Simply wow! The follow up to Gasparilla’s Treasure by middle-grade author Scott Clements absolutely did not disappoint.
A great mix of history and adventure, this one is certainly a page turner (or slider if you have an e-reader). I could not put it down.
The story resumes with our favourite trio of treasure hunters basking in the victory of finding Gasparilla’s Treasure and living life a little bit better than before.
Trip, Sarah and Josh are quickly approached by a new character to the mix, Gonzalez, who has an air of mystery to him but presents the intrepid treasure hunters with an offer they simply cannot refuse. I’ll leave it there, I do not want to spoil it for you, but it’s fantastic with twists and turns and a lot of laughs too.
Full of fun ‘Easter eggs’ of references that us adventure movie loving fans will pick up on and page-turning action for the younger readers, this series is fantastic for making kids (and adults) want to read more.
Clements is a genius when it comes to writing visually. You really can ‘see’ the book as you read it and I just love that.
If you are looking for some great reading material for the kids this summer (or sooner!), that will hold their interest and get them excited about reading, check these out. They will not disappoint.
All of Clements’ books are available at his website here: www.HappyBrownDog.com
Going with our theme of spring cleaning I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to interview Katie Bugbee of Care.com about cleaning, tidying and staying on top of the chaos.
A: I love your first point about taking it slow and I have tried to do that as I start my spring cleaning this year. My problem, and I’m sure others have the same one, is that I get stuck and just don’t know what the next step is. What is your advice for getting over that? Start a new room? Take a walk?
K: Yes, getting stuck is inevitable. But just shake it off. Open a window and get some air. Change the music playlist, make some lemonade. Even running up and down the stairs can get your energy back up so you can get excited for the task again. If you are doing something like painting, and it needs to dry, a nice walk is a great way to recharge while you wait. But otherwise, I wouldn’t let too much time sneak in between your tasks, or you’ll get distracted. Believe it or not, there is a lot more fun out there than cleaning!
A: I look in magazines and I see these wonderfully perfect and clean homes and get jealous. Whenever I get mine even close to that it takes a matter of hours for it to get messed up again. What is your strategy for dealing with the everyday clutter and how do you keep it under control to keep neat surfaces?
K: I’m the same way. I have major house envy. Just remember, those houses have been perfectly staged. They have stylists who get paid to make it look perfect. If you had one of those, your house would be perfect too! As for in between cleanings, it’s always going to feel messy after your hard work. I get my house cleaned by a housekeeper every other Friday morning. And when I walk in at noon, with my two kids in tow, it takes about two hours until it’s in shambles again. But I have to remember: It seems like shambles to me. The kitchen inevitably gets “lived in” but the bathrooms are still scrubbed and spotless, the sheets have been changed and washed, the furniture has been dusted. The rugs have been vacuumed. Now, when guests come, all I have to do is hide those “enviable” catalogues I love and hate looking at in the pantry and wipe down the kitchen counter tops.
A: I too try to go green where I can it took almost a box full of baking soda and a lot of vinegar but I do have my bathroom sink draining properly again, so what is your favourite green alternative that works better than the less green product available?
K: I have the same issue with my bathroom sink right now! I hear the ¼ cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar works. Then flush with boiling water. Repeat. But if it’s not working, plunge. It will loosen the clog. Then you can flush again with boiling water. But sometimes you have to go with the hard stuff…and then use preventative measures, like a hair catcher and a quarterly green treatment to soften the clogs that might be forming.
A: Pets. I have two wonderful and amazing cats. They are my kids really and truly. Sadly though, in spring they shed. We have gone through a couple of vacuums over the years because of this. What is your advice for pet parents to keep on top of the spring shedding? How do you get it off furniture and drapes?
K: You’re going to want to have a professional company come in and clean your couch once a quarter, or at least every six months. Then you can send your drapes to the dry cleaner. This will preserve the life of your nice stuff.
A: Since a lot of my readers are moms, what is your advice for dealing with toy clutter? How do you advise going through the toys and deciding which to keep and which need to find new homes?
K: You know what your kids are playing with, and what they’re not. Every six months, go through (preferably with them, but realistically when they are sleeping) and decide what can be donated and what should be thrown out. Then create a new organization system of bins. I usually end up doing this right after their birthdays (in the summer) and Christmas when we get tons of new toys.
A: Boxes and jars and baggies, oh my! What is your advice for organizing those in the kitchen?
