Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Upcycled Holiday Nightlight

My husband had asked me to make a gluten-free cake with chocolate frosting for a school social and we usually go with canned frosting to save time. He brought home a container of Duncan Hines chocolate icing. After the container was spread on the cake, I was washing it for the recycling bin. I noticed how translucent the plastic was, so of course, my mind began working on how I could up-cycle this project.
It took some doing to get the sticky part off after the label was removed. Why manufacturers feel they need the paper to adhere with such a death grip is beyond me. I much prefer jars with cheap glue, where the label floats off after being soaked for just a few minutes.

I had a bag of battery tea lights left over from Halloween on the kitchen counter, so I turned one on and inserted it into the now-empty tub. The light shone through softly, but distinctly. I thought of the votive patterns I have seen on the Cricut Design Space and pulled out my black vinyl.

Since the top was red, I decided it would be best for a Christmas votive. I didn't see any Christmas votive patterns, so I used the Santa sleigh from the Christmas file and the HO HO HO from Christmas Kitsch.

I plan to give this away soon. I liked how the project turned out. I did have to work the Santa side a little to fit it to the contour of the tub. I would advise placing it on first lightly and then lifting parts carefully to get a smooth fit. I think this would be a fun project to make for little ones. The plastic is soft and won't break if dropped and the votive should be safe. I'm not sure about leaving it lit for a while; make sure the votives used will stay cool. Hope you like it.Wouldn't this be cute to set on a nightstand next to the child's bed the night before Christmas while you read your favorite holiday books with your child?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: Magelica's Voyage and The Rescue, Magelica's Voyage, Book 2, by Louise Courey Nadeau

Summary, Magelica's Voyage: Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the colour of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she’s transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an adventure of discovery, and learns that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love. Come fly with her and discover for yourself the power of imagination, gratitude, believing in yourself, and love! In this special first voyage, fantasy, adventure, magical illustrations, empowering messages, and a wonderful cast of enchanting characters come together as Magelica takes young girls and the special people in their lives on a fun, inspiring voyage about making your life magical.

 Summary, The Rescue, Magelica: When Magelica dreams of the prince lost on a deserted island, she realizes that it could lead to his rescue. She returns to the Isle of Dreams to tell Queen Raya what she knows. Can they save Prince Will before it’s too late? Will the power of laughter and love be enough?

Review: I enjoyed both of these books and feel that they would be appropriate for either very small boys or girls. These would be great for parents who are reading to their children and whose children are also old enough to follow longer passages and who would be able to discuss the books as they are being read. I don't know that children young enough to enjoy the books would be able to read these alone.
The stories are challenging enough and action-filled enough to keep a young mind engaged, but short enough that they would not be bored quickly. They also leave endings which suggest more storytelling is coming from another book, leaving them to guess and discuss what they think will happen in the next book. I would definitely recommend these to parents of small children. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015


"It's about time!" Maude and Argie screamed each in one of my ears. Yes, I've tried to finish NANOWRIMO in the last few years, but work always seems to pile up at that time.
"You have no excuse," Maude chided. "
"That's right," Argie said, "Now that you're retired, you have the whole month to write."
My arachnid friends stood staring through their eight respective eyes, four legs akimbo on their rather large and rotund bodies. Each had just flown in with Delores from very productive gigs. Maudes eyes, one by one, were already drooping with impending sleep.
I have just signed up to do NANO in November. If you're not familiar with this, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is held each November as a challenge for writers like me who tend to let life and earning a living get in the way of more pleasurable pursuits like writing. NANO still has my blurb from the last time I entered, then didn't follow through. Ironically, I've been thinking of starting a sequel to my first novel, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. When I pulled up my rusty account, there it was, title for this sequel, summary and all. So, in the meantime, I'll start rethinking my outline and characters and reread the first novel to further inspire myself along this path.
Oh, and you're wondering who Maude and Argie are? Then, I invite you to read my novel, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. And if you like it, please leave a comment on Amazon for me.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

I just finished listening to the audio book, Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell, and immediately went to audible.com and ordered the second book in this series. Lily Ivory has begun to settle in to life in the San Francisco Bay area, opening and running Aunt Cora's Closet, a vintage clothing store. Vintage clothing is more than a business for Lily as she can sense vibrations from the previous owners, sometimes darker than expected. When a newly acquired friend and clothing source turns up dead and a local girl goes missing, Lily must pull her resources to find the link between the two. Having left her hometown in Texas due to local harassment due to her paranormal abilities, Lily now finds that she must trust in her friends and others who may have ulterior motives, in order to try to save the child.

Juliet Blackwell provides the reader with an engaging heroine, interesting side characters and even a demon familiar who doubles as a pet potbellied pig. Her characters are each interesting in his/her own right and I feel that as the series continues, each will have his/her own story as well. Ms. Blackwell does a good job allowing us to get to know Lily a small bit at a time as the story plays out. She is a serious natural witch who can still find friendship with the charming local Wicca coven as they bring a picnic to a demon cleansing. The book is fun and entertaining and I look forward to the next installment, A Cast-Off Coven.

