Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I Love DK Promotion

It’s the time of the year when DK Canada has a special promotion going on.   To celebrate the I Love DK promoLove DK Webbadge I will tell you a bit more about one – no wait two – no THREE special books that my kids really love to look at at different times in the year.

My love for Lego started when I was five years old while I was in France during the Christmas holidays because my dad was getting trained in Lyon.   Back in 1974, Lego didn’t have a huge market in Canada.  However in Europe that was a different story.   I received my first Lego box that Christmas and – yes I have to admit it – still have the blocks from back then.

As I grew up Lego was a part of my life and I used various books to build new things.   So when I became older I packed these Lego with the hope that one day they would be loved by my own kids.   That plastic container followed me when I moved near my university and followed me when I move for work in the Ottawa region.   Eventually, I had kids of my own and when they were old enough the container came out of its hiding place.

Nowadays, Lego can be found everywhere… Even I have a special box which allowed me to build birds.  But when I have the opportunity to review books related to Lego it is always a love affair in my house.

So today I will be presenting you three beautiful books that would help your kids to expand their imagination when playing and building with Lego.

9780756686062H_thumbThe first book I had the opportunity to put my hands on was The Lego Ideas Book.  This book is simply amazing and contains numerous ideas where you and your kids can build from.    Not only will it give you building tips but you will find ideas that will spark your own imagination.   The book is divided in six sections full of construction ideas.  

  • Planes, Trains & Automobiles cover any vehicles that  you can think off.
  • Town & Country will guide you in how to build a building whether it is in town or in the country.
  • Out of this World is a section that will present anything from out of space.
  • In Days of Old will bring back in time and guide you in building Medieval structures.
  • A World of Adventure will bring you into the world of pirates, Vikings, the jungle as well as robots.
  • Make & Keep will guide you in building useful items like desk organizers or board games.

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Each section always start by presenting some of the bricks you might need to complete the ideas included in it.    Some people might find that it is unfortunate that some pieces are not easy to get and I understands their problem because not having special pieces to build the ideas in this book could be discouraging.

9781465414120H2The second book that my kids are enjoying is Lego Play Book.  The book contains numerous ideas for Lego fans – young and old – to develop new skills.  There are five sections in this book that contains ideas based on a specific theme:

  • Once Upon a Time – Jack’s Journey, Fairy Tale Cottage, Enchanted Forest, Forest Flora, Fairy Tale Creatures, Quests, Troll Bridge, Castle Siege, Giants, Giant’s Kitchen, Fairy Tales Characters, Undersea Characters, Dragon, Fairy Tale Castle, Meet The King, Castle Comforts, Castle Stables, Castle Entertainment, Castle Ballroom.
  • A Small World – Tiny Travel, City Life, Downtown, City Park, Race Track, Vehicles, Cargo Haulers, Oil Platform, On the Sea Floor, Monsters of the Deep, Ocean Life, Micro-Africa, Prehistoric Beasts, Dangerous Dinosaurs, Micro-Castles, Historical Buildings, Metro Skyline, Outer Space, Future Worlds.
  • Go Wild – Nature Trail, On Safari, Safari Giants, Safari Truck, Barnyard Beasts, Farm Fowl, Alphabets, Creeping Critters, At the Zoo, Made-Up Creatures, Tropical Fish, Marine Life, At the Poles, Artic Animals.
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night – Fright Night, Spooky Circus Train, Nightmare Carnival, Haunted House, Witch’s Hovel, Monster Motors, Monster Race, Sweet Dreams, Something in the Bath, Mad Scientist’s Lab, ‘Bots on the Loose, Robot Rampage, The Mummy’s Tomb, Skeleton, Vampire’s Castle, Graveyard.
  • Wish You Were Here – Earth Mission, Beach Nuts, Ice-Cream Stalls, Beach Accessories, Beach Boats, Hotel Pool, Making a Splash, Beneath the Sea, Extreme Sports, Adventures Up High, Mountain Biking, Water Adventures, Skiing, Snow Transports, Ski Hotel, Holiday Postcards.


