Monday, September 15, 2014

The Ultimate Sock Puppet Book: Clever Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Creating Imaginative Sock Puppets by Tiger Kandel and Heather Schloss | Book Review

The Ultimate Sock Puppet Book: Clever Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Creating Imaginative Sock Puppets by Tiger Kandel and Heather Schloss.
Sock puppets have always been successfully used in story telling, as well as fun to make. We used puppets a lot at the local library story telling hour when my kids were really little. Now my kids want to continue the tradition by making some sock puppets to entertain their younger cousins.

As the title says, this books does offer some great techniques and tips for making sock puppets. However, the book offers so much more than some simple sock puppet patterns. It is filled with techniques and tips which can be applied to many other types of creative projects. Which is why I am including a flip video with this review, to give you a better idea of the vast variety of ideas and projects this books offers the reader.

In the introduction the author points out that in the "Ultimate Sock Puppet Book" you won't be told specifically what to make or exactly how to make it. Instead this book offers a base of techniques to build upon. The book is offers an anatomy section for making all the animal body parts in all sorts of fun ways. They make it easy for the reader to find a specific section on how to make a tail or add teeth. It also covers hair, fur, eyes, noses, mouths, teeth, wings, arms, legs and more! If you wanted to make a certain animal that wasn't featured in the book you could pull together all the elements and you would be all set to create your own version of that animal in a sock puppet. If you wanted to create something from your imagination you would also be well equipped with all the techniques you would need to create fantasy critters and creatures.

The book covers both sewing and gluing construction methods and since the kids are not big fans of the sewing, they will be using the gluing methods for sure! However, the sewing is pretty simplified so if you have basic sewing skills, they are easy to follow. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a new inspirations on how to create their own sock puppet menagerie or just be inspired. The Ultimate Sock Puppet Book projects are also fun family orientated craft projects that are both fun and educational.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixers, and Mixers by Stephen Lee with Ken Koopman | Book Review

Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers is a great starting point if you are new to brewing Kombucha and have just purchased (or received) your first Scoby.   I wish I would have had this book the first time I tried to brew my own Kombucha, it would have saved me so much time and my first batch of Kombucha would have so much better.  The minute I got this book I had to brew a new batch using "Stephen Lee's Master Plain Kombucha Recipe".  It was so easy to follow (although I substituted bottled water for the Purified Water). Eight days later, it came out great. Now I want to try out some of his "Citrus Kombucha" recipe, when my Scoby has produced a baby for me.

This book is a must have if you enjoy drinking Kombacha and want to brew your special blends. I found the Kombucha Revolution book to be very well written and very informative.  I loved the authors writing style.  He fed the reader information while making  it interesting to read.

The author does provides some interesting factual information on the history of Kombacha and relates his own experience in brewing with his first Scoby.  I love that he takes the time to explain how to care for the Scoby and why it is so important to have the right blend of sugar to tea ratio.     I don't have time to read an encyclopedia on the subject matter and appreciate it when authors provide useful information in a concise amount.

He also goes into detail on how to care for your Scoby.  He also reminds the readers about the dangers of mold in the Scoby without providing too much information.  I ruined my first Scoby, so I can really appreciate this type of information.

Besides some really interesting recipes for brewing different type of Kombucha, the author also offers a great body scrub recipes for those of us who don't want to waste the Scoby babies that are not going to be used for a different brew. The Table of Contents is pretty straight forward and lists the great variety of recipes offered in this book.

Chapter Two is a "Juices and Smoothies" section that offer some fun recipes to use up your brew.  For those who are really adventurous, Chapter Three has some interesting cocktail recipes that includes a great Martini concoction.  Chapter Four is all about "Dressings and Dunks".  The Kombucha mustard recipe is great if you like your mustard with a bit of a kick (otherwise don't include the horseradish in the recipe).

Chapter Five is a bit more complicated because it centers on salads and sides.  The "Wilted Spinach with Bacon Kombacha Dressing" has an interesting flavor that I found paired really well with Kale.  The Kale is not part of the recipe, I just like a crunch in my salad and added 1 cup to the recipe to make it more crunchy.  If you like Collard Green, give the "Comforting Collard Greens in Kombucha" recipe a try.  It will not disappoint.

Chapter Six focuses on "Sweets And Ices".  Depending on the Kombucha recipe you use, I find it tends to naturally be sweet anyway.  It makes total sense to use the brew for dessert recipes.  The "Mango Booze Ice" recipe is a clear winner here.  I personally tried it with both Vodka and without.  I preferred it without, but that could be attributed to the brand on Vodka I used in the recipe.

I love that this is not just a drink recipe book.  I was able to find at least two recipes that I liked in each chapter.  Since I am not that great a cook, that can often be a challenge for me.  However, these recipes are so easy to follow that I did not have issues with them.  I have read each chapter and really enjoyed the recipes offered in this book.  This is one book that I can recommend if you are just starting out on your Kombucha experience and need some brewing information.  It is also great if you just want some great recipes that incorporate Kombucha and its many health qualities in your beverages and meals.

If you need to order a Scoby, Kombucha Kamp offers some great kits at an affordable price through Amazon.

Note:  I was not paid for this review.  I was given a copy of this book by  Blogging for Books in return for my own honest review. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tangle Stitches for Quilters & Fabric Artists by Jane Monk who is a certified Zentangle Teacher | Book Review

I have been a hug fan of Zentangling since I met Beckah Krahula, the author of One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun (One A Day) by Krahula, Beckah (unknown Edition) [Paperback(2012)]

I find the simplicity of line drawing and doodling to be the perfect creative outlet for my busy life.  You can not imagine how excited I was to come across a book that incorporates two of my favorite past times. 

