Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes

I read The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes when I was in 2nd grade and thought about it from time to time as an adult. I tried to find it for years and was thrilled when I finally found a copy.  I still love the book as much as I did when I was 8 years old.





The Witch Family is about two best friends, Amy and Clarissa and their bumblebee friend, Malachi.  The two girls make up stories and have incredible imaginations and a grand sense of adventure. The story takes place at Halloween and the girls meet witches and mermaids.

Amy and Clarissa have banished a wicked witch to a bare glassy hill as punishment for being so wicked. They only allow her off the hill on Halloween night. They soften up her punishment and send a witch girl, who is their same age, to ease the witch's loneliness.

The witch girl changes the witch's life and transforms the glassy hill into an enchanting land with other whimsical creatures.

This book is perfectly written for young girls and those who are still young at heart.  It is full of magic and charm and it is an especially fun book to read at Halloween time.

Happy reading!!

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Make a Mermaids Welcome Sign

I usually buy plain white art canvas at Hobby Lobby for about $10 or $15. I used an 8 x 10 canvas and painted several coats of an ocean shade on the canvas. I used white paint to paint the words, Mermaids Welcome onto the canvas. It was so simple, easy, and inexpensive. If you're uncomfortable painting words freehandedly, you could use scrapbook chipboard letters or use a stencil. Your child's writing would add a lot of whimsy and charm too.




Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mermaid Dreams Book Review

My daughter and I are both big fans of mermaids. Just tonight, she told me that when she grows up she wants to be a "beautiful mermaid." Luckily, there are so many good mermaid books available. One of our favorites is an adorable tale about a girl who hates taking a bath.

The book illustrations are gorgeous and the writing is clever and features a twist at the end of the story.

Mermaid Dreams is written by Mark Sperring. This book is a must-have for mermaid fans.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mermaid Nesting Dolls Fun

I bought a set of 6 plain nesting dolls from Hobby Lobby for about $8. This was my first attempt to paint nesting dolls.

My daughter and I brainstormed different themes for nesting dolls. I think it would be fun to do a Halloween theme with a ghost, witch, pumpkin, mummy, black cat, and a bat. You could also draw an outline of a shape such as a pumpkin and let your child color it with markers or paint pens. The possibilities are endless for holidays. You could paint Santa, Mrs. Claus, reindeer, and elves for Christmas; bunnies, chicks, and candy for Easter; pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys for Thanksgiving, etc.

You could do fairy tale themes such as Cinderella and paint Cinderella, the prince, the fairy godmother, a wicked stepsister and stepmother, and a mouse or a bird.

It was more time consuming than I thought...but isn't that how all projects are? Most importantly, it was fun, relaxing, and a lot cheaper than buying nesting dolls online.

Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.





Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Easy Way to Journal Your Child's History

Ever since my daughter was 3 months old, I have kept a journal on Microsoft Word. I update it monthly and e-mail a copy to myself in case my computer crashes. She's 6 now, but I still faithfully chronicle her life. When I go back and reread it, I am always amazed at how quickly I forget the little details. I think she will enjoy this a lot when she grows older. I am especially glad that I wrote down memories of her relationship with my mom. My mom passed away last year and they were very close to each other.

It's never to late to start a simple journal and preserve some family history and wonderful memories.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What's in Ned's Head Game Review

Ned has all sorts of gross things in his head like a rat, diaper, spider, Q-Tip, a gym sock, and a blue alien. It's a simple game that produces lots of giggles and silliness. You just have to pick up a card and find the matching item in Ned's head. Whoever has the most cards wins the game. My 6-year-old had a play date with another 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. They all enjoyed playing with the items.

My daughter also likes to play it with her Grandpa and he really hams up how grossed out he is by the contents in Ned's head.

My dad bravely reaching into Ned's ear.


It retails for approximately $30. It is for 2-4 players, age 3 and up. I rate this game 4 stars for its simplicity and fun factor.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Friday, September 2, 2011

How to Make Butter With Kids

This is a fun and easy activity to do with your child.  You will need whipping cream, salt, and a baby food jar or any glass jar with a lid like a mayonnaise jar or a Mason jar.

Instructions:
1. Pour the whipping cream into the jar.
2. Tighten the lid and strongly shake the jar for 10 minutes.  The cream will separate into a liquid (buttermilk) and pale yellow clumps of fat (the butter).
3. Spoon the butter into a bowl.
4.  Use a wooden spoon because a metal spoon will ruin the butter's taste.
5. Rinse the butter with water until the water is clear.
6. Lightly salt for taste.

