Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review :: Along Came You - written by Karona Drummund, illustrated by Estelle Corke

Along Came You is a sweet new board book celebrating the blessing that children are in our lives. So many people see children as an inconvenience, and it is wonderful to see this book that celebrates children and all that they do and the ways that they change our lives (for the better). Each page shares a "before you" and "after you" statement comparing/contrasting life before and after a child comes into your life. Along Came You is a very sweet book.

The cover of this book appears very girly, but I don't feel like the interior illustrations are overly girly (even though they do picture a mother and daughter). The illustrations are very cute and colorful. I will enjoy sharing this book with all of my children (boys and girls).

I would have liked to see a different font for the text of the book. In my opinion, the font cheapened the look of the book, but that's just being nit-picky.

Overall, I think Along Came You is a fabulous book to read with your children and keep on your family'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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Washi Tape and Twine Pencil Jar

Today I've got a quick and easy gift idea to share with you. I am demonstrating it as a pencil holder, but it would also be a great little decorative vase (just add flowers).
This bottle originally held one of my favorite delicious coffee-ish drinks - but I thought it was time to give it new life with some of my favorite craft supplies.
(Yes, it's rough *needing* to drink yummy drinks in the name of crafting.)

This really is such a simple project - just wrap your jar with washi tape, then add a little embellishment and some twine...and you are done.
If you are having so much fun making these that you just can't stop - go for it! Fill them with pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, small binder clips, and other fun office supplies. It would make a great gift set for an end-of-the-year gift for a teacher.

Washi Tape: My Mind's Eye (Cut & Paste: Adorbs, Now & Then: Izzy, Now & Then: Dorothy);
Twine: The Twinery (Solid Pink Sorbet, Silver Shimmer); 

Other: (Small Paper Flowers);
Tools: Fiskars (Scissors); 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review :: Curious Creatures by Zondervan

Curious Creatures is a great new book to share with a 4-8 year old who loves to learn about God's creatures. This book is a compilation of four titles in the I Can Read! Made By God series: Rain Forest Friends, Jungle Beasts, Polar Pals, and Curious Creatures Down Under.

In Curious Creatures, each of the 4 sections of the book features 4 different animals. Here is the breakdown:
Rain Forest Friends:
- Anaconda
- Bengal Tiger
- Spider Monkey
- Toucan
Jungle Beasts:
- Panther
- Anteater
- Elephant
- Iguana
Polar Pals:
- Emperor Penguin
- Arctic Tern
- Polar Bear
- Arctic Fox
Curious Creatures Down Under:
- Koala
- Kangaroo
- Echidna
- Platypus

I do not own any of the 4 individual titles, but just from looking at previews, I believe this compilation is a larger format. The cover of Curious Creatures measures approximately 9 1/2" x 9 1/2".

The pictures are big, clear, and colorful. (There is at least one picture on every two-page spread, but generally there are two pictures per two-page spread.) The text is easy to read, and the bonus facts on the side of each page are interesting. Curious Creatures is informative and I enjoy that it always comes back to how God created and cares for each creature.

And at less than $10 - Curious Creatures is a book that is a perfect choice for a gift.
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 18, 2014

