Thursday, August 30, 2012

Let's Time Travel- A Vintage Gift Guide


A Vintage Gift Guide

One of the last gift guide suggestions I recieved was for affordable vintage items, especially if it was a shop that sold other vintage items. I went to Etsy for the following gift guide as they are a great place to find fun, reasonably-priced vintage items. Please leave your other gift guide suggestions in the comments as well!


Vintage Childs Wooden Hanger- Doll Face

Buy it from the Etsy Shop IvoryBird for $14

From the Site: The sweetest little wooden hanger. The color is a charming turquoise and the little doll face is very dear. Good vintage condition showing age appropriate wear.

Does This Shop Have Other Vintage Items? Yes, a lot and quite a variety!


50s Wooden Swan Lake Music/Jewelry Box

Buy it from the TheVintageRoma for $24.32 US dollars (15 pounds I think...)

From the Site: gorgeous wooden quality jewelry box ( musical )
with a lovely swan lake painted scene on the inside of the lid . inside is lined in red velvet with lots of room for all your favourite pieces

Does This Shop Have Other Vintage Items? Yes, particularly other vintage jewelry boxes and scarves.


Vintage Red and White Striped Dress with Long Sleeves (1960s) - Mod Large Medium

Buy it from OddsandThreads for $28

From The Site: This fantastic little dress is a tomato red color with white stripes on the torso. Sleeves and skirt are solid red. Zips from center back to the collar, and closes at the sleeve cuffs by a small pearly orange-red button. V-neck collar.

Does This Shop Have Other Vintage Items? Yes, a variety, but there are a lot of other vintage clothing, especially dresses

 
A Collection of 12 Vintage Children's Books

Buy it from cheaperbuythedozen for $18

From the Site: These used books are in good or better condition for their age. The covers are bright and colorful with some having general wear to the edges and spines. They are clean and presentable with no missing pages or loose bindings. We do not include books with badly scribbled, soiled, creased or torn pages though some minor forms of these imperfections may be present in a few

Does This Shop Have Other Vintage Items? Yes, but they are all collections of books...some range in prices as well, so you can get a collection of a certain 12 books for $12, etc.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Review: Destiny Unveiled by Laura DeLuca



Review by Kari
Copy sent from the author, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary:

Gabriella and Darron thought their magickal battle was over when they defeated the evil warlock, Richard. When her Aunt Donna seeks Gabriella’s help in rescuing her catatonic daughter from the Dark Coven, Gabriella discovers that her cousin holds a power within her that would be catastrophic in the hands of the evil witches.

Gabriella’s coven sets out on a journey that may be their last. Along the way, they meet new allies, face devastating treachery, and battle not only the Dark Coven, but the darkness within themselves. When Gabriella finally comes face to face with the cousin she never knew existed, her true destiny is unveiled, and the fate of the mortal world is in her hands.

Review: I read the first book in the Destiny series and I enjoyed it very much, so I was excited to read the second book. Unlike the first book, the second one gets right into the action. It definitely did not have the slow feel the first book had at the beginning. Destiny Unveiled starts out with the whole crew graduating from high school. Gabriella and Darron are still very much in love and happy to be with each other. Their two friends, Monte and Flora, are still by their side and are now a part of their coven. The four friends seem to be even more connected to each other because of their mutual experiences with defeating Richard.

The tension of the plot begins immediately when Gabriella notices someone watching them from afar. The suspense gets going even more when Darron starts to feel a horrible pain in his head that definitely has a supernatural origin. The plot moves forward when it is discovered that the person following them is her aunt, her mother’s sister. Her Aunt Donna needs help getting her daughter, Destiny, back from the Dark Coven in Miami, which is Richard’s old coven. She came with her youngest daughter, Meranda, to get help from Gabriella. Gabriella and Darron decide to go to Florida to help the aunt she hadn’t seen since her mother died. Monte and Flora refuse to be left behind and they travel on a quest to save Destiny.

Destiny Unvieled is definitely a great book to read. It is filled with drama and betrayal. Not everything is what it seems and this makes the story so much more interesting. There are twists and turns throughout the story, which increases the suspense. Even though there is a lot of action in this book, the heart of the story is following Gabriella and Darron while they find themselves. Gabriella learns about a secret that will change her life forever and she embraces it wholeheartedly. Darron has to learn to realize that he is not his father. His feelings of darkness come out in this book and it is heart wrenching to see his struggle because the readers know he is filled with light.

Though the book can be intense, Flora is great at the comic relief. Flora and Monte may not be witches with power, but they show that even mortals can be needed in a tough situation. They show Gabriella and Darron that they will always be there for them, even in dangerous situations. They really are true friends.

DeLuca wrote a great second book and I think readers of Destiny will love reading Destiny Unveiled. I definitely recommend reading this series, especially if you enjoy supernatural reads. The author knows a lot about Wicca beliefs and this makes the book have an authentic feel. Definitely go read it and find out what happens to Gabriella and her friends!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"I Had a Terrible Education..."

"...I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers."
-Woody Allen
 
I love quotes, so I figured I'd start these roundups with a quote. And since I just finished my first week of classes, I figured a school quote was fitting!
 
