Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wearable Art Clothing - My New Love

Have you seen the gorgeous wearable art that's been popping up all over the internet? If you're up on these things, then maybe this isn't anything new to you, but for me....I'm in LOVE with this idea!

Repurposed denim skirt from the hubster's jeans (pant legs)
© Susan Barton, 2017

Basically, what you do is upcycle (sounds so much fancier than recycle, don't you think?) used clothing. You take things apart and repurpose them in new and funky ways. The result is sheer gorgeousness!

Denim skirt from old jeans, with handmade skull applique
© Susan Barton, 2017

You can keep things fairly simple like I did with the jeans skirts in these photos or you can go crazy by taking apart shirts, sweaters, etc. and using the different elements to create an entirely new work of art with skirts, dresses, tunics, jackets and so much more. The possibilities are truly endless. All you need to do is a quick Google search for wearable art and you'll get tons of ideas!

Denim scraps from other projects into art wrap skirt with
hand painted crow applique.  © Susan Barton, 2017

So what do you think? Is this something you'd do? Clothing you'd wear? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Another Wonderful Children's Book from Uncle Amon - Al E. Gator, the Alligator Who Wouldn't Swim!


Al E. Gator is an alligator who lives in a Louisiana bayou swamp with his family. Al is sweet and kind and everyone loves him. Al loves everything about his friends, his family and his swamp – everything but swimming underwater. Since swimming underwater is an important skill for an alligator to have, Al’s fear of underwater swimming poses a real problem for him. Al’s parents patiently try all sorts of things to help him get over his fear, but nothing seems to work. Will Al finally get over his fear? Readers will have read and find out.

As always, I love Uncle Amon’s books. I’ve read many of these books to youngsters and they never fail to impress and entertain them. Al E. Gator is no exception.

The content is age-appropriate and written with a wonderful mix of easy and challenging words – great for building those vocabulary skills! There are several short stories included here, along with the usual puzzles, jokes and other entertaining activities for kids to enjoy. A wonderful read and definitely worth the download!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Much to Do Before a Dog by Danny and Sheridan Blitz is an Awesome and Valuable Book for Children!

I recently spotted this book on Amazon and knew I had to grab it. Wow! I was NOT disappointed. I can highly recommend giving this a read. Below is my book review. 

The unique and adorable illustrations in this book caught my attention. Then, when I read that it’s based on a true story, I knew I had to grab it.

Koda is a little girl, who tells readers that, by the time she was five, she knew she was a dog whisperer. Koda wanted a dog and in order to convince her mom she learns how to relate to just about every dog she meets. When Koda finally gets the courage to ask her mom if she can have a dog, mother and daughter sit down to have a heart-to-heart talk about the responsibilities of owning pets.

Wow! I LOVED this book! There are so many wonderful things going on in this book – fantastic and eye-catching illustrations, a lovable main character, a patient and kind parent, the importance of adopting shelter animals and a truly valuable lesson for children.

As a mom, grandmother and early childhood educator, I can say that Much to Do Before a Dog is an excellent, educational book for children. In my opinion, this book will appeal to both boys and girls, as well as a wide variety of age groups. A wonderful read!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton, DIY Mom 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Detective Novel "One by One" by Robert Germaux with Book Excerpt and Giveaway

I LOVE detective novels and am always on the lookout for new books in the genre. Author Robert Germaux has just released his fifth book, "One by One", and, judging from the Chapter One book excerpt below, it promises to be a thrilling read. 

This isn't the first detective novel Germaux has written. I read and LOVED "Small Talk", Germaux's previous super sleuth story, so I have high hopes for One by One. Perhaps a book review is on the horizon? In the meantime, scroll down to the Chapter One book excerpt to get a glimpse of what's between the pages of One by One!

Print Length: 342 pages
Publisher: Robert Germaux (May 26, 2017)
Publication Date: May 26, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


The victims appear to have had nothing in common, other than the fact that, as one officer put it, somebody wanted them dead. And that somebody left a “clue” at each crime scene, but as those clues began to accumulate, Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked squad soon discovered that the clues appeared to have even less in common than did the victims. 

