Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo

Publisher Synopsis:

With glue guns, glitter, twigs, or yarn, the ordinary can become extraordinary . . . especially at La Pachanga. Owned by Estrella "Star" Esteban's family, the restaurant has a rep for two things: good food and great art. La Pachanga brings people together-even when it looks like they couldn't be further apart.

One ill-fated evening, Star jeopardizes her family's business, her relationship with her boyfriend, and her future career. To redeem herself, she agrees to participate in a national craft competition, teaming up with her best friend, Ofelia-a secretly troubled mother whose love for crafting borders on obsession-and local celebrity Chloe Chavez-a determined television personality with more than one skeleton in her professional closet. If these unlikely allies can set aside their differences, they'll find strength they never knew they had, and learn that friendship, like crafting, is truly an art form.

My Thoughts:

When I found out one of my favorite crafting personalities, the Crafty Chica was coming out with a novel AND crafty goodness would somehow be involved, it immediately got moved to the top of my must read list. Since meeting Kathy Cano-Murillo, would likly result in me turning into an overly enthusiastic craft groupie and embarrassing myself, this is a much better way for me to rave about her.. Although, I do dream of going to CHA, the real life version of the Craft Olympics in the book, which I assume she goes to.

I love Cano-Murillo's bright and colorful pop art and collages that to me convey her enthusiasm for life. Her book is exactly what I'd expect from her. It's like sitting down with bowls of menudo, which by the way my Santa Fean friends attempted to get to try, and having a chat with her. Like she's just telling you about some crazy chicas she knows.

I was thrilled with Waking Up In The Land Of Glitter, from the first moment I first saw it's glittery cover. I can't help it! Glitter makes me giddy and after working for seven years at a major bookstore, I'm a bit of a snob about that kind of thing. A good cover can make you want to pick it up; just like a bad one lets you keep on a walkin' by. It just sets the right tone.

From the first page to the last it's a fun and delightful read that delves into the complexities of relationships and friendships, as well as finding yourself. I was instantly drawn to it because it's setting reminded me a great deal of our two years living in the Southwest, from the Spanglish terms sprinkled through out to the artsy atmosphere Cano-Murillo creates.

But regardless of the setting, Waking Up In The Land Of Glitter tackles universal situations that we can all relate to. She deals with her troop of crafters with kindness and compassion as their lives and relationships deal with the upheavals and downward turns, before they realize the strength they gain from one another. Their story, told from multiple points of view, unfolds at a good pace. Revealing just the right amount at a time and interweaving the women's lives, and one teenage boy's - can't forget Theo, deftly. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and at the end you'll have read a really good satisfying read.

One more thing, you don't have to be a crafter to enjoy this book. The themes are universal, but if you happen to have some crafty friends, who's obsession you just don't get. This book might just give you a little glimpse into our lives. Can't wait to read her next novel! While we wait for it, I suggest all my crafty friends check out her website, Crafty Chica. There's tons of inspiration to be had! I'm there a lot to read her blog.
About the Author:

Kathy Cano-Murillo is a lifelong writer and artist. Her crafts have been carried by hundreds of retailers including Bloomingdales, Target, and Hallmark. She is a former entertainment reporter for The Arizona Republic, and has authored seven books including Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing. She is the founder of, a wildly popular web site to inspire women to brighten their lives with clever craft ideas. She has a web series on, and can be seen on HGTV and DIY Network.


Disclaimer: Thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing the reviewers copy of this title. This review relates my personal unbiased opinions and yours may differ.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Crafts

Hi Everyone! I want to thank everyone for their heartfelt condolences. Last weekend was tough and very emotional, but it was good to have closure and see Grandma lowered into the ground. I am still taking some time off but since...

I already has this round up of last year's crafts prepared for last week and with Easter this weekend, it seemed like a good time to remind you of them. This way if you're inspired, you have time to do some of them. The children's art project and baking activity are especially easy to add to your last minute plans.
It wouldn't be Easter without treat basket! When you only need something small, these upcycled Easter treat holders are perfect. It's hard to believe they started their life as toddler snack containers.

