Thursday, April 24, 2014

Theming Thursday: DIY Gifts for Mom (2)

Today is part two of my Mother's Day DIY gifts. I think making gifts are always fun, and a lot of times they can save you lots of money. However, if you need ideas for a "from the store" gift, then let me know and I'm happy to try and help! Here is part one of the DIY gifts.

You can't forget the wonderful grandmothers in your life! Strawberry Mommycakes offers this free, printable grandma book! The pages offered are:

  • Front Cover
  • About Me Page
  • Growth Page
  • Hand Print Page
  • Favorite Things Pages
  • Picture Pages
  • Drawing Pages
  • A Year in Round Up Page

  • Via Catch My Party, 9 to 5 Mom offers some cute and free Mother's Day party printables if you're in the mood to plan a little party.

    Seven Thirty Three also has some free printables available for a mother's day party. You can always use some of these for gifts too - like the tags and the card!

    I should be mopping the floor offers some fun (and free of course!) coupons to make a Mother's Day coupon book! I know a lot of moms that would really love this!

    Kori Clark offers some different Mother's Day cards (Grandma and Nana versions too). I have to say my favorite is the one above where your child fills out "Things I know About My Amazing Mom." This would be a card to keep for a lifetime!

    Remember, there is still some time until Mother's Day so if you want more DIY ideas or a specific gift for someone, let me know and I will be happy to try and find some possible ideas! Also, Theming Thursday is a weekly feature so please leave future ideas in the comments. Want more party ideas? Gift ideas? Let me know!

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

    Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

    Review by Lauren

    copy from library; all opinions are my own

    Official Summary: Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part . . .

    Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.

    Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.

    Or so she thinks.

    Review: I've wanted to read this graphic novel for a long time as I remember reading positive reviews when it first came out. I came across it at the library recently and decided I might as well give it a shot. I really liked Anya and how she felt like a regular teen girl. She's not happy with the way she looks, even though her mom doesn't understand the American need to be skinny. After all, she's from Russia and while their culture doesn't take over the book, it was great to see aspects of it throughout...from her mom being a bit stuck in the old culture to a boy at her school who is picked on for being a nerd and still having a strong Russian accent.

    The only friend Anya has is Siobhan, but Brosgol shows how they aren't normal "best friends." I liked that their first interaction in the book has Siobhan trying to bum cigarettes off Anya; almost like an annoying older sibling. I didn't realize they were even friends at first, and I think that was the point. It shows why Anya finds herself so easily able to accept a ghost in her life, though there are other reasons (such as Emily - the ghost's- ability to help Anya pass tests and learn information about the guy she likes). I liked that Brosgol doesn't have Anya accept Emily right away. I mean, she fell down a well and finds a ghost! Who would be okay with that? Her first reaction is that there is some kind of gas in the well causing her to hallucinate, which I thought was a clever reaction for Brosgol to give to Anya.

    As for the actual story, I really liked it. When I was about halfway through, a friend at work commented that the second half was very different, so when things got really weird, I wasn't shocked. It didn't make me dislike the book, though I suppose some people might find it too much of a 180. I personally thought it made things quite interesting, even though I was enjoying the first half just fine. My one complaint is probably close to the very just seemed like a sudden shift in Anya concerning Emily. Regardless, I really enjoyed this one and would love to read more by the author/illustrator!!


    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Sweet Erin Creations (Jack Skellington Cookies)

    Sweet Erin Creations

    Review by Lauren

    items sent for review; all opinions are my own

    When I was searching for food that matched my friend's baby shower theme (Tim Burton), I came across these Jack Skellington cookies on etsy. The owner, Erin, was kind enough to allow me to try them out at the shower and share my thoughts with all of you!

    The picture up top is how I went about displaying the cookies. I used my white cupcake stand and placed a Jack figurine that my sister owned on the very top. The cookies surrounded Jack and the bottom layer. I think it turned out great and helped these wonderful cookies stand out even more.

    Personally, I think Erin did a great job. The faces are all fairly similar, yet a little different for each cookie, which added some fun personality. A friend of mine personally grabbed the "angry" looking Jack's. Each cookie was individually packaged in plastic, which kept it nice, neat, and fresh!! These cookies have been eaten at varying times after they arrived and they were always yummy. I love that you don't have to eat them the day of arrival like some food items you might purchase online.

    One of my friends commented on how good she thought they tasted, and another took one to eat and another to save because she loves Jack Skellington. With them in plastic, she'll be able to keep it as decoration, which is just another plus for the practice.

    Erin was fantastic to work with, which is always important since you are speaking with someone online. I think her cookies tasted great and the artwork was very well done. I would definitely order more from her in the future. I'd love the Harry Potter cookies she has as well!

