Book Review: Make Music!

This book is a lot of fun and full of a bunch of ways you can make music.  The first chapter is all about Body Music – Clapping your hands, filling your cheeks full of air and patting them, using your voice! (And my least favorite, whistling) The next chapter is all about making instruments out of things that you can find around the house – bowls, pots, pans, etc. Who knew you had a whole orchestra right in your house? The 3rd chapter is all about Breath music – making tones by vibrating the air – making a kazoo out of a comb, making homemade flutes, etc.  Then we move on to strings! There are instructions on how to make a guitar out of a cereal box (and some other supplies you probably have around the house).   Instruments from the workshop are more indepth instruments that probably need some help from adults to make.  These all seemed to be a bit over my head!  The last chapter talks all about creating music and how you can make musical scores.  This book has a ton of great ideas and definitely fun things to do on a rainy (or snowy!) day.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated. This book will be released April 30, 2019 from Storey Publishing.

About the book

Non-Disney Disney Trip

A couple weeks ago I decided to take a random trip to Orlando/Disney without doing any of the parks.  When Disney announced they were doing a special Snow White character meals, I ended up booking 4 dates in hopes that I could make one of them work with the abundance of Southwest credits I had amassed due to me canceling flights / finding that prices had dropped / etc.  I had enough to get to Orlando round trip (and *still* have some left over that I may lose if I can’t plan a trip before the end of June!)

I took a 5am flight out of Hartford, landed in Orlando at 8am, and had a ton of time to kill before being able to check into my hotel at 3pm.  I ended up heading over to Disney Springs, getting myself a Sprinkles Cupcake and then heading to pandora for my first bracelet (and 2 Snow White related charms) since I had some charms from Australia and no bracelet! I then headed to the Outlets to see what Disney stuff was there – but it was a total mad house and that didn’t last long.

Later that night I knew that Joey Fatone’s “Fat One” hot dog truck would be at a food truck festival, so I decided I had to go check out the new menu.  A couple days before I left for my trip the Fat One’s twitter tweeted about “You’ll never know who might show up” so I figured that Joey himself may be there – and sure enough he was!  Loved the new menu – I have tried 3 of the hot dog types now and have yet to be disappointed.

The next day my uncle picked me up for lunch and took me to CityWalk where we went to Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium –  I had wanted to go my last couple of visits but it just never worked out.  The meal was great as was the shake – once I realized that my straw was not working because the bottom of it was stuffed with Rice Krispies Treat.

Later that night my cousin picked me up and we headed to Artist Pointe for dinner with Snow White!  I thought that it was a really great character meal (though I have not done all that many as an adult and they terrified me as a child)  Snow White, Dopey and Grumpy come around to the table and when you are finished with your meal you get to go approach The Evil Queen.  She told me that my purple cane was a good choice and she was going to teach me to be stoic because I should know, smiling causes wrinkles!  There was a 3 course meal – appetizers, the main course and dessert.  Definitely too much food, but it all was pretty good (with the exception of a few way too salty bites of my prime rib. But the mashed potatoes were fantastic)

The next day I met up with a friend and her family to meet her new little one at the T-Rex Cafe at Disney Springs.  It was similar to the rainforest cafe, but dino themed and we ended up sitting in a Triceratops – my favorite! I was nervous about making it to the airport in time for my flight – only to have woken up to find it had been delayed nearly 2 hours.  So much for getting home at a decent hour!  (At least I didn’t pick the 11pm flight and have that one end up delayed on me.)  The flight time kept fluctuating but it looked like the plane that was supposed to become our flight wasn’t going to land until 5:50 so I knew we couldn’t take off before that! (Initially we were supposed to take off at 5:24pm)  I am not sure if it was a shuffle due to the MAX-8s being grounded or just something else entirely – but made it home safely so the details don’t really matter.

It was a nice more relaxing Orlando trip without the ‘go go go!’ of getting up early, staying out late, and exhausting yourself at the parks!  Although I am sure I will be making a park trip again sometime soon 🙂

Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods – Mohegan Sun

This weekend Justin had back-to-back shows at the Mohegan Sun Arena.  These shows were originally scheduled for December 2018, but since Justin was dealing with some vocal issues they were postponed and ended up being the last 2 shows of the tour.

