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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Build a Transformer or Create Your Own With Transformers Construct Bots by Hasbro

As the Mom of 2 boys, I'm very familiar with Transformers in every form - be it movie, cartoon, toys, action figures, and now the all new Hasbro Transformers Construct Bots, which are a fun new construction-based toy that encourages creativity.

Construct Bots give you the ability to create your favorite Transformers and convert them easily between their robot form and vehicle form, or you can customize and create your own Transformers.

Each Construct Bot Construction kit comes with the pieces to make a specific Transformer, instructions, and extra pieces so you can design and play with your own creation.  The larger sets come with a very handy and stackable storage box where you can keep pieces and instructions.

We received both Ironhide (smaller 45 piece set, no storage box) and Wheeljack (larger 55 piece set that comes with a storage box) to try out:

And here is what we made...

If you could only hear the adventures happening in our family room right now!  Parts are being swapped, and robots are saving the good guys!

Now I will warn parents - from about ages 3-6, children may need some help with transforming the bots into their vehicles and back again, but they are done very similarly, so it is no big deal once you see how they connect!  Otherwise, the parts are easy to connect and change, so kids have almost limitless ways they can change their Transformer to keep things fun and create new adventures.

Not only can kids play with the physical toy, but they can log into the online game, add the points that come with the toy packs, and they have an area to upload the bots you create and name!

The boys actually have been having so much fun with these, that we also now have the Optimus Prime/Megatron set as well.  I can't wait to see what new robots they create!

Transformers Construct Bots  
by Hasbro

Various sizes ~ Prices vary from $9.99 to $24.99

Edition Reviewed: 2 Transformers Construct Bots Kits - Review copy received courtesy of Hasbro via their PR company, many thanks for sending me samples to review!

About Transformers Construct-Bots (from the manufacturer via Amazon):
Welcome to the incredible world of Transformers robots. It is a world of high technology, ancient history and a battle that has spanned the entire galaxy and millions of years. Optimus Prime, leader of the heroic Autobots, battles the tyrant Megatron and his evil Deceptions for the fate of freedom across the universe. There's a Transformers figure for every kid or collector. From big converting figures to miniature battling robots, you can team up with Transformers toys to create your own incredible adventures. Whether you're defending Earth with the Autobots, or conquering space with the Deceptions, the action is up to you. Transformers is a world-famous entertainment brand with 30 years of history, blockbuster movies, hit television shows and countless novels and comic books. With Transformers toys, you can create your own chapters in this epic, ongoing story. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts (Local Author) ~ Just Re-Released in Time for the Holidays!

This time of year is one of my favorites.  To me, it is about warmth, family and friends.  So it also brings with it some of my favorite books - those fun holiday themed books that bring with them those same things that I love so much about this time of year.

Local Author Sheila Roberts has a few fun holiday reads, one of which was just re-released with a new cover:  Merry Ex-Mas: Life in Icicle Falls.  This is the second book in the Life in Icicle Falls series that takes place here in Washington State.  Don't let that scare you away!  This book reads just fine on its own, but once you read it, you will want to go back and read Better Than Chocolate so you can get even more Icicle Falls!!!!

Fall in love with Icicle Falls and the residents and exes who live there.  One is getting ready for a wedding and a few exes are stumbling through the changes brought to life via their relationships.  Meet Cass, Charlene and Ella, and follow along as they deal with the holidays and their exes, which ends up bringing readers a fun-filled and heart-warming Merry Ex-Mas.

Cass's daughter is getting married just before Christmas, and she wants her father to walk her down the isle... to make life more challenging, said father comes complete with a new young wife!

Charlene's ex is back, after cheating on her and moving away.  He has come to the realization that what he had is worth fighting for - now, is Charlene going to give him a second chance?

Ella and Jake are recently divorced, and circumstances find them both still living in the same house with the goal of selling it before they go their separate ways, but you will laugh and cheer as things get crazy for Ella and her doubts and Jake with his determination.

See what happens as the holidays approach and these exes decide that they may not want to be exes any longer!

I hope you get to read some fun holiday books this year!  Start with Merry Ex-Mas, and also check out Sheila's other fun holiday books:  The Snow Globe (one of my favorites - I reviewed it a while back and will link to it as soon as I find it!), Nine Lives of Christmas and On Strike For Christmas.

Merry Ex-Mas: Life in Icicle Falls
by Sheila Roberts

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (October 29, 2013)  ~  336  pages
Fiction / Romance / Holiday

Edition Reviewed: Hardback - Review copy received courtesy of the author, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

About the Book:
Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls, Washington. But this year it's not so merry—for three of its residents, anyway….

Cass Wilkes has been looking forward to her daughter Danielle's Christmas wedding—until Dani announces that she wants her father, Cass's ex, to walk her down the aisle. Seriously? Even worse, it seems that he, his trophy wife and their yappy little dog will be staying with Cass….

Her friend Charlene Albach arrives at their weekly chick-flick night in shock. She's just seen the ghost of Christmas past: her ex-husband, Richard, who left a year ago when he ran off with the hostess from her restaurant. Now the hostess is history and he wants to kiss and make up. Hide the mistletoe!

And bring out the hot buttered rum, because the holidays aren't easy for Ella O'Brien either. Ella, newly divorced, is still sharing the house with her ex while they wait for the place to sell. The love is gone. Or is it?

Watch as Christmas brings all kinds of surprises!

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shutterfly - My One-Stop For Personalized Holiday Cards and Gifts (Includes Vote and Giveaway)

This time every year, I start thinking about our family holiday cards. I schedule our family pictures, and start stalking the Shutterfly site for an idea of what I want to represent our family for 2013.  It seems like every year they add more and more for people to choose from, which I love!

