Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A "Harry Potter" meet "Dr. Who" themed tea at Whimsic Alley in Los Angeles, CA

Whimsic Alley is not just a Harry Potter merchandise store, it is more of Harry Potter meets Doctor 

Who Experience.  The store stocks Harry Potter, Doctor Who,

Games of Thrones and other cool merchandise, like the "Bad Wolf" teapot,

wands, toys and so much more.

When you walk in the door, you are immediately greeted by the fun and friendly staff at the store.

The store is closing its "Great Hall" at the end of October and expanding the merchandise area,  so this was our last chance to attend an afternoon tea in the hall.  The tea I attended was a "Harry Potter" themed tea.  It even came with handmade invitations.

The hallway leading to the "Great Hall" is very Harry Potter themed and features a cute alcove that features some great photo spots like the one below.
The side wall also has been covered in wall paper that depicts Hogwarts (another great photo spot).

Another spot depicting the owl and poster of Sirius Black.

The tea offered traditional tea fare of tasty sandwiches and treats.

It was decorated in a Halloween theme.

You could even have Butter Beer.

They even had a treat trolley that came through offering some fun Harry Potter themed merchandise.

Our tea was a Halloween Costumed Themed Event which made it even more fun with all the fun
photo opportunities the store offers.  One of our friends decided to dress as a "Weeping Angel" from

the Dr. Who fame.  Since the store had a Tardis, these made for some fun and silly moments like the Alice in Wonderland meets a Weeping Angel moment below.

If you are looking for hard to find Harry Potter merchandise then this store may be helpful to you.

5464 Wilshire Blvd, 

Los Angeles, CA 90036


Saturday, October 18, 2014

COPPER SOLE™ Sock Review

I am fairly picky about what type of socks I buy for my family members because any sock has to be well constructed, be made of quality materials and still be comfortable to wear. The Copper Sole socks really fit that requirement nicely, addition to all health benefits they offer. 

The Copper Sole socks are a specialty sock made of 58% Copper Poly, 26% Polyester, 15% Nylon and 1% Lycra Spandex that are made in the U.S.A.  The Lycra is what makes the fit so nice.  The socks are unisex so men and women can wear them.

The Copper Poly is what gives the feet benefit while wearing these luxurious socks.  The socks themselves are very soft and comfortable. However it is the Copper Poly claims that I am really interested in.  The company claims that the socks are Anti Fungal and that they help athletes prevent getting Athlete's Foot (yes you can still get Athlete's foot if you don't wear foot protection gear in public showers....the sock can't work miracles) from strenuous workouts and sweat.  

I like to hike and that can be really hard on my feet.  I wear a quality pair of boots but have had a hard time finding socks that really provide a good amount of cushion to the sole of my foot when doing these hikes.  I have purchased several different types of socks from specialty stores and they were not cheap.  One pair was $25 at REI, however, I expect to pay more for the type of protection I was seeking for my feet while hiking.

Luckily for me, I was recently sent three pairs of the new Copper Sole socks to test out and give my opinion on by the folks at BzzAgent.  My first test was to take a close look at the stitching on the toe of the sock.  If you hike a lot, you know that stitching can cause problems if it is not done correctly.  I was happy to find that the stitching was done so that it lays fairly flat and will not rub on the tops of my toes.

The next test was to check out the tufting on the sock. It has to be soft and thick.
Again, I was pleased to find it was thicker than my most expensive pair of hiking socks.

As for the Anti Fungal nature of the product in the Cupron Anti Fungal Fibers (EPA Registered), well I don't have the problem so I can not answer that issue directly.  However, the socks did keep my feet dry and were very comfortable to hike and walk in.  Since my feet were so well protected, it allowed me to walk with out any issues of tired and sore feet.  This is a plus when you are very active. I really like these socks and plan to buy a couple more pairs to have on hand.  The retail price on these is around $25 a pair.  They are not cheap but then again, they are not everyday kind of socks.  The price point is about right for specialty socks. I also have some discount coupons that I can apply towards a future purchase that will bring that price down a bit.

There are a lot of other similar socks being sold on Amazon. However, the quality can really vary.  Look for the trademark on the sock to ensure that you are getting the real Copper Sole sock.  Below is a picture that shows the trademark on the cuff of the sock.

Note: These socks are really thick and will be less comfortable if you shoes are too tight.  

If you are a physically active person, stand all day on your feet or need socks with the speciality Cupron Anti fungal Fibers then these socks are worth a try.  Once again, I would like to thank BzzAgent for sending me these socks to try.  I don't think I would have known about them otherwise.

