Category Archives: Ask Jo

Ask Jo: Audiobooks

I had a blog reader ask me how to listen to audio books.  Well…first off I want to say that there are many different ways and really no one right way.  They question also made me realize how much I take for granted.  I too often have questions like this and then pester my kids until someone explains it all to me.  I’m not nearly as thankful that they provide tech services for me as I should be…anyway…

This is what I know about listening to audiobooks.  Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, there are many ways…you only need to find one that works for you.

First off…you need an electronic device or computer or ipad or kindle or smartphone or something to listen to the book on.  Before buying anything, make sure it will work for where you want to listen.  For example, I listen a lot while I’m at the quilting machine.  A quilt often takes several hours to machine quilt and listening helps pass the time.  For me, I want something in my pocket that can plug into headphones as the quilting machine is loud.

In the past I had an MP3 Player.  For that I downloaded the book to my computer and then onto the MP3 player.  This is a good option if you don’t have a smartphone but want to be portable.

a downfall is…this uses headphones and you might not want to be on headphones all the time.

Then you might also want to purchase a speaker

If you’re sitting and cross stitching and what to listen, it might work for you to use a laptop you can move to the chair you sit at or a ipad/kindle type device might be helpful.

Me..I mainly use my smartphone.  It can do what I want and is portable.  My phone is really a universal tool for me and I can’t imagine life without it anymore.  Could I live without it, yes.  But it does so many things for me including helping me listen to audiobooks.

I do have a speaker and use it frequently especially in my quilting room when I am at a domestic machine. I highly recommend a speaker.  I have THIS ONE….I can turn it on and got to the bathroom in the next door room and still hear.   I can dig in the closet and still hear.

I do have this nice set of headphones for when I’m at the quilting machine.  I don’t like earbuds.  Mine I got before bluetooth was around…you can find them HERE.  Nowadays I would recommend bluetooth.

So after your device is picked, you want to know the program you are going to use to get your books from.  I love Audible (Find it HERE) but it is a paid subscription.  If you want to get the books you really-really want, you might need Audible as some publishing companies don’t let libraries purchase books anymore.  (Bummer I know)  If you purchase a book here, it’s yours.  Take as long as you want to read it.

Most public libraries have some sort of online option for listening to books.  Our little local library doesn’t but the county library does.  I use that.  The problem, the wait list to get a book I want is for FOREVER.  No joke.  It can be a six month wait and then the book has to be listened to in 14 days.  This frustrated me so I heard about a different option….

That is Hoopla.  Well you have to have a library that supports Hoopla to get it.  I find a library an hour away from me that allows out of county residents to use the program.  I was thrilled as here, I don’t have to wait for books and I get the books for 21 days.  If I don’t finish in that time, I can check out the book again and my place in the book was kept.  I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this….but it’s kind of hard to find rurally.

For smartphones, computers and ipad/kindles, you have to download the program you plan to listen from so you go to the play store and get the app.  All of these are free apps.  Download it and put in your account information that you set up…now you’re ready to download a book….

I like to look on the computer and find the books I want.  I check them out and then they are “in my library”.  Later I go to my phone, open the app and the book is already in my library.  That way I’m not on a tiny screen searching for books.

From there you just tap the book on the screen and start listening.

If you simply want to try listening to an audiobook for the first time, listen on your computer first before you buy any new equipment.  Then you don’t have the investment of a device if you don’t have one already.

I jumped in and invested and soon as I knew about audiobooks and MP3 players.  I LOVED being read to as a child and to me, that’s what audiobooks are…someone is just reading to me.  I listen to audiobooks like most people listen to the radio.  I listen in the car, when I’m folding laundry…when I’m making supper…when I’m sewing.  I’d rather listen to a book than the radio…one advantage, no commercials!!

If you use a library as your audiobook source, I’m sure they have someone there that can help walk you through it all.  It sounds like a really long process if you aren’t used to technology but it’s not bad at all once you get a book downloaded.

I know if you have children, they can likely walk you through the process…they can also gift you some money for Christmas to get set up to listen…or enhance your listening with headphones or a speaker.  My kids love to get ideas for something I’d like.

