My reviews are based on my personal experience with a product or event. I am not a professional product tester nor do I get paid for any of my blog posts.

The items that I post reviews on, have either been purchased on the internet or through a local vendor. Additionally I will review items that I got on sale, as a gift or as a sample from either the manufacurer or some other source.

Note: always read the manufacturers directions on how to properly use a product and craft carefully. Additionally, I am an Amazon Associate and may earn a few cents (literally) from your clicking on my Amazon links. Since they raised the minimum payout from earnings to $10 I haven't seen a credit for a while but eventually I will get one.

Every penny counts when trying to set a budget to get supplies to use for my reviews, tutorials and hauls. However, you do not have to use my links. You can use your favorite search engine to find the best price for your budget.

101 Dog Tricks - Kids Edition by Kyra Sundance | Book Review

101 Dog Tricks, Kids Edition: Fun and Easy Activities, Games, and Crafts by Kyra Sundance is a wonderful kid orientated dog training book that brings lots of fun to the job of dog training. Trying to get my kids to work with their dogs and train them has always been a chore. A friend recommended this book and we love it. 

The kids have found the dog training tips to be fun and easy to follow. This book does not have a lot extra facts that bore a reader. The author gets to the point and the book includes lots of step-by-step helpful pictures so that the kids can grasp the concepts that she is teaching. The book also has some fun crafts for dogs. We especially love the "Crinkle Dog Toy" that shows how to make a quick and easy toy for dogs. Our dogs love those and making them is so much cheaper than replacing the ones the dogs destroy in their play. We also loved the "Dog Walking Depot" project. We are always searching for the doggy bags, leashes and treats. Now we have one spot to put them all in. We loved this book and can highly recommend it for other families looking to inspire their kids to bond and play more with their dogs.

If you are interested in seeing more of Kyra and her amazing dog, check out the video below.

Labyrinth of Jareth 2014 Fantasy Masquerade Ball & Photos | Review

Labyrinth of Jareth Photos
The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball offered a wide selection of entertainment and fun.  The Elementals (air, fire, earth, water) provided amazing dance performances throughout the venue.
The Elemental Dancers

There was also wonderful creative selection of costumes worn by both the guests and the actors.  My favorite entertainers were the goblins who provided quite a bit of light hearted comedy.
The fun loving Goblins in their kitchen set.
The Goblins entertained us throughout the venue and interacted all night with the guests.  I loved it when the Goblins (and their fellow entertainers) sang at the end of the evening.  Below is a very short clip of one of the closing songs at the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball.  I was getting jostled a lot so it is a bit shaky.

The Labyrinth Masquerade took place on July 4 and 5th at the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  The hotel itself is an interesting location to hold an event.  The neo-gothic architecture at this hotel is stunning and is the main reason this hotel has been used as the back drop for many movies and television shows.  It is a great backdrop for this ball.

At the same time, since it was built in 1925, it does lack proper air conditioning.  So if you plan to go next  year, take that into consideration when planning your costume.  The folks who put on the show do rent air conditioners but you still need to consider the fact that it is always warm in July and there are a lot of people in attendance.  We usually wear costumes that can worn in layers so we can check our coats/cloaks if it gets too warm.  The only complaint I heard during the ball was the heat.  It is California.  For the past few years, it has been held in July which is always a very warm weekend.  Plan accordingly and you will be able to make the most of the event without suffering from being overly warm in your costume.  A note:  the event does provide an inexpensive coat check and if you forget your mask, they have a mask vendor present with a great selection of masks at a variety of price levels and styles.

Below are just a few photos of the various costumes that I saw at this years event, hopefully they will inspire you to create an amazing costume of your own for that event next year.

As a person who enjoys making and photographing costumes, I really love this event.  I am continually amazed at the creativity by those who attend.

All Masquerade attendees must have a costume or be dressed in formal ball attire with a masque (or make-up that reflects the character).

This maintains the illusion of the masquerade and offers the other attendees a chance to participate in a fun event.
More Goblin Fun
The event offers a great assortment of entertainment throughout the different ballrooms and other areas.  These actors are amazing and stay in character throughout the event.

In back outdoor area there were aerial artists performing their amazing show for the guests.

In the garden area, they had a mermaid, who interacted with the guests.

This year we bought tickets for the pre-show, which allowed us to go in early.  I enjoyed the entertainment offered during the pre-event and the light snack menu that they served the guests.
The Elves

The pre-show is held outdoors so guests can enjoy the beautiful California weather and the well decorated garden area.

They had a two choirs who performed that were fabulous. One of which was a wizards choir.  I love the leather headpieces that each of these actors are wearing.

The Masquerade Ball Labyrinth of Jareth 2014 Fantasy Masque Event is truly a spectacular event.  The entertainment is first class, the performers interact with the guests throughout the event.  Since many of the guests are also actors and/or entertainers, they are also a lot of fun and tend to perform in the role of the costumed character they are representing.  If you love costuming, have an extensive collection of costumes you want to show off or just love a good party, then give this a try.  It is an experience like no other and a lot of fun.

Indoor Shooting Photo Tips

Since I am attending so many indoor events, getting a decent photo has been quite a challenge.  So I spoke to a few photographers that I know and I got this tip from my friend Cory (who is an amazing photographer).  He recommends shooting indoors with a   Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD Large Aperture Standard Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital DSLR Camera lens.

Here is a pic of an indoor photo using my current lens 15-100 Nikon. It is obviously not good for indoor, low light shooting.

The Sigma 17-50 mm lens is supposed to let in a lot of light.  It is a wide to standard zoom with a fast aperture and lets in a ton of light.   I ordered this lens and will let you know how well it works for me. Hopefully I will get better results than I am currently getting with my other lens.

Fearless Drawing by Kerry Lemon : Book Review

Fearless Drawing: Illustrated Adventures for Overcoming Artistic Adversity by Kerry Lemon
teaches a new way to look at the world and gives tips on how to draw it through your own eyes. I love when Kerry Lemon (author) explains that she is Absorbed in the process of creating art and not a camera.  She states that her work is not a carbon copy of the world. Instead each drawing she does is a representation of her perspective of what she sees.   I have taken many drawing classes where I was expected to duplicate what the instructor had drawn.  I found the author's approach to be refreshing.

She later goes on to explain that she created this book to help people discover their own style. The book is set up so that the reader can actually draw right onto it. The supply list is simply. The first lesson is how the way you hold a pencil affects the type of line you create. She makes the process fun. 

I would recommend this book for anyone who has a fear of drawing or needs to learn some drawing techniques in a non-threatening manner. The upbeat tone of the author really enhances the experience of completing each adventure (chapter). This was a fun read for both my daughter and myself and we highly recommend it. As the video will show, there is no fancy artwork. Instead there are a lot of great lessons and tips to define your own drawing style and interpretation.  The book is designed so that the reader can work on the section of his or her own choice and pace.