11 March 2015

Tiny Bear's Bible

Tiny Bear’s Bible is a sweet & furry Bible with a handful of notable Bible stories, told specifically for children ages 6 and under. I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old, and they both love the short stories in this book! It is written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of the best-selling Jesus Storybook Bible. I am a HUGE fan of that Bible for little kids, but some of the stories are a little too long to hold the interest of my babies. The short stories in Tiny Bear’s Bible are written in poem form, while conveying in every stanza that God loves every one of us, deeply! 

The illustrations in the Bible are colorful and filled with interesting things for kids to look at and point out. The cover of the Bible is soft and fuzzy, and my youngest loves to hug it to her chest when she carries it around! Its the cutest thing ever! This is a sweet little Bible, and while there aren’t very many stories in it, the ones that are included are told wonderfully well. 

***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.***
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25 February 2015

Book Review: It Will Be Okay

It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst

Little Seed was perfectly content in his cozy seed packet on a rickety shelf in the Farmer’s dusty shed. Farmer kept promising Little Seed that he had something great planned for him. Little Seed was turned upside down when Little Fox stumbled into the shed one night. Though Little Seed had been shaken from his comfy home in the the cozy seed packet, he became close friends with Little Fox. Until one day, everything changed. Farmer took Little Seed somewhere completely new. And though Farmer promised he was watching over Little Seed, he was still scared. But through a series of changes and through his enduring friendship with Little Fox, Little Seed learned that indeed, the Farmer is very good and he has been watching over him all along. He and Little Fox both learned that change, while sometimes scary, can be fun and good in the end! 

My Thoughts-
This is a great book for kids who are facing new situations, or who may have difficulty dealing with anxieties and fears. It seems to me that I know of more and more young kids who are struggling with issues like these, and this book addresses them in an endearing, light-hearted way that still manages to drive home the message: God is good, He loves you and is working everything out for your good. The pictures in this book are beautiful- I’ve never seen illustrations in a style quite like this, and they really fit the “feel” of the book. This is a great book that I would highly recommend!

About the Author- 
Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn't shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But she's been learning God's lessons and sharing them on her blog (www.LysaTerKeurst.com) and in her books. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Art, five kids, three dogs, and mouse that refuses to leave her kitchen.

You can purchase this book here!

***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.***

09 December 2014

Book Review: Happy Handmade Home

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home

I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I'd seen it circulating in the blogworld, and though I'd never heard of A Beautiful Mess's blog (I know, where have I been? Still mourning the loss of Young House Love, I suppose), I was curious to see what it was all about. Upon delivery, this book did not disappoint!! The second I received the package in the mail, I ripped open the envelope and counted down the minutes until naptime so I could begin to devour it.

This book is chock full of nearly 240 full color, beautifully designed and meticulously staged photographs. That makes for an absolutely exquisite book. BUT. But. It can be quite a disappointment when one tries to recreate a similar look in their own home. I know the idea of a book like this is to take the general feel of a room/project and put one's own spin on it. However, anything and everything I could ever come up with would be so lackluster compared to the images in this book! The tag of the book is to paint, craft, and decorate a cheerful, more inspiring space. This book definitely inspires, so I suppose my beef isn't really with this book: its with my own inabilities to adequately create what I am inspired to create! However, that certainly won't keep me from trying!

Not only is this a fantastic book on fresh decor ideas, its also a handbook for homemade parties! I love to throw parties-- baby showers, birthday, wedding showers, etc. Any excuse to dress up a space and have lots of friends together is my idea of a good time. I love some of the ideas for party decorations and themes. Perhaps my favorite feature of this book is the 9 Ways series... they choose an ordinary item (jewelry dish, toothbrush holder, picture frame, etc) and remake it 9 different ways. This is revolutionary! I love the idea of taking something ordinary, useful, plain and simple, then turning it into an absolute statement piece!! 

This book is beautiful and really gives a lot of bang for every buck. Not just a coffee table book, this is sure to be sitting on my craft table and my kitchen table, too. 

For more about this book, click HERE or to read more about the Authors, go HERE

Though I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purposes of this review, the opinions are my own. 

Book Review: Let's All Be Brave

Brave. Its a word I've heard over and over this year. My fancy friends- the ones who seem to have time to put their thoughts on paper in eloquent ways I only wish for; the ones who assign each new year a word or theme- many have chose "brave" to be their word of 2014. That's what attracted me to Annie Downs's book, "Let's All Be Brave." That title alone makes me respond with a resounding, "Yes! Let's!" 

Written in an easy to read, blog-to-book format that is so common these days, this book is a collection of thoughts written by Annie in various places (mostly trendy coffee shops), over the course of about a year. From the beginning, her story captivated me. She was living a comfortable life, doing what she had always wanted to do, living near family and friends where she grew up. Then she felt (dun-dun-dun) the stirring. The restlessness. The inkling of an idea that God was calling her to more. I think in one way or another, we've all been there before. We feel a calling to be something bigger than who we currently are, to go somewhere other than where we are, and to step so far out of our comfort zone that the only One who could possibly be calling us there is the One who created it in the first place. 

That's what this book is about... having the courage to recognize when God is speaking, and to act on it. Annie uses illustrations from the Bible and from her own life that underline the faithfulness and consistency of God's never-changing character. Fulling knowing and trusting that God is good is a first step to being brave. Annie writes with refreshing honesty- about being a single woman, about fighting the urge to be a quitter; she's a self-proclaimed CRIER (me too) who gets homesick sometimes (me too). Every chapter was like reading an entry in her journal, one I could closely relate to. Perhaps some of what she wrote, the personal experiences of God's faithfulness, are what I might write if I were to have the same kind of courage she has had. 

Lest you begin to think this is a self-serving book that is simply tooting Annie's own bravery horn, I ultimately appreciate the crux of this book-- that bravery on our part is great and even what is expected of us in the Christian life. But it pales in comparison to the bravery that Jesus Christ  had when he died for our sins. Annie writes, "While it is important to celebrate bravery in others and call it forth in ourselves, it would be ridiculous to believe that anything we do can hold a candle to the courageous things Jesus did for us." 

This book is challenging in a non-threatening way, mainly because it is written by someone who is living what she is preaching. Ideals are great, but they're thin when there's no proof to flesh them out. This book is full of Annie's real-life proof that when we bravely follow God, he is faithful to hold our hand and give us the map for the journey that lies ahead. 

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

06 November 2014

DIY Type

I'm not usually one to get hyped up about the latest trends, but one trend I am loving right now is the Chalkboard lettering trend! You see it everywhere- on walls, art prints, even fabric! The artistry and skill of some of these chalk calligraphers is amazing. I've tried my own hand at some lettering techniques, and while they came out ok, it was anything but perfect. That's why Dana Tanamachi's new book DIY Type really intrigued me. 

There were some mixed reviews about this book, so I decided to check it out for myself. Dana is an accomplished, iconic chalk artist who has been commissioned by big wigs such as Google, Yahoo!, and Nike. She's also created custom cover art for HOW, Time and O, The Oprah Magazine. If anyone knows what they're talking about when it comes to beautiful lettering, this is the person! 

The book is beautiful in person. I knew it came with a set of lettering stencils, so that wasn't a surprise. But what was a surprise was how very little other content this book really contains. There is a grand total of just 9- yes, NINE- pages of instruction or writing on how to actually hand letter. And while the full-color pictures that accompany these few pages are pretty, the instructions are quite vague. Maybe its because I am used to a more step-by-step approach (ala The Pioneer Woman's cook books?), but the writing and instruction in this book leave me want a whole lot more. 

Lack of instruction aside, the stencils in this book are fantastic! There are actually two sets- a larger one and a smaller one. Each letter is cut from heavy cardstock paper and can easily be removed from the binding of the book. The larger letters will be great for making banners or monogrammed T-shirts. The smaller letters will be great for trying on a chalkboard or other art project. 

Overall, this is a fun book. The stencils are basic, but coupled with Dana's embellishment techniques, they could be very helpful in creating some beautiful and original designs! However, if you are looking for more of a step by step guide to lettering, you might want to look for something else. Honestly, I'd love to see a book just full of her designs and artwork! You can purchase this book HERE if you are interested!

Though I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purposes of this review, the opinions are my own. 

29 October 2014

Fall Photos!

We headed out to our favorite orchard, where we've gone every year since we've lived here. Its such a tradition we couldn't pass it up this year. Plus, Anderson's Orchard has the best prices around. Seriously, 1/2 a peck costs $6-- regardless of the type of apple. At Beasley's Orchard (the other popular one in the area), prices go up to $12!!  Craziness. Plus, Anderson's has You-Pick orchards-- we love it! The day was beautiful, much warmer than last year! And we found a beautiful new spot by a small lake to take some family photos. I'm on a mission to get a good family photo to enlarge, since we don't have one of the four of us yet. I'm not sure if any of these made the cut, but they might!

And just for a little nostalgia...

22 October 2014

Book Review: Your Family In Picutres

I tend to be a documenter. I was the girl in high school who was taking pictures at the football games on Friday night- and not just because I was the yearbook editor. I genuinely love to take pictures of life. College was another great time for taking pictures, what with new friendships forming and an endless supply of time on our hands. Then, there were the early years of marriage. Photos from this time consists mainly of pictures of our cats and newlywed couple selfies. Whatever, they were cute (and so were we). And now, I have a family and two little girls. I have to restrain myself not to document their every breath. I know each moment is precious and fleeting, and I want to capture it to the best of my abilities. Enter my amazing husband at Christmas 3 years ago. He bought me my first DSLR camera and I've been in love ever since. Originally, he bought it for me so that I could hone my craft on our oldest daughter who was just about 7 months old at the time.  What a great age for practicing camera settings and lighting balance!

I am not a home-cooked photographer who thinks I've now gone pro because I have basic knowledge of f-stops and photoshop. I am constantly learning and have a long way to go before I would even call myself "good." But ultimately, I want to use my photography to bless others through an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. You can read more about them on their website, but they are an amazing organization. That said, I have a lot to learn and truly enjoy practicing and experimenting with photography. This is why I was so excited to read Me Ra Koh's book, Your Family In Pictures!

First of all, the book is GORGEOUS. Brimming with photos from Me Ra and many other people, nearly every page showcases a brilliant photograph. If you've ever read Me Ra Koh's blog, you know what an incredible woman she is. She isn't just a photographer. She's a mother, a wife, a writer and a survivor of several painful seasons of life. One of her great passions is to empower women-- especially moms. Her genuine, multifaceted heart comes across loud and clear in this book, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. Each page is filled with not only perfect "photo recipes" (as she calls them), but with encouragement and a call to be brave behind- and in front of- the lens.

The book is full of helpful tips and practical advise for turning the most common moments into captured masterpieces.  For instance, who knew that when taking Halloween photos, asphalt can be the perfect surface for bouncing soft light off of your subject??  And that oh-so-elusive glowing Christmas tree shot? Yep, she's got a recipe for that in this book, too. But my favorite section of this book is the one about family portraits. Probably fitting, given my current season of life. She has a page where she writes about the importance of mom taking a self-portrait. If it weren't dark outside right now, I'd be setting up my camera for a self-portrait! On the importance of stepping in front of the lens, she writes, "I don't want the generations after me to simple hear the stories of who I was. I want my loved ones to see the photos that document the chapters of my story: the milestones I reached, the journey I've walked as I discovered my condfidence and love for myself, the mysteries and hardships I pushed through to experience victory and freedom." WOW! In a world that is innundated by mindless selfies, this encourages a different look at the self-portrait and encourages a vulnerable, searching purpose behind them. I can't wait to try this. 

In addition to scene-specific recipes and tips, there is a wealth of beginning photographer knowledge in this book. Everything from the best time of day to shoot to how to choose the right camera and/or lens for you. This is absolutely the most informative, engaging and inspiring book on photography I have read to date. I would recommend it to everyone I know who owns a camera-- and that includes the camera in your phone!!

You can order this book online here. Also, here is a link to Me Ra Koh's fantastic website. 

Though I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purposes of this review, the opinions are my own. 

And just for fun, here's a recent family pictures I took this past weekend:

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