Xe Sands does a very nice job narrating the story. If you love audiobooks like I do, you'll enjoy her reading of Secondhand Spirits. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Ifs Return, by J. D. Pooker

The Ifs have returned for more fun for their readers, but more worry and danger for our heroes, Broden and Landon. Gage, evil If, has managed to escape from his brother, Slade's jail and Slade again appeals to the boys for their help. Little (no pun intended) did they know that they would be fighting the bad Ifs on their terms, and not much more than their six-inch heights. Gage has acquired the magical talismans from Slade's village and has put the world into suspended animation while shrinking the boys. How are they possibly going to defeat Gage now?

J. D. Pooker has once again given us a fun, action-packed adventure that will keep the young reader turning the pages. This second book in the series is a bit shorter than the first, but I am finding that I've enjoyed it more. The two boys continue their brotherly bonding and we get to see more of the lives of the Ifs.

I would highly recommend this book to young readers. It is a quick read, which would also be good for reluctant readers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Ifs by J D Pooker

The Story:
Broden and Landon are typical brothers, playing hard together and just as intensely competing and bickering at home. They love to stage battles in the woodsy areas of their local park. Little do they know that they are being observed by the Ifs, miniature people who reside in the forests who make contact with humans when their help is needed.
Strange events begin to occur at their house - clothes being put away, homework being completed, seemingly by no one in their home. When the boys finally build the nerve to not only tell each other, but to also share with their mother, she teaches them about the Ifs and how to trap one in a mason jar. The If, Slade, convinces them to let him out of the jar so that he can ask for their help in defeating an enemy If tribe bent on destroying their village. Broden and Landon are flattered into believing that they are terrific warriors who are needed to come to the Ifs' aid.
The brothers soon find that the Ifs, however small are not helpless and prove to be brave warriors themselves.

My Review (may include some spoilers):
I enjoyed reading The Ifs. The brothers are realistic and seem very believable for their ages. The parents seem a little nonchalant for the events occurring around them, especially the mother, who has prior knowledge of the Ifs. The action in the battle scenes is well played out and would be fun for middle grade readers. I loved the part of the story in which the Ifs must first do a good deed for a human before asking for help.

Some of the battle scenes were a little uncomfortable for me to read, as the brothers were forced to make the decision of whether to use force to repel the attacking animals in the woods and their If riders. However, by letting the reader know that this is not usual accepted behavior by the boys and that it is only in the context of self-preservation, it was actually realistic. I liked the parallel between the If brothers and the human brothers, all learning tolerance and acceptance (well, maybe Gage needs to work on this) of each other.

My only concern with the book is that I feel that it needed more editing before publication. There were typos and some grammar errors that slowed me down, as well as too much telling, not showing. The point of view might have been better written if coming from one main character rather than jumping from one brother to another, at least separated by chapters.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to middle grade readers. I think this would be an excellent book for male reluctant readers, who would probably identify with the characters and who would enjoy the action packed into the novel.

The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier

Molly and her younger brother, Kip have been left on their own by their Irish parents. Molly uses storytelling and humor to keep Kip's spirits up until their parents return. She takes positions for them as servants at an old English manor in order to escape the orphanage, but is this really a good alternative? Ill treatment from the mistress and her son, not to mention the strange muddy footsteps which enter the house each night, cause Kip and Molly to rethink their commitments. Molly discovers the origin of the muddy footprints and believes that an ancient tree growing into the house has given them hope. Hope soon turns to horror as Molly and Kip realize the power over the family and themselves from this intruder.
Jonathan Auxier has beautifully written a story of human expectations, hope, greed, and compassion. I was intrigued by all of the characters, each of whom fought his/her own private demons, not just the terror of the Night Gardener. I was fortunate to have "read" the book with my ears, as I bought it on audible.com with Beverley A Crick narrating. She weaves the characters voices in and out through the story with charming lilts which further endear the Molly and Kip to the reader.
I would highly recommend this book to older children and adults. The dark creepiness of the setting and the depth of its characters will keep you turning the pages long after the sun has gone down...

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sammy Steals the Show, A Bird Brain Book by Emlyn Chand

Sammy Steals the Show by Emlyn Chand
Sammy Steals the Show,  A Bird Brain Book by Emlyn Chand is the story of a Cockatiel named Sammy who loves to sing. His singing is enjoyed by his owner, Lisa, and the other birds outside his building. On hearing that there is a singing contest, he enlists the help of his friends, the rock pigeons, to help him leave his home and fly to the Sydney Opera House where the contest is being held. Sammy flies to the mike, but can't sing because he realizes that his love for Lisa is more important than fame. Sammy is only too happy to return to Lisa and his secure, happy home.

