Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Will Craft for fun #50

I am so impressed with all of you that are actually accomplishing projects.  When school's out, I feel like if I actually shower and do a load a laundry that it is a blog-worthy accomplishment.  Here are some of my favs from last week:

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto by Healthy Kitchen Guide
Pesto Chicken Pasta
Crafty in Crosby's vintage kitchen art
www.craftyincrosby.com, Crafty In Crosby, Retro Kitchen Word Art

Days of Chalk and Chocolate's Curtains (I'm in love)

Last week's most viewed link:

Pinkapotamus's art that she made for her daughter's room.
Now it's your turn:)

Monday, July 30, 2012

My New Desk

I needed a desk that I could use for sewing and the computer.  I couldn't find anything ready made that would work.  My dad said he'd help me build one and this is what we came up with: 
I wanted to use the cheap milk-crates that I bought at Wal-Mart for storage. I also wanted a space to put papers and other office-type stuff. This one will be perfect!

Here's some measurements if you want to make your own.

This was my last major project to complete on the craft room.  Now I just need to clean and organize everything (at least long enough to take a picture).

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Win $30000 worth of Cash and Prizes for your school!

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

Blogland friends, I want to tell you all about AstroBrights papers and 2 fun ways that you can win some cash and prizes from them this summer.

First of all, who wants to win $30000 worth of cash and school supplies for your local elementary school (grades K-8)?    In an effort to support our children's education, AstroBrights Paper is  is sponsoring the "Give a Brighter Year" sweepstakes.  To enter, just go to the  AstroBrights papers Facebook Page and click on the link to the "Give a Brighter Year" sweepstakes.  Then just follow the onscreen directions.  Easy Peasy!

If you win, not only would your kids get to be the hero of the entire school, but  you will also win a $500 gift card to spend yourself.  

Click here for all the official rules. 

AstroBrights papers come in 23 bold vibrant shades to make all of your paper projects really pop.  Whether you are creating for school, home or office, their brilliant colors will give your projects all the attention they deserve. Your projects can even help you win some fun prizes.

AstroBrights also sponsors a series of fun and family-friendly design challenges with cash prizes ranging from $100-$400 dollars. If your family is bored and in need of some extra cash, just grab a pack of AstroBrights paper, some creative energy, and enter the "Make Something Astrobright" today.  It would be a great  electronic-free way to fill a hot summer afternoon.

​If you are in need of a little inspiration, The AstroBrights community on Facebook, PInterest, and Twitter is a great source to find ideas and engage with other paper crafters. Next time you hear the words, "Mommy I'm bored", go and check them out.



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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Will Craft for fun #49

Thank-you for all your sweet comments.  We have had a wonderful week celebrating my husband's grandmother's life and enjoying time with family. My kids have had so much fun w/ their cousins, they begged to stay (it may also have something w/ their lack of interest in driving through the desert for 2 days).

Enough about me.  On to the party!

Last week's most viewed link was Messy Roost's ribbon organizer.
Now it's your turn:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Linky Party

I am taking a break this week.

My husband's grandmother passed away this weekend and so I am taking the next week to celebrate her life and be with family.  She lost her husband during the Vietnam War and we are overjoyed that she is reunited with the love of her life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fun with Ivory Soap

I thought my daughter's swim team suit was adorable.  I love navy w/ white piping.  Here's the problem, the straps got all nasty and stained from sunscreen.  Someone HERE suggested that you soak it in warm water and then use ivory soap and a toothbrush to get the stain out.  I say it worked about 90%.   It doesn't look brand-new, but at least the straps are white-ish. (I need to snap a pic).

I bought a 3-pack of soap, and so we tried the "stick-the-bar-of-soap-in-the microwave-trick" and it did not disappoint.  I'm not sure who was the first person who tried this (I bet it was some bored kid), but it was the most fun we've had for under $ .50 ever. And it made my house smell clean.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Will Craft for fun #48

Smores on a Log by Can't Stop Making things was last week's most viewed link.

I love Uncommon's Apothecary Jars.

woven paper weave frame wall decor
Woven Leaf by Craftionary= seriously cool.

