Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review :: Nature Girl by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White

Nature Girl is a fun book for anyone who is interested in going green. (And although this book is directed at girls, most of the information, activities, and experiments would be great for any kid - boy or girl.)

The book is broken up into 10 chapters dealing with different aspects of being green - topics such as: skin/body care, healthy eating, animals, water, air, energy/power, reusing and recycling, and more. Each chapter gives a little bit of information about the particular topic, lists various activities and things to try (including many specific recipes and experiments), and brings it all back to God with Bible verses. At the end of each chapter is a "Real Girl" portion (describing a real girl/woman who is relevant to the chapter), a Quiz (which is generally used as a new way of introducing new information, as opposed to a traditional quiz which would be checking to see what you learned from the chapter), and a short list of Eco-Careers (again, relevant to the topic of that particular chapter).

Just to give an example of the variety of recipes/activities/experiments in this book, I will list the titles of a few:

- Flavored Lip Gloss
- Shelly's Brown Sugar Foot Scrub
- Buttermilk Fruit Smoothie
- English Muffin Pizzas
- Soil Drainage Test
- Whole-Wheat Doggie Treats
- Oil Spill Cleanup Experiment
- Zesty Citrus Spritz
- Easy Lovin' Solar Oven
- Plastic Bottle Cap Necklaces
- Spirit-Filled Trail Mix
- Going-Green Greeting Cards

...and there are many more in the book that I haven't listed here.

I think that this is a great resource for Girl Scout leaders, and would also be great for homeschoolers or teachers who are looking for "earthy" activities and experiments. As I mentioned previously, the majority of the information in this book would be useful for boys, too.

As much as I did enjoy this book, I thought there were quite a few minor improvements that would have taken this from "good" to "great":
- Although I understand that this book is geared toward tween girls, I don't think it is necessary to include terminology such as "Snaps!", "diff" (as opposed to "difference"), "duh", "BFF", "your crush", and "fave". It just seems to dumb-down the book rather than enhance it. Kids' books can use "real" words while still keeping kids interested.
- There are quite a few typos and formatting errors in the book. I shared the information with the publisher and was told that the errors I told them about will be corrected in future printings, but I did feel the need to mention them as they were quite distracting.
- Some of the Bible verses that the authors use seem to be pulled from a random search of one word, and are included in the book even though the context/content of the passage is totally unrelated. This is not the case for all of the scriptures that were used in this book, but there were a couple that stood out.
- Some of the experiments/things to try would greatly benefit from diagrams and/or drawings to help the directions be better understood.
- A couple of the quizzes say how many points you get for your answers, but don't explain which answers are the best choices (for learning purposes). I noticed this in particular in the quizzes for chapters 7 & 10.
- Some of the content brings up choices that are made in places such as a grocery store, when I would guess that the majority of the time 9-12 year olds are not the final decision makers in a grocery shopping situation. It seems like the aim for these parts is off - it should probably be directed at getting the girl to discuss the situation with their parent/guardian instead of being assumed that the girl has the decision-making power.

Even though my list of issues with the book looks long, it really is just minor things. Overall, this is an interesting, useful book that I look forward to using with all of my kids. In fact, I am considering making the Easy-Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini for dinner...and you may find me sharing a version of the Oh-So-Fab Air Freshener on my blog in the near future.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review :: One Lost Sheep by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Margaret Spengler

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>

One Lost Sheep is a children's picture book, written in rhyme. The story is a depiction of the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15).

I understand that rhyme is a difficult style of writing, but I did find it a bit lacking that the only rhyme paired with "sheep" was "mountain, steep". Also, I wish the rhyme had been a bit more adventurous when the shepherd was searching for his lost sheep, rather than state the same lines each time he searches somewhere - but I do also understand that some kids will enjoy the repetition and being able to "read" along with you at this point.

The illustrations are great - it appears to be airbrushed, which gives it a very "soft" feel - perfect for a story about sheep. And the little sheep themselves are adorable!

I love that in the end, the story states that God is our shepherd and is watching over us. I think it is important that this was clearly stated, rather than expecting the children to figure it out on their own.

Overall, this is a cute book with a great message to read with your young ones.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review :: Adventure Bible Book of Devotions, NIV

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>

The Adventure Bible Book of Devotions (NIV) is a children's devotional that seems to be geared toward the "tween" ages. The pages are typical book pages (uncoated paper, greyscale).

There are 365 devotions (one for each day of the year...unless it is a leap year). The pages have the dates on them (ex: January 1) and the Contents section lists the devotions by month, with each month's devotions numbered (1, 2, 3...). There is an additional Topic Index and Scripture Index at the back of the book.