There are other free sources for listening to books but most of them are for classic books only.  To date, I haven’t tried them.

Readers, it’s your turn.  If you have any other information to pass along about listening to audiobooks, please leave a comment in the comment section.  Also if you know of any other free online sources to get books, please list them.

Figuring out how to listen to audiobooks was one of the best things I’ve done.  I do have to admit that I have started listening to a few podcasts.  I don’t like them as well…but I keep thinking I haven’t found “the one” yet.  If you’re interested in learning how to listen to podcasts, check out Kalissa’s blog on that HERE.  She was able to write that as she had to help me learn…I guess we’re all learning something…

If you have any others questions..please ask.

Ask Jo: Teaching at Home

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days. Today I am addressing a question about teaching kids from home.

This came from Joy:
Since you have done childcare for so many years, I was wondering if you could do a post or two about effective learning strategies for those of us who are going to be teaching our kids at home this fall.  Maybe some tips for setting up a learning area and how to keep the kids engaged in learning.  Perhaps recommending activities or toys that are fun and help with learning as well.  I think you could probably break it down into a few posts.”

First off…I am by no means an expert.  I have an associates degree in child development.  This does not at all classify me as educated on the subject.  I believe my years of doing childcare is more helpful as I’ve had lots of opportunity for trial and error.

I know nothing about teaching kids once they get into a formal learning setting…I wasn’t trained, I’ve had no experience so what I’m writing today is for kids preschool and younger.  Keeping that in mind, I want to say that every single second they are awake is a learning opportunity…a formal learning opportunity no, but a learning opportunity.

Kids are a vacuum and are constantly sucking up things…the most important thing for us adults is to make sure they are sucking up the right things.  That means we need to surround them in the “right things”.  If you’ve been around a kid for a short amount of time, you know this is true.  How many times does a kid repeat back to you something they’ve heard.

Kalissa posted this the other day on her The Pink Shoelaces Facebook page about an interaction she had with Carver…

Me: Carver, have you seen my phone?
Carver: It is NOT my job to take care of your stuff! You need to take good care of your phone mom, it is YOURS and not MINE! You need to put it in the same place so you know where it is!
Me: 🤭🤭

I hope Carver figures this lesson out…Obviously he’s heard it enough times to repeat it.  It’s just a matter of time before he learns the real meaning of it and applies it.

That is so true with everything…Kids need to hear things hundreds of times before they understand it.

So…with that in mind…I narrate MUCH of the day with kids.  In the morning getting them dressed, if they are wearing a button down shirt like Carver is in the picture, count the buttons as you button them.  If you’re building blocks later in the day…stop and count the blocks in the tower.  If you’re unloading the dishwasher, have them help and count the spoons that are put away in the drawer….folding laundry, count the washcloths you fold.  There are a million ways to add counting to their life.

Some of my favorite things I did with the childcare kids is to make cookies.  Baking provides an opportunity for TONS of counting and measuring and science.  We would make cookies.  The kids were “making them for their family”…so one on one, each child would name the members of their family.  As they did, I would put up one finger.  Then we’d count how many fingers I had.  Then we would go to the freshly made cookies and put that many in the bag for them to take home to their family.  Then we’d extend the activity and count how many cookies the kids were taking home combined.  It was fun.  Of course, if you’re homeschooling only your grandchild this activity can’t work quite this way but cane can modify it to give cookies to your neighbors counting how many people live in each house and deliver cookies to the neighbors.  Look…you added teaching them to be kind to others in the same activity.

The most formal I get with any teaching is circle time.  Here’s how that goes: Continue reading

Ask Jo: Shelving in my Living Room

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days. Today I have some questions after posting about my cross stitch finish. You can read the full post HERE.

Susie asked:
I love the creative cross-stitch finish! I also love your living room shelves … Sometime can you show us a picture of the whole set of shelves? (Maybe you’ve blogged about then before?) I like the pipes-as-shelf-supports idea, and I’m assuming Kramer or one of your boys installed them. I love the look! It feels modern, but old fashioned at the same time.”

