Thursday, August 21, 2014

Free Printable Pinewood Derby Awards

Our Cub Scout Pack's Pinewood Derby is coming up next month and in preparation, I designed some printable award certificates! I designed two sets of certificates (12 certificates per set), so there are 24 different awards you can use. Since I put the year on them, I made a 2014 set and a 2015 set.

(Click the image to access the PDF files.)

Includes Best Paint Job, People's Choice, Best Use of Color, and more!

Includes Funniest Car, Best of the Den, Most Patriotic, and more!

Identical to Set 1 except for the year.

Identical to Set 2 except for the year.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Days for Girls International - Group Sewing Day!

If you or someone you know live near South Jordan, UT, you are invited to join my Group Sewing Day for Days for Girls International on Saturday, September 27!

The details are below. Visit the event page on Facebook for updates and to RSVP.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of sewing ability. However, those with sewing skill are especially needed, along with sewing machines.

I'm also seeking donations of fabric and gift cards to provide materials for this event. Please help spread the word by tweeting or pinning the image below!

Days for Girls is a wonderful organization dedicated to providing reusable feminine hygiene kits to girls and women in developing countries throughout the world. Visit their website for more information and to see what a huge difference this organization is making.
"Through sustainable feminine hygiene solutions, Days for Girls is restoring opportunity to girls who have grown up believing there is something embarrassing or taboo about menstruation. DfG reverses these cycles of belief through products and education that remind girls and women they are beautiful, powerful, and worthy of care." -Days For Girls

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Altered Collage Frames

This post originally appeared on my family blog (back when my hubby and I blogged about our lives regularly). That means I did this project back in 2011. It is still one of my all-time favorite things that I have done in my house. Enjoy!

Before Violet was born, we rearranged the house to make space for her upstairs. That meant rearranging the living room, which meant rethinking our wall decor once again. We had this collage frame hanging on the kitchen wall for a while:

In a rare moment of brilliance, I thought it could be interesting to get another collage frame and cut the circles apart, hanging them around the larger frame, creating a sort of "floating bubble" effect. It took several months to follow through on the idea, but the final effect is pretty sweet.

Then when we painted our living room before listing our house for sale, we did a bit more rearranging and added a clock to the mix, so here is what it looks like today:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Halloween Costume Tutorial Roundup

I am sorry to say that I am already thinking about Halloween costumes. I suppose that is what happens when you're making costumes for your kids. This year, I think my daughter will join the throngs of Queen Elsas, but my son is still undecided. Here are some tutorials for what I think will be some popular boy costumes this year:


Maybe it's just my kid, but it seems like ninjas are pretty cool these days. This simple, no-sew DIY is a great costume if you're looking for something quick and easy:

From Jenny @ The Southern Institute (posted on Andrea's Notebook)


Next to Queen Elsa, I think Legos might be the most popular thing for kids this year. There are a lot of Lego costume tutorials out there, but I think this one might be the most realistic looking one, which is why I chose it. Of course, it looks really complicated, too. This is specifically for a Lego Boba Fett costume, but I think it could be adapted to be any sort of Lego person:

From Art & Its Accoutrements
If you're looking for a much simpler Lego costume and your kid isn't set on being Emmet, check out this tutorial:

From Wine & Glue


I am thinking I need to have my son see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie so maybe he'll want to be a viking for Halloween. This viking costume is so clever and so awesome that I want a reason to make it:

From I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar


Of course, the movie might also make him want to be a dragon, which could be a fun costume to make and let's face it... these little dragons are super cute:

From Tried & True

Have you started thinking about Halloween yet? I'd love to hear what sort of costumes you'll be whipping up, so please share a comment!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Where I Live - Thanksgiving Point Museum of Natural Curiosity

It's been a while since I blogged about fun things to do in Utah, but I felt like a visit to Thanksgiving Point's new Museum of Natural Curiosity warranted a post. Please note, all opinions are all my own.

