Monday, October 30, 2017

Strictly Briks

Strictly Briks offers a wide range of products to help the building fun play to be even more interesting.  It includes Big Briks, stackable baseplates, standard baseplates, silicone straps and baseplates, unique shapes as well as briks sets.

Instead of having a build a model as seen on the cover of a box kind of product, Strictly Briks will challenge your child to become more creative while building with any shape or height he or she desire.   The building pieces in their kits or special products can be enjoyed with anything they usually play with whether a stuff toy, matchbox cars, or superheroes.   With Strictly Briks you kids can develop engineering, architecture or artistic skills. 

I have received the opportunity to review two of their products.  Without waiting more, let me present you the two items I have received.

imageUnique Shape Towers

These unique shapes (squares, triangles, and half-circles) can be very fun to use in any kind of building project.  Whether you desire to have a unique construction or simply build a fun tower to display some of your things, this set will allow you to create above and beyond what you can imagine.   This special set contains 36 base plates in a variety of shapes as well as 60 2x2 stackers.   The stackers will allow you to create fun shape towers or help you to build other cool things. 

The beauty of this particular set is that you can have various shapes and colors to play with.  You can create interesting towers which will allow you to display your collection of mini-figures (something I know my kids could do in an instant) or any other collection you might be storing in your room. The price of this specific product is 39.99$ US.

AlphaBriks and MathBriks Set – 200 Briks and a 10”x10” baseplateimage

As an homeschooler, I can see the benefits for this particular set in an instant.  Why? Well first of all it could help you to enhance spelling or math lessons at home or in the car.    This fun tool will indeed reinforce these skills for your child who loves to learn while manipulating items.  The letter and number pieces fit tightly on baseplates while at the same time are a snap to remove!

However, this is not the only thing you can do with these.   What I find particularly interesting (and what I had in mind when I chose this item…) was the possibilities of use that could be done when my kids are doing animations with their LEGO creations.  It has become an activity that my kids are enjoying – they make up a story and film it while moving their minifigures to “act” the story.  The letters and numbers in this specific set could help them to become even more creative in their storyline and add some fun components at the same time.

Another thing I have verified with our LEGO bricks.  Strictly Briks items are compatible with all major brands, including LEGO, Mega Bloks and K’Nex brand sets.   Minifigures or other pieces can easily snap on the shapes of Strictly Briks.

These kits are great to ad-on your already building bricks that you have at home and will allow you to build more interesting things with them.   Their versatile aspects make these products a great idea for birthdays or Christmas.

Strictly Briks items are available for purchase on their website or 


Disclaimer: I received the two Strictly Briks kits for review purposes from KidStuff PR and Strictly Briks. 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, October 21, 2017

Birds of North America

American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America - primary image American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America
Published by DK

About the Book

Updated to reflect all the latest taxonomic data, American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America is the complete photographic guide to the 657 species of birds found in the United States and Canada.

Ideal for the armchair bird enthusiast or dedicated bird watcher, this book includes stunning full-color photographs revealing 657 individual species with unrivaled clarity. The 550 most commonly seen birds are pictured with plumage variations, and images of subspecies and information on similar birds are provided to make differentiation easy, from game birds and waterfowl to shorebirds and swifts to owls, flycatchers, finches, and more. You can even discover which species to expect when and where with up-to-date, color-coded maps highlighting habitation and migratory patterns.

Written by a team of more than 30 birders and ornithologists with expertise in particular species or families, and produced in association with the American Museum of Natural History, this updated and refreshed edition of American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America is the ultimate photographic guide to every bird species in the United States and Canada.

My Thoughts

First let me tell you that this book is S T U N N I N G !   First the cover itself is marvelous – I am biased with owls – but if you pass your hand over it you will feel some details a bit.  