I always love a handmade touch to any holiday! Below are some special things I've made for family and friends;
I've got three simple Easter cards you can make and use up some of those paper scraps. A handmade greeting is always a great way to show someone you care.
I made this cute sign and framed Spring Has Sprung art for a Handmade Easter Swap. Both started out with bases that were only a dollar each! Decoupaging paper and adding embellishments make them cute one of a kind decorations.
These next two crafts are easy ways to get your kids involved in Easter and if you're like me, you already have most of the materials on hand!
Paper plates never looked so cute! Turn two into this fun paper plate chick, easy toddler art for kids who love to paint and paint!
This Easter Peep Sunflower Cake is easy to decorate, even with a toddler doing most of the work it still turns out super cute. Plus it's surprisingly good!


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Monday, March 29, 2010

TLC Book Tour: The Creation of Eve, by Lynn Cullen

Publisher Synopsis:

It’s 1559. A young woman painter is given the honor of traveling to Michelangelo’s Roman workshop to learn from the Maestro himself. Only men are allowed to draw the naked figure, so she can merely observe from afar the lush works of art that Michelangelo sculpts and paints from life. Sheltered and yet gifted with extraordinary talent, she yearns to capture all that life and beauty in her own art. But after a scandal involving one of Michelangelo’s students, she flees Rome and fears she has doomed herself and her family.

The Creation of Eve is a riveting novel based on the true but little- known story of Sofonisba Anguissola, the first renowned female artist of the Renaissance. After Sofi’s flight from Rome, her family eagerly accepts an invitation from fearsome King Felipe II of Spain for her to become lady-in-waiting and painting instructor to his young bride. The Spanish court is a nest of intrigue and gossip, where a whiff of impropriety can bring ruin. Hopelessly bound by the rules and restrictions of her position, Sofi yearns only to paint. And yet the young Queen needs Sofi’s help in other matters- inexperiences as she is, the Queen not only fails to catch the King’s eye, but she fails to give him an heir, both of which are crimes that could result in her banishment. Sofi guides her in how best to win the heart of the King, but the Queen is too young, and too romantic, to be satisfied. Soon, Sofi becomes embroiled in a love triangle involving the Queen, the King, and the King’s illegitimate half brother, Don Juan. And if the crime of displeasing the King is banishment, the crime of cuckolding him must surely be death.

Combining art, drama, and history from the Golden Age of Spain, The Creation of Eve is an expansive, original, and additively entertaining novel that asks the question: Can you ever truly know another person’s heart?

An avid history and historical fiction reader, I usually can tell within the first two pages if I'm going to like a book. This one quickly caught my attention and I was consumed by Cullen's tale, reading it through the first time, in one day. She maintains the right balance between being historically factual and rich vivid detail, immersing her readers in the sumptuous but rigid Spanish royal court, where even interactions between family members are constrained.

Previously, I've focused primarily on British history, especially the era around King Henry VIII. So both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, as well as their lives and reigns, are very familiar to me. This is the first time I've encountered Mary's consort Philip, in Spanish Felipe, in any other setting. It was really exciting to get a different perspective about him and see him as a powerful older king and this time the pursuer of his spouse's affection instead of the focus of Mary's intense and unrequited love.

Elizabeth of Valois, daughter of the infamous Catherine de' Medici, was unknown to me other than through most basic of facts. Cullen brings her to life as she reveals the dangers a young royal bride encounters, the difficulties encountered in political marriages between strangers, and conveys how dangerous the tiniest of missteps could be. Making for intriguing reading as one realizes just how different social morays were and how potentially deadly they could be.

The marriage of Philip and Elizabeth unfolds before the eyes of the artist Sofi, a very real historical figure and a breath of freshness as a narrator for me, as I'd never heard of her or her story before. While Sofi is realized as a full and detailed character, the story leaves me wanting to know more. I'd be interested if Cullen decides to to pick up where she left off and tell us about Sofi's later life and subsequent marriages.