(image source)
Thanksgiving Point, in Lehi Utah, has a promotion during August called "$2 Tuesday." That is why my kids and I ended up braving the crowds to see the Museum of Natural Curiosity yesterday. We had originally planned to visit the farm, but just as we left the house, a lovely summer rainstorm began. I didn't feel like slogging through farm mud in my flip-flops, so we changed plans.

Upon arriving, we saw the line to get into the building and I started to get a little worried. It is obvious that this museum is busy because they have partitions set up outside to direct the line, along with signs telling you how long you'll have to wait. We started out by the 60 minute wait sign. 45 minutes later, we were buying our tickets and getting the spiel about the rules of the museum. Entry cost us $6 thanks to the promotion, instead of the $39 it would've cost any other day. Worth the hassle? Probably.

We were informed that if we wanted a chance to visit the rope bridges in the Rainforest section, we needed to go get a timed wrist band immediately which would tell us when we could come back. Sort of like a Disney fast-pass... but less fancy.

(image source)
That's what we did... or tried to do. I approached the attendant to ask about wrist bands (at 2:30 PM) and was informed that the next entry time was 6:45 PM. I literally laughed out loud and quickly retreated to deal with my kids' disappointment.

So, we decided to find other things to see. I consulted the map, which told me approximately nothing, then we started exploring. That's when we discovered Kidopolis, a kid-size city filled with all sorts of activities kids can do, from playing bank teller to performing on a theatre stage, x-raying stuffed animals, and playing musical instruments.

Eddie x-rays Fido.
This is where we spent the majority of our time, mostly because it was so crowded that the kids had to wait a while to get a turn for everything. The tiny rooms were difficult to navigate without a proper map and there weren't really instructions posted on how to use the various items in the rooms. Some of them were easier to figure out than others. And then some genius designer decided it would be fun to add in secret passages, which make it inevitable that parents will lose their kids.

After braving the swarms of children, the clearly overstimulated parents, and the tiny secret-passaged rooms for a while, I was ready to snap and decided it was time for a potty break and some time outside in the gardens.

The first thing we encountered upon exiting the building was the playground. It is a nice playground, with digging toys, spinning toys, a zip line, teeter-totters (who knew they still made those?!), and 2 swings... and hundreds of children. We played on the swings and waited in line for a teeter-totter, which was a huge hit with my kids. The line for the zip line was as long as the zip line itself, so I refused to let my kids wait for that. Instead, I convinced them to wander through the gardens with me to see what else there was (since we were uninformed by the map).

In addition to the playground, there is a koi pond with windows so you can see the fish, hedge mazes, a couple of caves, and Noah's Ark, which is actually a splash area that was closed yesterday during our visit.

This was my favorite place. Since it was closed, nobody was around. I defied the rules and let my kids climb up for a photo op. Then we ventured back through the hedge mazes, where I promptly lost both of my kids again.

Once I found my way out of the hedge and located both kids, I was completely overstimulated and exhausted. It started raining again, so we headed back inside to visit the Water Works section. Maybe it was because of the rain, but this area seemed extra crowded. There were lines for every exhibit, no instructions on how to use the exhibits or what the point of them was, so we didn't stay long. Despite screams of protest, I decided it was best for my sanity if we left as soon as possible.

My overall impression of this museum is that it would be fun if it was not crowded, but the cost of going during a less crowded time is way too high. Despite all the exhibits being designed for children, the areas were too cramped for the adults that children inevitably bring with them.

Have you visited this museum? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Few Book Reviews

I can't believe I've let over a month go by without blogging about all the books I've been reading! It's been 6 weeks since I posted my reading list, so I think it's high time I told you about the books I've finished so far.

A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller

I enjoy reading books about self-discovery and generally only read self-help books that are aimed more about the emotional/spiritual side of things. This one seemed to fit the bill. It wasn't available in my local library system, so I had to get it through inter-library loan, which took a while.

The book is more a series of short essays, so the book as a whole doesn't really seem to be whole. The writing was not terribly impressive, often feeling hurried and disjointed. But there were some tidbits of wisdom that I liked enough to make note of.
"If we are reluctant to update our position, we will live our days presuming that wherever we set our course when we began, however long ago, obviously describes precisely where we should be by now."
Overall, this book did help me see a different perspective on things like how I view myself, my responsibilities, my life, and my relationships.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but with reservations.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

This book was recommended to me by a friend, who discovered it in a book club. This is a book I probably never would've sought out without a recommendation because it doesn't seem like it would be all that interesting. But it really was.