Okay now let me tell you what happened when this book arrived home…  My sweet daughter – who by the way is nine years old – is currently reading (should I say zooming) through the series Guardians of Ga’Hoole.   For her to read so much is a blessings because it took her a while before grasping the reading skills.  But nevertheless she persevered and has been reading non-stop for the past few months.   Guardians of Ga’Hoole is just one series that she has tackled and read.   As I am writing this, she is currently reading one of the last book of this series.   Through this series, she has learned a bit about owls (the main characters are owls).  Imagine her seeing this book for the first time….  could you see the big eyes, the excitement and the enthusiasm?   That was her.   She saw the barn owl  on the cover, she grabbed the book, walked (no make that run almost) to the living room to find the owls section (which by the way is still marked with a sticky note) and proceeded to read more about owls – all kinds of them.  I am not kidding you when I write this… she was reading for quite some time and when dad came back home after a day at work, the first thing she wanted to tell him was what she learned about owls from the book Birds of North America.

If you are wondering what the pages contains, see the examples below. 

American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America - look inside 2 American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America - look inside 3 American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America - look inside 4

The American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America is divided in various sections:

  • How this book works
  • Evolution
  • Anatomy and flight
  • Migration
  • Courtship and mating
  • Nests and eggs
  • Identification
  • Species guide
  • Ducks, geese, and swans
  • Quails, grouse, turkeys, and relatives
  • Loons
  • Grebes
  • Tubenoses
  • Storks, frigatebirds, gannets, cormorants, and anhingas
  • Pelicans, herons, ibises, and relatives
  • Hawks, eagles, vultures, and relatives
  • Rails, cranes, and relatives
  • Shorebirds, gulls, auks, and relatives
  • Pigeons and doves
  • Cuckoos
  • Owls
  • Nightjars
  • Swifts and hummingbirds
  • Trogons and kingfishers
  • Woodpeckers
  • Falcons and caracaras
  • Parakeets and parrots
  • New world flycatchers
  • Vireos, jays and crows
  • Swallows, chickadees, and titmice
  • Nuthatches and wrens
  • Thrushes, trashers, wagtails, and pipits
  • Longspurs and snow buntings
  • Wood warblers
  • American sparrows, cardinals and relatives
  • Orioles and blackbirds
  • Finches
  • Old world sparrows
  • Rare species
  • Vagrants

Now if you think that you will bring this book with you in the field…. stop right now.  There is no way that you will carry this gigantic book with you as you explore the woods near your home or go to observe birds in a special area.   This book contains roughly over 751 pages and will help you to develop some muscles in your arms…  Nevertheless, it is a fabulous reference to have in your home to learn more about birds in your area.  

If you are looking for a fantastic book that will provide some information on birds found in Canada and the U.S., the American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America is a book for you.   It is a great book to have in your living area, so that you can access immediately when you want to learn more about a specific bird.

Birds of North America is available at your favorite bookstore near you, even on and

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for allowing me to promote these books. 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.

All Saints–the book

Cover ArtAll Saints – The Surprising True Story of How Refugees from Burma Brought Life to a Dying Church
Written by Michael Spurlock and Jeanette Windle
Published at Bethany House

About the Book

The True Story Behind the Powerful Film ALL SAINTS.

Newly ordained, Michael Spurlock's first assignment is to pastor All Saints, a struggling church with twenty-five devoted members and a mortgage well beyond its means. The best option may be to close the church rather than watch it wither any further. But when All Saints hesitantly risks welcoming a community of Karen refugees from Burma--former farmers scrambling for a fresh start in America--Michael feels they may be called to an improbable new mission.

Michael must choose between closing the church and selling the property--or listening to a still, small voice challenging the people of All Saints to risk it all and provide much-needed hope to their new community. Together, they risk everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.
Discover the true story that inspired the film while also diving deeper into the background of the Karen people, the church, and how a community of believers rally to reach out to those in need, yet receive far more than they dared imagine.

My Thoughts

Back in August, we had the privilege to watch the movie All Saints.  We had enjoyed the movie and when I was approached with the possibility to read the book I immediately was interested.  I know that often a movie won’t do the justice of the book itself.   And I was not disappointed with my decision to review this book.

First and foremost let me tell you that if you have watched the movie (or planning to watch it), you definitively need to read the book as well.   Why?  Well the book All Saints is packed with historical background that will unfold right under your eyes as you read it.  Not only will you read about the past of Michael Spurlock and his family but you will also follow the Karen refugees to their new life in the U.S. as well as the life of Ye Win who will become the leader of the Karen refugees.   Slowly, the story will set itself and you will follow the characters as they come to a point of crossing each other’s paths.  

I personally find the book very interesting as it goes back and forth between the life of Michael and the life of Ye Win.   Going back and forth between the main characters is intriguing in many ways because you get exactly what they have experience during the same period of time.  The movie itself doesn’t do justice to the book I find but it was a great springboard to the whole story that is written in the pages of this book.

As I read through the pages of this book, I was reminded that we should not judge too quickly when strangers come through the doors of our church because these people might be sent by God himself for a purpose that we cannot even imagine at this point in time.   The book is an eye opener on how newcomers can be a blessings for a church.

The book is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even on and

Disclaimer: The book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishing 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

Operation Christmas Child 2017

OCC Logo FINAL_060716Samaritan’s Purse has been sending Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes throughout the world since 1993.  Exactly more than 146 millions Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes has brought joy in the life of many children who live in desperate circumstances.  Not only it bring a little bit of joy but it also bring hope when the message of God’s unconditional love is shared with these children.  Operation Christmas Child are collected in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Finland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States.   Shoeboxes are distributed in more than 100 countries, on six continents.   This year the National Collection Week will be November 13-19, 2017.

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes open door for Samaritan’s Purse to provide children, families, and communities access to clean water, food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance and more.  There is no barriers – languages, culture, geography, or politics – that will stop the gift of joy and hope to these children in need.

This year the season of packing the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is already under way.  But it isn’t too late to participate.  You can get shoeboxes at churches throughout your city.  You do not have to get an official shoebox to participate.  You can also get a plastic shoebox at a store near you and fill it up with essentials that a child might need.  You can select to have your box given to a boy or a girl of various ages (2-4 years old, 5-9 years old, and 10-14 years old).


Are you wondering what you can pack in your shoebox?  Essentially  you could put school supplies, hygiene items, toys and other gifts, as well as a personal note.   In order to help to send the shoebox, a donation of 10$ is suggested.  Note that if you do not give over 20$ you will not received a tax receipt.  

Here’s some ideas of what can be included in a shoebox.

Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.

School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

Non-liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.

Accessories: T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.

Crafts: Make your own items such as hair bows, finger puppets, and friendship bracelets.

However, some items are a big NO-NO.  See the list below of items to AVOID packing in the shoebox:  candy, toothpaste, used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures, chocolate or food, fruit rolls or other fruit snacks, drink mixes (powdered or liquid), liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers, aerosol cans.

So as part of this campaign, I have received an Operation Christmas Child LEGO kit.   We have made the decision to build the box and send it as part of our OCC shoebox.  


My two youngest kids dutifully build the OCC LEGO shoebox one morning this week.  It was a special homeschool project for them.  They love building LEGO and it was a special project for them to do.  The kit contained bricks to build the shoebox and the wings as well as two minifigures, a bicycle and a dog.   We also inserted the instructions in the box.



And voilà the OCC LEGO shoebox is ready to go!


We then packed the minifigures, the bike, the dog and the wings inside the box before putting it in the real shoebox.   While packing the shoebox, Jasmine also inserted a few things that were small enough to go in it for more surprises (like elastics and a bracelet).


Jasmine packed the box carefully to make sure that everything could fit nicely in it.  She had picked school items, a washcloth, toothbrushes, brush, hair items, a ball, and a doll among other things.   Neatly packed at the bottom of the box was our OCC LEGO box which we hope will bring some smile to the little girl age 5-9 years old that will receive it.


Now all we have to do is bring it to our church when they will be collecting them.

If you are wondering where will the Canadian shoeboxes will be delivered this year, you can easily visualize their destination below.  Sometimes I wish I would know where exactly our shoebox will be heading.   But we pray that this shoebox will be a blessing for a little girl which could be close in age to our own daughter. 

You do not have to pack a shoebox if you do not have the time.  You can also pack one online at  It is a fun project to do as a family or with friends.  Organize a shoebox packing party if you want too.



Disclaimer: This blog post was possible because I was selected by Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. to promote the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes from Samaritan’s Purse. 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.