Sunday, December 25, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Star Rating 5/5

The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Each year the Capital hosts the Hunger Games, reminding the citizens of their lack of control and power. Two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are chosen from each of Panem’s twelve districts. Then broadcast for all to see, they enter the arena to fight to the death. The tribute that wins is set for life, while the others lose theirs. Because in the end, only one can win.

Since her father’s death, Katniss Everdeen has struggled to create a life for herself and her younger sister Prim. Each day she slips under the fence that encloses the twelfth district to illegally hunt and gather food. With her game and the grain she gets from adding her name multiple times into the lottery for the Hunger Games, she and Prim survive. They’re even happy at times until its time for the games again.

This year Prim is twelve, and though her name has only been entered in the lottery once she is chosen. Unable to allow her little sister to risk her life in the games, Katniss volunteers. Now she’s got to do more than eek out a living for them—she has to win the games or neither of them will survive.

The Hunger Games is more than another thrilling dystopian novel. Collins asks many thought-provoking questions through the world and citizens of her book. The Capital and its people are not so different from modern Americans. With our society’s focus on and glorification of violence in the media and even sports, it is not too difficult to imagine something as horrifying as Panem’s Hunger Games. As I read I was reminded not only of Rome’s gladiators but also of modern movies, television shows, and video games. Perhaps Collins’ novel begs us to question how accustomed we are to violence and our acceptance of it. When does violence become commonplace? Where do we draw the line? And, more importantly, how do we combat our own acceptance of real-life tragedy—abuse, neglect, gang violence, terrorism, and genocide? These are some of the questions The Hunger Games asks each of us, taking it from an exciting book to a definite must-read.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Review: The Host

Star Rating 5/5

The Host

By Stephenie Meyer

Wanderer has been in multiple hosts, each on a different planet, but she has never experienced anyone like Melanie Stryder or any place like Earth. No host has fought her for her body, and yet no planet has been so worth fighting for—for either of them.

When the Wanderer’s fellow souls decided she should be put into the body of Melanie Stryder, they believed Wanderer would be able to easily access Melanie’s mind. Unfortunately, unlike the other hosts Wanderer has had, Melanie refuses to leave or give Wanderer full access to her thoughts. Instead Melanie barrages Wanderer with painful memories, taunts her constantly, and rarely lets any information about herself or the human resistance slip. That is until Melanie shares her love for Jared, one of the few remaining free humans, and accidentally lets Wanderer know about her little brother Jamie. Soon Wanderer finds herself in love and determined to protect a family she’s never met and who could never accept her. After all, she’s taken over Melanie’s body and her true family—the other souls—have taken over the entire planet.

The Host is a thoroughly engrossing novel. Meyer doesn’t disappoint with her venture into science fiction. Her alien species is well-crafted, keeping the reader from easily writing them off as villainous. The readers will find themselves questioning whose side they are on—the souls or the humans—and whether either side is “right.” As I read, I struggled constantly as I tried to figure out who I felt was the hero and who was in the wrong. I was impressed by Meyer’s ability to keep me waffling—against my own species, no less! I loved this book and see this as Meyer’s best novel thus far. Move over Twilight, The Host has taken me over.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review: Uglies

Star Rating 5/5


By Scott Westerfeld

Ever since she moved into Uglyville, Tally Youngblood has gazed out her dorm window at New Pretty Town and dreamed of being there. Now she is just months away from her sixteenth birthday and then she will finally be living her dream. All she has to do is stay out of too much trouble and await the day of her operation—the day all Uglies have been taught from birth to wait for—the day she will become a Pretty herself.

The days pass slowly since her other friends have already changed, that is until she meets Shay, an Ugly with her same birthday. But Shay isn’t like Tally’s old friends. While Shay wants to escape Uglyville, she doesn’t want to go to New Pretty Town. She doesn’t want to be a Pretty at all. She wants to leave the city entirely and go to the Smoke—a place where everyone is ugly. Tally can’t imagine that such a place exists, but when Shay decides to run away Tally wonders what will become of her friend. Now Tally has to decide whether she is with Shay or not and whether she is willing to be ugly for life.