Though there isn’t Step-by-Step instructions in this book, it is easy to see how the builders made the various ideas presented in it.   In the pages titled Handful of Bricks, each fan builders included in the book were given a handful of common Lego elements and asked to make as many different models as they could using only the pieces provided.  In these two pages, you can see how creative the builders have been in coming up with fun little constructions for the readers.    Even if I am personally not a big fan of the section titled Things That Go Bump in the Night – I am not a big fan of scary monsters and vampires and such – I find the builders are very ingenious.      My most favourite section is definitively the Go Wild one with all the various creatures that can be build with Lego bricks!


61dfRyDKXrL_thumbThe latest title that was released last year is Lego Awesome Ideas.  This new book contains new ideas that will unlock the secrets of LEGO building and show your child how to create a world with their imagination.   When

The book is packed with stunning photography and informative text as it demonstrates how entire models are built up.  Also, the reader will obtain step-by-step visual breakdowns and offering alternative ways to build models.   Each chapter can be easily explored as it steadily creates a themed world and ultimately showcases a dynamic diorama of the complete build, showing readers that they too can build up an entire LEGO world from scratch — model by model, brick by brick.


The book covers five worlds:

  • Outer Space: mech walker, all-purpose robots, forklift robot, space rover, space equipment, planetary pod, space door, sci-fi doors and walls, gear doorway, research lab, hydroponics bay, lab tools, aliens and alien life, space-plants and scenery, micro-scale spaceship, micro-space fleet, micro-scale space buildings, Zycon shuttle, and outer space diorama.
  • Modern Metropolis: basic building, modular buildings, city buildings, city museum, building roofs, tables and chairs, furniture, around the city, making a car, city vehicles, auto bumpers, lights, signs, signals, farmer’s field, crops and vegetables, plants, on the farm, leisure activities, farmhouse, and modern metropolis diorame.
  • The Wild West: wagon, wagons roll, western scenery, cavalry fort, jailhouse, around town, Wild West saloon, building signs, tow items, steam train, train carriages, old mine, rolling riverboat, outlaw hideout, and Wild West diorama.
  • Fantasy Land: fantasy house, cube village, fantasy roofs, fences and pathways, waterfall, fantasy river, flowers, fantasy creatures, tree slide, tree-house, castle walls, castle tower, fancy towers, castle features, cream-pie catapult, and fantasy land diorama.
  • The Real World: cell phone, technology, stationary, kitchen scale, bathroom, science kit, banana, fruit and veg,  gingerbread man, cakes and pastries, popsicle, frozen treats, candies, box of chocolate, and real world diorama.

The book will show how to build the most imaginative world using techniques that will be easy to follow and do for anyone – kids or adults alike.   The images included in the book are bright and will demonstrate what the instructions are explaining.  I really enjoyed looking at all the examples included in this book.   I am speechless to see how the Fantasy river is made – so easy to do…. if only we had all the pieces required.  Another favorite of mine is definitively the butterfly and the flower gallery.  Oh and the adorable crayon box is just the perfect one to build for playing with dolls for my daughter.

These three marvellous books are packed with tips and techniques as well as inspiring ideas that anyone – young and old – could accomplish in their creation.   They are a perfect gift for a Lego fan that desire to have more ideas.

Now dear reader, here’s a special announcement from DK Canada.   DK Canada is asking you to use the hashtag #ILoveDK to nominate your favourite book on DK Canada’s Twitter and/or Facebook or on this page as a comment.  Don’t forget to tell us why you particularly love this DK book as well.   On Valentine's Day the people at DK Canada will select one of the reviews as a "winner" and that reviewer will win a $250 DK shopping spree where they get to choose $250 worth DK books of their choice.  Isn’t it fun?

So don’t wait a minute longer and tell us which book from DK Canada you love and why.   You have until the end of the month to do so!

