Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Rap Sheet (The Week's Best in Looks, Books, Nooks, and More)

Here's what caught our eye this week at the Nest. Enjoy!! A/J

I love the images of these Ice Princesses shared by Carrie Dorean Photography. Just lovely. 
This post from the Disney blog focuses on all the crazy hallucinogenic stuff Alice comes across in Disney's version of Alice in Wonderland, which makes one wonder what exactly those Imagineers were smoking. 
In case you missed it earlier this week, this post about the Bambolina Dolls from Principessa Boutique. 
These 15 Reader-Designed Covers shared by BookRiot are something to see (this one is by MrFury). 
If you are an academic, you will find this quite amusing and ridiculously accurate. 
If you've never heard about the glorious thing that is the Cookie Table, a feature at weddings here in Southwestern PA, you must read about it here
This Can You Guess the Novel by the First Lines Quiz kind of makes me feel like I'm back in the Intro to the Short Story class I took during my junior year of college, but it's fun. 
My amazing friend Laurie Keeney Courtney drew this. She really should have her own blog, because she is fabulously creative and witty. For now, however, I'll just feature her here:). Also, this one is a chalkboard palimpsest of sorts, because you can see the last amazing drawing underneath. 
Last, but not least, I want this broad-brimmed hat. And her hair. Definitely the hair.

Pin of the Day: Cozy Reading Nook in a Little Girl's Nursery

Cozy Reading Nook
In today's pin of the day, I love everything about this little reading corner shared by the On to Baby blog. In fact, the entire nursery shared in this post is a must-see. Enjoy!! A/J

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pin of the Day: Muppet Alphabet

Muppet Alphabet
Today's pin of the day, this Muppet Alphabet Art Print from Mike Boon, which can be found over at Society 6. My favorite letters are A, B, T, and Z. Yours?? A/J

How to Plan a Fun Zumba Class

This may seem like an off-the-wall post for our particular blog, but I moonlight as a Zumba instructor (that's me in the front in the black leggings and gray sweatshirt;)). And I thought it would be helpful for some new Zumba instructors starting out to share how I go about planning a class. Here's the general arrangement of my typical classes:

I start off with a three song warm-up, as the Zumba corporation suggests (focusing on simple moves like step-touches, grapevines, etc. with a few fun moves for flare). For these songs, I tend to try to use two songs that are currently popular, and at least one with a Latin feel. In the past, for example, I've started with Lady Gaga's "Applause" and went into Pitbull's "Back in Time" (which I make my class sing - they love that). For the third song, I use something with a hard-driving beat and that is easily countable (as I focus more on toning moves - squats, standing crunches, etc.). Right now, I'm using Britney Spears's "Work Work" (the clean version of course).

The rest of the class I divide into two parts. The first half I devote more to songs that are Latin-inspired or World, switching between different tempos, intensities, and styles. For instance, I would start off with a salsa-inspired song like "Culebra," followed by a merengue song like "El Amor" and/or a Cumbia, then a reggaeton song like "Descontrol" or "En Sus Marcas Listos Fueras" and a Masala Bhangra tune like "Indian Moonshine." I also try to bring in one hip-hoppy/clubby song at the end for a short battle (splitting the class in half for the end of the song; always fun, they really like going at one another;)). I've liked using "Sweat" by Casely and "Work" by Lil Jon in the past. This section is usually made up of between 5-6 songs, depending on whether I have a full hour or 55 minutes.

As a break between the two class sections, I do a squat song. Whatever you want, as long as it's fun ... and killer. 

For the last section, I use three harder songs (a Latin-flavored pop song, a reggaeton battle, and a powerful closing song, whatever floats my boat), one standing-ab song (also bringing the heart-rate down), and a cool-down. Currently, I am using Enrique Iglesias's "Turn the Night Up," Don Omar's "El Conteo" (a full-song battle), and "The Floor is On Fire" (by Pitbull, Lil Jon). For standing abs, it's always fun to use Shakira or Kat DeLuna as inspiration. The cooldown is up to you, something low-tempo and easy to follow.