Scott Westerfeld creates a sickeningly realistic dystopia in his novel Uglies, resulting in a horrifyingly beautiful juxtaposition of our world and each of us. A criticism of more than Western society’s quest for beauty, Uglies (as a novel and as a trilogy) challenges the reader to question his impact on the environment, his power over his conditions, his acceptance of perceived authority and reality, and his desire to conform. These challenges are delivered largely through the protagonist, Tally, but also through the experiences of the other characters. Tally is more than a character pushed from scenario to scenario, unable to control her circumstances or direction. Throughout the novel (and the trilogy), she makes choices and changes herself in spite of the conditioning, dangers, and alterations she experiences. Like each of us, Tally attempts to discover what she wants and who she is in a world that is constantly trying to shape her to meet its own ends. Tally’s story will hook you from the start and keep you reading and wondering through the entire trilogy. My advice to you: grab all three books at once or you’ll be running to the library or bookstore, dying to get your hands on the next book!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Wither

Star Rating: 5/5


By: Lauren DeStefano

The human race is dying and has been since science’s first generation of disease-free children had families of their own. Decades before, cancer was cured and science engineered its own population of healthy children. There was no reason to conceive of a natural child when science could perfect embryos, keeping them free of all ailments. Unfortunately, things have changed. While this first generation of children thrives, their children die young—the men at twenty-five and the women at twenty. Doctors search for some new cure. Wealthy families fight to keep their lines going through polygamist marriages. Gatherers steal young women off the streets to sell as potential wives. But the population is still dying and there seems to be little left to live for.

Rhine has no one left but her brother, but even he is lost to her now. Kidnapped, drugged, and driven to a mansion hundreds of miles from home, she has no idea where she is and little hope of getting home. She knows enough to know what’s about to happen. She’s heard about the wealthy men who marry multiple women—she’s even seen them on TV at parties with their glamorous first wives. It’s her turn to marry now, but perhaps she will be able to run away. Unable to trust even her fellow stolen sister wives, Rhine prepares to lie her way to freedom. Becoming first wife is her key to escape, but will she be able to convince both her new husband and his controlling father she’s the one? And if she manages that will she still be willing to risk her newfound fortune for a short, rough life outside the mansion?

DeStefano’s Wither is a world that wraps you up and draws you in right from page one. This macabre dystopia—a future earth that is horrifyingly familiar—is thankfully filled with the life of the novel’s heroine. Rhine focuses on escape even though it would be a return to a life of poverty and survival. While it seems grim, her old life embodied freedom and love as she and her brother provided for themselves and stuck together. Her determination and longing to be free defy the wealthy society’s pessimistic approach to life. The wealthy put on appearances through parties and purchases. They barely cling to life as they indulge in material pleasures and immerse themselves in illusions. Conversely, Rhine refuses to give in to temporary fixes or to settle for a comfortable situation. Instead she strives to live, accepting that risks and heartbreak are undoubtedly before her.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Sarah's Key

Star Rating: 5/5

Sarah’s Key

By: Tatiana de Rosnay

When Julia Jarmond is assigned to write an article about the sixtieth anniversary commemoration of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, she becomes consumed by her work. Though American, Julia has spent the past 25 years in Paris. Regardless of her time in France, she has little to no knowledge about the horrors committed against the Jews by the French during and surrounding the roundup. More disturbing to her even than her lack of knowledge is the indifference of her French husband and of some of those she interviews. Julia wonders how such events could take place and why so little was done about them. Then on a routine visit to her husband’s ailing grandmother, Julia unexpectedly finds out that her in-laws moved into their apartment in July 1942—the same month the roundup forced thousands of Jews from their homes. Could the apartment have possibly belonged to one of those Jewish families? Haunted by this idea, Julia delves deeper and finds herself linked to the tragic events of 1942. The more she discovers the more she realizes how long she’s kept her eyes closed and decides that she can not and will not close them again.