Laura and Mary Ingalls used to have to pound the churn's dasher up and down for a long time. Pioneer children used to sing: "Come butter, come Peter's standing at the gate waiting for a butter cake. Come butter, come." to pass the time.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Simple Princess Hat Tutorial

My daughter and I made this simple and sweet princess hat out of one piece of scrapbook paper, stickers, and sheer pink ribbons.  Just take the scrapbook paper and make it into a cone shape.  You can tape the back of the hat with wide clear tape.  I stapled the ribbons to the top of the hat and my daughter decorated her hat with stickers.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri






Real Simple Cool Southwestern Salad

I just saw this corn and avocado southwestern salad recipe on the Real Simple website and can't wait to try it.  The Real Simple website features a lot of informative links to recipes, decorating tips, and life management tips.  I hope you enjoy this healthy and fresh dish.


Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, corn, avocados, beans, onion, and cilantro.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, cumin, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Drizzle dressing over the salad and gently toss. Serve with the tortilla chips.


http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/cool-southwestern-salad-00000000000662/index.html

As always, thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rosemary's Fruit Tea Recipe

My sweet mother-in-law, Rosemary, shared her famous fruit tea recipe with me. I hope you enjoy it.  It is simple and so good.

Ingredients:
7 family size tea bags or 14 regular size tea bags
1 can of Five Alive concentrate
2 cups of sugar

Boil the tea bags in a medium pot for about 5 minutes.  Do not squeeze tea bags because it will make your tea bitter.  Add 2 cups of sugar. Stir the sugar until it's completely dissolved.  Prepare Five Alive per instructions.  Add your tea to the Five Alive in your pitcher. Be careful with glass pitchers.  They will burst if the tea is too hot.

Sometimes I use 1-1/2 cups of sugar and use 1 bag of green tea to make the fruit tea healthier without sacrificing any flavor.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Free Online Games for Girls (American Girl, Barbie, Angelina Ballerina, etc.)

I have compiled a list of free online games for girls.  Please check back or feel free to suggest your daughter's favorite.

http://www.americangirl.com/play/games/
http://www.barbie.com/activities/fun_games/
http://www.sesamestreet.org/games
http://www.nickjr.com/games-activities/
http://www.nickjr.com/games/olivia-games/all-themes/all-ages/index.jhtml
http://www.nickjr.com/games/max-ruby/all-themes/all-ages/index.jhtml
http://www.nickjr.com/games/dora-the-explorer/all-themes/all-ages/index.jhtml
http://www.angelinaballerina.com/usa/games.asp
http://www.rainbowmagiconline.com/games/create_a_fairy.html
http://disney.go.com/games/#/games/play3/&content=1707234 (Tangled game)
http://disney.go.com/games/#/games/play3/&content=256106 (Wizard of Waverly Place)
http://disney.go.com/fairies/#/games (Disney Fairies)
http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/index.html

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Friday, August 26, 2011

Belinda the Ballerina Book Review

Belinda the Ballerina is an endearing character. She loves to dance and she is a fabulous ballet dancer. There is just one problem, well actually two big problems. She has enormous feet.

She bravely auditions at the Annual Ballet Recital, but three horrible judges quickly dismiss her. The judges tell poor Belinda that she will never be a dancer. They say, "Go home. You will never be a dancer-not with those feet."

She is sad and gives up on her dancing dreams. She waitresses at Fred's Fine Foods. She is a hard worker but still miserable. One day, Fred hires a band and she begins to dance while she works. Her dancing draws in customers who adore her dancing.

One day the Maestro from the Grand Metropolitan Ballet comes to Fred's Fine Foods to watch Belinda dance. Her dancing wins him over and he begs her to perform at the Grand Metropolitan Hall. Of course, she accepts his offer. She dazzles the audience who do not even notice her feet.

This is such a good message. We need to pursue our passions even if we are not perfect. We need to never give up even when we hear we are not good enough.

I rate this book 5 stars for its inspiring message and gorgeous illustrations. It retails for $15.99. Amy Young wrote this gem for ages 3-8.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!



Cheri

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney Book Review

Water Bugs and Dragonflies is a book that explains death to young children. The story starts out with water bugs who live quite happily under the water in the mud. Every now and then one of the water bugs clings to a pond lily stem and moves out of sight. It never comes back to the colony of water bugs.

The other water bugs are puzzled and cannot understand why it left the colony. The leader gathers the colony and says the next one who leaves the colony must come back and explain why he or she left.