 
I read and reviewed Breaking the Devil's Heart by H.A. Goodman and I really loved it. I then offered to help the author with promotion for the book, and here we are...we've already gotten a lot of positive replies from people wanting to review the book, but I'm looking for more. So if you're interested, please send me an email here: lauren51990 AT aol DOT com. Just put the title of the book in the subject and I'll be in touch. We have e-book copies, as well as print, and we WILL take International reviewers!
 
Next up, the Claytopia giveaway where you could win your own personalized Cookie Mug has ended and the winner sent a photo of the mug she chose to share with you all:
 
 

Doesn't that look adorable? You want your own, don't you? Well, what are you waiting for?! These would make a great gift for just about anyone, especially with the colder weather coming! Stick some marshmallows in the mouth and make yourself some nice hot chocolate!


I have another giveaway going on right now that will end this Friday. You can win your own My Memories Scrapbook software. It's international since it's on your computer. It's a fun software that you can use for crafts, cards, invitations, scrapbooking (of course) and I'm sure much more. Be creative!

Finally, I have some new posts up at my other blogs. Only one per blog this time around, but for it being my first week of class, I think that's pretty awesome!



Eagle Scouts Protest Gay Ban - Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

DIY College Survival Kit - All Grown Up Parties

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In Which I Review Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal


Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Review by Lauren

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary:
 
Elvie Nara was doing just fine in the year 2074. She had a great best friend, a dad she adored, and bright future working on the Ares Project on Mars. But then she had to get involved with sweet, gorgeous, dumb-as-a-brick Cole—and now she’s pregnant.   Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole. She hasn’t seen him since she told him she’s pregnant, and now he’s bursting into her new home to tell her that her teachers are aliens and want to use her unborn baby to repopulate their species? Nice try, buddy. You could have just called.   So fine, finding a way off this ship is priority number one, but first Elvie has to figure out how Cole ended up as a commando, work together with her arch-nemesis, and figure out if she even wants to be a mother—assuming they get back to Earth in one piece.



Review: Just this past summer, I talked about my irrational fear of space. I still have it, but I wanted to at least try this story out since it sounded so fun. And it is. It's also a bit shocking in places and I know that I've read a couple reviews already of this book and at least one person mentioned the horrible nature, if you will, of reading about pregnant teens having to deal with such awful circumstances and even dying in some cases. I get what they mean too, but while reading, I just tried to remember that this whole story is unrealistic in many ways. It's also fun, though, and full of suspense and shocking turns and the nature of relationships - good and bad- and even how much you're willing to sacrifice to do the right thing.

While the above statements might sound a bit intense and darker, it's really not, and that's mainly due to Elvie, our narrator. She's snarky and hilarious and I really enjoyed being inside her head throughout. There isn't a lot of details about being in space, so I could pretty much forget that's where the story is placed...which is good for me. A lot of the danger came from the aliens and the idea of a space ship breaking down, which again, I could imagine as just a plane or something else. Scary, but not too freaky to read. It was an exciting read and I'm excited to see where the story goes from here.

It leaves you with a bit of a shocker. I actually knew what the last line was beforehand though because when I read a book, I like to see how many pages the book has...in doing that, though, I ruined the last line and while I didn't understand how, I knew what, the whole time...so no peaking! It would have been more fun to be totally surprised! It's not a huge cliffhanger, in my mind, but it's just one of those things that makes you curious to get your hands on the sequel to find out answers. I have my own ideas, so we'll see what it turns out to be!

One thing I found kind of fun were the title chapters, with many starting as "In Which...". One example is "In Which Our Heroine Stops Breathing and Learns to Fly." Curious, aren't you?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with 13-Year Old Cookbook Author, Dominick Cura


Eternally Gluten Free by Dominick Cura

Interview by Lauren

Visit Dominick's Blog

Summary of book:

Eternally Gluten-free is a cookbook full of sweets, from breakfast, to drinks and desserts. The book also includes a short about living with Celiac disease. “If you or a family member has to eat gluten-free, ‘Eternally Gluten-Free’ will show you what you're not missing. Cura's inspiring story and tasty dessert, drink and breakfast recipes will show you that gluten-free isn't a restriction; it's an opportunity,” says Matthew Amster-Burton, a food writer and the author of “Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater.”


About the Awesome Author: Dominick Cura, 13, was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2009 at the age of 9. At first it seemed extremely difficult and frustrating to live gluten-free. As time went on he discovered that it wasn't that bad. He started baking gluten-free sweets, developed his own gluten-free recipes, and started a blog about living with Celiac. Together with some friends he also started filming cooking videos. The book includes a short autobiographical inspiring story about living with Celiac Disease and includes his own recipes. He shows how with some work he turned a negative diagnosis into a positive experience.

Interview

1. Your cookbook is full of gluten-free recipes because you have Celiac disease and wanted to create items that you could eat. Could you briefly explain the disease for those that aren't aware and what does it mean to be gluten-free?
 
 Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease. An auto-immune disease is when the body attacks itself. In the intestine there are little things called villi that collect the nutrients from digested food that goes through the intestine. When someone who has Celiac disease eats gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley) the gluten goes through the intestine but instead of the villi getting the nutrients from the food, the gluten damages the villi and then the person can't get nutrients because they're missing most of their villi. The only way to stop this is to go completely gluten-free forever. There are a lot of symptoms, but here are a few of them:
•Joint pains
•Diarrhea
•Abdominal pains
•Depression
•Muscle cramps
•Weight loss
•Fatigue
 
2. Do you have a favorite recipe in the cookbook (maybe something you make often)?
 
 I have a few favorites, Red velvet cupcakes, Carrot Cupcakes which my family and friends love and then an Italian dessert called Struffoli. Struffoli are an Italian Christmas dessert. They are balls of dough the size of marbles that are fried then dipped in honey. The balls are formed into a dome and topped with colorful sprinkles.
 