This is an historical account of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 voyage to Antarctica. The original goal of this voyage was for a group of men to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent. The book documents the events leading up the voyage, then the voyage itself, which failed at its goal after the ship got stuck in the ice pack and eventually sunk.

This really is an incredible story that shows how resilient people really can be in the most difficult times. I especially loved that the book is written around first-hand accounts from interviews and journal entries and it even includes photos taken by the crew. If you like historical non-fiction, this is a great one.
“In that instant they felt an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. Though they had failed dismally even to come close to the expedition's original objective, they knew now that somehow they had done much, much more than ever they set out to do.” 
Would I recommend it? Definitely yes.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

I love mother-daughter stories, and this one did not disappoint. This book is about a group of Chinese mothers and their Chinese-American daughters. Each chapter is told from a different person's perspective, so you get to know all the mothers and daughters. While their stories are so different, by the end, you can see how they are very much the same.

This was a fun and insightful read that really makes you think about relationships with those closest to you and how everyone has hidden parts of themselves. Ultimately, I think this book is about reconciling what you think you know about someone with who they really are. I think that is a universal struggle for aging children to come to see their parents as the complicated people they really are, and this book captures that perfectly.
“For unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me. ” 
Would I recommend it? Yes.

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons

This is a fun, though sometimes frustrating story of a German immigrant family living in England during and after World War II. The book follows Mr. Rosenblum's obsessive desire to be viewed as a true Englishman, no matter the consequences. He does everything he can think of to be accepted, but when his requests for membership at various golf courses throughout England are all rejected, he is forced to take drastic measures.

The book follows Mr. Rosenblum as he sets out to build his own golf course, and in the process, learns a lot about himself, his family, and those he has tried so hard to be accepted by.

The family dynamics - particularly between Mr. and Mrs. Rosenblum - truly make this a book worth reading.
“It was much better to share it with him; if he was a madman then at least they were crazy together.” 
Would I recommend it? Yes.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

This juvenile fiction is a wonderful read. I sought this out after enjoying Vanderpool's first book, Moon Over Manifest. The books have similar themes, centering around a child who is lost in an adult world, discovering themselves, their friends, and their parents along their journey. Navigating Early is about two friends who set out through the Appalachian wilderness and the things they discover along the way.
“Finding your way doesn't mean you always know where you're going. It's knowing how to find your way back home that's important.” 
Would I recommend it? Definitely yes.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

This book was not quite what I expected, though I'm not sure what I expected. This is the story of two newlyweds. The story cuts back and forth between past and present -- the present being their wedding night. Needless to say, the present is all about sex. But the interwoven story of these two people, their backgrounds, their personalities, and their secrets was very interesting. The book is not really about sex, but it is about how a person's entire life can be changed in an instant by what they do or do not say. It is thought-provoking, and actually quite frustrating, to see these characters struggle and ultimately fail.
“She knew very well that people fell out, even stormily, and then made up. But she did not know how to start - she simply did not have the trick of it, the row that cleared the air, and could never quite believe that hard words could be unsaid or forgotten.” 
Would I recommend it? Probably not because of the sexual content.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

I picked this up from my local library's Reader's Choice shelf. It is a long book, but totally sucked me in. From the very start, the protagonist and the story are unexpected and surprising. This is a story largely about relationships.

The story is told by Alex Woods, a kid who has a very unusual life, and follows his friendship with the elderly Mr. Peterson. It is a sometimes funny, sometimes tragic story of how their lives intertwine over years.

It does have some language, but I absolutely loved this book and can't wait for Extence's next book to come out.
“The first thing I learned that day was this: what you think you know about a person is only a fraction of the story.” 
Would I recommend it? Definitely yes.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about any of these books or recommendations for things I should read in the future. And come be my friend on Goodreads by clicking here.