K: I get overwhelmed with all those grocery store plastic bags myself. I try to line bathroom trash cans with them, but leave some spares under each bag, so the next bag is always at-the-ready on trash collection day.
That’s a great solution. I also have a whole drawer in my pantry designated for lunch, snack and storage baggies, and tin foil, saran wrap, wax and parchment paper.
A: What is your number one housekeeping piece of advice that anyone can benefit from?
Outsource whatever you can. Your life is hectic and busy and there is so much more you can be doing with your friends or family. If you don’t like certain aspects of cleaning, see what you can hire someone else to do – even if it’s only on an annual, semi-annual, monthly or bi-weekly basis.
Some great ideas and tips for sure! Thanks Katie!!!
Did anyone else get hooked on the lighter drinks from Starbucks last summer? Cause oh my, what a wonderful light treat! And now the green coffee based Refreshers, are back and easier to get your hands on!
The hand-crafted Refreshers launched in the summer with two flavours: Very Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime (both with real fruit inside). These new ready-to-drink Refreshers are also made with green coffee extract and are now lightly carbonated and canned for ease of transport and store.
Well, I guess I wasn’t the only one who loved the summer offerings because Starbucks has decided to release these into stores for the 2013 season.
“Starbucks Refreshers™ beverages reinvented how people enjoy coffee in our stores,” says Kevin Reid , Director, Beverage, Starbucks Coffee Canada. “Today, in grocery, mass merchandisers, convenience and gas stores across the country, Canadians can pick up a can and enjoy a new delicious way to recharge with only 60 calories per can.”
Combined with real fruit juice, ready-to-drink Starbucks Refreshers™ beverages contain 60 calories per serving and come in three new flavours including Raspberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Lemonade and Orange Melon.
New Ready-to-drink Starbucks Refreshers™ beverages are available for $2.99 per 355mL can and can be found in most major grocery, mass merchandisers, convenience and gas stores across Canada. Handcrafted Starbucks Refreshers™ beverages in Very Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime flavours are available nationally at Starbucks stores.
In the warmer months (they are coming right? right?) I do tend to drink less of the actual coffees and more clear liquids. I do still have at least my morning cup though, but these are a light treat in the afternoons and on hot days. Yumminess!
And since there isn’t a Starbucks near my office, being able to pick these up and keep them in the fridge will be a lovely treat!
It’s all about being energized…and refreshed!
As I have gone through the whole process and am continuing on the journey as a much lighter and happier version of my former self, when I was asked to speak at Weight Watchers ‘One Amazing Day’ last weekend I jumped at the chance.
I am a very nervous before speaking in public at any time, but since this I think turned out rather well I thought I’d share it with you all.
I’m still kinda proud of me
Family Day when you’re a Non still counts, it’s just on a smaller scale people-wise…but not fun-wise…and the fun can be achieved in the same way too.
I like getting back to basics and taking a break from my keyboard and monitors from time to time and I decided that for Family Day weekend I would do just that.
My friends at Hasbro sent over some great games to try out, and none required a computer which met my weekend fun criteria to a tee!
First off, I tried out Jenga Boom. OMG. The box even has a ‘fuse’ coming out of it. The giggling commenced. NonDad took too long for my enthusiasm in coming downstairs so I of course tried it out first. It went ‘boom’. And it rocked! The object this time is to ‘take a block from the bottom and put it on top, and take a block from the middle and put it on top’ ***giggle*** but this time on a platform and with a timer. You press the play button when you make your move and then stop it when you’re done all the while hoping that there’s more time on the fuse, if not, BOOM! This was far too much fun.
Next up was Draw Something which comes from the partnership between Hasbro and Zynga. I think I rocked it. NonDad disagreed. He didn’t understand my superior drawing…I think it’s gallery worthy myself . Can you guess what it is?
The object of the game is to draw and have identified what it is you’re drawing. You take a card and there are three choices on it and they are worth varying amounts of points or coins. The first to 15 coins wins. It comes with everything you need and it’s perfect for travel too as it’s compact. Definitely one to take on vacation or in the car. Again, I love games.
And last but NEVER least was Clue. One of my all-time favourite games EVER!!!! And it’s been updated. And it’s cool. The characters have been updated and given a fresh look and so has the board with new rooms like the garage and the bathroom. The game remains true to its roots, which is important to me, but it updates in a way that will attract the new generation too. Who did it? Was it Miss Scarlet, in the garage, with the lead pipe? I’ll never tell .