In order to catch his prey, Daniel realizes he has to change his focus and concentrate on an entirely different aspect of the case by following a twisting trail that eventually leads to a face-to-face encounter with the killer.


Both my parents were readers. I'm talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it's no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places. And although I've always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn't fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia's idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including "Hard Court." Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write "The Backup Husband," the plot line of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game. On that particular day, the question that occurred to me was, What if a woman suddenly realized she might be in love with two wonderful men? After "The Backup Husband," I wrote "Small Talk," my first novel about Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes. I then switched gears again with "Grammar Sex (and other stuff)," a book of humorous essays. Now I’m back with "One by One," the second Daniel Hayes mystery, which will be released on June 1st. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), seeing Broadway plays and musicals, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows, such as "Sports Night" and "The Gilmore Girls," and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we've been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and enjoy a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me on my website.


Ellen Tishler was killed in her home in Hampton Township, about twelve miles north of Pittsburgh, but still within Allegheny County. My team works out of Zone 3 in the city, so in the normal course of events, we wouldn’t have had anything to do with the case. We were called in because the chief of police in Hampton thought it might be something SAS should be handling.
The chief’s name was Benjamin Roberts. He was a shade under six feet, with dark hair cut very short and the beginnings of a little potbelly, but still in good shape for a guy chasing sixty. His uniform was neat and clean, his tie perfectly knotted, his shoes spit-shined. Ex-military, I was guessing. Roberts had a reputation for being old school all the way. He even conducted inspections at the start of most shifts. He also had a reputation as one of the sharpest cops in the county.
It was three o’clock on a sunny September afternoon when Henry and I arrived at the two-story brick colonial on Edgerton Drive in the upper-middle class neighborhood. The chief greeted us at the door.
“Ben Roberts,” he said, shaking my hand. “Thanks for coming, Detective Hayes.”
“It’s Daniel,” I told him. “And this is my partner, Henry Reynolds.”
Roberts nodded at Henry, then motioned for us to enter the house.
“I appreciate you gentlemen driving out here,” he said. “I hope I’m not wasting your time.”
“You’re not,” I said. The three of us were standing in a small foyer. I could hear people talking and moving around in what I assumed was the living room, down the short hallway and to the left.
“When you called,” I said, “you indicated you thought this might be a case for the Special Assignments Squad.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Crime scene’s got kind of a weird look to it. My department doesn’t handle many major crimes, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t your run-of-the-mill homicide. Anyway, c’mon in and have a look.” He led us down the hall and around the corner, and Henry and I got our first look at Ellen. 
If it wasn’t for the small hole in the middle of her forehead, it would have been easy to assume that she had simply dozed off while reading that month’s issue of Beautiful Homes, which was lying on the floor next to the large floral-patterned wingchair. Ellen was slumped in the chair, her head tilted to one side, her right hand dangling over the armrest. Her eyes were closed, and there was no noticeable blood.
“Small caliber,” I said. “Maybe a twenty-two.”
Roberts nodded and said, “That’s what I was thinking. Probably a revolver.”
“So no shell casings,” I said.
“And no exit wound,” said Roberts. “Bullet must have bounced around in her head a bit. We’ll find what’s left of it at autopsy.” He shrugged. “Might not be enough to identify or match. We’ll see.”
Henry and I stood for a minute to take in the scene. Ellen appeared to be in her mid-to-late seventies. She was wearing an expensive-looking dark green pants suit, with low-heeled brown shoes. Her white hair was nicely coiffed, as though she’d recently been to a salon, and there was a string of pearls around her neck. I doubted if this was how she dressed for an afternoon at home.
“Who found the body?” I said.
“Next door neighbor, woman named Alice Cloakley. She and the deceased were supposed to go out for lunch today. Ms. Cloakley came over around noon, found the front door ajar, came in and discovered the body.”
“Ms. Cloakley still around?” asked Henry.
Roberts nodded towards the back of the house.
“She’s on the patio. I figured you’d want to talk to her.” He paused, shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “There’s something else. It’s the main reason I contacted you.”
He’d been carrying a large plastic evidence bag, and now he held it up for Henry and me to see.
“We found this on the body.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Pinup Girl Gift Tags FREE Printable Download

Here's another one of my free printable downloads via my 2 Hearts Design Shop website. It's definitely one of my favorites so I'm sharing it with my DIY Mom Blog readers. This printable is for your own personal use only, as it's been designed and created by me. Do not use parts of it or all of it, except for your own personal use.

