Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review :: All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey To Color Your Way To Christmas by Nancy Guthrie, illustrated by Lizzie Preston

All Is Bright is a beautiful coloring book for the Advent/Christmas season - but it's not just a coloring's a devotional, too! The beauty starts on the outside of All Is Bright with a cover accented with gold foil. (It's part of a beautiful line of books and Bibles from Tyndale - the Living Expressions Collection.)
Inside of All Is Bright, you will find 31 devotionals (for each day in December) on the left of each page opening with a coordinating coloring page on the right. The devotional pages have little accents that are great for coloring, too.
The illustrations in All Is Bright are detailed - great for spending some quality coloring time while thinking about the devotional for the day.

But there's more! (I'm feeling like an info-mercial, but I really was impressed at how much is packed in here.) After the devotional section of All Is Bright, there is a section with 12 family activities (each with a verse, some "discussion starters", and a prayer). and then 12 additional coloring pages. Each of these coloring pages are done in a similar style to the devotional coloring pages, but simplified (not so much detail) - perfect for kids. 

I love that All Is Bright combines devotions, coloring, and involving the family/kids. I definitely recommend adding All Is Bright to your Advent activities.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Tyndale Blog Network - a book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Find all my posts pertaining to Bible art or journaling here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review :: Aquarelle Monet

Aquarelle Monet is a unique watercolor art kit (available at Timberdoodle), based on the works of Claude Monet.
The Aquarelle Monet kit contains:
- 5 liquid watercolors (in squeezable dropper vials, similar to what you would find for food coloring)
- a mixing palette (with 20 wells)
- a double-sided paintbrush (size 1 & 2)
- a water pipette
- a small practice piece of watercolor paper
- 3 watercolor paper canvases (approx. 9 11/16" x 11 3/4" each)
- an instruction booklet with paint mixing chart

The instruction booklet has some great information in it, but the only reason it is a booklet is because it is printed in so many languages. Once you find the language you are looking for, it is really only a standard page size of information. Even in that small space, though, it touches on color theory and painting techniques such as: primary colors, color blends/secondary colors, tertiary colors, cool and warm colors, complementary colors, lightening colors, darkening colors, mixing colors, glazing, washes, graded wash, wet-on-wet, lifting off, along with some useful tips. The color mixing chart on the back of the booklet is also very useful.

What the instruction booklet (and the kit in general) does not have is specific instruction to recreate Monet's paintings. Once the basic color theory and paint techniques are discussed, you are on your own to choose colors and test your skills. And if you want to see the 3 original paintings in anything bigger than a 1" x 1 1/2" tile on the edge of the box, you will either need to just look at the portions of the paintings shown on the front of the box or look them up in a book or on the internet. I found it odd that there weren't prints of the original paintings inside the box or instruction booklet. 

The watercolor paper canvases are where the Aquarelle Monet kit really comes alive. Each paper is printed with a resist image - the resist areas will show through the watercolor as white on your finished project. Each watercolor canvas has an approx. 1/4" portion at the bottom which is intended to be trimmed off, making the finished works approx. 9 7/16" x 11 3/4" each.

I let each of my three school-aged children have a turn to sit down with the kit, read the instruction booklet, and paint. 
Here are the results:
(Age 7)
(Age 10)
(Age 12)

As one of my kids was reading the booklet and testing out some paint mixing techniques, this is what I overheard:
"I can't believe I'm adding magenta to something to make green." 
Followed by...
"It made green."

Definitely a learning experience.
With all three paintings completed, we are now left with nearly empty bottles of yellow and blue watercolor, and about 1/3-1/2 of the liquid watercolor remaining in the three other bottles. 

All in all, I found that the Aquarelle Monet kit was a great experience - educational, engaging, and we are left with some great art pieces that are ready for display. One thing I did find that we needed to add to the kit is a larger paintbrush. The included paintbrush is great for detail (both tips are very fine), but it would take incredible focus to use those tiny tips to fill in the large background areas.

And, of course, one of the best parts of this kit was hearing one of my kids say of their painting:
"I'm really proud of myself!"

I'm proud of them, too.
FTC Declaration: Timberdoodle has provided me with a complimentary copy of this product. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review :: Tenzi & Tenzi Card Deck

Tenzi is a fun, fast-paced dice game that is great for the whole family. (Available at Timberdoodle.) 
Each Tenzi set has a total of 40 dice (10 dice in 4 different color sets). The dice colors are assorted, so it is easy to get a variety of color sets. The basic idea behind the original Tenzi game is to roll all of your dice as fast as you can, keeping whichever you choose, until all 10 dice show the same number.

Simple, right?

Everyone can play and it is so much fun! Plus, with the tube packaging, Tenzi is very portable.