Overall, I'm glad to have found a new author, who's storytelling excites me. I'll be looking forward to future titles and will be checking out her historical titles for children and young adults, which I anticipate will be great ways to interest younger readers in historical fiction.About the Author:

Lynn Cullen is the author of the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her previous award-winning novels and picture books for children include the critically acclaimed Moi & Marie Antoinette, The Backyard Ghost, and The Mightiest Heart, for which she was named 1999 Georgia Author of the Year. An avid traveler and self-taught historian, she grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. This is her first novel for adults.


Thank you to TLC Book Tours for facilitating this review and to Putnum for the advanced reviewer's copy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

For My Grandma

A grandma is warm hugs and sweet memories.
She remembers all of your accomplishments and forgets all of your mistakes.
She is someone you can tell your secrets and worries to, and she hopes and prays that all your dreams come true.
She always loves you, no matter what.
She can see past temper tantrums and bad moods, and makes it clear that they don't affect how precious you are to her.
She is an encouraging word and a tender touch.
She is full of proud smiles.
She is the one person in the world who loves you with all her heart,
Who remembers the child you were and cherishes the person you've become.
{Barbara Cage}
My Grandma passed away yesterday morning; now I have no Grandmas left, which seems very shocking for me to see in black and white. This loss is especially hard because she was the grandparent I was closest too. She and Grandpa lived a few blocks away from us, and helped my parents a great deal while my brother and I were growing up. I saw her almost every day. Brad and I used to walk over and see them on the weekends, when we were dating in high school and college. She always really liked Brad, telling me he was such a nice boy and would always take good care of me. She was right on both counts. It's funny what you remember about people. I will always associate diet Faygo pop in glass bottles, with her. As well as watching her put curlers into her hair at the kitchen table or wearing them out under a kerchief. This is probably from my earlier childhood, as I know she also went to go to a hair beautician. I used to love going over her house, sitting in her den, in the recliner and reading her Star and Nat'l Enquirer magazines. She liked to keep up on all the gossip about the stars. I remember a narrow flight of stairs up to the attic or a long big upstairs bedroom at the home my mom grew up, before they moved closer to where we lived, and her stories of watching out the kitchen window for the girls to come home when they were out late. I think she mentioned Aunt Barb being one she had to wait for a lot.

How she used to love wearing lots of rings with brightly colored stones and getting her nails done. She loved pink and carnations were her favorite flower. I also recall going to Arby's for an extra long lunch with her and Grandpa for Grandparent's Day in elementary school and being taken to the various restaurants her and Grandpa were regulars at. She used to tell me she sure hoped she lived long enough to see my wear high heels. Well, she got to see all that and a lot more☺
She was always so happy to see ER and they had a special bond right from the start. She was charmed when during one of the first visits, ER grabbed a hold of her finger and held on tightly. She'd remind me of that over and over, as she stroked ER's cheeks and told everyone that this was her great grandbaby. Later on, she was always amazed by how much ER talked and did, telling me she was such a smart girl. Just like her mommy. She loved getting a new piece of original art work to hang on her wall and her picture board was overflowing with pictures of ER. She was always so proud to show ER off to the nursing home staff. ER took the news very hard. She was quite inconsolable for a long time. She was so upset that she wouldn't ever see Great Grandma again and worried that she wouldn't be able to hug her any more. She told me but she just had to go to Great Grandma's house to see the fish in the lobby and sit outside by the "pond", really a fountain, with Great Grandma. Then she wanted to gather up every single "baby" Great Grandma had ever given her from winning bingo at the nursing home.

She's the one who told Brad and my Dad when they pulled up into the driveway from picking up the new playscape we purchased for her. "Hey! Did you know my Great Grandma went up to heaven?" That's how they found out. She also told several other people, in a very serious tone, "I have very sad news. My Great Grandma is in heaven with her Mommy and Daddy now. I can't give her hugs anymore and she'll be sad." Grandma left behind a legacy of love, with five children, seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. She is the first one in my maternal side of the immediate family to leave us, and her loss will be felt greatly. I know I will think of her every time I say the rosary, her favorite prayer.
When a person you love passes away
Look to the night sky on a clear day.
The star that to you, appears to be bright,
Will be your loved one,
Looking upon you during the night.
The lights of heaven are what shows through
As your loved one watches all that you do.
When you feel lonely for the one that you love,
Look to the Heavens in the night sky above.
{author unknown}
I miss you already Grandma; it's hard for me to accept you are really gone. I will miss you every day, until we meet again. Words cannot express how much you mean to me.

