Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Submerged (Alaskan Courage)

I receive free books from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon and on my website. This review is for Submerged (Alaskan Courage) by Dani Pettrey.

This was an enjoyable book to read. The characters were real with flaws that they were working through. The book was definitely Christian in a non-preachy way and the author handled the rough sections (bodies found, previous history of the main character sleeping around, etc) very well. I thought the characters were developed well with their own unique characteristics. As far as suspense... it was fairly predictable, but still good. This book wasn't gripping, but it held my attention and I look forward to reading more about Landon and Piper (hopefully!) in the next book.

I received a free copy of the book from Bethany House to review. The content of the review is entirely my own.

Prophet (Book of the Infinite)

I am a reviewer for Bethany House, which means they send me free books that I read and post reviews on Amazon and on my blog. This review is for the book Prophet (Book of the infinite) by R.J. Larson.

This book had a bit of a hard time holding my attention all the way through, but I enjoyed it. I liked how it showed that the lives of prophets are not easy, but when God has chosen you and you love him that much, you will be willing to endure anything for him. On her own, the main character was no one special, but when she allowed God to lead her life, she made a huge impact for him. I loved how God talked to Ela. It seamed accurate--the way he sometimes answered her questions and sometimes remained silent, but was always there when she needed him. I also enjoyed the humor the author attributed to God. I think he has a great sense of humor and it was neat to see that come through in the book. The ending was definitely believable, but seemed really sad to me. In choosing to follow God, Ela has to give up her own hopes and dreams. A few things didn't really make sense to me in the story, like the presence/purpose of the younger sister or the group of horses, but overall, it was a good read.

This book was provided to me by Bethany House for review. All comments are my own.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baby Shower Luau

I threw this Ladies Only Baby Shower Luau for my good friend, Rachel Drake. My friends Sara Peterson and Cathi Noel helped with the decorating and made everything (especially the waterfall!!!) look amazing.

I'll start with the waterfall because it was my favorite part and looked FANTASTIC!!!



Here is a picture of the waterfall after dark.


Sara painted the rocks on a bookshelf cardboard box. We used my trampoline and attached the rocks first with zip ties. From the top, we clipped a blue sheet for the background water and the purple sheets to the sides. We needed something to help it lay right and I had a crib lying around (drop-down, so thrift shops won't take it!), so we used two of the sides of the crib and attached one to the top part of the trampoline and the second from the ground to the trampoline. We added blue and white lights from the top of the trampoline and then covered it with white curtains with blue curtains on top (these were a tulle fabric we got from Ikea). We strung ivy and flower garlands from the sides and some home-made vines from the top of the waterfall. The vines were ropes that I covered with brown, green, and lime colored crepe paper. My son has a static noise thing in his room with a waterfall setting, so I borrowed that from him to add the sound of a waterfall.

Here is a picture of the whole yard.


There is a stump in the middle of my yard that we were afraid people would trip on, so we made this tree to set next to it. The base is a punching bag covered by packing paper. We tied the leaves on with twine. The leaves are from Ikea. The pineapples are from Oriental Trading Company. We were planning to use a brown sharpie to draw some added texture to the trunk, but ran out of time.




There's not much greenery in my yard, so I made some palm trees for some of my fence posts. I used packing paper for the trunks and stapled them to the fence posts and I used green felt for the leaves. They didn't hang right at first, so I added a large piece of construction paper under each felt leaf and hot glued a wire running down the center between the two leaves.


Gift table--I loved how my diaper cake turned out! The flower is made from tissue paper and a pipe cleaner. I made several flowers and put them along the fence between the homemade palm trees.


Near the gift table, we added a clothes line with summer baby clothes.


Food table
We decided to use two tables, one for the food and the second in the back for the blenders we (I should say Cathi, since she is the one who made them!) were using to make non-alcoholic pina coladas and strawberry daiqueries. We also used this back table for the stereo for the music.


The luau was an optional potluck and several ladies chose to bring food. My menu was fresh fruit, Hawaiian bread (made by Cathi), veggie shish kabobs, and a hotdog/pineapple/sweet and sour sauce dish. Other ladies brought mango bread, banana bread, and veggie spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce. I was planning to make a banana cream pie and fruit pizzas for dessert, but I ran out of time so we didn't end up with any dessert other than the sweet breads.


Pineapple tree--The base is two pineapples held together by bamboo skewers. Cathi snagged some fern leaves from her mom for the top of the tree. A larger tree would look even cooler, but I liked this size.


