Friday, December 15, 2017

Free Form Crochet - A Crochet Craft that Anyone Can Do!

I crochet...A LOT. I find it meditative and relaxing. Plus, I can create gifts, home dec and plenty of other unique items for myself, and for friends and family. Since I crochet so much, I always have lots of small balls of leftover yarn. After recently making my colorful and comfy scrapghan, I realized I STILL had lots of bits and pieces just lolling about in my yarn basket. 

Researching "scrap crochet" on the internet had me finding one particular method mentioned several times: free form crochet. Free form crochet is an excellent technique that makes great use of all those yarn leftovers. Why hadn't I heard about this? Hmmm..apparently it's not new, but it was new to me, so I had to give it a try.

I must admit that I struggled a bit at first with where and how the heck to begin. But then I finally decided to just go for it and start. I figured what's the worst that could happen? I'd have to pull out some stitches and start again. I didn't follow any particular tutorial or pattern (there really is no set pattern to follow anyway), preferring to just make it up as I went, using stitches I was already familiar with.

Well I'm happy to say that this was a TON of fun to do. There's no right or wrong way to crochet a free form piece. It has the happy advantage of going off in all sorts of unique and artistic directions and the results are fantastic. I can see a couple of these pieces being put to use as wall art some place in my home.

How about you? Have you ever tried free form crochet? What did you think? Please share your thoughts with me. I'd love to hear all about it!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Tiniest Elf by Uncle Amon Book Review Share and One Day Freebie!

I've read many of Uncle Amon's children's books over the years and I'm always impressed with them. When it comes to this author, I know I'll be downloading an activity-packed, kid-friendly eBook that will be sure to appeal to a wide range of ages. 

The Tiniest Elf is FREE today and tomorrow only and I encourage you to grab it while you can during this freebie promo. To convince you, continue reading on to my book review below!

These stories center on Twinkletoes the elf, who was the tiniest Christmas elf. In the first story, Twinkeltoes is a sad little elf. He was so tiny, he couldn’t perform any elf chores. Although the other elves were nice to Twinkletoes, he was very sad that he wasn’t much help. Even Santa couldn’t cheer him up. Things become serious when Twinkletoes begins to realize his sadness has greater consequences.

There are four other Twinkletoes tales in this one book and each one is an adorable story for children! They’re each sweet with happy resolutions that children will be sure to enjoy. There are also some great kid-friendly activities at the end of each story. As is usual with Uncle Amon’s books, kids get plenty of quality stories, puzzles, jokes and more. Great value!

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Scrapghan Lapghan Makes a Great Last Minute Holiday Gift!

If you do a lot of crocheting like me then I'm sure you have tons of bits and leftover pieces of yarn. I knew I could make a bunch of granny square potholders or coasters with those bits and pieces, but I wanted to do something a little different. Could I take all of those little mismatched balls of yarn and turn them into one big something that would pack a crochet punch of color? The answer is YES. I could and I did. 

After searching around online I found several "scrapghan" how-tos as motivation. Using two strands of yarn and a half double crochet stitch throughout, I set to work. When I ran out of yarn I simply tied my working yarn to a new piece using a square knot. Then I made sure I tucked the tails into my work as I crocheted in order to hide them. Simple!

The result was a generous sized lapghan that's colorful and toasty warm. I originally wanted to make this scrapghan just to see how easy it was. It was so awesomely simple to do, and the results were so gorgeous, now I want to make more. It only took me a few hours (working intermittently over two days), so these would make excellent gifts for the holidays or anytime!

I just might have to make a trip to my local thrift store to grab up some of those bags of yarn odds and ends to make a few more scrpaghans for gift giving ;-)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Why and How I Made the Transition from Law Enforcement to Authorship by Anita Dickason, Author of Sentinels of the Night

I LOVE books that feature strong female characters, so when I heard about Sentinels of the Night by Dallas police officer turned crime author Anita Dickason I knew I had to highlight this awesome woman! 

I reached out to Anita to ask her how she made the transition from law enforcement to book series author and she kindly obliged with an author guest post. Anita has lots to share about her journey - it's certainly a fascinating one - so read on!

After retiring from the Dallas Police Department, I started an accident reconstruction business. I received a phone call from a California film company. They were looking for an accident investigator and had found my website. A new reality TV series was being filmed about unsolved mysteries. One episode dealt with the death of a witness to the Kennedy assassination. Lee Bowers was killed in a car accident in 1966.

The date to film was set, and the company had obtained permits from the Texas Department of Transportation to shut down the southbound lanes of a highway outside of Midlothian, a small town south of Dallas.

At first, I wasn’t receptive to their offer. I knew nothing about the accident and had little time to research. The company representative asked if I would at least look at the documents and I agreed.

The packet I received included the location of the shoot and a video of a Geraldo Rivera show that had aired in the middle 90s on the same topic. In the video, a man stood on the highway pointing to the bridge that Bowers vehicle had hit. It only took a few seconds to realize everyone had the wrong location. The bridge and highway didn’t even exist in 1966.

That got my attention. Could I find the actual accident site? By the time I had researched documents at the county courthouse and located the right bridge, I was hooked. I decided to attempt a reconstruction of the accident.