*Click to open the photo in a new window. Save to your computer and print from there. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

10 Phenomenal Websites to Find 4th of July Art Activities for Kids

fourth of july craft
© All Kids Network, 2017

You know it's summer when the 4th of July rolls around! Keeping the kiddos active and entertained all summer can sometimes be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be when we have so many great FREE art activities at our fingertips. I've compiled some wonderful websites that offer free printables, activities, games, craft projects, lessons and more. And since the 4th of July is just a few days away, I'm starting there.

DLTK's Crafts for Kids

DLTK's Crafts for Kids has a ton of great FREE artsy activities for kids. Their page of Independence/USA printables is sure to get kids and adults excited for the holiday.

Coloring Pages for Kids

DLTK's sister site, Coloring Pages for Kids, has a wonderful array of 4th of July and USA-inspired kids coloring pages. Check them out here. 

Tip Junkie

Tip Junkie is an awesome website for crafts, printables, activities and more. You can find a generous page of 4th of July activities, games, crafts and printables for kids and adults here. 

Mr. Printables

With a name like Mr. Printables you just know this site will be chock full of ideas and inspiration. Check out their 4th of July Activities page here. 

Mom Junction

Mom Junction has a wide variety of craft activities for adults and kids of all ages. Their 35 Best 4th of July Coloring Pages for Your Toddlers will keep kids entertained and busy for a while. Don't let the "Toddlers" in the title fool you - these coloring pages are definitely suitable for any age!

Hello Kids

Hello Kids is a wonderful resource for teachers, parents and kids K thru 8th grade. You can find a terrific collection of Independence Day coloring pages here. 

Crayola is another great craft resource. Their page of Independence Day printables includes a variety of educational and fun printable activities for children. 

Easy Peasy and Fun

The Easy Peasy and Fun website has compiled a convenient and downloadable PDF of adorable 4th of July graphics for kids to print, cut, color and share. 

Raising Our Kids

Raising Our Kids shares two pages of cute and vintage-looking 4th of July coloring pages for kids of all ages.

All Kids Network

I've saved what I think is the best of all 4th of July resources for kids. You HAVE to check out the All Kids Network! This site is a goldmine of ideas, inspiration, activities, games, you name it, for teachers, parents and kids. Check out their Kids 4th of July Crafts page here, but be sure to stick around to find tons more goodies! Their projects, materials lists and instructions are topnotch!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Trotters Book Subscription Box Review

It’s no secret that I absolutely LOVE books. Children’s books are among my most favorite books to read. It’s so important to me to share my love of books and reading with everyone I come in contact with.

Subscription boxes are all the rage right now and book subscription boxes are among the most popular. I mean, who wouldn't want to receive a box of books in the mail?!

When I heard about Book Trotters, I decided to reach out to the company's owner, who was gracious enough to provide a box for review. Here’s my take on the Book Trotters subscription box.

My chosen book box was the “Baby Bear Book Pack” subscription. This package is described as “ideal for families with up to 2 kids from different age groups. It ensures each pack will have at least one book per young reader in the family.”

The box arrived quickly. I was kept informed of the package delivery status the entire time it was in transit, via daily email updates and a convenient clickable USPS tracking number. This was a great customer service perk!

The box arrived a day earlier than expected (another plus) and everything was packaged securely and professionally in a sturdy shipping box. Inside, I was thrilled and impressed to see each book was wrapped beautifully in colorful wrapping paper, and bundled with high quality twine and a Thank You card.


Not only was each book wrapped with gift paper, it was also wrapped with tissue paper underneath. Book Trotters also included three sturdy activity cards in the package.

The books themselves were a wonderful collection of hard and softcover books. My next step will be reading each book and sharing them with some of my kiddos to get their take.

Overall, I'm very impressed with my Book Trotters book box experience. Five well-deserved stars for customer service, packaging, shipping and products. I would definitely recommend this service to consumers!