Tuesday, August 26, 2014

blogging break...

I just wanted to write up a quick post here today to give a bit of an update. We got back from Orlando, Florida not too long ago, a vacation that was absolutely wonderful! We went to Disney's Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. My girls had such a blast meeting so many Disney characters, and just simply being surrounded by so much Disney.
Since being back I have been reflecting on a lot of things, and have had a couple of social media interactions this past week that have just left me slightly depleted, so I have decided that I am taking a break from internet thingies. I know I will no longer be blogging for a while on blogger, and will be most likely backing away from Facebook, Twitter, and all that good stuff. I have started a few personal projects that I am really excited about to foster more of a focus on positivity within myself and to just break out of some funk. This blog will of course remain up during this time, especially for those of you who visit to utilize my free crochet patterns I have shared. I hope to be back soon!

The Original Fold and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm book review

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First EditionThe Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob Grimm
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was given this book to read and review through Net Galley upon request. This is not really going to be a review of the brother's Grimm tales, but more on this specific edition. I am a lover of all things fairy tales, so I was immediately drawn to this book. This edition is divided into two volumes within, each containing the stories that were printed in 1812 and 1815 editions, which contains over 150 tales. I was surprised and interested to read that some of these tales did not follow the original Grimm stories I read a while back, such as the Little Red Cap tale. I recalled the wolf being cut open and filled with rocks, which was not present in this book, even with two endings to the story provided. The table of contents was very messy for me. I am not sure if it was just an e-book copy or what, but the listing of each tale was numbered on a new line (how most table of contents are), but then about midway through each volume in the table of contents it became a paragraph jumbled together and was quite hard to read. There was also random small words and numbers written throughout the book that appeared to be more like organizational notes. They were a bit odd and jarring, but does not necessarily hinder the reading of each tale. I did really love the style of the illustrations. They were all black and white, as if paper cut out silhouettes, like the cover. Some were quite whimsical and really beautiful to look at, while others were very strange and almost horror story-ish to look at, as if the most gruesome part of the tale was chosen to be depicted. For example, I came across an illustration depicting a decapitated unicorn with blood spurting and collecting on the ground. That was a bit strange to me, even though we are talking about the harsh original Grimm tales. It should be noted that there is not an illustration for each story, which made the choices of the illustrations at times all the more strange for me, thinking there could have been a more whimsical beautiful illustration created instead.
Overall, it is not a terrible edition, but not necessarily my favorite. I cannot compare to other original Grimm books I have read in the past in regards to the number of tales included, as I cannot recall from previous books, but this book does contain a lot of tales to enjoy. I think some minor issues could be cleaned up to make the book more put together, and would definitely opt for more whimsical illustrations over grotesque, but that is my personal opinion when it comes to fairy tales. If you like reading the old original tales, this book definitely has many for you to indulge in!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

sunday reads #8: vacation style


The Official Quotable Doctor Who: The Wit and Wisdom of Doctor Who The Silent Stars Go By Doctor Who: The Stone Rose
I had a lot of trouble trying to decide which books I wanted to bring with me on vacation. I was hoping to get a little reading in on the drive, as my hubby will be driving, and also I really enjoy reading a tiny bit in bed every night before I fall asleep. I decided I was in a Doctor Who mood, so I settled on packing two Doctor Who novels and a book of quotes (which I love reading in bed at night). I am thinking one novel for the trip down, one for the trip back, and the book of quotes for my nighttime reading. I am sure once the trip gets started my reading wont go as planned, so I am sure it is quite ambitious for a week that will be filled with four days of Disney World, a day at Sea World, and other fun stuff. I foresee exhaustion beyond abilities to read!
Though I am posting this (a tad early) for Sunday Reads, this is basically what I will be diving into every now and then all week when I find some down time. So my Sunday Reads will consist of one (or a little bit of all three) of these novels. Doctor Who is just plain fun, which will help get me into the mood for lots of family time!