The setlist for each night was the same, but I had mirrored seats for each night so that was kind of cool and totally made for a different show for me each night. Night 1 the main stage was blocked by a freaking tree a lot of the time when Justin was dead center so that was obnoxious. Night 2 I thought I was safe, but there was a camera blocking me here and there.  I really wouldn’t have cared about the “obstruction” if the tickets weren’t $400+ a piece – face value.

The first night Justin took some time to look at signs  – which apparently the arena got in trouble for so there was no outright mention of signs the 2nd night.  There was a sign that someone got a speeding ticket on the way there and Justin said he was glad she was safe – but wasn’t going to say how fast she was going.  Someone else mentioned that they had just had a baby 6 days ago so Justin asked if the baby was there. (It was not)  A lot of people with pregnancy announcements.

It took me until night 2 to really appreciate the show. It may have been because the first night he opened with his 6 dancers behind him which just made me miss NSYNC and by the 2nd night I was over that and could just enjoy it for the great performance that it was.  The stage goes across the whole length of the arena which really allowed pretty much everyone to be “close” at some point.  I was more near the center bar area each night but he split his time fairly evenly, I thought.

After the last show… he was saying thank you and said “I’m probably never doing this again”  What “this” is – we aren’t sure.  Play shows in Connecticut? Tour? Record music? Do a large scale tour? Be a solo artist? (Wishful thinking)  It kind of took the air out of the balloon… I guess what he meant will be found out in time…

2Cellos at Mohegan Sun

When Jon McLaughlin announced that he was going to be opening for 2Cellos and that their tour would be coming to Mohegan Sun, I immediately started looking for tickets. It had already been on sale, so all my favorite spots seemed to be taken.  A friend ended up snagging a free pair of tickets for us and for the low, low price of free, I’ll sit almost anywhere.  We had a decent spot in the back of the arena.  Jon opened and did 6 songs and seemed to win over the crowd a lot, everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun with the call and response he did in his songs.  After his set he announced he’d be signing autographs so we headed over to say hi.

When we got back to our seats, 2Cellos was already on their 2nd song.  I had no idea anything about 2Cellos before this show and didn’t at all know what to expect.  I have to say, it was one of the weirdest shows I have ever been to, but was definitely enjoyable.  There are 2 cellos on stage and that’s it (except for when a drummer joins them) and they play a lot of songs you will probably recognize.  One of them spoke only once while the other seemed to speak more – but said “This next song… is beautiful… and romantic…” before every song he introduced. It was comical.  Towards the end, things really picked up and one of them was even playing cello while walking through the crowd with it strapped to him and while spinning around in circles on his back on the stage.  They also tried to get some sing a longs going – especially the “Why Why?” in Human Nature and a lot towards the end when they did Highway to Hell and I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.

I’m really glad I ended up going, had Jon not been opening I wouldn’t have even thought about going to this show – it was amazing how I had never heard of these guys yet they had a jam packed arena crowd on their feet and totally into their performance. Usually they say to pay attention to the openers but sometimes the openers (from 12 years ago) become one of your favorites and then end up opening you up to a whole new world with a headliner!

Book Review: My Cat Looks Like My Dad

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with a book called “My Cat Looks Like My Dad” but the Dad kind of reminded me of my Dad (though we have never had a cat) so I had to give it a go.  In addition to this author’s Dad looking like their cat and vice versa, they also seem to have a lot of other things in common – like what they like to eat and drink and how they spend their day!  While the story may be a bit on the stranger side, the illustrations were a lot of fun to look at.  They looked like they may have been made of paper piecing and some really, really cool patterned paper at that. (The Dad’s outfits are really retro and fun!)  I really ended up enjoying this book a lot.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book will be published April 15 from Owlkids Books.

About the Book

New from the creator of Wallpaper and Skunk on a String comes a witty and uplifting picture book that will speak to families of all varieties about how family really is what you make it.

Minimal text paired with bright paper-collage illustrations create comparisons on each spread in which the narrator talks about their family—especially the striking similarities between Dad and the cat. Both have orange hair, love milk, start their days with stretches, appreciate a good nap, and are brave (some of the time). The narrator is more like Mom, with wild hair, blue eyes, and a love of dancing.

A surprising twist at the end reveals the narrator’s unexpected identity, also hinted at with clues in the art throughout the book. Warmth and whimsy in the illustrations add a playful balance to the story’s deeper message about the love that makes a family a unit, no matter how unusual it may look from the outside.