Tatiana de Rosnay presents a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story that illustrates how the past, present, and future are interwoven. Alternating between two perspectives, she leads the reader through the events and effects of the Vel d’Hiv roundup. The main narrator is Julia, the middle-aged journalist. Julia’s perspective in the present mirrors the readers with her discoveries. The other narrator is Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl from 1942. Sarah’s perspective from the past brings the Vel d’Hiv to life. While Sarah causes the reader to feel the horrors as they occurred in the eyes of the children who experienced them, Julia causes the reader to question their own knowledge of their circumstances and the world around them. Together Sarah’s and Julia’s stories make the Vel d’Hiv roundup tangible, touching our lives and our hearts. Most importantly, however, Sarah’s Key prompts us to question ourselves, open our eyes, and act.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: The Red Pyramid

Star Rating: 5/5

The Red Pyramid

By: Rick Riordan

Christmas Eve is supposed to be fun, but Sadie and Carter Kane are skeptical about their dad’s idea of enjoyment when he takes them to the British Museum. Sadie is particularly annoyed since this is one of the few times a year she sees her dad. After their mom’s death, she’s lived with their grandparents in London. On the other hand, Carter isn’t enthusiastic about the idea either because he’s been dragged from museum to dig site year-round with their dad. Both of them are in for a surprise when their field trip literally ends with a bang. In one night, the two siblings who feel like little more than strangers are left with the monumental task of saving their dad, themselves, and the world from the rise of the Egyptian gods their father just set free. Sadie and Carter have no idea where to begin or what really is happening. They quickly learn from their Uncle Amos that they are born magicians and their parents were members of a secret group known as the House of Life. With little time before the freed gods’ plans destroy the world, Sadie and Carter’s lives depend on working together and discovering what they can do.

Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid is a catchy, dramatic read. The novel is written as a transcription of the two main characters as they retell the events as they experienced them. Riordan gives Sadie and Carter their own voices, and even includes fun “real-time” interchanges between the two as though they were defending their statements to the other while recording. Interestingly, even though Sadie and Carter’s characters follow the familiar seemingly-ordinary-but-actually-extraordinary character model, they do not instantly gain full control or knowledge of their “extraordinary” side. In fact, they don’t gain either by the end of the novel. This is a delightful turn from the usual and much more realistic. I absolutely loved that I didn’t have to severely dislocate my imagination and believe that they had mastered their unknown abilities within hours of discovering them. This switch allows the reader to connect more easily with the narrators. It makes Sadie and Carter more believable, trustworthy, and, in this case, likeable. While The Red Pyramid packs a whole lot of danger into a few days, the characters spice up the story with their retelling and imperfections.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fabric-Wrapped Flashcards

Like all babies at some point, my child developed a love for paper. Well, as much as he needs fiber in his diet I'm sure, I don't think he needs to get it by eating paper. This upsets him--especially on those days when mom and dad are playing with cards. I decided he needed some cards, too.

I made some quick and easy, nearly waterproof, durable cards just for him.

First I found some animal pictures by searching under Creative Commons on Flickr. Second, I put them in a Word file and made them identical in size. Third, I went to FedEx to have them printed on cardstock, laminated, and cut out with a margin of laminate around the edges. It was quite inexpensive--if I remember correctly it cost under five dollars.

I suggest leaving a large enough edge of laminate around your picture so that you will be sewing only through the laminate and not the laminate and paper. This will probably keep your pictures from soaking up any moisture and rippling. (I didn't do this, so I can't vouch for it.) If you try it and it works, let me know!

Now I wanted to be sure my son's little gums wouldn't be cut up by the sharp laminated edges of his cards, so the next steps involve sewing fabric onto them. This is the slightly more complicated part, and if you look closely you will notice I decided not to be a perfectionist about this. After all, my baby just wanted to eat them, so who cares if my stitches are perfect? He sure doesn't and he's who matters in this case.

You'll have to excuse my lack of sewing expertise.

Fourth, cut rectangles of fabric that are significantly larger than your card. You need to be able to fold the fabric over and under itself to make a clean edge over and against the card. Fifth, sew the fabric around your card. You're basically sewing a hem on your card. This will prevent your fabric from fraying and will cover the sharp edges and corners of the cardstock to protect your baby's gums.

I sewed two parallel sides of the card first and then sewed the perpendicular sides. By doing this I was able to sew the corners after I had folded them in like I would when wrapping a present. I wasn't very particular about my sewing or the cutting of my fabric, so my stitching lines aren't always the straightest. I was also hesitant to press my edges which would have made this step super easy! But I was worried about the hot iron melting the laminate.

