Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Panda Nursery Theme

Even before we started trying to have a baby, I knew what I wanted the nursery theme to be. See, the baby's nursery is actually my old scrap room. When I painted my scrap room years ago, I chose a pretty green color because I thought that it was bright and creative, but I also thought it would work as a nice color if we ever had to change the room over into a nursery. Plus, it's green and it's neutral, so it wouldn't matter if we had a boy or a girl. (I really didn't want to repaint.)

So, what goes with green? I really, really, really love pandas. And what do pandas eat? Bamboo! And what color is bamboo? Green! (Right?) So going with pandas as a theme just made sense to me.

But finding panda nursery decor? Not so much. That's why I decided to stick with panda colors: black and white. I found black-and-white chevron sheets, a changing pad cover, and a laundry hamper from Babies "R" Us. And then, surprisingly, I started finding all these other cute panda things! It's like the universe knew I needed pandas!

I found this panda head at Target! My husband thinks it's scary, and the Target check-out lady thought it was a raccoon.... But I think it's super cute and funny. Plus, it goes great with our panda bear rug!

My mom found that at a garage sale! And then I found this panda bouncer from Summer Infant's Kiddopotamus brand at work!

I also got a ton of stuffed pandas at my baby showers. Some of them are small enough to be on display on the bookshelf (along with our panda lamp, which we ordered from Amazon).

And then here are the rest of the stuffed pandas. We're using the biggest panda in all of the baby's monthly pictures so we can track how big she's growing in relation to the giant panda.

And these cute pandas were made by my mom for my baby shower. They look cute hanging from the ceiling, and they sort of hide the water stains on the ceiling. (Thanks, previous owners!)

I also added a little black-and-white washi tape to this shadowbox that my mom gave me. It's supposed to house the baby's hospital band, booties, and cap, BUT our hospital threw the band away, the baby didn't wear booties, and her cap was WAY too big to fit on either side of the photos in the shadowbox. So I just decorated the sides with washi tape and used some Echo Park baby girl-themed stickers that my mom gave me to dress it up even more.

My mother-in-law cross-stitched this picture for us. Apparently, finding panda cross-stitch designs is NOT easy. I believe she said she had to order it from Canada. But it was well worth the effort to find it! It's a great fit with our decor.

There are still a few things I'd like to add as decor in the nursery, such as panda bear art made out of black and white buttons, but I'll get to that eventually. For now, I think we did a pretty good job of nailing the panda theme!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Everybody Rise - Book Review

In Stephanie Clifford's debut Everybody Rise, Evelyn Beegan fakes her way into a group of socially elite rich people in order to build membership for a social media site for socially elite rich people, a job that she also sort of faked her way into. A former private school kid, she has a background into this crowd, but she's never quite been a part of it. Thankfully, she's a fast learner.

But while she's surfing on her wave to the top, her lawyer father's illegal actions threaten to bring down the Beegan family and Evelyn believes it's up to her to save the day no matter the cost, both figuratively and literally.

This was a much-buzzed about book at Book Expo America 2015, and, yes, I'm just now getting around to reading my ARC of it. But it was worth the wait. You know what's going to happen, but Evelyn is such a trainwreck that you can't look away. She spends so much time trying to be like other people, will she ever be able to just be herself?

I can see how some people have not liked the book. Evelyn is a hard character to have sympathy for because she really does become a psycho social climber, and it almost feels nice when she gets her comeuppance. You don't want to like the richy rich people who are so snobby, but at times, you really can't root for Evelyn. I'm not even sure she redeems herself in the end, but if her friend Charlotte (the only person in this story who seems to have some perspective and commonsense) forgives, I think the readers can, too.

Everybody Rise is published by St. Martin's Press and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free advance review copy at BEA 2015 with no obligation to review.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What Christians Ought to Believe - Book Review

A title like "What Christians Ought to Believe" sort of implies that the things Christians are believing are wrong. And while that may be true to some extent, that's not really what this book is about. Instead, author Michael F. Bird uses the Apostles' Creed to show the basics of what should be part of a Christian faith.