Now it's your turn!  Please leave your e-mail if you like to be added to my weekly e-mail list, otherwise you can skip that step.

Monday, July 9, 2012

One Mama's Guide to YA Lit: Dystopian Societies

If the book's plot centers around paranormal teenage romance, aliens, vampires, or some dystopian society it is probably on my reading list.  Don't judge, I read real books too. 

Most of these books fall somewhere in the Young Adult category, but many of them are popular with teens and tweens and contain quite a bit of "adult" content.  I'm not organizing a book burning, but just thought I'd I share a few of my opinions, concerns, rants, and raves about books.  I'm going to divide them up into the following categories: Dystopian society, fantasy/ sci-fi,  and paranormal teenage romance.


From Wikipedia:
dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Examples of dystopias are characterized in books such as Fahrenheit 451Brave New WorldNineteen Eighty-FourThe Handmaid's Tale,The Giver and The Hunger GamesThe Iron Heel was described by Erich Fromm as "the earliest of the modern Dystopian"[1]. Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, and various forms of active and passive coercion. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity's spiritual evolution. Dystopian societies are often imagined as police states, with unlimited power over the citizens. The word derives from Ancient Greekδυσ-, "bad, hard",[2] and Ancient Greekτόπος, "place, landscape"[3]. It can alternatively be called cacotopia,[4][5] or anti-utopia.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien: After a dramatic climate change, the wealthy retreat inside a walled city.  Those less fortunate are forced to stay outside the wall and live with all the comforts of the the middle ages.  When the lack of genetic diversity eventually causes problems, those inside the wall start claiming babies from outside the wall as tribute.  A young midwife named Gaia challenges the system and of course, falls in love along the way. 
 I've only read the first in the series. I enjoyed it and even though I got a little bored towards the end, I will still read the next one. There was a little mild language and violence. Besides a few kisses, sex is pretty much only discussed in reference to genetics and reproduction. 3 1/2 stars

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau-The City of Ember lies deep below the earth's surface, but their power source is failing and their entire society is doomed.  Love, love, love this series and I feel it's one of the best dystopian series out there (The 3rd one is a little lame-skip it).  I'd feel comfortable recommending it to all but the most sensitive readers. 5 stars

Declaration by Gemma Malley- Vaccines have been developed to eradicate aging, so people can live forever.  To prevent over-population, people must sign a declaration promising never to have children. I actually only read the final  book in the series, and found it thought provoking (would you choose to live forever or have children? Maybe you shouldn't ask yourself until school starts) Other than some violence, I have no real concerns in recommending it.
4 stars

Divergent by Veronica Roth- In post-apocalyptic Chicago, people divide themselves into the factions based on the value they feel is most important: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  They live in peace for a few generations until human nature creeps in and sparks an all-out war. I've only read the first in the series, but I really enjoyed it-especially because we recently visited Chicago. 
You may want to read it first, before giving it to a young teen.
In addition to violence and some steamy make-out sessions, the kids are brutal to each other. There is a scene where a girl is attacked and they touch her chest and comment on her lack of curves and another where her towel is stolen and her naked body is mocked. 4 stars

Dark Life by Kat Falls-In the future, earthquakes have caused most of the land to fall into the sea.  "Settlers" are trying to live on the sea floor, but are treated unfairly, by the land-based government and are threaten by a gang of underwater outlaws.  
Since I've always daydreamed about living underwater,  I really enjoyed reading about how they did it and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Mild violence and G-rated romance. 5 stars

Delirium by Lauren Oliver-A dystopian society based on the idea that love and any strong emotion are the root of all the world's problems. I did think it was weird that they still lived in families.  There's is no way I would want to be a wife and mother if I didn't love my family.  Would you?
 Each 18-year-old must undergo a procedure that will "cure" them from falling in love. Of course, the main character falls in love shortly before being "cured" and joins the movement to overthrow the government. Mild violence and although not described in graphic detail the main characters have sex. I gave the Ist book 3 stars and the 2nd book 4 stars