Have fun planning your own!! Let me know if you have any questions (and if you haven't tried Zumba yet, get out there. Anyone can do it:)!!!). A/J

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pin of the Day: How to Make a Glitter-Dipped Mug

How to Make a Glitter-Dipped Mug
Today's Pin of the Day, how to make a glitter-dipped mug from Ann Marie over at White House Black Shutters. Yet another fun project to do while stuck indoors in this miserable cold. If hell were cold, this would be it. A/J

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bambolina Dolls by Principessa Boutique

Principessa Bambolinas (All photos taken by KLW Fotos)
Today at the Owl's Skull, we are featuring Principessa Bambolinas. Each doll is handmade. They start from a pile of fabric and end up beautiful and unique. The dolls can be custom-ordered to fit any theme. They can be crafted to match a special outfit worn by the owner. They have also been made to match certain themes: ballerinas, birthstone color, sports themes. Luckily, for those of you who live outside of the Pittsburgh region, the dolls can be shipped anywhere in the country.  One doll, for example, was made for the daughter of a Cincinnati Bengal with her dad's jersey number on it. The very first one sold is now in a nursery for a little girl in Florida. 
White Ballerina Bambolina
Each Bambolina sale also supports local charity. Proceeds are donated to The Young Women's Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation and Autism Speaks since both causes are near and dear to the family who owns Principessa.  The dolls are designed and crafted by two women, the mother and the aunt of the three sisters who own the boutique; the aunt herself is a breast cancer survivor. 

The dolls can be purchased for $85. Orders can be emailed to or placed in person at the store, which is located in the Shoppes at Quail Acres, south of Pittsburgh in Washington, PA (The address is 1445 Washington Road; Washington, PA 15301). The Facebook page for Principessa can be found here (go like them; they have stuff that is seriously adorable for both boys and girls).  What kind of Principessa would you order? I can just imagine some book-themed Principessas myself:). A/J

You can find out more about KLW Fotos here

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Maisy Files: Maisy and the Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum

The Maisy Files: Maisy and the Missing Mice
About the Book
Title: Maisy and the Missing Mice
Genre: Children’s Mystery Fiction
Author: Elizabeth Woodrum
Publisher: Elizabeth Woodrum
Pages: 70
Language: English
Format: Paperback & eBook
Maisy Sawyer is not your average fourth grade student. She is a detective with a special skill for solving mysteries. She loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. When a thief known as The Black Boot steals the school’s mascots and her lollipops, Maisy sets out to solve the case. Can she help return the mice to their home in the science lab? Will she ever see her beloved lollipops again? Find out in the first book in The Maisy Files series.
Visit the book trailer at
I really enjoyed reading this book, which made me hungry for both cherry lollipops and pepperoni pizza. Woodrum has a way with words and imagines a world that is both memorable and fun.  I particularly love the way in which she describes Maisy's descent into her detective world. She sees everything in black and white, imagining herself in an old film noir tale. Give Maisy a spin. She's delightful, entertaining, and what kid, young or old, doesn't love solving a mystery?


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Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

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About the Author
Elizabeth Woodrum is a full time elementary teacher in Ohio. She began writing as early as when she was in elementary school, but more recently began writing material for use in her classroom. From that writing, grew the desire to write books for the general population of children and adults alike. The Maisy Files, a children’s series, is the first series that she has published. The series currently has one book, Maisy and the Missing Mice. Elizabeth plans to add more books to the series, and would also like to publish books for adults in the future.
As a reader, Elizabeth prefers the fantasy genre, but she enjoys realistic fiction as well. Some of her favorite authors include JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Rick Riordan, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, and Nicholas Sparks.
Originally from Indiana, Elizabeth currently resides near Dayton, Ohio with her two pets: a cat named Butterscotch and a dog named Reese Cup
You can view more about Elizabeth Woodrum at

Connect & Socialize with Elizabeth!