The leader ends up leaving soon. He climbs up the stem to the pond's surface and sleeps for a long time. When he wakes up he discovers he is a dragonfly. He tries to go down into the water, but his new body will not allow him to descend. He cannot keep his promise and feels distraught. He realizes that the other water bugs will have to discover the reason on their own.

He flies off happily with his new body and knows that it will not be long before he sees the others again.

I think this is such a good book that explains death in simple terms and takes away some fear and confusion. I rate this book 5 stars for its helpful way to explain life's hardest and most painful lesson.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Affirmation Weaver Book Review

Mean children constantly belittle and bully children everyday and it's our job to build up strong and confident children. This is no easy task. I constantly tell my daughter that others will not believe in her until she believes in herself. 

I bought a book called Affirmation Weaver A Believe in Yourself Story by Lori Lite. It is about a young dolphin that does not believe in himself. The hermit crab is the known as the Affirmation Weaver. The author wrote, "He was a crab of very few words, but his intricate web brought joy to anyone that took a moment to sit still and enjoy its beauty."

The dolphin feels depressed and hopeless because he does not feel as smart and talented as the other dolphins. Different ocean creatures come up to the dolphin and teach him affirmations such as "I like myself. I am a gift to the world. I am creative. I believe in myself. I am happy. I can do it. I love myself." 

As the hermit crab hears each affirmation, he weaves each one into his web.

The dolphin and the creatures imagine absorbing all the positive thoughts. They picture how it would feel if they could move all of the uplifting words in the whole being. 

A sea child says to the dolphin, "Now you're beginning to feel happy inside. You have a smile you cannot hide. Say nice things while you laugh and play. Affirmations help you feel this way."

The dolphin swims straight up and jumps the waves with joy and does not compare himself with the other dolphins. This book sends a strong message and instructions on adding confidence and belief in yourself.

I rate this book 5 stars for its strong message and appealing graphics. It retails for about $15.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations

Cheri



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important.

As a mother and a Girl Scout leader, I see girls beaten down by their peers and even family members. I am constantly brainstorming on how to build up esteem and encourage kindness.

I recently saw The Help and I loved the maid's words to the little girl. They recited a simple yet powerful mantra together, "You is kind. You is smart. You is important."









Do we effectively teach that message to our girls?  If they could learn to believe that, think of all the hardship they could avoid throughout their lives

Starting today, my daughter and I are going to recite that together. After all, moms need to believe it too.

As always, thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Little House on the Prairie Paper Dolls Review

My Book of Little House Paper Dolls The Big Woods Collection brings Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Jack right into your home.



The paper doll set is very detailed with Ma's green delaine dress, Pa's fiddle,  Laura's ragdoll Charlotte, and different props such as Carrie's cradle and two giant pull-out scenes of the Ingalls' cabin and the outside of their cabin. The book also features a pocket to store the dolls and accessories.

My daughter has spent many a happy hour playing with this lovely set of paper dolls. This would be an ideal addition to the Little House book collection. 

I rate this product 5 out of 5 stars for its authenticity, incredible details, and price.  It retails for about $12.  

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri




Sunday, August 21, 2011

Words of Wisdom from Ma Ingalls

I have read the Little House on Prairie books since I was 11 years old and Ma's words still ring clear and true. Ma was a resourceful, gentle, loving, and practical woman. I have complied a list of some of her best sayings.

Ma was trembling, and she began to laugh a little.  "To think," she said, "I've slapped a bear."  (Little House in the Big Woods, Two Big Bears Chapter.)


"If wisdom's way you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care.
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where." (Little Town on the Prairie, The School Board's Visit Chapter.)


Ma used to say,
"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday." (Little House in the Big Woods, Winter Days Chapter.)

"This earthly life is a battle," said Ma. "If it isn't one thing to contend with, it's another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures." (Little Town on the Prairie, Blackbirds Chapter.)

"You may be well prepared to teach school and still not be a schoolteacher, but if you are not prepared, it's certain that you won't be." (Little Town on the Prairie, Unexpected in April.)

"I believe you can, Laura," Ma said. "Do not be excited or frightened. There is no occasion to be. Just pretend that it is a school examination and you will be all right." (Little Town on the Prairie, Unexpected in December.)

"Laura, Laura," Ma protested in distress. "How can you be so unforgiving? That was years ago." (Little Town on the Prairie, The School Board's Visit Chapter.)

Ma said to Laura that Mary would be at home to stay when she finished college, and it might be that she would never have another opportunity to travel. It was nice that she could have this pleasant time and make so many new friends while she was young. "She will have it to remember," Ma said. (These Happy Golden Years, Nellie Oleson chapter.)