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card-Classic Sci-fi. He is one of my favorite authors and this is my favorite of all his books.  Genius children are used to fight a war with bug aliens. (it's much better than it sounds)
Violence and some language 5 stars

The Giver by Lois Lowery-This society members experience no pain and don't have to make any choices.  One old man, the Giver, holds all the painful memories and it is time for a young boy, Jonas to take his place.  
Some people don't like the the ambiguous ending, but I heard Lowery speak and she assured the audience that it has a happy ending. 5 stars
*note-she went on to write 2 more books in this series but I didn't love them.  She is releasing #4 in October and I'm excited to see if it lives up to The Giver.
UPDATE: Son  was a nice conclusion to the series, but no where near as good as the first.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins-Unless you've been living in a cave,you know that it's about children being forced to fight to the death in the sickest reality TV show ever. I love the characters and it is difficult to watch them suffer.  I don't remember any sex or language, but it is extremely and disturbingly violent and there are no happily ever afters.  My daughter's read the entire series, but I think any mother should read them first before deciding if they are appropriate for their children.  5 stars for the first 2 books and 3 1/2 for Mockingjay.

Legend by Marie Wu- Dystopian society divided by wealth.  It's the story of the romance between a teenage boy Robin Hood and a wealthy teenage girl who is the military protege assigned to capture him. Who doesn't love a tali of star-crossed lovers.  A little violent, but fairly clean otherwise. 3 1/2 stars

Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie-A dystopian society where pretty much every major decision is made for you. It's like The Giver  for teenage girls. Great action, romance and a little philosophy thrown in for good measure.  My daughter loves the first 2 books and is anxiously awaiting #3. They are pretty clean, so I don't mind her reading them. 4 stars (my daughter gives them 5 stars)
UPDATE: I read the 3rd and didn't love it.  My daughter didn't even finish it. 

Maze Runner by James Dashner-A boy wakes up with no memory and trapped with a group of children in a giant maze.  Each day they try and find their way out, but are unsure of what they will find on the other side of the maze.  I've only read the 1st, but this series is one of my daughter's favorites.  Violence -mostly against giant slugs and no sex. The kids do use made up swear words. 4 stars (my daughter would give it 5)

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer-The story of a young boy that is created merely to be a clone for the wealthy drug lord. It's about as happy as it sounds. It's pretty dark some kids might find it disturbing.  4 stars

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
There are no sexually explicit parts, however the basic premise is that Vampires are all suffering from an STD which they are very eager to spread. It's probably not meant for young teens. Each chapter begins with details of actual parasites which I found it fascinating and the best part of the book. 4 stars (I read the second in the series and would only give it 2 stars).

Scored by Lauren Mclaughlin -Kind of like if Grease was set in a Dystopian society, but sans the singing and dancing and if Sandy was only behaving herself b/c electronic eyeballs were "scoring" her every move.  It was entertaining, a page turner, and a great little romance.  However, I'm not sure what I think about it. I think I would rather have my daughter want to be goody-2-shoes innocent Sandy over leather and big-haired Sandy at the end of Grease.  A big moment for the repressed heroine of Scored  (can't remember her name) is when she lets loose and drops an f-bomb.  The male hero of the story swears all the time and has a mini-fridge stocked with beer in his bedroom.  I know this is super-popular with teens, so if you're a mom, read it first and decide if you want your kids reading it or not. It may be good for a kid that is overly concerned w/ grades and test scores. 3 1/2 stars  

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld- In this society, young people are given plastic surgery to become a "pretty". The final book is the series was really good and it reminds me of blogging. For the most part they were pretty clean. There is some mention of kids sneaking away into a "pleasure garden", but nothing sexually graphic. There is some violence. Substance abuse is also mentioned, but always in a negative light. Overall, I like the message it sends to young girls about beauty. 5 stars for Uglies and Extras and 3/12 for Pretties and Specials

What did I miss? Which one's your favorite?

 I'll write up my thoughts on sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal teenage romance soon.