The book  Tangle Stitches for Quilters and Fabric Artists: Relax, Meditate, and Create with Rhythmic Stitches by Jane Monk combines her love of zentangling with machine stitching.  If you are an avid quilter, then you will enjoy some of the tangle patterns in this book.

Personally, I am a beginner level sewer and I think this is going to be the perfect book to get me back to my machine and try out some of the over 40 tangle patterns in the book.  The projects included in Tangles Stitches range from beginner to intricate. From the video above, you see that the author has included some great projects.   I know that I will most certainly be starting with the pretty vase project and then move quickly onto the journal cover stitched on felt project.  The instructions are very straight forward and easy to follow. I recommend this book if you love Zentangling and enjoy stitching.  I found that many of the patterns could easily be converted for use in hand stitching onto wearables.  If you like Zentangle, doodling, and sewing then you may want to give this book a try.

Note: I am not affiliated with Zentangle or the Author.  Nor am I paid for this review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Your Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life by Me Ra Koh | Book Review

Your Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life by Me Ra Koh is an excellent guild for anyone wishing to be inspired in capturing photos of fun family moments that will last a lifetime.  This book isn’t the usual photography book where you get a lot of technical information.  It is reader friendly and offers some great tips on how to get some great family pictures that do a great job of capturing the personalities of the people being photographed.

Here is a brief overview of the Table of Contents for this book:

1.     Setting Yourself Up For Success (short info on lighting, etc.),
2.     Developing a Photographer’s Eye,
3.     Everyday Life,
4.     Holidays,
5.     Family Portraits,
6.     Tween & Teens,
7.     Family Vacations, and
8.     Appendix (she covers the different types of cameras, lens, etc).

By following her recipes, it does not matter what you and your family are doing, whether it is going out together on an adventure or simply making dinner.  There are forty recipes for using your DSLR to shoot some great photos.  If the book has a recipe for the shot then that moment can be photographed so that you’ll always have a keepsake of those memories.  I even found that most of the recipes can be applied to similar situations and lighting.  They are very versatile and easy to learn so you will be ready to apply the ideas to the captures those important moments as they happen.

I applied one of her recipes in the "Amusement Park" section to this photo taken at Universal Studios to get a shot that shows the playful nature of the subjects.

The I applied some of the information learned in her section on taking black and white photo's to improve this shot.

Often people will have family portraits and family vacations on display in their homes. Me Ra Koh’s words beautifully describe the tranquility and empowerment of collecting family memories. I enjoyed her straight forward writing styles and easy to follow photo recipes for capturing the picture family portrait for both DSLR and point and shoot cameras.   I tend to use both and like that she thinks about the readers needs by including them.

This book is a wondrous read for anyone who wishes to learn more about the essence and empowerment of photography in order to capture memorable moments in your family life that will last forever. Me Ra Koh has also written other photography books that can be viewed at the Random House website.  

Thank You  Blogging for Books for this review copy of this great book.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Drawing Club by Bob Kato : Book Review

The Drawing Club: Master the Art of Drawing Characters from Life by Bob Kato will help you change the way you think about drawing characters in 2D.  This is not just a book for professional artists but for anyone who is looking for inspiration and to benefit from the great advice offered in this book.

I was lucky enough to attend the Artist panel at Comic Con this year

Bob Kato  Karl Gnass  Mark McDonnell and  Dan Cooper
and get a chance to ask questions and talk to Karl Gnass,

Mark McDonnell,  Dan Cooper and

Mark McDonnell and Dan Cooper
Bob Kato.  I had a chance to listen to Bob Kato speak at the San Diego Comic Con 2014 show after

his panel presentation.  He talked about how at the Drawing Club the artists are given the opportunity to view and draw a costumed person while getting a chance to continuously develop their story telling skills.  For those who cannot attend one of the Drawing Club session, this book is a good opportunity to learn from such a gifted artist.

The Drawing Club: Master the Art of Drawing Characters from Life is not one of those "how to draw books".  The author wrote this for artists who can already draw and want to build on their skills.  He does not specify the skill level but offers great direction for even the inspiring artist to be able to gain some great insight on how to translate life from 3d to the paper (2D).  I especially love that the book includes a gallery of images from different artists that clearly displays how these different artists' personal perception allows for the character to develop their own unique personalities.

This is not a “step-by-step” drawing book but more of an inspirational book. Bob Kato provides some really interesting exercises in the book to help the artist develop confidence through the exercises by trying new things or looking at a project with a different point of view.  The book is set up to help the artist learn how to work outside their comfort zone to translate their character from 3d onto the paper and tell a story through their drawings.   

From reading this book I learned that if I want a drawing to evoke feelings and tell a story with my drawings then that can be achieved with style.  The book taught me the importance of using lines to show the mood of the character. If the character is angry, then I want to draw it angry but I also need the lines in my drawing to be crisp and sharp to evoke that emotion when the viewer sees my drawings.  

One of my biggest passions in life is going to costumed events and taking photographs of people at these events in their elaborate costumes; I am looking to branch out and start sketching from my photos.  While I don’t have the time to get out and sketch from life, I am looking forward to using the inspirations from this book to develop my personal style and try to start sketching from the photos that I have taken.

The Drawing Club book is an amazing inside peek into an aspect of the Hollywood World; many of the artists who attend are working professionals who just come to the drawing club to practice.  Don't let that daunt you.   You don’t have to be a professional to enjoy the experience of drawing people from real life and this book gives wonderful insight as to how to apply style, lines, and other aspects to your drawings.  The Drawing Club book is about drawing from life and learning to think differently so you can develop your own voice when drawing your character onto paper.  The book goes into how style, lines, atmosphere, anatomy, inspiration, and working outside your own comfort zone is helpful in developing your improvisational skills to tell a story with your drawings.