It's not that Christians are getting it wrong. It's more that there are so many denominations, and each denomination seems to have its own variation on Christianity. And as Bird writes, that's fine because each denomination is bringing something different to the table. But the one thing that the denominations have in common is reciting the Apostles' Creed during church services.

It's the Apostles' Creed that lays the foundation for what Christians ought to believe, hence the title of this book. As recited in the Creed, Christians believe in the Father, in the Son, in the Virgin Birth, in the Cross, that Jesus lives, that Jesus reigns, in the Spirit, in the Church, and in Salvation.

In each chapter, Bird breaks down just what exactly each of those tenets means and why Christians can't stray from these core beliefs.

I thought this book was interesting, if a little "textbook-y" at times. If you're already a Christian and are just looking to explore more about the faith or want to know more about the Apostles' Creed in particular, then this book would appeal to you and your Bible study. If you're new to Christianity and want to know more about the basic beliefs of the religion, then this book might be helpful to you, although it is not very newbie-friendly, in my opinion.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 15, 2016

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Scrapbook Page

I can't remember where I saw this idea (probably Pinterest?) but when my in-laws gave us a copy of the newspaper from the day the baby was born, I knew that I wanted to stage a photo shoot of the baby lying on the newspaper's front page. At just one month, the baby was pretty cooperative for this photo shoot. Although, I did have to stop and start a little later because the baby started crying. (This was actually our third shoot of the day. I had taken her one month pictures first and then the picture for her birth announcement, so by the time we started this one, she was kind of over it.)

The patterned papers on this are from the American Crafts Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm collection. I've had that paper pad for awhile now (a great T.J. Maxx find!) and I had no idea that it would really come in handy for making baby girl scrapbook layouts.

And I was really glad that I could use an American Crafts arrow brad to point to the baby's birth date on the constellation paper from the Lucky Charm collection.

Other supplies used include teal letter stickers from the Target $1 spot and various stickers from my stash. 

You'll notice that the left page is a Project Life page protector, while the right page is a regular 12x12 layout. I liked combining the two.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

40 Weeks and 4 Days Scrapbook Page

Here are the first two pages of the baby's first scrapbook: pictures of me pregnant with the baby!!

I carried the baby for 40 weeks and four days before heading to the hospital to be induced. I actually didn't get induced, and the extensive journaling on the second page details the whole story. I typed it out because I knew I wouldn't be able to fit all that I wanted to say on the page if I wrote it by hand.

Papers used on this are from an EK Success Phrase Cafe paper pack, and the letter stickers are American Crafts Thickers. There are also a few embellishments from my stash as well as some stickers from a baby girl sticker sheet that my mother-in-law gave me.

This was a layout that took a long time to complete. I just couldn't figure out the design of the pages. How was I going to get all of those pictures on two pages? I actually had everything laid out one way and adhered to the page when I realized that I didn't like it that way and tore everything off to start over. Some of the embellishments and photos are placed just so because I had to cover up spots where the adhesive tore the paper when I removed everything. Whoops!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Baby Scrapbook Pages with Fancy Pants Designs

Awhile ago someone gave me the Fancy Pants Designs About a Girl collection, and I've been saving it and saving it and HEY! Now I have a reason to use these girl-themed papers. Here are some of the scrapbook layouts I've made using this collection to chronicle life with baby.

On "1st Car Ride", I used the patterned paper, stickers, and transparent embellishments from the collection, and I added the polka dot letter stickers from a pack that I got in the Target $1 spot.

And "ZZZZZZZZ" uses some of the About a Girl transparent embellishments, stickers, rub-ons, and patterned paper. The letter stickers are from old Sassafras Lass collections.

I've been hanging onto these letter sticker sheets just trying to use up as many of the letters as I could. I just can't seem to get rid of letter sticker sheets if there are still letters on them, even if I've run out of vowels and there couldn't possibly be any word I could actually make with what's left, unless I'm writing in Welsh.