3. Did anyone help you create the food for your cookbook and what role did they play?
 
 I developed all the recipes by myself but I had some help from my family and friends who would taste all my food and give me honest opinions about it.

 
4. When you started making gluten-free food, did you always have it in mind to make a cookbook? If so, did you hope to have it published for others to see in the long run?
 I started baking from a gluten-free cookbook for a month last summer and then I got the idea of writing a book on living with Celiac disease. It occurred to me that it would be too hard to write an auto-biographical book about living with Celiac, so I decided that I could write a small story of living with Celiac disease and the rest a cookbook of gluten-free sweets. I pretty much have only been baking for a year, but I've been baking almost every other day since then. Yes, I hoped to have the book published for every one to see and raise awareness of Celiac and I even chose to have my book shared on the Kindle for free on the Kindle Owner's Lending Library.
 
5. You're so young...so what else do you hope to achieve in the future?
 
I'm working on making a documentary on Celiac disease. I want to make it partly because since I finished my book everyone's been saying I'd be a great author or baker when I'm older, but I don't want to be either. I want to be a movie director, so I'm making the documentary for that reason. I also believe that by writing the documentary I can raise awareness of Celiac disease.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Married to Jonas- Premiere Review


Married to Jonas

Premiere Review by Lauren

The new reality show, Married to Jonas, premiered last night on E! at 10 p.m. EST, and apparently a lot of people tuned in. I'm a fan of the Jonas Brothers. I think it's cool that they are a group of brothers that work and have fun together. At any rate, I watched the show last night of my own accord (meaning nobody asked me to review it; I just am) and I really enjoyed it. It was only a half an hour, which was fine, but it would be kind of cool to have an hour long show. Then again, at 10 p.m., it's already getting late for me with school and everything.

The premise of Married to Jonas is to obviously showcase the new situations they find themselves in. For both of them, they get in-laws that are quite different, they must deal with the new label of husband and wife, and of course...they must negotiate how to be a family with Kevin's music career. The premiere wasted no time in diving into these issues. You see both families and get to realize that Danielle's (or Dani) has a loud, slightly invasive family, while Kevin's is more business-focused, but no less to blame when it comes to breaching their privacy. Both of them seem like great families but Dani's needs to be a little less intrusive when it comes to the house, especially her dad, and Kevin's family needs to realize that he's married now and if they have questions about how he's going to navigate that and his music, they shouldn't jump into that conversation over a family dinner. It was quite interesting to see Dani's reaction to the whole family discussing her having a baby at a suitable time for the Brothers to tour. I get it; I do. This is their career and as Dani said, there are two other guys in the band besides Kevin, but it's her life and eventually her baby, so it needs to work for everyone.

Reality shows obviously invite fans into these people's lives. Dani was a normal girl before Kevin and now she's in the spotlight and having to deal with everything that fame, and marriage, brings. It's interesting to me to see how they navigate these new roles and as a previous fan of the Jonas Brothers, I like seeing their life and story from a new perspective. This review isn't here to say that either family is wrong, but I just wanted to state how I felt after watching the first episode. There are definitely things you can see that need to be worked out, but Dani and Kevin obviously love each other and I'm curious to see how the season goes! I'll continue to check in every Sunday. Will you?!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Are You Ready for Some Football?- A Gift Guide


Sorry for the distinct lack of posts lately, but I was in a friend's wedding yesterday so there was a lot happening leading up to that: nails, rehearsal, hair/makeup, wedding, reception. I also go back to class tomorrow and unfortunately, I have classes every day this semester from the morning to the afternoon, but I will do my best to keep up with the blog when I do have time to get online and post.

But for now...
Are You Ready for Some Football?!

To be honest, I'm not really a football person but the rest of my family (parents, sister, brother) all love it, so I figured I'd do the next suggestion for a gift guide in honor of them and for the rest of you out there who are or know people that are football fans. I live by Cincinnati, Ohio so the family are big Bengals fans, so certain items will be shown for the Bengals but that doesn't mean your team isn't available.


Cincinnati Bengals Logo Sandwich and Waffle Grill - I know my brother would love this and it would be perfect for my sister whenever she moves into her own apartment. Some teams even have Toasters that print toast with your team's logo on this site, so look for that as well!

Buy it at Football Fanatics for $39.99

From the site:
  • Lock-down lid for even cooking

  • Stainless steel accent on lid

  • Non-stick, removable cooking plates

  • Indicator lights lets you know when grill is ready to use

  • Cord wraps underneath for easy storage

  • Plugs easily into a standard outlet



  • Cincinnati Bengals Garden Gnome - This unique little gift would be perfect for any football lover. Grab the gnome from their favorite team and voila, it's a year-round token of their fanaticism! Plus, how can you resist this little guy, even if you aren't a huge football lover (perhaps your significant is?)