This year, they have a great 2013 Holiday Card Selection and Photo Gifts.
Some highlights of their 2013 Holiday Card Selections this year include:

  • 5x7 tri-fold and back of card designs (these are especially great if you update your friends on what you've been up to over the past year - you get additional space to share details and extra pictures)
  • Classic Designs: Traditional colors, iconic illustrations (traditional holiday scenes), sentiments, monograms, snowflakes
  • Contemporary Designs: Trendy colors, textures and layering, water color techniques, shine, glitter
  • Whimsy Designs: Full of humor and nostalgia, with fun sentiments
  • Merry and Bright Designs:  All about color and having fun
  • Religious Designs: Metallic type treatments, themed story ideas
  • Photo Basics Designs: Use multiple colors, vertical type, family name highlights

So, now that I've tempted you to check out all that you can do, let me show you some of my favorites for this year!  Shhh - making these was SO easy!!  I uploaded my pictures, and once I set up one card, Shutterfly automatically entered some things (last name, first names, photos) into each of the other cards I played with.

One feature I love, that I LOVE to use is the ability to change the layout of the cards.  You can change the number of photo slots, where writing is, and in some cases the type of input (change a photo spot to text).  These are wonderful!  I want to say each of these cards only took about 2 minutes to customize once I had my pictures uploaded.

I also have to admit that Kevin was missing from the original photo shoot shown here, but he was in the next photoshoot, and I'm waiting on the photos... as soon as I get them, you'll see the WHOLE family in here!  Many thanks to Erika Ouderkirk Photography for catching such great shots of the family.

Preppy Snowflakes

Preppy Frames

Simple Snowflakes

Merriest Monogram Memories Trifold

Share the Memories Trifold

Vote for your Favorite Shutterfly Holiday Card

Giveaway Details:

One lucky reader is going to win a free $50 gift code and free shipping to use for their 2013 holiday cards or photo gifts - entry is easy!

, I'm having some problems with the Rafflecopter form, so I'm going to restart the giveaway with Giveaway Tools and see if I can add all the entries that are already in Rafflecopter to the new form....

*Disclosure: I am participating in this blog tour and will be given a code and free shipping to use for my 2013 holiday cards.  All opinions are 100% mine and I am proud to share my holiday card ideas with you . :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Crafty Sock Needle Holder - Homemade With Love

I'm just learning to knit socks, which I have fun with - they are small enough that I can actually complete them, and quick enough to see nice progress to keep my interest.  I don't know if you are like me, but I can get bored with larger projects.

I knitted the pair of socks shown on the left because I have a slippery kitchen floor and I wanted to see if wearing Yoga socks would help keep my feet warm while still being able to walk without slipping.  So far I'm loving them.

I love the non-slip (because my heel and toes are both in contact with the floor), I love the look, and I love the color.

I have to admit that my toes are a tiny bit cold, but otherwise, this is a home run!

I've been slowly building my sock needles, and decided I needed a case to store them in - but the problem is that they are pretty expensive if you buy one from someone else, and I had found the PERFECT fabric.

My favorite color is purple, so this begged to be made:

It took me two afternoons and an evening to complete, which was pretty fast considering there were multiple school runs to pick-up my son, and lots of other interruptions.  :)  I'm rather happy at how it turned out - and yes, it still needs a tie strap, but I chickened-out on that and will wait for some help.

Now I'm plotting for the next organizer... if you have any tips for me, feel free to share them!!

Happy Crafting!!!  (If I can do it, YOU can do it!)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Come Join a HiyaHiya Free and Funny Sock KAL (Knit Along) Hosted by ME!!!! (Queen Elizabeth I Socks)

For the months of November and December, I am excited to announce that I will be the hostess for the HiyaHiya Queen Elizabeth I Sock Free and Funny KAL (Knit Along) over on Ravelry.

Join me over on Ravelry (sign ups are free), where we have a place to meet and share our progress.  When you sign up and agree to the terms of the KAL, I'll send you free clues (4 parts of the pattern, 1 at a time = you will have the full pattern by the end of the KAL) as you finish each section.

These KAL's are always fun, with lots of participation, photos, and help as needed - what a great way to knit socks!!!!

For this pattern, here are some of the basics:

Size: Woman's medium (9" foot).

Yarn: 100 grams approximately 430 yards of
fingering weight yarn. (shown in Koigu Yarn)

Gauge: 9.4 stitches * 10 rows=1 inch(*K2, P2* Ribbing Stitch)

Needle size: HiyaHiya Circular and Double Point Knitting Needles. US 4 (3.50mm), US 1.5 (2.50mm)

Skill required: knit, purl, lace st, cable st.

Pattern Style: Written pattern instructions with common abbreviations including charts.

Deadline: Dec, 24, 2013. Participants need to knit 2 socks.

HiyaHiya Queen Elizabeth I Socks A  ---QHSo71 
Copyright 2012-2013 Qianer Huang
(Shanghai Hiya Co., Ltd.)
Designed by Qianer Huang ( HiyaHiya )
Distributed in North America by
Distributed in UK by
Women's Sock Pattern - Size Medium (9" feet)

For complete details, please visit the KAL page here.

To see some of these beautiful socks already done, visit the project pages here.  These are really beautiful socks!

I hope you will join in and have some fun with us!  ~ Wendi
 . :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Book List: Disney"s Wonderful World of Reading

Scholastic (and previously Grolier?) carries a series of books called Disney's Wonderful World of Reading that I absolutely love! As the mother of a 3 year old, I am always on the look-out for great books that catch my son's interest... and these do! Every single one that I've been able to find has become an instant favorite. With the fun stories (not too long, but not too short either) and beautiful full color pages, these are great books that our whole family loves!

