Action Packed Adventure in The Kingdom of Oceana Novel

We received a teen novel recently for our #MelandNikkiReview and even though Nikki is too young to enjoy a novel, it gave me the opportunity to read one on my own.

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles takes us on an action-packed journey in Hawaii.

“When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell.” (Novel Synopsis)

I give this book a 5 lilikoi (passion fruit) out of 5 as I love the way the author is descriptive on the island details, use of Hawaiian language and culture in the story. It gives the reader the opportunity to feel like they are in the beautiful island. The action-pack story is great and keeps you wondering on what is going to happen next. I recommend this novel for youth 12 and older.

I had the honor and opportunity to interview the author to get some great interesting facts for my loyal readers and fans.

1. How did you begin writing?

I began writing The Kingdom of Oceana after spending prolonged periods of time in Hawaii. I was captivated by the natural beauty and wonderful people of the Islands.

2. What motivates you as an Author?

To create great characters and stories that are woven into themes that are important to me. These themes include family, honoring and protecting the great creatures of the ocean, and respect for indigenous cultures.

3. What inspired you to write The Kingdom of Oceana?

My two teenage children.

4. Is there a message in your book that you would like your audience to know?

There is more to Hawaii than big hotels, golf courses and Mai Tais. The Hawaiian culture is wonderful.

5. What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

I read a lot, both fictional and non-fiction. The book that has most influenced me is The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

6. What makes you passionate about being an Author?

I love to tell stories and had so much fun creating the magical world of ancient Hawaii.

7. Do you have another book in the works? If so, what can we expect?

Yes. I’m working on a sequel to The Kingdom of Oceana, and another novel that takes place in modern day Hawaii.

8. Is there anything else you would like to add for your fans?

My favorite version of the book is the audiobook. Rayton Lamay, who was born on the Island of Lanai, does such a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. It was important to me to have a native Hawaiian do the narration so that the dialect was authentic.

Special thank you to Mitchell Charles for his time on this exclusive interview for Momma Braga fans. Make sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter to see what comes up next.

To purchase this great novel for a teenager in your family, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

5 Creative DIY Father’s Day Crafts

By: Karen Silva
Twitter: @Karenbabydoll22

Dads…The one we call our hero and the one that will do anything to put a smile on our face even through the toughest times. So why not show him how much he is loved and appreciated by making some special crafts with your little one, to give him this Father’s Day.

Here are my top five favorite Father’s Day crafts.

*Please use your best judgment on which tasks you will need to do on your own for the safety of your child*

#1 Dad in the world

What you will need: Gold plastic cups, glue, hot glue, decorative foam shapes and Gold or Yellow pipe cleaners

If you haven’t guessed it, this activity is all about making a trophy for our #1 dads. I found my Gold plastic cups from my local Party City store. However, if you do not have one or are having a difficult time finding some, you can always wrap normal plastic cups with Yellow or Gold construction paper. Once you have your Gold cups, hot glue the bottom of the cups together. Then together with your child glue the foam shapes onto the cups. You can also write #1 dad on the trophy. Once that’s done, hot glue each pipe cleaner to each side of the cup to make handles.                                               

I love you to the moon and back

What you will need: Construction paper, glue, scissors, markers and a picture of your child with dad.

On one construction paper draw and cut out a spaceship. Glue the spaceship onto a black or dark blue construction paper. On a red construction paper trace and then cut out your child’s hand print and glue it to the bottom of your spaceship. Then glue the picture you have to the top of the spaceship (you can cut the picture to a circle shape, so that it fits perfectly to the top of the space ship). Have your child decorate the spaceship with markers. You can add some stars and the words “I love you to the moon and back.”             

Why I love you

What you will need: Thick popsicle sticks, markers, construction paper, hot glue, nuts and bolts.

On a construction paper glue down the thick popsicle sticks to make a border. Write down on the construction paper “Why I love you” and write down your child’s answer. Have your child decorate and color the popsicle sticks. Once completed hot glue the nuts and bolts onto the popsicle sticks.

Suit up with love

What you will need: Tie and fabric paint.

Make sure you and your child is suited up and ready to go as this activity may get messy. Get a plain tie but make sure it is dad’s favorite color. Together with the fabric paint decorate it and then set aside to dry. To make this activity easier you can always make a tie out of construction paper and hot glue a safety pin to the back so dad can still wear it.

Best Dad Hands Down

What you will need: A white apron and fabric paint or regular paint.