Review: The illustrations by Noelle Giffin are somewhat subdued for a picture book. Although well-drawn and lively, I would have liked to see more bright colors, especially for Sammy. The story moves along at a good pace for little ones. I think this book is better for reading to smaller children than expecting them to read the book themselves. There are words used such as "deftly" or "gaggle," which the picture book audiences may not understand, but I congratulate the author for not dumbing down the language. The book has a nice flow and even if a few words are not understood by themselves, the context and illustrations will carry the attention and focus of the ones reading or being read to.

The age-old story of being content where you are is felt at the end of the story, but it is nice that the author writes this in a non-preachy way. I love happy endings and I feel that kids, especially younger ones, still need happy endings in books. I would definitely recommend this book to children of all ages who love to read or to read to others.

I received a free digital copy of this book in order to write this review. Special thanks to Mother Daughter Book Reviews for allowing me to participate in this Book Review Blitz.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: Wicka: The Chronicles of Elizabeth Blake

Title: Wicka: The Chronicles of Elizabeth Blake | Author: Christy Deveaux | Publication Date: May 28, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 224 | Recommended Ages: 12+

Thanks to Mother Daughter and Son Book Reviews for allowing me to participate in this Book Blast.

Book Description:
While mourning the loss of a mother figure, Elizabeth Blake, a smart but socially introverted seventeen-year-old girl from Ann Arbor, Michigan, enrolls in an international school in the south of France to finish her final year of high school. Here she meets her true love, finds out that she is a witch from an ancient family, and discovers that her life is in danger.
Meanwhile, the Elders—the most powerful coven of witches in the world—have been tracking Elizabeth since her birth. According to an ancient legend, a battle led by “One barely born existing to lead” will cause the downfall of the Elders. Fearing that Elizabeth is the heir to this legend, the Elders try to destroy her before she can fulfill the prophecy.
With the help of her new friends, Elizabeth must travel to Greece to try and prove to the Elders that she is not a threat and to ask for their permission to exist in peace.
With the prospect of having to leave each other once the school year ends and return to their homes on opposite sides of the world, Elizabeth and her new love have to find a way to stay together. However, a rival love interest discovers their plan and causes the Elders to act against Elizabeth. As time runs out, Elizabeth must learn to use the powers she possesses to protect herself and the people she loves most.

My Review:
 I have enjoyed reading this YA novel. The characters are clearly written, and though this book has been compared by many reviewers with the popular series, Twilight, I find these much more likeable and three-dimensional. The main character, Elizabeth, is a much stronger person who does not whine through the whole book. The take on the Wicca characters is original and subtle. Their human qualities came through in a refreshing way.
From a writer's perspective, I would love to reread this book after a professional editing. It is heavily narrated and needs to include more dialog and action descriptions rather than the main character/ narrator letting us know what the other characters were doing or thinking. This being said, it still did not deter me from being drawn to the story and wanting to read more to see how it ends. I feel this is a good book for preteens through young adult fiction fans. The author, Christy Deveaux, has a genuine talent for the paranormal romance genre and should be very successful in future sequels to this first Elizabeth Blake novel. I have received a free copy of this book in order to write an unbiased review.

About the Author: 
Christy Deveaux is the author of The Chronicles of Elizabeth Blake series. Her highly anticipated first book in the series, Wicka, was just released this spring (2014). Inspired by traveling across Europe solo at a very young age, and many travel adventures since, the character and story line behind Elizabeth Blake was born.Christy majored in political science and earned a cross-disciplinary degree from the University of Western Ontario. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three children and a fish named Cow.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Artful Marketer

I've started reading The Artful Marketer, by Minette Riordan, PH.D. I've, for one thing, never been interested in spending too much time thinking about business, much less wanted to spend time actually sitting down to read a book about it - until now. Being a creative person herself, Dr. Riordan delves into the mind of the creative person. She not only explains why most right-brained people shy away from the more drudgery part of business, she shows how to make these tasks - long range business plans/goals, handling budgets and other financial dealings, etc - more creative and fun themselves. Not only that, she teaches the reader how to turn a creative way of life into multi-digit income figures.

In reading just the first chapter of this book, I felt like Dr. Riordan was speaking directly to me. Like so many other crafters/artists, I live to create. I'm now counting down the days to my retirement this summer with daydreams of what it will actually be like to wake up and think, "What can I create today?" without worrying about lesson plans, attendance reports, meetings and so on and so on. But, in the back of my mind, I know I still need a bit of organization with two etsy shops, writing that's taken a back seat for too long to school and Zentangle classes to teach. Doing these left-brained activities just takes time away that I could use to create something.

I'm actually looking forward to applying some of Dr. Riordan's methods for setting up a goal display, which I plan to hang in my studio. I also plan to try some of her other ideas, such as storing and saving ideas that I plan to try later when I finish the ten projects I have ongoing at the present.
So, should you read this book? Are you a creative person who would like to not only make a living doing what you love, but would like to be highly successful at it? Absolutely. I will enjoy taking my time to learn to enjoy my businesses from every angle, making the business end as creative as the productive one. I've only read the first chapter and I'm hooked. But, then, she had me with "Color Wheel Marketing Theory."