I received my review copy from Pump Up Your Book Tours

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pin of the Day: The Best Chicken Noodle Soup Ever

This is a big claim, but I'm willing to try it:). 
Today, this chicken noodle soup recipe from The StoneGable Blog. It looks pretty darn tasty, and this is the perfect day for it in Southwestern Pennsylvania. A/J

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Rap Sheet (The Week's Best in Books, Looks, Reading Nooks, and More)

Here's what caught our eye this week at the Nest. Enjoy!! A/J

We heart this "kick-ass" tote bag on sale at Zooey Magazine. At only $15.00, it's a steal!! 
12 Historic Bars Every Book Lover Needs to Visit from Arianna Rebolini at Buzzfeed I've been to the first two. Now to tackle the others;). 
This post from the Huffington Post about the "terrifyingly gorgeous" photography project undertaken by Cologne, Germany-based photographer Kilian Schonberger is just delicious. I can just see Goldilocks coming down the path. 
We also heart these DIY Heart Jeans we featured from the My Little Secrets Blog as a Pin of the Day earlier this week. This will be our Saturday Night Project this weekend!
In honor of student evaluations being released to professors at many universities this week, this oldie but goodie from The Onion titled "Professor Deeply Hurt by Student's Evaluation."
I love this song by One Direction. I think, however, that I love this version by the Gardiner Sisters even better. A must hear. 
This one's an old one from us. Because it's so damn cold here, this collection of lovely books about Winter will warm you right up:). 
PS: If you liked this post, we would love it if you would pin, tweet, or share it. Have a great weekend!! 

Pin of the Day: Hipster Hats

Hipster Hats
I tweeted the other day about how much I love the way hipsters wear their toboggans (ski-hats if you're from Pittsburgh). Now, I realize the image above (shared by isn't exactly the traditional hipstery version, which seems to be longer and more tubular (maybe they just wear the fold-down ski-hats without the fold, making them longer??). In any event, many of the more hipstery chicks I see on campus seem to wear this sort of hat, which I also adore. Also, I'm kind of glad that this is a mannequin in a wig, because I would be very jealous if this were a real person's hair. A/J

Princesses on the Run (by Smiljana Coh)

Princesses on the Run by Smiljana Coh
Once upon a time, a princess broke free from her castle...

This afternoon, my youngest daughter Sophie and I read this delightful little book from Smiljana Coh that she received as a Christmas present (for some reason, people like to buy my kids fractured fairy tales;)). In it, a young princess named Antonia decides to awaken herself and her friends, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, from their lives of drudgery and routine they have been living.

By the way, I think I am all of these princesses combined.  Cleaning, housebound, and tired. 
The girls take off for what might be considered a "Ladies Night Out" for tweeners, running away to the sea and tasting that delicious word "freedom."

The images in the book are part of the fun. They draw upon traditions of paper-cutting, watercolor, and including "real" images within the hand-drawn world of the tale (think of the Charlie and Lola series). 
When the girls come back, Rapunzel bobs her hair, Cinderella becomes a fashion designer, Sleeping Beauty evolves into a yogi, and Snow White runs a cross-country tour. Yes, perhaps the book would have been better if Rapunzel and Cinderella became lawyers/advocates for abused children, Sleeping Beauty fought the drug companies that invented Ambien, and Snow White wrote a book exposing the dangers of Photoshop, but I still enjoyed this little number from Coh. The book gets two thumbs-up from us here at the Nest. You can order Princesses on the Run here

Oh, and we read this lovely little book about Winter again this afternoon (click the link for a few other cold weather favorites). The words in it warm you right up:). A/J

{If you liked this post, please share it with your friends:). Much love and appreciation! A/J}

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Guess that Candy Baby Shower Game (With Answer Key) **FREE PRINTABLE

Guess that Candy Baby Shower Game
We've had several requests for a printable version (with answer key) of this Guess that Candy Baby Shower game via our Pinterest page. So, here, without further ado, is a free printable version of the game along with an answer key (I had to change # 8; I couldn't remember it:)!!). A/J

Click here to download the Guess that Candy Game
Click here to download the Answer Key