Same idea as the activity above; however, when decorating the white apron make sure that your child puts a couple of their hand prints on it. You can even write on the apron “Best Dad Hands Down.”

Whether you choose to do any of these activities or something different for your special dads in your life; I would love to see it, so make sure to tag me on Twitter.

Have an amazing Father’s Day!


About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.

Momma Braga’s Portuguese Beef Stew (Carne Guisada)

Beef stew (Carne Guisada) is a favorite in my household and one that I grew up with. Like with many recipes there are so many different ways of making it! Here is how my family makes this popular dish.

Carne Guisada

INGREDIENTS

  • Over a pound of chopped beef stew meat
  • 1 Onion
  • Half of a tomato
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Half a cup of red wine
  • Half a cup of water
  • 5 to 7 potatoes
  • Portuguese buns

DIRECTIONS

  • Marinate your beef stew meat. I usually do this the night before to have the meat soak in the juices for more flavor.
    • Wash meat well.
    • Place meat in a bowl and add the following ingredients; salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, half a cup of wine and half a cup of water. Measurements for the ingredients are based on what you normally use in your meat marinating. Then mix well.
    • Leave the meat covered and in the fridge for the next day cooking.
  • The following day start by washing the onions, tomato and potatoes. Chop up the onions, tomato and potatoes. Everyone has a preferred style for potatoes in their stew, we like it diced. Set the potatoes aside as you will need them later.
  • Once the onions and tomato are cut, place them in a pot with some olive oil with a pinch of paprika. On low heat cook the onion and tomato until the onions are a golden color. Then add your meat with it’s sauce that you marinated with the day before.
  • Let it cook on medium and stir.
  • Once the meat is almost cooked, add your potatoes and a pinch of salt. This will add flavor to the potatoes you just added. If you feel that you need to add some more water then add another cup of water. Sometimes the meat soaks up a lot of the liquid as you are cooking.
  • Now cook until the potatoes are cooked and you are done. If a fork goes through the potatoes then that is my sign that they are done.
  • You can serve your beef stew in a bowl and if you like Portuguese buns, then provide some at the dinner table as they are great for dipping into the stew (my favorite part of the whole meal!).

And there you have it, Momma Braga’s beef stew! Give it a try and let me know what you think of it!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

5 Fun Activities For A Rainy Day

By: Karen Silva
Twitter: @Karenbabydoll22

Some parents cringe when it starts to rain as they worry about their children having meltdowns from being indoors all day or at the thought of them getting messy in rain puddles. But really there is no need to fear if you can make it a fun day for them and for yourself.

Here are my top five favorite activities to do using simple recycled material that is perfect for a rainy day.

*Please use your best judgment on which tasks you may need to assist your child with*

Talent Show

What you will need: Empty tissue box, paper towel roll, elastic bands, tape, straws, caps from jars, popsicle sticks, rice and decorative materials (for example: markers, paint or stickers).

Throwing a talent show will not only keep your kids busy for a long time but it will get them to show off their talents. You can make fun instruments and more using recycled items if they want to show off their musical skills.

To make a guitar, glue the paper towel roll onto the side of a tissue box. Then stretch out the elastic bands over the opening and tape it into place. To make a flute, get a bunch of straws and cut them from smallest to largest; then tape it all together. To make a mini guitar, first wrap the elastic bands over the cap, then glue the popsicle stick to the cap of the jar. Finally, to make the shaker, cover one side of the paper towel roll with paper and tape, then fill it with rice and cover the other side. Don’t forget to decorate your instruments, then its lights, camera… Action!

Bowling

What you will need: Ten empty water bottles, a ball, paper and decorative material (for example: markers, paint or stickers).

First decorate all ten empty water bottles. If you do not have a ball you can always use a yarn ball or make one with crimpled up paper wrapped in tape. If you want to make this game a little more challenging you can add some water into the bottles to weigh it down.

*Fun tip: You can paint the empty bottles with glow in the dark paint. Then all you need is a black light and you have your very own glow in the dark bowlerama.*

Painting like a Pro

What you will need: A few water bottle caps, a large container cap and hot glue.

First, cut a hole in the large container cap, large enough to fit your child’s thumb. Then once that is done, hot glue the water bottle caps to the large container cap. Fill the caps with different colors of paint and then they will have their very own paint palette.

Sink or Float

What you will need: Half of a soda bottle and decorative materials (for example: markers, paint or stickers).

