Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mary Engelbreit's Summer

By Christina VanGinkel

Mary Engelbreit has fans everywhere that flock to purchase whatever she puts her illustrations and name on, whether it is a calendar, a pack of stickers, a card, or in this instance, a book. This book is one of a group of four, Fall, Winter, Spring, and this one, Summer, and she has once again met her fans with a winning combination.

This book, Summer, is small in size, easily tossed into a bag or purse for browsing whenever you have a few moments, but be warned that once you start reading it, it will be difficult to put down until you have completed it cover to cover. The author of the book is actually Charlotte Lyons, and she has taken the time to make sure that all the crafts that are included in the pages are easy to recreate with as little work as possible. Instructions are short, and to the point, but always clear so that making the projects will be as simple as can be. Besides crafts perfect for summer holidays and sunny beaches, there are also recipes with just as much thought put into the 'easy' aspect of making them

A Rice Salad for Memorial Day, Gazpacho for any summer brunch or lunch, and Blueberry Muffins perfect for the Fourth of July, round out the included recipes. Crafts include a Wreath of Honor and a Flag Tray for Memorial Day, and gift ideas for Father's day that include a frame, a desk set, and a tackle box. For the Fourth of July, you have a choice of a Parade Hat, perfect for those small town parades, or decorating your entryway, wherever a spot of red, white, and blue would fit, a Best-of-Show- bike, again, perfect for the town's parade, and a Folk Art Flag.

To make your backyard perfectly themed, there is a Seed Box, Plant Stakes, Porch Pillows (perfect for making your porch swing not only prettier, but also much more comfortable), and a Patio Lantern (perfect for those who love to recycle old into stunning new). There is also a fun Window Dressing for fancying up your window box gardens, and an absolutely fun Truck Garden, which is a small garden created in the bed of a toy truck that you salvage from an antique store or yard sale, or even your own treasured memories from your childhood.

If you have a child heading off for a week or whole summer of fun at an away camp, the same way kids have been doing for decades, then you do not want to miss the Painted Trunk, Laundry Bag, Letter Case, Care Package, Rustic Frame, Bunkmate Organizer, or Autograph Pillow. The Autograph Pillow is one of those ideas that kids will love now, and thank you for when they are older and have such a fun item to reminisce over. In addition, any one of these items is sure to make their stay a memory to be cherished for years to come.

Vacation themes are as much fun as the rest of the book, with a Beach Bag you can whip together in no time, simply by personalizing a store bought straw bag, or a Sand Throne, which is a beach chair that you personalize quickly and easily with acrylic paint. What is so nice about the Sand Throne, is it helps to make it easier to pick your chair out on a crowded beach from the other couple of hundred that all look the same, save for your personalized decorations. There is also a Towel Rack, a Beach Towel, a Lemonade pitcher, and a Sailing Shelf. The Beach Towel is by far my favorite in the whole book, as they used vintage linens to create pockets for books and sundries on the side of a large, otherwise unadorned, beach towel. Fun!

Contributors to the fun designs in the pages of this hardcover book, besides Mary Engelbreit, and Charlotte Lyons, include Michael Mahler for Cheap Trx., Joseph Slattery, and Stephanie Barken.

If you are looking for a book of fun crafts with a summer theme, either for your own use, or to give as a gift, this book, one of a series of four, is the ideal book with its fun illustrations, easy to read format, and full color photography.

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