Ivy in Bloom book review

Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the PastIvy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past by Vanita Oelschlager
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an electronic copy of this book through Net Galley upon request, and was excited to dig in! It is apparently quite short, as it is a children's story book, with beautiful illustrations. I could not get over how clean, crisp, and bright the illustrations were. The story itself is basically a poem about a young girl that is waiting for spring to come, and then how lovely spring is. My first opinion reading through it, was that it felt very disjointed, almost as if it wasn't the same style of writing throughout the book, aside from the first few pages. Apparently I was right! After the story, there are several pages listing full poems by many writers (such as Dickens and Longfellow), with lines or phrases within each poem highlighted in green that was used within the story. The first few pages seemed to be a full poem written by the author of the book, which explains why I felt the first few pages flowed and the rest seemed disjointed and not of the same pen. I am not quite sure how I feel about it overall. The illustrations are beautiful as I mentioned, and I did like how the story was going in the beginning, but I think all the different writers smashed together doesn't make for a nice flowing poetry story book. I did, however, like reading through all of the poems in the back of the book that most of the lines from the book came from. I think it may have sounded better if the author had written the entire thing, so it felt more cohesive. I also liked seeing a bunch of poems by many authors with lines highlighted to match a certain theme. Together though, not 100% my favorite.

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The Antigone Poems book review

The Antigone PoemsThe Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was very excited to receive this book on my Kindle from Net Galley, as I very much love the Sophocles plays. I have to say though, I really didn't much care for it. I have read Antigone, but it has been a long while since, so I don't know if having the play fresh in my mind would make a difference or not? But I keep thinking that for it to be considered well written, one shouldn't need to know Antigone at all, for it to be a stand alone piece of work. The poetry itself is very gothic like to me, dark, and I had a lot of trouble even fully getting what each poem was about, basically because it was written a lot different than poetry I am use to reading. There were chapters, which I didn't get, as there wasn't that many poems to need to divide into chapters, let alone the actual common theme amongst the poems under each chapter were not clear for me. The poems didn't have names, but were numbered, and the numbers didn't make sense either. The poems went up to ridiculous roman numerals, skipping many between poems. It made me wonder if I really had a full copy? It really just didn't make sense how they were numbered. There was also a weird font thing going on in my digital copy, where there was a space within words after the letter "f". I get it is a typo, but it almost seemed intentional, as it was only when specific letters followed the letter "f". It really made it hard to read, and I wonder how much that affected my ability to appreciate the poems more. I did, however, love the illustrations within the book, which I understand to be chalk drawings. They are very interesting, a distinct artistic style that will have you going back through the book just to stare at the images longer. I think the artist should create more of these chalk drawings and put together a book of them!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

beowulf

I have been thoroughly (still) enjoying my Beowulf book. This tale fascinates me. I will be doing an actual review once I finish the epic poem, but for this post I will just say it is amazing.
Last year I did a Vikings unit with my youngest daughter, which left me slightly obsessed with this culture. It took me a bit to put together that Beowulf was part of this culture, which lead me to do quite a bit of searching online about this character. Apparently it has been agreed that Beowulf himself is a made up character, but other characters and events in the tale are real, written as early as 700 AD. It was breathtaking to view a photo online of the actual original manuscript. Just wow. Also, apparently it is possible that archeologists have discovered the royal hall that is written about in Beowulf. I am just a sucker for those fairytales/folktales that have been around for so many years, falling to the ears of every generation. It is just such a connection to people from long ago, I just love it! 

* This post will be shared with Book Inspired over at Mom's Book Banter.

Florida!

We will be leaving Thursday to head off to Florida for our family vacation. It kind of crept up on us, as the availability of units in our time share on such short notice, landed us checking in on Friday. I am a tad stressed, as I am leaving so much stuff undone in our house due to the short notice, but we are all overly excited to enjoy some Disney World and Sea World, and whatever else we can find to do there! So I may be scarce on my blog this upcoming week. However, I have had books running through my mind lately. I am wanting to put together a post about my all time favorite books, books that have greatly impacted my life, and what I find to be comfort books. I have never really put down on paper books that fall under those categories for me, so I am struggling a bit to figure out what books I would list. I am interested to see what I ultimately decide, as my taste in books have changed greatly over the past several years. I don't think I even 100% understand what books I prefer at the current moment, so it should be interesting. I am hoping after I get back from vacation I will be able to think a bit more on these topics and put together a post.
I hope you all are enjoying the summer sun before school and regular routines start back up! Any fun plans for this month? Let me know!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

