Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine's Day cards, gifts, party invites and more!

Tiny Prints has you covered this year for Valentine’s Day, from Group & Photo Cards to Party Invites and even Photo Gifts. . But, the big news for 2011 is the Tiny Prints Greeting Card Collection, which lets you create individual personalized cards with photos starting at $1.99. They have everything from romantic to sentimental to hilariously funny cards. In a matter of seconds you can create personalized cards for your loved one, mom, dad, friend or anyone else important in your life and Tiny Prints will mail the card directly to that person. Tiny Prints has removed the hassle and added the fun back into Valentine's Day shopping.

Did you know that you can add a gift card to your personalized greeting cards? I love this feature, you can select a gift card from Starbucks, Amazon or Target and send it right along with your greeting. I love giving gift cards and this has made it that much easier. Consider signing up to become a Greeting Card Member at Tiny Prints.

Plus here are their current coupons/saving offers. First up 10% off Orders $49+ with Code AFF1105 . New Customer Offer: 15% off $75+ with Code:NEW1105. Save the Dates: $15 off any Save The Date Card order of $75 or more with Code: AFFSTD

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Basket full of Groundhogs

Groundhog Day is just around the corner on Feb 2nd, that's right Groundhog Day. I thought I'd share some fun holiday themed books here today, hopefully in time for you to pick up a couple at your library or to add to your own collection before Groundhog day is here.

First up is a fun fact filled non-fiction read by Wendie C. Old and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye called The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun. It's a longer read for kids 7 & up. The book opens with the PA celebrity Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. It covers the origins of the Holiday, other animals that predicate the weather in similar celebrations around the world, information on groundhogs and hibernation. There are even ideas for throwing your own Groundhog Day party. Whew, right? The water colored illustrations feature cartoon like groundhogs. They are fun, bright and engaging.

The Secret of the First One Up by Iris Hiskey Arno and illustrated by Renee Graef. Lila is a young groundhog who doesn't want to go to sleep especially for months. Her Uncle Wilbur, who is always the first groundhog up each year, encourages Lila to go to sleep so she might be the first one up and learn the secret that only that special groundhog knows. Lila drifts off to sleep and is the first groundhog up the following February. She now knows the secret of why it's special to be the first groundhog to wake.

Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub and illustrated by Kristin Sorra. This is a fun book that uses humor to teach. Not only will your children learn about groundhogs, the Holiday, hibernation but they will also learn about weather. The illustrations match the text perfectly and are equally engaging and humorous.

We'll soon know if spring is around the corner or not!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More CSN Stores - This time it's a giveaway! - CLOSED

I'm very excited that CSN stores is offering one of my lucky readers a $35.00 gift certificate good to use at any of the +200 stores! You can buy just about anything at CSN stores. I recently learned that you can even shop for swingsets at their Swingsets and More site. We've been looking for a backyard swing set since we moved three years ago. What do you all think of this one? CSN has a great selection, so we'll see...

To Enter the Giveaway-

First entry - just leave a comment letting me know what you might get with your gift card from CSN stores.

Two more entries - Follow my blog and leave a comment that you now are or that you already are (be sure to leave two separate comments).

Two more entries - Post about this giveaway on your blog and leave the link to your post (be sure to leave two separate comments).

This giveaway will end Tuesday, February 1st at 5:00 PM EST. I'll draw the winner using a random number generator that week and post the winner. Please be sure there is an easy way to get your contact info. If I cannot contact you then I will select another winner.

Please note that international fees will not be covered by the gift certificate.

Thanks for entering!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Science Kits Review - CSN Stores

I posted just before Christmas that I was given an opportunity to do a review for CSN stores and gladly accepted the chance. I decided to get my kids each a science kit by Thames and Kosmos. The sets are from their little labs collection for ages 5 and up. My 5 year old is definitely better suited for the comprehension of the experiments but my 3 year old is enjoying joining in even if she's not quite grasping the why of it all.

Being that I have younger kids I wanted kits that had to do with life and earth science. My two love exploring and learning about nature. So the two kits I selected were 'Little Labs Plant Science' and 'Little Labs Weather science'.

Now I must confess, science was never one of my strongest subjects. I'm not the Mom that can just pop into the kitchen or garage assemble some materials and then wow my kids with a fun and educational science experiment. So these kits are perfect to me. They come with a book of experiments that include step by step instructions, questions about the experiments for the kids to ponder and of course the explanation. The kits also come with pretty much everything you need to do all the experiments. For example the plant kit does require you provide some seeds for a couple of the experiments. There are around 10 - 11 experiments for each set and we're still working our way through them. We have enjoyed the ones we've completed (some were more successful than others). My kids light up when I get out their science sets and can't wait to figure out which one we should attempt next. I also love that you can repeat all the experiments again and again. I know we'll get a few years out of these sets and each year I'm sure they'll grasp more about the concepts we're exploring. I loved getting the supplies too because I'm sure I'll be able to use them for other experiments we might want to try that we find from other sources. I'm very happy with our kits and plan on buying more in this series.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Basket Full of Penguins

Sharing a basket of penguin books for you today.

