Saturday, 23 February 2008

Team T-Lo Reads! #2

Welcome to the second installment of Team T-Lo Reads! This time, we have a little something for almost everyone. A teen novel, a Children's board book, a romance, a best-seller and one that should become a classic.

Let's get into it shall we?

The Keeper's Shadow by Dennis Foon (Teen Paperback)
Published August 2006 by Annick Press

3 out of 5

This was the third and final book in the Longlight Series. I loved the first two books so much that I couldn't wait for this one to come out. While it wrapped up all the storylines very well, I found it a bit too long and boring in parts.

All the strategizing stuff up the upcoming battle was a little much for my taste, but when they finally got to the battle itself, I couldn't put the book down. It was so well written, exciting and entertaining. I enjoyed it very much.

Summer of Roses by Luanne Rice (Mass Market Paperback)
Published May 2006 by Bantam

3 out of 5

Overall, I liked this book. I didn't want to stop reading it at any moment, but I can't say it kept me riveted to my seat either. I could take it or leave it. The story was good, although I didn't enjoy the end as much as I had hoped. It was wrapped up to quickly to support such a long build up.

Also there was a side story about illegal fishing that didn't really have much of a point. It seemed like filler.

I loved the characters, and of course I was immediately attached to the young girl Rose who was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (like me). Actually, it was the reason I chose to read this book and Rice did a good job of researching it enough to be pretty accurate about the heart defect.

*** I am giving this book away to someone who would like to give it a read. If you are interested, please leave a comment on this blog (you can leave comments without having a blogger account by clicking on "post comment" and putting in your name instead of your account), or contact me by e-mail. Facebook, MSN, telephone or come over and knock on my door. This give-away is only open to people I actually know and can get a hold of me. First come, first serve. I will ship the book out to its destination whenever I get to the post office or drop it off personally if you live in Winnipeg. ***

The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (Hardcover)
Published March 2007 by Houghton Mifflin

5 out of 5

One theme kept popping up again and again in this book - guanxi - family, relationships. It took me back to when I was a kid hanging out in the back of the restaurant. I would watch my family's last Chinese chefs (my great grandfather and grandfather), clean, cut, prepare, and cook. At that time I didn't know that to them food was more than just something to eat, it was there to connect people. This book taught me that and so much more about things that my grandfathers already knew.

The main character Sam Liang (half Chinese) moved to China to learn to cook the traditional way. He realized that China was where half of him originated. So not only did this book make me miss big and little grandpa with all my heart, but it also made me yearn to visit a place where half of me also originated. A book that can conjure up intense emotions like these can only be brilliant. Bravo.

Bad Boys with Expensive Toys by Nancy Warren, Mary Janice Davidson and Karen Kelly (Romance Paperback)
Published November 2004 by Kensington Press

2 out of 5

This novel was actually 3 stories that only linked because they were supposed to be about bad boys and expensive toys.

The first story had neither of these. The boy was a union negotiator, hardly bad. And the toy was a poodle?

The second was better. The boy was a computer geek, hardly bad. But he made neat gadget toys.

The third had a bad boy, a player as the author put it. But I found no expensive toys in sight, unless a computer program is now a toy?

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Children's Board Book)
Published April 2002 by Campbell Books

5 out of 5

(Logan Review) This book is the longest one I own. But I don't mind, because mom and dad make cool noises when they read it and it rhymes. I make them read it over and over again. And when they get bored, they tell me what sounds the animals in the book make, which I love and try to imitate, especially the snake!

Once when I was fussy waiting in the doctor's office, mommy and daddy recited this book to me without even having it in the room. It was awesome. Maybe I make them read it a bit too much though if they have it memorized?

Monday, 18 February 2008

How To: Make Tux the Linux Penguin

Wouldn't you love to have a Tux of your very own? I will guide you step-by-step through the compilation process. So pay attention!

First of all, you will need to visit a website called Free Penguin Project. There you will find the "code" to get started. As the website so aptly points out, Linux code is all free and open source for anyone willing to give it a try, so why shouldn't the "code" for their stuffed penguin also be free?

The patterns are there, but there are very limited instructions. Also, I made a few tweaks of my own that I will share with you below.

All of you geeks out there will be able to complete the first step no problem:

1) Go the the website linked above and download a Tux pattern in PDF form
- Because I don't have a fancy printer, I couldn't print out the pattern in the proper size that I wanted. I just zoomed in until I got the size I wanted and then traced it on paper. Why else would I have this fancy wide screen monitor?

The next steps will be a bit tricky if you don't have the proper hardware requirements and data stores. And by data stores, I mean "any talent in sewing that you may have locked away in that brain of yours."

Hardware requirements (Things needed to make Tux):
- pattern from the website.
- white, yellow, and black fabric (scraps or felt squares work fine)
- thread to match and needles
- embroidery thread, yellow
- hot glue gun with hot glue sticks
- stuffing
- Optional: pipe cleaners to give the wings shape
- Optional: a little bit of interfacing to make the wings stiffer

Follow the pattern instructions to cut out the proper pieces and colours for Tux. I found that you can cut on the fold for the BIB and SIDE pieces. That way you only have to cut one of each. Also, if you are using a bit of interfacing in the WING, then cut out two pieces of that also.

I did all of the sewing manually to avoid making huge mistakes. I know that geeks will balk at the idea of not using the latest technology, but trust me, it's worth it.

2) Sew WINGS, right sides together with interfacing pinned on top. Do not sew the edge that attaches to SIDE
- turn right sides out
- measure and cut pipe cleaner to fit inside wing in order to be able to "pose" the wings

3) Cut a slit in the SIDE piece where wing will be inserted.
- insert WINGS into the SIDE piece, stitch together
NOTE: make sure wings are facing in the proper direction before stitching in place

4) Sew the darts in the top of the head (where the "wedges" are in the pattern)

5) Sew together the back and front of the head making a rounded shape.

