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.

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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.



  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.

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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.

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.

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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. (Tangled game) (Wizard of Waverly Place) (Disney Fairies)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


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.  

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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.

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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.


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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.