Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids (#ourforbiddencity, #HiLittleEmperor, #giveaway)

The Chinese New Year starts on February 19! It will be the year of the sheep. So let's start of the new year with some fun by making dumplings, reading some fun and educational books, and doing some fun activities found at http://www.walfc.org/play/activities/

1) Make dumplings 
Recipe provided by China Institute

Dumplings, called jiaozi in Mandarin, have been popular in China for hundreds of years. They’re especially popular on Chinese New Year. What better way to celebrate than to make your own dumplings! The recipe below is for a traditional pork and chive filling, but the great thing about dumplings is that you can make all
sorts of different fillings.


Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough: 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Pork & Chive Filling: 
  • 1 cup ground pork (can also use beef) 
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper 
  • 3 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion, finely minced 
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage 
  • 4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots 
  • 2 slices fresh ginger finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced 


Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well. 
Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers. 
Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers. 
To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings.

Note: I'm going to do make dumplings this weekend with my family since my husband will be home. I will let you know how they turn out. I can't wait since I am really craving them right now.

2) Read some Chinese books

This is the Greatest Place!
ages 5-9
Created by internationally renowned children’s book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, the book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and
how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps. 
Tse and Mak are well known for their heartwarming and educational stories for children. They are the creators of the iconic cartoon characters McMug and McDull, who have been featured in numerous award-winning works including books, comics, television shows, and movies.

In The Forbidden City
ages 9+
Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and
hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.
This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely. 
Creator Chiu Kwong-chiu is an artist, designer, and professor who explores Chinese traditional visual arts along with adopting groundbreaking ways to interpret and promote Chinese art and culture.

My thoughts

I absolutely loved educational books. I love learning about various topics, and I really want my children to be the same way. I try to have a lot of books on my kids' bookshelves that are fun and educational at the same time. And, This is the Greatest Place and In the Forbidden City are definitely books that you want.

This is the Greatest Place is perfect for the younger children who need to have more colorful illustrations and a captivating story to hold their attention. The story is about some animal friends (rabbit, squirrel, panda, and porcupine) who meet a master builder. The master builder is looking for inspiration for the design of the Emperor's palace. The story goes through and explains how nature holds so much inspiration.

Monkey really loved this book because there were lots of animals and lots of action. He loved the journey that the animals and the master builder went on. And, of course, he loved the lift-flaps. Although it is recommended for children to be at least age 5, Monkey (age 4) was able to enjoy the book and had no problems with it.

lift-flaps: my kiddos loved them

In The Forbidden City is designed for older children who want to take an in depth approach to learning about the Forbidden City and the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. You will learn about symbols, buildings, ceremonies, courtyards, gardens, people, and much more.

detailed illustrations
lots of fold out pages!

I got this book for myself so I can learn more about the Forbidden City and discover all the secrets that are found in its walls. I didn't let my kiddos look at it because they are at the age (4, 2) where even though they try to be careful with books, there are a lot of "accidents". But, this book will be great for anyone who 9 and older.

I really loved the included magnifying glass at the end of the book so you can take a closer look at the very detailed illustrations. It was fun because you can be more like a detective. I know once Monkey gets a little older, he will love this book.

3) Enter to win one of the above mentioned books

*This is going to be a super easy giveaway.
*Mandatory entry is to comment on this post by answering the question provided in giveaway tools and then you will a couple of optional tasks like visiting a Facebook page and tweeting. And that's it!
*Open to anyone who is 18+ who lives in USA or Canada
*Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen

*Disclosure: I received the products mentioned in this post at no cost in order to do this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Rasmus and the Vagabond Review and Giveaway

About the book

After running away from an orphanage, nine-year-old Rasmus finds the world a cold and unfriendly place until he befriends an extraordinary tramp called Paradise Oscar. Together they meet more adventure than they ever imagined, solve a mystery, and catch the culprits. Rasmus dreams of finding a family and a home someday. But when he does, will he be able to part with his new friend and life on the road?