I wrote a book that detailed my research and conclusions, JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy. The project became the springboard to a new career as an author and publisher. I closed the accident reconstruction business and started Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC, providing manuscript and cover design services to help other authors publish their books.

As for my books, I have published two fiction novels, Sentinels of the Night and Going Gone! The stories are suspense/thrillers with a touch of paranormal and light romance. I set up a new FBI unit, code name—Trackers. Each of the agents has a unique gift drawn from Native American myths or Irish and Scottish folklore. I am on my third Tracker novel and hope to have it published by the first of the year.

For more information on Sentinels of the Night and the second Tracker novel, Going Gone!, please see my website, Amazon author page or the book trailers: 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

God's Love is the Message of Kristie Wilde's So Great a Love Children's Book

So Great a Love answers the question of whether or not God really loves us. Written in a manner that even very young children will grasp, this book explores the animal world and points out the many examples of God’s love for us all.

What a sweet and lovely children’s book this is. Although it’s short (perfect for young children), it’s filled with charming illustrations and positive messages for youngsters. In my experience, children are drawn to animal picture books. So Great a Love uses the animal kingdom as a way to show children just how much God loves us, and it works perfectly. I read this to a group of preschoolers and they were captivated.

I can highly recommend this book to parents, grandparents and caregivers of toddlers, preschoolers and early readers. So Great a Love is well worth adding to any children’s book library. Thanks to the publisher, Book Crash and the author for providing a complimentary copy!

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Magician's Mayhem by R. S. Mollison-Read is a Wonderfully Exciting and Magical First Book in the Elden Forest Series - FREE BOOK!

By now, readers will know that I LOVE children's books. So when I saw that Magician's Mayhem by R. S. Mollison-Read is currently FREE on Amazon I knew I had to grab it. What a wonderful children's book this is! Below is my book review. I encourage readers to grab this one to enjoy with their children or to read themselves!

Magician’s Mayhem is the story of Tobin and Darcie’s quest to find out who is responsible for causing so much destruction and mayhem in Elden Forest. Tobin is trying to get to the bottom of what caused the destructive explosion in his backyard and Darcie is searching for her missing magician grandmother. The two embark on a journey filled with magical and sometimes dangerous events.

This book throws the reader into the action at the very start. I was immediately interested in the characters and the story’s plot. It’s a non-stop tale of magic, intrigue and surprising adventure. I liked Tobin and Darcie’s characters and found myself rooting for them.

The author’s writing is wonderfully intelligent and engaging. One thing I’d note is that the vocabulary might be a bit challenging for younger readers – the book states that it’s geared toward 8 – 14 year olds, but I feel the younger crowd might struggle with some of the words used.

This is the first book in a series and it’s a great introduction to Tobin and Darcie’s stories. I especially appreciated that there’s no cliffhanger here. There’s a clear resolution to the Magician’s Mayhem story. Yet there’s a promise of a second compelling book in the form of a generous excerpt at the end of this book. Magician’s Mastery Book 2 is the second installment in the Elden Forest series and, judging from Chapter 1, this looks like a fantastic continuation. I know I’d read it! 

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather Book Review

I love YA books and I love ghostly, witchy stories. Bringing the two elements together is like a dream come true for me. When I had the opportunity to read and review Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather, I knew I couldn't pass it up. Did it live up to my expectations? Read on...

© Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog

Samantha Mather is back and she’s still seeing spirits. Samantha lives in historic Salem, Mass., which certainly comes in handy for all her witchy experiences. When Samantha begins dreaming about the Titanic, she’s confused. Then, when the announcement that her school dance will be Titanic-themed, Sam knows it’s much more than just a freaky coincidence. With the help of her new friends, The Descendants, Sam finds herself embracing and using her magical abilities. It doesn’t take long for the group of four to realize things are about to get deadly.

Haunting the Deep is the second book in a series – How to Hang a Witch having been the first. I didn’t read the first book, but I have to say that it wasn’t necessary to have read it in order to follow the story. The author injects plenty of backstory into this new installment

First off, I’m not at all a fan of first person, present tense books. I know a lot of YA authors use this POV and tense, but personally, I dislike it intensely. I find that it ends up sounding more like a long, drawn out monologue than an actual story. There were A LOT of paragraphs that began with the word ‘I’, as in “I did this” and “I did that” – to the point that it began to get a little too repetitive for my liking. In my opinion, first person, present tense can work if you change it up by limiting the amount of ‘I’ paragraphs. Not a deal breaker here and it didn’t stop me from reading. I read on because I really did want to find out where the plot would go so points for that.

Then…the reason behind the haunting was revealed and I found it was a little silly and a bit thin. No spoilers here, but the reveal didn’t impress me. Once I found out who was behind the haunting and why, I kind of wanted it to just be over, but it seemed the ending dragged on.

Finally, I didn’t find Samantha’s character all that likable. The love triangle angle was lukewarm and I struggled to care much about what happened to any of the major characters in the end – a sure sign that a book has left me cold.

I think Haunting the Deep is probably a book that will appeal more to tween girls. I’m a big fan of YA books, but this one just didn’t keep me anxiously turning pages.

Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book!

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