My son loves these cards. The laminate makes them basically waterproof, but the sewing punches little holes in the laminate and paper so that moisture can get in. Some of my cards are slightly rippled because my son chews and sucks on his cards (which is what I made them for). They do serve their purpose, though, and the laminate and sewing have kept them together.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: Pegasus

Star Rating: 3/5


By Robin McKinley

As the fourth child of the king, Sylvi was overlooked and able to enjoy herself without the stress of becoming the future monarch. She spent her days practicing in the weapons yard, riding her pony, and studying the history of the kingdom. Her life was ordinary—for a princess at any rate—until her twelfth birthday. It didn’t start any differently from any of her other family members’ twelfth birthdays. Like the rest of her family and certain others of royal descent since the creation of the Alliance, Sylvi would be bound to a pegasus that day. But unlike all who had been bound before her, she and her pegasus share a unique connection.

Since the Alliance was created between their peoples, pegasi and humans of royal birth had been bound together. Unfortunately, the bondmates had never been able to fully communicate except with the help of a magician, though even this communication was far from flawless. Sylvi’s ability to speak to Ebon, her bondmate, breaks all known precedents, providing the bedrock for a friendship that will change the relationship between both their peoples.

Robin McKinley’s Pegasus throws the reader into Sylvi’s history lessons. Immediately, the reader is swamped with names, events, and creatures, some with little or no explanation of what they are or why they are important to know. This exposition sets the scene for Sylvi and Ebon’s binding but is somewhat exhaustive. Fortunately, Sylvi and Ebon’s relationship becomes the highlight of the tale and the history lessons are mostly set aside. Their conversation and experiences draw the reader in, involving her in the questioning and learning. Ebon is particularly exciting as he is uncharacteristically blunt, witty, and laid-back for a pegasus. Ebon acts in order to alter misconceptions and remove arbitrary barriers. Contrarily, Sylvi tends to ruminate and wait passively—and frustratingly for this reader—for her hopes to just occur. For the most part, the plot meanders along with rare and fairly minor conflicts. That is until the end, when the reader is left hanging, waiting for the second book.

While I enjoyed the book, falling prey to the intriguing unraveling of pegasi culture and the development of Ebon and Sylvi’s relationship, I was frustrated by the story’s slow pace, lack of conflict, and Sylvi’s inactivity. Worst of all though was the lack of conclusion for the book. My advice to you: wait until the second book comes out and then enjoy reading the two together.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: Secondhand Charm

Star Rating: 5/5

Secondhand Charm

By: Julie Berry

In Julie Berry’s Secondhand Charm Evie, an orphan, hardly lives the life of a princess and has never wanted it that way. Living with her grandfather in the small village of Maundley, she dreams of becoming a healer. Having never been ill and studied some medical books, Evie has become the physician for her small village as she attends to the sick and acts as a midwife. Unfortunately, her hopes of receiving real training are next to impossible since she could never afford to attend the University in the capital. That is until the king comes to Maundley for the town’s holiday. During the celebration Evie buys several charms from a gypsy peddler and then her luck starts to change. Seemingly suddenly the local boys start to notice her. She even impresses the king and earns the opportunity to go to the University. Now Evie’s heading to the capital where her charms and her dreams will be put to the test as she discovers where her luck is coming from and what she can become.

Berry’s tale grabs the reader right from the start. Free of lulls and full of excitement, Secondhand Charm introduces the reader to a new kind of heroine. While the novel fits into the classic girl-next-door-discovers-she-is-actually-gifted genre, it also introduces a new twist on magic. This twist comes in the form of a unique sea serpent-human bond, which throws Evie into a sisterhood of foreign myth. While Evie discovers who she is and what she can now do, she also struggles with whether and how these discoveries will reform who she is. Berry deftly throws the reader into Evie’s situation providing all the tools yet still leaving the reader to puzzle everything out along with Evie. Secondhand Charm is a fast-paced and intriguing novel, and it will enchant you through to the finish.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Make Your Own Onesie

For a baby shower I threw, I had the guests decorate onesies. I bought multiple white onesies in various sizes and some fabric markers. Each guest, including the mom-to-be, made a unique design especially for the new baby. This is one of the onesies I made for my friend:

The activity was so much fun! I loved seeing what everyone did.