Now I will admit, that in order to get the brand new books, I believe you have to sign up for a book-of-the-month type club where they send you 3 books per month that you can send back, or pay about $4.00 plus shipping per book. BUT, I'm not willing to do that! Instead, I comb my local used book stores and Goodwill stores, where I typically find them for $0.75 - $0.99 each. The only problem I've run into is getting multiple copies of the same book (I am thinking of starting a Facebook Page to list my extra titles for sale, if I do, I'll post the link here).

In an effort to minimize my duplicates, I'm going to put as much information on here as I can, starting with this list: (All items in bold are ones that we have, those not in bold are the ones I am still looking for)

If I am missing any titles PLEASE leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to have a really complete list!! I copied this basic list from a WikiAnswers here... then added the titles that I've got that weren't on the Wiki list!

All BOLDED titles are ones that I own and have in my possession, titles that are not bold or are in red are those that I have not personally seen with my own eyes. 

101 Dalmatians
101 Dalmatians II Patch's London Adventure
101 Dalmatians Treasure Hunters
102 Dalmatians
A Bug's Life
A Christmas Surprise for Uncle Scrooge
A Narrow Escape
A Picnic in the Woods
A Present for Piglet
A Scare for Mr Toad
A White Christmas
Across the Big Country
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp
Aladdin and the Dancing Princess
Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Aladdin and the Missing Jewel Chest
Aladdin and the Sly Magician
Aladdin and the White Baby Camel (aka Aladin and the White Camel)
Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves
Alice In Wonderland
All is Well That Ends Well aka All's Well That Ends Well
Atlantis (The Lost Empire)

Bambi 2
Bambi and the Big Snow
Bambi Gets Lost
Bambi Grows Up
Basil the Great Mouse Detective
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast - Enchanted Chrstimas
Brer Rabbit and his Friends
Brer Rabbit and the Pot of Gold
Brer Rabbit Gets Tricked
Brer Rabbit Plays Some Tricks
Brer Rabbit Saves His Skin
Brother Bear
Button Soup
Cars 2
Cars: Back on Track aka The World of Cars: Back on Track
Cars: Look Out for Mater
Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales
Chicken Little
Chip and Dale's New Home
Christmas in the Country
Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True

Cinderella III: A Twist In Time
Cinderella's Busy Birthday
Country Mouse, City Mouse
Donald at the Seashore
Donald Duck and the Magic Stick
Donald Duck Buys a House
Donald Duck Mountain Climber
Donald Duck's Bad Day
Donald Duck's Big Surprise
Donald Duck's Birthday
Donald Duck's Birthday Surprise
Donald Duck's Tallest Tale
Dopey Gets Lost
Duck Tales: Christmas at the North Pole
Dumbo and His New Act
Dumbo and the Circus Train
Dumbo on Land, on Sea in the Air
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Farmer Mickey
Ferdinand and the Robbers
Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo: Bruce Breaks Loose
Fool's Gold
Goofy and the Enchanted Castle
Goofy and the Magic Axe
Goofy and the Magic Fish
Goofy and the Miller
Goofy and the Pirate Treasure
Goofy in the Wild West
Goofy Minds the House
Goofy On the Hillside
Goofy the Gardener Makes Up His Mind
Goofy's Book of Colors
Goofy's Gags
Goofy's Neighbor's
Grandma Duck's Little Helpers
Gulliver Mickey
Henny Penny and the Big Bad Wolf
Hiawatha and the Big Flood
Hiawatha the Brave Hunter

Hiawatha's Bear Hunt
Home on the Range
How Cinderella's Mice Tricked Lucifer the Cat
How to Catch a Heffalump
Ice Age
Ice Age 2
Jungle Cubs: Bee a Friend
Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp II - Scamps Adventure
Lambert the Sheepish Lion
Li'l Wolf and the Three Little Pigs
Li'l Wolf and the Three Wishes
Lilo and Stitch
Little Hiawatha
Lucky Puppy
Merry Christmas Uncle Scrooge McDuck
Meet the Robinsons
Mickey and Goofy's Race Around the World
Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi
Mickey and the Beanstalk
Mickey and the Magic Cloak
Mickey Mouse's Joke Book
Mickey Mouse's Riddle Book
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Mickey's Counting Book
Monsters Inc
Monsters University
Mowgli and Kaa the Python
Mowgli and the Lost Elephant Child
Mulan II
Oliver and Company
Our Hero, Scamp
Peter and the Wolf
Peter Pan
Peter Pan and Captain Hook
Peter Pan and Wendy
Peter Pan: Return to Never Land
Pete's Dragon
Piglet's Big Movie
Pinocchio & His Puppet Show Adventure
Pinocchio & the Isle Of Fun
Pinocchio and the Whale
Pluto the Detective
Pocahontas and the Baby Eagle
Pongo and Perdy, Two Happy Dalmatians
Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin
Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Pumbaa Runs Away from Home
Quasimodo the the Rescue
Return to Oz
Robin Hood and the Birthday Penny
Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
Robin Hood and the Great Coach Robbery
Robin Hood Saves the Day
Robin Hood Sends a Message
Robin Hood Spins Gold
Robin Hood Wins Again
Roquefort the Mouse Detective
Scamp & the Kitten
Scamp Learns a Lesson
Scamp Saves the House
Scamp to the Rescue
Simba and Nala Help Bomo
Simba and the Big Flood
Simba the Fortune Teller
Sinbad and the Robber Birds
Sinbad the Pearl Diver
Sinbad the Sailor
Sir Goofy and the Dragon
Sleeping Beauty
Snow White & the Messy Dwarfs
Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White Helps the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White Visits the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White's Christmas
Tall & Short a Book of Opposites
Tarzan and the Jungle Games
The Adventures of Mr. Toad
The Almost Missed Christmas
The Aristocats
The Aristocats and the Missing Necklace
The Aristocats Get Into Mischief
The Big Bad Wolf and L'il Wolf
The Black Hole
The Brave Little Tailor
The Christmas Helpers
The Emperor's New Clothes
The Emperor's New Grove
The Fairy Without Wings
The Fox and the Hound
The Great Mouse Detective
The Hare & the Tortoise
The Haunted House
The Haunted House Party
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
The Incredibles
The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book 2
The Lion King
The Lion King 1½