Even if you choose not to play the Tenzi game, these colorful Tenzi dice sets are fabulous. Dice are great for a variety of educational games and the color variety makes these great to use for making patterns and more. 

A great addition to Tenzi is the Tenzi Card Deck. (Also available at Timberdoodle.) The Tenzi Card Deck has 77 alternate ways to mix it up with your Tenzi dice. All of the games in the Tenzi Card Deck have "zi" titles (Pairzi, Evenzi, Storkzi, Acey Duzi, etc.).
Are the 77 ways to play all totally different from each other? Not exactly.
Are the 77 ways to play cards worth getting? Definitely.

We had so much fun playing a variety of the Tenzi Card Deck games...much more fun than I thought we would have. There are versions which require more concentration (focusing on particular combinations of numbers) and versions which are just great for laughs (like "Piratezi", where you must roll keeping one eye closed and you must say "Arrrg" after each roll). There are even some ideas for games which do not involve speed (although most in the deck do involve an element of speed) and some additional blank cards for writing down your own Tenzi game versions. 

One of the best things about Tenzi and the Tenzi Card Deck games is that it is so easy to pick up. You can introduce a new person to the game and be playing within a minute. This is a great ice breaker, a great rainy day activity, a great party game (be sure to buy extra Tenzi tube sets!), and can be used as an educational tool as well.

I definitely recommend Tenzi and the Tenzi Card Deck games as an addition to any family game closet.
FTC Declaration: Timberdoodle has provided me with a complimentary copy of this product. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review :: Puzzleball Globe

If you love puzzles (and learning), you are sure to love the Puzzleball Globe! (Available at Timberdoodle.) 
The Puzzleball Globe is just what it sounds like - a puzzle, in the form of a ball, that creates a globe. The puzzle pieces are a printed plastic, with a portion of the map on one side and a number and arrow on the back side. 
There are two ways to put the Puzzleball Globe together. The first way is the traditional way for a puzzle - matching up the image side of the pieces, fitting them together until the puzzle is complete. The second way is using the back side. Simply put the pieces together in numerical order, adding the next piece in order to the side where the arrow is pointing. 
For being a ball shape, I was unsure how the Puzzleball Globe would hold up during assembly. I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy the globe felt while it was being put together. Although you can't toss it around during construction and expect it to stay together, it doesn't crumble at basic handling. The plastic pieces are a definite plus for keeping this globe sturdy and looking nice. As a bonus, there is a special plastic stand for use during the assembly (shown in the picture I took, above) - it is very helpful for keeping your Puzzleball Globe from running away. Once you have the Puzzleball Globe fully assembled, there is a separate plastic stand for display.

All in all, our family has been pleased with the Puzzleball Globe and will be building it again and again. It is a great piece to have for homeschool or for learning in general. 
FTC Declaration: Timberdoodle has provided me with a complimentary copy of this product. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Book Review :: NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

The NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is a new journaling Bible on the market that is perfect for a young artist/journaler in your life. Actually, I think this is great not only for young girls, but for adults, too! With the exception of the words "for girls" and "children" on the (easily removable) cardboard sleeve, there is no reference to this being a Bible for young girls anywhere. As long as you enjoy the cover design, this Bible will be great for you - young or "old".

The NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is currently available in several hardcover color schemes: Turquoise, Pink, Mint, and Purple.
The hardcover design is accented with colored foil, which adds a bit of beautiful shine. Each of the variations of the NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition has a color-coordinated elastic strap closure as well as a color-coordinated ribbon page marker.

If you are familiar with the NIV Holy Bible, Journal Edition, the NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition has the same basic interior layout and design, with only one exception: white pages. (The NIV Holy Bible, Journal Edition has cream-colored pages.) Everything else - page numbers, text size, font style, margin size, line spacing, page dimensions, spine thickness - is the same. You can find my review of the NIV Holy Bible, Journal Edition (specific measurements and interior photos included), on my blog here.

The NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is a fantastic choice for a journaling Bible. 
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, November 15, 2016

Book Review :: Me: A Compendium by Wee Society

Me: A Compendium is such a fun book! It is a fill-in journal for kids...and not the "boring" kind of journal with just pages filled with lines. This book is colorful, fun, and inspires creativity.
All of the pages in Me: A Compendium are full-color. They feature cute, quirky art and simple prompts. Many of the prompts in Me: A Compendium can be answered both by drawing and (or) writing, making it something that will appeal to a wide variety of kids. 
Some examples of the prompts in the book are: 
"These are my favorite socks."
"This is what my hair looks like."
"Rate each kind of weather." (With an illustration and word for various types of weather and five blank stars to fill in beneath each.)
"These are my best buddies."
"The best hiding place."