I enjoyed making the onesies so much that I decided to make some for my baby boy. I made a dinosaur one that I based off a copyrighted image (so it isn't shown), and I made this gecko one. I think I'm going to have to make more!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Wreath

All you need for this fun wreath is some old books, a straw wreath, ribbon, and hot glue.

First, wrap and glue ribbon all around your wreath.

Second, attach some ribbon to your wreath so you can easily hang it up.

Third, cut your books up. I cut mine into rectangles measuring 3" x 4.5."

Fourth, place the center of your rectangle over the end of an unsharpened pencil and then mash the paper around it.

Fifth, put a dot of hot glue on the end of your mashed paper and glue it to your wreath. Repeat with each piece of paper until your entire wreath is covered. Note: cover your wreath loosely at first, leaving plenty of space between each piece of paper. This will allow the glue to dry and keep your pages from pushing each other off (and making you glue them down all over again). After you've done a loose covering you can go back and fill in the gaps until your wreath is nice and full.

Sixth, admire your handiwork!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Showers Paper Art

I had several of my friends over this last week for a craft afternoon. We were originally going to decorate a frame and do something with "spring has sprung." I didn't really want to do that though, so my husband suggested "April showers bring May flowers" and this is what I created:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review: Princess Academy

Star Rating 4/5

Princess Academy

By Shannon Hale

Though she has always lived on Mount Eskel, Miri is not like the other mountain girls. She is small and fragile like the flower she was named after. Each day while all the other members of the village work in the quarry, except those who are too young or too old, Miri watches her family’s goats. Her father won’t allow her to work in the quarry with the others. Unable to contribute in the same way as the others, Miri fears she is worthless and wonders whether her father even loves her. Daily she dreams of cutting out linder blocks and using quarry-speech with the others. Even her childhood friend Peder has started to work with the others, leaving Miri alone with the goats.

Miri’s life quickly changes, however, when word from the king comes to the mountain. The priests have decreed that the prince’s bride will be chosen from the girls of Mount Eskel in the summer. Within days of the announcement, all the girls younger than the prince are escorted from their homes to the princess academy. Suddenly Miri’s dreams of working in the quarry and talking to Peder are nearly pushed aside by new ones. Dreams of becoming a princess and giving her family a grand home in the lowlands fill her thoughts. Unfortunately, Miri’s excitement is short-lived when her attempt to help a friend costs all the girls their opportunity to visit their families before winter sets in. Not only are the girls angry with her, but the academy’s tutor also punishes her severely, making her feel more insignificant and stupid. Can Miri find favor in the eyes of her tutor and classmates and perhaps the prince as well? Will she be able to go to the lowlands after all? But then again, does she really want to leave her village in Mount Eskel, Peder, and all she’s ever known?

Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy is more than a coming-of-age novel. Miri’s story teaches lessons children need to learn and adults need to remember. Not only does Miri mature, becoming more aware of herself and her abilities, throughout the course of the novel, but she also begins to recognize the situations of those around her and realize her own limited perspective. At the start of the novel, she, like most of us, only sees things from a very egocentric point of view. While she does not understand why things are the way they are, she does not question them or her own perceptions. At the academy Miri is forced to look beyond her beliefs and ideas and in turn begins to understand her potential. Miri’s experience is no bed of roses, however, which is due in part to her situation and in part to her character. Her idiosyncrasies and personality make her time at the academy difficult, but they also create a more realistic and engaging heroine. Miri struggles to find acceptance, to persevere despite isolation and disdain, and to discover her personal desires and strengths. As Miri works through each obstacle she faces, she becomes a valuable friend and a contributing member of her village. She learns that she is more important than she ever realized and that she can make a difference whether or not she is chosen to be the princess. Miri is an excellent role model for each of us, especially for young girls, as she learns there is more to life than being a princess.

Monday, February 28, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Card

I love making cards! This is one of the seasonal cards that I've made. The copper wire is probably my favorite part. All I did was wrap it around the papers I layered and twisted it together. The little touches make things extra special!