    Buy it from FansEdge for $19.99

    From the site:
  • Plant this Cincinnati Bengals Team Gnome in your garden and let all your flowers become fans of your favorite team too! Perfect for the garden, patio, desk, shelf or doorway. While we make no guarantees, the gnome has been known to bring miraculous good fortunes to both their owners and the Cincinnati Bengals!

  • Each gnome is hand crafted and hand painted with raised and decal logos on the hat.

  • Gnome measures 11.5'' tall

  • Officially licensed by NFL




  • Football Rose- You can get a single rose or a collection, and there are even baseball and softball roses for those of you out there that appreciate a different sport more. I think these roses would be great fun to recieve for all types of occasions, but especially for the men for Weddings or Valentine's Day when it's usually the ladies recieving the flowers. Oh, and for weddings, they sell boutonnieres!

    Get it from Sports Roses for $14. 95

    From the site: We carefully create each Football Rose petal by hand out of football leather to form an unforgettable bloom that lasts a lifetime. We add the finishing touch to the Football Rose by hand-stitching genuine leather laces on one side of the rose to give the rose an authentic football signature. The Football Rose will never die, just like the passion any football fan has for their favorite sport.


    12 Hand-Dipped Football Berries- Part of the fun of watching football, I've noticed, is doing so with other people...so these would be the perfect addition to a football gathering, especially if it's the Superbowl (prime football party time)!

    Buy it from Shari's Berries for $44.97 or get 6 berries for $34. 98

    From the site: What food could be better for a football party than gourmet dipped strawberries decorated like footballs? Each sweet strawberry is hand dipped and decorated with white stitches simulating the gridiron pigskin.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    America, You Sexy Bitch by Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain

    America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom by Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain

    Review by Lauren

    Copy from The Well- Read Wife, as part of her awesome Blogger Book Club (all opinions are still my own).

    Official Summary:

    She is a single, twentysomething, gun-loving, Christian, Republican writer and blogger, the daughter of a Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee. He is a married, forty-year-old, gun-fearing, atheist, Democrat comedian, the son of a lesbian former Social Security employee. Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black barely know each other. But they are about to change the way politics is discussed in America.


    Or at least the way politics are discussed in their crappy RV.


    In America, You Sexy Bitch, Meghan and Michael embark on a balls-out, cross-country tour starting in California, the heart of liberal America, and ending in the state of Connecticut, the home of blue-blood Wall Street billionaires. Along the way, they visit such cultural touchstones as Graceland and Branson, party in Las Vegas and New Orleans, pretend to be Mormon in Salt Lake City (only for a second), and go to a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. They tour the nation’s capital; they fire semiautomatic weapons. But mostly Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black talk to each other: about their differences, their similarities, and how American politics has gotten so divided.

    Review: When Mandy from The Well-Read Wife was offering copies of this book for review, I was interested but I honestly didn't know what I would think. I'm already a fan of Michael Ian Black, but albeit, one that doesn't know a ton about him. As for Meghan McCain...it really was a case of "I know the name" and that's about it. But I kind of loved this book.

    Now, to be honest, I'm not really a political person. I have my beliefs about certain things like everyone else but I tend to get confused by political terms and certain issues that the government handles. But I really did love this book. Black and McCain are almost polar opposites, and boy, did they fight! They definitely had their moments where nothing they said was going to make a difference. People have their beliefs and it's hard to make anyone change them. But they also had a good time, talked about issues that they both believe in, changed their stereotypes about the other political party, and got to see their country and meet the varied people that make it up!

    I suppose you could say I agreed with Black more than McCain on their widespread beliefs, but that doesn't mean I didn't agree with McCain on other issues. For one, both of them are for gay rights and so am I. However, Black is an atheist and I'm not. I'm more of a spiritual person like McCain. She's also a firm supporter of the military and while I don't always agree with everything, I'm like Black and McCain in the fact that we all support the men and women serving in the military, like my brother and others that I know.

    I loved how the book was set up. Each chapter is a city in the U.S. from Las Vegas, Nevada to Nashville, Tennessee...and of course, to Washington, D.C where Black met McCain's dad, Senator John McCain, for the first time. Each section is also a back and forth between both of these authors.

    It will say Michael: (his point of view) and then you'll get Meghan: (her point of view) and back and forth through the whole chapter. There are parts where they repeat what the other person already wrote, but it's not tedious as it is actually nice to get a dual point of view and it's not something that happens the whole time. Usually, one of them will write and then the other kind of picks up right after. It made it a more inclusive and engaging read.

    Both Black and McCain are very honest in the book. They don't try to hide the thoughts or stereotypes they have about one another or other people, but they also talk about the ways they change or grow throughout their trip too. Both of them seem very genuine and relateable and I liked that. It made the book very enjoyable and interesting!

    I know that I'm enjoying a book when I want to share it with people. Throughout, I kept telling my sister things that I'd read, even reading direct quotes sometimes. I'm pretty sure she's going to read this sometime in the future, so it will be interesting to talk to her after she's read it all.

    Again, I didn't agree with every point of view that either Black or McCain made, but it was interesting to see how they viewed certain issues, and in the end, it all came down to their mutual love of America. They might believe our country needs different things to properly grow, but they also understand the need to open up communication amongst politicans and the average American citizen.

    This is already a much longer reviw than I normally aim for, as I know you have plenty of other blogs to read, but if you read any of it...thank you and I hope you'll be like me and take a chance on a book that might sound out of your realm of literature. It was truly an engaging book and opens up a lot of ideas to discuss and think about.

    My Memories Scrapbook Software Review + Giveaway



    My Memories Review and Giveaway

    Review by Lauren, Giveaway Courtesy of the Company, I was sent a product to review but all opinions are my own

    My Memories is a scrapbook software, but you can use it for a lot more. My ideas were invitations, cards, party accessories like straw tags or food cards...and so much more!

    I love to scrapbook. To be honest, my favorite type is the kind you do yourself with actual paper and embellishments. However, I'm a testiment to the fact that doing it this way takes a long time and you often get very behind. I like that My Memories would allow me to make a scrapbook with cute paper, your own photos, and lots of adorable embellishments from "ribbon" to "brads" to all sorts of shapes and more!

    I really wanted to include something I made in my review, but I'm afraid that I'm currently out of paper and ink (tragedy, I know) so I'm unable to print anything I made. I'm going to keep using the software and I'm aiming to have future posts showing off some fun things I've made, to further entice you to try it out yourself! I'm a big crafter and I LOVE hosting parties, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of fun ways to use this product and then, subsequently, show off to you all!

    HOWEVER, I can't print the following out but I did make a screenshot of a cutesy little invitation I made. It's not for a real event, but my friends and I do often have movie and/or zombie nights...we're dorks, I know. I liked the film reel to showcase the movies and I used a zombie-esque green for the paper and a fun font for the Zombie Movie Night title.


    This is obviously something that took little time, but I figured it makes for a more fun invite than a simple Facebook message and it showcases the type of things you can do, as well as some of the fun embellishments (word art to actual art like the film reel).

    As a special for all of my awesome readers, My Memories give me my very own Share the Memories code that provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - $20 value!)
    To get this deal, visit the My Memories site here and use the following code:

    STMMMS3648

    Remember, this is only good for the My Memories Suite V3

    In full disclosure, any time one of you uses this code to purchase the My Memories scrapbook software, I earn $20. I would really appreciate any of you that decide to use this code and I honestly love this product and think it would be really fun for scrapbookers, crafters, DIY'ers, parents, etc. I will continue to use it and hopefully showcase the various things I've made either here or on my All Grown Up Parties blog. Spread the code around, use it yourself, whatever!

    Now...you can enter to win your OWN My Memories Scrapbook Software!! Since this is an online code, the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!

    Due to the way Rafflecopter works, this giveaway will start tonight at 12:01 a.m. EST (sorry for the inconvenience) and it will end August 31st!

    http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/887ee61/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    The Housewarming Gift Guide


    One of the gift guide ideas in the previous post (if you didn't see it, just scroll down) was for Housewarming Gifts for a friend that is moving. I chose this one to do first (don't worry, if you left an idea, I'll try and do it in the coming weeks) because a friend of mine is actually moving out for the first time in a few weeks so I figured it would be relevant for my own life! This is one of those ideas where I could have added a ton more, so feel free to suggest another Housewarming guide in the future.

    Right now, though, what other guides do you want to see? What do you think about these products? Care to buy any now?

    The Housewarming Gift Guide


    Soup and Cracker Mugs (set of 2)- I love that this is a set of two, especially if your friend (like mine) is moving in with another person!

    $11.99

    Buy it at Vat19

    From the Site: Keep your crackers tidy and at-the-ready with Soup & Cracker Mugs. With these 16-ounce soup mugs, you no longer have to settle for soggy crackers or crumb-laden tabletops.

    The clever ceramic bowl features a built-in pouch for storing your crackers until you're ready to dip them into your soup.

    Each set includes two dishwasher and microwave-safe Soup & Cracker Mugs.



    Pizza Plates - Set of 4- Sorry about the small picture, but I think any younger person moving out would highly enjoy these, or even a newly married couple!

    $40

    Buy it from Uncommon Goods

    From the Site: Considering serving that special slice on an all-purpose plate? Fuggedaboutit! This triangular stoneware plate comes at that piece of pie from the right angle. Whether you're devoted to deep-dish or the New York slice, this three-sided dish is designed to accommodate any version of the Friday night favorite. From the crust-hugging curved end to its tapered point, it slides beneath slices with ease, making a speedy delivery to your taste buds that much simpler.


    Dinner of the Month Club- Yes, this is a more costly gift but if you know someone that is moving away from friends and family, a monthly gift might be fun to look forward too. I chose the Dinner Club to showcase, but they have a long list of options with various prices: Movie Club, Popcorn Club, Teddy Bear Club, Dog Treat Club, and Cupcake Club to name a few!

    3 months is 71.85 total or 23.95 per month (you can do 6 month, 12 month, or dinner of the season)

    Buy it from Amazing Clubs

    From the Site: The Dinner of the Month Club is a gourmet gift they'll look forward to month after month! Each month we'll deliver a complete Italian-themed gourmet meal including a specialty pasta, premium pasta sauce, and one additional gourmet item (usually a dipping oil, appetizer or dessert item).


    Custom Rubber Address Stamp- This is a great housewarming gift because you're using the recipient's NEW address as part of it!

    $18

    Buy it from the etsy shop (photo taken from the shop) My Rubber Stamp

    From the Site: Customised & Personalized Rubber Stamps.
    Start personalizing with your texts. All of our designs can be personalized to fit your needs.

    ♥ 3 Sizes are available:
    1. 32mm x 80mm (Approx. 1.25" x 3.15")
    2. 51mm x 51mm (Approx. 2")
    3. 41mm x 70mm (Approx. 1.5" x 2.75")

    • This listing is for 1 mounted rubber stamp.
    • Preferable 2-3 lines of texts.
    • Color of the handle/casing is not an option. We will send you the next available stamp we have in our inventory.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    A Triple Weekly Wrap-Up


    I know there are many posts that people do on Sunday that is a look back on the past week and sometimes a look at what's to come this week. I'm doing my own version of that, mainly because I have more than just this blog and I want to make sure everyone has a chance to see the posts I do on my other sites.

    Let's Get Beyond Tolerance - blog

    I reviewed the book Andy Squared by Jennifer Lavoie, which I did enjoy!

    I did a post on the new Glee cast, as well as some other fun little spoilers for the upcoming season.

    All Grown Up Parties - blog

    For Mother's Day (don't worry, you can use this idea for other things too) I made my mom a personalized Winnie-the-Pooh picnic. Come check out the food I picked and even see some photos of the lot!

    Now, for Shooting Stars Mag, I'm going to try and do a fun Gift Guide every week. I've done Alice in Wonderland fans, as well as some unique items to get a Groom...so my question for this post is: What theme(s) should I do next?

    I appreciate any and all comments here or at my other blogs. Same rules apply at all three: you comment, I'll comment on one of your posts ASAP!

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Nevermore Book Review + The Raven Movie Review


    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore" - Book and Film Reviews

    Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

    Review by Lauren

    Review Copy, All Opinions Are My Own

    Official Summary: NEVERMORE is the story of Varen -- a Poe-fan and goth -- and Isobel -- a cheerleader and unlikely heroine. When a Lit. project pairs the two together, Isobel finds herself steadily swept into Varen's world, one that he has created in his notebook and in his mind, one where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel slowly learns that dreams can be much more powerful than she'd ever expected, and that pain and despair come in all shades. As labels of "goth" and "cheerleader" fade away, she sees more in Varen than a tall, pale outcast, and a consuming romance is braced against the ever-clearer horror that the most terrifying realities are those within our own minds.


    When Isobel has a single chance to rescue Varen from the shadows of his own nightmares, will she be able to save him -- and herself?


    Review: It's been awhile now since I've finished this novel. I meant to review it much sooner, but alas, time gets away from me. However, that doesn't mean that I didn't love this book. I took a class in college that was all about Poe and reading Nevermore after taking such a class made me appreciate it even more. That doesn't mean you need to know a lot about Poe or his work beforehand...Creagh does a good job at introducing him through Varen's obsession with the author and Isobel's lack of knowledge.

    Nevermore is an imaginative novel that I think a lot of people would really enjoy. There is a romance, but it feels real to me. Isobel and Varen don't fall in love right away. Nevermore is actually a long novel but it builds up the relationship more, allowing the reader to believe what is happening. This also helps in terms of the strange happenings that Isobel begins to experience after being paired up with Varen for a school assignment.

    I appreciated the roles that family and surrogate families - in Varen's case - played in the novel. It gave the main characters more of a well-rounded nature and it shows how they became the people they are today.

    I don't want to go on and on about the novel as it's been out for awhile, so I'm just going to say that I highly enjoyed Nevermore and I can't wait for Enshadowed, which comes out at the end of this month.


    The Raven starring John Cusack

    Movie Review by Lauren

    DVD out October 9, 2012

    Official Summary: Baltimore, 1849. While investigating a horrific double murder, police detective Emmett Fields makes a startling discovery: the killer's methods mirror the twisted writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Suspecting Poe at first, Fields ultimately enlists his help to stop future attacks. But in this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are raised with each gruesome slaying as the pair races to catch a madman before he brings every one of Poe's shocking stories to chilling life...and death.

    Review: I, obviously, saw this movie in theaters awhile ago but I figured it would be a nice addition to my review of Nevermore, as I think fans of the book might enjoy the film too. This is not an accurate look at Poe as there were never murders that occured based off his stories (at least not when he was alive to help track down the killer!) but it's an interesting premise and if you know anything about Poe's work, his writings can provide some really intriguing murder and mystery.

    There is a bit of gore, especially with the killing based on the short story, The Pit and the Pendulum. In the story, the man trapped doesn't die, but in the film, he most definitely does and it's quite a bloody sight. As far as I remember, that was the most gruesome moment. I'm not a huge gore fan, but I could handle it fine.

    I saw this film with a friend that is a huge Poe fan so it was doubly enjoyable. We both highly enjoyed The Raven and I think John Cusack was a great actor to play the writer. I only saw the movie once but I'm excited for it to come out on DVD so I can view it again, and having an October release is a smart move!

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Where You Are Cover Reveal + The Author's Thoughts!


    Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

    According to Amazon, it comes out December 24, 2012

    In honor of the fantastic cover you see above, I asked the author to share her personal thoughts. Leave your own in the comments. I, for one, am really excited to read this latest novel by the author of Don't Let Me Go which I LOVED. Check out my review!