By the way, if you are interested in trying out new products or just like to give your personal opinion on products, you should sign up with BzzAgent.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Candy Aisle Crafts by Jodi Levine : Create Fun Edible Craft Projects for Your Family

Candy Aisle Crafts by Jodi Levine

Candy Aisle Crafts: Create Fun Projects with Supermarket Sweets by Jodi Levine helps you start your holiday plans with some very creative and easy candy craft projects. Jodi Levine was a craft editor for Martha Stewart for 19 years.  She is very experienced and Knowledgeable in creating exciting craft projects.  With her new book, the focus is on on Candy crafts and the many sweet creations that can achieved with them.  The reader gets to pick the complexity of the candy project they want to tackle.  From a simple candy bowl made from hard candies to themed lollipops.  This book is geared towards families, you don't have to own fancy equipment (beyond an oven to melt candy) to do the projects in this book. Most of the supplies to make the projects in this book can be purchased at your local supermarket or Target.  Below is a picture of one of the projects in the book.  I have removed the instructions so you will have to look at the book to actually read them.  However, the photo gives you a great example of how well the steps are photographed and presented.  A child could easily follow these instructions (except for the oven part) to create these darling flowers.
Easy Cookie Flowers by Jodi Levine

This book has enough projects and tips to help the reader plan some fun holiday crafts.  A lot of these projects would be great scout craft projects to celebrate the upcoming holidays.  There are some great kids projects that require minimal tools, that they can do on their own.  I found that most of these projects are perfect family craft night.  You can work with your children to create some really fun projects to use for gifts or just treats.  There are some projects in the book that involve melting both hard candies and chocolate, so I would recommend working with the kids if they decide to try some of the more advanced projects like the "Dot Flowers" project on page 16.  That project involves melting hard candy in an oven, so it is best to have the kids work with an adult to avoid any potential injuries.

I love that "Candy Aisle Crafts" provides excellent DIY tips and project tutorials for fun edible gifts for a birthday party or holiday celebrations. The are some fun ideas for combining cupcakes and candies to make darling table top decorations for a baby shower or birthday party. There are also projects for decorating some whimsical cakes.  I am not a fan of wearing candy as jewelry but if you are then there are two candy necklace projects you may want to look at in the book. There are some great projects for crafting with preschoolers.  If you love to home craft then this book will appeal to you.

Personally, I love all the creative ways that the author uses gumdrops throughout the book.  One of my favorites is the Necco Gumdrop Bees that are created to decorate drinking glasses at celebrations.  The book has some great photos that clearly show the proper steps to achieve success with the candy projects.  If you need some great kids craft inspiration or just love crafting with candy, the easy to follow instructions and photos will inspire you to try creating all types of fun candy decorative treats.

Note: I received this book free from Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for my honest review.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit by Mary Scott Huff Provides Great Knitting Hat Patterns for Men, Woman and Children.

by Mary Scott Huff is a great collection of knitting patterns for hats.  This book offers some great creative and whimsical patterns to knit for kids and adults then consider this book. It offers a great selection of knitting patterns for hats.  I was looking for a creative kids knitted hat pattern to make and I was delighted to find so many fun patterns to choose from. My favorite is the Mad Hatter Style Hat that is a great knit hat pattern for kids. I love that the author has included the pattern for the ears, which really make the hat more whimsical. My daughters love the pattern and can't wait for me to finish the hat (hopefully in time for Halloween).

Animal and character knit hats are becoming more and more popular and luckily this book offers some fun cool patterns. There is also a great Green Man Pattern, Medusa Pattern and the Chlamydosaurus Pattern that I found to be quite fun. The Green Man pattern is for the more advanced Knitter. The Gargoyle hat is cute and not too scary for the little ones.   The book does offer some easy knit hat patterns as well that make great knit hats for boys and girls.

Here is a short list of the patterns that you will find in this fun book:

Architeuthis (a Cephalopod), Baldy (Eagle Head), Blue Crab (would look great in other colors too), California Roll (a Sushi inspired hat), Cherry Pie (looks like a homemade cherry pie), Crown Royal (looks like a kings crown), Elfin (cute), Flower Fairy (whimsical), Frilly (Chlamydosaurus), Gargoyle (adorable), Green Man (Challenging but do able), Hedgehog Helmet (cute), Jellyfish, Medusa (fun), Mercury, Rabble of Butterflies, Scotty, Sugar Skull, Tea Party (my kids love this one), and Tortoise (another fabulous idea). Additionally the Book has some very helpful technique and stitching information for the reader.

I really love the creativity and easy to follow patterns that this book offers. If you are new to knitting and do not know how to read a pattern, there are great videos on YouTube that teach it. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for new fun hat patterns to knit.

What type of patterns do you enjoy knitting?  Leave a comment below to let me know.

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.