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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? post on Tuesday!!

By November 15, 2017 Books, Memes, Reviews

Mi Gato, Mi Perro (My Cat, My Dog) – A bilingual book for younger learners (and also worked for me to impress my 14 yo who is learning Spanish in high-school and check his learning skills at the same time) which impressed with both the cute, colorful illustrations and text that repeated just the right amount to help learn. I had memorized most of the words used in the book due to the clever repetitions by the time I reached the end of the book! es un buen libro!!

 

Harry’s Spooky Surprise! (Harry The Happy Mouse Book 3) – Loved this book, it surprised me at the end and will without a doubt provide that sweet surprise to any reader of the book. I will be reading all the other books in the series. Harry the Happy Mouse is sure to delight!!

 

 

Harry Moon Halloween Nightmares – This book is about magic, and all that is good with a generous serving of adventure. Harry Moon and his family are very likable and believable too. I need to read the rest of the series now.
‘What all boys and girls are destined to become if they simply believe…….They become magic’

 

 

Disclaimer: Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for digital copies of the Mi Gato, Mi Perro and Harry Moon books. They are all available on Amazon (affiliate links above)

All these books go towards It’s Monday! What are you Reading? KidLit hosted over at TeachMentorTexts. Join in and check the other links to find fascinating new reads and discover wonderful older ones too.

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A Holiday Gift Guide for Kids of all Ages – Part One

By November 7, 2017 Art, Books, Everything Else, Reviews

This is the first of the gift-list posts I promised a couple of days ago. Very soon, before you know it, it will be Christmas and here are some gifts that will be sure to bring a smile on the faces of those who receive it. These are books and activity kits all in one and sure to keep your kids occupied with wonderful results to top it off. These books are aimed for kids ages 8+ and I know I have enjoyed them as well (and younger ones too, with some supervision).

Klutz Make Clay Charms Craft Kit – This book is totally ‘charming’, literally too! I bought many copies of the book as gifts before I finally got one for my DD. She was almost convinced I will not get it for her each time a copy arrived by mail in the now familiar shipping box at our home. So when I did finally buy it for her, it took some effort and an additional boKLUTZ Clay Charms Holiday Gift Guideok of charms (which was incidentally a gift once again for a favorite friend) to ensure that she did finally have her own copy of the book. It took her all of 20 minutes to make a half a dozen charms (some pictured below while a couple others were gifted to her little cousins as they worked on them together with my little one leading them both).
With easy to follow instructions for adorable charms, this book is sure to be a hit with all little crafters!!Clay Charms that look yummy enough to eat

And that is not all, the Glitter Clay Charms is also much loved (yet to get for my DD but gifted many times over already) as is the Make your Mini Erasers book which is something I have been thinking about and not yet tried myself or gifted yet (maybe this Christmas?).

 

Considering we love Legos in our home and my 14 yo has made a couple of stop motion movies with Legos before, the KLUTZ LEGO Make Your Own Movie Kit  is a strong contender for our next KLUTZ buy as well along with the Lego Chain Reactions Craft Kit and the Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Kit. The Crazy Action Contraptions Kit has been gifted and loved as well by friends and I can vouch for it.

KLUTZ LEGO Make Your Own Movie Holiday Gift GuideKLUTZ LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions Holiday Gift Guide

And for fun at any time, face painting is always an option. This book was a gift for my little girl a few years ago and has seen a lot oKLUTZ Face Painting Holiday Gift Guidef use. The instructions for the different designs are clear and easy to follow and my DD was a face-painter artiste while the paints lasted (now, we need to get more paints!)

Note: While this is not a sponsored post at all as I have personally bought (as mentioned many times over too) and used many of these items or heard from those I have gifted the items too, this post contains affiliate links.

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The Why Post

By October 28, 2017 Art, Everything Else, Food, Learning, Memes, Reviews, Travel, Writing

My previous(still actively current as well) blog

I started blogging years ago actually and as part of setting up this new blog earlier this month, I even imported content from there (excluding a couple more recent posts).. So you might be asking, why a why I am blogging post? This is more of a reinventing myself as a blogger post – of moving from a free blog to my own space on the world wide web. If then, why import all content from my previous blog? Because that is a part of me as well, and as part of reinventing, I also plan to refresh and redo some of my posts from earlier.

Writing Fuels me

Writing has been a treasured part of my life forever now (well, since I learned to write anyways, and before that, I made up stories to tell my little brother), and blogging is an extension of that.  As a child, I wrote poems, stories, and participated in writing challenges whenever I could. Everything I wrote, no matter what it was, gave me a sense of accomplishment that it energized me, made me happier, made me ‘me’, and that eventually led to a better me, which meant I was able to also help others (tutoring classmates the previous night before finals and all through the year was one of my first such experiences; mom would worry that I would not be able to focus on what I needed to study for, but teaching and sharing my knowledge made me better at it so it was all gooood!) (By the way, I also experience this same energy-up when I work on art or end up taking a really good photograph or somehow manage to have cooked up something yummy that is also healthy)

What was I blogging about?

