May 26, 2018

Homemade Magic Shell

I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm...
So I was rather excited to see this simple recipe for homemade Magic Shell. And of course I gave it a try.

Yes, the homemade Magic Shell ice cream topping really does taste delicious and it hardens on the ice cream in a crunch, sweet, chocolaty shell!

Make your own by placing 1 cup chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a small, microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat heating and stirring every 15-30 second until melted. Cool for five minutes. Pour over ice cream and serve.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you!
~ Annette
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May 24, 2018

Updated Privacy Policy

Dear Readers,

This note is to update you on This Simple Home's Privacy Policy and Disclosures. You can read the complete policy here. You can find it linked in the footer at Please contact me if you have any questions at annettemwhipple[at]gmail[dot]com. However, do not contact me to ask if I need your services. I do not.

I take your privacy very seriously. I never share your personal information with others without your permission. Subscribers, if you would no longer like to receive emails, please unsubscribe. If you are interested in receiving new blog posts in your inbox, you can subscribe here. If you are interested in subscribing to my author newsletter, please subscribe here. As always, unsubscribe at any time.

Thanks so much!
~ Annette

January 4, 2018

How to Make Butter Slime

My daughter has been asking to make butter slime. With a very successful second and third tries (not first), we thought we'd share this butter slime recipe with you.
If you've never heard of butter slime, you might be wondering how it's different than other slimes. This recipe for butter slime doesn't feel wet like regular slime. With that dryness, it is also matte. Instead of dripping through your hands, you can form shapes with it.
Butter Slime Recipe

3 tablespoons white glue
3 tablespoons shaving cream (not me)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
food coloring any color
2 1/2-3 teaspoons contact solution

1. Place the glue in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Carefully add the shaving cream. It foams up very quickly and will end up being rounded tablespoons of shaving cream. Stir these together.
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon baking soda. Stir.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of warm (not hot) water. Stir.
4. (Clean and dry tablespoon if using the same measuring spoon.) Add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir very well. Scrape the bottom and sides of bowl well.
5. Add food coloring of your choice. Stir.
6. Add 2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons of contact solution. Stir well and then use your hands to mix the butter slime together. If it is still sticky, add a few drops of contact lens solution.
7. Have fun with your butter slime!

Store butter slime in an airtight container.

If you are curious what butter slime looks like in action, I found this video helpful, but did add a bit more contact solution than suggested.
If you have a 5-12 year old, I would definitely recommend this butter slime recipe. My 11-year-old pretty much made the butter slime herself and was very pleased to make a second batch to share with her brother and sister. (And that, in itself, is wonderful!)

~ Annette
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November 22, 2017

Easy Thanksgiving Meal Prep

This year we'll have some of my family visiting for Thanksgiving. Since they're traveling from about five hours away and leaving at the wee hours of the morning I didn't ask them to bring anything for the meal. (But I'm super grateful my sister offered to bring an apple pie.) We look forward to spending the next few days with them.

In the meantime, I think I have finally figured out how to make preparing a Thanksgiving meal, with plenty of sides, a lot easier.

1. Gather your recipes.
Have all of your recipes ready to use. If you use the internet for them, have the printed out. You don't want to have to look up any recipes or even how long to roast the turkey when you're knee-deep in Thanksgiving meal prep. 

This year I tried something different. I put all of my Thanksgiving recipes into one document. Using the "landscape" format with three columns, all of my recipes fit on one (front and back) piece of paper. After printing it, I laminated it, just like I did for all my recipes years ago. 

(I desperately need to update those laminated recipe cards! Since I prefer to use mostly the same recipes that I know we like, this method works for me. However, I have 20-30 new recipes to add to my recipe sheets.)

2. Prep some dishes the day before. 
Typically I only prepare the breads and desserts in advance. However, this morning I prepared the cheese sauce for broccoli casserole, the sweet potato casserole (minus the nuts), the sausage stuffing (celery, onion, sausage), and the corn bread pudding. 

I placed all of the prepped food in baggies or bowls instead of baking dishes. I did this for two reasons: My fridge only holds so much and these stack and smoosh easier than baking dishes. Also, I prefer my baking dishes to be room temperature, even if the food isn't when I bake it. (I do plan to take the cold items from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking to get them closer to room temperature.)
It may not look like much, but it will save me a lot of time tomorrow morning!

3. Decide which baking/serving dishes will be used.
I cleared off my counter and brought out a lot of my serving and baking dishes. Using sticky notes, I determined which dish will be used for which food. It works for me.
My husband's grandparents used to have turkeys on their farm. Grandma gave me some tips on how to prep the turkey-especially when there are always some ice in the cavity. Read about Grandma's frozen turkey tips here.

You may be wondering when I'll bake all of my side dishes when the turkey doesn't share the oven. I have taken the turkey out of the oven and still had it steaming HOT two hours later. Read how to keep your turkey hot for hours here.