Each devotion is short - just one page. Each devotion has a title, verse, short story (not from the Bible), lesson to learn from the story (one short paragraph), and a little bonus piece at the bottom of the page (People In Bible Times, Words to Treasure (additional verse), Life In Bible Times, Did You Know?, Live It!).

We do not own the Adventure Bible, so I cannot comment on how it compares to that, but we do have the Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition - you can find my review on that here.

I must admit that The Adventure Bible Book of Devotions didn't quite live up to what I was expecting. There is "adventure" in the short story on each page, but too often it feels like the story and the lesson to be learned were disconnected. Many of the stories feel like they have nothing directly to do with the moral lesson that is supposed to be taught, but they could have easily been brought together with a little more discussion. The underlying idea was there - I am just not sure this was executed as well as it could have been. Still, I feel like my kids will enjoy reading this and I do think that they will grow and learn from it.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review :: Goodnight, Angels by Melody Carlson, illustrations by Sophie Allsop

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>
Goodnight, Angels is a board book that will help you walk your little one through their "goodnight" routine - saying goodnight to the outdoors, things in the house, Daddy, Mommy, God, and the angels. (The goodnight to God includes a short prayer.) It is a boy in the illustrations throughout the book (with his Dad, Mom, and dog), but this is not what I would consider a boy-only book.
The illustrations in this book are beautifully done. The colors that the illustrator used are wonderful - a great palette of muted tones. The colors and sweet drawings combined make for very calm pages - perfect for a bedtime book.

For those who may thinking this may be an obvious book to compare to Goodnight Moon - it has similarities (in saying goodnight to everything), but this book does not lead up to the "goodnights" with a little story like Goodnight Moon does. It jumps straight into "goodnight" from the first word.

Books like this are fantastic for little ones - the repetition is great for them and the pages are a great prompt for them to remember what to say "goodnight" to next. After a few readings, your child may even want to "read" it to you.

I think this is a sweet book to add to your little one's bookshelf.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Recipe :: Garlic Rosemary Buttered Skillet Rolls

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>
I came across The Pioneer Woman's Buttered Rosemary Rolls and was excited to give them a shot...but I'm not one to have frozen rolls on hand (or fresh rosemary), so I made adjustments for what I had - and came up with these:
Ingredients for the dough:
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
4 c. flour (I used a mixture - 3 c. unbleached All Purpose and 1 c. White Whole Wheat)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. dried rosemary leaves, crushed

For brushing on top:
1 stick butter, melted
Sea salt

(I make my bread/roll dough in my bread machine. I rarely ever bake the actual bread in it - I just love forming it and baking it in the oven...it feels more homemade or something.)

Directions:
Place all ingredients in bread machine according to manufacturer instructions. (Mine is: liquids first, flour, then remaining ingredients.) Run dough cycle.
Tip: If you want to make this without a bread machine, just use the traditional method to replace it - mix all ingredients together and knead, then let rise for an hour.

When the dough cycle is finished, take the dough out and form it into balls. (I think mine are probably about 2" in diameter.) I use a method for shaping the rolls that my mother-in-law taught me - you basically make a circle with your thumb and first finger, then push the dough through it and squeeze your fingers together to pinch it off.
I used two skillets for my rolls: a Lodge 10 1/4" Skillet, and a Lodge 12" Skillet.
Side note: I use my skillets for all kinds of cooking - stove top and oven. I love using them!
I placed 8 rolls in the generously oiled large skillet and 6 rolls in the generously oiled medium skillet. I set those aside (covered with a towel) to rise for 30 minutes.

After they had time to rise, I brushed some melted butter over the top of the rolls and sprinkled them with a little bit of sea salt. (I used the small granules - like regular table salt - because I am not one that enjoys a big crunch of salt.) I then baked them in a 350 degree (preheated) oven for 25-30 minutes.

When I got them out of the oven, I brushed them with the remaining butter and they were ready to be served.
And they were SO tasty!
Please - give them a try and let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review :: Pups of the Spirit illustrated by Deborah Melmon

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>
Pups of the Spirit is a children's picture book by Zonderkidz that demonstrates the fruits of the Spirit through nine puppies. The book is written in rhyme. On each spread you meet a new pup and see how they demonstrate a fruit of the Spirit.
If you have seen the trailer for this book, you may be wondering if this is an illustrated book or a book with photographs of puppies - so I will just clear that up right now...it is illustrations only. (No photographs.) Deborah Melmon has done a beautiful job illustrating this book. (Honestly, I don't think the cover does justice to the quality of illustrations inside the book.)

If you get this book in hardcover and it has a dust jacket - you get a cute bonus. The back side of the dust jacket is actually a poster. (The front of the dust jacket will say "Poster Inside" - it is not a poster inside the book, but inside the dust jacket.) The poster has pictures of each of the pups with a verse for each.