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride aka Simba's Pride
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid and Spot
The Love Bug
The Magic Grinder
The Mice and the Circus
The Mickey Mouse Birthday Book
The Mickey Mouse Magic Book

The Mickey Mouse Make-It Book
The Mystery Box
The Mystery of the Missing Peanuts
The New Adventures of Mr Toad
The Penguin Who Hated the Cold aka The Penguin That Hated the Cold
The Prince and the Pauper
The Princess and the Frog
The Princess Who Never Laughed
The Rescuers
The Rescuers Down Under
The Rescuers Trouble in Devil's Bayou
The Return of Jafar
The Runaway Wolf Cub
The Small One
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Sword in the Stone
The Three Musketeers
The Tigger Movie
The Wild

Three Aristocats in Trouble
Three Favorite Tales
Three Little Pigs
Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
Tinker Bell Secret of the Wings
Tinker Bell's Secret Adventure
Tod and Copper
Tod and Vixey
Toy Story
Toy Story 2

Toy Story 3
Toy Story Toons
Treasure Planet
Trouble in Devil's Bayou
Trouble in the Jungle
Webby Saves The Day aka Duck Tales: Webby Saves the Day
Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore
Winnie the Pooh and the Birthday Expedition
Winnie The Pooh and The Windy Day
Winnie The Pooh and Tigger Too
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
Wreck-It Ralph
Please let me know if you believe any of these titles are in error, or if I am missing any (which I'm sure I am!) - your help will be greatly appreciated!!

Originally published on this blog 8/2010, As I update the list, I update the date to keep it near the top and easier to find.

Update 10/16/2012:  I have cross-referenced my list with two other very long Disney Wonderful World of Reading Lists, one being a site in the UK (will post links when I find it in my files) and one being a current publisher site.  The publisher's site only includes more recent books, while the UK site includes some I can't find pictures of.   I did remove some "suspect" titles from my list, one was an early reader book that was not part of Disney's books, and some others had variations of the names.

Update 10/2013: I was contacted by a very nice man named Michael, who was helping his Mother-In-Law get rid of some things... among them were some of these books!!  He gave me a great deal on 17 that I was missing, so now my collection is even better.  :)  Thanks Michael and family!!

Update 11/2/2013:  Added new books - Frozen, Monsters University, Planes, Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings, Toy Story Toons, Trouble in Devil's Bayou

Update 12/2014:  Added a few new books that I've been able to find.

~ Wendi

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shrek the Musical (Available now on DVD and Blu-Ray) Review

Shrek, one of our favorite funny green ogres, has gone from big screen to Broadway in Dreamworks new Shrek the Musical, and as of October 15th, you and your family can watch the hit show from the comfort of your own home.

At 131 minutes, this over two-hour hilariously twisted musical follows the original story of Shrek as he meets (and rescues) Princess Fiona and a host of other twisted fairy tale characters.  Fans of Donkey will not be disappointed either, as the fan favorite is along for the ride.

The Broadway Musical includes all our favorite characters from the original show, but is told through mostly musical scores.  The show's 17 new songs will keep young and old alike singing along, and if you aren't amazed by the extremely detailed costumes (I don't know how they did it, but Pinocchio's legs really look like jointed wood).

Backstory: After an initial trial here in Seattle in 2008, Shrek the Musical became a Broadway Show.  The original Broadway show won a Tony Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated in 8 categories.  It was also nominated for a Grammy in the Best Musical Show Album category.  The dvd was recorded in 2009 using most of the original Broadway cast.

Shrek the Musical 
Dreamworks ~ 131 minutes
Available NOW

Edition Reviewed: Blu-Ray/DVD  - Review copy received for the purposes of sharing my review with you.  All views expressed  are mine, and I did not receive any financial compensation

About the DVD: (PR Synopsis)
The greatest fairy tale never told comes to life as never before in DreamWorks’ Shrek The Musical, the highly acclaimed Broadway production based on the smash-hit movie. Called a “triumph of comic imagination” (Elysa Gardner, USA Today) that “never stints on spectacle or laughs” (David Rooney, Variety), Shrek The Musical received eight 2009 Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical, winning Best Costume Design of a Musical (Tim Hatley) and received a Grammy Award® nomination for Best Musical Show Album.

Featuring a fantasic score of 17 all-new songs, Shrek The Musical was filmed on stage to capture the magic of a Broadway performance and stars an amazing celebrated cast including Brian d’Arcy James (Shrek), Sutton Foster (Fiona), Daniel Breaker (Donkey), Christopher Sieber (Lord Farquaad), and John Tartaglia (Pinocchio). The film was shot live on Broadway with 10 cameras and directed by Michael Warren. Now you can bring the magic of Broadway to your home and get the best seat in the house when the Deluxe Edition Blu-ray™ and DVD arrives on October 15th!

Fans can join in on the performance with sing along Shrek-tastic songs on the Deluxe Edition Blu-ray™ + DVD + Digital HD™ or single-disc DVD. And the Deluxe Edition Blu-ray™ goes even deeper into the fairytale’s journey, taking viewers behind-the-scenes to see how the show became a smash hit that “will make your heart dance.” (Cindy Adams, The New York Post).