Who gets this shawl? Pa asked, and they all said, "Ma!" Such a beautiful shaw was for Ma, of course. Pa laid it her arm, and it was like her, so soft and yet firm and well-wearing, with the fine, bright colors in it. "We will all take turns wearing it," Ma said."And Mary shall take it with her when she goes to college." (The Long Winter, The Christmas Barrel chapter.)

Please feel free to add your favorite quotes.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri





Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Ma Ingalls Style Pancakes

Ma certainly knew had to make occasions extra special. Even though the Ingalls were poor, Ma's resourcefulness created lifelong memories for Laura.

Ma made pancake men for each child on Christmas. The girls all took their time and nibbled away at their pancakes. Greedy Peter gobbled up his pancake man.



I slowly poured a small circle and then added the torso and limbs into my cast iron skillet a la Caroline Ingalls' style.

You can also pour your pancake batter into metal cookie cutters. You will need to generously spray cooking spray on the cookie cutters and quickly flip your pancakes. The little pancakes will cook a lot more quickly than regular-sized pancakes.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations! I will be working on Little House on the Prairie themed posts. Please check back soon.

Cheri



Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Invisible String Book by Patrice Karst Review

I read The Invisible String to my daughter after my mom passed away and she was struggling with my mom's death.

The book focuses on separation anxiety-whether it's being sad about going to school, going to bed, moving away, military deployment, or dealing with death. The book is about 2 children who are scared of storms during their bedtime and want their mom. Their wise mom tells them that loved ones are connected by an invisible string made of love. She explains," People who love each other are always connected by a very special string made of love. Even though you can't see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart and know that you are always connected to the ones you love."

The string can travel as far as France, space, the jungle, and even Heaven. You are never alone because you are always connected to the ones you love.

To be honest, when I first read The Invisible String to my daughter I felt disappointed in her reaction. I guess I was expecting a hallelujah chorus to descend upon us with a dizzying array of inner light bulbs brightening up the neighborhood. Instead she just sat there quietly while I read the book and did not seem very interested. However, she recently took the book with her to her old granny's house and shared it with her. Yesterday, she, out of the blue, started talking about the invisible string and she told me how much she loves her grandma. 

I cannot speak highly enough of this invaluable book for giving us some peace in the saddest of times. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for its comforting message and cute illustrations.  It retails for about $12.  

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Leave a Legacy to Your Daughter

It's been almost one year since my sweet mom passed away. She was such a kind and gentle soul and she loved being a mom and grandma. Even though she's gone, she left me a precious gift and an everlasting legacy. Love. I know without a doubt she loved me with every fiber of her being. She wrote kind cards to me throughout my life, which I take out and read several times and treasure those words since I can longer speak with her. I would not trade those cards for any amount of money.

If you're a mom, take time to write love letters to your child. Hug her often and tell her you love her single day. Read that extra book and play that extra game with her. Childhood is short but memories and mementos keep us going in the roughest of times.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

One of my favorite photos of my beautiful mom.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Have You Filled a Bucket Book Review

Kindness is a trait that I try to emphasize a lot to my daughter. Carol McCloud wrote Have You Filled A Bucket Today? and she emphasizes the importance of kindness and self-respect. You can fill a bucket by simply smiling at someone, saying thank you, and just being kind. On the other hand, you can empty someone's bucket by making fun of someone.  Carol writes that everyone has an invisible bucket and we should try to fill everyone's bucket.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is ideal for all ages and retails for approximately $18.

I would definitely recommend reading this book to your daughter and encouraging her to be a bucket filler. Girls have a tendency to be quite cruel and catty to one another and this book is a step in the right direction to curtail mean behavior.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sleeping Queens Game Review

A super cool 6-year-old girl invented this fun and imaginative card game.  You have 12 queens such as The Ladybug Queen, The Pancake Queen, and The Starfish Queen who are asleep and you have to wake them up with a king card.  Watch out for dragons, potions, and knights who want to steal the queens.

It is a simple but fun game.  The player with the most queens wins the game.  My 6-year-old daughter also enjoys just with playing the cards and making up stories.

The illustrations are very appealing and quaint.  It is for ages 8 and up and for 2-5 players.  It retails for approximately $10.

This whimsical game is a must have for your game collection.  I give this adorable game an A+ and a plethora of gold stars.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri



Sleeping Queens

Cranium Hullabaloo Game Review

I use this game for my Girl Scout Troop and they love it.  I've also played it with just my daughter and we act silly and get some exercise in the process.