First, cut the soda bottle in half and tape the top so it isn’t sharp to the touch. Then decorate it as your boat. Then together think of some items that you want to put in it to see if they’re going to sink the boat or if it will float. You can write these items onto a piece of paper to record your results. Example of items you can use for this game is an eraser, paper clip, a bag, rice, marbles, stones, etc.

Octopus, Bubble bees and Butterflies? Oh My!

What you will need: Toilet paper rolls, googly eyes and decorative materials (for example: markers, paint or stickers).

Making little characters out of toilet paper rolls is not only fun but a great way to decorate your bathroom. To make the bumblebee have your child paint the toilet paper roll with yellow paint. Once that is dried, they can paint on the black strips. Finally cut out the details with construction paper to add on and glue on your eyes. To make the Octopus, first paint the toilet paper roll and then set it aside to dry. Then with scissors cut slits on one end of the toilet paper roll and bend them to make the legs. Then decorate it together and don’t forget to glue the eyes.

Even though it may be gloomy and rainy out doesn’t mean that your home has to be. Creating fun art activities and games to play around the house will keep your kids happy and entertained. If you decide to do any of these ideas or others on a rainy day, I would love to see them. You can tag me on Twitter @Karenbabydoll22.

 

About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.

 

In The Eyes Of A Godmother

By: Karen Silva
Twitter: @Karenbabydoll22

I will never forget July 31st, 2014 as that was the day that my sister called me to tell me that she was on the way to the hospital. This is the day that we all have been waiting for as I knew she was going to have her baby girl soon; but yet somehow I was still surprised and taken back. All sorts of excited feelings came rushing to me and all I wanted to do was leave work and be with her at the hospital.

It seemed like a lifetime but on August 1st at 4:03 AM, baby Nikki was born. Her cuteness and little everything melted my heart and I promised her right there and then that I will do everything in my power to protect her and be there for her always.

Being an aunt was one of the greatest gifts given to me and then something even greater happened; I got asked to be Nikki’s godmother. This was a huge honour and I said yes without any hesitation of course. I knew what kind of role a godmother plays and I was prepared to take on the responsibilities.

A godmother to me means to be there for your godchild throughout their whole life. Give them good advice, guidance, lend them a helping hand, be there with open arms and a listening ear; as well as spend quality time with them and I don’t just mean on holidays.

 

As Nikki was growing up I made sure that both my husband and I (her godparents), spent time with her, babysat and built a special bond with her. Seeing her develop over the months and years has been amazing. I was able to see her go from crawling to walking, smile to having a giggle; then babble to full blown sentences (I am still in disbelief on how much she says at 2.5 years old). One of my favorite things in the world, is to hear her call out to me… and I don’t mean by name. In my culture, it is respectful to use the title rather than the person’s name. In Portuguese, godmother is Madrinha and it melts my heart when Nikki tries her hardest to call me that. When she first started calling me, she would only manage a Ma, which would cause confusion when we would go out as people would think I was her mom. Now Nikki is able to call me “Nina,” and it’s not only really cute but it makes me feel special.

One of the greatest moments aside from becoming her godmother was having her take part in one of the most important days of my life which was my wedding day. Nikki was our beautiful and sweet flower girl. We were all impressed on how well she did with such an important role.

Now Nikki is two and a half and I’m excited to continue being there for her and seeing her grow as the years go by. I am just hoping she doesn’t grow up too fast because I’m not ready to give up on our cuddle time and our imaginary play just yet.

Congratulations if you have been asked to be a godmother or a godfather to a child. That is an important and special role. Enjoy every moment and remember that they will need you to be that rock for them when times get tough.

To my sweet goddaughter, Nikki, if you are reading this or having it read to you; I want you to know how much you mean to me and how much I love you. You are a beautiful gift and we are so lucky to have you in our lives. Your smile and personality brightness our days. You will always be my Halloween partner in crime and I will always be there if you need someone to play with. Love you to the moon and back… Your crazy and loving Madina!

                                          

 

About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.

The Condo Kids Have Arrived…Finally a Book For Modern Times

I have lived in a condo for the last eight years and was so excited to hear about a new book tailored around condo living, specifically on the adventures of The Condo Kids. Condo living has been a growing reality in today’s day with many families. Therefore, this book seems fitting with the times that we live in and I was thrilled to see it hit the book shelves.

The Condo Kids is written by Jackie Burns, a freelance writer and has been published in the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, The Globe and Mail, Hamilton Spectator and on MSN.ca, AOL.ca, canoe.ca and Yahoo! The Condo Kids is illustrated by Ana Patankar, a published comics and children book artist with several of her works, caricatures, characters, mascots, cartoons and stylized illustrations circulating in the digital universe.