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Selection by Kiera Cass: After World War IV, North America rebuilds itself as the monarchy of Illea and uses a very structured caste system to keep order.  35 girls are chosen to go to the palace, where the prince will choose who will become his queen. 
It reminded me of the reality show "The Bachelor".  Actually the CW wants to turn the book into a TV series, but apparently the pilot was so bad they are going to re-shoot it, so who knows if it will ever actually make it to air.
Fun, quick read, but is only the first in a series, so don't expect any resolution.  There are some intense make-out sessions, but no one has sex because it is against the law, not necessarily b/c they are waiting until marriage. Overall, it a fun quick read complete with an underdog, a prince, a love triangle, and a little mystery. 4 stars

Under the Never Sky-by Veronica Rossi
Better than your average teenage dystopian book and I will read the next one. Most of society lives in domed cities to protect them from the toxic air and dangerous electrical storms of the world. Aria is exiled and forced to survive in the wild while she tries to find her mother. Of course, she falls in love along the way. PG-13 for violence and pre-marital sex (although not graphic)  I did find it weird (and fairly gross) how in tune w/ her cycle he was.  3.5 stars

Cinder -by Marissa Meyer
A retelling of Cinderella set in a dystopian New Beijing where Cinderella is actually a cyborg. Sound ridiculous?  
 I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this book. My biggest complaint is that it stops with a complete cliff hanger. It's even pretty clean. 4.5 stars

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Perfect Swimsuit is not a swimsuit

Guess who they make swimsuits for?
Swimsuit models and plastic mannequins.
 If you are over the age of 12, it is really hard to find a cute suit that you can actually swim in-even harder to find one that you can confidently wear to a water park.  I always spend the entire time checking to make sure "the sisters" are properly covered.  I once even traumatized an entire family at Great Wolfe Lodge.

A few weeks ago we were at the beach w/ my friend Susan. Susan and her 2 daughters had super-cute non-granny swimsuits and spent the day boogey boarding, playing soccer and genuinely having fun.  They didn't spend anytime tugging, pulling, covering, and walking around w/ their arms folded across their chest. I didn't think this was possible, until she shared their secret.  
They were wearing athletic tops and bikini bottoms.  
Athletic tops are made of dri-fit material and have built in bras. I got one w/ a little padding, for modesty's sake.
 I feel like the athletic top makers should really share their designs w/ the swim suit makers. 

My daughter and I found this top on clearance at Old Navy for $4.99 and the bottoms at Target for $16 (why are bottoms so expensive?).  

I don't really want a pic of my daughter in a swimsuit floating around the internet, but trust me, it is super cute on her.  She is modest but still looks sporty and downright adorable.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Will Craft for fun #47

Here are some of my favorites from last week:

About Blogging Time-How cute is this pillow

patriotic tshirt makeover 2
Love and Laundry-I love the reverse applique technique she used.

The Pless Press-I pinned this Greek Salad recipe.

Now it's your turn.  I look forward to checking out all your projects as I'm digesting my hot dogs and hamburgers tomorrow.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Southwest Quinoa Salad

I have successfully completed # 9 on my 40 by 40 list: Eat Vegetarian for 30 days. 
I meant to do this as a cooking challange, but it's summer and my hubby was gone for a few weeks, so I didn't really do a lot of cooking.  We ate a lot of grilled cheese and burritos.  By far the best thing I made was this Southwest Quinoa Salad.  It is so good I made it 2 weeks in a row to take to swim meets.  My carnivore husband even loved it and asked for it in his lunch for a few days. 
I based it on this recipe here.

1 cup quinoa
1 tsp cumin
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup EVOO
1/2-1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2-1 chopped jalapeno

1 cups corn
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 diced tomato
2 diced avocados
2 diced cucumbers

Boil 2 cups of water.  Add cumin and quinoa. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes.  Fluff w/ fork and let cool 10 minutes.

Mix together the dressing.  Mix everything together in a large bowl. Chill. Eat.

Best guilt free thing I've eaten in a very long time and the perfect blend of flavors-refreshing and filling. It is way better then it sounds-I promise.

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