I will be taking a short break from blogging and will not be replying to emails either, while with my family. Thank you in advance for understanding.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Got Milk?

One day last week ER said to me, in her sweetest voice, "Mama take a picture of my milk." When asked why, she replied, "Cause I like it." She even posed for me. Well okay then. Oh to be in the mind of a three and a half year old.

Part of Wordless Wednesday on Five Minutes for Mom and Wordful Wednesday at


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Review: Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts

Weighing in at over 450 pages, Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts is quite a resource and a very helpful companion to a study of the Old and New Testament. Presented in full color, I was most excited about the maps because I love being able to read parts of the Bible and then be able to look up and see exactly where the stories took place.

The book is laid out in a very organized manner, in the same order as the book in the Bible, making information very easy to access. Charts provide summaries of events or themes and tie everything happening together. I think this would be great for group study as all the maps and charts are available for download and would be very helpful visual aides.

I also liked that some historic details were given, for example when the four gospels were discussed a little bit about the Herodian Dynasty was shared along with a family tree, diagram of Herod's Temple, and table of the New Testament Political Rulers. When appropriate, photos of relevant places are also included. It all helps me visualize the Bible better. This is a great reference book that will be referred to and used for many years.

Publisher Synopsis:

Beautiful full-color maps and charts illuminate the Scriptures.

This updated edition of Thomas Nelson’s popular Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts has everything your customers need to visualize the events, places, and people in the Old and New Testaments.

The resources include:
  • New, full-color, high-resolution maps and charts.
  • Downloadable PDFs of maps and charts for presentations and classes.
  • Tables, charts, and diagrams that organize Bible information for ease of learning and memorization.
  • Historical articles providing insight into Bible times.
  • Introductions to each book of the Bible.
Perfect for small-group leaders, Bible school teachers, and anyone curious about biblical times or wanting to locate key events from Scripture, Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts provides a visual overview of the Bible in its entirety.


Disclaimer: I reviewed this book as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program, and this post relates my own unbiased opinions and experience with this title. Yours may differ.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Phil Vischer's What's In the Bible

The new project from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer's, What's in the Bible with Buck Denver, has been a real hit with my 3.5 year old ER. It's aim is to explain the entire Bible and how all the stories fit together to make one big story to kids, a pretty tall order, if you ask me. However, the combination of puppetry, interaction between Vischer and the puppet cast of characters, animation, and catchy tunes have us tapping our toes to "Genesis", and learning about the Bible. I'm actually surprised by how often she's asked for the "Bible Video". The content from the first two DVDs in the What's in the Bible series are on our reviewer's copy and she'll watch almost the whole thing at one time. That in and of itself says a lot.

I was pretty sure from his track record that Vischer would be able to get ER's attention right away, but I wasn't sure he'd be able to keep it for long. After all, how interesting could he possibly make the Bible? I have to admit I was wrong to doubt.

What's in the Bible is well done and not what I feared it would be, a puff piece with a little religion thrown in. I found it to be highly educational and the delivery via various puppets like the blue haired Sunday school teacher, singing cowboy, pirate, and news anchor Buck Rodgers ensured that the information I probably got in catechism class was a lot more interesting and engaging.

I liked how it talked in depth about how the Bible was written and why certain books did or did not make it into the Bible. It also jumped right in and mentioned sin, characterized as little crabby looking black puffs. I also liked how it didn't shy away from bringing that up, finding an age appropriate manner to so. Our children are bombarded with so many different forms of entertainment, and while many preschool shows have educational components, they don't discuss faith and Christianity. What's in the Bible fills this gap perfectly.
Publisher's Synopsis:

Presenting a 13-DVD series from the creator of VeggieTales, Phil Vischer! Each DVD is filled with original music, animation, puppets, and creative writing that will teach kids about God and his Word. The first DVD introduces kids to the Bible and the book of beginnings, Genesis. Kids will learn about the key people in Genesis and the important lessons their stories teach us. Approximately 56 minutes...