My son (who is 5) particularly enjoys this book - I think the puppies will automatically draw most kids in. I think this is a great book to read with little ones.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Giveaway :: Easter Books from Zondervan :: Preschool through age 7

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>

It's another great Easter giveaway from Zondervan! 
This is for the younger ones:
This giveaway includes: 
I'll be posting reviews for each of these books soon, so please check back.

To be entered in the giveaway - please leave a comment on this blog post (and be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win). I would love it if you would become a follower of my blog, too!

The deadline to leave your comment to be entered into this giveaway is 11:59 EST on Sunday, March 30, 2014. The winner will be announced here on inkblotsbytrd.blogspot.com on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The winner will have until Friday, April 4, 2014 to contact me with their mailing information.  

Giveaway is for US residents only.
Prize will be handled and shipped by Zondervan.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review :: Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids by Jill Osborne

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>
Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids is the second book in The Good News Shoes series (Faithgirlz!) by Jill Osborne. (You can read my review of the first book, Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek, here.) This was once again an easy to read book - 252 pages divided into 55 short chapters.

I really enjoyed the first book, Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek, but I have to admit - Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids was even better. The excitement for this book ran all the way through (where the first book didn't have much mystery until about halfway through). Again, we follow Riley Mae on her adventures as the Swiftriver "Shoe Girl". Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids starts out where the first book left off, and the adventures just keep coming. The story was exciting, there were new characters introduced, and it left me wanting to get my hands on the next book, Riley Mae and the Sole Fire Safari!

I would highly suggest reading Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek before reading Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids so that you are able to easily follow along with the plot, but even without doing so the author does provide some short explanations for many of the points that might be confusing to someone who had only started with this book.

I am not exactly the book's target audience, but my 10 year old daughter is. Here is a review from her: "I really liked Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids. I think it was a just a little bit better than the first book, Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek, because it had lots more excitement. I liked the beginning a lot because of the mystery in it. I like how Riley Mae gets to learn more about Flip and Fawn's story. I would like to get the next book."
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Giveaway :: Easter Books from Zondervan :: Ages 8-12

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>

I am so excited that Zondervan is allowing me to give away a fantastic bundle for Easter!
This giveaway includes: 
If you would like to see my review of The Jesus Bible, NIV, you can find it here.
If you would like to see my review of The Sequin Bible, NIV, you can find it here
If you would like to see my review of Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek, you can find it here

To be entered in the giveaway - please leave a comment on this blog post (and be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win). I would love it if you would become a follower of my blog, too!

The deadline to leave your comment to be entered into this giveaway is 11:59 EST on Sunday, March 30, 2014. The winner will be announced here on inkblotsbytrd.blogspot.com on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The winner will have until Friday, April 4, 2014 to contact me with their mailing information and book choices.  

Giveaway is for US residents only.
Prize will be handled and shipped by Zondervan.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review :: The Sequin Bible, NIV


The Sequin Bible, NIV is an NIV bible perfect for the girl who loves a little sparkle. The version I am reviewing is blue (almost a turquoise) with a flower on the cover, but there is also a pink version with sequin hearts on the cover.

This is the 2011 version of the NIV, and in the Preface (which explains how this version came about) it states that this version "builds on both the original NIV and the TNIV". It contains both the Old and New Testaments, which are listed in order of appearance in the Table of Contents and in alphabetical order on the following page. There is a pretty presentation page, printed with turquoise flowers. In the text, the words of Christ are in red (even in Revelation), while the remainder of the words are in black.

This version has a "Flexcover". It appears to be some form of a fabric cover (with some material under it to give it stability), with a shine from fine silver glitter. (The glitter does come off a bit on your hands.)
The sequin flower feels well attached to the cover, and the sequins are stitched together. The cover feels flexible, but sturdy. (You can see a close-up picture I took of the cover to the right.)

At the end of this version, there is a Table of Weights and Measures, but there is no concordance and there are no maps. I do wish that a small concordance and some maps had been included, but even without it, I think this is a great bible.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Exciting News! {The Twinery}

I am excited to announce that I will be staying on as a Design Team Member for The Twinery in 2014! 
I've been with The Twinery since their very first Design Team - this will be my fourth term! {You can see all the projects I've created with The Twinery's twine here.}
I am excited for 2014 and all the twine-tastic things it will bring!

Be sure to check out the full list of 2014 designers here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beauty of Your Dreams

Today's card is one that I created using my Distress Stain/Shaving Cream tutorial to create the marbled cardstock background.
I stamped the image, border, and sentiment on my marbled cardstock background and then added some Matte Black Shimmer twine to finish it off.
I used a stamp set/company that is unfortunately no longer around, but I just liked this card enough that I wanted to share anyway.
Have a wonderful day!