I think I have a letter sticker problem.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

June - Book Review

What happened in June 1955 has consequences on some of the characters living in St. Jude, Ohio in June 2015. Everything that Cassie Danvers thinks she knows about her late grandmother June turns suspect after Cassie somehow inherits a large sum of money from a deceased movie star claiming to be her grandfather. The movie star's children don't believe it and confront Cassie for a DNA test. What will Cassie learn about what happened in the past and about herself in the present?

I originally heard about the book June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore from my mom who saw an ad for it in The New York Times Sunday book section. When I saw that the book was available for review through Blogging for Books, I thought I would check it out and then pass the book along to my mom. But she had already gotten the book from the library! Oh well. At least we were able to discuss this book, kind of like our own little book club. And I think it's safe to say that we felt the same way about certain parts of the book.

Right from the start, the book talks about how the house is dreaming and sharing its dreams with Cassie. And I thought that was a little weird.

While I liked the story taking place in 1955, parts of the present day story were a little annoying. I found it hard to believe how a hunk like the character Nick could fall for a size-10 hermit of a woman who apparently never takes a shower.

There's also a part of the present day story where Cassie wonders why she's drawing everything out instead of just taking the DNA test and getting it over with. I was wondering the same thing! Geez Louise!

I have to say, I didn't really see coming what eventually ended up coming. So I liked that the story (again, the 1955 story) kept me guessing. And overall, it's an interesting story. But there were just certain parts of it that I didn't enjoy that much.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Baby Bib Scrapbook

Today I'm sharing a layout that I partially made. I say partially because this two-page layout is part of a Bib Scrapbook that my mom made for me as a way to make it easier for me to scrapbook post-baby. Here's what my mom wrote inside the scrapbook. It explains how it works.

So basically, there are 12 two-page layouts, one for each month of the baby's first year, and 12 baby bibs inside the scrapbook. Each month, you take out a bib, take pictures of the baby wearing the bib, print those pictures out, and pop them into the album. Easy peasy. (And then you use the bibs.) So here was the first month's bib.

My mom had given me some of the leftover papers from when she made the album, so I was able to add some backing to my photos, and then I had these cute fabric flowers in my stash that just fit perfectly with the pattern and colors on the layout.

What do you guys think of the Bib Scrapbook idea? I had never heard of it before, but it's been a lot of fun posing the baby with her bibs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Just Chilling Scrapbook Page

As you can imagine, I have TONS of pictures of the baby. So in order to get them scrapped quickly, I picked up some Project Life pages and used one of them with these pictures of the baby just hanging out with us, usually in the living room.

On this layout, I used American Crafts Thickers Mosaic letter stickers (purchased on sale at T.J. Maxx!), Echo Park Bundle of Joy stickers (given to me by my mom), and EK Success patterned paper from the Phrase Cafe Baby collection (given to me by my mother-in-law).

Aside from the title work, I just plopped a couple stickers on some of the picture to spice things up. And that was that. Project Life stuff really does make things easier. Next up for these Project Life pages - the pictures from our trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in England two years ago. Yep, I'm still scrapbooking THAT vacation.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sweet Caress - Book Review

I've had this book to review since Book Expo America last year, and I fully intended to read and review it before its September 2015 publication, but then ... life happened.

And I think that the narrator of this book, Amory Clay, would fully understand that.

This book is the story of Amory's life, and a lot of life happens for the character. From her childhood with a father who tries to kill her to becoming a female war photographer and mother of twins, Amory experiences a lot. The book takes you from the early 1900s through 1977, seeing Amory live through some pretty important times.

And because Amory is a photographer, the book includes a lot of pictures. My advance review copy didn't have any information on where the pictures came from or how the author found them, and I'm really curious about if the author found the pictures first and dreamed up this story to go with them or just how exactly the pictures came to be a part of the book. Obviously, the book is fiction but these are real photographs! They had to come from somewhere! I'm hoping that the final publication includes some background.

Sweet Caress is published by Bloomsbury USA and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.