Non-fiction picks for all ages by Usborne books include:
Penguins Luxury Touchy-Feely Board Book by Fiona Watts - ages 9 Months and up
Antarctica by Lucy Bowman - ages 5 and up. Filled with all kinds of facts about the animals of Antarctica including penguins.
Penguins by Susanna Davidson - ages 5 and up
Penguins by Emily Bone - ages 7 and up

If you Were a Penguin by Florence Minor and illustrated by Wendell Minor. Fun fact filled read about what penguins can do. Simple rhyming text is accompanied with adorable pictures of penguins. The book includes a section on penguin fun facts, a list of web sites for more penguin learning and a species key of the 10 different penguins in the book.

Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere by Bob Barner is another simple rhyming fact filled read on penguins. The text shares some difference between penguins that live in the cold vs those that live in warm climates highlighting such differences as how they care for young. It is a short read though and I do wish it was a bit longer as I think the concept of talking about the different habitats of penguins is really an interesting one. Questions and fun facts about penguins are included in the back as well as a penguin parade showing 17 different types of penguins, where they live and their sizes. Colorful, fun collage pictures accompany the text.

Playful Little Penguins by Tony Mitton and illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. Expressive, colorful and playful illustrations fill the pages in this rhyming verse about penguin children at a day of play. But at the end of their busy day the tired penguins return to cuddle up cozy with their families.

Next up and last is my daughter's current favorite read. A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis. True to his style this is a book that stretches the imagination in simple yet profound ways. Edna the penguin lives in a world that is white, black and blue. She just knows there has to be something more and spends all of her time looking for it. One day she finds that something more and her world is not longer just white, black and blue. The story closes with Edna wondering just what else there could be. The illustrations are bold, clean, stylized and just a perfect match to the story.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I'll have a basket full of some of our favorite penguin reads together here shortly but I wanted to start off with a book called Penguin by Polly Dunbar. A little boy named Ben gets a penguin as a present. Only problem is the penguin won't talk. The little boy gets very frustrated with the penguin only in his frustration to find he has annoyed a lion. Annoying lion's I might add should be avoided. But not to worry the penguin comes to his rescue and the two are at once friends again. It's a short simple read that little kids will find very funny. My two are all giggles when we read this book. The pages are all white with only the brightly colored penguin, boy and lion all whimsically sketched.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tea Collection's Semi-Annual Sale!

Tea Collection, known for their globally-inspired clothing for children and women, is offering an additional 25% off already reduced styles for a limited time only! Now's the time to enjoy an extra 25% off sale items, including dresses, pants, shirts and more with Tea Collection's semi-annual sale! Just enter code 25SALE at checkout Monday, January 17th through Wednesday January 19th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time to receive this additional savings. This super sale is for three days only so check it out today!

A Basket Full of Polar Bears

A basket full of polar bear books, that is. We're learning all about artic animals around here. So I wanted to share some fun Polar Bear reads with you all.

I love mixing educational non-fiction reads with fun fictional ones on the topic we're learning about. Usborne books never disappoints for educational and fun non-fiction reads. Here are some fact filled books for all ages:
Polar Bears Luxury Touchy-Feely Board Book by Fiona Watt - ages 9 months and up
Bears by Emma Helbrough - ages 5-7. About all types of bears including polar bears.
Polar Bears by Conrad Mason - ages 7 & up
As always you can contact me if you'd like to learn more about Usborne books!

Hush Little Polar Bear by Jeff Mack. Okay could that polar bear be anymore cuddly looking? It's a sweet good night read as a little girl sings her stuffed polar bear a bedtime song. Follow along as her vivid imagination transports the polar bear on a wonderful bedtime journey.

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Stephen Savage. I love the bold, modern illustrations in this book and the cool blue tone color scheme. It's simple story of a little polar sensing something special is about to happen wonders out of his den to explore. He returns to his cozy den sleepy from his adventures making it a great cozy bedtime read.

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett. In her wonderful retelling fashion of old tales Jan Brett brings us a fun winter twist on the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Beautiful realistic drawings accompany the text.

Panda and Polar Bear by Matthew J. Baek. A little polar bear lives at the zoo. At the end of his habitat is a high white cliff. Curious about the white cliff and what might be out there he heads off to explore. Its a story of exploration and friendship as two very different bears meet for the first time. The soft watercolor illustrations are sweet and stunning.

Romeo and Lou Blast off by Derek Anderson. Last is a funny read about two friends that are on quite the adventure in their very own rocket ship made out of snow. It's a fun, imaginative read with bold, expressive, colorful illustrations. Get ready to blast off for some serious fun with Romeo and Lou.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

I'm offering up another wordless book, this time a fun winter find. It's called Snow Day and is by Daniel Peddle. It appears to be an out of print book but we found a copy at our library to enjoy. It's a very simple book about one little boy's fun making a snowman on a winter day. The watercolor illustrations are charming and serene. The vantage point shifts from close up to far away and sky and snowscape fill much of most pages. I'm also linking up to stART today over at A Mommy's Adventure and Kids get Crafty over at Red Ted Art's Blog. Our craft to go along with this read were simple snowman collages. We made several and here's my example one and the bowls of pieces I made up for the kids to choose from.