The three books I have presented are available for purchase at your favourite bookstore, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com.




 Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for allowing me to promote I Love DK. I was not monetarily compensated for this post . Please note that the post was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Live Loved–A Adult Coloring Book

9780764218620[1]Live Loved – An Adult Coloring Book
Craft God’s Word Into Your Heart Through Creative Expression

By Margaret Feinberg
Published at Bethany House

About the book

How would your attitude, actions, and responses change if you lived in the unconditional, immeasurable love of God? What would it look like for you to live loved?
Live Loved provides an opportunity for you to pull away from the hustle and bustle of life to pray, journal, and unleash your creative gifts as you marinate in the truth of God's fierce love for you.
• Spend time in prayer, reflecting and growing in your relationship with God
• Commit Bible passages to memory and deepen your faith
• Share your fun artistry with others through what you create
Color and doodle and learn to live loved as you craft God's Word into your heart.

My Thoughts

Since last year, we have seen a huge demand of adult coloring books on the market.  The craze is there right now but I sometimes wonder how long it will last.  I discovered bible art journaling a few years ago as I was drawing some images in a sketchbook.  But what I didn’t know was that there was suck a thing as a bible journal…. which I stumbled upon back in the late fall of 2014.   However, I was very restricted with money and decided to use a bible that I had at home.   When the local Christian book store closed its door in the spring of 2015, I decided to splurge a bit and get myself an ESV  journaling bible.  Since then, I draw and highlight the scriptures that speak to me in three bibles – one being an interleaved New Testament.



I knew that coloring books was getting more and more popular last year but I never really was attracted to it.   I couldn’t justify the price to pay for one.    So I was pleased to see this new title to be offered one day so I could review it.   I had mixed feelings about it because I usually prefer to have freedom in what I draw.   So I didn’t know how much I would enjoy coloring in it.

First of all, I totally support the fact that coloring can help remove the stress you might have in your life.  I know that it helped me quite a bit over the past year.   Secondly, this specific adult coloring book will allow you to memorize the scripture which I also think will be beneficial for you as you store the words of God in your heart and mind.   Thirdly, this adult coloring is different from other ones in the market simply because for each page of coloring you can do, you will also have a page to record notes and prayers you might have while coloring as  you can see in the image below.


However, as you can see the writing is a bit small to color in.  Personally, I would have prefered a bigger font in order to color in the letters to highlight the scripture.   I would have been better I think.    I find the fact that the lettering is also in italic to make it more difficult to color in.   But then again, I am picky when it comes to coloring.  I am used to do my own lettering in my bibles and I have been more independent that way for quite some time.  

Having a Christian adult coloring book is nice because if I don’t feel like bringing one of the bibles with me when I go somewhere I could bring this coloring book and some pencils to color while waiting.    I find it peaceful to do so when I feel somewhat overwhelmed with things happening. 

Live Loved is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com.


Disclaimer: The book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Planet Middle School

9780800723057Planet Middle School
Written by Dr. Kevin Leman
Published at Revell

About the book

You are about to embark on a fantastic journey.

If you've ever watched one of those movies where regular people are walking around minding their own business, until without warning their chests burst open and alien life-forms come slithering out, then you know what it's like to suddenly find yourself with a middle-schooler. Your once-peaceful home full of silliness and laughter morphs into the twisted landscape of a forbidding alien world, where moody adolescents drag their claws and moan about . . . well, just about everything.

Welcome to Planet Middle School. Better get comfortable. You'll be here awhile.

Lucky for you, New York Times bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman successfully navigated Planet Middle School with five children. With his expert guidance, you'll see how you can help your child not only survive but thrive during these turbulent years. Leman shows you how to
· understand your child's rapidly expanding world
· respond rather than react to mood swings
· tell your child about sex (before someone else tells their version)
· create opportunities for your child to practice selflessness and gratitude
· ensure that your kid is one who loves home and family
· and much more

Middle-schoolers can be a strange, unpredictable species. But with a little help from Dr. Leman, you can ride out the interstellar storm with humor and confidence.