This giggle-inducing game encourages listening skills, creativity, and fast thinking.  You move from colorful shape to another by listening to instructions such as zooming to an animal, crawling to a food, etc.  Whenever Hullabaloo says freeze and if you're on the lucky square, you're the winner.

This game would be good for birthday parties, scout meetings, or just one-on-one time with your favorite girl!

This game is for ages 4 and up and does not require reading.

This game gets 5 stars in my book and I'm so glad we stumbled upon it.  I found it at Good Will for dirt cheap, but it usually retails between $20 and $30.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri




Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sleeping Beauty Ballet Theatre Book Review

The Sleeping Beauty Ballet Theatre


What a fabulous find!  It is still exciting to open this amazing book, set up the stage,  pick out a background, and place enchanting twirling figures from Sleeping Beauty.  My 6-year-old enjoys creating scenes and making up stories.  This encourages creativity and wonder. 

"This beautiful ballet theatre is a joy for children. It evokes all the magic of the fairytale world, and the ray of sunshine I felt within me when I danced the part of Princess Aurora." Irina Boronova, Prima Ballerina" --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


If your daughter likes fairy tales or ballet, she will adore this amazing find.  The kit includes an audio CD, a booklet with the story and stage instructions, a pull out cardboard draw for storage, 9 twirling characters and supporting characters, and backdrops.  You can purchase it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble website.  It retails for approximately $23.


I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.  It is worth every penny.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Make a Clay Mermaid Tutorial Part Three

Now we have reached the painting stage.  This is the fun part.  Painting is like breathing life into your clay creation.  I like to experiment and try different techniques and colors.  I use acrylic paint and I buy a variety pack of paint brushes.  Sometimes you will need brushes with fine tips to neatly paint around the edges.  I use medium width bristles for wider areas.

I first paint the head, torso, and arms with a flesh colored paint.  You need to paint 3 coats and wait at least an hour between each coat of paint.  I paint my creations on an old plastic cutting board.  If you paint on paper, the paint will stick to the paper and it is difficult to remove all the paper fragments.



I painted the tail a glossy white with the intent of painting a zebra patterned tail. This is my first attempt to paint a zebra patterned tail. 

















I have used several different shades of yellow to give the hair more depth.  I like using green with yellow.  I like giving the mermaid a nontraditional looking crown to go along with her funky tail.

I usually paint starfish on the chest and it is fairly easy to do.  You do not have to worry about being perfect.  The little bumps and imperfections can add charm to the final product.

I tried painting black stripes on the tail, but it looks horrible.  I decided to paint it black with white stripes instead.




 
I think the black tail looks striking against the yellow hair, green crown, and hot pink starfish.  This mermaid is beginning to look like Stevie Nicks.



I added some polka dots of different sizes to complement the striped tail.




I dip the tip of my paintbrush to make the eyes and cheeks.  You need to blot it once and practice on a piece of paper before you apply the paintbrush to the face.  I use a paintbrush with fine bristles to paint a smile.

I painted a variety of stripes to mimic a zebra pattern for this posh mermaid.  This is my first "wild" mermaid and I really like her.  

I added a coat of glitter glue to the crown.

This mermaid would look enchanting in a shadowbox with a pretty piece of scrapbook paper behind her.  

Note:  It is best to either glue a clay creation onto a shadowbox or hang it on a wall (I just twist jewelry wire, press it into a flat rectangle of clay, and glue it onto the back of the mermaid). This clay is fragile and it will break if you drop it.



Please e-mail me or leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.  

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Creations!

Cheri

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Make a Clay Mermaid Tutorial Part Two

Apart from the tail, the hair and crown show cases the mermaid and gives her a romantic touch.



Roll six long strands of hair.  Place three strands on each side of her head.  You will need to trim the edges by using the smooth side of a butter knife.  I like the hair to cascade down right above the fins.

Next you want to style your mermaid's hair.  Gently push the strands together and create gentle waves in the hair.  This type of hair is the easiest type to paint.  I also make wild curls and braids, but they are tedious to paint.


Crowns are easy to make.  Just make a square and form 3 triangles.
















Lastly, roll 3 small balls of clay and press each ball into each crown point.


















On my next post, I will share my painting techniques and tools.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri





Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to Make a Clay Mermaid Tutorial Part One





It is fun and fairly simple to take a humble lump of clay and transform it into a dazzling creature like a mermaid.  You do not have to be Michelango to create a mermaid.  I have broken down the process into easy to follow step and photos.