Children will hang onto every word as Rasmus and his unlikely friend discover hidden treasure, dodge a shady pair of villains, and rescue a lady in distress. Here’s a gripping plot interweaving cops and robbers, a deserted village, a desperate chase, and a surprising, thoroughly satisfying ending.

About the author

Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking, Emil, and dozens of other world-famous characters, has thrilled three generations of children with her storytelling. She is the only children’s author with a literary prize, a theme park, a museum, a satellite, and a minor planet named in her honor. (After this last honor, she suggested changing her name to “Asteroid Lindgren.”) A jury appointed by Swedish Radio’s Culture Department to elect the “Author of the Millennium” voted Astrid Lindgren second after William Shakespeare. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and heaps of other awards and honors.

My thoughts

I have a lot of ancestors from Sweden so I love reading stories by the Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren. Pippi Longstocking has been a fun and dear book series to me. I want to share my love for Lingren's books with my kiddos. So I was excited to get a copy of Rasmus and the Vagabond.

Rasmus and the Vagabond is 180 pages long. It is a delightful, easy, and hard to put down book. It truly captures the adventures every boy wants to have and do. The book reminded me so much of my boys and why they do the things they do.

Throughout the book, there are pages that have simple illustrations on it. I love the illustrations because it helps my boys see what I am talking about. Because my kiddos are relatively young, I read parts of the book and summarized other parts. Monkey really loved all the adventures Rasmus had and pretended to have his own at home.

Rasmus and the Vagabond will be the perfect edition to your library! And, one your kids will love reading over and over again.

*open to anyone 18+ who lives in the USA or Canada
*Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway
*If you have won a prize from out sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Of if you have won the same prize on another blog, you aren't eligible to win.
*winner has 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is selected

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night's Sleep Review & Giveaway

About the book

Order-loving, thirty-something Rachel, and her laid-back, messy mother, Becky, are opposites in many ways. But they both believe that women long for a life that nourishes them inside and out. In this book, the mother-daughter duo will help you make that dream a reality by tackling the “Top 10 Stressors” that mess with a woman’s mind, such as:

•Cluttered Surroundings
•Exhaustion of parenting
•Time-starved marriages
•Feeling like a spiritual slacker
•Crowded Schedules
•Negative Body Image

Following a series of trial-and-error experiments, Becky and Rachel share laugh-out-loud stories, fascinating research, and practical tips to design and a nourished life that fits your personality. By learning how to embrace “nourishing compromises,” you’ll never put happiness on hold again. If you are feeling drained, discontent, or discouraged, join a couple of understanding, entertaining companions on the journey from overwhelmed to nourished.

About the authors

Becky Johnson is the author, coauthor, or collaborator of more than forty books. She’s a natural storyteller who has inspired and entertained audiences for years. Most recently she co-authored We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook alone with a blog by the same name with her daughter, Rachel Randolph. She and her husband, Greg, live in Denver, Colorado. Website/blog: www.laughcrycook.com

Rachel Randolph writes and speaks with humor and honesty about parenting a toddler, young married life, and her mostly plant-based cooking adventures. Rachel is married to Jared, a high school football and baseball coach. They live near Dallas, Texas with their son, Jackson. Nourished is her second book.
Website/Blog: www.nourishedmama.com

My thoughts

I will be the first to admit that there have been several times in my life where I feel like I am lost, stressed, and so worn out. I am pretty good at remedying the problems, but it is always nice to learn more techniques and strategies.

Nourished is a unique self help book because it is written by two authors who alternate throughout the book sharing their stories, experiences, and strategies they use to cope with life.The authors are able to provide different viewpoints since Becky Johnson takes on the mother/big sister who is so tuned to life role and Rachel Randolph takes on the young mom role who is finding her way.