Shrek The Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren’t only found in fairy tales.

The musical is based on the story and characters from William Steig's book Shrek!, as well as the DreamWorks Animation film and features a book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize® winner, David Lindsay-Abaire, music by Olivier Award-winner Jeanine Tesori, and is directed by Tony Award® nominee Jason Moore. Shrek The Musical is produced by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions, Ltd.

This musical is too great to not share, so I wanted to give you a snippet - here is one of the trailers for the movie:


*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Giveaway: Aurorae Yoga Sports Bag (Ends 9/27, Two Winners)

I found my Aurorae Yoga Sports Bag to be so helpful and versatile.  It has carried my Yoga mat and accessories, kids toys, crafts, umbrella, snacks and sporting equipment at one time or another.  It is great.  See my original review here

Two winners are going to get their own Aurorae Yoga Sports Bag - don't wait - enter now! I love my Aurorae Yoga Sports bag and use it for so many things.

(2 Winners, US Residents 18+ Years Old, Giveaway ends 9/27)

 Enter now:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Aurora Yoga Sport Bag - Light Weight, Helpful, Useful and Easy To Use (Review)

When going to and from Yoga classes, if you aren't well organized, you can arrive more flustered than when you left your home. That is where the Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag can help - it has two large compartments for Yoga accessories (blocks, straps, wash, etc), snacks, books, just about anything you need to bring with you.  It also has a secure area to hold your Yoga Mat, and another area to hold a water bottle.  There is a headphone access area so you can listen to music while keeping your player safely tucked away, there is a small secure zippered pocket in the front for small items, and there is a cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap.

This is a great backpack to have to make carrying my Yoga Mat easy, but as a busy Mom, I wanted to see what other things I could use the bag for... so far, I've come up with: carrying a beach towel, carrying an umbrella (nice here in Seattle!  I tested it today, and it was GREAT to be able to use my umbrella, then store it OUTSIDE the bag so the rest of my things didn't get wet while it was drying - perfect!!!  Yes... it is raining here in Seattle on August 29th!), carrying extra water bottles, taking geocaching (those extra pockets are good to keep geocaching supplies separate), a ball and bat to take to the park, and so much more!  I thought about trying to use it to carry some fishing poles, but honestly, I'm not great at securing the hooks and I'm more worried about hooking myself.  Someone who is better at securing the hooks would have a great way to carry them!

If you are looking for a versatile new backpack that will help you stay organized and keep everything in one place, this is a very good one.  It is light-weight, has great storage, and comes in a nice color that goes with just about everything.    This is a sling style backpack, so the shoulder strap goes over your right shoulder, and goes across your body - I love this as it is comfortable and helps distribute the weight of the things in the pack.

This weekend this backpack is going to be a craft go-to center for the family - what would you use this backpack for?

Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag  
by Aurorae Yoga

Buy on Amazon
Find Aurorae Yoga: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+
Backpack / Sports Use

Edition Reviewed: Dark Blue Aurorae Yoga  - I received my Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag as part of an Outburst Media campaign, many thanks to both for this fun review opportunity!

About the Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag: (from Amazon)
2nd Edition Blue Model made with Durable, Heavy-Duty Polyester. 2 Main Large Individualized Compartments measuring 19" H x 12" W x 7" D.  Specialized Mat-Locker System securely holds all Aurorae Yoga Mats effectively. Wide, Easy Adjustable, Double Reinforced, shoulder strap with Lock Buckle and Built-in cell phone pocket, fits over your Right shoulder.  Small front zippered pocket measuring 5.5" H x 6.5" W Securely holds Your Valuables

About Aurorae:
Aurorae Yoga has a really nice line of Yoga products, including Yoga Mats, a Yoga Mat-Towel combination, Denim Yoga Bags, Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag, Yoga Slip Free Rosin Bag, Micro Fiber Yoga Towel, Aromatherapy Mist, Soy Wax Pledge Candle, Yoga Strap, Mat Wash Spray, and various packages. They also have a line of Yoga apparel.

*Disclosure: I received a sample for review purposes for a campaign with Outburst Media. All opinions are 100%  mine.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas For Lunches on the Go by J. M. Hirsch

I've spent part of the summer trying to figure out WHAT I'm going to send with my son to 1st grade this year!  Not only does this book have great suggestions, but J. M. Hirsch has provided some great tips as well.

First off - make sure everything is dishwasher safe - I try to do that anyway, but for a different reason.  The author points out that if it isn't dishwasher safe, quality and durability may be in question, which makes me think that it may not be food safe, and who wants to send their kid to school with a lunch sitting for 1/2 the day in a non-food safe container?  Not me!  So point taken - all shall be dishwasher safe in our house.

Next, the author has some more great points about lunch box gear.  Then we get to the meat of the book - with over 162 lunches, and 30 dinners (because he points out that dinner left overs are great for lunches too).

There is a cute section on "Cheats" including some of the really easy things to pack like popcorn, rotisserie chicken, alternatives to peanut butter, fun mixes and cereals, and so much more.

Next we go to "Feeling Fowl" which includes great dinner and lunch ideas and how to use them multiple ways.  I will admit that as an adult, this section looks great - but I don't see my 6 year old eating many of the meals shared here - he is PICKY, and these dishes are savory and fun.

Feeling Fowl is followed by Fast and Easy (which is great for our family), Catch of the Day, Breakfast for Lunch, Sandwiches and Things Bready, Linked: Sausages, Little Bites, Use Your Noodle, Salads, Beefy, Vegetarian, and Soups and Such.

Honestly, I don't know who's lunch is going to be more fun - the more adult, or the more kid... another plus with the book is the plentiful pictures.  I gleaned so many fun ideas on how to pack and what to pack for lunch, that it should be fun to pack AND eat lunches for quite a while, as well as adding some new variety to some of our dinners.