Houston, we have a problem.

It happens to every parent. One day, you have a sweet son or daughter who loves to snuggle on the couch and who puts a smile on your face just by walking into the room. The next day, it's as if someone left the door open and let in an alien with a smart mouth and an attitude that, frankly, you could do without. Entering middle school is like stepping onto a different planet--for parent and child alike.

But these years don't have to create chaos in your family. In fact, they can be some of the best, most fruitful years of all, a time when you can grow closer rather than drift apart. From the internal storms of hormonal changes to the external challenges of peer pressure and our technology-saturated culture, your child is under constant bombardment. Learn how to come alongside your middle-schooler with the love, understanding, and values that will see you both safely back home to earth when your time on Planet Middle School is over.

My Thoughts

This book was specifically written for parents of children who are in Middle School which means grades 7 and 8.   The main reason I jumped on this opportunity to review this book was because of the author.  We love Kevin Leman’s wisdom on how to parents our kids.   But I also was realistic about this book because I suspected that it was mainly written for parents whose middle schoolers go to a school.

And as I suspected the book is more geared for parents of kids in the school system.  But as a homeschooler, I find there are gems in this book as well.   An homeschool 7th or 8th grade kid will also go through some of these challenges like fitting in the crowd, going through changes physically and emotionally, and many more covered in this book.    Even if you are an homeschooler, I think you can glean some precious information on how to raise a middle schooler and encourage him/her through the changes he/she can experience in her life.  It isn’t easy to grow up.  I remember going through some  difficult days during that period of time in my life.   I wish my parents would have been christians and got that kind of information from an author like Kevin Leman.

The table of contents will give you an idea of what the author covers in his book.

  • Introduction contains information about how to determine that you have arrive to Planet Middle School.
  • 1. Creatures fromt he Black Lagoon:  our kids change when they hit the ages for grades 7 and 8.   Discover how your home and relationship with them can feels like a sci-fi  and what you can do to ease the transition.
  • 2. Their Expanding Universe:  What you need to know, and why you need to be along for the ride.
  • 3. All Flared up!: emotions and everyday drama for the middle schoolers and what you can do to weather the sudden flashes of brightness. 
  • 4. Survival of the Fittest: why your child will do anything to fit in, and what you can do to combat the intensity of peer pressure.
  • 5. Walking on Polar Ice:  all middle schoolers are at risk, but some more than others.  How to identify and help the ones who need it.
  • 6. Confronting the Black Hole – Technology at Warp Speed: what you need to know and safeguard your child.
  • 7. Growing Up Way Too Fast: acceptance, belonging, and competence are critical to keep you and your child in the same stratosphere.
  • 8. Becoming a man/woman: all you need to know about hormones and the changes of the body.
  • 9. Blue Chip or Penny Stocks: talking about sex and respecting themselves and others.
  • 10. Understanding Who your kid really is: and how he or she got to be that way.
  • 11. How to talk so they’ll listen: and how to know when to shut up.
  • 12. Expect the best, get the best:  training your kids, believe in them, and having positive expectations are power plays in the game of parenting.
  • 13. Raising a “Home” boy/girl: Make your home the place where your kids want to be.
  • 14. Life-Mapping:  It is never too late to plan your child’s future, but you shouldn’t be the one in the driver’s seat.
  • 15. Creating an attitude of gratitude: Modeling and teaching gratitude within the home.
  • 15. Raising a giver in a gimme generation: how giving without receiving can transform your child’s world and his/her life.
  • Word of Encouragement
  • Conclusion – how we will miss these days of middle school eventually
  • A middle schooler’s 10 Commandments to parents.

