Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fun with Munchkin: New England Aquarium

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 Hubby's favorite memories as a child was visiting the aquarium in Boston with his Uncle. So we thought it would be fun to take Munchkin there with him as well. Uncle BB has been so awesome about including Munchkin and spending time with him and couldn't wait to go on this little adventure with all of us.
We were a little worried because Munchkin has been insanely difficult lately, just about hitting those 'worse than terrible two 3s' and on top of it he didn't take a nap in the car like we thought he would.  Turns out we had nothing to worry about and he was absolutely thrilled!
The place is enormous! You walk in and there are several penguin exhibits and then the whole center of the building is a giant tank with a ramp that wraps around so you can look in at all the different levels.
With the size of the tank they had some really large animals! Both this ray and sea turtle were larger than my husband who is 6 feet tall.
It was difficult to take picture because the interior of the building is dimmed to make it easier to see through the glass I guess.
This was one of Munchkin's favorites, the garden eels and hermit crabs (he really wanted to see a crab and a lobster)
I loved the seahorses and sea dragons
There was so much to see!
They had a seal and sea lion show but we didn't time it right.  They also offered 3D movies and a whale watching tour but we didn't think Munchkin could sit through either yet.
Munchkin's request towards the end kind of shocked us all when he asked to pet a shark! This coming from a kid who hates water.  Well they did have a touch tank with rays and sharks so we took him there. He again surprised us by not being bothered when he put his hand in the water and didn't even freak out when a ray brushed against his hand. We were there for some time and saw some really interesting rays, crabs and sharks.
A first look with Uncle BB
Touching a ray!
A really big ray, a zebra shark and a horseshoe crab all came near.
It was a fun and exhausting day but it ended with a huge smile (and watermelon of course)
I really want to take him to the Mystic Aquarium now. It is down in CT and has more large animals like Beluga Whales and Dolphins.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bedtime Story: Mr. Strong by Roger Hargreaves

Synopsis: "Mr. Strong may be a bit too strong for his own good. But if you need a helping hand--he's your man!"

My Review: This was an entertaining Mr. Men book and actually kept Munchkin's attention. He loved 'eating' eggs with Mr. Strong so he could be strong too. He also giggled at the antics throughout Mr. Strong's day. It was a fun and entertaining story to read.
My Rating: I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the Mr. Men books just aren't as popular as when I was a kid. This is a good one though not a favorite for Munchkin. We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

After Dark Review of Big Bad Beast 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: Series Challenge and Mount TBR
Synopsis: "When it comes to following her instincts, former Marine Dee-Ann Smith never holds back. And this deadly member of a shifter protection group will do anything to prove one of her own kind is having hybrids captured for dogfights. Trouble is, her too-cute rich-boy boss Ric Van Holtz insists on helping out. And his crazy-like-a-fox smarts and charming persistence are making it real hard for Dee to keep her heart safe...

Ric can't believe his luck. He's wanted this fiercely-independent she-wolf from day one, but he never expected teamwork as explosive as this. And now is his last chance to show Dee what she needs isn't some in-your-face Alpha male-but a wily, resourceful wolf who'll always have her back in a fight…and between the sheets."

My Review: I enjoyed this book in the series. The characters Ric and Dee Ann seem to have a little more depth to them and it was enjoyable to get to know them a little better. I am still having a slight issue with bringing in characters from another series without having read that series before. There was also a lot more 'story' to this one and the bedroom scenes didn't take over everything. It just seemed like Big Bad Beast had more substance to it than the previous books. A little more behind the scenes action has also been brought forward to add more story lines and clear up some things mentions in previous books.
My Rating:  I rather enjoyed this book and the almost love/hate relationship between the characters. It was also great to actually be able to enjoy more of a storyline movement as opposed to just the bedroom scenes.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws.

Pen to Paper: Pocket Letters

Did you manage to send out 2 letters last week? I find myself writing to my cousin over and over again, even though she is out to sea on a boat and is only able to come back to land (and check her mail) once every 2 months. She will have a lot of mail to get through next time!
Today I want to talk about my newest obsession, Pocket Letters.  I am sure you have seen me talk about them a couple of times and seen a couple of sneak peeks.  If you haven't heard about this latest trend in snail mail, it was the creation of Janette Lane.  Basically you get to combine art, little goodies and pen pals all into a trading card protector sheet.
I have become completely obsessed with these and have participated in several swaps on the Pocket Letter Pals Network.  Now I mentioned art, but I want to be clear you don't need to be an artist by any means, just create something you would like to see, it can be little paintings, stickers, pattern paper, scrapbooking supplies, whatever you like.  You also include little goodies like tea bags, tiny sticky notes, page flags, ribbon, twine, washi tape samples, etc. whatever you can fit into those little pockets. Just make sure you include a letter in one of those pockets!
Here are a few I have recently created.
Dr. Seuss Themed - this was one of my favorites to make

A dog themed pocket letter for a swap

A purple themed pocket letter for a favorite colors swap

A Washi Tape swap pocket letter (each pocket has some washi tape samples)