Book Review: Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk

Backpack Explorer: Beach Walk is all about taking a beach adventure! It starts out with suggesting things you should bring in your backpack – like this book and something to write with, some toys, sunscreen, etc.  The back of the book has 12 stickers that look like patches so when you find something at the beach that matches one of the “I See It!” stickers, you can stick it in the book!  There are tips for going to the beach and some fun games you can play at the beach.  As someone who grew up near the beach, I always kind of took it for granted and never looked for any of these fun items. Maybe I’ll have to go on an adventure this summer and make up for lost time!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. This book will be released April 16 from Storey Publishing.

About the Book

NPH at RJ Julia

Wednesday April 3, Neil Patrick Harris did an event with RJ Julia to talk about his book series, The Magic Misfits.  Tickets went on sale while I was flying from Hartford to Dallas for the first leg of my trip to Australia – so I bought wifi when I got on the plane, took a nap (6am flight – naps are needed) and set my alarm for 9:50am as tickets were set to go on sale “around 10am”.  I had everything on alert to get notified when the link went up – only to have it not work initially.  As we began making our descent into Dallas, I finally snagged a ticket.  I had no idea how quickly it would sell out (but I knew it would sell out) so desperate times called for desperate measures.  Turns out I did have time to wait and could have snagged it during my layover – but if I didn’t try to buy it from the sky I am sure it would have ended up sold out on me.

Wednesday finally came and we got there about an hour before doors to find maybe 10 people in line in front of us?  As time to enter neared, staff from the bookstore said he was running “Very, very, very late” and we could not be let inside until he arrived as we were supposed to pick up our signed books as we entered.  As these are kids books, a lot of children were present and were definitely getting restless as time went on.  We finally ended up let inside, where we waited for the books NPH was off signing somewhere to be delivered in groups.  We snagged seats in the 3rd row center and had a great view.

Around 7:30 the event started.  NPH walked out and put his phone on the table next to him, only for it to fall off.  He then realized the table had a curve to the end of it and did it a few more times as it was amusing him.  He talked about his love for magic, how the books originally were going to be picture books but he ended up writing them for a bit older kids instead, how some of the characters are based on people he knows and he was just overall very amusing and knowledgeable and a lot of fun to listen to.  Then they opened the floor up for questions – but the questions all came from the kids and I thought that they were GREAT questions I never would have thought of on my own.  “Who is your favorite character and what did they do that made them your favorite?”  “How did you name the characters?”  I am pretty sure if NPH had all the time in the world, he would have stayed there all night answering these kids questions and he just seemed so impressed that they were reading and raising their hands and asking.  (He did tell a story about how his kids don’t like to raise their hands in class and he told them that even if they don’t know the answer to raise their hang because that is how you learn.)

After the talk they picked 5 raffle tickets to get their books personalized by NPH.  Unfortunately we weren’t chosen! But it was a fun night all the same and I am looking forward to finding the time to read the books! (#3 comes out in September!)

Book Review: Kat Makes

This is a great book for a beginning reading that goes over everything that Kat Makes!  It is a very short book but has a lot of great content. Easy read. Great for new readers.

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

About the book

Kat Can Reader: Kat Makes 

Kat is a busy girl. In this very simple 8-page reader, short sentences are paired with fun illustrations to get kids reading about Kat and all of the things she likes to make.
Sample Text:
Kat makes forts. Kat makes pizza.
This book is part of the Kat Can series from Brenda Ponnay Kat Can Readers are Guided Reading Level A, are very short and are suitable for kids just learning to read.

Book Review: Kahlo’s Koalas

Kahlo’s Koalas is a 1,2,3 count with me book.  Each number is represented by a different artist and a different animal done in the style or likeness of that artist.  It counts from 1-10 and has really great illustrations in the style of some very famous artists.  At the end of the book it features each artist and says how each artist would have painted the animals if they had the chance to.  Really fun to look at!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.  This book will be released on April 9th from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

About the Book

From Henri Matisse’s monkeys and Jackson Pollock’s poodles to Roy Lichtenstein’s llamas and Wassily Kandinsky’s kangaroos, this beautiful 1-10 counting book provides an imaginative learning experience that will delight adults and children alike.

Introduce your little one to some of the world’s best artists while teaching them their numbers 1 to 10. With illustrator Grace Helmer’s quirky renderings of animals in the style of world-famous artists, Kahlo’s Koalas extends the basic counting concept in a simple, one number, one image per spread format that introduces the smallest children to their first concept of numbers, animals and art appreciation.

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