One of the lunches I can't wait to try are Cucumber Sandwiches - I LOVE cucumbers, and the sandwich is so cute!  There are so many fun fingery foods in this book - I'm actually going to find ways to work some of them into get-togethers with friends (football Sundays are coming up quickly).  These recipes and ideas can be used for so much more than lunch box meals, but one thing they all have in common is the ease of using them for that.  So have fun with this book and give a whole new life to your lunch.

In short, this is a GREAT book for re-inventing your boring lunch.  If you have an adventurous eater (kids), you will have fun and will be limitless on possibilities for fun lunches, while if you have children like mine who are more on the picky side, this is still a great source for ideas and suggestions, but you may enjoy it more for yourself.

*The book includes a forward by Rachael Ray

Beating the lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas For Lunches on the Go
by J. M. Hirsch

Publisher: Atria (September 3, 2013)  ~ 208 pages
Non-Fiction / Cooking / Quick and Easy

Edition Reviewed: eGalley / eBook - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

About the Book (from the publisher):
Nobody wants a lunch cookbook. Especially not a lunch box cookbook. Because in the morning rush most of us aren't going to break out a recipe to bang out a brown bag special.

What busy people need are ideas. And lots of them. If they’re healthy, fun, easy and fall on the hipper end of the foodie spectrum, even better. That’s what Beating the Lunch Box Blues is – an idea book to inspire anyone daunted by the daily ordeal of packing lunch.

This is an un-cookbook, a collection of 180 delicious ideas for thinking outside the (lunch) box. The format is user friendly -- photos with tips and ideas, not recipes. Because you don’t need a recipe to know that a grilled cheese with manchego and fig jam with a side of fruit salad splashed with balsamic is a delicious lunch. Or that kids and adults will go nuts for a DIY taco kit made from leftover chicken or steak, whole-wheat tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream and veggies.

The result is a cookbook-meets-flipbook approach to thinking about lunch, allowing parents and kids to page through fresh, healthy ideas for awesome meals.

Hirsch also slipped in 34 recipes for fast and flavorful dinners. Because great lunches often are built from the leftovers of killer suppers.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Door-to-Door Steaks from Steak House Brand - Temptation Won Out - BIGGEST Mistake EVER! (Learn From My Mistake!)

Ok - for the past few years, we've had a truck come through selling frozen steak combos... and I've always been tempted by the deal and the fact that I'd have a great selection of steaks in the freezer to thaw and cook/grill any time.

So when they gave me a great deal, temptation won out!  I'm talking a GREAT deal, and the frozen steaks looked pretty darn good - small, but good.

Boy am I disappointed that temptation won.  This was one of my biggest mistakes EVER!  I don't consider myself a steak snob, but we bbq steak, chicken, fish, etc quite often (almost every night).  I LOVE my local Safeway Rancher's Reserve steaks (only had 2 that we've ever not liked - in YEARS).  So the first time I thawed these steaks, I thought, ok - a bad batch, so I tried a different steak from the package I bought... same thing.  Yuck!

OK - here are some of the packages (beef, I didn't copy the chicken, pork or seafood):

I bought the "USDA Choice PREMIUM" package, and there was nothing Choice or Premium about it.  The steaks were watery (gel-like), and flavorless, and the texture was... indescribable.  My husband ate one bite and told me to toss it in the garbage - we don't throw steaks into the garbage... Same thing happened the second time I cooked the steaks - so I gave up.

I tried the 1/2 lb. Steak Burgers, thinking to myself "it's REALLY hard to mess up a burger - right?"  Well, I was wrong again!  Seriously, the burgers made it to the grill, where they promptly lost about 1/2 their size... when we went to eat them, they were mushy and tasted like cardboard.

So, I gave up.  Tossed them ALL and will NEVER again try these steaks from www.meatydelivery.com - WORST MISTAKE EVER!!!!

The only small glimmer on the horizon is that I didn't pay even 1/2 what the "Six Pack Special" price shows.  
Please learn from my mistake and avoid at all costs!

I honestly don't know where they got all the good reviews showing on the site - these were the worst pieces of "beef" I've ever experienced!

*Disclosure: Nothing to disclose here other than my utter disappointment in myself for this one.  I bought them myself.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

BookBub: Your Source For eBook Deals

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BookBub for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

BookBub is a great, FREE service for book lovers.  They send you customized daily emails based on genres you like.  (You let BookBub know what you like when you sign up.)  

In short, BookBub gives you notice about Free and Discounted eBooks, and makes it easy for you to get them.

Sign up is FAST - I don't know if I've ever signed up for anything this quickly and easily.  There was a place to put my email, and on the next screen, BookBub asked me about the genres I like, and my preferred reading devices (Kindle, Nook, Kobe, Apple's iBookstore, and so many more).  It then showed me the current free and sale books I might be interested in.  

BookBub is not an eBook seller, they simply show you great deals, and show you where you can get them.  

The first page of recommended deals for me had 7 free books, and 3 that were under $2.99.  I immediately downloaded one, and I'm about to check the others out.  I'll be off to expolore more ebooks shortly, and I look forward to checking out the great daily deals.

Here are a few of the great deals I found within the first few minutes of signing up for my BookBub account:

The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in her Back Pocket by Katie Workman (this stands at 4.5 stars on Amazon, and is currently $2.99 or less, which is 79% off the normal eBook price of $13.95)

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year by Esme Raji Codell (this book is sitting at 4 stars on Amazon, and is currently $1.99, which is 89% less than the normal eBook price of $13.95)

Go check out BookBub and let me know about the great deals you find on eBooks!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection by Wanda E. Brunstetter

When I was in my teens, my family went on an extended East Coast tour/vacation that included a few visits to some Amish communities. I LOVED seeing and learning a little about their way of life.  And ever since then, I've enjoyed reading the occasional Amish themed book, and cooked any of the included recipes.

