Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review of Judge by R.J. Larson

I am a reviewer for Bethany House and receive books to read in exchange for reviewing them. This review is for the book Judge by R.J. Larson.

I really enjoyed the first book of this series and couldn't put it down, so I was very excited to read this book. While I enjoyed the second book also, I really had a hard time staying interested in several parts and felt like it kind of dragged. However, this could be partly because I was hoping to see more development in the relationship between Kien and Ela, and they only see each other twice in the whole book. This is also not a stand alone book and the first book should be read first as there are a lot of references to book 1.

I liked that the book feels very Biblical and the characters experience things similar to Jonah, Jeremiah and Job. I liked the way the author portrayed these stories and the way she shows the subtle humor of God. I also like the way some questions are subtly handled such as why God chooses to let some people die and can we trust God with those we love.

Overall, it was a very good book and I look forward to book #3.

I received this book free from Bethany House to review. The content is my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Candyland Party, part 1

This life-sized Candyland party was for my son's 3rd birthday. We planned for 100 people and had about 80 in attendance. Instead of gifts, we asked for donations for Give Kids the World, which is a free theme park for terminally ill children and their families. We chose that charity because they have the largest life-size candyland game in the world, which was fitting for our theme. I probably spent about 200+ hours on this party and it was amazing. We had lots of different activity booths and I had the person manning each booth dressed in character.

I did a photo shoot with my son and used this picture for his invitations:

Each child received a gift bag (their choice)as they entered the party so they would have a place to put their crafts. The bags are upcycled cereal boxes covered with Christmas wrapping paper and ribbon for handles. I didn't get any pictures taken before the party, but here is the table a little while into the party. Each child also received a cup in his/her bag because it was a very hot day and we had water locations in several places in the yard.

I made candies using paper plates covered with clear wrap and put them in bushes and hanging from a tree in the front yard.

Here is a group shot of my characters. I had a friend do some face paint, which added to the characters. left to right, top to bottom characters: Tricky Lady [Lord] Licorice, Mr. Mint, Gramma Nut, Princess Frostine, Lolly, Gingerbread Tree, me (not a character), and Gloppy.

Entrance view--I used foam squares taped together for the trail, but didn't have nearly enough. I had bought 10 packs of 12 squares from the Dollar store, but it was only about 1/3 of the amount that I needed. I just did a short path and left the last half without a path. Also seen is the Gingerbread house made from a paper box, ribbon, scrapbooking supplies, and huge candy cardboard cutouts from Oriental Trading Company and in the back corner is the Peppermint Forest using lawn candy canes and fake snow spray.

To separate some of the booths, we used two large folding gazebos with a blanket hung in the middle for 2 booths per gazebo. The first station was the gingerbread station. Kids decorated foam gingerbread men using paint, buttons, and foamies. The top gingerbread man garland was made using the foam gingerbread men and twine.

I made the Gingerbread Tree costume using felt. I cut the felt and glued it together. I didn't have a pattern, but it was pretty easy to figure out. I used the stretchy clear jewelry string and a large needle to sew together the leaf headband, bracelets, and anklets. In the background is the rainbow path made from pool noodles staked to the ground and the fabric was different colored chair sashes from that I sewed together and sewed loops to stake it to the ground.

The next station was Rainbow Path. I taped streamers to twine to make a streamer garland for the backdrop. The activity was to use multi colored rice to make "sand art" in baby food jars. The kids loved this activity. I made the rice using white rice, rubbing alcohol, and paint. I got the recipe off Pinterest and could try to find it if anyone wants it. The kids also crawled through the pool noodle path.

Another picture of the rice art. The colors were very vibrant! Gramma Nut had the dress and hat in her closet and sewed an apron to make the costume a little more grandmotherly.

Peppermint Forest booth. Activity was a peppermint handprint craft. I got this idea from Oriental Trading Company but I made my own poem since I didn't like theirs. I found the plates super cheap after christmas and just glued the saying inside the plate and the handprints were attached with a ribbon after they had dried. For decorations, we used plastic candy canes and garland with candy canes.

The corner of Peppermint Forest

Mr. Mint's costume: I used a plain white tshirt and painted red stripes with sparkly fabric paint. I got the red hat from the Dollar Store and painted the white stripe. I used costume fabric for the trim on the shorts and then just safety pinned it to his jean shorts and the cuffs on the ankles were like anklets that I made using the stretchy jewelry string and sewing costume fabric to it. The axe was a lawn candy cane handle, foam axe head that I covered with sticky felt... which didn't stick very well. I'd recommend using something else.

