Friday, March 21, 2014

Hues of Oz with a giveaway

Click on the image to visit the hop.
Oma Linda over at Olde Baggs n' Stuft Shirts is hosting another fabulous Wizard of Oz blog hop.  
This year her theme is "Hues of Oz."

When I got to thinking about this one my mind kept returning to the amazing moment when the movie goes from black and white to vibrant color.  Then it occurred to me, would that moment have been as impressive if there wasn't an absence of color?  

So, I have selected black and white as my hues.  Because without them, colors just wouldn't be what they are.
 I've recently learned a new technique for blending colors and I did that for the background.  Whites, greys and even a little black make up the background for this William Walace Denslow illustration reproduction.
The book, The Wizard of Oz, would not have been the same without his illustrations.  I find it interesting that the colors used in the book are few and far between, only a handful of the illustrations are in full color.  
Toto, Dorothy and her house are drawn using micro fiber pens.
This piece is available in my Etsy shop.
 But what would a blog hop be without a giveaway?
 So to go along with my Black and White theme I will be giving away, to one lucky winner, a set of Oz Inspired Seam Binding.
You will receive Black, White and Silver (for the big Silver screen).
Simply leave your name and a way for me to contact you to enter and I will select a winner March 28th.

Thank you for stopping by
I hope you enjoyed your visit.  

One Night In Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore

If your children were forced to testify against you, what terrible secrets would they reveal?

Moscow 1945. As Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead.

But this is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia's most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow.

Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state?

Directed by Stalin himself, an investigation begins as children are arrested and forced to testify against their friends - and their parents. This terrifying witch-hunt soon unveils illicit love affairs and family secrets in a hidden world where the smallest mistakes will be punished with death.
I was looking forward to reading One Night in Winter.  It has great reviews on Goodreads and has all the elements that I love in a historical fiction. However I just couldn't get into this book at all. Maybe it was because I don't know much about Russian history and Stalin.  

But I think more than anything it was the abundance of characters that seemed poorly developed.   And when I say abundance of characters I mean a total of 57!  The author even puts a list at the start of the book so you can keep them all straight.  But who wants to continually flip to the front of the book to keep everything straight? On top of that they all seem to have nicknames.  It was just exhausting.  

It is writen in 3rd person multiple points of view.  The issue is the voices weren't balanced.  I would get really interested in one story and then the author would switch and not come back to the previous character for pages and pages.  Other characters he just had a paragraph or two.  It left me feeling like the story wasn't well rounded.

I am the minority when it comes to not liking this book.  So if historical fiction is your thing be sure to check out the other reviews.  It might be just the book for you.

I'm linking up, come join us!
The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday
 Book Beginnings
The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.  To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford's Bodleian Library.

Friday 56
The daemon's eyes were focused on a spot in the middle of the room. "Of course, you're a witch,too. Perhaps it's wrong to talk to you.  I would have thought you of all witches would be able to figure out how they did it thought..."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Altered Book Box, A Secret Box Tutorial

 The March Kit over at Alpha Stamps is French Corsets.  And y'all know how much I love anything French, soft and girly.  In other words I had WAY too much fun with this kit.
 I constructed the book from scratch so I was able to customize the size to the chipboard corsets provided in the kit.  To achieve the textured look on the corset I used Modeling paste through a stencil and then painted over it with Distress Paint - Spun Sugar.
 Inside I used more images from the Collage sheets as well as doilies that I stained.

But what is really cool about this book is that it isn't a book at all, its a Secret Treasure Box!
I put together a tutorial on the construction of the little box.  But have no fear, I'm working on a tutorial to show you how to alter books and create them from scratch.
To finish the book off I added a few collage images. 
This book as well as the one I made in the tutorial is available in my Etsy Shop.
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


 This piece started as a journal entry, but the paper curled from all the paint.  So off to the store I went to find a canvas and reproduce it. 
 After watching some video's on how to produce the background I tried my hand at it and I'm pretty pleased with how smoothly the colors blend into one another.
To add texture and depth the birds are modeling paste painted with shimmery paint.  Then I added some washi tape and the chipboard letters.  This one was a lot of fun to make and I love the phrase I came up with.
This piece is available in my shop
.I'm linking up with Manonpopjes: Paper Saturday
 Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

The series follows one of the most prestigious and wealthy families on the Upper East Side who have built their entire fortune on the business of diamonds.

