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Book Review: Big Book of Balloon Art – Learn From a Master!

The Big Book of Balloon Art

More Than 100 Fun Sculptures

By Gerry Giovinco (aka Captain Visual)

Balloon animals fascinate adults and children alike. For a few dollars, you can create a zoo of colorful animals, hats, magic wands and even a little red wagon. Gerry Giovinco shares his knowledge and craft so that you can wow everyone with your balloon art.

From the type of balloons, to blowing them up properly (the amount of air is super important to the final product) and learning the all-important twists, Giovinco gives us clear written instructions with diagrams. When you get to chapter five and beyond, you will be making a colorful menagerie of critters and several popular hats.

Each pattern has written instructions and diagrams to ensure your success. While most of the designs are a bit complicated for children, there are a few that they can easily master. The cobra just needs a twist and a couple of bubbles and a headband is one easy twist.

A big bag of balloons is only a few dollars, and you will have hours of fun creating balloon art for friends, family and maybe even a few strangers that see your creations and want one for their children. I recommend this book for adults and children, with adult supervision and assistance for younger kids.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Japanese Wonder Knitting – Beautiful Stitches for Knitters to Learn

Japanese Wonder Knitting

By Nihon Vogue

 Japanese knitting is different but similar to American knitting. The process of knitting is the same. Both use needles and yarn or thread, both have instruction charts. The major difference is Japanese knitting focuses on patterns that can be made into knit items, American knitting emphasizes items, not the patterns. Instead of picking a stitch, American’s normally pick a pattern instead. This may sound confusing, but when it comes down to it, knitting is knitting and with Japanese knitting the beauty of the pattern will draw you in, then you can find the perfect item you want to create using the charted instructions.

Japanese Wonder Knitting features a variety of stitches as well as the patterns you can create using them. There are “Point Lessons” that teach you each stitch. There are complete, easy to understand written instructions as well as color photos to walk you through each step. At the end of the Point Lesson, there are color pictures of the swatch as well as a list of the projects in the book using the stitch. There is also a section that lists the types of yarn used, including weight, yardage and type such as baby alpaca and British wool DK.

Some of the patterns included have some colored pictures. Some have no pictures at all, which is not my favorite way to determine if I want to make an item. The patterns are for knits large and small. There is a hat, headband and tea cozy, as well as a blanket, shawl and purse. The number of techniques featured is impressive. They include double-knitting, entrelac and smocking.

If you are a knitter and love to try new techniques and stitches, this is the book for you. After learning a new stitch, you can incorporate it into hats, mittens, scarves or just about anything you can imagine knitting. It is fun to learn and grow as a knitter.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Stepping Stones – Easy to Read, Hard to Forget

Stepping Stones

A Memoir of Addiction, Loss and Transformation

By Marilea C. Rabasa

Marilea is a daughter, mother, teacher, former ambassador’s wife, bulimic and alcoholic. She also suffers from depression. The road to her recovery is complex and heartbreaking at times, but uplifting and encouraging. Family history of alcoholism, addiction and mental illness plays a part of her journey as well as the journey she and her children follow.

This memoir does not whitewash the pain and suffering of Marilea and her family, nor does it make excuses. She allows the reader into her world that is a contradiction at times. She is elegant and intelligent at functions as an ambassador’s wife, but after the party is over, she will binge and purge in seclusion. Like her mother before her, the problems with alcohol are hidden from her family – or so she thinks.

Her lifelong struggle is not easy, addiction often wins. Sheer determination and the will to survive gives her the courage to follow the program she finally embraces. Just like you and me, each day she must make choices that affect her as well as those around her. Marilea bares her soul about her previous and current choices without pulling any punches. Her honesty is refreshing.

Written in short chapters (some only a page or paragraph long), Marilea writes about the good, bad and the ugly. Her fast-paced memoir is easy to read, but hard to forget. From her childhood to her retirement she shares her joy and pain, love and losses with candor and true stories of her life.

I recommend Stepping Stones to all readers. Every person knows someone who has an addiction or suffers from mental illness. Marilea’s journey to the place she is today is heartwarming and encouraging. I loved this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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