June 28, 2013

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this for book club, it was great for discussion and I learned a lot about myself and how much being an extrovert or introvert affect your life.  It was very academic at first, and although the information was interesting, if you've had a long day, it could put you to sleep...not saying it did that to me or anything.  The second half of the book was a lot more real world application, I really enjoyed it.  I especially liked the chapters about relationships and raising children that are the opposite of your own personality.  There are so many facets to being an introvert or extrovert and I didn't realize how much of an introvert I am.  I love being with other people, just in smaller groups.  Fascinating book.

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June 27, 2013


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Trench Work

Trenching for sprinklers...
...with a Ditch Witch.

Made a step too.  Hopefully the next pictures will have grass covering up all that dirt!

June 26, 2013

Book Review: The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

The Uncommon Appeal of CloudsThe Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this is the last book in this series, but I'm not 100% on that.  I have loved reading the Isabel Dalhousie "Sunday Philosophy Club" series throughout the years.  In true Alexander McCall Smith fashion, this book is slow, steady and doesn't always give all the answers.  It does provide plenty of things to ponder, such as the proper time to teach children academics or how best to negotiate with disapproving parents or what is the best way to solve an art theft...particularly when the thief might be the owner's own child.  Isabel seems to find a way to help all of those around her by meddling in everyone's lives, whether they ask for it or not.  The Scottish countryside and dear Edinburgh are always featured, along with a healthy dose of Auden's poetry. It's best to start these books at the beginning, but they can be read alone, as it does follow Isabel's life from single divorcee to mother and wife.

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June 25, 2013

Pixel Quilt

 My son needed a new quilt for his twin bed.  His birthday was coming up, so I gave myself a deadline and got to work.  I let him choose a quilt design from my Pinterest page, that way he had some say in the design and I got to make something that I liked.  He finally decided on THIS quilt because it reminded him of pixels, like in a video or computer game.  That's my boy.

There was a lot of cutting and fiddling with placement, but after that, it all came together really quick.  It's basically a patchwork, just with more purpose in placement of the squares.

Trying to decide on design.  I made myself a little "key" out of graph paper squares, you can see it just a little bit in the top left corner.

Sorry for the funky pictures, they were cell phone pictures I played around with to post on Instagram.  Next time, I'll make sure and get some normal camera shots too.

 Ahh....that's better.

 Quilt top done.

 I cut 5 and a 1/2 inch squares, after sewing with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, each square measured 5 inches even.


Pieced together a backing and started quilting with a rainbow quilt thread.  I still haven't tried free motion quilting, I'm completely intimidated by it.  Maybe I should take a class or something.

 My nine year old on a step stool isn't quite tall enough or has enough wing span to show a twin quilt properly....yet.  Maybe this time next year.

The quilt is 60 x 90 inches and fits his bed perfectly.

 He loves his quilt and brings it out in the living room to snuggle in during morning cartoons.

Pieced backing.  Some leftover pixels and a cool maze-like grey fabric.

My son actually got a bit frustrated with me for dragging his quilt outside and getting it dirty on the deck.  I threw it in the wash as soon as I finished taking photos though and all was well again in our home.

My son picked out the binding himself.  I probably wouldn't have chosen it since the greens don't match, but he loves it and when it's all put together, I think it works.

 I think I'll wait a bit before tackling a twin size quilt again.  They are hard to work with because they are large!  This was a lot of fun though and it was worth every ounce of trouble because the recipient is so happy with the finished result.


June 24, 2013

Star Wars Party Favors

Found these adorable party favor printables at Sandy Toes and Popsicles. Actually, it's a Father's Day kit, but we changed it to party favors.  I didn't put together all the printables, check out the link if you want to see the rest.  These were a breeze to make: just a trip to the grocery store, some printing, cutting, and taping.  My boys enjoyed helping putting them together as well.

The Vaderade was my favorite.

We used Pringle chips for the R2D2, Rolos for Hans, individually wrapped cookies for Chewie, red Gatorade for Darth Vader, Trident for the Boba gum, a jar of trail mix for Jar Jar Binks, and a can of Sprite for Yoda.

Not pictured:  We made the pretzel Lightsabers too.  Just dip large pretzel rods in tinted chocolate, leaving a bit of pretzel uncovered for the hilt.

June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The night circus shows up in various towns without warning and leaves just as quickly.  The tents and performers are stunning in their black and white themed show, leaving patrons all over the world wondering where the circus will spring up next.  Inside the circus are a cast of characters and managers who are all part of a bigger picture: a game set up by two masters of magic.  Each has a protegee that he must guide to defeat the other.  The only problem is the two protegees are falling in love with each other...

I loved this book!  The imagery, the characters, the storyline, all seemed very original and vibrant as you read along.  I've never really read anything like it and will probably reread this book again someday.  Highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy and/or Victorian novel.  A warning though: the book skips around a lot and can be confusing if you don't pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter.

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June 21, 2013

Book Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The saga continues in Victorian England.  Tessa, Jem, and Will, along with the rest of the Shadowhunters at the London Institute are preparing for the wedding, but keeping a close eye out for Mortiman, who seems to be biding his time.  They know he wants Tessa for his own evil scheme, but to what end?  There is the problem of the Gideon brothers and where their loyalty lies as well.  Will's sister is insisting on training, much to Will's disapproval.  Charlotte may be set down at the head of the Institute, if the Clave has anything to say about it.  The exciting conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

I really enjoyed this book.  Things wrapped up nicely and I have always liked these characters and time period.  I like this series more than the Mortal Instruments because it isn't as gory, since the demons they are fighting are almost all robotic.  Less blood and guts, more gears and oil.  Glad I stuck this one out, I could see myself reading these again someday.

