Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Samantha Sanderson on the Scene

Samantha Sanderson On The Scene (FaithGirlz! / Samantha Sanderson 2)Samantha Sanderson On The Scene by Robin Carroll

This is the second book in the Samantha Sanderson series that follow middle schooler Samantha in her investigations as a reporter for her school's paper. This installment deals with the subject of bullying, as Samantha finds out that an acquaintance, the best friends of Samantha's least favorite person at school, is receiving nasty notes, texts, emails and unwelcome surprises in her locker. She determines to find out who is doing the bullying and to bring awareness to the issue by doing a series in the paper. Samantha again show her good character by the way she treats Nikki, and her unwillingness to identify her because of her promise to Nikki to keep her name out of it. The character of Sam is a great role model for young girls as she is responsible, honest and cares for others.  I definitely recommend this for young girls and will be sharing it with my daughter when she is old enough.

I recieved a copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: The Great American Slow Cooker Book

I was able review this cookbook, The Great American Slow Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. 

I almost didn't because I read a review that said about using strange ingredients, but I haven't found that to be true.  It has everyday basic ingredients and the cool thing about this book, is that they have written and tested the recipes for  three different sizes of slow cookers!  I love this!  So if I want to try a new breakfast recipe like Pecan Pie Porridge, but I'm not sure if anyone will eat it but me, I can give it a whirl with the 2 quart size recipe!  Things I know we'll love and want leftovers of, I can jump right into the 6 quart recipe!  Each recipe offers the options for 2, 4, and 6 quart slow cookers and also gives basic information like how long to cook and also extra cool tips like how much effort and time the prep takes or (my favorite) how long it will keep on warm!  My current crockpot doesn't have a timer (it does have the three sizes of crocks like the recipes which is super handy though!)  but I hope to get one again with the timer and love that they switch to warm as needed. This is such great information to include on the recipes so you don't wake up to a dried out, disgusting breakfast or come home to a similarly icky supper.  There were lots of yummy sounding breakfast recipes (which aren't always a common addition to slow cooker cookbooks) and a GREAT soup section. Sloppy Joe Soup? Steak and Potato Soup? Yum!  There are quite a few seafood soups that sound tasty as well, and I don't even like seafood all that much...Categories for the book are broken into Breakfast, Soups, Meat, Poultry, Fish & Shellfish, Vegetables & Side Dishes, and Desserts and Party Drinks. And each of those is broken up into sub groups as well. The center of the book holds a section of colored photos, a page or two of recipes from each category. I didn't really think about missing pictures in the book, until I saw these!  They are lovely pictures and really help you realize what you would be making. The Trail Mix Porridge looks so tasty! I like that recipes don't seem to have a lot of bottled sauces and such... the Orange Ginger Barbecued Wings, for example, don't include a barbecue sauce but instead give the ingredients to make your own!  And there are still only 11 ingredients in the recipe. Obviously, I don't see myself trying every recipe in the book, but there are definitely tons of new and delicious sounding recipes that we'll be trying. I love using my crockpot, and am thrilled to have some new recipes to try out in it!  I'd recommend this book to all cooks, from experienced to inexperienced, large families to those cooking for one or two (thanks to the different size options!). The ingredients in most recipes are basic enough to satistfy those who like simple foods, though I think even die hard foodies will find some recipes to try!  Great cookbook, I'm so glad I got a copy!  

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Samantha Sanderson at the Movies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is book aimed at younger readers, I'd say middle school age (the main character is in 7th grade).  I think it's a great new series for girls to read about a strong, smart girl who loves God and has good goals for her future.  "Sam"  wants to be a reporter like her mom when she is older;  For now, she writes for the middle school paper and when she and her best friend are at the movies and help discover a bomb, she gets herself assigned to the story. She investigates on her own, writes her conclusions and has to deal with the consequences of her stories, both good and bad.  Her dad is the detective in charge of the case, and the story tells of the dynamics between them as well, as she tries to get the scoop for the paper.  I love how the mystery is interesting and engaging but there are also other great side stories as well. When one of Sam's friends reveals that she knows about God but doesn't believe in Him, Sam is confused and goes to her sunday school teacher for help on how to reach her friend.  Through the story, the readers get great advice on planting seeds and being patient.  Sam also has to figure out how to fix her relationship with her dad when he feels she has betrayed his trust by pursuing a story he told her in confidence.  I'd wholeheartedly recommend this book for young girls and will definitely be saving this one for my daughter when she's a little older! It was definitely a great well-written book with great teaching about faith.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Martian

