Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fun with Munchkin: Christmas Fun

  As part of my resolutions for 2016, 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 realized I haven't yet shown you the fun Munchkin and the rest of the family had over Christmas! We hope that you had just as much fun as we did and were surrounded by loved ones.
Christmas Eve is always a little rough for us, I usually have to work during the day and Hubby has to work at night. We are still trying to establish some sort of manageable routine and traditions for Christmas Eve.  Munchkin usually gets a special gift with new Christmas PJs, Christmas book, Christmas Movie, Hot Chocolate or Juice box and Popcorn. We also read the Christmas story and act it out with his nativity set. And this year Munchkin was able to leave a note for Santa and sign his name (I love that he can switch hands in the middle of writing).


Christmas Morning Santa started a clever new tradition of leaving a gift in Munchkin's room. This is in hopes that he will clean his room before Christmas and allow Momma, who was up late preparing food for Christmas, and Daddy, who was up late at work, time to sleep in a little.

Then the fun ensued. You know you found the perfect gift when all the other gifts are left unwrapped until much prompting later. We had a blast with family, Uncle E got down to play with Munchkin's car mechanic station. It was so entertaining watching them work together.  The men (Hubby, Uncle E & Uncle B) gathered around as the beautiful prime rib was carved.
 The men (Hubby, Uncle E & Uncle B) gathered around as the beautiful prime rib was carved.
Even though it is tight in our house, we had a delicious sit down dinner of prime rib (prepared by Hubby), roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, creamy garlic mushrooms and garlic orzo pasta. 

 Next to the car mechanic station, the Hess Fire trucks were Munchkin's favorite gift (he had only asked Santa for three things, cookies, donuts and a fire truck).
The day after Christmas is always very laid back, we spend most of the day in our pajamas pigging out on left overs. Munchkin spent a good portion of the day playing with the fire trucks, mechanic station and we played endless rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
All in all, with all the stress leading up to the holiday it was so wonderful to spend the time with our family!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bedtime Story: Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
Synopsis: "A snowman keeps doing things that make him melt, but the kids build him up again."

My Review: This is a silly book for winter fun. Munchkin had a blast giggling about the snowman that kept sneezing and melting. It has a nice little lesson hidden in the silliness and rhymes about things that are hot and cold.
My Rating: This is a good book to entertain children on those days they are stuck inside because of the cold. It doesn't make the greatest bedtime story due to the silliness though.  We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Beginning Reader Review of Hello, Olaf! by Andrea Posner-Sanchez

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
Synopsis: "Get to know Olaf, the funny and lovable snowman from Disney's award-winning movie Frozen! Girls ages 4-6 will love this Step 1 Step Into Reading leveled reader that comes with over 30 sparkly stickers and cool glitter on the cover!

Step 1 Readers feature big type and easy words. Rhymes and rhythmic text paired with picture clues help children decode the story. For children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading."

My Review: This is a great book for all those little Frozen fans. It uses the familiar and much loved character to teach simple sight words and sentences. Munchkin enjoyed it and was able to identify some of the words. The pictures on the pages also help readers to figure out the sentences.
My Rating: This was a good book for level 1 readers, those who are starting to read some words but still need guidance and assistance.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

After Dark Review of Drain Me Dry by Leigh Wilder

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 Review, Mount TBR Digital
Synopsis: "19 year old Jamie has had it with living. He has a terrible job, no friends, and his home life is unbearable. He wants to end it all, but is too frightened to slit his own wrists. Instead he goes to The Victorian, a seedy underground blood den for vampires and their groupies, where he hopes to find an angel of death to end it all for him. Instead he finds Damian, who has much sexier things on his mind than death. Will Jamie succeed in his plan of suicide by vampire, or will he get an unexpected HEA?

This story is m/m paranormal erotica. It contains BDSM, anal sex, dubious consent, blood play, age gap (116 years), bjs."