Shish Kabobs were made using red and green peppers, onions, pineapple, tomatoes, and two vegetarian meats (Fri Chik and Tenderbits) with a lemon and herb sauce.


We used blue tablecloths, fish nets, and lanterns from Target to decorate two of the tables. Here is a picture of one of the place settings.


For the third table, we used a brown tablecloth, sea shells, and a Partylite sandcastle.


We used white chair covers with orange or green sashes from tableclothfactory.com and tied on flowers I had found at the dollar store.




Pampering Table
Cathi and I made this tiki hut for a previous event using pvc pipe that we painted brown. The top is two bamboo mats. The background surf boards were made using cardboard and paint. The surf shack sign was made by another friend of mine using cardboard and paint.


We had containers and warm water for the foot scrubs. Cathi made sugar scrubs using safflour oil, sugar, and orange scented essential oil. We also set up the paraffin bath so ladies could dip their hands in hot wax. Here is a cute picture of one of the little ones playing in the foot bath water.








Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Messenger


I signed up with Bethany House Publishers to receive free books in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon and on my personal website. This review is for the book The Messenger by Siri Mitchell.

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I am generally not fond of first person stories, but I have read several of Siri Mitchell's books and have liked most of them. This book was first person and went back and forth between the main two characters. It was helpful that at the beginning of each chapter it stated either "Hannah" or "Jeremiah" so I didn't get confused as to whose point of view I was reading (This was a problem for me in one of the author's previous books, so it was nice that it was clear in this one).

This book was enjoyable, and I liked the historical elements of the story. I found it a little hard to get into and never found the plot to be riveting. It was really hard for me to relate to the "Friends" stance not to get involved in anything, including stopping a rape or letting a son rot in jail without trying to visit or help him. It is unfathomable to me to not help if a person can, and I liked that Hannah felt compelled to do something. I didn't really feel like I got to know the characters, and it would have been nice to feel a little more what they might have been feeling. Overall, though, it was a nice read.

This book was provided to me by Bethany House to review. The thoughts about the book are my own.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pirate Party

I helped my friend, Cathi, with this Pirate Party.

This ship was our favorite decoration. We found a picture of a pirate ship and projected it onto black felt on the wall. We cut it out and attached it to purple curtains. I made the "Pirates Beware" sign on cardboard and used a yard stake to make it stand up.

We had face paint, bandanas and eye patches available as guests entered.


Each child got to choose a craft--either a treasure chest or a sword. These were ordered from Oriental Trading Company.

We used navy blue sheets for the table cloths, a decorative fish net, and royal blue organza chair sashes (from www.tableclothfactory.com) under the ships. The solar lantern was from Target. The ships were from a Pilgrim place setting pattern in a Thanksgiving edition of a 2011 magazine... Family Fun maybe? We enlarged the pattern to make the ship out of a 12 x 12 brown page. We used plain white paper for the sails and printed a skull pattern on the top one. We used a bamboo skewer for the mast.

These jars were from Frappucino drinks. Twine is wrapped around them and we printed skulls on red paper for guests to write their names on.

Each of the kids got a balloon sword.

We did a cannon ball war, so the guests were separated into two teams and each had to make their own boat.

Each team got a bag of chocolate marshmellows to use as cannon balls and the goal was to throw them into the other team's boat. The one with the least marshmellows in their boat when the timer went off won. We set the timer for 5 minutes, but it was a bit long. I'd recommend 3 or 4 minutes.

I didn't get a picture of the final skeleton. We added a red sash, eye patch, and sword. He looked really cool hanging from a tree at the entrance to the party. This is a milk jug skeleton. It took me forever and was a real pain. I was planning to make two, but I'm not ever going to make another one! Lol. It took several hours to cut out the pieces and put them together. I used 7 milk jugs. The directions can be found here.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Outer Space Party

This outer space party was for my oldest son's 6th birthday. The party was a bit smaller than I normally do, but it was still really fun. There were 21 people in attendance.

WELCOME:
The day before the party, my boys and I had fun drawing with sidewalk chalk in our driveway. Several kids mentioned how cool it was when they arrived at the party.

My oldest son helped with the sun, moon, and stars:

Not to be outdone, my youngest (2 years old) added his drawings also:

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
I set up the party so there were 9 different stations, a Starlab Theater (slideshow presentation about the universe), dinner, and pinata. I made these schedule of events fliers using Neuropol X Free font.

