Thursday, 17 July 2014

Backyard Book Swap

Some people are gifted in the art of throwing spontaneous last-minute parties.  My friend Julie is one such person.  I am not.

Julie sent me a message yesterday inviting me to a book swap party.  For that night.  She had texted me the day before, but I hardly ever even look at my archaic flip phone, so I didn't see the message.

I thought of staying home, because I'm tired, and cranky from the heat wave, and cluelessly trying to prepare for a camping trip.  But I said yes instead, and I'm glad I did.

Ever punctual, I was the first to arrive at Julie's cute little house.  She and her sister were doing last minute snack prep, and had a gorgeous table set up under the apple tree outside, complete with a linen tablecloth and gold-edged cloth napkins.  Classy.  The temperature was perfect, the breeze (and slight haze of smoke from forest fires) kept the bugs at bay.

Each person—there were seven of us— brought a few books to recommend, lend, or give away.  We shared why we liked the book, then the ones to lend were placed in one pile, and the ones to give away in another and we selected the ones we wanted to read.  No one came to blows this time, but anything could happen when you get a bunch of women in a group who are passionate about literature.

My contributions:

My three  books unintentionally shared a garden-ish theme.  Since I couldn't lend out my favourite book (The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery—the only copy I own is a falling-apart first edition), I brought another by the same author.  Kilmeny of the Orchard.  A short, sweet romance written from the POV of a male college student about the fascinating woman he meets in an orchard.

The Rose Garden, by Susanna Kearsley is a book I bought solely because I liked the cover.  I thought it would be some kind of romance, and the back mentioned an old house, so I bought it.  It is a romance, but it is so much more than that!  It has a unique twist with history that had me reading every one of the author's other books (all of which have an historic twist, but all done in a different way).

I read Forgotten Garden two years ago on vacation in the mountains.  This year we're going to the same place on vacation, so I bought another of Kate Morton's books.  I loved the switch between 1900s and present day, and the barest hint of supernatural/paranormal (that I kind of wish was explored more fully in the book).  This book is a best seller for a reason.  I did take a few chapters to really get into it.  But once in, I was hooked.

These are the books I came home with, both from the keeper pile.  I kind of have a lot on my plate to read and/or write and/or edit already, so I chose these two because I've been wanting to read and reread them anyway.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Weekend Links

I hardly slept last night, then I had to get up early to drive my mother-in-law to the airport.  So as I've been sitting here half-awake, I've found some really great links.  Enjoy!  I'd love to know if you found these as interesting as I did.  Let me know in the comments!  Also, I've been playing with my blog design and widths.  If it doesn't look right for you, please let me know.

10 Things Happy Moms Don't Do - I just may have to read this one every day.

Colbie Caillat's "Try" - Beautiful song, and beautiful women.

And speaking of women.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Wake Up The House

Do you have a morning ritual?  I've been having a really hard time waking up since school ended.  It's not so hard getting out of bed, but actually feeling awake, in spite of the coffee, has been a struggle.  Perhaps I need to exercise more . . .

One of the things I do to help  myself feel awake, is opening all the curtains and blinds on the main floor.  Well, almost all.  We're having a bit of a heat wave right now, so I left the fairy photo booth backdrop up to help block the afternoon sun in the western windows.

It truly is a pity we don't have any east-facing windows.  The one time of day that I like the summer sun streaming in would be early in the morning.

Speaking of summer, I've pretty much been failing at it so far.  First, there was birthday party prep.  Granted, the party itself was pretty cool.  Then there was "my mother in law is coming to visit" prep.  Lucky for me, I'm pretty sure she doesn't judge me for my housekeeping.  I have a (couple of) great mothers in law!  Then there was work.  I'm done that now, as of last night.  But basically, the only fun thing I've done with the kids was go to the beach with them yesterday...and that was at my mother in law's suggestion (Yes, I did don a swimsuit and go in the water...up to my waist).

