31 October 2012

Mrs Readalot's Recent Reads (BookClub)

Mrs Readalot is all in a dither.
A new Bookclub host is meant to begin their turn running the Bookclub linky tomorrow, but our scheduled bookclub host has opted out (no time to read - what is the world coming to?) and Mrs Readalot has failed to confirm an alternative. She was too busy galavanting around China, I guess.
Not only that but she purposely purchased "The Alchemist" from Book Depository, so she could read it for October's BookClub (hosted by Leonie). The book arrived. She read the book.
But did she write the review? No she did not.
Slacko Mrs Readalot.

Mrs Readalot, what will you do???
Aha, cunning Mrs Readalot. She has come up with a plan.
We will host BookClub right here this month... Mrs Readalot can share her list of recent reads including "The Alchemist" (since Christmas is approaching and books make excellent gifts).
And if she hurries, she can just squeek in on time to link up with Leonie before October runs out.
(Can you believe it that November is almost upon us and Christmas fever is already starting??)

Righto. Here we go.

Mrs Readalot's Recent Reads:

THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho: "This story is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within." This is a smallish book, in the style of an allegory. Mirroring Santiago's quest for the treasure there are some truths about life and it's purpose hidden within the story. It's not really one of those books you gobble up and can't put down. I found myself reading a little, digesting it and returning a few days later for a bit more. I didn't absolutely love the book, and I'm not really sure what the hype is about, but for those who like their books gentle and slightly deep, this might be for you. 

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

A RESPECTABLE TRADE by Philippa Gregory: I am a huge fan of Philippa Gregory's books; it's historical fiction done brilliantly. Great characters, rich in detail, factually accurate... I have learnt most of what I know about Tudor England from Philippa. With "A Respectable Trade" she has turned her attention to the slave trade, during the late 1700's, paralleling the stories of an African man kidnapped by slavers, and the gently-bred wife of the slave ship owner. This was both a fascinating and moving read. I had never before realised the absolute devastation the slave trade had on Africa, and it's far reaching effects. The book is not preachy (preachy is not Philippa's style) but oh my goodness does it make you stop and think. I absolutely loved it as would most fans of historical fiction.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

PEARL OF CHINA by Anchee Min: I read this book just before my Chinese adventure, as I wanted to get my head "in the zone" and Gail had recommended this one. I loved it. The book tells the story of a friendship between a Chinese girl and her foreign friend (who would go on to become famous author Pearl Buck). Based partly on historical fact and partly on some intriguing guesswork, this book gets us inside the lives of women during the greatest social upheaval China has ever known. Although the book is a novel, I found myself entranced by the author's realistic style of writing. I fell in love with the characters. I had a glimpse into the soul of China. Even if you aren't fascinated by   China like I am, you would love this book if you like great characters, heart-tugging realism and a well-told story.
 I give PEARL OF CHINA: ♥♥♥♥

  buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

The ROSE TRILOGY by Beverley Lewis: I read these books during my stay in China. Gail offered them to me with the disclaimer: "want some light fluff to read?" Sometimes easy reading fluff is just what you want. To be transported to a place where life is simple, people hold quilting bees and barn raising and obey their ma and pa. I thoroughly enjoyed my escape into Amish-land. The slower pace of life with it's community focus appealed to my old-fashioned soul. I can't say I'd like to do without telly (or heavens, the internet) but my goodness those people eat well. Yum yum. Homebaked everything. These books would make a great gift some someone who would like to escape on a fluffy cloud for a few days. Very light reading (and I couldn't help wondering if "Lily" from Cold Case had posed for the cover pictures, dontcha think?)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

I'll be back next month with some more great books for your Christmas lists. Including one by ME. Yes that's right, Mrs Readalot is in the process of publishing her Christmas book. More details to come...

Find a Book on BookDepository...

If you are a keen reader, we'd love you to join in with our bloggy bookclub.
How it works:
  • Book Club members take turns choosing the Book of the Month and hosting the linky
  • You can choose to read & review either the Book of the Month or a book of your choice
  • Anyone can join in the linky fun - you don't have to be a signed up member
  • Members are kept up to date via email, so nobody misses their chance to link up or host
  • Linkies go up on the host's blog at the beginning of the month and remain open all month 
Mrs Readalots bloggy Bookclub

Grab the button for your posts and sidebar and make sure you're "following" Greatfun4kids if you want to join in the Book Club on a regular basis...

Sign up here to become an official member and linky host

(December Book Club will be Hosted by Sarah Meyer from Sarah Says...)
30 October 2012

Bonus Freebies and New Designs (in my Etsy Shop)

I've been busy at work today and yesterday on my wee Etsy Shop, GreatfunDesign.
I've added new listings, optimised my SEO and added bonus free party Printables for most of my Personalised Invitation listings.
My back is killing. My butt is numb. I'm starving. But I love it!

Did you realise I have an Etsy shop?
I've been giving away free printable party invitations for years, but recently decided to sell the personalised versions through Etsy.

Since I opened my shop I've sold five designs and had 100% happy customers. Not bad.
But it could be better.
I tried running "ads" but after two weeks and only one sale, I decided to stop spending money I don't have yet, and concentrate on perfecting my little shop and adding to my merchandise.

I'm loving Etsy. It is so easy to work with.
While hunting around last night, I discovered a cool free app called Etsy Shoptimizer which gave me a "report card" on each area of my shop and showed me what I needed to do to improve my chances for people finding (and choosing) me. Thanks to Shoptimizer I now have a straight-A shop, from previously being a giant "F".

As part of the process I added in a couple of new designs, and a new shop section: "Party Printables". This is for personalised printables, like individual Water bottle labels, goodie bag tags or place cards, where you send me your guest list and I send you some cool personalised printables for each guest. (I'll be adding to this section over time; right now there's only one design in there).

While I was at it I decided to make my invitations even more enticing by giving away something free with every sale. Printables I've already designed (soda bottle labels, thankyou cards, gift tags) which will hopefully add to the appeal and increase the value of what customers get by buying one of my personalised invitations...

Along with the party details, I add in the party child's photo, turning them into a fairy, a princess, a Jedi battling Darth Vader or Peter Pan.
I honestly love each and every design.

The bonus freebie printables are not too shabby either. Some of them you'll have seen before, others have been specially created to match the invitations...

  1. Jurassic Juice Soda Bottle labels (free with Dinosaur Invitation)
  2. Neverland "thankyou for coming" tags (free with Peter Pan Invitation)
  3. Fairy Fizz Soda Bottle labels (free with Enchanted Forest Personalised Name Tags)
  4. Star Wars Force Juice Soda Bottle Labels (free with Star Wars Invitation)
  5. Royal Soda Bottle Labels (free with Princess Party Invitation
  6. Red Injun Juice Soda Bottle Labels (free with Wild West Party Invitation)
  7. Enchanted Forest tags (free with Enchanted Forest Fairy Invitation)
  8. Pirate Punch Soda Bottle Labels (free with Pirate Party Invitation)
  9. Boy vs Wild Water Bottle Labels (free with Boy vs Wild Adventure Party Invitation)
It doesn't matter where in the world you are because I email you the high-quality file and then you print off as many as you like, however you like. (If you're in New Zealand I can even get you a great deal on magnets).

So you can see I've been busy playing shops. I'd love you to come by, maybe *favourite* something, add me to your circles, or even share my designs with friends who have birthday parties coming up...?
I'd be eternally grateful.

Thanks a bunch ♥

29 October 2012

You know Spring is Here when...

The sun is shining bright enough to warrant sunscreen.
The roses are blooming...
The grapes are budding...
The sunbathing starts...

...and the waterslide comes out...

Saturday was such a brilliant day. More like early summer than Spring.
The kids played on the waterslide, sunbathed, drank lemonade, ate iceblocks...
and rated it the Best Day Ever.

Of course there were races...

Between races they chillaxed in the sun to the beat of One Direction and co.
(never mind if the neighbours don't appreciate Boy Bands)...

The very keenest got out the baby pool too...

Nothing is sweeter to me than to watch my kids enjoy simply hanging out together.
No gadgets, no need to spend money or provide entertainment.
Just good old fashioned backyard togetherness, inspired by the Spring sunshine.

I love Spring. And Waterslides. My backyard. And warm fuzzies. 
Roll on Summer...

P.S. If you're from the Northern Hemisphere and are heading into Winter, sorry to rub it in that for us Downunder, Summer, warm weather, BBQ's and beaches are just around the corner...
27 October 2012

Family Movie Night: The Adventures of Tintin

Every Saturday we will be sharing with you our ideas for family movie nights. Movie reviews and fun theme night ideas.

Our Super-Cool-Fab Review Team...

Our crack team of expert Movie Reviewers are this week reviewing The Adventures of TinTin, the animated box office hit from 2011.

Tintin is the well loved boy detective from the comic books we all grew up with. Tintin is clever and fearless, and in the movie we see how Tintin's adventures began. We went to see the film when it first came out in 3D at the cinema and were not disappointed. Tintin is a great choice for a family movie night... nobody will be falling asleep, that's for sure! The movie stars Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as Tintin... a perfect choice. The animation is brilliant, the action fast-paced and there are some good laughs along the way.

Movie Plot Summary: "Adapted from three of the Tintin comics, Spielberg's re-creation of the comics introduces us to Tintin (Jamie Bell), a Belgian reporter who gets caught up in all sorts of adventures. One day, he found a model of a ship, the Unicorn and bought it and brought it home. However, when Tintin was buying the ship, two men came to try to buy the model, Sakharine (Daniel Craig) and Barnaby. Later, Tintin discovers that the model holds an important secret and somehow, the secret is linked to the real ship itself. On the way for answers, he meets the grumpy Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and they head off to an adventure spanning around the globe with his white fluffy dog Snowy." -- adapted from an IMDB Review

The Adventures of Tintin is a 2011 epic American 3D motion capture computer-animated adventure film based on The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by Belgian artist HergĂ©. Directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson.

Here's what our experts have to say about The Adventures of TinTin...

Dash. B. Cool: "It was good and I like it. There was lots of action and some funny bits too. It will be good to see Tintin 2 when it comes out, I hope they will make another one!"

Dash scores this movie's "coolness" as: 

Foxy Fab: "First of all I thought it was boring cos there were no girls in it, but then once I got into it I liked it. Lots of action and a bit funny."

Foxy rates this movie's "fabness" as: 

Super Scrag: "It's cool and it's funny. It had heaps of action and I liked it. There were some scary bits, I hated the baddies. When it was scary I closed my eyes and looked the other way. But the rest of it was cool."

SuperScrag scores this movie's "super-ness" as: 


Any movie night is made more special with a few yummy treats. One of our favourite movie night treats are icecream sodas...

Ice-Cream Sodas (to Make Your TinTin Movie Night even more Super-Cool-Fab)

To make icecream sodas (sometimes called "spiders" or "floats") simply put a couple of scoops of icecream into a tall glass and pour in some soda. The icecream will fizz and froth and create a delicious foamy creamy treat. Try some of these fun flavour combinations...
  • lime icecream icecream with lemonade (for a citrus float)
  • chocolate icecream with coca cola
  • hokey pokey icecream with ginger ale
  • strawberry icecream with raspberry soda
  • chocolate icecream with orange soda (for a jaffa float)
  • or have a few flavours of icecream and soda set up on a tray so everyone can make their own favourite combination.

What are your best Movie Night Ideas? Send me an email with your ideas (include a picture or link to a blog post if you can) so I can feature it here on Saturday Night at the Movies.

Have a great Saturday!

26 October 2012

Grateful for Today

After yesterday, I feel the need to focus on the good. Yesterday was a test of my parenting-mojo, myability to stick to my guns and stay calm in the face of pressure... today is a brand new day.

Today the sun is shining, the washing machine is spinning and I am due at gymnastics with Scrag in thirty minutes.

Today is a clean slate. No mistakes have been made yet, and yesterday's ones have been wiped clean.

When I tucked my errant child in bed last night I reminded him that he was forgiven, and tomorrow would be a fresh start.

I am eternally grateful for the power of forgiveness and the miracle of fresh starts.
How awful would it be to wake up knowing you had messed up the previous day and would be dragging yesterday's mistakes with you into today? How de-motivating to know that when you walk into the kitchen all eyes would turn to you and they would be full of reproof, blame and judgement.

One of my favourite verses is: "His Mercies are new every morning..."
How grateful am I that it is MERCY which is new every morning, not judgement. Not blame or recrimination. Every day we receive a freshly brewed batch of beautiful powerful cleansing freeing mercy.

So today began fresh.
Lessons had been learnt. Apologies had been given. Restorative justice implemented, recompense made.
I had collapsed on the couch, exhausted, watched a bit of Joyce Meyer (I was craving some soul food) and then limped off to bed by 9pm.

The sun woke up smiling and so did we. A new day.

So sweet to see Little Sister wearing the Liverpool top Big Brother had bequeathed to her as part of his saying sorry. When she came out wearing it, looking so cute, he went a step further and offered her one of his treasured "flat caps" to complete the ensemble. (Not to keep of course, just to wear.)

With light hearts we drove up to school, prayed a blessing, waved goodbye.

This is how good it feels to stay strong. To know I can follow through, not give in, be the adult, set a strong boundary.

I've always been the "soft" parent. Maybe too soft at times. But as I said to a friend recently, I would rather err on the side of softness than harshness. Better too much love than too many rules, right?
However, no matter how my marshmallow nature may lead me to cave in, my children still need limits, boundaries and consistency.
It's not just up to their dad to be the Bad Cop. I need to step up too.

My kids will probably push me harder to see if I really mean it, to see where the cave-in point is, because in the past it didn't take much before I would crack and do anything "for peace".
But my kids need the security of dependable boundaries. They need to know that no means no and a timer goes off for a reason. And having a hissy fit will not get them what they want. And if they trash their room they will have to clean it up. And if they don't follow they rules there will be consequences.

This was the battle I waged last night. And I won.
I stuck to my guns, I drew a line in the sand, and now everybody knows where the line is.
Exhausting, but worth it.
And now, it's a new day. A day where we have started fresh, forgiven. A little older and hopefully a little wiser too.

I am so grateful for Today.

25 October 2012

Life on the Rollercoaster

When I knocked over the cup of un-drunk milk it was the last straw.
I had been calm. I had held it together. I had stuck to my guns in the face of tantrums and meltdowns.
But that cup of milk made me want to cry.
I wanted to run to my room, throw myself on my bed and cry for my mummy.

But I didn't.
I said just one bad word. Then I grabbed the handi-towels and mopped up the puddle.
Minutes later when Scrag knocked another drink over on the very same spot... well I did let out a yelp, but I still didn't run for my room.

It's been that kind of week. One where I have needed to be strong. To stick to my guns. To make tough choices, to face the worst. To get up every day and do the necessary things even when life as we know it felt like it was tumbling about my ears.

I am still here.
I am still standing.
I have not run for the hills.

I met a dear friend at the kindy gate this morning and she remarked on how far I've come.
She reckons she can see how much stronger I am these days. I was hugely encouraged by her words.

I know she's right, I feel it. I know I am stronger on the inside.
Of course when the pressure builds and I am pushed and pushed, I feel The Swing wanting to start.
I feel the old me wanting to crumble and cave.

I am still standing, in spite of this week.
Some things I simply cannot and will not share here on this blog. Maybe one day when we are through on the other side, but not now.
Suffice it to say that life really is like a rollercoaster, and sometimes it's more of the screaming and shutting your eyes to escape the fear than the laughing and having fun.

So here I am stealing a few moments while the urchins rampage and I take a few breaths before plunging into the bedtime routine.
Holding out for 7.30 here, people
Then just maybe, this endless exhausting day will finally end.

23 October 2012

Pinteresting Wisdom

When time is limited and life is crazy, I turn to Pinterest for Blog Post ideas. Then I share with you some favourite pins: funny, silly, wise and true. To let you know I'm still here. To remind myself to smile.
And then I go and do the vacuuming and hope you enjoy...

P.S. The little link source captions for each image were messing up my layout, so if you want to find the source, just click on the image (they are clickable) or visit me on Pinterest