The kid's snowman and snowwomen.

Precious Moments Storybook Bible

I'm always interested in Children's Bibles and was excited to see Precious Moments had one! It's called Precious Moments Storybook Bible by Sam Butcher. It's filled with adorable Precious Moments illustrations of those cute teardrop eyed children and animals making it a very sweet Children's Bible indeed. It has a section in the front to fill out such items as who this book belongs to, a family tree and a record area for special events. The Bible stories are broken up into three sections: 'Favorite Bible Classics, Words of Praise and Wisdom and More Stories of the Faith'. I really appreciated the section 'Words of Praise and Wisdom' which includes scriptures from Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Isaiah. There's also a section of 'Songs and Prayers' including such favorites as 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'Amazing Grace'. These Bible stories are great for 3 - 8 years old as the stories are a bit lengthy and not the short rhymes that you find in many children's Bibles. I have a few problems with a couple of the stories for example, the creation story leaves off the 7th day of rest and the story of Joseph focuses on the story up to when he's sold into slavery. It concludes summing up the rest of Joseph's story with the fact that Jacob 'didn't know that Joseph would become a successful ruler in Egypt and a faithful man who loved his God'. I would have liked to see more included on Joseph's time in Egypt. It's a beautifully illustrated book with thoughtfully selected Bible stories and lots of opportunities to personalize it into a special keepsake for your child.

I received a free copy of this book from Book Sneeze blogger review program for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt is a life changing, eye opening read about what the Bible says about discipleship and the need to care, not just give, for the poor. This book shines the spotlight on these areas of our lives using scripture. It is all too easy to sit back and say that God has not called me to go or to give up everything for Christ's sake but do we really seek God's will in these areas? Many have bought into a comfortable Christian message that conforms to our desires, our focus on achieving the American dream with our time and talents rather than pursuing to become more like Jesus. I think anyone who reads this book will be changed and have a new perspective on the contrast of simply living out the comfortable American Dream Christianity versus following what God's will is for our lives. Read this book, meditate on the scriptures that it's based on, apply it and see how God changes you. At the end of this book is a section called 'My Radical Experiment' that will help you apply what the Bible teaches about discipleship and helping others in practical, tangible, transforming ways.

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah blogger review program for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Double Shot

Double Shot by Erynn Mangum is the third book in her Maya Davis series. After reading the 2nd book of this series, ‘Latte Daze’ I was very excited to have the opportunity to review this new book. This book picked up at Maya's roommate Jennifer's wedding and concludes with her own. But from wedding to wedding is not an easy time. Maya's resistance to change is pushed to its near limits. It was an enjoyable read and I had a hard time putting it down. There were some changes from ‘Latte Daze’ though. I found this book not as filled with scripture and Bible truths which I had found surprising, different and refreshing in ‘Latte Daze’. ‘Double Shot’ was more storyline focused with some scripture referenced more typical to other Christian fiction novels I’ve read. This book also focused primarily on Maya with very little development of secondary characters which lead to a minutia of detail in Maya's day to day that got to be overwhelming at times. All and all it's a great light read with a good message. I look forward to following along as Maya embraces the upcoming big changes in her life.

I received a free copy of this book from NavPress for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Marvelous Toy

I thought I'd share a fun book about a toy today. As my two are enjoying their new Christmas toys this book came to mind, it's called The Marvelous Toy by Tom Paxton and illustrated by Steve Cox. It's based on a song written by American Folk singer and writer, Tom Paxton. See Youtube clip below to hear this song preformed by Peter, Paul and Mary. The illustrations are bold, bright and whimsical as they capture these lyrics beautifully into a picture book. The story is about a little boy who receives an unusual gift from his father. He is amazed by this toy though not quite sure what it is. The chorus lines go: "It went zip! when it moved/And bop! when it stopped/And whirr! when it stood still./I never knew just what it was,/And I guess I never will." The story ends as the now grown boy passes on the marvelous toy to his own son. It's a great book to share some delight and wonder with your young readers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January Classic Book -The Snowy Day

Happy New Year! I thought I'd start the 2011 blogging year continuing my classic book of the month series. First up The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. We just read this classic book for the first time from the library over our winter break. I was a little hesitant, it seemed a bit simple and it is indeed that. It's wonderfully simple, I'll be adding it to my favorite simple reads list. It's a sweet story of a little boy named Peter who heads out to enjoy a snowy day filled with all those little childhood pleasures found in playing outside in the snow. From enjoying the crunch, crunch, crunch of walking in the snow, making tracks, snowmen, sliding to trying to save a bit of the magic in your pocket. The illustrations have a fun vibe to them and are very cute. I love Peter's adorable red snowsuit and pointed snow cap. Your kids will be sure to relate to the fun Peter had on his snowy day and look forward to their own snowy adventures.