It's a good thing the kids have such a fun Daddy, who buys them skateboards and takes them out to practice while I hibernate with the laptop and the air conditioner.  This heat is making me grouchy.  [Wow, I got a little off topic here!  I won't be winning any "most organised blogger" awards, that's for sure]

So how's your summer going?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Rainbow Magic Fairies Birthday Party

My girl turns 7 this Saturday.  I love to see her personality develop.  This year in grade one she really learned to love reading, thanks to the Rainbow Magic Fairies series of books that she discovered just after Christmas.  Before, she was easily frustrated with her reading, and didn't want to even try because she hates making mistakes.  Then she bought two beginner fairies books with a gift card and loved them.  The next thing I knew, she found more fairy books at her school library and began bringing one home each week.  Suddenly she was easily reading these grade three-ish level books!  One morning she told me she stayed up until three am reading.  Oops.  There's no way I can scold her for that...I did the same thing!  But I did stress the importance of sleep, so now I tell her how many minutes or pages she can read in bed before she has to go to sleep.

Of course, with her new obsession with these books (and there are 200+ books to get through, so she's set for awhile), we had to have a Rainbow Magic Fairies themed birthday party!  So that happened on Monday.  Instead of goody bags full of candy and little toys, each guest got to take home a book instead.

We made the invitations right on the Rainbow Magic Fairies website.  My daughter designed a fairy to look like each girl, then I just wrote on the party details.  I made rainbow-hued envelopes from my mom's paper stash, as suggested by my creative girl.

As the guests arrived, I set them to work making fairy wands.  In the books, pretty much every other one is centered around Jack Frost and his goblins stealing a fairy's wand or something like that.  So the wands are very important!  I made an example, and just tossed bits of girly paper scraps into a tray, along with glue sticks, washi tape, ribbons, and pipecleaners.  They all said they don't know how to draw stars, so I pulled out a few cookie cutters for them to trace around and they shared the three pairs of kid-friendly scissors we have.

Throughout the party, the birthday girl would grab her sign and ask, "What do we need to do?"  Her friends would yell back, "Be awesome today!"

After wand making, I had the girls write fairy stories.  Using a couple of the books to borrow ideas and sentences from, I patched together a short fill-in-the-blanks story for them to do.  I left blank lines at the end for them to come up with their own endings.  I'll say it was intentional because I wanted to foster their creativity (but really, I just ran out of ideas).  I was so impressed with the fun things they wrote!  Treasure hunts and art fairs and birthday parties! Goblins and mice and cats!  They are a creative bunch of girls.  They were so proud of their stories.  I helped the two five year olds with the printing, but the 6 and 7 year olds worked completely on their own.

During snack time, the braver girls read their stories out loud.  One girl was so excited to read her story she asked, "Can I be next? My story is REALLY good!"  I just love that confidence.

I'm not very good at frosting cupcakes, so I've discovered a little trick to disguise that fact.  Just dip the icing in sprinkles! Or coconut, or maybe chopped nuts . . .

Snack: Cupcakes, popcorn, jelly beans, and fruit with dip made from greek yogurt and nutella.

Our last activity was a fairy photo booth.  I hung a white sheet up using the curtain clips.  I wish my curtains hadn't shown through as much, but if I had taken them down first, the sun would have been too bright through the west-facing window and a back-lit silhouette photo booth is an idea for a different kind of party (Victorian maybe?).  I fumbled my way through making tissue paper fan-type flowers.  By the time I made the last one I finally figured out how to make it work.  Oh well.  The felt clouds are left over from a frog-themed baby shower I decorated a couple of years ago.  And the wings are just a dollar store sheet of poster board that I cut out and painted tiny silver flowers on.  I wanted a polka-dot look, but a little more interesting.  I love how the whole backdrop turned out.

I think we had exactly the right group of girls for this photo boot idea to work.  A couple of them were a little shy, but still enjoyed it.  The rest just loved the idea and probably could have spent an hour posing and swapping accessories.

Throughout the party, there was lots of hugging.

This is the second fairy-themed birthday party we've done.  You can check out the first here.