6) Sew the SIDE piece together at the bottom.

7) Attach BIB by pinning in place carefully. It's a strange fit. Then stitch in place.

8) Sew BEAK pieces together along the rounded edges, right sides together.
- turn right side out.
- Upgrade to embroidery thread, stitch along outside rounded edge of BEAK for decoration.
- Stitch two marks on top of BEAK for nostrils.
- pin beak in place, and stitch

9) With penguin inside out, stitch DERRIER to the bottom making sure to leave a hole to upload the stuffing into
- turn the penguin right side out and stuff
- sew the hole closed on the DERRIER

10) Sew FEET right sides together leaving a hole to upload the stuffing
- turn right sides out
- stuff the FEET
- Sew the hole closed
- upgrade to embroidery thread once again and create toes using long stitches around the edge of FEET
- attach feet to body (this is difficult, but it works if you are patient)

11) Cut out EYES in shape shown in finished picture (top)
- glue in place with hot glue gun.

Voila! Your very own Tux to keep watch over your Linux computers and fight the good fight against all things Windows. :)

Note: These Tux Penguins are now available to buy on my account at Etsy if you don't feel like making one yourself.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Logan Walks!

As of this week, Logan can walk!

He took a few tentative steps in the weeks following up to the big day. He was always unsure, and when he saw that he was walking, it would unnerve him and he'd plop down onto the floor.

So once again I must say: Terry lost the bet.... hard...

But here it is... enjoy our walking baby. And enjoy the weird things on Terry's head (in order to entice Logan to walk to him). The thoughts of being able to touch, and slobber on, the camera did a better job of getting him to walk as you'll see.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Uh Oh Spaghetti-Loags!

Happy Valentine's Day from Team T-Lo!

We hope your day was filled with love and spaghetti!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

How To: Make Personalized Valentine's Flowers

Today we are going to do some Valentine's Day arts and crafts for Terry (daddy). It's a week in advance so that you may also try to make these pretty flowers if you want. They are a great thing to do with kids. Logan is only a year old and he had fun colouring the hearts and picking out the pipe cleaner.

You will need:
- Valentine's Day coloured construction paper. We had white, pink and red
- Coloured pipe cleaner for the stem. We used silver and green
- A marker or glitter glue to write your message with
- Fasteners called "brads" to keep the petals in place. We used heart shaped ones for this occasion.

First you want to decide what colour the petals of your flower are going to be. I chose red for one flower and pink for the other. Take the piece of construction paper you choose and fold it into four.

Next, draw a heart the size that you want your "heart" petals to be on the 1/4th square of paper. Hint: You can use a large heart cookie cutter to trace a heart on the paper if you want it to be precise. I opted for freehand because lopsided hearts are filled with more love.

Cut along your trace. You should have four large heart shaped pieces.

Repeat this again, so that you have eight heart-shaped petals. You could alternate colours if you want a more intricate look to your flower. You could also choose to have more of less petals, depending on the message that you want to write on them. Eight seems to be a good number though.

Next you want to choose a complimentary colour for the inner layer of your petals. I chose white.

Cut a piece of that complimentary paper in half. Fold if in half again two more times. Draw another heart on the paper and cut along the lines.

This should give you eight inner petals. You can use all eight, but I found four to be more than sufficient. I used the other four on my second flower.

At this point I let Logan decorate his petals. He isn't quite into the colouring yet. He prefers to put the crayons in his mouth, but he did a pretty good job anyway. And Terry loves the effort.

Take all of your petals and put a small hole in the bottom of the heart. Depending on the size of the Brad, you will need larger or smaller holes. Just make sure that when you insert the fastener, the petals are still able to move around and be shaped. You want your sweetheart to be able to read the message you place on the petals.

A one-hole punch is the perfect trick to accomplish this task if you have large enough Brads. I opted for heart-shaped ones and they were too small for that, so I had to wing it.

At this point, you can write a heartfelt message on the petals. Because Logan was helping, I couldn't get into too much detail for mine. I put one word on each petal: "To my soul-mate Terry, love from Tawny" and "To the world's greatest Dad, Love from Logan."

You can, however, place poetry, or a long love letter on the petals. The flowers look really beautiful with lots of words on each petal. If you don't have a baby around, you can even decorate the petals with glitter pen! If you do have children around, crayola works just as well and contains just as much love!

Next, you want to insert the brad. First take the inner petals and insert the brad through the holes you made.

Next, arrange the outer petals (the ones with your message) in order and insert the brad so that the start of your message is on top.

Fan the petals out so that they resemble a flower.

Now all you need is a stem. That we make from pipe cleaner. You can also use fancy wire to make the stem if you want a more professional look. I used pipe cleaner mainly because when I was in Michael's with Terry the other day, he mentioned that pipe cleaner reminded him of when he was a kid.

Choose a colour for your stem. Logan chose silver and I opted for the traditional green. Take two pieces of pipe cleaner (so you can mix and match if you choose), and wind them around each other. This gives strength to the stem.

Next, insert the two ends of the pipe cleaner behind the Brad on the back of your flower. This should hold it in place. In case your Brad was particularly small like mine, you can dab a bit of glue to hold the stem in place. Just make sure the you don't too much glue on the back or your petals won't move!

And voila! You have a perfect, personalized flower to give to your sweetheart.

I even put mine in a vase. Some extra hints: You may spritz the petals with your favourite perfume. That way every time your honey looks at them, they will remind him/her of you.
You can also skip the stem part and attach ribbon instead and place the flower inside your Valentine's Day card.

I apologize for the crappiness of the pictures. I'm no photographer. But they do the trick anyway. You all get the idea.