I had a lot of fun cooking White Christmas Pie, included in one of Wanda E. Brunstetter's fiction books for a Christmas themed book club a few years ago.

When I got a chance to read through The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection by Wanda E. Brunstetter, I found some new favorite go-to recipes.  I call them go-to because they utilize a lot of the ingredients I already have on hand.

Throughout the book are little bits on Amish life that I found fascinating.  Wanda talks about the Amish Faith, Amish Across America, Lancaster County Pennsylvania, Amish Church, Mifflin County Pennsylvania, Amish Schools, Holmes County Ohio, Amish Weddings, Elkhart and LaGrange Counties Indiana, Amish and Mennonite Quilts, Webster County Missouri, Amish Homes, Christian County Kentucky, Amish and Mennonite Transportation, Lincoln County Montana, Amish Communication, Sarasota County Florida, Amish Occupations, Lawrence County Tennessee, and Amish and Mennonite Clothes.

This recipe collection is broken down into: Breakfast Foods, Snacks, Breads and Rolls, Jams and Jellies, Pickles and Relish, Sides and Salads, Main Dishes, Desserts, Beverages, and Miscellaneous.

Who knew you could make Grape Nuts from scratch, and that it was easy?  There is a great recipe in here for them (ever tried adding them to yogurt - its GREAT).  Anyone want to try making your own Soda Crackers? Sure sounds easy and fun.  Some other great recipes include homemade Pretzels, Maple Twist Rolls, Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread, Baked Apple Butter, Yogurt Ranch Dressing, Hearty Chicken 'n Rice Soup, Split Pea Soup (This is now my favorite recipe - it is similar to the one I've always used, but I liked it slightly better), Chicken Pie, Chicken Patties (think crab patties, only made with chicken and matching flavors), Moist and Tender Chocolate Cake, Coconut Pecan Frosting, Maple Nut Angel Food Cake, Peppermint Patties, Quick Root Beer, Red Ribbon Punch, Laundry Soap (for the house LOL), Stainless Steel Cleaner, Homemade Play Dough, and SO MUCH MORE!  In all around 209 recipes.

A fun note: all the recipes have the Amish contributor's name and where they are from.  I do wish there was a blurb on who they are and what they do, but that may not be allowed within their community/faith.  There are a lot of full-color photos throughout the book, but not every recipe has a picture of its own.

The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection 
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2013)  ~ 224 pages
Non-Fiction / Cooking

Edition Reviewed: eBook - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me an eBook copy to review!

About the Book: from the publisher
From Barbour’s bestselling author of fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter, comes The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection. This brand-new title is a treasure trove of recipes and interesting facts from the heart of Amish country and includes recipes divided into sections such as breads and rolls, desserts, main dishes, sides, jams and jellies—and more! You’ll find only the best of home cooking between the pages of this delightful book, and as an added bonus, you’ll find featured facts about Amish life. Topped off by one beautifully designed package, cooks of all ages will have a hard time passing this one up!
About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
New York Times bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish way of life when she first visited her husband's Mennonite relatives living in Pennsylvania. Wanda and her husband, Richard, live in Washington State but take every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the States, where they have many Amish friends.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Knitted Teddy Bear by Sandra Polley

I've always loved teddy bears, and even crocheted about 45 with my Mom while on bedrest awaiting the arrival of our first baby - they made really cute baby announcements... so when I saw this book, I fell in love.  Not only are the bears in this book cute, but the instructions are all written in a clear and helpful way, so it is fun to make one-of-a-kind creations that will be cherished.

Author Sandra Polley has done a GREAT job of keeping things simple and easy to understand.  She explains everything in detail with illustrations and pictures to help out.  She also uses straight-forward stitches and has the instructions for each one in the front of the book.  She also talks about where to get supplies, how to change the face to make it younger, older, smile, etc, and she has great tips on stuffing and even mentions that you can buy a pillow and use the stuffing from that (you can often find a sale on pillows and fiber filled quilts, and they may be less expensive than the same filling purchased from a craft/fabric store).

Another fun thing I noticed is that the author even gives tips on making the bears with movable joints.

The bears in this book are all different sizes, so readers/crafters can pick their favorite and go from there.  Honestly, I think a newer knitter would do just fine following the instructions, so if this sounds fun - don't be afraid to jump in!  (after doing one or two, you can probably figure out how to change the pattern up a bit to make them skinnier or plumper as well)

For those knitters who like to work from charts - I didn't see any in the advance copy - only written instructions, which I actually prefer.  The illustrations showing how to assemble the bears and clothing are great, and the author includes many handy tips.

This is going to be a great book for any knitter, any fan of teddy bears, or anyone wanting to make a keepsake toy for a friend or loved one.

The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys, With Dozens of Patterns For Unique Clothes  
by Sandra Polley
Publisher: Anova Books - Collins & Brown Imprint  ~ 96 pages
Available now
Non-Fiction / Crafts - Knitting

Edition Reviewed: eBook - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me an e-copy to review!