This is my living room shelving.  Craig and Kalissa put it up for me last year at Christmas.  I paid for the supplies but they did all the work.  I LOVE them.  I had wanted shelving like this and Kramer was planning on doing it but he passed away before it got done.

Forgive the undecorated two tier tray.  I haven’t been anywhere that has some current season decorations.  UGH.  It’s a covid fail…but it happens and right now, Gannon and Georgia are at the TERRIBLE age when they destroy decorations.  So it’s a good time not to have anything….

My corner table Kramer did…I plan to paint the bottom of it.  That hasn’t happened yet.  The industrial lamp is from my brother.  My cross stitch lamp hangs out here too.  It’s a floor lamp and “my spot” in the living room is right here by the cross stitch lamp.

As for the decor on the shelves…it’s all simple.  I bought cheap picture holders at Hobby Lobby for the grandkids’ pictures.  When you have seven grandkids and not a ton of wall space, these little pictures work.  Parents aren’t good about getting me current pictures so I just print snapshots they send and print them on cardstock.  They I can update the photos whenever.

The other things aren’t special and most were picked up thrifting….The candle jars were 50 cents each…

There’s an upside down treadle sewing machine drawer to provide some height…  Some of my cross stitch too.

Most thrift store finds and a couple Hobby Lobby things.

The specifics on how to make the shelving it this…. Continue reading

Ask Jo: Need Some Help from YOU!

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days.

Today I have some question first and then I have some requests that I need your help with that I can do on my own…

First up from Patricia:
Jo, beautiful job on your cross stitch and framing. Thank you for sharing your technique with us. Since you are using 40 ct linen, do you use a lighted magnifying lamp? Which one would you recommend?
Also could you explain your method of deconstructing shirts. Thank you for sharing.”

Patricia wrote that after I wrote about finishing my Seeking Refuge cross stitch piece.  Read about that HERE is you missed it.

I do stitch on 40 count linen.  It’s seriously become my favorite.  I stitch one thread over two and that is my preferred favorite too.

I do use a light.  I have this Ott light…

Although spendy, it was well worth it.  I got mine from Joanns but it seems they don’t have them to order anymore.  I checked Amazon (HERE) and they seem out of stock there as well.

Ott does have this light and I’d assume it would work like mine…HERE

It appears it doesn’t have the clip and honestly, I don’t use the clip on mine anyway.

I also use these glasses if I’m not stitching at the couch in the living room…

HERE is a link for them.  I like these and they work great but…the nose piece takes a little getting used to.  There is a light in them so they really are fabulous and inexpensive.

Many people also just wear reading glasses over their regular glasses.  I’ve done that too.  Some get a higher strength magnification that what they would normally use.  You have to just work and experiment with what works best for you.

If you travel and stitch, you might want the white lighted magnifiers.  If you only stitch in the living room, you might want to invest in a great floor lamp.  It so hard to recommend things to people as I don’t what everyone’s life style is.  Maybe you already have a good lamp for light but just need magnification…for you then trying reading glasses in a higher strength might be all you need.

As far as deboning shirts…
I do have a blog post about that.  You can find it HERE.

I love using shirts in quilt projects.  It reminds me that I have another stack of shirts that still need to be deboned.  Hmmm.  Maybe I’ll pull that out the next time Kayla is home.  She’s great at deboning shirts.

The next question from Nicki:
Hi Jo-Is there a pattern for the Civil War Tribute quilt? I would like to add that to my “make someday list”.”

Jo's BOM Challenge 2018 | Jo's Country Junction
Kelli and I both made one of these.  I have Kelli’s quilted and mine sits here waiting for quilting.

From all I know, there is not anywhere to buy the pattern from.  I’m guessing a blog reader might have one that they are willing to part with.  When I finished mine I got rid of the pattern…can’t remember if I gifted it or put it in the Goodwill box.

If you have a pattern and are willing to part with it, please contact Nicki at

The next question comes from Julia via Messenger… Continue reading