Easter Eggs (Four Ways) Using Your Craft Supplies

Well...it's no secret that Easter is right around the corner. Although I believe the Easter holiday is all about Jesus (and not about some Easter bunny), I can't deny that Easter and eggs go together. I decided to see what I could do using my craft supplies (washi tape, twine, Color Shine mists, and watercolor paint) to decorate some eggs.
For the first set of eggs, I used some washi tape and twine to decorate these eggs. The tissue tape from Tim Holtz went on the eggs fabulously - I love the vintage look and the thinness of the tape helped it to lay on nicer than some other washi tapes I tried. I finished off the eggs with The Twinery's Solid Natural & Solid Caribbean twine.
For the second set of eggs, I used mists (Heidi Swapp's Color Shine) to create a marbled effect. For this technique, I laid each egg on a piece of plastic wrap, sprayed the egg heavily with Color Shine, and then loosley wrapped the egg, allowing the plastic wrap to scrunch up around the egg. After the mist had dried, I was left with this beautiful, marbled look.
I gave washi tape another try for this next set of eggs. I did a couple different techniques, with the small pieces of tape giving the least wrinkled look. I do like the wrinkled look for some purposes, but when you are looking for a smoother application your best bet will be to use small pieces of washi tape, collage style.
The last look I attempted was an ombré effect. For this one, I used my basic watercolor paints and a paint brush - but instead of painting with water, I painted with vinegar. This allows the paint to dry more quickly and keeps the colors vibrant.
No matter how you dye it, twine it, washi it, or mist it...I hope you have a fantastic Easter. 

He is risen!

Washi Tape: My Mind's Eye (Pink Chevron, Gold Polka Dots); Pretty Little Washi Tape (Aqua Polka Dot, Green Floral); Tim Holtz (Nostalgic); etsy (Blue Lace);
Twine: The Twinery (Solid Caribbean, Solid Natural); 
Other: Crayola (Watercolor Paints);
Tools: Fiskars (Scissors); 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review :: The Chronological Study Bible, NIV by Thomas Nelson

The Chronological Study Bible, NIV is a fantastic new study Bible from Thomas Nelson. While the biblical text (Scripture) is ordered based on chronology, this study Bible contains more than just biblical chronology. (Just to clarify, the chronology of this study Bible is based on the timeline of occurrence of events, not that of the time of each book's writing.) This study Bible includes extra-biblical events in timelines, commentary, overviews, and notes. This is incredibly helpful to the reader to be able to place what they are reading within the larger scale of world history.

The Chronological Study Bible is divided into 9 epochs (periods of time), with every verse of the Bible included. Epochs 1-7 include the books of the Old Testament, and Epochs 8 & 9 include the books of the New Testament (Epoch 8 contains the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The individual books of the Bible do not always appear as a whole piece (such as they do in the re-ordering of the books in The Books of the Bible, NIV by Biblica/Zondervan), but many have pieces of different books mixed together to provide a full look at the time. (In The Chronological Study Bible, for example, the Psalms are placed throughout Epochs 3-6.) The arrangement in The Chronological Study Bible differs from that of The One Year Chronological Bible, NIV by Tyndale. (For example, The One Year Chronological Bible places portions of 1 Chronicles and the book of Job among the text of Genesis, while The Chronological Study Bible presents Genesis-Ruth uninterrupted). Transitions in the chronology of The Chronological Study Bible are clearly marked and include a small explanation. As with any chronological ordering of Scripture, there are bound to be people who disagree with the timeline and ordering - but overall, the impact of reading this way is going to be beneficial. I highly recommend reading the sections at the beginning of The Chronological Study Bible ('Introduction', 'Reading Theological History', and 'Rearranging the Bible's Canonical Order') to get a better understanding for why the passages were arranged in the way that they were.

The Chronological Study Bible places many helpful glances at time throughout the scriptures in the form of 'Time Panels' (which are portions of a time line), 'Time Capsules' (which include "events inside and outside of the Bible"), and 'Time Charts' (which are "visual overviews of important chronological topics in the Bible").

There are 47 in-text (full color) maps included, with additional maps in the back. (The maps in the back are the maps you would traditionally find in a Bible, on thicker paper.) The pages of The Chronological Study Bible feel a bit thicker than traditional Bible pages, but are thinner than regular book pages - and have a coated, magazine-type quality to them. Every page is full color and beautiful to look at. (The pages have a similar style to the pages of The Archaeological Study Bible by Zondervan - the "old page" design.) I've included a picture on the right for those who may be curious about text size and page appearance.

In addition to the chronological ordering, timelines, and maps, The Chronological Study Bible includes many interesting study notes - clearly indicated in the design of the pages so that the reader can know they are reading study notes/commentary and not Scripture. The study notes are well written and easy to understand, and provide a good background for the Bible text.

Additional features include daily reading plans (for 1 year or 2 years - the 2 year plan is divided up the same as the 1 year plan...just with double the time), an index of Scripture passages (in canonical order), and index of cultural and historical topics, and more.

Here is my simplified pro/con breakdown:
- Includes world history
- Full color pages
- In-text maps
- Timelines throughout
- Good size concordance (119 pages)
- Listing of 'Cultural & Historical Topics'

- Hardcover has a fake printed "leather" look - I would have preferred the image on the dust jacket to be on the cover instead
- Many picture inserts throughout do not have a description or explanation. (For example, on the picture I included to show text scale - the image is of water/rocks, and only by reading the text on the facing page with the story of the water from the rock does this picture placement make sense.)

Here is my simplified great for/not so great for breakdown:
Great For:
- Personal study & growth
- Those interested in chronological history (I think this is a great resource for homeschoolers who are studying history in a chronological order)
- Those interested in how world history and biblical history fit together
- Help in understanding the context of Scripture

Not So Great For:
- Following along in church or Bible studies (it would be much harder to find the passage you are looking for)
- Those who are opposed to breaking up the text of the individual books and mingling it with others. (Although I do recommend that you read the introductory sections and give the contributors a chance to explain why they have done so.)

All in all, The Chronological Study Bible is truly a useful tool for studying the Bible, reading the scriptures, and I highly recommend it as an addition to any bookshelf.
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 15, 2014

Book Review :: Hope Runs by Claire Diaz-Ortiz & Samuel Ikua Gachagua

Hope Runs is true story that is sure to inspire.

We meet Sammy first - a young Kenyan boy who by the age of 10 has lost his father and mother and has been sent to an orphanage with his brother, separated from his little sister.

Elsewhere in the world, we meet Claire - a 20-something businesswoman and world-traveler who seems to be running (sometimes literally) to find some sort of bigger purpose for her life.

Throughout the book we follow Sammy and Claire - separately at first, and then as their lives overlap and continue to weave together. I don't want to go too much into the content of the book - you should read it on your own - but it truly is an inspiring story.

The book itself is a hardcover book with a dust jacket. The dust jacket has the images you see in the cover preview, while the hardcover is a plain yellow/gold cover with white text on the spine only. There are a few pages of pictures in the center of the book - they are printed full color on semi-glossy pages that are of a similar weight to the text pages in the book. (I appreciate that so they don't interrupt the flow of page turning.)

One small thing I appreciated in a big way was that while this book did mention the author's nonprofit organization, Hope Runs, it did not feel like a book-long sales pitch for the organization. (This is not the case with some other books I've read.)

As I was reading Hope Runs, I kept thinking of how many different groups of people would find this book beneficial. As someone who is hoping to travel to Africa in the next year or so, this was really insightful. It was great to hear the perspective of someone who has traveled internationally, but the real treasure was in hearing the perspective of Sammy - from inside a Kenyan orphanage.

If you are planning a trip to an African country, I suggest you read this book. 
If you are in the process of (or thinking of) adopting, I suggest you read this book. 
If you are at a place in your life where you don't know what to do next, I suggest you read this book. 
If you have a heart for the world, I suggest you read this book. 
If you are looking for a great book to read, I highly suggest you read this book.
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 11, 2014

New Stamp Set :: All About YOU {Unity Stamp Company}

I am so excited about the newest sentiment kit from Unity Stamp Company! (Okay, yes...partly because I designed it.)
It's so versatile!

First, let's take a look at what you get:
And now...let's look at some of the great sentiment options you can create with this kit:

To show your thanks:
  • thank YOU
  • thankful for YOU
  • thank YOU for everything
To show your love and appreciation:
  • i love YOU
  • YOU make me smile
  • YOU amaze me
  • YOU are the best
To say happy birthday:
  • it's all about YOU
  • wishing YOU a very happy birthday
  • wishing YOU happy birthday
To celebrate the holidays:
  • wishing YOU a very merry Christmas
  • wishing YOU merry Christmas
To show your support:
  • praying for YOU
Just mix and match as you desire - and even do a little simple masking for more options.

That's 13 sentiments (or more) for multiple occasions/situations - all in one kit! And this weekend...it's only $12!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review :: The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Jan & Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story is another great book from the line of The Berenstain Bears books. These books have been instant classics from the time I was little (and before), and now I enjoy sharing them with my kids. This particular book is a great tool to help children understand the true meaning of Easter.
(Hint: It's not about candy!) 
In The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, Missus Ursula (Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear's Sunday school teacher) directs the three bears to watch a play called 'The Easter Story' so they can learn that Easter is not about candy. The play does a good job of portraying Jesus' time on earth (teaching, miracles, the garden, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection, and his ascension). The illustrations are cute and age appropriate.

I think the book did a great job telling the Easter story, but I must admit that the last part of the book was a little off, in my opinion. After watching the play and learning about Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension, the book comes down to basically saying after you get candy, then you go to church to learn about Jesus. I was hoping for something just a little bit deeper. (Yes, I know this is meant for 4-7 year olds.)

In the middle of the book is a sticker sheet that contains 16 round, 1 1/2", full-color stickers. The stickers are on a perforated insert that is easy to tear out without messing up the flow of the book. (When it is torn out, there are no annoying pieces left behind.) This is a fun bonus that kids are sure to appreciate.

On the inside of the back cover, there are questions and activity suggestions for those who would like to take it farther than just reading the book.

All in all, I think this is a great book to share with young children to help celebrate Easter.
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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stamping Royalty : Honorable Mention

Well...it's that time of year again (the Stamping Royalty contest from Paper Crafts & Scrapbooking magazine). In 2012, I entered and made it to the table. Last year, I made it to the table again
Here are pictures the editors shared of the cards that made it to the table this year:
No, I can't spot any of the cards I entered...but there is this little bit of news on the Paper Crafts Connection blog today:
And a big congrats to the winners and each of the other honorable mentions!

I'm so happy, happy, happy for you!
My card (no, not the one pictured here) will be published in the July 2014 issue of Paper Crafts & Scrapbooking! (And I am extra excited about this publication because my card uses an image and sentiment that I designed for Unity Stamp Company!)

Thank you for stopping by today!

Cardstock: Papertrey Ink (Rustic White);
Patterned Paper: Heidi Swapp (Hello Today 12x12 - brown, Serendipity 6x6 - yellow);
Unity Stamp Company ({keeping up with the} Tribal Trend - sentiment, Authentic Man - lines)
Ink: Ranger (Archival - Jet Black); Tsukineko (VersaMark - Watermark);
Embossing Powder: American Crafts (Zing! - Chestnut);
Dimensional Adhesive: Helmar (ZapDots - ¼” Round);
Other: Tifany DeGough (Beard Template);
Tools: Fiskars (Scissors, Paper Trimmer); ScorPal (Scoring Board); Ranger (Heat It tool);

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WINNERS :: This is not a joke.

Thanks to all who stopped by and commented on my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaways...and a very special thanks to each of you who are followers of this blog.

It may be April 1st, but this is not a joke...I've got two winners who will soon be enjoying some fantastic new books from Zondervan.
The winner of the giveaway for the Preschool through age 7 package is:


Please send me an e-mail with your US mailing address and your book choices so I can get your information to Zondervan.
{You can find my e-mail address in my blog header or on my Blogger profile.}

The winner of the giveaway for the age 8-12 package is:


Please send me an e-mail with your US mailing address so I can get your information to Zondervan.
{You can find my e-mail address in my blog header or on my Blogger profile.}

Zondervan giveaways are for US residents only.
Prizes will be handled and shipped by Zondervan.