I use Sculpey clay.  You can purchase it for approximately $15 at any craft store.  You need to preheat your oven to 275 degrees and bake it for about 10 minutes.  Let it cool and gently slide a metal spatula under the mermaid to remove it from the cookie sheet.









I roll the clay into a ball for the head. You then smash it flat on an Airbake baking sheet.












Roll a small ball of clay and make it look like a snake.  Press the neck into the head.  You will need to constantly smooth out lumps.

















Make a rectangular shape and press it into the neck.  Gently round the corners to create shoulder and narrow it down into a waist.















 You can make a heart shape for the tail and then roll two extra "snakes" for the fins.  I like to coil the "snakes" into the fins for a graceful effect.

 Next form 2 extra snakes for arms and press it into the shoulder area.


 Please stay tuned.  In a few days I will post instructions on how to form hair and a crown.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri





Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Decorate a Shadow Box


I bought a shadow box for the first time at Hobby Lobby.  I bought some American Girl scrap book paper and just had so much fun creating a shadow box with my daughter's photo.










Step One:  I first cut the scrapbook paper for the background and pasted it with scrapbook paper friendly glue.  You really need a paper cutter or an Exacto knife in order for the paper to fit inside the shadow box.

I should have painted the box first and then put the scrapbook paper inside; however, I had originally planned on  gluing scrapbook paper on the entire frame.





Step two:  I printed out a photo and glued it a little off center for visual interest.










Step three:  I glued an orange American Girl photo insert over her photo.




Step four: I glued several phrases and images that reminded me of my daughter.  I have hung this in her yellow bathroom and it looks very cheerful.

Happy crafting!









Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!!!

Cheri

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paper Paint Blot Tutorial

My 6-year-old, Isabella,  and I just made paint blots for the first time and had so much fun making butterflies, hearts, and robots.  This is a simple but very fun craft to do together.

Here are the instructions:


  • First, just fold a piece of paper in half. 
  • Paint half of your image on one side of the paper.
  • Close the paper, press and firmly rub the painting to make a good impression.
  • Open it carefully to reveal your new paint blot.


Here is my simple heart paint blot:
































Happy painting and creating fun memories together!

Cheri

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Welcome Your Child Home After Camp, Staying with Grandparents, etc.

My daughter recently spent 5 days away from home.  She stayed with her Grandpa and made so many wonderful memories with him and other family members who live nearby.

I wanted to give her a cheery welcome home so I made a few signs from Smile Box.  I taped one sign onto her bathroom mirror. I taped a welcome home sign on the front door and tied some pink balloons beside the door. I heard her squeal with delight when she and my dad pulled up in the driveway.

I placed the Dove chocolate bar and La La Loopsy doll on her bed.  She was really excited to see her signs and little gifts.  She enjoyed finding little surprises throughout her home.

Here's to making fun memories with your child.

Thank you for visiting ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

P.S.  Here are some of the photos of the signs and small gifts.



Monday, July 4, 2011

How to Love the Unlovables

I heard an incredible sermon on how to tolerate the unlovable people in your life.  The preacher said that people's flaws are actually scars.  Wouldn't it be easier to tolerate someone if you understood the whole history and life story of that annoying and rude co-worker or neighbor?  Would your heart soften if you know that abrasive co-worker got beaten every night or lived in numerous foster homes?

Let's try to remember there is a reason why Mr. or Mrs. Dysfunctional is that way and show him or her mercy.  You might even end up liking him or her or even changing their lives.

It's the times in my life where I showed kindness to someone that make me the most proud and give me the most peace.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Review for Something Blue by Emily Giffin

I picked up this book with hesitation.  I thought it would be a little too trite for my taste, but I actually ended up liking it.  The main character, Darcy, is vain and superficial and makes horrible decisions.   She is very unlikable at first.

Darcy is your typical Alpha female with a loyal plain best friend named Rachel.  Darcy never lets Rachel (or anyone else) shine in the lime light.  Darcy is carelessly engaged for 7 years and cheats on her fiance a few times during their engagement.  Rachel ends up with Darcy's fiance while Darcy has gotten pregnant by her fiance's sleazy friend.

Through an unlikely source, she learns some tough life lessons and receives tough love.  Sometimes salvation clops in a non glamorous package.

This is a good summer read type of book.  I would definitely recommend this book if you're looking for a light read. 

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!  Happy reading!!

Cheri

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Pixar Movie

Pixar is releasing a new movie called Brave and it's about a Scottish princess who is rebellious and adventurous.