The neutral color scheme in Me: A Compendium makes this a great choice for both boys and girls. In fact, my three school-aged kids (two boys and one girl, ages 7-12) all asked for this book.

If you know a budding writer, an upcoming artist, or someone who just needs something to keep boredom at bay, be sure to grab them a copy of Me: A Compendium.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Handmade Holidays Blog Hop 2016

The Introduction:
If you are hopping along with us today: Welcome!
If you aren't already a follower, I'd love to have you follow my blog!
If you are on Facebook, please "like" Ink Blots by TRD.

If you are one of my regular readers: Thanks for coming back! I love having you! Please feel free to join along in the hop.

The Project:
I'm excited to be part of this year's Handmade Holidays blog hop! I've participated in the past and have always enjoyed it. You can see some handmade gift ideas I've previously shared here.

This year, I joined the hop with a simple (but practical) decor idea to share. This idea came together quickly thanks to some of the great hop sponsors, and it is something that you can re-create easily with just a few simple supplies.

When it comes to decor, I am not one to have closets full of items just for the holidays. I like things that are practical (and pretty) and I love it when decor is functional. All of that came together in this rustic shutter photo hanger:
I started with a wooden rustic shutter from Walnut Hollow and painted it with a couple coats of DecoArt's True Teal paint. 
I love the pop of non-traditional holiday color that this piece brings to my home for the holidays. With the addition of The Twinery's new Icicle twine, it is the perfect place to showcase the photos that arrive in holiday cards each year.
Of course, it can also be used to hang the cards themselves, or even a few special ornaments.

While I had my paint supplies out, I went to work making a few special ornaments to complete the display. I love how paint and a few simple stencils can bring such a cozy feel to some round cuts of wood. The stenciling reminds me of a cozy Christmas sweater:

Be sure that you hop on over to The Twinery blog next, where you'll find more beautiful handmade ornaments.

Thanks for stopping by today - and happy holidays!
Supplies were from the following sponsors: The Twinery, Walnut Hollow, DecoArt, and Buttons Galore & More.

The Giveaway:
Before you move on - don't forget about the giveaway! This collection of craft supplies will be sure to help you make this holiday handmade. Enter to win using the link below:

The Hop Order:
Be sure to continue on the hop!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review :: PurpleTrail Mom Planner (8.5" x 11")

If you haven't yet heard of PurpleTrail planners, please allow me to introduce you. I'll be sharing about the PurpleTrail Mom Planner in particular, but there are lots of other great layouts available from PurpleTrail, so be sure to check them out. 

The PurpleTrail planners are available in both 8.5" x 11" or 6" x 8" sizes, and you can choose between hard cover (like a hard cover book, but with a coil binding) or soft cover (which is a sturdy, thick laminate). The cover design is customizable (inside and out), too. Everything comes on a sturdy aluminum coil binding.

Once you get inside the planner, you can keep on customizing! You choose the starting month and there are several add-on options to choose from. The add-ons will be bound into the back of your planner (you can choose up to 4 add-ons). The paper is nice, thick 80 lb. paper (even a Sharpie marker doesn't bleed through when writing!) and the monthly dividers (plastic) are sturdy.
I chose a customized cover design (which I customized from this design) on an 8.5" x 11" planner, with 4 add-ons (plus pockets and stickers). With all of that, this bad boy comes in at a hefty 3 pounds, 3.3 ounces.

Now, let's get to the inside...
The 8.5" x 11" layout on the Mom Planner is incredibly versatile, in my opinion. The bottom boxes are not just for moms. (And if you are a mom, it doesn't mean you have to fill them in with your kids' names and activities.) We all have many activities and aspects to our lives and that is why I think this "Mom Planner" is really a great planner for anyone. Use those boxes to keep track of your: meal planning/nutrition, homeschooling, hobby (or hobbies), YouTube channel, blog, online store or Etsy shop, work, medical appointments, bills due (and pay days!), design teams, church functions, and more. 

To see more of the PurpleTrail Mom Planner (including box measurements), be sure to check out my flip-through video on YouTube
(Or just watch below.)

I'm not going to lie - this planner is not cheap*: the base planner with the addition of the pocket folder, sticker pack, and 4 add-ons came to a total of $72.75. (Shipping added an additional $9.95, making the grand total $82.70.)

To sum up:
Personalized / Customizable
Great paper quality
Great colors
Great layout

Stickers are hard to remove from backing
Some stickers do not fit box sizes

Overall, I was drawn to PurpleTrail planners (and their amazing custom journals, too!) as being the most versatile I've found, and I think they should be a top option for you if you are looking to invest in a planner.
*FTC Declaration: PurpleTrail has provided me with a complimentary planner. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.