    -Lauren

    Cover copy:

    Robert Westfall's life is falling apart-everywhere but in math class.
    That's the one place where problems always have a solution. But in the
    world beyond high school, his father is terminally ill, his mother is
    squabbling with his interfering aunts, his boyfriend is unsupportive,
    and the career path that's been planned for him feels less appealing
    by the day.

    Robert's math teacher, Andrew McNelis, watches his best student
    floundering, concerned but wary of crossing the line between
    professional and personal. Gradually, Andrew becomes Robert's friend,
    then his confidante. As the year progresses, their relationship-in
    school and out of it-deepens and changes. And as hard as he tries to
    resist, Andrew knows that he and Robert are edging into territory that
    holds incalculable risks for both of them.

    J.H. Trumble, author of the acclaimed Don't Let Me Go, explores a
    controversial subject with extraordinary sensitivity and grace,
    creating a deeply human and honest story of love, longing, and
    unexpected connection.

    J.H. Trumble's thoughts:

    Do you remember how it was when you saw Robert Pattinson as Edward for the first time? Well, that's how I felt when I first saw the cover of Where You Are. While the photo is just as I described Andrew McNelis, I had a very specific face in mind when I wrote the character, and the face on the cover wasn't it. The cover model's a cutie to be sure, and I think he makes a great Andrew McNelis, but it may take some time before I see him as Andrew.

    Covers are funny things for authors. You spend a year, maybe longer, with your story and your characters. You have an image, however fuzzy, of them in your head. And then suddenly your editor presents you with a cover. Generally speaking, authors have no say in the cover of their books. Kensington did ask me for my input (probably to make me feel like I had some control), then did what they wanted. By the time I saw each of the covers, it was a done deal.

    Fortunately, I love the covers of both novels.

    Even so, I did find them a bit jarring at first. With Don't Let Me Go, it was the jacket on the cover model. I love the jacket; I just never imagined Nate wearing such a jacket. Silly, but it took me a bit to get past that. With Where You Are, there was a face I had to contend with. That could have gone very badly. But it didn't, and I'm thrilled!

    Both covers feel timeless to me and project just the right amount of ethos. I hope fans will like them just as much!

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Reluctant Readers Road to Recovery Guide

    Do you fear approaching your Reluctant Reader?  Have they been spotted this summer participating in questionable behavior with their books like building forts and extreme paper dolls?  Identified by their atypical behaviors, the Reluctant Readers Road to Recovery Guide is here to help you create successful encounters with hesitant young readers everywhere.  Panic no more and take control of rainy day havoc, poolside chaos and playground mayhem with a great book for your unique reader.


    Reluctant Readers Road to Recovery Guide                                               

    The Make-Believer has more imagination frequent flier miles than a Pan Am stewardess!  The best cure for this case of Reluctant Reading is Elliot and the Last Underworld War by Jennifer Nielsen (Author of The False Prince).  The Make-Believer will be thrilled to join the sarcastically hilarious Elliot in the Underworld.  As the King of the Brownies, Elliot has battled Goblins, tricked Pixies, and trapped a Demon. But now, the Demon has escaped and he's ready for revenge.  So, the Pixies, Shapeshifters, Elves, Goblins, and Brownies must join forces to battle the Demon head on before he has the chance to destroy Earth.

    The Daredevil thinks trick-or-treating should apply to everyday life, especially the tricks!  Cure their hunger for trouble with Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire by Francesca Simon.  Not even your daredevil will believe what Henry is up to next in these four new wonderful and wacky tales.  The international bestselling Horrid Henry series provides readers with a prankster whose relentless antics create a laugh-out-loud read.  WARNING: Do not allow daredevils to consume milk while reading or milk may spray from the nose!

    The BFF has matching bracelets with all her friends and wins Miss Congeniality every year.  This is a case of Reluctant Reading that can only be cured with Hailey Twitch and the Wedding Glitch by Lauren Barnholdt.  Hailey Twitch and her spirited sprite Maybelle, return in the fourth installment to the fab, fab, fabulous series.  The BFF will be delighted to read as Hailey gets ready to be a flower girl in her cousin’s wedding!  Maybelle’s mischief and fairy magic is back and might land the duo in trouble!

    Bruce Lee 2.0 can quote Enter the Dragon from start to finish and has broken table lamps with leg kicks. The only cure for such readers (and your house) is to follow the UK’s youngest secret agent in Jason Steed: Revenge by Mark A. Cooper. Set in a fast-paced 1970s Britain with non-stop excitement and martial arts fight scenes, Revenge is perfect for kids who aspire to be the next martial arts master and are looking for adventure stories and heroes who aren’t afraid to take action.  In the thrilling follow-up to Fledgling Jason is sent on a new undercover mission and must infiltrate a shadowy criminal organization –but his luck is running out.

    That Person Next to the Bride...a Groom Gift Guide!

    My previous, and first, gift guide was for Alice in Wonderland fans. I figured it was about time for another one. My original idea was to have one gift guide a week...what do you all think? Let me know in the comments! Obviously, some weeks might not get one, but if you like the feature, I'll try and post them more often. I'd also like to know what type of gift guide themes you want me to do!

    -Lauren

    Today, in honor of a childhood friend that got married yesterday (I can't believe it!) I decided to do a -

    Gift Guide for the Groom (since everything seems to be mostly focused on the bride!)