Thanks so much for stopping by This Simple Home! If you want to know what I'm up to with my writing these days, visit

Happy Thanksgiving!
~ Annette
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September 11, 2017

Remember the Heroes

September 11. 
These figures sit above my kitchen sink. They serve as daily reminder to pray for the police, first responders, and military men and women who serve this country. 

We have much to be grateful for. 
I must admit these action figures were not my own idea. My local print shop offers the figures to patrons as a reminder to remember and pray for those who serve our communities and country.

~ Annette
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August 24, 2017

My New Books

Last August my first book was published. This month two more of my books were published by Rourke Educational Media. They were a lot fun to research and write about.

Flowers Book Description: 
Flowers are more than just decoration. They have an important job. But they can't always do it alone. Find out more about the work of flowers, how they attract help, and how they help plant species survive.
(Amazon links are affiliates at no extra cost to you.)
Soil Book Description:
Soil hides most of the time, but it's important. Dig into the layers of soil and learn how it is made. Find out how soil helps plants and other living things thrive. Are you ready to get your hands dirty? 
If you want to keep up with my writing adventures, subscribe to my newsletter and/or like my author page on Facebook. (Just keep in mind if you don't like or comment posts on Facebook they'll show you fewer posts.)

A lot of people ask me how I became an author. The short answer is that the first book was an assignment. I wrote a detailed post about getting my first book published here.

Others want to know how they can best support authors (myself or others). Please consider requesting your public library order the books your favorite authors write. Then be sure to borrow them, too. Consider buying a book either for yourself or as a gift for another. Telling others about the books is always helpful, whether in real life or on social media. If the author provides school visits, tell your PTO and school principal. All of these things support authors!

My publisher sent me these bookmarks this week. They will be given to children at upcoming events! I laughed when I opened the flap and saw my face there.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Thanks so much for reading about this new writing journey. It's been fun!

~ Annette
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August 7, 2017

Homemade Owl Pellet Dissection Kit

Children love to know how things work including nature. They can explore owls and the food chain with a hands-on owl pellet dissection kit. You can purchase these or create one. I actually made this homemade owl pellet kit as a birthday gift for a girl who loves owls.

Below are some simple instructions to help a child dissect an owl pellet by him or herself.

April 12, 2017

Skillet Meatloaf Recipe

Maybe my mom made meatloaf when I was a child, but I don't remember it. Any time I had it as a teen, I disliked it. Maybe I just needed to wait for the right recipe.

However, I like meatloaf now, as does my family. My easy meatloaf recipe is moist and delicious. Today I'm sharing my quick skillet meatloaf recipe. I found the recipe in my family recipe book. It's a great recipe! It's fast. It's moist. And most importantly, it is delicious...even with all those vegetables in there. (You might recall I am not a fan of veggies...)

I don't measure the carrots and celery precisely. In fact, I even left out the celery at least once. I use whatever crackers I have on hand. Sometimes it's Saltines. Other times it is Ritz. I think one of the strengths of this recipe is its flexibility. It's also nice to have a meatloaf fully cooked in thirty minutes!

My children saw the vegetables in this skillet meatloaf and didn't think they'd like it. However, they all liked it and some even asked for seconds. (Sorry for the photo quality.)
Skillet Meatloaf
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 sleeve crushed crackers (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 pounds lean ground beef 

Combine eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix in saltines, celery, carrots, and onion. Add beef and mix well. Place in a 10 or 12-inch skillet and form a large patty. Top with additional mustard or ketchup, if desired. 

Cover. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook 15-20 additional minutes (to 160°). Drain any fat and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Thanks, Aunt Janice, for another great recipe!

~ Annette
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March 12, 2017

Washington, D.C. Family Trip

With Washington, D.C. only a couple of hours away, our family took an overnight trip to our nation's capitol. It was highly educational, but more than that, we had a lot of fun.
For some background, we don't vacation much. We visit family overnight regularly and go to family camp each summer for a week, but we don't venture into new adventures too often. Our children are ages 10, 8, and 5. The children were beyond thrilled at the idea of a trip into D.C.

We left on a Friday morning when my children's school had off for a teachers' in-service. It was snowing. It wasn't long before the snow changed to rain as my husband drove us toward the city. We went to Greenbelt to take the Metro subway into the Washington, D.C.
It was raining and sleeting when we arrived in our nation's capitol. We happily walked to our first stop of the day: The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

January 15, 2017

News from Annette

Maybe you've observed my absence from this blog. Or maybe, you're a bit like me, and you're too busy to notice.

Though I'm not blogging regularly, I am certainly staying busy writing. My first book was published in August. I love writing nonfiction for children!

This month I turned in manuscripts for two children's nonfiction books. They'll be published later this year. I also have a couple of programs in the near future. One is about the creative calling. The others are presentations to celebrate the 150th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder. (See my schedule here.) Over at Little House Companion, I've shared how you can prepare for your own Laura Ingalls Wilder event in a series of blog posts.

And of course I still take care of my family and volunteer in my community. There's never a dull moment!

If you want to stay up to date with me, it might be best to sign up for my newsletter or be in touch through Facebook.

Thanks for reading This Simple Home!
~ Annette
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