCall's hippo pattern

Then, all that was left was to stitch him shut. This was one of the biggest challenges, since he was so full of fiberfill. I held him between my knees while my daughter took some stitches (and to tell the truth, I took some myself — it was hard!).

Voila! Mr. Hippo was completed.

I would recommend this pattern. It was easy to follow and make, and it turned out really cute. It would make a fun baby shower gift.