Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fun with Munchkin: Index Card a Day Art Challenge

I have decided to add a new post to my list of things that could happen on the weekends.  As part of my resolutions for 2015, I wanted to do more fun things with Munchkin and as a family.  I will be posting sporadically about some of the fun adventures we are having together.
I have recently been spending more time working on my art and have accumulated a lot of new supplies I need to play with. While browsing some art blogs I came across this challenge called Index Card a Day, hosted by Daisy Yellow. The idea is to create something on an index card each day through June and July, and guess what they have a children's challenge too! Munchkin has been wanting to get in on my art projects, he stands with his little step stool at my elbow watching me and asking questions. So I thought why not, its not like you have to make anything spectacular and index cards are inexpensive. Munchkin can make one while dinner is cooking each night and I can make one too.
So far we are only 2 weeks in and Munchkin has missed a couple of days due to a nasty cold but we have still been having a lot of fun with these. Munchkin talks about his projects all the time and will even give them away (one was for Daddy, one was for Grandpa and one was for a friend who came to help with some work on the house). They offer prompts on the website and occasionally I use them but we have just been playing with a different medium each day. So far we have used stamps, water colors paints, washi tape and Munchkin has used tissue paper and foam stickers too.
Here are a few of the favorites so far:
Munchkin seems to like creating things 3-D and building "towers".

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bedtime Story: Tow Truck Trouble/ Lights Out by Frank Berrios

Synopsis: "Boys ages 3 to 7 will love this deluxe Pictureback, which features two all-new Disney•Pixar's Cars stories, plus over 50 stickers! In the first story, Mater competes in a series of challenges against a mean tow truck named Bubba. Then flip the book over to read about Lightning McQueen's race against the mischievous car named Stinger."

My Review: Munchkin was absolutely fascinated by the fact that when one story was over you could flip the book and start another story, and of course the stickers in the middle. It was great that one story featured Mater and the other Lightning for each of their fans to get a story. Both the stories also had great messages about not cheating, being kind to others and being good sports. Munchkin will definitely be asking to read these stories again.
My Rating: This was a huge hit with Munchkin, particularly the Tow Truck Trouble story. I do love the dual books. I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

After Dark Review of The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
Read for: Mount TBR & Series Challenge
Synopsis: "Growing up on the tough Philly streets, Gwen O'Neill has learned how to fend for herself. But what is she supposed to do with a nice, suburban Jersey boy in the form of a massive Grizzly shifter? Especially one with a rather unhealthy fetish for honey, moose, and…uh…well, her. Yet despite his menacing ursine growl and four-inch claws, Gwen finds Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie cute and really sweet. He actually watches out for her, protects her, and unlike the rest of her out-of-control family manages not to morbidly embarrass her. Too bad cats don't believe in forever.

At nearly seven feet tall, Lock is used to people responding to him in two ways: screaming and running away. Gwen-half lioness, half tigress, all kick-ass-does neither. She's sexy beyond belief and smart as hell, but she's a born protector. Watching out for the family and friends closest to her but missing the fact that she's being stalked by a murderous enemy who doesn't like hybrids…and absolutely hates Gwen. Lock probably shouldn't get involved, but he will. Why? Because this is Gwen-and no matter what the hissing, roaring, drape destroying feline says about not being ready to settle down, Lock knows he can't simply walk away. Not when she's come to mean absolutely everything to him."

My Review: This is the fourth book in this series and for some reason I was suddenly lost. I couldn't figure out who the two main characters were because they had played such a minor role in the previous book. Also a whole new set of characters were brought in from one of the authors other series and we are supposed to know them. I really dislike when series cross each other mid-series and with no warning. These factors threw me for such a loop that I couldn't really get into Lock and Gwen's stories. An interesting point though, I was wondering how long it would take for a shifter author to get them into Roller Derby, it really kicked up the excitement. I really did enjoy Lock once I got to know him, he seems kind of dopey but then he comes out with some deep thinking. I am only halfway through the series so I will keep pushing through, I just hope that there aren't anymore weird jumps that I am supposed to follow with another series.
My Rating: I really dislike weird jumps in series like this and I think it happens more with authors who are working on more than one similar type series at once. And the crossing of series just GRRRR! I am already in the middle of a 9 book series and now I really need to read another at least 4 book series to really understand what is going on.  Anywho, enough griping, once I got past these issues it was a good book, not great but good. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Pen to Paper: Postcards