The Condo Kids: Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep is the first book in an early reader chapter book series aimed at kids aged 6-9. This meant that only Momma Braga read the story since Nikki is too young to really sit down for a long period of time to listen (toddler life). So I got to get some ‘me time’ which was nice to have and what it made it even better was to read this wonderful book.

The Condo Kids: Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep follows the adventures of brothers Noah and Michael, and all of their best friends in the building. In this first book, the Condo Kids keep a major secret from the nosy neighbours and scary superintendent. What could this big secret be? Well, after Noah tried to convenience his mom to get a pet, he took matters into his own hands and got a Barbary Sheep from the local zoo. This when the hilarious adventure begins as the Condo Kids try hiding Bob the Barbary Sheep from everyone in the building. You will need to read the rest to see what happens on their wild adventure and if they get caught. 😉

We give this book five sshheeppss out of five. The book literally had me giggling out loud. The imagination the Condo Kids is amazing and is reflected in the adventures that they have. This book provides the message that there is a sense of community in condo living as the Condo Kids have great friendships amongst each other. It shows that kids living in a condo can have just as much fun! According to the 2011 Census, one in eight households in Canada lived in a condo or apartment building. Therefore this book represents a growing population of children and it is so amazing to see!

So what inspired this book? Simple. Burns’ two young sons and their pals who live in a 47-storey Toronto condo and have made it into their own personal playground.

“In Canada’s urban centres, more and more families are choosing to raise their kids in condos, and in major international cities like New York or Hong Kong, it’s always been the norm,” says Burns. “These high-rise children, like my boys, are hungry for stories that speak to them.”

I recommend to check out The Condo Kids especially if you have children in the 6-9 age group and they don’t need to be living in a condo to appreciate the story. Not only this book entertaining for children to read but when you purchase this book, 10% of book profits go directly to support Earth Rangers. Earth Rangers is the kids’ conservation organization, dedicated to educating children and their families about biodiversity, inspiring them to adopt sustainable behaviors and empowering them to become directly involved in protecting animals and their habitats. Talk about wins all around!

Please feel free to visit Amazon or The Condo Kids website to purchase the book directly.

Looking forward to the next book in this series! You can follow The Condo Kids on social media to keep up-to-date on what’s going on (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest).

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga
#MelandNikkiReview

Momma Braga’s Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna is a popular dish and one that originated in Italy. Even though I am not Italian and do not claim to be a lasagna expert, but I do enjoy making this dish for my family and friends to eat.

Since this is one of the dishes that my friends request when I host a dinner party, I decided to share Momma Braga’s lasagna recipe with all my readers and fans! Enjoy!

Lasagna

INGREDIENTS

  • Ground Chicken (or Ground Turkey or Ground Beef)
  • 1 Onion
  • Half of a tomato
  • Olive Oil
  • Lasagna Pasta
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • 4 Tablespoons of red wine

DIRECTIONS

  • Marinate your meat (which ever one you prefer to do. We love the ground chicken as it tastes much lighter) prior to cooking. I usually do this the night before to have the meat soak in the juices for more flavor.
    • Wash meat well.
    • Place meat in a bowl and add the following ingredients; salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, 4 teaspoons of red wine (the wine added is what sets this recipe apart from many). Measurements for the ingredients are based on what you normally use in your meat marinating.
    • Leave the meat covered and in the fridge for the next day cooking.
  • The following day you can start cutting up your onions and tomato.

  • Once the onions and tomato are cut, place them in a pan with some olive oil. On low heat cook the onion and tomato until the onions are a golden color. Then add your meat.
  • With ground meat you will need to keep breaking it apart and stirring it to ensure it gets cooked. Once the meat is cooked remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon to ensure that the olive oil is drained.
  • Place the ground meat in a bowl and mix some tomato sauce.
  • In another pot, fill it with water and add a drizzle of olive oil and the add your lasagna pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water and fill it with cold water to cool down the pasta.
  • Then the layering begins. Start with some tomato sauce and spread to cover the bottom of the lasagna tray. Layer with lasagna pasta, tomato sauce, ground meat and mozzarella cheese. Continue layering until all ingredients are used, reserve 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese for the top of the lasagna. *Tip: Use cheese on the first layer and the layer before the very top.

  • Bake in preheated oven for approx. 45 minutes (or until the cheese is melted to your liking). Remove from oven, and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

And there you have it, Momma Braga’s lasagna! Give it a try and let me know what you think of it!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga