Friday, April 24, 2015

Baby Shower in a Box - Pop Up Banner

Living at a distance from friends and loved ones can present a problem when you want to send a cute gift. Recently I gathered up gifts from members of our church family to send to a family who had moved away. I wanted to make this feel a little bit like a baby shower (as much as can be done in a box)...and baby showers need decorations, right?

I created this banner that would pop up when the flaps of the cardboard box were lifted:
It came together rather easily - just a few shipping tags, some washi tape, Unity alpha stamps, and it is all strung up with The Twinery's twine, of course.
I thought this was a fun addition for a gift sent from afar. 

Please share with me - what do you do to make long-distance gifts special?

PS - I am next week's Growing In Unity gal! Please be sure to stop by each day next week to see what I've created - and comment to win some Unity stamps!
Supplies: 
Stamps: Unity Stamp Company (Liz Hicks Alpha); 
Tags: (13 Point Cardstock Shipping Tags - Manila: 4 3/4" x 2 3/8")
Washi Tape: My Mind's Eye (Decorative Tape - Blue & Yellow);
Ink: Memento (Bahama Blue);
Twine: The Twinery (Marigold);
Tools: Fiskars (Scissors);

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Reviews :: Noah's Voyage and Brave Queen Esther

There are several books in the I Can Read! / Adventure Bible series, and Noah's Voyage and Brave Queen Esther are two of the newest releases. Our family does not own the Adventure Bible, NIV or the Adventure Bible for Early Readers, so I cannot compare these books to those (to see if the content is duplicated). We do, however, own both the Adventure Bible for Toddlers and the Adventure Bible Storybook, and I can tell you that the wording and illustrations are not duplicated across these three editions. The books in the I Can Read! / Adventure Bible series are worded with simpler phrasing and shorter sentences than you will find in the Adventure Bible Storybook.

Noah's Voyage is a re-telling of the story of the flood/Noah's Ark. The original story can be found in the Bible in the book of Genesis. The re-telling of this story is done well, is easy to understand, and is accompanied by big, colorful illustrations.

At the end of Noah's Voyage is a page containing "People in Bible Times" (which has an illustration of Noah and a dove accompanied by Genesis 6:18) and "Did You Know?" (which gives details about the size of the ark and what it was made of).


Brave Queen Esther is a re-telling of the story of Esther (also known as Hadassah). The original story can be found in the Bible in the book of Esther. The re-telling of this story is done well, is easy to understand, and is accompanied by big, colorful illustrations.
At the end of Brave Queen Esther is a page containing "People of the Bible" (which has illustrations of Esther and Mordecai accompanied by Esther 4:14) and "Did You Know?" (which gives details about the festival of Purim).


The I Can Read! / Adventure Bible series are categorized as reading level 2 ("Reading with Help") and the stories do not feel "choppy" like you might find in some learn-to-read books. With a retail price under $4 per book, I find these books to be a great value.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Review :: Go Ahead & Like It by Jacqueline Suskin

I must say that I was surprised when I received Go Ahead & Like It, because with descriptions like "an invitation to write lists of things you like" and "a how-to guide, writing prompt, model for self-discovery, and beautiful inspiration for daily gratitude" I was expecting Go Ahead & Like It to be more of a journal-style book of prompts with plenty of room for writing. That is not the case.

The style of Go Ahead & Like It is intriguing, and the pages are almost like looking at the author's scrapbook or gratitude journal (which is a bit strange, in my opinion). The theme behind the idea of Go Ahead & Like It is not new - we know that being thankful for "small" things and looking at the positives in life are important. With that being said, besides the newness of the artistic style of the book, I didn't find Go Ahead & Like It to have anything "new" to add to my life. I already know how to make lists.

I must say that I did NOT "like it" that there was a list with the f-word in it...it seemed so out of place an inappropriate for a book that should be about positive things.

Unfortunately, Go Ahead & Like It will only be useful to me as maybe an art journal (where I cover the pages with paint and my own drawings/photos/lists). I just am not impressed.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review :: Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch

Just Add Watercolor is an inspirational and informative book for those who are interested in watercolor and gouache.
The paintings are divided into 6 categories: traditional watercolor, gouache, digital, mixed media, other water-based media, and non-paper media. There is one painting per two-page spread throughout the majority of the book, and the paintings that are shared are done in a variety of styles from over 70 artists. I appreciate the layout of the book, because it is easy to flip through and see the paintings easily as they are all (or the vast majority) on the right-hand pages of the book. 

Although the descriptions for the paintings may reference certain steps in the creation process, this is not a how-to book nor will you find a start-to-finish description of each piece. What this book does do, however, is highlight specific techniques and art concepts used in the piece being highlighted. There are a few pages at the back of the book that discuss materials and equipment, but I would not recommend this book as a means to learn about those things - there are better books out there for that. 

I do think this book could have been better organized to highlight the specific tips and techniques, but it is fun to flip through for inspiration - with the added bonus of possibly learning something new. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Review :: Cinderella's Secret Slipper by Alinka Rutkowska, illustrated by Konrad Checinski

Cinderella's Secret Slipper is a children's picture book written by Alinka Rutkowska and illustrated by Konrad Checinski.

The story starts out with Cinderella and the Prince discussing a birthday party for their son, Junior. Cinderella is preparing herself for the party when she discovers that she needs one of her glass slippers repaired. The story follows Cinderella through her search for glass slipper repair and to Junior's birthday party. 
Although I thought this story was cute, I think it was cheapened by the overly simplistic illustrations. (The illustrations reminded me of things I would draw and "bucket fill" in Microsoft Paint...in about 1990.) Neither the story nor the illustrations were outstanding, in my opinion, but my kids still seem to enjoy it, regardless.
FTC Declaration: The author has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review :: Duck Commander Devotions For Kids by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard, illustrated by Holli Conger

Duck Commander Devotions For Kids is a devotional for kids that includes 103 devotions, authored by mother Korie Robertston and daughter Chrys Howard of the Duck Dynasty family. 

I am going to start my review by clarifying that I think I have seen maybe 2 episodes of Duck Dynasty and my kids have never seen it. We've seen the shirts and other merchandise in stores...and that's about as far as it goes. I don't seem to fall in the "target" audience, but I thought it was important to review this to see if it was only good if you love the show and follow the Duck Commander family. 
The devotions in Duck Commander Devotions For Kids are short - about 2-3 paragraphs each. Each 2-page opening in Duck Commander Devotions For Kids is assigned to a single devotion. Each devotional also includes a Bible verse, a prayer, and a "Duck Commander in Action" section (giving practical ideas to put the devotional into your life). Although the devotionals do reference specific members from the family, it is not un-readable with those references (for those, like me, who don't know the people/names). 

In addition to some great devotions and practical applications, there are adorable, full-color illustrations throughout Duck Commander Devotions For Kids. Everything is wrapped up in a cute hardcover with a ribbon bookmark. 

I must say that I wasn't sure what to expect from this devotional, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think it is a great devotional for kids and families - whether or not you follow Duck Dynasty. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Review :: Words To Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers by Diane Stortz, illustrated by Diance Le Feyer

Words To Dream On is a collection of Bible stories, based on the concept that you will be reading these stories in the evenings with your little one(s). 
My attention was instantly caught with the illustration on the cover of Words To Dream On, and the interior illustrations do not disappoint. The interior illustrations keep the same calm, deep color palette and illustration style that is found in the cover image. 

Words To Dream On is a collection of 52 stories from both the Old Testament and New Testament. (There are 26 OT stories and 26 NT stories.) Having a total of 52 stories makes this a book that would be easy to split into weekly readings. 

The stories are a good length - 3 pages each. Each story starts with "Words to Dream On" (a verse to set the focus for the story - which may or may not come from the story itself) and ends with a "Sleepy-Time Prayer" and "Bedtime Blessing". More complete Bible book/chapter references are also given for each story (after the title).

Additionally, there are tips for creating a bedtime routine and tips for reading with children at the back of the book. Everything is wrapped up in a beautifully illustrated hardcover with a ribbon bookmark. 

I think that Words To Dream On is a wonderful book to read with little ones...both during the day and at night. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review :: The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with and Adult by Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook is a hardcover cookbook that has fun, easy recipes that will be easy to create with the help of little "cubs".  There are ideas for breakfast, lunch, main dishes (dinner), and desserts & snacks. In addition to the cookbook aspect, The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook also has a small story that runs before each section of the book. 

Each of the 40 recipes in The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook has a large, full-color picture of the completed product on the page opposite the recipe. 
The recipes are all very easy, but I must admit that I was hoping to find more recipes from scratch (rather than using "ingredients" like pre-packaged refrigerated biscuits). Because this is a "country" cookbook, there are many recipes that are based on meat and carbs - not a wide variety of veggie-based recipes. Even still, I can't wait to try out the "Bear-y Good Mac & Cheese"!

At the end of The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook you will find a mealtime prayer, "Sweet Facts About Honey", and some basic kitchen conversions (tablespoons to cups, etc.).

I love when kids are encouraged to help out in the kitchen and adding in the lovable Berenstain bears characters only makes this more appealing for kids. My kids have already pointed out a few recipes that they would like to try from The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review :: The Beginner's Bible - Stories About Jesus illustrated by Kelly Pulley

The Beginner's Bible - Stories About Jesus is a padded hardcover book with boardbook pages. There are 22 boardbook pages total (with 2 or 4 pages per story). 

The Beginner's Bible - Stories About Jesus is illustrated by Kelly Pulley. The illustrations are big and colorful - they take up the majority of each page, leaving room for just a few lines of text on each page. The illustrations are typical of what you will find in most books and Bibles from The Beginner's Bible series. Because the stories are short, there is not a lot of "fluff" in with the basic facts as you might find in many Bible storybooks. 
The Beginner's Bible - Stories About Jesus contains 7 stories about Jesus:

- "Baby Jesus Is Born" (Jesus' birth) - 4 pages
- "Fishers of People" (choosing of the 12 disciples) - 2 pages
- "Jesus Calms the Storm" (Jesus & the storm) - 4 pages
- "Jesus and the Children" (Jesus & children) - 2 pages
- "Jesus Feeds Thousands" (feeding of the thousands) - 4 pages
- "Jesus Heals a Blind Man" (healing the blind man) - 2 pages
- "The Easter Story" (crucifixion & resurrection) - 4 pages

I think The Beginner's Bible - Stories About Jesus is a great addition to any toddler's bookshelf.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review :: The First Easter Ever illustrated by Dennis Jones

The First Easter Ever is a small paperback book geared toward children, ages 4-8. 

The illustrations in The First Easter Ever are by Dennis Jones, who has also illustrated the Read With Me BibleThe First Christmas Ever, and the NIrV Super Heroes Bible. Although the caricature-like cartoon style is not my personal favorite, the illustrations are entertaining. 
Despite the humorous/cartoonish style illustrations, the story in The First Easter Ever is serious. The writing does take liberty (it is a story, not quoted from the Bible), but it remains accurate overall. The story begins as Jesus begins his ministry and ends with Jesus' ascension. (This is a fantastic companion to The First Christmas Ever, which tells the rest of Jesus' life on earth.)

With a retail price of $1.99 - I think The First Easter Ever is a must-have (and is a great gift option, too!).
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.