Welcome back to the Pen to Paper where we embark on a letter writing and snail mail adventure!
Did you complete your mission last week? Did you send a little thank you note to someone?  I did, in fact so did Munchkin. We found out last month that his daycare is closing and he has been in the same class for over a year now and absolutely loves his teacher. So with the end nearing we put together a nice little package for her, some little Minion goodies (because she is totally obsessed with them), a card made by Munchkin and a thank you note from myself and Hubby because she has been so amazing.
So on with today's topic, Postcards!
As I mentioned in my tips last week, it is best to start out small if you hope to become a regular correspondent and snail mailer.  There is nothing better for starting out small or a quick note than a post card! I know many people collect them too so if you find a pen pal it is a great way to send a little something to hang on the fridge.  Post cards come in such a wide variety, you can pick them up for your local area, get them on vacation from a gift shop, order them on line or even create your own!
Here is just a small selection from my stash
As you can see I have a wide selection, some from my local area, artistic ones from Etsy, some I have received from gifts or swaps, I even have some printed from Pictures of Munchkin to send to family.
Some things to keep in mind with post cards:
~ The note always goes on the left when you are looking at the back of the card, the address of the recipient on the right and the stamp in the top right corner (you don't need to put a return address on it, unless you want).
~ Postage for post cards is less than a standard Forever Stamp. I believe it is currently $.34 and the post card stamps are lovely little hummingbirds. I am not entirely certain if this is the same for international (I usually just use my international stamps).
~ The writing space is very limited, so it is best to use for people you are already know. It would be very difficult to introduce yourself to a new pen pal on a post card.
~ As I said before you can find post cards in many places, though it is some times hard as they aren't in any big box stores. Some of my favorite places to get post cards are museums, and (this is where I had the ones of Munchkin printed since you can make your own).
~ You can also create your own post card, they must be 3.5" X 5" to 4.25" x 6" in size and they must be flat (no 3-D elements but flat stickers are okay). Also keep in mind if you are making your own, they could be exposed to weather and humidity so keep that in mind with the supplies you use to make them.
~ Don't forget stamps when you go on vacation! It is fun to send friends and family a post card from your vacation. I have also sent some to myself when on vacation as a fun reminder when we get back to real life after the vacation (and for scrapbooking/memory purposes).
This week's mission: Send a post card to someone.
It only takes moments to fill out a post card, no envelope required, just a stamp, a card and an address. And start building up your own stash of post cards for those quick notes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review of The Novice by Taran Matharu

Read for: Netgalley/ Requested Review
Synopsis: "When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs."

My Review: This was a NetGalley request that I found very intriguing. For some reason it really took me a while to really start reading it, I would start and read a few pages only to put it down in preference for another book. Once I finally sat myself down to read it I found that the author used some common themes and ideas (some of them so pronounce you can almost pin point the book the idea came from. Even though these ideas were pulled from other fantasy books, there was still an awful lot of world building, at times the description over took the pacing of the book making it difficult to maintain focus. I did enjoy the demons, they seem to have the most personality of all the characters, they were what kept me reading the book. It had rather slow pacing and you knew where the book was going before it got there. The end was no surprise to me though it was an attempt at a cliffhanger. I guess this might be a fun book for someone new to the fantasy genre but if you have been a fan it might be a little tedious to read.
My Rating: I guess this was a real up and down book for me. It irritated me when I read familiar things but at times it was interesting. There was a lot of political maneuvering that was exhausting to read too. I have heard both great things and disappointing things mentioned about this book, for me it was a middle of the road book. Definitely not anything new or surprising in the fantasy genre but could be a great read for a newbie. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tasty Attempts: Mini Caprese Salads

Last year I had started posting What's For Dinner. While I really enjoyed those posts, it was hard to keep up with a weekly post, especially since Munchkin is getting a little more picky about his diet and we are having a lot of repeat meals (sometimes the same thing several times a week). I still wanted to keep posting tasty recipes but include a little more variety (like the appetizers and desserts that I make for various parties). So I am now posting Tasty Attempts every other Tuesday. The posts will include a variety of recipes, maybe some of them turn out tasty, maybe others are failed attempts.
So to kick off my first Tasty Attempt post, I have a delicious appetizer that I made for Easter (and again for the Dewey's Readathon and a few more times because they are that good).  
So here we have Mini Caprese Salads (or kebobs or skewers whatever you would like to call them).
They are super simple to make, transport and of course eat.
Fresh Mini Mozzarella balls (I still cut mine in half)
Fresh Basil (I put half a leaf on each skewer)
Grape Tomatoes
Olive Oil (you can use a flavored one too, try chipotle for extra spice)
Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt (or other spices if you want to get creative)

Then you just layer your ingredients on, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I had these super cute little bunny toothpicks for Easter.
I made 24 for of these for our family Easter gathering and there were only 3 or 4 left.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review
Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

To the Rescue = 1pt
Curious George Gets a Medal = 1pt
Beast Behaving Badly = 3pts
OmKasToe = 5pts
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day = 1pt
Just Helping My Dad = 1pt
This is My Town = 1pt
Numbers! Take the Dog Out = 1pt
Whose Nose and Toes = 1pt
Novice = 3pts
Mr. Funny = 1pt
Danny and the Dinosaur go to Camp = 1pt
The Lost Continent = 3pts

Currently Reading:

 Books to be Read Soon:

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner (Mount TBR/ Series)
Sphinx's Queen by Esther Friesner (Mount TBR/ Series)
A Dangerous Path by Erin Hunter (Mount TBR/ Series)
The Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter (Mount TBR/ Series)
The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans (Audio Challenge/ Across the States/ Mount TBR)
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes (Mount TBR)
Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston (Series/ Mount TBR)


Total Points Earned
   141 points + 23 pts earned this week = 164 - 50 points spent = 114 points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
29,384 pages read (1,276 read this week)
80:38 listening time (10:12 listened this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Anathema by Meg Jensen - BookBub Freebie
Night after Night by Lauren Blakely - BookBub Freebie
Tale of Gwyn by Cynthia Voigt - 25 points spent
Tale of Birle by Cynthia Voigt - 25 points spent

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Wow, it was a busy week last week. Finally getting back into the swing of things after vacations, short weeks and big events. I did a LOT of reading this week and feel like I am getting back on track. Of course with all this reading, some of my house cleaning did fall by the wayside but having a rainy day on Saturday I got that back on track too.

Munchkin and I also started a little project together called Index Card a Day, where we each use one index card per day to create some sort of art. We have been having a blast with this so far (and honestly he might have a more artistic eye than I do).  I will be having a full post soon with some of the cards we have been creating.

This week will also be kicking off Tasty Attempts, I will post some recipe I have tried either with success or failure every other Tuesday. It will be along the lines of What's for Dinner but with a little more variety, like desserts and appetizers.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fun with Munchkin: Picnic

I have decided to add a new post to my list of things that could happen on the weekends.  As part of my resolutions for 2015, I wanted to do more fun things with Munchkin and as a family.  I will be posting sporadically about some of the fun adventures we are having together.
One of my favorite things is to have a picnic and Munchkin has been talking about it after seeing a picnic on a cartoon. It is tough to do a picnic when we have such a short time between getting out of work and bedtime, so we decided to have a simple front yard picnic.
Some leftover finger foods and a blanket and tada we have a picnic!
Other than a minor freak out when a caterpillar fell out of the tree and landed on the blanket beside him, we had a lot of fun. He has also talked about wanting to have another "pic pic". We just have to wait for this endless rain to stop and I think this summer we will try to do have a picnic at least once every week or two.