    Beer Pouch Sweatshirt with Hood

    Get it now from Vat 19

    29.99 (34.99 for an XXL)

    The Beer Pouch Hoodie features a 30-square-inch pouch with elastic band and an insulating liner to keep your beer ice cold. The pouch can stretch to accommodate soda cans, bottled water, and even cans of soup and bottles of whipped cream.

    Most guys I know love an ice cold beer, so why not make carrying it around a bit easier? You can use it for any type of drink, though, so even MORE multi-use!


    Poo ~ Pourri

    Get it now on their website

    Various prices...seems to be about 10 to 15, depending on the type you get!

    Spritz the Bowl Before You Go, And No One Else Will Ever Know

    I think this would be an amusing gift to give to guys. The above photo is the original type, and it's obviously a bit more girly but there is a whole guy section with scents called Trap-a-Crap, Royal Flush, and Heavy Doody 


    Money Soap

    Get it now from Amazon

    14.99 on amazon

    Embedded in each bar of this refreshing, pear-berry scented soap, you will find a genuine 1, 5, 10, or even 50 bill!

    You know what they say...when you get married, there is no more MY money. It's all OUR money. So if you give a guy this bar of soap, they can smell nice for their significant other AND get some cash for themselves.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Personalized Cookie Mug (INT) Giveaway + Claytopia Interview


    I was lucky enough to find the company, Claytopia, on Etsy (a site that I love for handmade gifts) and thankfully, the owner, Gretchen Wheeler, was nice enough to answer some questions for us and even offer you a giveaway that is open to International entries. I'm eyeing these Cookie Mugs myself; I might need to order one soon!

    1.Since your business is an actual store, what made you decide to bring some of your products to Etsy for those around the world?

    My sister and I have owned Claytopia in Erie, Pa for the last 8 years. It's a "paint your own pottery studio" meaning we supply the bisque ( unfinished pottery) and you get to come in and paint it (using underglazes). You leave it with us and we glaze it and fire it. Painting pottery is incredibly addictive! I'm always working on new projects or samples for the studio. I also teach technique classes, so we have a lot of samples from those classes. Customers love to see new ideas, but they don't necessarily want to BUY the pieces, they want to re-create the ideas on their own pieces. We only have so much room for samples, so that's when I started thinking about creating a store on Etsy.


    I opened my Etsy store on Feb. 26, 2012, and it just kind of took off! I've had 161 sales in 5 months which is waaaaaay more than I ever would have guessed! I love interacting with people from all over the world, and I have really enjoyed doing some fun custom orders. I just completed 25 vases for a girl in CA to give as gifts to people in her wedding. I also recently made a "patriotic" Monster Cookie Mug for the 4th of July, and a purple Zombie mug for a girl in Australia who has purple hair! I started a Facebook page for the Monster Cookie Mugs and I've had customers post pictures of themselves with the mugs- it's so fun!




    2. How did the idea of cookie mugs come about, and what are some of the more unique "faces" you've made? 

    We've had the cookie mugs available to paint at Claytopia for a few years now. Our customers have come up with some great ideas on their own. I've seen the mug painted to look like Sponge Bob and Perry the Platypus! Because of trademarks and licensing, I've come up with my own cast of characters for the mugs. My very first order before I even started my store on Etsy was from a wonderful woman in Hawaii who called me at the studio and said that I HAD to paint one of my Monster Mugs for her son! Who could say no?! Upcoming cookie mugs that I'm thinking about are a Jack o' Lantern and Santa Claus!


    3. What other types of items do you offer on Etsy besides the cookie mugs? Is there anything you hope to add in the future?


    I have a variety of things in my Etsy store. I tend to go with trendy things that are popular in the studio: cupcakes, owls, cookie jars, but the Monster Cookie Mugs are definitely my biggest sellers. I have SOOO many ideas and fun things that I want to paint, but I don't always have the time to sit down and paint! Along with working at Claytopia, I also do interior decorating, so I am often shopping or pushing furniture around at clients' homes on my "days off"! I recently was a design assistant on Food Network's Restaurant:Impossible and was fortunate enough to have the whole cast sign a plate from Claytopia!

    4. Through Etsy, are you the only one that makes these items or do you have a team?

    As of right now, I am the only one that does the painting for my Etsy store. As we get closer to Christmas, I think I may have some of the employees help out. We have a really talented group of girls working for us, and they've all offered to help. The great thing about Etsy is that a lot of my pieces are "made to order" so when people purchase them they already know that it will take 5-10 days for me to get it painted and fired. The only ones I keep a number of already painted and ready to ship are the blue Monster Cookie Mugs because they are the most popular!

    5. What other Etsy shops or online stores are you a personal fan of and why?


    There are so many talented and creative people on Etsy! I have really tried to plan ahead for gifts and purchase things from Etsy stores rather than just running out and getting a "generic" gift for someone.

    Some of my favorites are:

    http://www.etsy.com/people/raspberryh

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/RockinMamaBG?ref=shop_name_search_sugg

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/sublimecolors?ref=seller_info

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/FigJamStudio

    http://www.etsy.com/people/June8Jewelry

    Now Enter the Giveaway...this is my first time using Rafflecopter, so if you have problems, let me know!

    http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/887ee60/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway