Author Archive

Book Review: Baby Animals Eating

Baby Animals Eating has to be one of the cutest books I have read lately.  It has a bunch of photos of animals eating – like koalas and monkeys!  It tells you what they eat and how they eat it – for instance – a sloth at 1 month can digest just 1 leaf!  Super adorable quick read.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Around the world, baby animals eat to grow big and strong. Whether it’s bear cubs snacking on clams, giraffes munching on leaves, or chimpanzee babies drinking milk from their moms, baby animals eating are not only adorable—they can teach us about animal behavior, too.

The third book in the Baby Animals series, Baby Animals Eating showcases more than 10 species from around the world eating different things. Stunning, intimate, full-color photographs by Suzi Eszterhas are each paired with a short sentence highlighting information about the animal. Designed both to be read aloud and for young children to explore independently, this book will encourage readers to make connections between themselves and the animals. Back matter gives further information about Suzi Eszterhas and some behind-the-scenes detail.

Category: Book Review  Comments off

Book Review: Dollar Bill Animals in Origami

Dollar Bill Animals in Origami is a book showing you how to make all sorts of different animals using origami done with dollar bills! These would make awesome gifts or fun conversation starters to have around the house.  Some of the animals I would love to try to make are the seahorse, owl, turtle, unicorn or triceratops!  The skill level is noted by *simple, **intermediate and ***complex.  There are symbols that show you how to fold each step and step by step instructions to help you make these awesome animals.

I received a free e-copy of this book from netgalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

 

About the Book

John Montroll has consistently expanded the limits of the ancient art of paper folding. Now in this exciting volume of more than 30 original models, the world-renowned origami master departs from the traditional square form and crafts each creation from an ordinary dollar bill.
Using the familiar rectangular shape as a base, Dollar Bill Animals in Origami offers easy-to-follow diagrams for folders at every level of expertise, from beginner to expert. You may use actual dollar bills or any paper cut to the same proportions to create a stunning display of animals of land, air, and sea: giraffe, unicorn, dinosaur, parrot, owl, shark, and many others. Also included are pictures of each completed project and instructions for basic folds. With this innovative book an exciting journey in origami art is as close as the nearest dollar.

Category: Book Review  Comments off

Book Review: Dumpling Pups

Dumpling Pups is a book full of crochet dogs that are just oh so cute!  There are technique to use when crocheting and all sorts of fun things to make – corgis, dog beds, bull dogs… instructions and photos for all of the pups and each has the skill level listed so you know if you may be in over your head before you start!  Adorable!

I received a free e-copy of this book from netgalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the book

Beginner- to intermediate-level crocheters will have a doggone good time with these 20 original patterns for dumpling-shaped dogs. Inspired by a Japanese collecting game, the guide offers full-color photos, simple diagrams, and easy-to-follow instructions that assist crafters in “collecting” all of the cuddly pups, each of which comes with its own charming story and personality points. Breeds include corgi, dachshund, pit bull, lab, and many others — a dog bed and bowl are also included.

Category: Book Review  Comments off

Hanson at The Big E

Friday September 14th was the first day of the Big E and Hanson was the entertainment for the evening at the Court of Honor Stage.  After finding “handicapped” parking in a pile of mud, we rode a golf cart to the main entrance, took a bit of a walk around and realized 2nd row was up for grabs for the show.  We hit up one of the fried food stations for lunch (funnel cake and deep fried oreos – lunch of champions) and then snagged a spot in the 2nd row for the day, knowing we would be seeing Street Beat at 1pm and 6pm and Blessid Union of Souls at 3pm.  We also had a good laugh that you couldn’t bring any weapons inside – but wonder knifes and the like were readily available for purchase once you made it inside of the fair.

Street Beats first performance left something to be desired, but the second they used a lot of kids as their volunteers from the audience and that seemed to make things a lot more fun and exciting.  Blessid Union of Souls was a pleasant surprise – I had remembered “Hey Leonardo” from the 90s but had completely forgotten they also had a hit with “I Believe”  The lead singer wore a shiny shirt that had to have not been able to breathe at ALL… and he was covered in sweat by the end of their awesome 1 hour set.

Hanson came out for a soundcheck which drew in quite a crowd – many not realizing that it was not their actual set until after they left. (Are there really people out there that think they only play their songs only halfway through during concerts?)  The crowd got larger and larger until the show started at 8pm and I never did manage to turn around to see just how big the crowd got but was told by friends who were in the back that the crowd went allllll the way back.  (Maybe if the have Hanson back they will get to play the bigger stage next time!)  They did a set mixed of hits and other fan favorites and although I probably would have pulled a couple of songs out of the set if I was in charge of making the list, it was a pretty solid setlist.  Very high energy for about an hour and a half!

My one regret was giving up waiting for the guys to come out after the show – when we left and just ended up in stand-still traffic on the highway anyway due to an accident.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20

Category: Concert, Hanson, Random  Comments off

Hanson String Theory Denver

When the Denver, CO date was initially announced I said I was *not* going even though I could have pulled off going for the weekend using NO vacation days at all.  Once I saw the layout of the venue, I ended up getting myself a ticket and started planning the trip.  Initially I decided to fly in on Saturday and out on Sunday, but realized with it being a Friday off from work and the Rockies were in town (For 90s night, no less) it was worth it to cross off hitting up Coors Field for a game from the Bucket List.

The Rockies played the Los Angeles Dodgers and oddly enough, two of the members of the team have a bit of a Hanson connection.  Yasiel Puig was in an ESPN Sports Center commercial that featured “MMMBop” as an “at-bat song” and Joc Pederson had his at-bat music high jacked a few years back to “MMMBop” which resulted in him hitting a grand slam.  The Hanson connection must have worked in the Dodgers favor as they ended up beating the Rockies 4-2. (And sadly, my Rockies fave, Charlie Blackmon, went 0-5 on the night.)

 

Saturday we ended up hitting up the 16th Street Mall for a bit as well as taking a trek out to Red Rocks to see the Amphitheater and the surrounding area.  I was the only one of the group that had been there before so I got to play a bit of “tour guide” and point out where Hanson’s name was on the wall under 1998 – and we were happy to see that it was added for the 2015 show I had attended there as well!

Saturday evening it was time for my 2nd String Theory show.  The venue was just as exciting as I had hoped and the sound was 100x better than I had imagined it would be.  In Pittsburgh, a lot of the songs seemed to be drowned out by Hanson and I wasn’t sure if they were just playing too loudly and the orchestra too softly or if the sound mix wasn’t quite on par or if that’s just how everything was going to end up sounding.  In Denver I had none of those questions and everything sounded completely amazing.  The conductor/maestro Christopher Dragon was also a pleasure to watch as he absolutely got into it the whole show.  Honestly, I think I was watching him more than Hanson for the majority of the show.  From my view he definitely stole the show!  I wish that he could just join the entire tour, he was that great.

The problem with writing this review a week removed from the show is now I can’t remember any of the highlights I had wanted to mention.  This show seemed to go by much, much quicker than the Pittsburgh show, I am not sure if it is because I knew what was coming or because it sounded so amazing and I just didn’t want it to ever end.  Much like Pittsburgh, there seemed to be a natural progression with people deciding to stand up near the end of the show during I Was Born.  Me Myself and I was the song that made me tear up (but not Broken Angel like last show) and there may have been one in the 2nd part as well but I can’t remember now.  It’s kind of funny how the same setlist can hit you in an entirely different way based on what lyrics you are intently paying attention to and what might be going on in your life at that moment.  I’m glad I have Hanson concerts and weekends with my Hanson friends to run away to.

Category: Concert, Hanson, Random  Comments off

Book Review: For Cluck’s Sake!

 

For Cluck’s Sake is an “Egg”cellent collection of chicken lore, chicken facts, chicken trivia & chicken love.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book but I now know a lot more about chicken than I ever thought – like they poop while they are sleeping. *shrugs*  If you’re into chicken or just think the title of the book is funny, it might be worth checking out.

I received a free e-copy of this book through NetGalley in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

 

About the Book

For Cluck’s Sake is the perfect gift for the backyard chicken farmer, owner, or breeder in your life (and we know you have one).

Celebrate these beloved birds with this fun, lighthearted, and informative book filled with egg and chicken trivia, chicken-related quotes, humorous and interesting facts, chicken lore, and chicken “wisdom.”

Category: Book Review  Comments off

Hanson String Theory Pittsburgh

If you are trying to stay spoiler free for Hanson’s latest tour, String Theory, then this is a post you are going to want to bookmark and come back to after you have seen the show.  I will be discussing how the show went and include the setlist so this is your warning to leave the page now…

————————————–

The Pittsburgh String Theory originally appeared to be the first show of the tour which is why I tried really hard to be there.  Then they added Columbus before hand but that show ended up being a shortened set, so in a way this show was kind of sort of the first show.

Heinz Hall was a beautiful venue and it was fun to see the varying degree of outfits for the show.  Some were dressed to the nines and others had on Hanson tees and jeans as if it was a regular concert.  I was hoping that everyone would sit for the entire show, and while some did try to stand at various points throughout the set (and some opted to dance along the side walls so as not to disturb everyone else) a few songs before the end we were encouraged to stand.  I still opted not to because the seat was LOW and I wasn’t even sure I could get up – and could still see Zac while sitting anyway 😛

Most of the show I was just in awe.  Some of the songs sounded as if they belonged on a movie soundtrack with the addition of the symphony.  Some songs sounded very different than what I was used to, while others just seemed enhanced with the symphony, and others the band almost seemed to drown the symphony out at times.  It was fun to “ignore” Isaac, Taylor and Zac at times and just watch the musicians behind them at times – how they waited for their cue and all started at just the precise right moments.  I didn’t sing along too much, because my jaw spent a lot of time on the floor.  I am glad that I am seeing it several more times throughout the rest of this year and next because in addition to each different symphony putting their own touches on things, I am sure there are little intricacies in the music that I will only pick up on after seeing/hearing it a few times. (And I am very much so looking forward to the CD release in the fall – including an instrumental version!)

The show starts with Reaching for the Sky Part 1 – a new song that was supposedly written for Anthem but didn’t make the cut.  This show gave me 4 new songs on my “songs heard live list” – Reaching For The Sky Pts 1 and 2 (Zac counted them as 2 separate on Hanson.net and with Pt 2 being cut in Columbus for song counting purposes they kind of have to continue to be considered separate), Dream It Do It, and Battle Cry.

After the set was done, the crowd gave Hanson a standing ovation and they came back out for an “encore”, but not having anything else scored, they gave us a little bit of This Time Around acapella.

The guys also changed their usual positions on stage – “Isaac’s side” is now “Taylor’s side”, Zac being in the middle is now Isaac in the middle and “Taylor’s side” is now “Zac’s side”.  This may be something to keep in mind if you care where your seats are near when purchasing tickets!

Reaching For The Sky (Part 1)
Joyful Noise
Where’s The Love
Dream It Do It
MMMBop
Chasing Down My Dreams
Tragic Symphony
Got a Hold On Me
Yearbook
Siren Call
Me Myself and I
INTERMISSION
Reaching For The Sky (Part 2)
This Time Around
Something Going Round
Battle Cry
You Can’t Stop Us
Broken Angel
What Are We Fighting For
Breaktown
No Rest For The Weary
I Was Born
Sound of Light
Tonight

Encore:
This Time Around (Chorus acapella)

Category: Concert, Hanson  Comments off

5SOS Meet You There Tour

On August 29th, 5SOS kicked off their North American tour (or at least the US portion) at Mohegan Sun Arena.  My Mom ended up getting offered free tickets so she tagged along with me for the show.  It was the evening before my 20th anniversary of my first concert – Hanson.  It was funny to see that even though 20 years have passed, the way the teenie boppers act at shows has not.  Singing along in line waiting for the doors to open, screaming when the doors do open, freaking out when the band members remove jackets.  Although there were some noticeable changes with technology – cell phones were barely a thing 20 years ago and if you wanted to take photos it was on a film camera so you had no idea what you had taken until the next day  – IF you were lucky enough to go to a one-hour photo place and not have to mail your photos out to be developed.  And videos? Forget it. No snapchat, no instagram.

I really was only familiar (or so I thought) with 2 of 5SOS songs – and of course they were the two that I saw on the setlist were going to be for the encore.  2 girls ended up being the only ones standing in our area and completely blocked us – but slowly the older “high rollers” who also had tickets in our row started leaving so we scooted down after about 5 songs and were able to see the band on the stage and not just the girl in front of us singing into her cell phone as if it was a microphone.  (I mean, at least if you can’t see the band the girls you can see were mildly entertaining?)

I found it funny that when the show started I noted that security was at the bottom of every section making sure that people weren’t going to sneak down to the GA Floor – and then a few songs in one of the band members told anyone who wanted to come down to the floor to come down.  Massive amounts of girls made their way down the stairs only to be turned back around once they got to the bottom by security.   Perhaps security and the band should have been put on the same page before the show! lol

The Aces opened the show and they were an all girls band from Utah and they actually were not that bad at all. I enjoyed them.

It was a fun show, it was fun to watch the crowd when I couldn’t see the band, but I definitely had to have my earplugs in the whole time. It’s been a while since I had been in the middle of such a young, loud crowd!

Category: Concert  Comments off

Good Vibes with Jason Mraz

Saturday night Jason Mraz brought his “Good Vibes” tour to Mohegan Sun’s Arena.  After an exhausting trip back home, I was glad that Jason said that if we wanted to yawn or sleep that was ok and that he’d still get the music to us somehow.  He started off with some of his older material which was nice since that is what I am most familiar with as I got into him in college when he was waiting for his rocket to come.  He and his backing band were all dressed in painter jump suits and Jason spoke about love and how important it was pretty much every time he spoke to the crowd.  He said how those who want love the most are often angry and the lack of being loved causes them to do dangerous things.  He also suggested we replace the “f-word” with “love” – especially when we are driving – “lovin’ A man. Lovin’ A!”  The setlist was a lot of fun and Raining Jane as his backup band was amazing.  Loved all the dancing that they threw in throughout the songs and I absolutely loved the mashup he did of Jackson 5’s I Want You Back with his song Unlonely (which is one of my faves of his new tracks, we’ll see if that holds up at the end of the week when I get to hear the full new album, Know)

Despite the fact that I absolutely wished I was in bed and sleeping during his set, I am glad that I didn’t end up missing out and got a chance to get some Good Vibes from Jason.

Category: Concert  Comments off

Pittsburgh – Travel and Sightseeing

I am going to split my Pittsburgh post in 2 because if not it will be a post of travel woes with 2 sentences about the Hanson show and the Hanson show deserves a bit more recognition than that.  If you are trying to remain spoiler free for the Hanson String Theory tour – this post is safe! (The next one will not be.)

My flight to Pittsburgh was taking off just before 6am and I wanted to leave my house at 2:30am to give myself plenty of time to get through security.  Well, I set 3 alarms and slept through all of them and ended up waking up at 3:19am, essentially ran down the stairs and sped the whole way up to the airport, getting to the gate with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding.  I know a lot of people do this as their norm, but I think I’d much rather stick to my “I have an hour or more to kill sitting here” routine.  The other downside was both of my flights (Hartford to Baltimore and Baltimore to Pittsburgh) were less than an hour so getting to sleep was made difficult because by the time I actually fell asleep we were landing.

As I jumped into a Lyft at the airport, Zac posted on Instagram that they were doing a TV appearance and the station was right behind our hotel. I dropped my stuff off and we went to wait outside, but after waiting about an hour or so and no sign of them we decided it was time to get our sightseeing on.

 

Our first stop was the Andy Warhol museum.  The admission price of $20 seemed a bit steep for what it was, but we had a lot of fun exploring the several floors of artwork (and waiting 8 years for the elevator in between) and checking everything out.  There were some String Theory appropriate artwork, some not appropriate artwork, and my favorite was “Flowers”.  We had hoped to be able to do some screen printing but they didn’t open until 1:30 and we were ready to go and eat about noon.

We stopped at a local brewery for lunch across the street from PNC Park (a bucketlist venue, I was hoping for a Thursday afternoon game so I could check it out, but it was an off day instead) I got 4 cheese mac & cheese with chicken and it was not as tasty as I was hoping!

Next up was Randyland which is a home that was purchased by an artist named Randy who painted and adds all sorts of different objects to the house and yard.  It’s hard to explain but vibrant and colorful and you really can’t help but smile when you visit.  The problem of this trip was that I did not have any small bills so I couldn’t leave a donation for Randy.  He needs to accept some online or have a credit card swiper!

 

Next up we decided to ride the Duquense Incline.  Because riding it from the bottom has stairs, we started at the top and the observation deck (and 2 penny machines I was not prepared for, but managed to get 1 design from each) and rode it down and then back up.  The reviews where they say the person taking admission is rude are true… not sure why that was needed to add to the “experience” but after some confusion we made our way back up to the top again.  The car was cool and it was a neat experience but really… a little politeness to confused tourists goes a long way.

–Then we took a break to go see Hanson… see next post for the details there—

Our post show meal was at Primanti Brothers, where they put French fries on their sandwiches. Those of us who opted to go for sandwiches all got the corned beef.  It was good, it was messy.  Then they completely charged our credit cards for the wrong orders and had to get everything resorted lol

Friday we continued our tour and headed to Pamela’s Diner which was difficult to get to due to construction, but worth the effort. There was about 8 people in front of us for tables but it moved quickly and I think we both enjoyed our brunch.

Next up we went to the Center for Learning which looks like Hogwarts inside and explored, attempting to cast spells, and got stuck in an elevator.

We went back to the hotel to relax and then my trouble began.  First, my Lyft couldn’t seem to get to me. They ended up finding someone else who was close by to grab me, and I fell down the curb cutting myself up on the way to the car.  The driver handed me some napkins and all was well… then his glasses fell from the visor on to me mid ride scaring the crap out of me and then cracking me up.  I got to the gate with 1 hour to spare before boarding and was getting ready for my 4 hour layover in Baltimore…

All morning the flight time was jumping around from 5:55 to 6:20 to 6:10 to 6:05.  Shortly after I arrived it got bumped to 10:55 which meant I would miss my layover. I was put on an 8am flight back to Hartford but I started looking for cars since I didn’t have much faith that the flight would EVER take off.  Most did not have any one way rentals available.  Finally I found one and was heading down to the rental counter.  I checked my phone and it said that the flight would now be taking off at 6:30 PM.  It was 6:15 PM.  I raced back to security, managed to be one of the only ones at pre-check, hustled to the gate, asked if I missed the flight only to be told it was now leaving at 8:30pm.  Well, now I WOULD make my layover… got in line again and was told there were no longer any seats left on that flight and I’d have to try and fly standby. I tried to cancel the car rental, assuming we would be leaving at 8:30… grabbed a snack from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels only to hear a collective “UGH ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” and the flight had once again gotten bumped to leaving at 11pm.  I confirmed with my friend I could crash at her house for the night in PA and made my way to pick up my rental car.  I left the airport at 8pm (when I probably could have left at 6pm if they’d stop… stringing me along…) and pulled into my friend’s driveway at 11:04pm.  The flight ended up taking off. At 11:04pm.    So I had to drive 8 hours home but was able to spend the night with a friend and in a bed instead of in the airport on the floor or in a chair getting home about 10am versus having to head straight to the casino for Jason Mraz… but I think taking my fate into my own hands was the right decision since the weather and Baltimore couldn’t seem to make up their mind…

I’d love to go back to Pittsburgh because I really want to see a game at PNC Park but I am not sure it will be this baseball season… and maybe next season will be out as well until I forget about this nightmare of a trip home! (Or maybe I’ll just have to suck it up and drive the whole way instead)

Category: Travel  Comments off