My initial blog started out as my spot for my R&R – this could easily mean the traditional ‘rest and recreation’ or my little twist on the traditional ‘Recreation and Relaxation’ or my very own ‘Raving and Ranting’.  In the beginning (and even today), I read many blogs about blogging – and many of them had a central message – “pick a niche”. That led me to thinking – what is my specialty? I realized I am more of a Jack of Many Trades (with some level of mastery in a few) and it would be me being me, if I wrote about all of those passions and interests I have. So I have been writing about reading, travel, participating in memes, sharing recipes, tips, my poetry, and photographs, life’s magical moments, parenting and its many facets, reviews of books and products, and more.

And now 

All those varied things that I (plan to) write about inspired me to add the tagline for my blog – this is not a niche-less blog, but a blog(ful) of niches!!  I am still working on the theme, the logo, updating my older posts so they fall in place with my categories, and some more branding to make it more like home, a cozy place for readers to drop by and explore.

Today, I hope to keep doing all that and also include more posts where I can let my readers relax a bit, learn some more, and leave with a smile on their faces, facts in their brains, a spring in their step, and a desire to return (of course)!!…

So here is my question to my readers (old and new) –

what energized you today? Or made you smile? Do let me know in the comments!!

 

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One product, many uses – Country Crock Make It Yours Challenge

By April 29, 2016 Food, Reviews

Baking is  something I started developing an interest only over the past few years and it has definitely become a more frequent thing to have the wonderful smell of something baking in our home since my little girl decided she loved baking (over the past couple of years!).

My 10 year old girl loves spending time with me in the kitchen and is always earmarking pages on cookbooks specifically baking related) with recipes she wants to try out and her library bag is invariably filled with books on baking. So it was no wonder that we had to try out a couple of our favorite recipes as a twist on the #MakeItYours challenge from CountryCrock when we received a free sample of Country Crock – thanks to Influenster and CountryCrock.

A quick review of the product itself first:
This was maybe the second time I was using this product – the first time being years ago.
Pros: It was better than I expected – perfectly spreadable at all times, even straight from the refrigerator – it was great on toasts, and with pancakes too! It is buttery, lending itself easily to all my recipes – I used this for a twist on the #MakeItYours recipe inspired by a rainbow tie-dye sugar cookies recipe I had done with regular butter earlier as well as for a much loved banana bread. They were both enjoyed. The cookies turned out more chewy than crispy – had expected slightly crispier cookies – but they were definitely yummy. The banana bread was delicious and not very different from the time I used regular butter.
Cons: Well, it is not butter! and it is a little salty for my tastes (though others at home loved this as they need that additional zing of salt!).
Overall: A product I would buy again and store in the refrigerator as a backup for those days when I run out of my regular butter or I just need spreadable butter on toast rightaway!

The County Crock Make It Yours recipe is here. And below is my twist on the same – my twists in italics below.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Country Crock® Spreadable Sticks or Tub, cold from the refrigerator
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk used 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • food coloring mixed to portions of the dough and mixed up to create a tie dye effect.
  • sparkly sugar to add on top of the cookies
  • marshmallows, M and Ms, mini Oreos cut in halves to add as mix-ins
Directions: (from the original recipe directly)
Preheat oven to 375°. Mix Country Crock®
Spread, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, egg, egg yolk and vanilla
in large bowl until well mixed. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and
baking soda until blended. (Dough will be soft and creamy.)
Add your favorite mix-ins in any combination, and mix until every spoonful of dough has some of the delicious mix-ins.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls on ungreased baking sheets 3-inches apart.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Cool 1 minute on wire rack; remove from sheets and cool completely.
Add toppings and decorations.

Including a photo of a few mini cookies I made with the dough in a mini muffin pan 🙂 They turned out crispier than the rest but aren’t they cute?

As for the banana bread, the recipe is straightforward and makes for a super moist, delicious banana bread.
What is needed:
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter (I used the Country Crock original spread)
3/4 cup coconut sugar (oh, I am in love!)
2 cups all purpose flour (I instead used Trader Joes multigrain mix (my favorite one to use) and slightly reduced the baking powder/baking soda)
1/2 cup yogurt (you can use 2 eggs instead)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinammon
1/2 cup raisins (and or walnuts/cranberries/chocolate chips – as you wish)
1 tsp salt (reduced the salt to 1/2 tsp as the Country Crock butter I used in this instance was salted)

How to:
Preheat the oven to 325 F
In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, add the butter, the yogurt, vanilla, milk to this and mix well till creamy.
Add the sugar to this and mix well.
Now add the remaining dry ingredients one by one – baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and lastly the flour – and mix till it all well.
Add the raisins (and/or other items) and stir
Pour in a greased 9 in by 5 in loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serve warm with vanilla icecream

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Treasure Trove Thursday – Uncommon Giveaway

By May 31, 2013 Reviews

Uncommon Goods has been a long-time favorite store of mine for – as the name says – uncommon goods. The store definitely lives up to its name and the quality and service I have received each time I ordered from here in the past has been exceptional.  Uncommon Goods are a mix of unique and useful
with a twist.

This has been a store I visit for many things – to order gifts for loved ones, to discover new uncommon goods, and sometimes, just to get inspired! Some of my favorite goods from what I have ordered in the past from them are the Geek clock and the Glass Water Faucet. They were both gifts and were aahed and oohed over. Whenever I go to this website, I find myself browsing and then realizing I have spent loads of time without knowing it.  And when I start making a list of items I want, the list becomes ‘everything in the store’!
Since Father’s Day is just around the corner, you can check out Uncommon Goods for dad here
or here for the perfect item.  On the other hand, if you just want something for yourself or anyone else, go ahead and find a great Uncommon Good here.
Here are some items I have on my wish list currently (among many others)
I will be reviewing a few more items of my choice in a couple of weeks – thanks to Uncommon Goods for providing me these items for my review. In the meantime, they have also generously provided me a $50 gift card to offer to my readers for a giveaway! 

This is open to US only (sorry to the others).

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Magic Monday – A leaf, a robot, a goat, and a visionary

By February 14, 2012 Books, Memes, Reviews
A Leaf Can Be Laura Purdie Silas
A Leaf Can Be: A wonderful book that shows very simply and beautifully, in flowing rhymes with soft, whimsical, yet vibrant illustrations that a leaf is not just a leaf – it is and can be many different things – other than the obvious. It can, of course be, a sun-taker, and it can also be a moth-matcher! The book takes us through the seasons to show the many faces of the leaf during the many phases of the year. Author  Laura Purdie Salas and illustrator Violeta Dabija have blended their talents to bring together a book that is entertaining, enchanting, and educational at the same time. By showing us that a leaf can be so much, this book teaches us not only the many uses of leaves (and thus plants/trees), and it also subtly tells us that each of us can be so much more!
The book also includes a glossary, a list of books for further reading, and a useful index called ‘More about Leaves’ where each of the phrases used in the book is described in detail. One example is below:
Air cleaner: When leaves take in air , they also take tiny bits of pollution out of the air. Leaves also send out clean oxygen , a chemical in the air that people need to breathe
Rating: A (I have read it many times already at the request of my six year old and for myself, just to see the illustrations themselves)
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 8

You can download delightful bookmarks here with images and rhymes from the book.

beep and bahBeep and Bah: This book is supercute – since I read it first, I have read
it so many times over already. The kids love it too and cannot resist returning
to read it. Beep the robot and Bah the goat, along with the many other animals
they meet on their adventure are delightful.

A missing sock – that is something everyone is familiar with;
who has not wondered where a single sock from each of our pairs has vanished to?
Well, in this story, when Bah finds one single sock early one morning and goes to his friend Beep, Beep decides that the best thing to do is go find out where the missing sock has gone and takes Bah along with him on the adventure. There is minimal text in the story and the illustrations convey a whole lot bringing whole new meaning to ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. Readers of all ages can enjoy the book and follow the story without a problem. The illustrations are fun, silly, and bright and engage the reader from the start to the end. The end – it is perfect! Both my son and I are trying to see if I can come up with a new adventure for Beep and Bah and enjoying making up stories in our mind for now. In the meantime, I just hope the author/illustrator of this continues to create more adventures for Beep and Bah for us to enjoy.
You can download delightful bookmarks here with images and rhymes from the book.
 
Rating: A
Reading Level: Up to 8 yrs
Reread Level: A
Titans of Business – Steve Jobs: Concise, inspirational, informative – a good book for young
children to learn about Steve Jobs.  This
book provides a brief overview of Steve Jobs life and achievements without
going too much in detail. It provides a glimpse into his personality, the
visionary that he was, his value for perfection and simplicity, and the inspiration
he continues to be even after his death. NeXT, PIXAR, and APPLE itself are all
included as part of his professional journey in the book. Nick Hunter lists
Jobs’ successes and failures as well as his strengths and weaknesses.
Snippets of interesting facts as well as quotes are
highlighted in different colored boxes making the book visually pleasing along
with the many photos included (many of which are Jobs’).
Examples of the facts/quotes from the book:
“The bite was added so
people would know it was an apple and not a tomato.”
‘“Do you want to sell
sugar water all your life or do you want to change the world?” Jobs tries to persuade
Pepsi’s John Sculley to join Apple’
It includes a ‘Glossary’ of words used in the book for the
young reader (though I am sure most young readers nowadays are born knowing
many of these words!), a helpful list of more books to read and websites to
explore, and a section for the young entrepreneur with Steve Jobs’ ideas on how
to be one.
Rating: B – the book by itself is great for kids to
introduce Steve Jobs and presented well.
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 11Disclaimer:Thank you to NetGalley for sending me a
digital review copy of all three books above. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on
this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They
are my personal opinions formed when I read this book.

All books go towards the  Read-to-Me Picture Book Challenge
A Leaf can Be and Steve Jobs go towards the Non-Fiction book challenge at KidLitFrenzy 

Monday Memes:
What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
It is a time when we share what we’ve read, currently reading, or what is up
next on our reading list.
Completed reading:
Books reviewed here today
Currently reading:
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Lilac House by Anita Nair
(digital ARC)
Next to read:
Lots and lots and lots to pick from…
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