The Martian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a bit of a different book for me, the story follows astronaut Mark Watney as he and his teammates are on their mission to Mars.  They are forced to evacuate due to a dust storm that could damage their only means of leaving the planet, and when Mark is hit by something from the storm and his spacesuit's life support readings fail, his teammates think he has been killed.  He is not, however and ends up being left on the planet alone, with enough food for a short period, though not near enough to survive until the next mission to Mars.  The beginning especially had quite a bit of technical mathematics as Mark figures out how much food he needs etc, and I honestly skimmed that part, but most of the story is very engaging as he figures out how to survive on Mars. I enjoyed how the story shared different points of view, Mark's story and also the mission control from earth as well as his teammates on their journey home as they deal with their guilt for having left a teammate behind.  There was some rough language in the book, but it is fairly decent otherwise. I enjoyed following Mark's adventure with surviving on Mars.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bubble shorts for L

I won some Peek a Boo patterns a LOOOONG time ago and even bought a couple on sale and have finally gotten around to sewing them! (I thought this was my first, but realized I did a Hang Out Hoodie a year or two ago...).

So L has about 2 pairs of shorts for this summer. She has lots of little skorts but I figured I'd finally get around to the Bubble Shorts pattern! I made a size larger hoping they would last longer and it is a good thing because they are almost too tight in the cuffs!  The next pair will probably be an inch or so longer and I will probably have to add a half inch or so to the cuffs.  

I made these shorts out of a mens shirt that I got in my stash of stuff from Sunshine Connection here in town - 50 cents for a bag of clothes so I'm thinking it cost me.... maybe a nickel?  LOVED the color and was so glad when L picked it for these shorts!  I still have lots of fabric left over so we'll see if I can sneak something out of it for the baby! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New wallet...

I designed my own wallet once, but after using it awhile I realized that a lot of the pockets I thought I needed were rather unnecessary.  And when the elastic I was using to keep it closed snapped, and the button disappeared, I decided it was time for a new one.

I loved the looks of the Greenbacks Wallet Trio by Sew Sweetness and picked it up to try.  Again, pictures are just quick snaps, not pro shots... :)

I modified a bit, because I really wanted a wristlet to make it easy to grab and go.

I love this style, the divider zipper pocket holds my coins and the wings (?!) don't let it open the whole way so all your stuff won't fall out!  I love that it zippers completely closed too.

The pattern is written with both sides being sewn for credit cards, however I left one side so I could use it for my cash envelopes (a la Dave Ramsey's cash envelope system, which we do our own version of!). I only need a few since we aren't hard core cash people, so I have an envelope for my fun money, one for eating out, and one for household.  If you needed more, you could leave both sides as full envelopes and add the smallest of the pattern's trio for your cards, or just tuck them into the zipper pocket (because if you are hard core D.R. fans, you probably don't have many anyway).

I really like how the cards stand up, I think they fit much nicer that way.  I've got a few different ones stacked together (i.e. one pocket for all our insurance cards).

It is actually MUCH bigger than I thought it would be, but I quickly adapted... I quite like that I can fit my checkbook inside (as is with my current cover, though I plan to attempt a streamlined, slimmer version so it doesn't make the wallet quite so chubby. My Cake Batter Chapstick (Limited Edition, eek! How many should I stock up on????) fits in there too.  I had planned at some point to make a clutch to tuck both my wallet and checkbook into to quickly switch purses/diaper bags, so this actually takes care of that for me.

It was NOT the easiest thing in the world to sew... I did a lot of picking out of seams, though that was mostly because I kept trying to use my machine, even though the directions said that a lot of the binding needed to be hand sewn... It is time consuming because of all the hand sewing, at least for me since I don't do much of it.  It freaked me out a bit that my hand sewing was the only thing holding the outside fabric on to the rest of the wallet!  I was able to machine sew some, if I did it again, I would probably only machine sew the straight edges and hand sew the corners and into the V made by the dividers since the corners gave me the most trouble on my machine.  So if you are patient, give it a whirl!  Most of the wallet is very simple to put together, so if you have the time to sit down with a movie and hand sew the binding, you will be fine!