STATION #1 SPACE SHUTTLE DEVELOPMENT:
The kids made paper space shuttles by coloring the front and back of the shuttle and gluing 1/2 a toilet paper roll inside to help the shuttle stand. I got the template here. They did this activity first because it needed to dry so they could use it later in station #9.

GIFT BAGS:
These bags are made out of the large plastic cups, cardstock for the top, label, and fins, and ribbon for the handle. I punched a hole in each side of the cup and top for the ribbon. The lid doesn't come off, but will lift up to allow things to be put inside. I got the idea from Family Fun Magazine.

ROCKET BEAN BAGS:
Each of the gift bags started with a bean bag rocket that I made for each of the kids. They got to take these rockets home as their party favors and used them for two of the stations. The rockets are about 4" x 2" and are filled with rice. I used the pattern from The Long Thread and sized it down 50%. They turned out really cute and the kids loved them!

STATION #2 ROCKET LAUNCH:
The kids launched the rockets in the air using stomp rockets. This was by far their favorite station and they had a blast for at least 30 minutes taking turns stomping the rockets into the air.


STATION #3 ORBITAL TRAJECTORY STATION:
I got these blow up planets from Oriental Trading Company. The kids tried to throw their bean bag rockets into the buckets without hitting any of the planets.

STATION #4 CRASH INTO ASTEROIDS:
My son begged me to add a station where the kids would try to knock over cans. It didn't really fit the theme, but I accommodated him and glued lids back onto empty cans. The kids threw their bean bag rockets at the cans and tried to knock them over.

STATION #5 MOON WALK:
I had some plastic duck feet laying around and decided to cover them with foil so the kids could try to "walk on the moon."



STATION #6 ANTIGRAVITY ATMOSPHERE:
Great way to add the trampoline to the events.

STATION #7 COLLECT MOON ROCKS:
I ordered some cool looking bounce balls that looked like moon rocks from Oriental Trading Company and hid them in the sand for the kids to find. Each child got to find and keep 2 balls.


STATION #8 TRANQUILIZE THE ALIENS:
I covered a cardboard box (about 3' x 3') with foil and used hot glue to add the felt aliens and ufo. The ufo is a bowl and plate covered with a blue treat bag. The kids used dart guns to tranquilize the aliens.



STAR LAB THEATER:
I used our projector and made up a slide show about our planet, the solar system, sun, moon, milky way galaxy, and a few specific constellations. It was nice to add an educational component to the party and the older kids loved it.

STATION #9 ROCKET BALLOON LAUNCH:
We used the dried rocket crafts from Station #1. I cut straws in half and taped one to each rocket. We aired up rocket balloons and attached one to each straw/rocket with tape and launched them on a string. It worked pretty good.

DINNER:
We had a buffet style sit-down dinner outside. For the food area, I used a navy twin sheet for the background and drew the moon and stars with chalk. The dangly planets are from Oriental Trading Company.

The dinner menu was spaghetti, Fettuccine Alfredo, garlic bread, basil buttered french bread, salad, and a veggie tray. I turned my 3 tiered tower into a rocket tower using a paper towel roll, foil, and cardstock for the fins and cone.

ROCKET TENT:
To the right of the food table was a rocket tent that I made. It turned out amazing!!! The portholes and fins are removable to make it into a regular tent. I found the template to make the tent from 2 Little Hooligans.



EATING AREA:
I used 3 folding tables, 21 chairs, and chair sashes from tableclothfactory.com. I wrapped a fork and spoon in green and blue napkins and tied with a ribbon. I printed name labels for each cup using Neuropol X Free font. The centerpieces are stars, moons, suns, and rockets cut from cardstock and glued onto bamboo skewers.



CAKE:
My friend, Cathi, made this icecream cake and it was YUMMY!!! It used 3 cartons of ice cream and a lego alien set for the topper.


PINATA:
I couldn't find an alien pinata to buy, so my boys and I made this pinata. My friend, Cathi, helped with the face. I love how it turned out.

Unfortunately I didn't reinforce the top enough and the head fell down after only a few hits... but the rest of the pinata was sound, so the kids got to beat on it on the ground several times each.


PARTY FAVORS:
The kids each went home with their rocket bags, bean bag rockets, 2 moon rocks, a glow stick, their rocket craft, and 2 rocket balloons.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:
Playing in the rocket

Supervising the stomp rockets

Hanging out watching the stomp rockets