The authors are able to connect with the reader by showing they are human and that they are still learning from their mistakes. I loved how they shared personal stories where they have done foolish things as well as wise things. I feel that this quote sums up this book perfectly:
In truth, the wisest, happiest women pause to consider their life on a regular basis. They interrupt the nonstop flow of activity now and again to ask, "What can I tweak in my life to experience less stress and more joy?" They don't see life as dictated my fate: they see it as a series of choices and actions. They see options and open windows with new vistas, where others see slammed, locked doors.

The authors cover 5 topics that you can nourish in your life: 1) spaces, 2) routines, 3) bodies, 4) relationships, and 5) souls.This is a book that you want to read over and over so you can work on one area at a time.

I love to have a tidy and organized home. My husband likes to have one too; however, he loves to keep everything because he sees the potential in everything. This book has motivated me to take on the decluttering stage again because I feel stressed in a cluttered home. I have already decluttered two rooms (granted these are rooms that I basically maintain....the big task will be to get to the spare bedroom and garage that my husband controls). But, it feels so nice to know that all my drawers are organized and not full of random things. And, I love the fact that I have already gotten rid of 2 bags of things I don't need anymore to thrift stores.

Because I love tidyness, this was something I loved from the book because it touched on the subject of a clean home with children at home.
Because, as my mom has always told me, no matter how organized we are, some of the best parts of real life (especially with kids) will always be messy. It's the nourishing compromise thing: order what you can; let go of what you can't control. The goal is to create a space where real families live and make messes but are simple to put right again at the end of the day.

I also loved the analogy that your mind is a garden that you need to cultivate everyday. I am a big gardener and I know how much work goes into growing your food and how easy it is for weeds to take over the garden. To have a nourished mind and soul, one needs to work on their thoughts. This is something that I plan on tackling right now because I struggle so much with my pessimistic view of life. I want to be the person that regardless of what happens in my life, I can choose to be happy and full of joy and love.

Anyways, I just have to say that I really love this book because it is incredibly helpful and fun to read!

*open to anyone 18+ who lives in the USA or Canada
*Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway
*If you have won a prize from out sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Of if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.
*winner has 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is selected

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, February 2, 2015

Get Life Right: Ten Minute Reads: Your Companion for Personal Growth, Prosperity and Fulfillment Review & Giveaway

About the book

Find out how easily and suddenly you can improve in any or every aspect of your life. 

It took Dave, a low-C student, 18 years to get around to reading his first book. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, Psycho Cybernetics and Applied Imagination changed his life. Thirty years later he was fixed for life. Of the thousands of ideas he s read and tested since, he put his favorite shortcuts to the best life you can have in Ten Minute Reads on 70 Topics. 

Get Life Right will replace the thoughts that limit you with thoughts that empower you, warm up your relationships, attract interesting people into your life, convert your defects into assets and help you envision a better future, and the most direct path to it. It will get you living at the peak of your creativity. 

Stated differently, it will help you value yourself more and give you peace and motivation at the same time. For your smallest or deepest worries or wishes it will give you breakthrough insights and solutions. With this book, you’ll get a bigger kick out of life; and not just one in the rear. You are going to love this book. 

About the author

"As a young man, Dave struggled with school and personal growth. Talk of the Great Depression and the end World War II made him frugal and a bit discourage, yet focused. He followed the advice of several self-help books and, as a result, he got a college degree and a broker s license by the time he was twenty-one. He chose real estate where schooling smarts were not as important as judgment, common sense, a good plan, imagination, and the will to make his plan work. Through personal and professional experience, Dave overcame his timid nature by acting as if ; he dealt with his dyslexia head on staying organized, attempting fewer things at once, and gathering more information before making decisions; and he conquered his anxiety with rigorous exercise. 

The ideas in this book directly reflect the knowledge and experience Dave learned that helped him retire young, comfortable and happy. He is confident that they will increase your potential and enjoyment of life, too. Now in his 70 s, Dave runs the Great Silverado Foot race and mountain bikes some of the country s greatest trails."