Peanut Acres was an inflatable pool with packing peanuts. Inside the packing peanuts I had packaged individual candy peanuts for the kids to find. They also enjoyed playing in the Peanut Acres house that I made using cardboard, paint, and a dryer hose.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Candyland, part 2

The next station after Peanut Acres was the Licorice Forest. I used my trampoline and half of a gazebo for the station.

This Licorice Castle was made using vinyl fabric and a suede-type red fabric, which did not stick well to the vinyl. We had to re-glue it several times. I free-hand drew the castle, cut it out, and added the red tops, windows, and doors. The bats turned out really neat and were made using toilet paper rolls painted black, left over vinyl fabric stapled to the rolls for the wings, googly eyes, and white teeth.

I was pretty proud of these licorice sticks. I used pool noodles, sliced them down the sides, added wires to make them bendy, and taped them with black and red duct tape. I then taped them to the trampoline and made them bend lots of different ways to make them kid of crazy licorice sticks like those on the game board.

For the booth itself, I didn't do much decorating and just used a black sheet for the tablecloth. The activity was making candy bracelets. Using the bendy jewelry string, fruit loops, and colored Twizzlers that I had cut into small pieces. Of note, we used less than 1 box of cereal and only a package or two of Twizzlers. I bought lots more than that that we didn't end up using. I had Tricky Lady Licorice wear black and used a red chair sash for the waist sash, a black cowboy hat that I bent and hot glued and added little flumes to using wire and red duct tape, and a black cape I'd picked up cheap after halloween for the cape.

Snowflake Lake was on our back porch. We hung a blue sheet, added snowflakes and white gauzy curtains from Ikea. To the right, we covered our punching bag with a white sheet and draped green/snowy garland around it. Princess Frostine had the dress. We sewed on icicle foam to the waist and sleeves. We also hot glued several pink snowflakes to pins and pinned them on the dress and used one of the snowflakes for her necklace. I had picked up the white wig cheap after Halloween the previous year. The crown was more of the pink snowflakes hot glued to a tiara. There wasn't an activity for this station, but instead Princess Frostine was making snowcones for the kids.

Here's another shot of Snowflake Lake. We also had the donation castle at this station. In the background Is a brown, white and red striped castle that I made out of several different types of tubes (like oatmeal containers). I made a ramp so that when kids dropped in coins, the coins would roll down the ramp into the container. It was really neat!

Here's a shot of another part of the yard. I picked up the tree on clearance at Oriental Trading Company and added the candy cutouts. The gumdrop is part of Gumdrop Mountain and was made using paper mache. To make the gumdrops, I used upside down buckets, wrapped plastic around them, and did 2-3 layers of paper mache and then painted and sprinkled glitter.

Here's a picture of Gumdrop Mountain that we tacked to the trampoline.

And a side shot of the gumdrop area with a roller coaster for the kids to ride. There were signs at every area. The sign poles are mop handles wrapped with ribbon or painter's tape. I made the signs and taped them on.

I think my favorite decorated area was Chocolate Swamp. My artist friend drew the backdrop on cardboard and I painted it. I used black tablecloths for the chocolate waterfall. I made the ice cream bars using cardboard and fabric and taped them to lawn stakes to make them stand up. I used pink fabric to make the round pink pillow mints.

The Chocolate Swamp activity was to make little hot chocolate gift bags using hot chocolate, marshmellows, and ground peppermints. I had Gloppy wear brown and had made a hat by cutting a Dollar Store cowboy hat and adding long, sparkly brown tulle.

The final activity station was Lollipop Woods. The kids made flower lollipops. We used a striped sheet for the tablecloth. I made the big lollipops by cutting strips of foam and hot gluing them to bamboo skewers. The felt lollipops I made using a kit from Oriental Trading Company, and I made the tulle lollipop necklace in the same way the kit had me make the other lollipops. I found a striped shirt and made a skirt that easily slipped over her shorts. The skirt was tulle with a ribbon tie and I sewed several lollipops to it.

I didn't get a very good picture of the lollipops, but they turned out really neat. There were 2 kinds. The first, I used wrapping paper tubes, taped a balloon to the top, wrapped the balloon with cellophane wrap and tied with a ribbon. The second kind was my favorite, and I used tissue paper, twisted, and glued it together and topped with cellophane. I used dowels for the sticks. I found a tutorial online for it, but I don't remember where. I'm sure I could find it anyone is interested, just post a comment and I'll look into it for you!


Finally, I made this huge candy castle using 4 washer/dryer boxes and one large freezer box. Here is another of the signs that I made. I made my own signs since I couldn't find any anywhere. I'd be happy to share the signs. If anyone is interested, just comment and I'll post my jpg's of the signs for anyone to use.