My Review: This was just okay for me, it was a very short and you don't really get a chance to know either character all that well. I am not a fan of Jamie, he is overly weak in both personality and mentally for me. It is very in your face explicit, which is fine when you are looking for this type of book, I just wasn't expecting to jump right in, I was hoping for more of a storyline. There are hints to a future storyline, I just hope that the rest of the books are a little longer and develop more of a story.
My Rating: This one caught me a little off guard, I was expecting a more developed storyline to go with the steamy explicit scenes (which were also more violent than I was expecting). I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Pen to Paper: Pen Pal Flip Book

Happy January and 2016 everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season full of friends and family.
So last month I posted about Letter Folding and I mentioned how through my pen pal research I have found how some people are getting creative with their pen pal letters. This month I wanted to share a few of those ideas with you.  I have already told you about the Pocket Letters and of course the letter folding last month. 
Today I have a fun little pen pal flip book for you.  It was rather simple to make, all I used were some 6X6 scrapbooking paper, double sided tape, washi tape, stickers and envelopes to decorate. I followed the directions in this video

I noticed a friend of mine didn't seem to be in the greatest of moods and seemed a little down so I wanted to make her something bright and sunny.
Front cover (I added her name in stickers after the picture)

 Inside the first flap. I decided to fill in those little blank spots with books I am most looking forward to reading this year. On the right I made a little pocket and added some stickers I made.

This is with the final flap open. The center envelope is where I put the letter, I also added a little washi tape sample to that open space above it. On the right, I only taped down the top half of the balloon so I could use it as a way to tuck in those cute paper clips.
It was a lot of fun to make this, it also used some of my craft stash that is overflowing. I really hope she enjoyed it and I hope that it gives you a little idea of a creative way to add some flair to your pen pal letters!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review of The Face in the Mountain

Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley
Synopsis: "Boma and his father are nature giants in Vomper Creek, located in the midst of mountains and meadows. Together, Boma and his father help the nature beings manage the natural world they all live in. When Boma’s father needs to sleep for a hundred years, it’s up to Boma to make sure everything in nature runs smoothly, and he is worried he won’t be able to remember everything his father taught him.

The Face in The Mountain will help your child discover the inner-workings of nature and recognize that everything in nature is inter- connected. It also shows the importance of developing character traits like confidence and responsibility."

My Review: This book was sent to me via NetGalley by the Publicist. It is designed as an illustrated children's book, it is a little long for little ones to sit through but can be read in a couple of sittings. The illustrations are beautiful, I really loved the soft colors and there is plenty of details to draw little eyes. I loved that it read like an old folk tale and the reference to faces in nature that exist today (well other than the Old Man in the Mountain in NH which collapsed not to long ago). It also tells a tale of self reliance, that is great for young readers that are just learning to do things for themselves.
My Rating: Even with it being a little long and involved for a children's book, it is still an enjoyable read that can be shared with young ones.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tasty Attempts: Parmesan Mushrooms with Mozzarella Basil Cream Sauce

 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 throughout the winter, I look for some hearty meals to make over the weekend that will be filling and have some leftovers for the week. I had a box of Orzo Pasta that seems to stretch a long way, so I went on a hunt for a recipe that would use some of it up.  I came across THIS RECIPE on Pinterest for Parmesan Meatballs in a Mozzarella Basil Cream Sauce.
Oddly enough, even though it calls for a ton of ingredients, I had everything I needed on hand.  I will tell you though, it says it takes 40 minutes to prepare, that must be a time frame for professional chefs who have a staff assisting with prep and clean up throughout the process!! The amount of steps and dishes this created alone would make me not want to cook this dish again.  It was delicious but so much work. I did like how it had all food groups in one dish but you need a darn big pan!

Review of The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin

Read For: Mount TBR Print & Because it is so beautiful!
Synopsis: "The ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.
Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara's home. And only a winter child--and the ice dragon who loved her--could save her world from utter destruction.
The Ice Dragon marks the highly anticipated children's book debut of George R.R. Martin, the award-winning author of the New York Times best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire and is set in the same world. Illustrated with lush, exquisitely detailed pencil drawings by acclaimed artist Yvonne Gilbert, The Ice Dragon is an unforgettable tale of courage, love, and sacrifice by one of the most honored fantasists of all time."

My Review: As soon as I saw this book I had to get it, the illustrated version that I own is unbelievably beautiful with illustrations all throughout the book. It did once again remind me while I opted to watch the Game of Thrones on TV as opposed to continue reading the series (after book 3), I am not a fan of Martin's narration style. This book while it read like an old folks tale, was very jerky in the sentence phrasing and storyline. It goes into description of things that ended up not mattering at all in the story. With that said I still really enjoyed the fantasy and touch of magic and adventure in the book. So it went down a couple of stars for the things I didn't enjoy but back up a star for the insane beauty of the book.
My Rating: It was so hard to rate this book, I loved the story and the illustrations blew me away but the writing was not my favorite. I have to settle with a little bit above middle with Three Paws.
I have to share some of the illustrations with all of you, they are just too stunning! Please excuse the color of the second photo, I am not the greatest with my phone's settings.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 1 - Dinosaurs Before Dark

Welcome to Magic Tree House Monday!

Each Monday (other than when special events are planned) I will review one book of the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne.
The first book is Dinosaurs Before Dark where we meet Jack & Annie and discover a tree house in the woods, filled with books, and embark on a great adventure in prehistoric times.
My Review (January 2016): I re-read this book for the start of the Magic Tree House series on my blog. It was just as thrilling to read this time around. It is full of adventure and is appropriate for both boys and girls and has a good chance of capturing the interest of reluctant readers. It has magic, mystery, books, science and of course dinosaurs.  I am looking forward to when Munchkin is able to start reading this series (it won't be much longer). This is a great first chapter book for readers who are beyond the level reading style books.
My Rating: This is a great book for young readers and will hopefully get young kids into reading. All the elements of the book give each reader something to enjoy. I give this book a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

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
National Geographic Sea Otters by Laura F. Marsh (Beginning Reader)
Worms for Lunch by Leonid Gore (Bedtime Story)
The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane (Graphic Novel)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Worms for Lunch = 1pt
Nat. Geo. Sea Otters = 1pt
Clouds Above = 3pts
Drain Me Dry = 3pts
Addicted to the Bite = 3pts
Sneezy the Snowman = 1pt
The Face in the Mountain = 1pt
Smash Trash = 1pt
Hello Olaf = 1pt
Snowballs = 1pt
Dinosaurs Before Dark = 5pts
The Selection = 3pts
The Queen = 3pts
The Prince = 3 pts
Ice Dragon = 5pts
Currently Reading:

Gwendolyn's Sword by E.A. Haltom - Ebook - on page 46 of 354

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
  35 points earned

Total Points Earned this Year: 35
Total Points Spent this Year:

Pages Read/ Time Listened
8:07 Hours Listened (8:07 this week)
888 Pages Read (888 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


Boy did the time between Christmas and New Years get away from me! I apologize for my couple of missed posts. I hope that you all had a very wonderful Christmas and had a safe and fun New Year's celebration.  Things have really changed at my house from years past, we used to go to a friend's house and party the hours away, now it seems Hubby has to work every year, Munchkin is sick nearly every year and now I just curl up with some hot beverage and read a book until I am tired (often going to bed before midnight).  That was okay with me though, I kicked of the new year with a bang and lots of reading over the weekend!

I hope to keep my reading steam up so I can have lots of new books to share with all of you. It is Bout of Books readathon this week, which I love having a week long readathon right at the beginning of the new year. You have all these wonderful new books you are excited to read and can use the readathon as an excuse to just take off!

Also, in case you missed any of the posts last week announcing some new plans and changes to my posting schedule, stop by later today for the first Magic Tree House Monday. I will be posting a review every Monday for the Magic Tree House books (with a  few exceptions for special events). Starting next week I will also be starting my Tea Time Tuesday posts in the afternoon on Tuesday.  Also Early Reader reviews will be posted every Friday morning now followed by the Bedtime Story every Friday evening.

I am so excited for this new year and am so glad you will be joining me on all my new adventures this year!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bout of Books #15 Sign Up & Updates

I love kicking off the new year with a readathon and Bout of Books has me covered! I really cannot wait to dive into all my new books for the year.
Here is the information you need in case you want to sign up too!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

So this post is going to be my base for the week, I will continue to come back and update it each day with my progress (as I already have a lot of posts planned for this week and don't want things too jumbled up).  I will also be updating via twitter at @EasternSunset9


Time Devoted to Reading

I would like to read between 4-5 hours each day and read about 250 pages each day.
Averaging about 2 hours and work and another 2-3 at home after Munchkin goes to bed.

My Goals

Read a total of 1,500 pages

Read at least 4 hours each day

Read and finish at least 1 requested review novel

My goal is to read at least a total of 15 books this week

Books to Read

Gwendolyn's Sword - 354 pages
Princess Diaries - 283 pages
Collecting Seashells by the Seashore - 84 pages
Blow Snow Blow - 24 pages
Plane Pals - 32 pages
Just a Snowman - 24 pages
Curious George Makes Syrup - 24 pages
Rubble to the Rescue - 24 pages
Club Midnight - 63 pages
Bloodlines - 77 pages
The Elite - 7:42 (336 pages)
The Guard - 64 pages
The Favorite - 120 pages
The One - 7:25 (323 pages)
Korgi Vol. 3 - 112 pages
Knight at Dawn - 80 pages

Winter's Thaw - 164 pages
The Ferry Home - 160 Pages
How Mirka Got Her Sword - 144 pages


Number of Pages I've read today: 320 plus 4hrs listening (about 212 pages) = 532 pages
Total Number of Pages:  532
Time spent reading today: about 7 hours total
Total number of books I've read: 7
Books completed: The Elite, Rubble to the Rescue, Just a Snowman, The Guard, Blow Snow Blow, Club Midnight
Thoughts: I spent quite a bit of time at the office reading Gwendolyn's Sword but as soon as I was out of work I got back into listening to The Elite (I was already about a third through it). I slipped on the ice in the morning and spent much of the night icing my ankle and I couldn't sleep so I just read like crazy.  After going to the doctor Tuesday morning I am sentenced to resting and elevating at home in bed or on the couch, guess I will surround myself with some books to pass the time more pleasantly!


Number of Pages I've read today: 530 plus 6 hours listening (about 280 pages) = 810 pages
Total Number of Pages:  1,342
Time spent reading today: about 10 hours
Total number of books I've read: 13
Books completed: The Elite, Rubble to the Rescue, Just a Snowman, The Guard, Blow Snow Blow, Club Midnight, How Mirka Got Her Sword, Korgi Vol 3, Knight at Dawn
Thoughts: I was ordered to sit on the couch with my foot elevated all day, so I guess that lead to a lot of reading time. I have been loving the Selection series and can't seem to get enough of it. I am nearly done with The One and only have The Heir left. While this is all a wonderful little break from work, it is about to be interrupted, Munchkin is sick and can't go to preschool at least Wednesday and possibly the rest of the week.


 Number of Pages I've read today: 153 plus 2 hours of listening (about 110 pages) = 263 pages
Total Number of Pages:  1,605
Time spent reading today: about 4 hours
Total number of books I've read: 14
Books completed: The Elite, Rubble to the Rescue, Just a Snowman, The Guard, Blow Snow Blow, Club Midnight, How Mirka Got Her Sword, Korgi Vol. 3, Knight at Dawn, Just a Little Sick, The Favorite, The One
Thoughts: As I suspected, having Munchkin home sick with me definitely cut into my reading time. That said the draw of the Selection series has been too much to resist. I have only one more book in the series before having to wait for the final book.

Number of Pages I've read today: 267 plus 2 hours of listening (about 110 pages) = 377 pages
Total Number of Pages:  1,982
Time spent reading today: about 7 hours
Total number of books I've read: 19
Books completed: The Elite, Rubble to the Rescue, Just a Snowman, The Guard, Blow Snow Blow, Club Midnight, How Mirka Got Her Sword, Korgi Vol. 3, Knight at Dawn, Just a Little Sick, The Favorite, The One, Bloodlines, Star of the Morning, Collecting Seashells by the Seashore
Thoughts: Not a bad day of reading considering Munchkin was home with me all day. The Heir kind of took me off guard, the different voice narrating it and jump in the timeline. I did however start the Princess Diary series which is already so different from the movie!

Number of Pages I've read today: 36 plus 4 hours of listening (about 190 pages) = 226 pages
Total Number of Pages:  2,208
Time spent reading today: about 4 hours
Total number of books I've read: 20
Books completed: The Elite, Rubble to the Rescue, Just a Snowman, The Guard, Blow Snow Blow, Club Midnight, How Mirka Got her Sword, Korgi Vol. 3, Knight at Dawn, Just a Little Sick, The Favorite, The One, Bloodlines, Star of the Morning, Collecting Seashells by the Seashore, Curious George Makes Syrup
Thoughts: I finally was able to go into work and it was insane, there was absolutely no time for reading at the office this time. I did listen to The Heir a bunch at night while I was working on my planners and then a tiny bit of Princess Diaries.  I plan to finish at least Princess Diaries this weekend.

Saturday & Sunday
Number of Pages I've read today:
Total Number of Pages: 
Time spent reading today:
Total number of books I've read:
Books completed:



I don't normally participate in challenges in the Bout of Books because I like to focus my time on getting as much reading in as I can but if I do participate you will see my answers and or photos or whatever the challenge requires posted here with a link to the challenge.