As I mentioned above, not all the information found in this book would apply for homeschoolers but the more I read through the book, the more I realize that there are precious wisdom that any parents of a middle schooler could use in their parenting.   As I write this, I have a teenager and a child who is starting to show emotional issues of growing up.  This child is currently in grade 6 level but you can see him having more emotions and learning to deal with them.   As I said these days are though for any kid – wether boy or girl – and having the skills to help them go through this is essential for any parent.   I am thankful to have this book handy and will continue to read it to better prepare for the transition.  I consider myself fortunate to have two kids following each other quite closely.  But I suspect that I will return to this book when my daughter approaches grade 7 in a few years.   It will be a different ball game than our three boys too!

Planet Middle School is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com.


The book is also available for Kindle and Kindle app.


Disclaimer: The book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Oven Baked Falafels

This past two weeks, my husband was off work and it was very nice to have him home.   My husband loves to cook and this time he decided we will try making falafels.   We made a first batch following a recipe he had found on the internet but we needed to cook them in oil.   Last week, we decided to make meatballs and used mini muffin pans I had (2 twenty-fours and 2 twelves).   Hubby really liked using the mini muffin pans for the meatballs and already we had a ton of ieas on how to use them.   To be honest, these pans were barely used anymore.   But with a family of six and our big batch of cooking we make, these pans were not enough.

So one day, hubby thought it would be nice  to make more falafels but this time we would try to do it in the oven instead.  But to make more falafels and using the mini muffin pans, we didn’t want to stay inthe kitchen for too long.  So we decided that it would be a good idea to purchase more mini muffin pans.   I checked on Bed Bath and Beyond to see what was available and we discovered that a pan making 48 mini muffins existed.   We had a few of 20% off coupons so we decided to check to Wal-Mart before going to Bed Bath and Beyond.  Wal-Mart did have the 48 mini muffins pan but the price was higher than the one at Bed Bath and Beyond with the 20% off coupon.  So off we went to Bed Bath and Beyond in order to purchase a couple of 48 mini muffins pans.

Back home, we proceeded to prepare our mixture.  We had also purchased fresh parsley and coriander for the recipe. We had a bag of chickpeas that had been in the water since the previous day.  You will need a food processor to make this recipe.

Oven Baked Falafels

2 cups of soaked chickpeas
4 cloves of garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped (or half of a big one)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/8 to 1/4 cup of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 1/4 tbsp of flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 pinch of ginger

Before anything else don’t forget to do the following:

1) Chop garlic


2) Chop the parsley


3) Chop the coriander


4) Chop the onions.



Once all your ingredients are prepared, incorporate all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork to blend the flavors.  For the dry chickpeas that had soaked all night, we decided to add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and mix some more.   

Take your food processor out and put the ingredients in it.  On pulse settings, slowly bring the mixture to a mush (Do not bring to humus consistence!).   Once this is done, transfer the mixture in another bowl and continue with the rest of the ingredients until you have gone through all the soaked chickpeas.


It is now time to make the falafels.   Our first time, we asked the younger three kids to make the balls which my husband cooked in the oil.  But we prefer not to have too much oil cooked food so the mini muffins pans are handy for this.   We filled each of the mini muffin holes with the mictures until the two pans we had purchased were full.


Bake at 400 degress for 30 minutes.



To make you sandwiches, use half a pita bread, spread tahini and a bit of ranch salad dressing, place cucumbers and tomatoes in it.  Use two falafels cut in two and roll it to eat.   Delicious!





Note:  Once we went through the soaked chickpeas we had, we decided to use the cans of chickpeas that were in our cupboards.   Make sure you rinse these thoroughly before using them in the recipe.   We also skipped the lemon juice step.   And it will take 35 minutes to cook the falafels if you use the canned chickpeas.

In case you are wondering which mini muffin pans we have purchased, we used the Wilton Mini Muffin Pan – available on amazon.ca and amazon.com as well as Bed Bath and Beyond and Wal-Mart.  We have since purchased another one for our bulk cooking and plan to purchase a few more eventually.