The trailer looks stunning with amazing graphics.  Wait till you hear the narrator's Scottish brogue.  I am so grateful that movies are featuring strong female role models for our daughters. 


I'm sorry that I don't have more details, but I guess Pixar is trying to slowly build anticipation for the movie.  It will not be released until 2012.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations.

Cheri




http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2995231769/

Three Simple Tips on How to Ask for Forgiveness

I finally apologized to one of our neighbors tonight.  I had snapped at him about a year ago and the guilt slowly nibbled away at me.  The perfect opportunity to apologize presented itself tonight in the form of a rambunctious puppy.

His dog ran up to me in my driveway and would not return to him.  For some reason, his dog really likes to hang out with me.  He had to come and carry his dog back home.  I then quickly said that I wanted to say I was sorry for being rude to him and he graciously accepted my apology and said he understood my reaction. 

I feel so much better now.  I do not have to cringe or look the other way when I pass him now.

Here are 3 simple tips on how to ask forgiveness:
1.  Be gentle in your tone and attitude.
2.  Just simply say you are sorry and why you are sorry.
3.  Do not ever point out the other person's flaws.  Accept full responsibility for your actions.

I feel a million pounds lighter now.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella!  Happy traveling today wherever you may go.  Whether it's a humble walk down your driveway to a neighbor or to your spouse's side of the room, just say you're sorry and move on.  The only way to travel is to travel light.

Cheri

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Review for The Everygirl's Guide to Life by Maria Menounos

The Everygirl's Guide to Life is one of my favorite self help books.  Maria is very down-to-earth and offers great tips for all aspects of your life.  I was pleased  to discover that she is frugal and practical and I can actually buy some of the products she mentions.  I have dog eared several pages and keep this book nearby for quick references and inspirations.











In my opinion, here are some of Maria's best pieces of advice:



  • Be friends with different types of people.  It really impressed me that Maria doesn't just seek out the cool people of the world.  She is willing to befriend a coffee shop clerk and even a carny.  We truly shortchange ourselves when we only chose friends who have wealth, good looks, and exquisite breeding.  To be blunt, that's a very superficial and snobby approach to your life and you need to grow up and let go of your middle school mentality and cattiness.


  • Avoid the vampires in your life.  Just like you would not allow a person to physically suck your blood, so why would you let someone suck out your valuable time, energy, and joy?  Run for your life!  Seek out friends who bring out the best in you and vice versa. 

  • Maria says one of the best products she uses for her skin is Colorscience Pro Primer.  She says it's a line tamer and skin brightener.  She first tried it in January and by April she had no zits.  You can either google and find out where to buy it or you can buy it on Amazon.  Word to the wise about Amazon, be sure to shop around for prices. Some of their vendors really charge ridiculous prices for their products.  

  • I love that she's frugal and thoughtful.  She created a thank you letter book for her boyfriend's gift.  She asked all of his closet friends to write a letter describing what he means to them.  She put all the letters into a gorgeous scrapbook for him.  She said he cried while reading the scrapbook and said it was the best gift he had ever received.


In summary, this book reminds me a modern day Dear Abby and provides tidbits of insightful advice.

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Tips for taking Exceptional Photos

I am not a professional photographer with top-of-the-line camera equipment.  Although I wish I was a fancy schmancy camera toting mama, I just have a simple digital camera.  People often compliment my photos and I credit that to some basic tips. 

I took a photography course at college and I came away with 3 invaluable rules that have really garnered a lot of compliments on my photos. 

  • First, it is visually interesting and more emotional to take close ups of your subject.  If I take a photo of my daughter in the backyard and include our fence, the neighbor's trees, the other homes, I have taken the focus off of my subject.  I would rather see her facial expressions, the little dimples in her hands, and her tight clutch on her favorite toy. 
  • Second, take assymetrical shots.  It makes for a more artistic looking photo to offset your subject. 
  • Lastly, get on the subject's level and take their photo.  Or try interesting angles.  One of my favorite photos is my daughter on a dock.  I got down on my stomach and kept slithering backwards to get a good view of her.  She is very tall, so I didn't get all of her, but I did get the details of the dock, her happy expression, and the gorgeous clouds.  All the details added up to a picturesque photo.
Please feel to leave comments or your favorite tips. 

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri

P.S.  I frequent http://www.picnik.com/ to edit my photos.  It has a lot of free editing features that really make your photos pop.

How to Make the BEST Snicker Doodle Cookies

I don't know what it is about Snicker Doodles, but people seem to have a strong emotion attached to it.  I make snicker doodles a lot and people often say it reminds them of their grandmother or mother.  It is a feel-good cookie. 