Another one of my favorites, a Winnie the Pooh themed pocket letter.
I have so much fun making these, depending on how artistic I want to get with each pocket I can make sometimes 2 or 3 of these in a single night. It has been fun creating these and getting to know people (and potential continuing pen pals) from around the world.
I hope some of you will give this a try (and if you want to exchange pocket letters with me just let me know, I am more than happy).
Your Mission for the Week: Write a letter to someone you haven't written to recently. I can attest to the fact that just like other things (like reading) we get stuck in a rut and continue to write the same people over and over again.  You never know when you might just write to a person who will become the perfect pen pal. So lets all write to someone we haven't written to in the last couple of months.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review of Irona 700 by David Duncan

Read for: Netgalley/ Requested Review
Synopsis: "Fantasy at its most enchanting: An original and absorbing tale from a master storyteller about the profound effects of a single life on the battle against ultimate evil

It is Midsummer Day, the beginning of the year 700, in the city of Benign. All the children born in the year 684 celebrate their joint sixteenth birthday by passing in front of the statue of the blind goddess Caprice—but only one will become the Chosen and join the Seventy who govern and guide the city.

Much to her surprise, Irona Matrinko, one of the many children of an impoverished fisherman, is chosen. Irona 700 moves into the palace and, with the help of a new mentor, recognizes and cultivates her great talent for guiding wars: strategy and tactics, leadership and inspiration.

As Irona gives her life to the city, an ancient enemy, Maleficence, attacks again and again, corrupting Irona’s friends, destroying her lover, and continually defeating her grandest plans for peace and harmony. Along the way, Irona becomes a masterful politician, a shrewd judge of character, and, even at great cost to her personal happiness, a true heroine."

My Review: This was a review I received from NetGalley. I have really been into fantasy lately and this looked like an interesting read. I must admit I wanted to start it a few times but the page count was a little daunting. Once I did start it though it was just as intriguing as the synopsis is, I was instantly drawn into the world. I really enjoyed Irona's character, she has so many different aspects and she has a strength from within as opposed to what is normally common of fantasy novels. The story does have rather slow pacing and sometimes you really wonder exactly where the story is going or what the point is but then it will draw you back in with another interesting tidbit thrown into the plot line. It all seems rather new and refreshing in a genre that can get a little cliché.
My Rating: This was a great read, though it is rather long and the pacing isn't super fast but you soon forget about the time and become completely involved in the story.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tasty Attempts: Abby Cadabby's Enchanting Butterflies and Flowers

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.
Since Munchkin has been so into cooking, I picked up a bunch of his own cookbooks.  One was the Sesame Street cookbook C is for Cooking
We have used this cookbook a few times and it is fun for Munchkin to pick out food and help prepare it too.  This time we chose to make Abby Cadabby's Enchanting Butterflies and Flowers
Let me tell you it was crazy hard to cut the carrots like flowers, if you cut too far into the sides the 'flower petals' fell off. Either way though it was still a tasty dish that Munchkin would eat!
We did leave out the fresh parsley this time but normally he wouldn't mind it.

Monday, June 22, 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
Om Kas Toe by Kenneth Thomasma
Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston (After Dark)
Just Helping My Dad by Mercer Mayer (Beginning Reader)
Pete the Cat: Rock on Mom and Dad by James Dean (Bedtime Story)
Hinterkind Vol. 1: Waking World by Ian Edginton (Graphic Novel)
Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Under the Tuscan Sun = 3pts
Irona 700 = 3pts
Darkest Hour = 5pts
Howl for It = 3pts
Astronauts = 1pt
Hinterkind Vol. 2 = 2pts
Bye Bye Mom and Dad = 1pt
Elmo's First Sitter = 1pt
Going to the Sea Park = 1pt
Life in Space = 1pt

Currently Reading:

The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans - Audio - 8%

 Books to be Read Soon:

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner (Mount TBR/ Series)
Sphinx's Queen by Esther Friesner (Mount TBR/ Series)
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes (Mount TBR)


Total Points Earned
   139 points = 21 points earned + 5 points for completing a series = 165 points

Pages Read/ Time Listened
31,979 pages read (1,534 read this week)
80:38 listening time

Books Added to Shelves

Paladin by Sally Slater - Netgalley/ Requested Review
Ratha's Creature by Clare Bell - Netgalley/ Requested Review
Persephone (Daughters of Zeus Book 1)  by Kaitlin Bevis - Netgalley/ Requested Review
Daughter of Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus Book 2) by Kaitlin Bevis - Netgalley/ Requested Review
A Picture of Grace by Josh Armstrong - Book Bub Freebie
Larken by S.G. Rogers - Book Bub Freebie

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



Wow, what a busy week I had! Not only did I get a lot of reading done but I also did a lot of fun things this last week.  It was Hubby & my 8th anniversary (unfortunately with our schedules we only saw each other as I passed Munchkin off to him in the morning before work). We took Munchkin to Boston for the Children's Book Festival and to visit the Aquarium (again unfortunately the book festival was just to chaotic). Of course yesterday was also Father's Day.  We also continued working on our Index Card a Day projects and I have upped my art time for some Pocket Letter and ATC exchanges.