Family Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean family time should take a backseat. NonDad and I have been making a conscious effort to spend more time together and since this is stuff we both like and enjoy, it’s our go-to. The classics never go out of style, but the new stuff is fun too! Board games make me nostalgic for fun times at the boat as a kid and teen and make me want to snuggle up and ignore the clock. Plus, board game days are cost-effective, buy the game and love it over and over again!
How do you spend family time?
Today is my, eeeeek, 35th birthday. Yup, I am officially in the middle of my thirties. Wow. Time sure has flown.
My mom and dad like to tell me the story of when I was born and the big snowstorm that accompanied my entrance into the world, so I guess it’s kind of poetic that today it is snowing and cold out.
Today, despite my best efforts, I didn’t sleep in by more than 15 minutes, and I worked for a few hours, but my hubby made me my morning coffee and that was perfect.
I treated myself, yes I said treat, to a workout and I had a great time while doing it. Those are words that are ones I never thought I’d say, but it was great and now I can justify a treat tonight.
And my hubby got me the hands-down most sweet, romantic and wonderful card ever! It even has my favourite colour on it, he did good .
I have now taken the remainder of the day ‘off’ and I am going to enjoy it and welcome ’35′ by relaxing with my furballs and watching a movie followed by a lovely dinner with hubby and a celebratory toast … Or two . Happy Birthday to me!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
It is a New Year, and one that seems off to a rousing start. I cannot believe it is already past the mid-point of January, can you?
The past couple of weeks, as usually happens to me, have been about re-organizing, re-evaluating and looking forward. This year I dragged my poor hubby into my madness but you know what? It was worth it. We are both on the same page now (for the most part) and while I still have some anxiety (I stressed myself out so much I lost 2 lbs last week), I am learning to manage it and look ahead to the good things. I’m keeping my head up.
We actually took about 30 mins and sat down and looked at the budget and tried to figure out our strategy for the year and such. I still say I’d like to drop one of the two receivers for the tv but we’ll negotiate that one I guess. We used the actual numbers, looked how we were actually doing and made some hard decisions and some that are actually pretty happy ones.
Then a couple of days later we talked again. This time about the house and what our future holds and what our plan should be vs. what it has been. My hubby has the gift of vision for spaces that he inherited from his Grandmother I swear. He is very good at seeing the potential in a space, now putting stuff away so the space is clear…that’s another story altogether LOL. But he came up with some great ideas and I just sat stunned at them…they rock! We can do this!
The most important thing about this process was that we talked about it. We shared ideas. We worked together and will work together. After all, it’s just us and the cats (sorry, forgot the house hierarchy, the cats…then us) and we need to make this all work.
Do you sit down with your other half and do this too? Does it help or hinder?
Well I guess I’m a bit late on writing about the new year and the old year and reflections and whatnot, but I have a good excuse, things have been, well, ridiculous. The holidays did not go especially well and I’ve been off to a stressful start, but I’m hopeful that things will improve.
Reflecting on 2012, it was overall a good year, one that I needed. There were some definite bumps along the way but here are some things I’m beyond proud of and excited about still:
- I lost 70 lbs, wow. I’m still so very proud of that. I’m therefore calling myself Amy 2.0
- I got to wear the famous Princess Kate Issa engagement dress. It was heavenly.
- I was on the Steven and Chris show for a Shop My Closet segment and the information and help I gleaned from that experience and having access to the amazing stylists on the show was invaluable.
- I got to drive my dream car, an Aston Martin. Her name is Moneypenny. I plan to visit her again as soon as possible.
- I climbed/hiked an 1100 ft peak just outside of Las Vegas. WOW.
- I did a 5K, a 10K and won a 2nd 5K walking race. So exciting! I have goals to do more in 2013
- I realized there was a deficit in my life (I know this sounds cryptic but go with it) and I sucked it up and I made some changes and additions that needed to be made. I’m tired but my stress levels are reducing. and to be honest, I’m kinda still excited about them too. I like new challenges now, I never used to.
- I made a new amazing friend in Jackie and my friendship with my super-inspiring (she motivates me more than she knows) Laural has grown. We inspire each other and I am a firm believer that if you surround yourself with the best, you will rub off on each other.
- I am more confident and self-assured than I have been in years. I am still working on that a bit, I apologize way too much, but I’m getting A LOT better.
What will 2013 hold? I hope more of the same. It has been off to a rough start, however I am confident that it will get better.