sunday reads #7

http://www.amazon.com/Leagues-Under-Sterling-Unabridged-Classics/dp/140272599X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1407642962&sr=8-3&keywords=20%2C000+leagues+under+the+sea+sterling
Well, this week has been extraordinarily busy for me. Both of my girls auditioned for a play on Monday, both receiving a part in the play that was performed on Friday. That means the week was filled with rehearsals, rehearsals, and more rehearsals. The play was Blackbeard the Pirate, though probably not the Blackbeard we all know, but a much more fun (child friendly) Blackbeard, who learned the important lesson that the best treasures are not found in a box. After the week being saturated with the high seas and mermaids, I was very much desiring a good nautical adventure book. I browsed the library, and even our small local used book store, leaving both empty handed. Either I am terrible at finding what I want in a room filled with books, or finding a lighthearted pirate/sea adventure is hard to come by. Either way, I was a tad disappointed until I returned home and realized I already own a few books that revolve around the sea. I picked up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a tale I have started (and loved what I read), but have yet to finish. I restarted the book on Friday, and am being flooded with how wonderful Jules Verne can share such an adventure! Most of us know the general plot of this story, whether we have read it or not. It is one of those tales like Pride and Prejudice, where everyone knows the story. Everyone knows who Elizabeth Bennett is, just as they know who Captain Nemo is. But I love how the very beginning of this tale is told in a way that pulls you into all the excitement and wonder of this unknown large creature propelling through the waters, making you forget for a while that you already know what it is. This book is just beautiful, from the colors of the covers to the illustrations printed here and there. There is even a beautiful shell printed at the beginning of each chapter! Needless to say, this will be my Sunday read...

mini American Girl doll short tank crochet pattern

 
Created by paperdollmom, Copyright 2014
 
Materials needed: size 10 crochet thread and a siz 2 hook
 
- Chain 41, DC in the third chain from the hook and across, Ch 2 and turn
 
- DC across each of the 39 stitches, Ch 2, turn (repeat this step again, bringing it to a total of 3 full rows of DC)
 
- DC in the first 7 sts, Ch 5, skip the next 5 sts, DC in the next 24 sts, CH 5, skip the next 5 sts, DC in the last 7 sts, Ch 2, turn
 
- DC in the first 2 sts, combine the next two sts, continue to DC across while combining 2 sts over each armhole and combing 2 sts (twice) in the middle of the row; also combine 2 sts when there is 4 sts left, and DC in the remaining 2 sts. This means you will be combining 2 sts for a total of 6 times throughout this row.
 
- repeat the previous step, though using SC rather than DC
 
- finish off
 
-cut a longer piece of crochet thread and just lace the back closed, similar to tying a shoe (after you put the shirt on your doll)
 
* The skirt is also easily sewed, and can be adapted to any length. I simply cut a small strip of stretchy fabric that does not need to be hemmed because it does not fray, and stitched 4 pleats across the front. I did not pleat the entire skirt because I simply stitched the entire back of the skirt closed. If pleated all the way across, the sewing would prevent the fabric from stretching (which is needed to put it onto your doll without Velcro or snaps). For an easy tutorial that helps to explain how I sewed this skirt, please check out this lovely YouTube video created by Disney Ever After that opened my eyes up to how simple it is to sew doll clothes. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

The Christmas Box (The Christmas Box Trilogy #1)The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished the first story in the trilogy, which is really quite short (around 85 pages). This was a reread for me, and I remembered most of this story, which I still love just as much as the first time I read it. It is a lovely Christmas tale that reminds readers what is important around Christmastime (or any time)- your family. A father of a budding family is reminded to spend more time with his young child through a new friendship that will impact his life forever. I can't really say too much more about it, as it is short, and I don't want to give spoilers. But it is a very heart touching story that will have you tearing up in a few parts. It is very nicely written; a tale I will reread many more times!

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American Girl mini dolls on sale

If anyone is interested, Marie-Grace Mini Doll, Caroline Mini Doll, and C├ęcile Mini Doll is on sale for only $10 each at the American Girl online store.

Meet Molly: An American Girl

Meet Molly: An American GirlMeet Molly: An American Girl by Valerie Tripp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been trying to get into several American Girl books, as we have quite the collection. I started a few that just didn't grab my attention, but Meet Molly pulled me in from the first paragraph. I really loved this book, it reminded me so much of the Ramona books that I use to read as a kid. She is mischievous, getting into trouble with her brother, and has a silly fun personality that is revealed to the readers through her actions and thoughts. This particular book takes place during WWII, and during the Halloween season. Basically her and her friends are trying to decide how to dress up for Halloween, angering her brother in the process by teasing him about a girl he likes. He declares he will get even, and even he does! His revenge involved a lot of freezing cold water and soggy Halloween treats. The revenge planning doesn't end there, for Molly that is. Now she needs to get even with her brother, which involves a lot of her brother's socks and underwear, and a whole lot of embarrassment! It is a really short cute book that had me chuckling in a few spots. The illustrations within the book are detailed and very nicely done. There is also of course mention of the war and a section at the back of the book that explains into more detail what it would have been like to live during Molly's time. It is very informative without getting too dry, which is spot on for kids. I really enjoyed this book and will be continuing on in the series of Molly books.
My only complaint about this book, and really any of the American Girl books, is how heavy each book is. The books are printed with extremely nice quality, but the pages being so much more thicker than usual, it makes for a heavier book. In my opinion they are each too heavy for a small chapter book for children, especially if you have a small stack that includes entire set of one American Girl. Every time I stack up the American Girl books in our house to move somewhere else, I am always in shock of their weight for such small stories. Seems wasteful, and possibly unpractical for what they are.