Supplies:
Cardstock: Discount Cardstock (Brilliant White 130#);
Stamps: Market Street Stamps (Dreamcatcher);
Ink: Ranger (Archival - Jet Black);
Twine: The Twinery (Matte Black Shimmer); 

Color Media: Ranger (Distress Stains - Spun Sugar, Victorian Velvet, Spiced Marmalade, Wild Honey);
Other: Barbasol (Shaving Cream);
Tools: Fiskars (Trimmer, Scissors); We R Memory Keepers (Corner Chomper - 3/8" Round); Scor-Pal (Scoring Board);

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sail My Way

For this card, I wanted to give neon a try. I didn't have anything specifically neon, but I picked the brightest Copic markers I had and went for it. 
I do love the bright, fun feeling this card has. What do you think? Have you tried going neon?
Thank you for stopping by today!

Supplies:
Cardstock: Discount Cardstock (Brilliant White 130#); 

Image: Graphics Fairy;
Markers: Copic;
Stickers: Lily Bee (Alphabet Stickers);
Other: Queen & Co. (Trendy Tape - Black Chevron Washi Tape);
Tools: Fiskars (Trimmer, Scissors); Scor-Pal (Scoring Board);


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book Review :: InScribed Collection

The InScribed Collection is currently a collection of 4 studies (by women and for women). The 4 current books in the collection are: Leaving Ordinary by Donna Gaines, Living "So That" by Wendy Blight, Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel, and Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan.

Each of the books in this collection are just beautiful books (judging by the cover, here) - they each have a textured textured cover (almost like watercolor paper) and the pages have deckle edges (aka - uncut or featheredged). Both the front and back covers have attached flaps (not a book jacket or dust cover) - the front flaps have Proverbs 3:3 and a note from the author (in their handwriting) and the back flaps have information about the author (including a picture). This collection uses The Voice as the primary source for Scripture quotations. (This may be why there are unexplained italicized words in some of the quotations - I do not have The Voice so I do not know for sure.)

I started by reading Leaving Ordinary by Donna Gaines. I feel like this book would be easy to use as a devotional. Each chapter is between 6-15 pages and takes approximately 10-30 minutes to read. Each chapter ends with 'Questions to Consider' and has a space for writing notes. The book is divided into 3 parts. The subtitle Leaving Ordinary ("Encounter God through Extraordinary Prayer") may be a bit misleading as the topic of prayer is not really introduced until halfway though the book (in Chapter 10). I feel that this book addressed concepts that can/will be helpful in coming to God in prayer, but doesn't often directly address prayer. A better subtitle may have been something like "Encounter God through the Tabernacle". The information in this book was interesting and definitely gave me some new things to think about regarding the tabernacle and it's relevance to us today.

Next up was Living "So That" by Wendy Blight. This book seems to be well tailored to use with a small group. It would also be useful for individual study. This book has a lot of questions and room to write your answers right there in the book, so when you sit down with this one you will want to have a pen and Bible handy. The book is divided into five chapters, with each chapter being divided into five parts. Through the five chapters (Jesus Came So That..., God Spoke So That..., Pray So That..., Trials Come So That..., Let Your Light Shine So That...") the author leads you to study, reflect, and think. It does seem as though the author intended Living "So That" to be read in 5 weeks (one chapter per week, one part per weekday) because she uses the phrases "this week's lesson", "yesterday's lesson", and "today's lesson". I think that would be a good pace for this book, but you can definitely take it at your own pace.

After that, I looked into Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan. This study will take you through the book of Ephesians - the 6 chapters in the book of Ephesians are divided into 6 sections in the book. Each of the 6 sections in the book has 3 lessons. The book uses the author's "d.i.v.e." method (define, investigate, visualize, embrace) to work through the passages from Ephesians. Dive Deeper truly has a Bible study feel to it - there are fill in the blanks and questions with lined space for you to write your answer. In the margins, there are icons to point out which portion of the "d.i.v.e." method you will be using at that point in the text. At the end of the book (starting on page 271), there are 5 appendices with further Bible study helps. Aside from the obvious benefit of using this book to study Ephesians, I think this would also be useful for anyone who is learning how to study the Bible. The author provides a simple explanation of her study process and uses it throughout the book, and that process can be taken and used in further studies.

The final book in the collection that I looked at is Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel. This book uses an approach similar to Leaving Ordinary. (What I mean by this is the books have the main text in a chapter with bonus thought questions and room for notes at the end of each chapter. This is different from the approach of Living "So That" and Dive Deeper that use a more "study" approach with in-chapter questions with spaces for your response.) Amazed and Confused is broken up into 10 chapters (and an introduction) and each chapter ends with questions to think about and a full, lined page for notes. The author has a very easy to read style, with many relatable anecdotes. Amazed and Confused will take you through the book of Habakkuk and show how although the writings of the prophets may not directly concern our future, they can be relevant and beneficial for us.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.