Here is the best recipe that I faithfully use:

Snicker Doodles

Ingredients
1 cup shortening
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2-3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt
4 T. sugar
4 t. cinnamon

Combine shortening, 1-1/2 c. sugar, and eggs and mix well.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Roll into balls and then roll in mixture of 4 T. sugar and cinnamon.  Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes at 350.

If it is fall time, I combine pumpkin spice and cinnamon together for a more spicy flavor.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Protect Your Daughter from Bullies

I do not mean to ignore those with sons, but since I only have one daughter I believe it is wise to only talk about what I know. 

Even though my daughter is young,  bullying starts very young.  I have read several books about bullying and one of the best books is called Little Girls Can Be Mean by Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert.  This book is full of good advice and tips.  It is a must-read for any mother with elementary-aged daughters.

This past year in kindergarten literally broke my heart.  There were 5 girls in her class.  Three of the girls were constantly mean to her.  Even her teacher said it was awful. 

Girls can be sly with their bullying because a mean look, gossip, or an eye roll is not going to get them sent to the principal's office.  However, if a child punches or kicks, he/she is kicked out of school and labeled a trouble maker. 

My initial reaction is to swoop down and rescue my child myself.  I remember how other kids taunted me and made me feel like the ugliest creature in existence.  My low self-esteem led to some poor choices in my life.  I cannot bear the thought my child feeling the way I did. However, it is better for my child to learn how to stand up for herself and not depend on me to fight her battles. Of course, if your child is in danger, you do need to step in and take immediate action.

I don't know about you, but I feel like my hands are tied sometimes.  How can I expect a child to stand up for herself when most adults have not even mastered that art?

It is a slow process.  As parents, we need to constantly inspire and strengthen our child.  One of the best things we have done is that we belong to a Church.  Even if you do not believe in organized religion, if you read about the happiest and most content people, it is those who have a strong spiritual connection to others. 

Involve her in sports.  Find something that she is good at and feels passionate about.  You cannot go wrong with having extra friends, producing endorphines, and keeping active and fit.

Encourage her to journal and to have a safe place in her room to express her thoughts.  I love the part in Little Women when Beth was sick and Amy was stuck with Mrs. March.  The Catholic maid created a closet for Amy.  Amy put some of favorite possessions in the closet, but mainly it was a place to get away and pray by herself.  Even though, we have a small home, our daughter has a red (her favorite color) beanbag by her bookshelf with an ethereal white paper lantern overhead.  This is one of her favorite places to hang out in her room.Publish Post

Girl Scouts has been a very positive experience for us.  My daughter has made friends of different ages, different backgrounds, etc.  Our troop is very kind and fun loving.  It makes me feel better to know that her fellow Girl Scout sisters are across the hall or in the next classroom.  There is a Bible verse about how a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  Encourage your daughter to have strong sister-type friendships and give her those opportunities.

Lastly, accept your daughter for she is and do not force her to live your dreams.  Marvel at her uniqueness, support her, love her, and pray for her.  Be grateful for the time you have with her.  She will only be yours for a short time.

Cheri


Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Make a Clay Princess


I have been making clay figures for several years now.  People often ask me how I make them.  First, I buy white polymer clay, the kind that you can easily mold with your hands.  It costs about $15 for a small block of clay.  Next, I roll a small ball for the face and gently press it in a flat circle. I make a small rectangle for the neck, then add the torso, arms, and gown.  I add the hair since it will lay over the arms and gown.  Lastly, you can make a simple crown and gently press it onto the hair.  You need to bake the clay at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let it cool and then gently use a metal spatula to remove it from your pan (Airbake pans produce the best results). 

I apply several coats of acrylic paint .  I also add two coats of glitter glue to the gown.  You need to allow one hour between each coat of paint before you reappply another coat.  I add 2 coats of finish to the princess.  I also make a wire hanger for the back of the princess.  I twist jewelry wire into a small loop and press into a small flat oval of polymer clay and bake it for about 5-7 minutes.  I use white craft glue to attach the wire to the back of the princess.  You could attach a ribbon to the hook for an extra pop of color. 

Voila-you have created your own one-of-a-kind creation. 

Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions.

I do make customized creations for $20.  I can make mermaids, fairies, superheroes, animals, and personalized Christmas ornaments.  I am donating a portion of the proceeds to a memorial in honor of my sweet mom, Violet, who passed away in August of 2010. 

Thank you for stopping by ViBella Inspirations!

Cheri