Due to a clause the grandfather placed in his will, only his granddaughters are set to inherit his massive fortune…these are the heiresses. After the death of their cousin, the remaining heiresses try to figure out if the family curse is real or not, and if not, who killed their cousin, and more importantly, which one of them is next on the hit list?
I enjoyed this one.  It was light, fast paced and enough of a mystery to hold my interest.  A great beach read. 
The Heiresses is the first in an intended series and I will be reading the others.  To me this is very similar to the TV show Pretty Little Liars (also written by Sara) but for those readers that are no longer into YA and still want to read books by Shepard.  A marketing genius!
There are a few too many characters mentioned in the first chapters which made my head spin a bit.  But that gets smoothed out and it's clear the characters will be in the next book.  The book is written in 3rd person multiple points of view.  Each character has a distinct voice and even if you don't relate to the character you can still get a sense of who they are and what motivates them.
Some of the 'twists' were predictable and the solving of the mystery was an information dump but it was well supported and plausible. 
The only writing flaw that I found was that some of the transitions between past memories and present story line were a bit too abrupt.  So occasionally I had to reread what I had just read to ground myself in the story. 
I would recommend this book to anyone that likes light mysteries and strong female relationship books.  4 stars from me.
The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday

Book Beginnings
Just moments after the shots, as Serafima looks at the bodies of her schoolfriends, a feathery whiteness is already frosting their blasted flesh.
Page 1 Prologue June 1945
The Friday 56
'Why would anyone want to kill me?' asked Marlen, looking around. 
'Because you are so important in the school.  Our enemies will certainly know you're school Komsorg.'
Page 56

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Birds of a Feather ~ With Tutorial

 One of my favorite things to make are altered matchboxes. 
 Using Alpha Stamps February Kit - An Odd Bird, I came up with this little creation.
 A lot of the time I don't want to put anything on the inside of the boxes so I can add little treasures.  But I thought this mini bird nest was perfect and there is still room to add a little treat.
I love to use various beads for the eggs, it makes it look more like nature since no egg is exactly the same.

I have pulled together a quick little tutorial on how I created the mini wire birds nest.   
Thank you for stopping by.
This Birds of a Feather Mini treasure box is for available for only the cost of shipping in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

50 Shades of...Orange!

 Over at Kindred Souls Art Group we've done another Post Card Swap.
 This time the theme was, 50 Shades of ___________ and our partners got to pick the color.
I was given Sandy, who selected Orange.
Orange is not a color I use, in fact I could probably say, Never use.  But I was amazed to find so many orange things in my stash.  I hope she likes what I have created for her.

Friday, February 28, 2014

50 Children by Steven Pressman

Based on the acclaimed HBO documentary, the astonishing true story of how one American couple transported fifty Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America in 1939—the single largest group of unaccompanied refugee children allowed into the United States—for readers of In the Garden of Beasts and A Train in Winter.
In early 1939, America's rigid immigration laws made it virtually impossible for European Jews to seek safe haven in the United States. As deep-seated anti-Semitism and isolationism gripped much of the country, neither President Roosevelt nor Congress rallied to their aid.
Yet one brave Jewish couple from Philadelphia refused to silently stand by. Risking their own safety, Gilbert Kraus, a successful lawyer, and his stylish wife, Eleanor, traveled to Nazi-controlled Vienna and Berlin to save fifty Jewish children. Steven Pressman brought the Kraus's rescue mission to life in his acclaimed HBO documentary, 50 Children. In this book, he expands upon the story related in the hour-long film, offering additional historical detail and context to offer a rich, full portrait of this ordinary couple and their extraordinary actions.
Drawing from Eleanor Kraus's unpublished memoir, rare historical documents, and interviews with more than a dozen of the surviving children, and illustrated with period photographs, archival materials, and memorabilia, 50 Children is a remarkable tale of personal courage and triumphant heroism that offers a fresh, unique insight into a critical period of history.

I must start by saying when I selected this book I did not know it was non-fiction.  My expectations were for something more along the lines of a Philippa Gregory, a fictitious portrayal of real people and a real story.  Even with this misconception I enjoyed this book. I also did not know that there was a film covering the same topic and have plans to watch it in the near future.
WWII has always fascinated me.  Why did this happen, what possessed Hitler, how come more people didn't fight back.  The story of 50 Children answered some of these questions for me. I was glued to the book when Steven started covering American Immigrations laws of the time.  He laid out, in a not so positive light on America, why Jews couldn't just leave Nazi controlled areas.  The policy of quotas per country and that everyone must be self sufficient (no monetary aid needed).  It was interesting to learn about this portion of American history.
The book is broken down into three sections, 1) The Plan, 2) The Rescue, and 3) New Lives.  Each section is tightly written with loads of information and a smattering (I could have used more) of insight into who Gil and Eleanor Kraus were. Some of the insight into who Eleanor Kraus was made her look extremely shallow.  Perhaps more so than intended because of the heavy nature of the book.
Like many non-fiction books there are a plethora of names, all of which I couldn't grasp onto and keep in my mind through the duration of the book.  However, those that were most important I was able to follow.  On this topic there were also some characters that were thrown in and not used, Dr. Robert Schless went with Gil to Vienna but he is hardly ever mentioned at all.  And then there is Hedy Neufeld who aids the Kraus' and is only briefly covered.
The book closes by highlighting a number of the children and how they lived their lives after coming to America. 
For those interested in WWII and intrigued by rescue stories and the brave men and women behind them then this is a must read. 
50 Children will be available for purchase April 22nd. 
I received an advanced readers copy in return for an honest review.
I'm linking up with
Come Join us!
The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday
Book Beginnings
On a late April morning, as rain smeared the windowpanes, washed the dirt off the sidewalks, and slowed traffic on every block in New York City, twenty-seven-year-old Corinne Saybrook stood barefoot in a dressing room, talking on her cell phone in clipped, precise Turkish.
pg 11 (previous pages are a prologue) of The Heiresses
The Friday 56
Compared to Poppy's feminine touches in their own place, Rowan's apartment looked like the inside of a cigar box. It wasn't lost on her, either, that James hadn't seen this place in years.
pg. 56 of The Heiresses