{If you liked this post, please share it with your friends:). Much love and appreciation!}

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pin of the Day: Reading Girl

Reading Girl
I love this image from Enjoy! A/J

How to Create Content Tabs Using Pages and InLinkz (for Blogger)

Creating Content Tabs Using Pages and InLinkz
I thought it might be helpful to a few other bloggers out there to share this information, since I struggled to find a post about it myself when I was trying to set these up. For a long while, I had been using the Pages feature in Blogger to include tabs with information about the blog, myself, sponsors, etc. in my blog's header, but I came to the point where I wanted to feature collections of older content categorized by subject (i.e. Book Reviews, DIY/Home Projects, Recipes, Skull Style, etc.). I found many posts about including labels on each blog post and attaching the labels to tabs in the blog's header, but I found this option unwieldy. I also felt that it impeded a reader's access to the content, because it listed out in chronological order all of the posts with the given label rather than including thumbnail images of the posts that readers could click on.

A simple way to address this is to sign up for the Project Manager function in InLinkz and create collections based on your content. This allows you to highlight your best posts in each category, as you choose and manually enter the posts and can organize the images as you wish.

Here's how to do it.

1. In InLinkz (, click on and sign up for the Project Manager Hub (there are different options to purchase, but you can do a monthly trial at $4.99 if you want to test things out before committing). Once inside the Project Manager hub, click on the "Go To the Dashboard" Tab.

2. Once in the Dashboard, click on the "Add New Collection" link (located in the upper right corner, the first link).

3. This will open a new page, where you can enter a title and description for your collection, select column number and size, etc. (I chose to include four columns and 125px for the images).

4. The next step is to add new links to your collection. To do this, you click on the "Add New Link" link (in the upper right hand corner again). This will pull up a box that looks very similar to the kind of entry form you use when you add links to a linky party (if you are not familiar with this, it's pretty self-explanatory. You give the link a title, enter the link, and select an image from the website. I have some that link to posts on my own website and some that link to favorite things from other people's websites as well).

5. Once this is completed, you drag the image from the "My Links" section (you can see this on the left-hand side above) into the segment that says "DROP LINKS FROM THE LEFT HERE."

6. The last step is to insert the code for the collection into the selected page on your blog. Once you have created and saved your collection, click the close button in the bottom right-hand corner. This will bring you back to your Project Manager dashboard. Under the title for the collection you created, you will see a blue button that says Click on this button and copy all of the script in the "Widget Code" box. In Blogger, click on the Pages tab on the left-hand side of the design page. Select the edit option for the Page you created for your collection (i.e. Book Reviews, DIY Projects, etc.). Click the HTML tab in the upper left-hand corner and paste the Widget Code you copied into the box. When you click back over to Compose, you will see how the page will look once saved. Click the Update button to save the page ...

AND you're done!! The collection will look something like this.

Having tabs of this sort increases the length of time someone stays on your blog, as they can wander around in your tabs (and all of your great older content that you spent so much time crafting up is readily available). Good luck!! Let me know if you have any issues. A/J

** I did not receive any compensation or sponsorship from InLinkz for this post. I simply find it the easiest tool to use for this particular task. 

PS: If you liked this post, please share it with your friends:). Much love and appreciation!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pin of the Day: Guess that Candy Baby Shower Game

Guess that Candy Baby Shower Game
This pin about a Guess that Candy Baby Shower game from a shower we attended last year has gone bananas lately on our Pinterest page. Check it out:)!! It was super-fun to play. Guess who won;)?? A/J

Birds of a Feather {Photography by Scott Guy}

This Monday morning, some beautiful photographs taken by an old, dear friend of mine, Scott Guy. I am particularly enamored with his ability to capture the individual quality of the birds' feathers (oh, and there's one of bats. Be prepared;)). A/J

Bluebird in Flight 
Hawk with ruffled feathers on his chest
Duck in flight
The Battle of the Turkeys (their feathers look like armor)
I love Canada Geese, the way their feathers float at the tips

Bats. Yikes. They even scare me a little bit.