Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: Two tickets to the Christmas Ball

About a month ago, I first heard about a program called Blogging for Books. In a nutshell, you sign your blog up, they send you a book, you read it and review it, and then repeat. Not really one to turn down books, I signed up. So now along with my normal craziness, you'll get to hear my literary craziness too.

My first book was called "Two tickets to the Christmas Ball."

Basic plot summery:

This book tells the story of two lonely-ish people. Cora Crowden comes from a horrible dysfunctional family, and found God and religion when she escaped and went to college. Christmas is difficult for her - more of a chore she feels she should do because she is a Christian. Simon Derrick comes from a strong Christian background, with a true love of family. He's been searching for years for someone who believes in the same core values he was raised with.

They get thrown together down a mysterious side street when they meet at a bookshop that may or may not exist. Of course they end up being thrown together again and again, begin to fall in love, end up with a snafu that throws the relationship into jeopardy, just to have it all work out beautifully in the end.

My thoughts:
Like pretty much every Christian novel I've read, this one was slightly cheesy. A touch preachy at times, it maintained a good message, was a quick fun clean read, and all in all a decent book. I appreciated how refreshingly light hearted the overall scope was. Combined with the uplifting feel, I'm not disappointed to add this one to my library.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the entrance of real magic. The street the characters meet on was in fact closed years ago. Only some people can see the street at all. The helpers in the shops know everything, and can make anything happen. The magic and allure, which is only fully appreciated by Simon's downs syndrome sister, was a definite entertaining twist.

I would not mind reading more from this author - especially if she comes up with a follow up story about Zee. I'd love to see if the Booterbaw sisters can actually work their magic on her.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, December 24, 2010

wishing you . . .

Hope your holiday is full of cheer and magic!

(and yes, I LOVE my Silhouette!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Squeal with delight!

Hey all!

So my girls' room transformation is being featured today over at Remodelaholic. Have you ever checked out her site? talk about a wealth of homey inspiration!

Go check it out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow Days

Growing up, I had one of the funnest moms EVER.* She was a Mom that truly thought nothing was better than being with her kids. She was always so frustrated when August hit, because she knew we'd be going back to schools soon, and we hadn't played enough yet!

I want to be that Mom. I want my kids to look back and think that I was fun to be around, that I loved being with them more than anything, that I looked forward to spending time with them.

Yesterday was a Snow Day. If I could do that cool cross out thingy, I'd change that to say Ice day. Really, calling them Snow days is just silly, because school is rarely canceled for just snow. No, it’s canceled by the crazy ice that ends up EVERYWHERE. So crazy slippery that I couldn’t even get into my driveway. And if you’ve been to my house, that’s saying something. I think my driveway is about a 2% slope - it’s nothing!

Anyway. Girly-Lou is a bit . . . um, well obsessed with school. As in, it kills her she can’t go every Saturday too. So when I found out that school was canceled, I was a bit worried that she wasn’t going to cope so well with this fact. So I wanted to make this day extra special. Especially with it being Christmas time. Hubby didn't go to work (can't take off with that much ice anyway), Girly-Lou didn't have school, the boys I watch weren't there. It was just my little family of 5, and a day full of relaxing fun.

So what did we do for extra coolness?

We made doughnut balls. The recipe is from Lion House Desserts. I was planning on posting the recipe, but then I started worrying about copyright issues. The problem is, the book is also out of print. Can you put out of print recipes online? Hmm. Well, if any of you are fluent in copyright laws, and it'd be legal, let me know and I'll post it. Until then, you just get some pictures!

The recipe is easy to follow. Just dump 7 ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then heat some oil, drop the dough in, and let it fry.

After they cool, dump some powdered sugar in a bag with 4 or 5 balls. Seal tightly and watch your kids have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much fun.

(did you know how hard it is to get a shot of your kids shaking like crazy? most of them end up like this:)

The recipe said to drop by tablespoonfuls. Either my tablespoons were too big, or my oil too hot, because after all was said and done, they were not fully cooked. But actually, I think they were better that way. I just pretended they were custard filled, and failed to tell Hubby they had eggs in them. It's no worse than eating raw cookie dough, which I do all the time, was raised on, and am happily raising my kids to do the same. Hubby on the other hand, has issues with this idea. This was totally a time of what he doesn't know isn't going to kill him, and we can both be happy!