My thoughts

There have been numerous times in my life where I have felt completely lost, down, and confused on what path I need to take. Then there have been times where I just don't like certain behavior or habits I have. There are many ways to improve oneself and here is one book that you definitely want to check out.

The author, David Dunn, provides 8 series to help the reader Get Life Right. Each section is designed to be taken at a slow pace so you can meditate, evaluate, and plan. Don't worry, this doesn't mean the book is super complicated. In fact, the book is really easy to read and follow along. The book is designed for reflection!

I love how the author says this at the very beginning of his book:
New thinking doesn't replace thought habits suddenly. The ideas in this book aren't the kind you a sprint through. Allow time to let them settle in, and revisit the ideas often to reinforce them. The ideas in this book apply to strugglers and overachievers alike, everyone will benefit. Use it like a reference book.

What I really love about this book is that it is designed so you can pick what sections you really need to focus on and you can wait to read the other sections when the time is right! I love the flexibility to go to a section that I need help with without the pressure of reading an entire book.

Here are the series:
  1. Sharpen your thinking, focus, and creativity
  2. Plan a really exciting life and leave nothing out
  3. Learn, love and get the most out of your attributes
  4. Finance the life you want, doing what you like best
  5. Attract the people you'd like to be like
  6. Improve your relationships and marriage
  7. Create and maintain a close family
  8. The best life you can have
I first started reading the third section because self-esteem is something I have struggled with for many years. I am my harshest critic, and I am tired of my negative talk. I really liked how I could pace myself through the topics of the section and train my brain to look at myself differently. The best part of the book is that you can do take a topic of each section and work on it at your pace. As long as you are working on it, then you are making progress to a better life.

*open to anyone who is 18+ who lives in USA or Canada
*winner has 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is chosen

*Disclosure: I received the product mentioned in this post at no cost in order to do this review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stuff You Already Know....And Everybody Should Review & Giveaway

About the book

Part pep talk, part reflection, part friendly kick in the butt, Stuff You Already Know . . . And Everybody Should gives you 437 ways to make your life count from doing the right thing (#256) to setting boundaries (#333) to relating to people half your age (#369). No matter what your season of life whether newly graduated, climbing the career ladder, or living out your legacy years these 437 nuggets and their accompanying stories are sure to provoke laughter, conversation, contemplation, and bold new action.

About the author

Gina DeLapaGina DeLapa headed for California in 2001 to pursue a master's degree in counseling a move that raised a few eyebrows from her Midwestern entrepreneurial family, but nonetheless worked out unbelievably well. She has served as a university career counselor in the Midwest and as an adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, the University of San Diego.

Today she is the creator of the Stuff You Already Know series, which is either going to take off like a rocket or never be mentioned again. Either way, she's not leaving southern California. For more information or to join the Stuff You Already Know revolution, visit StuffYouAlreadyKnow.com.

My thoughts

I love reading books that contains information about "what I have learned during my life". Stuff You Already Now...and Everybody should know is one of those books. This book contains 437 short statements in a wide range of topics. Because the statements are short, the book is a really fast read. However, I enjoyed reading the book at a slower pace so I could read a few nugget at a time and take a moment and think about them.

The author does have some weird nuggets, but she does offer explanations on why she included them. Some nuggets of advice do include small stories so the author can explain why she included that nugget of advice. It is kind of fun understanding the back story of some of the advice.

Here are some examples:
20. Never ridicule someone's name. Names are sacred.
39. Take notes on your own life.
98. If you don't like someone, don't go camping with them.
159. Don't take medical advice from Dr. Google.
168. Before you pick up your date, clean out your car.
209. Cut your parents some slack. They, too, had imperfect parents, as did we all.
411. Put your energy into the present and the future, not the past
The advice is the book is serious, funny, witty, and just plan obvious. The best thing is that this book makes you think, laugh, and say "duh, I should totally be doing that". 