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Saige


I have been so much enjoying the American Girl movies and books lately, I couldn't resist buying a doll for myself, although I only caved in on a mini doll. I found this Saige set at Sam's Club for $22.99. It included the Saige mini doll, which is adorable (especially the boots!), and two Saige books (Saige and Saige Paints the Sky). I don't know a lot about this girl, but I did end up snatching up the movie while I was at Toys R Us today, so I plan to give it a watch sometime soon. I am wanting to try crocheting some clothes for Saige using crochet thread, soon I hope. I am really busy this week though, as both of my daughters auditioned for a play on Monday, and both walked out with a part! My oldest daughter will be a beach bum in Blackbeard the Pirate, and my youngest daughter will be a sailor. They are both super excited and having a blast this week. I've been taking them to practices (pretty intense practices considering the play is performed on Friday), so after that and running errands every day so far, I am exhausted when I get home. But for now, I will just admire my new pretty doll!  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

American Girl movies

I recently stumbled upon a collection of 4 American Girls movies at Walmart for only $9.99. The set included Kit Kittredge, Samantha, Molly, and Felicity. I also purchased the newest American Girls movie Isabelle, and with a coupon on the DVD, I got the McKenna movie for only $2.50. If you have any little girls that love anything and everything American Girls, you know why these movies are a must! Most of the movies were new to us, and we've been watching a new American Girl movie almost every night lately. I am a sucker for historical fiction type of movies like the 4 pack, especially when they are suited for kids to enjoy. I love watching how being exposed to these stories literally opens up a new world for my girls...well, historical worlds that brings a whole new understanding and appreciation for the things in our world now. While I can't wrap my mind around dolls that are so costly, no matter how well they are made (even though my daughters each own one), I applaud their efforts in teaching young girls about our history through young girls their own age that they can relate to, through books and DVDs. History is a hard concept to grasp sometimes, it is nice to see a company dedicated in trying to share the stories of many who have lived so long ago with our young ones today. Love it!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

sunday reads #6: Christmas Tales

The Christmas Box
This week I have had Richard Paul Evans The Christmas Box trilogy sweeping through my mind. My husband gave me a  nice paperback copy of all three books in one on our very first Christmas together, almost 13 years ago. I then went on to pondering a lot about this book, as this is a book that comes to my mind a lot, and I've noticed it always seems to during the summer. So I was asking myself, why is that?
I realized that I love Christmas stories. I am drawn to Christmas stories (I've even manage to acquire a lot of random childrens Christmas chapter books). There is just something about Christmas tales that attract me. I've noticed a lot of avid readers go through a phase each year where they desire to read middle grade books. Apparently I have discovered for me, it is Christmas tales. Of course I love them at Christmastime. For many years I even created my own tradition of writing a new Christmas short story to pass out to family and friends for Christmas. But, I also always seem to crave some sort of a Christmas tale around this time of the year. And as Richard Paul Evans' trilogy is a special book to me and always available on my shelf, that is the book that is pulled down to fill that need (and the book I always shove into my purse when we evacuate for a hurricane). I admit that I have read The Christmas Box many times, but I have yet to reread the entire trilogy as a whole. I am sort of in the mood to do that right now. (I always get so ambitious when it comes to reading books, but so many books grab for my attention all at once). There is just something magical about Christmastime, and how the focus of tales revolve around the good nature of people and tending to those around us. It is just one of those moments every year that leaves me thinking....anything could happen. It is a time when adults and children connect and break through that age barrier and when the lines of reality and imagination are blurred. I think for me in general, Christmas isn't necessarily anything religious, but more spiritual in how it is a reminder that realities can be more than what we think, and simply that people matter. I think that tends to be a message that I love hearing and being reminded of, that tends to be fulfilled through movies and magical tales in books. So, I am thinking I will be enjoying some nice hot chocolate today while I dig into The Christmas Box, and maybe work on a jigsaw puzzle with my daughters.