About the Book (from the publisher):
-Patterns for bears and accessories for teddy bear devotees

-More than 12 different teddy bear patterns from the classic hump-backed, long-armed collector’s bear to a miniature baby bear

-Each bear is shown knitted up with easy-to-follow instructions and clear diagrams

Knitting small toys is an absorbing and addictive hobby and homemade teddies have a special charm all of their own. The Knitted Teddy Bear has patterns to knit more than twelve gorgeous teddy bears, ranging in style and size. You will find traditional-style heirloom bears for serious teddy affictionados; for children there are bears with their own wardrobe of clothes; and there are tiny teds for the miniature bear enthusiasts

The instructions are easy to follow and there are clear diagrams showing how to sew up, thread-joint, and create the perfect gift or heirloom. You can build on the patterns given to create many other variations, including ‘old’ bears that have been loved and left in the attic, character teddies and mascots. The Knitted Teddy Bear is perfect for teddy bear lovers and keen knitters of all skill-levels from the experienced to relative beginners.

About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
Sandra Polley has had many years experience with crafts, especially knitting and soft toy-making. She has a particular interest in making and collecting miniature teddy bears. She started to design her traditionally styled knitted bears about 2 years ago and now runs a successful small business selling her knitting patterns and kits worldwide. Her teddy bear patterns have recently been featured in the UK’s Woman’s Weekly magazine.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Make Kids Food and Party Food More Fun With FunBites (Review)

Sometimes, getting kids to eat there food can be a chore - or a pain-in-the-neck!

Lucky for me, I got to try out the FunBites food cutters (I tried out the pink heart-shaped cutter seen in the picture to the left).  They took a normal lunch that got grazed earlier in the week (eat a little now, go play, ask for more food, pull it back out, eat a little more, etc), to a fun meal that was played with while the entire thing was eaten.

FunBites are sort of like a really thick cookie cutter with partitions inside the design, with an insert that pushes the cut food back out.  There is a pattern with hearts (that can be made into sail boats, ice cream cones, etc with the shapes), squares and a brand new triangle cutter.

Washing is easy - handwash in warm soapy water is suggested, but they are also top rack dishwasher safe if you put it in there with the insert IN the cutter.

I had a lot of fun putting the boy's lunches together and giving them plenty of shapes to play with.  Pizza was an easy cut as was bread... lunch meat was a bit harder, and I recommend cutting cheese LAST as it really liked to stick to the cutter.

I love that you can look through the cutter to line up your food - it made it possible to line things up so as to minimize the "leftover" pieces... which I promptly ate while working on the next piece.  The bottom of the cutters are curved, which makes it easy to rock back and forth to ensure that you cut all the way through the food you are cutting.

I will be heading to my local Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up the green Square cutter so I can have bowls of cut fruit and fun things that can be stacked onto skewers.

Overall - a BLAST for kids food!

I also thing these would be great for cutting finger foods for a party or get-together, and I think the square cutter would be great for cutting fruits for a fondue party.

FunBites Food Cutters  
by FunBites  

Price: $12.99/1 and $22.99 for 2 on their website
Website / Facebook / Twitter

Disclosure:  Sample Reviewed: Pink Heart Cutter - Review sample received courtesy of FunBites while participating in a tour through Karma Media Team!  All opinions are mine and are based on my experience with the product.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Learning to Use Ravelry

Back in 2009 I signed up for a Ravelry account to keep in touch with a friend, and to find some fun crochet and knitting patterns.... then I kind of lost interest and left my account alone.

I recently became active with my account again because of an old 4-H hobby I started when I was around 8 or 9... spinning!  I have been able to find a wealth of information on the site to cover all kinds of fun things from Crochet, Kitting, Spinning... Recycling Sweater Yarn (who knew???) and oh-so-many fun things!!

I recently got to be a crochet tester for a new pattern, which I love!!

Have you checked out Ravelry yet?  If not, take a peek, and if you have, send me a message on there - I'm wbarker on there :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

MyBlogSpark Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Prize Pack Giveaway - Making Homemade Pizza Easy (Enter thru 5/27)

Disclosure: The prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills and Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark.

From MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury:
Spring means a fresh start for everyone, including your pizza! Get your pizza fix right in your own kitchen. With Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain, you can create any fresh flavor combination you like while getting 16 grams of whole grain per serving. Share your favorite recipes using fresh, local ingredients from your farmer's market or garden. Whether you like tomatoes or spinach, fresh peppers or onions, let Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust be your canvas. Look for it in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.

Our family enjoys pizza year-round, and we especially love to let the kids make their own pizza's.  Most of the time this means a lot of mozzarella cheese, and a tiny bit of sauce on some type of crust (sometimes this means an English Muffin or even a tortilla).

I recently got to try out the refrigerated pizza dough by Pillsbury: Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain.  My favorite part?  It is a dough that is easily kept in the refrigerator and pulled out for spur-of-the-moment pizza making.  It bakes really nicely and tastes great.  The family had NO idea it wasn't one of our favorite crusts, but they did mention that it seemed fresher.

When I made our pizza, I made it with a light covering of pizza sauce and a thin layer of mozzarella.  I then added chunks of goat cheese to the whole thing (tip: I open one end of the cheese and use a fork to make small pieces chunk apart and fall on the pizza).  I like to add Canadian Bacon and chopped basil on mine, so I added that to some of the pizza, and then I added pepperoni, olives and mushrooms to part for my husband.

The best part is that the whole family enjoyed the pizza and it was easy to make!  Plus, if you visit Pillsbury, check out their great pizza topping ideas at the Farmer's Market Pizza page!

Some of you may know that one of our family FAVORITES is BBQ'd pizza.  I haven't tried to make a bbq'd pizza with the new Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust With Whole Grain, but I'm going to!

Want to make your own pizza? It is easy with this great prize pack from MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury:

Win your own great prize pack and get started!!

One winner will receive :

A VIP coupon for one FREE Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain
15.5" Farberware Pizza Pan
 Food Chopper with Storage Containers
Silicon-grip Oven Mitt
Retail Value: $64

Enter daily between now and May 27th, Open to US residents, no PO Boxes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills and Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark.
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