Seriously, I want to post this recipe. These things are just too good. Or maybe I shouldn't (I'm down another pound this week!) It's not like we need more good recipes at Christmas time is it!

*so that asterisk was so long ago, I bet you all forgot about it. But along with the funnest mom, we were raised by the meanest dad. Ask him. He'll tell you. You have no idea just how grateful I am for this combination. I learned so much because my dad wasn't about to let me slide. We had consequences for our actions. And lots of fun too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My coolest Christmas Present

You may remember last year, when I almost got a cricut for Christmas. What stopped me, more than anything, was the continual cost of buying cartridges - just too much for my frugal self.

While I was researching, I found a similar product, called a Silhouette SD. I say similar, but it is SO much cooler! It will cut pretty much any font already on your computer, and if you want different shapes and such, most are just a buck and a quick download from their store.

I have entered literally dozens of contests in the last year trying for one. But no luck. However, the company ran an AMAZING Cyber Monday deal (as in almost $200 off the total). I gathered my courage, and actually asked my in-laws to get it for me for Christmas. My father-in-law responded that he could never deny me anything, but they were busy and I needed to order it for them, and here’s all the money for it.

Wow, if I was less than honest, this could be rather dangerous. But instead, I’ve far to big a guilt complex to take advantage of their generosity.

Anyway, this morning look what I found on my doorstep.

Isn’t she beautiful!

Set up wasn't hard. In fact, the hardest part was figuring out where to place the machine next to the computer.

I’ve been playing all day. I haven’t broken out the vinyl that was included, but instead have been cutting up all kinds of paper and fabric. Yes, FABRIC! If you back it with wonder under, it will cut thin-ish fabric too.

I whipped up these ornaments for my primary kids:

Each has their initial (cut from fabric). I also made these tags. You can design it on the Silhouette’s software, PRINT it in your printer, and then CUT it out! It can optically scan and align so no problems.

This thing is way fun. I’ve got so many things I want to do with it! So if my blog gets a bit crafty in the next while, you’ll know why!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Creative Christmas Cards

Some days alliteration just makes me happy.

Not quite a year ago, I subscribed to Kids Craft Weekly. It's an email newsletter, written by a woman that has the best rainy day activities ever. She can come up with more fun things to do with pipe cleaners and glue that I could in a year. Not that we've done many of the activities, but it's been fun to get some new ideas.

A month ago, she announced it was time to sign up for the 3rd annual Christmas Card exchange. I was intrigued. After looking into it a bit more, I totally signed up my kiddos.

Basically, you agree to make and mail 10 Christmas cards. In return, you get 10 Christmas cards yourself. The really cool thing, is this is from all over the world. Out of the 10 on our list, only 5 are stateside. The others are in Australia and India!

Last Monday I gathered all our construction paper, glue, stamps, glitter, and markers, and we got creative. Most of the ideas I came up with, but the execution was all the kids (and Hubby)

Here's the results:

(could someone please explain why some days Blogger insists on turning pictures?)

Buddy was in LOVE with the idea of snowmen (he made two of these). The little circles are from a hole punch.

Tearing up paper - soooo right up my kids' alley!

Hubby got very artistic with his:

On the inside is just a little message about our family, and wishing the recipients a Merry Christmas. I think we might have created a new Christmas tradition!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Made it!

In only 10 days, I
  • made presents for 7 sisters (and only changed my mind three times to what I was doing)
  • finished our name present
  • made something for my mom
  • finished Hubby's side stuff
  • sewed 10 table runners (sorry, not in the picture, I already gave them to Happy Mom)
  • and pieced a queen sized quilt, put it all together, and bound it too.
All while having my in-laws here for 7 days, watching 2 extra kids 5 days, and not going completely insane!

Of course, there's still more to do before I'm completely ready for Christmas, but you have no idea how satisfied I am with all that got accomplished in the last week!

*did I debate back and forth a dozen times about posting a picture of all these presents because the recipients all follow this blog. You better believe it. Apparently bragging rights won out over surprises.
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