The second DVD introduces kids to the book of Exodus: the oppression of the Israelites and the birth and rise of God’s chosen leader, Moses. The DVD also answers the question, who wrote the Bible? in a way kids can grasp. Approximately 56 minutes.

Find out a little bit more about What's In the Bible from Phil Visher and see a preview of the show below:

Here are some What's in the Bible coloring pages featuring the main characters, for you to enjoy too!

As a part of the What's in the Bible's Blog Tour, I have two certificates, one for a free copy of each DVD to give away, courtesy of Tyndale.

Please Note: These certificates can be redeemed at your local Christian bookstore, winner pays taxes where applicable, or by mailing directly to Tyndale.

To Enter:

Please tell me which part of the Bible is hardest for you to teach or talk about with your child or your favorite part of the Bible.

Extra Entries: {to be completed after the main entry described above, add a separate comment for each one}
  • Publically follow my blog using Google Friends Connect.
  • Subscribe to my blog via email.
  • Post my link button or add me to your Blog Roll
  • Fan my blog on Facebook.
  • Follow me on Twitter, tweet this giveaway using @KTnestingspot, up to once daily.
  • Follow What's In the Bible on Twitter
  • Follow What's In the Bible on Facebook
  • Follow Tyndale House Publishers on Twitter
  • Follow Tyndale House Publishers on Facebook.

Giveaway open until April 8 midnight EST, a little longer than usual because of the Easter holiday. Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond. Good Luck!


Disclaimer: Thank you to Tyndale for providing the reviewer's copy and giveaway. This review relates my own personal and unbiased opinions and experience with this DVD series. Yours may differ.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Altered Board Book: Hopes and Dreams

A photo shoot I did with ER when she was two months old was particularly memorable for me. It was one of the first times I thought I really captured her personality, along with a big happy smile. I wanted to do something truly special with the photos. I decided to alter an old children's board book, literacy lovers don't worry I got it secondhand and it was pretty beat up, after a sheet of stickers with the theme of "My Hopes and Dreams for You" with poignant sayings printed on them, inspired me. I combined it with a sheet of sticker tabs and used them for most of my journaling throughout it. If you need some tips on altering board books, you can refer to my previous tutorial.

For the front cover, I used an exact-o knife to cut out a frame for a photo. I placed the photo under the opening on the page beneath the cover page and a piece cut from a page protector on top of that. Then I adhered the cover and first page together for stability. Some rick rack, buttons, and a metal label with tags with her named spelled out in stickers decorate the cover.
For the first page I printed out the lyrics to I Hope You Dance, as performed by Lee Ann Womack. I have always thought they were so beautiful and poignant. I added ER's name with stickers, but removed them for privacy. I was in a rush so the cloning isn't exactly flawless but it's good enough for sharing purposes. Then I continued to use my favorite pictures, laying them out through the book, using paper scraps, sticker sayings, and sticker tags. I painted the right side above, and also painted all of the edges of the book pages with the same blue. The blue side was created in the same manner of the cover, using two consecutive pages and gluing them together.
Same thing for this page of tags. I cut out opening for each tag on the right side from the top page; the actual stickers are on the page below. I knew I wanted to use metal brads, but didn't want to add too much bulk. They are a bit recessed this way.
The top left side of this page is blank, because I added a personal message for ER after taking these pictures of the project.
This is my favorite picture, with ER giving me a wide open smile and a big gurgle and giggle. Another special message for her is printed it out on vellum for this page. I hope that when she gets older she'll treasure it. Perhaps she'll look through it, when we're apart and it'll remind her how much I love her.
My friend Maridith at Strictly Homemade has started a montly challenge, on the 20th, to show off our hand make gifts for loved ones called Gifts from the Heart. This book for my daughter is linked up. It doesn't have to be a craft, it can be a home cooked meal, or even the gift of time. It's not about the money you spend but giving from the heart. I think it's a lovely sentiment and hope you'll join us.


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