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June 20, 2013

Simple Star Wars Cake

We kept the cake simple this year.
Two 8 inch rounds, frosted with cream cheese buttercream and spray painted gold with food coloring spray paint.  Topped with silver star sprinkles, a couple of light sabers made with gel frosting, and a birthday sign.  The birthday boy loved it and it was so easy to make.  Win win!

June 18, 2013

Pink Elephants on Canvas

Found a cute elephant print here and was inspired to make my own version using some pink scrapbook paper.  I used Paper Modge Podge to glue it down.  Don't use standard Modge Podge with regular weight copy or scrapbook paper, it will bubble and not lay smooth. 

There were a couple of small spots that still bubbled, but they were almost unnoticeable, so we called it good.

I've been helping my friend pull together this nursery for her little girl for a while now.  As soon as the final touches are complete, I'll take some pictures of the whole room in all of it's pink elephant glory.

June 16, 2013

Book Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1)The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is one in a million and I am looking forward to reading more in this series.  The best way I can describe it is a cross between Monty Python, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and classic literature.  Someone has stolen the original manuscript of "Jane Eyre" and is starting to change the beloved story.  If a change is made in the original, than all other books are affected accordingly.  It's up to the Literary Detection team to stop this heinous crime.  This book is all over the place and you have to stay on your toes to figure out where (and when) Detective Thursday Next is going....well, next.  My favorite character in this first book is Thursday's father.  I think he is hilarious and hope he plays a more prominent role in the series. 

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June 11, 2013

The Fort

Nothing like cleaning out the garage and using all of the extra boxes.  The boys have had a great time playing in here over the last few days.

June 9, 2013

Book Review: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #1)The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jack lives an unremarkable life in an unremarkable town until one day he forgets to take his daily medication.  All of a sudden, he is faster and stronger and more alert than he has even been in his life.  As he eventually learns, Jack is one of the last of the warriors, destined to fight for wizards in a tournament to the death.  With the help of a very dynamic and persuasive "aunt", a teacher/coach, and a couple of loyal friends, Jack tries everything he can to train for the upcoming battle...and to survive high school.

Fun, easy read and I really enjoyed the idea behind this series.  It dragged on a bit in the middle, but I am assuming with each new installment in the series, you will learn more about this wizarding/warrior world.  Fun book for preteen and teens.

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June 7, 2013

Grilled Pizza

 One of our favorite summertime dinners is homemade grilled pizza.  We have a super easy pizza dough recipe and make them small in size for easy grill flipping and personalization of toppings.  I'm getting hungry just looking at these pictures....guess what we are having for dinner tonight?

 Pizza Dough
(courtesy of Erica)

1 1/4 C warm water
1T yeast
2T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 C flour (approx)

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add sugar, salt, and most of the flour and mix.  Add more flour if dough is too sticky or wet.  Mix with hands for 3 minutes.  Rest dough in bowl for 10 minutes.  Brush olive oil and cornmeal on a baking sheet.  Divide dough into fourths if making small pizzas and roll out with rolling pin, transfer to baking sheet.  Cook on baking sheet for 8 minutes in a 425 degree oven or 6-8 minutes directly on a medium heat grill.  If grilling, flip over and cook the top for a couple of minutes as well.  Add toppings and cook again until cheese is melted.


June 5, 2013

Book Review: I Hate It When Exercise is the Answer by Emily Watts

I Hate It When Exercise Is the Answer: A Fitness Program for the SoulI Hate It When Exercise Is the Answer: A Fitness Program for the Soul by Emily Watts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this little book.  I have read some of her parenting books and loved them and this was just as good.  The author has a way to make you laugh and still help you feel motivated and uplifted all at the same time.  I love her view of life and her way with words.  Highly recommend this to anyone who needs a little boost of motivation and/or spiritual enlightenment.

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June 4, 2013

Balloon Ping Pong

Dad had a few late nights at work a couple of weeks ago.  We searched around on Pinterest and saw THIS idea for indoor balloon ping pong.  Genius.  The boys were entertained for the night with balloons and Popsicle sticks duct taped onto leftover Thanksgiving paper plates.

June 3, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Gift 2013

Found this great printable HERE at eighteen25 and thought it was perfect for all of my boys' teachers this year.  Printed them off at Costco, framed them, and added a card and ribbon.  We have some pretty amazing preschool, autism, and elementary school teachers.  My boys (and us parents) are really blessed.

June 2, 2013

Book Review: Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2) by Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the first book in this series and this one was a typical 2nd installment.  I enjoyed reading about the characters again and liked the descriptions of Miri seeing a large city and all of it's comings and goings for the first time.  The story itself was a little flat for me.  I am hoping the third book will pick things back up and conclude nicely.  If you liked the first book and wish to continue with the series, you will probably like it enough to keep reading like me.  If you didn't like the first book, then don't bother.

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June 1, 2013

Retro Cupcake Oven Box

  Retro Cupcake Oven Box

So cute, right?  Bought the printable HERE and am so glad I did.  They are adorable to look at, hold the cupcake well so the it is protected during transportation, and easy to print and assemble. 

So far, I have made a few for a baby shower, including a little flag on top of the cupcakes that said "bun in the oven".

And then, my son decided he wanted to make them for his class on his birthday.....

It took a long time, but we pulled it off...and the kids loved it, so it was worth it.  Just pop in a movie or two if you are planning on busting out 30 of these.

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