    Monday, April 21, 2014

    Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

    Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

    Review by Lauren

    copy from library; all opinions are my own

    Official Summary: Based on the Emmy Award-winning web series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, this collection of stories written by Zack Whedon (Deadwood, Fringe) chronicles some of the earliest adventures in the lives of archenemies Captain Hammer and Dr. Horrible. This anthology solves many unanswered questions left over from the show. For instance: What event inspired Dr. Horrible to become the world's greatest criminal mastermind? Why is Penny, the beautiful girl from the Laundromat, still single? How can you, the reader, be like blustering do-gooder Captain Hammer? And why is Horrible's sidekick, Moist, so... um... well, you'll find out!

    Review: Based on the characters made famous by Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (starring Neil Patrick Harris, etc.) Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories is a great addition for fans. I loved learning more about these character's lives and how they became the person they are in the "movie." I think people who haven't watched the film can still enjoy the comics included in this book, since it is a bit of a prequel. If you do though, I would definitely recommend watching the Sing-Along Blog soon after. It's funny, well-written, and has SONGS!!

    One of the things that I thought was cool is how they showed the various characters coming together. A lot of the comics lead the various people (Moist, Dr. Horrible, etc.) to a specific point in time and I thought that was a nice way to tie things in. The drawings are all really well done as well. Each story ends with a realistic drawing that makes the characters look like their actor counterparts. It's almost like a poster, since there is no words and the name of the next story is on the back, so you could easily tear it out. That's if you don't mind "mutilating" your books!

    Overall, I really loved this graphic novel collection. It makes me love Dr. Horrible and the rest even more and I can't wait for more - either stories or a film!!

    This was read for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    The Favorite Color Swap

    I just love taking part in swaps. I didn't see any for the Easter season, so I was excited that Chaotic Goddess Swaps is now hosting another fun swap - this time you send your partner four or five items in their favorite color! I signed up with the color purple, so I'm excited to see what my partner has chosen for their favorite. I gave a friend of mine a "gift basket" of things all in the color red once, and it was really fun, so I know I'm going to like shopping for this one.

    If you want to sign up, you have until April 21st at 12 a.m....not a lot of notice, I'm sorry, but I signed up late too!! Just visit here and fill in the form.

    Happy Easter!!!

    Happy Easter, everyone!! If you're celebrating, I hope it's a wonderful day and if you're not, I hope you have a fantastic Sunday anyway!!

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Batman: Li'l Gotham by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs

    Batman: Li'l Gotham (Volume 1) by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs

    Review by Lauren

    copy from library; all opinions are my own

    Official Summary: First up, Robin needs Batman's help to learn the true meaning of Halloween. Then, on Thanksgiving, Batman and Robin join the families of Gotham City around the table for a holiday feast--and birds of a feather flock together to stage a march against the city...led by The Penguin!  As Christmas time approaches, the search for a missing holiday choir leads Batman and Nightwing into a confrontation with Mr. Freeze! But in this heartfelt Christmas tale, the frozen fiend's motives aren't as nefarious as they seem...And on a festive New Year's Eve, Catwoman thinks she'll be spending a quiet night at home, contemplating her New Year's resolutions--until Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn show up, that is!

    Review: For someone like me, who is mostly a newbie to Batman and his world, I found Batman Li'l Gotham to be a bit confusing in parts. The actual stories are cute and easy to follow, but they include a lot characters and I didn't always know who they were at first. However, I eventually figured things out for the most part and found myself really enjoying this volume of stories.

    The Joker and Harley Quinn on Valentine's Day

    Li'l Gotham is perfect for younger Batman fans, as all the characters are drawn in miniature and each story focuses around various holidays, most involving a mystery that wraps up nice in the end. I could see parents that grew up loving Batman sharing these stories with their children to start their love of the superhero without the violence and more "scary moments." For me, it was cool to get to know some of the other people in the Batman universe through these comics (obviously collected together in this first volume). I've been on a Batman kick lately, so it's nice to get a better understanding in an easy to read format that doesn't take too much thought to get through.

    If you're completely new to Batman, you might want to look up some of the famous characters so you aren't left confused while reading, since nobody is really explained; they simply show up and do their thing, from the villains to the heroes. For example, the first stories show Batman and Robin but what you have to know is that the current Robin is Damian, Batman's biological son and not one of his earlier Robins (like Dick Grayson).

    Beyond that, I think this was a fun collection and I would definitely recommend to Batman fans, young and old. The second volume of Li'l Gotham comes out August 5, 2014, and I'm definitely excited to check it out! They're cute and fun and perfectly enjoyable!

    This was read for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge

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