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Munchies ~ Chicken Fried Steak

Last week I shared my altered French Breakfast Puff recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, today I am going to share a savory recipe with my changes.  Again, this entire cookbook is offered by Google, HERE, but I will reiterate that this book is gorgeous and would make a great coffee table book.
Chicken Fried Steak
Mr. Glitter Tart gave this one 4 sprinkles of glitter
Mini Me's both ate it all!
I am going to give it a 3, but the next time I make it there will be changes that I know will make it better.
There is nothing tricky in this one, but it does make a mess, lots of dishes and splattered grease.
From The Pioneer Woman Web site
3 pounds cube steak
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk and 2 cups milk for gravy
3 cups all purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for gravy
2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used Lawry's)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (we love paprika, if you don't only use 1/2 teasp.)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying (1/4 butter for roux if desired)
1.  Beat eggs and 1 cup of milk with a fork in a container you can dredge in.
2.  Combine flour, salt, paprika, red pepper and black pepper, place in a separate container.
3.  Create an assembly line, meat, milk mixture and flour mixture, and a plate to put the floured meat on.
4.  Season meat with salt and pepper
5.  Dip meat into milk mixture, coat completely.  Now drop it into the flour, flip, pat the flour on, possible add some more, just get a good coating.
6.  Do it all over again, milk and then flour and place piece on plate.
7.  Heat the oil
8.  Cook on one side until golden brown about 2 1/2 minutes
9.  Turn them over and cook 2 to 3 minutes
10.  Removed and place on paper towels, or something else to absorb excess grease.
This is where I made the big changes.
Ree makes her gravy with the oil, I say use butter, 1/4 cup.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour over the butter
Whisk until you create a golden brown paste.
My Roux using oil, but I am going to use butter next time.
 Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups of milk
Bring it to a low boil
Continue whisking until you get the desired consistency
Salt and Pepper the mess out of it.
Serve meat, cover it with gravy and enjoy!
So what are you eating?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Palisades Park by Alan Brennert

Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.

But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.

Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert’s Moloka'i and Honolulu into reading group favorites, Palisades Park takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn't.
This is a book about a park where all the characters seem to be supporting the parks growth and development.  It is written in third person with multiple points of view, Eddie, a man who's dream it is to own a concession stand at the park, Adele, who marries Eddie and Toni, Eddie and Adele's daughter.  It chronicles the dreams of each of these characters in relation to the park.  The problem with these points of view is that you never really connect to any of them.  While there are hiccups in the characters lives, everything is still a bit too perfect. 
I love a good historical fiction and really like how the author touched on all the major historical events that took place during the parks reign.  Starting with the Great Depression, moving into WWII, The Civil Rights movement, the Korean War, and the Kafauver Committee (Crime in Interstate Commerce).  Another thing that Brennert does is use characters that were actually part of the parks history.  John Rinaldi was a superintendent and makes an appearance in the book.  Minette Dobson and Bunty Hill play pivotal roles in Toni's life and were fixtures of the park in history.  The Rosenthal brothers owned the park for over thirty years. And Melba Valle Rosa, a civil rights activist, leaves a lasting impression on Toni.
Since I have mentioned all these characters I will add that there are too many minor characters mentioned at the start of the book.  My head was spinning with all the names and it took me over half the book to work out who was who and which characters were actually important. 
I think this book would have been better as a documentary of the park instead of throwing in characters that one can't connect to and a soap opera type vibe where everything is solved within a few paragraphs.  It's an easy read but a bit of a disappointment.  What it did make me do was venture out to discover more about the actual history of the park.
The Friday 56, Book Beginnings, Literary Friday

Book Beginnings
London, 1867
I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.
pg. 1 of This House is Haunted

The Friday 56
As the little girls closed the door behind me, it sealed with a heavy sound, making me jump and turn round in fright, at which pointed I startled again, for standing next to her, wearing a similarly white, crisp nightshirt, was a little boy, perhaps four years her junior.  I hadn't seen him before.  Had he been hiding behind the door?
pg. 56 of This House is Haunted