Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review - Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this 1st book in the Mercy Thompson series, shape-changer mechanic, Mercy seems to be prone to entangle with creatures that most would steer clear of.  She seems to have the perfect mix of bravery and "should-know-better-and-does-it-anyway" to make the story interesting.  It helps that since she was born coyote, she has senses that humans do not, but it also gets her into trouble when she can't stop herself from helping out others and getting herself into trouble just as often.  She seems to draw strong male suitors to her like fireflies to a lamp.

In this story, she ends up helping out a lone new werewolf, which sheds light on a plot to upend the werewolf community and she finds herself saving the hot alpha.

It was a great read and I plan on continuing the series to find out what else happens to her.

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Book Review - Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Blood Bound (Mercedes Thompson, #2)Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had picked up this book thinking that it was the first in the series by Patricia Briggs about a shapechanger named Mercy who was a car mechanic that could change into a coyote and was mixed up with werewolves, vampires, fae and all sorts of trouble.  Once I got into the book, I realized that it was later in the series.  It turned out to be book 2.  I still really enjoyed it and wanted to start the series at the beginning as soon as I was done. 

In this book she seems to have all sorts of creatures chasing her (both romantically and violently).  Her vampire friend asks for help and it embroils her in a lot of trouble with a demon, vampires and of course the werewolves.  Not to mention trying to balance the multiple romantic advances that she has to fend off. 

I thought that the author did a good job of mixing it with lots of fantasy creatures in our real world.  I recommend it for those that like fantasy

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Book Review - City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4)City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the previous 3 books in this series, plus another stand alone book that Cassandra Clare has written, so it was a no-brainer to pick this one up.  I did enjoy it, although, I think that the previous books were a tad better.  In some ways, this book seemed more like a piece of a story instead of a whole story unto itself.  I prefer series books to each speak for themselves,  while continuing the characters.  I would still recommend it for someone who likes the series, but it should not be read on it's own.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Party Planning & blog giveaway

As you probably have figured out, I LOVE to plan parties!  To find some cool theme and create all the details to make an amazing party is just a thrill to me.  For this reason, I am always on the look out for resources and ideas for parties.
When planning my son's first birthday party, I went on the hunt for ideas on how to create a fun Sporty Mickey party.  Some of my normal websites that I check did not hold anything for me (Oriental Trading, Birthday Express and Birthday Party Ideas).  So, I started "googling" things.  Well, I found the coolest website.  It is called Celebrations At Home.  They had the best party page with pictures for a Baseball party:
I already shared pictures on how I made my banner from this party and I plan on sharing some of the other ideas that I got from this website,too.
I was just floored by their ideas.  I wanted to copy them all.  Now, I follow their blog daily just to see all the new cool ideas.  They have ideas for just about anything and they are always beautiful and wonderfully photographed.
Well, right now, they are having a HUGE giveaway from some of their vendors, valued at over $270!  I was excited that I wanted to share it with you.
Make sure to check them out to help give you inspiration on your next party, too! 

How to Make Your Own Banner

I celebrated my little one's birthday recently and we decided to go with a sport theme - well, a sporty Mickey theme to be exact.  Well, as many things that I want to do, there wasn't anything out there that was both sports and Mickey.  All the ideas were one or the other, so I took ideas from both and merged them together.
One thing that I really loved was the sport flag banners.  Since I wanted both themes, I went ahead and found fabrics that worked for both.  I searched yard sales, thrift stores and my own storage.  I got 2 sheets on clearance at a thrift store for $2 in navy and dusty blue (that's a ton of fabric for that amount).  I found a red & white stripe at a yard sale for $3 for 4 yards.  I already had a Mickey print and a red and a light blue/white stripe.  Then I found a multi-sport print at JoAnn's.  It was the most expensive at $4.19/yard on sale, but it tied everything together.
I made my own triangle template.  I folded each of the fabrics in half, making sure that if there were stripes, they were lined up the correct direction.
For this project, it really doesn't matter if your fabric is "right" or "wrong" sides together.  I would then lay my template on top of the fabric.  I found it easiest to cut all the way across the fabric of the height of the triangle
After that, it is easy to cut each set of triangles.  I found that if I had the fold to the left, I would get 3 to 5 and 1/2 triangles out of each strip.
You will need to cut out triangles in each of the fabrics.  De[ending on how long you want your banner to be, will decide how many triangles total you need.

Now onto the sewing!
Place your 2 matching triangles (or mismatching if that is the look you want) right sides together.  Sew the 2 sides together, leaving the top open.  I did mine in batches - sew 5 or 6 and then do the next steps, since I was trying the process out.  It would make more sense to do all the sewing at once.
Next, you need to turn them right side out.  It is best to use a pointed tool like the one pictured to the left to push the corner all the way out.  This tool is specifically designer to help push corners out and things like stuffing into small areas, but you could use anything.  If you do not have anything, it will still work, it just will not be as crisp of a triangle.  I used the tool on the triangle on the left and did not on the triangle on the right.
For the next step, I ironed the seams and corners.  Again, this could be skipped, but it would not look as crisp.
You will need to fold in about 1/4 inch of the top edges and iron down flat.  There should be no raw edges showing.  You could pin it down if you want to keep it closed, but I found that if I ironed it well, I did not need to.
I top-sewed down the top edge to keep it from getting messed up.
You should end up with a pile of multi-patterned triangles

In order to figure out the pattern that I wanted, I first laid them out on the floor to play around with color combinations.  I found that some triangles looked better next to others.  For instance, my light blue and the light blue stripe were 2 different light blues, so they did not look good next to each other.  The same could be said of the navy and Mickey on navy.
Once you have your pattern figured out, this also gives you an idea of how long your finished banner will be.

I made a stack of my triangles in the right order so that as I sewed them, I could just easily grab each one in order.
I used an inexpensive white 1/4" ribbon.  Measure how much ribbon you want to hang off the end.  I left about 2' and then started the first triangle.  Using a zigzag pattern to give it a little more strength, I sewed the ribbon to the triangle.  I left about 1 1/2" between each triangle.  Continue sewing triangle and repeating your pattern if needed until your banner is the right size.  Make sure to leave the same amount of ribbon on the end that you left on the beginning.
And WALLAH!  You are done!
Now, you can make a banner for any event and in any color!
I hope feel comfortable trying out this fun and easy sewing project.