*open to anyone who is 18+ who lives in USA or Canada
*winner has 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is chosen

*Disclosure: I received the product mentioned in this post at no cost in order to do this review. All opinions are my own.

Little Bunny's Bible Review

About the book

Little Bunny's Bible is a plush-covered book that covers key stories of the Bible. It beautiful and well written poems, toddlers will learn about God's Wonderful Work, God's Friend Noah, Daniel in the Lions' Den, Jonah Learns a Lesson, God's Greatest Gift, The Lost Lamb, It's a Miracle, and Jesus Opens Heaven's Doors.

The illustrations accompanying the precious rhymes will capture the attention of any toddler and help them learn about the Bible in a fun and pleasant way.

My thoughts

I absolutely love bunnies and when I saw that there was a Bible board book that had a plush bunny cover I just knew I had to have it. The bunny plush cover is so soft and my kiddos loved giving the book a hug because they just loved "their bunny".

The rhymes that accompany each story are actually well written and not cheesy at all. The rhymes teach the beautiful Bible stories really well. Here is an example from God's Wonderful Work:

God shaped the earth, turned on the light,
And separated day from night
He dried the land and dug deep seas
And planted flowers, grass, and trees

The illustrations are so beautiful and my kiddos love looking at them. This is definitely a board book that was created with love and care. This book is one that kiddos go back to frequently and it makes me smile because I know they are learning God's word. I definitely recommend getting this sweet Little Bunny's Bible.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Sneaky Math - A Graphic Primer With Projects Review


About the book

Many people fear math and numbers, even Barbie, who famously said "Math class is tough" in her controversial 1992 talking doll version. But in Sneaky Math, Cy Tymony takes tough and turns it into triumph. He shows us how math is all around us through intriguing and easy projects, including 20 pass-along tools to complement math education programs.

The book is divided into seven sections:

 1. Fundamentals of Numbers and Arithmetic
 2. Algebra Primer
 3. Geometry Primer
 4. Trigonometry Primer
 5. Calculus Primer
 6. Sneaky Math Challenges, Tricks, and Formulas
 7. Resources

About the author

Cy Tymony is an amazing inventor. By reading comic books and studying science as a young boy he amazed his friends with unusual scientific projects, demonstrations and ideas. He is trained in auto mechanics, electronics, video and audio technology and computer science and has taken courses in martial arts, security and survival techniques. For decades has focused his enthusiasm, creativity and imagination on educating people of all ages and walks of life. He is the author of the Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things book series.

Cy Tymony is a real live renaissance man. He has lots of media experience. He is a wonderful and inspiring guest with a childlike enthusiasm for science and technology. His Sneaky Uses books explore the delight of finding. He has an incredible and contagious energy who delights in sharing the wonders of the human potential.

My thoughts

I love math. I didn't major in math when I went to college, but I went into chemistry and focused on quantum chemistry which uses a lot of math. Sadly, not everyone loves math. I know a lot of people who hate math because they just don't get it or had bad teachers.

For those you want to understand the principles of math or just want to have a super cool book that provides fun projects to do, then you must check out this book, Sneaky Math a Graphic Primer With Projects.

Sneaky Math is a fantastic book that is written so the basics of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus are easily explained. The examples Tymony provides are easy to follow. I love how Tymony provides projects throughout the book to make the math learning process more hands on. The projects are designed to be simple, easy, and fun to do.

Here is an example of one project to help you understand and practice fractions:

This book is designed to help everyone tackle those challenging math concepts. And, I can totally see why because the author explains the concepts clearly using real life applications and fun projects. Plus, there are tons of visuals on each page so you can see exactly what the author is talking about.  I have really been enjoying this book, and I hope you will too!

And be sure to check out the Sneaky Uses website for more books and fun and creative ideas!

*Disclosure: I received the product mentioned in this post at no cost in order to do this review. All opinions are my own.