Fabric Flower Shamrock

For St. Patrick's Day I decided to replace my fabric flower heart with a shamrock. It was pretty simple. This time I used a green satin (or was it taffeta? I don't remember.) that was 100% acetate. It was more difficult because I wanted smaller flowers (more nearly burned fingers this way), and the acetate didn't burn quite as well as my 100% polyester red satin. It didn't melt the same and caught fire easily. I think I will look for something else or stick with polyester for my next burnt-fabric flower craft. For instructions, reference my fabric flower heart post, but instead of doing a heart do a shamrock. I like to keep things simple. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Simple Valentine's Day Boxes

At a valentine card party, I learned how to make origami boxes. After making one, I decided to make a bunch more to decorate, fill with candy, and place around my house. They're really easy to make and super cute! I took a bunch of pictures of the process but realized a video would be much more useful and easier to follow.

I also searched for online instructions; if you'd rather use those, click here. If you use the online instructions, I suggest you don't make the "mountain folds" as it calls them. This will make it so you have an x on the top of your finished box. Instead draw the lines with a pencil or otherwise mark the center.
The squares of paper I used were 12x12 (the box in the top left), 8.5x8.5 (three of the above boxes), and 6x6 (the striped box).

Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Love Birds Banner

I made this using cereal boxes, scrapbook paper, red paper raffia, a pen, black stamping ink, tape, fishing line, and hot glue. Not only is it inexpensive, but it is also easy to make! It took me awhile to get the letters and birds drawn...but once that was done it went quickly (except I had to do it over several days because of my baby and his lack of a schedule).

First, cut out your cardboard (cereal boxes), letters, and birds. My cardboard rectangles were 3 13/16 inches by 5 inches. I was able to get 8 rectangles out of one cereal box; you need 9 rectangles total. To add detail, I used a black pen to make dashes around my birds to look like stitches. (I tried actually stitching first...bad plan. The birds were too small and the needle just ripped through to the edge of the paper.)

Second, smudge black ink down one side each of your cardboard rectangles.

Third, tape raffia strips on your cardboard rectangles so that the raffia separates the smudged ink edge from the rest.

Hot glue would also work.

Fourth, attach the letters and birds to your cardboard rectangles. I used photo squares.
Fifth, create bows with your raffia. Cut a strip of raffia and tie a knot in the center. Then unwrap the raffia so it flares out like a bow.

Sixth, attach bows to rectangles and draw simple embellishments. I added a few hearts, x's, and o's just on a few.

Seventh, hot glue words to fishing line/jewelry line. Make sure you put the words backwards when you glue them so they will actually be correct when you turn them around again.
I put dots of hot glue on each rectangle and then pressed the line down into them. Then to make it easy to hang each word, I created loops on the ends.

Eighth, admire. :)

I hope you all like it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fabric Flower Heart

This is a simple project I came up with for Valentine's Day that I really like. All it took was fabric, candles, paper, and hot glue. And, I guess, a frame in which to display the finished product. I hope you like it!

First, make your flowers. I'd never done this before. I'm quite nervous around fire too, but it wasn't bad at all. If I can do it, you can do it.
a. Cut circles of various sizes out of your fabric. They don't need to be perfect circles. I free-handed mine. Be sure to use a fabric that melts (a synthetic fabric like polyster), not a fabric that burns (like cotton). I tried cotton and it just went ashy...and smelled bad. I used 100% polyester satin from my old high school choir dress--don't tell my mother. (It's not like I've worn it since high school and I've graduated from college now. It was just taking up space with lovely red fabric for my project!)
b. Melt the edges over a flame. I used birthday candles held up with a clothespin. (Breaking the bank, I know.) If the circle catches fire, just blow it out. It adds character to the flower and looks pretty, so don't despair.
c. Holding the circle over the flame about 1-2 inches, slightly pucker the centers of the circles if desired. Be careful, since this can cause the centers to melt into black goo or make melted holes if you hold it for too long. Trial and error. You'll get the hang of it quickly. I thought this made them look more like real flowers and less like, well, circles.
d. Form your flowers by placing your "petals" inside each other and hot gluing them together. Most of my flowers were three layers, but I made some with only two that looked pretty. You can also use thread to sew them together. I tried that, but it was taking longer than I had patience. Hot glue was faster and easier for me.
e. Optional: Glue beads or buttons in the center of your flowers. I originally planned on doing this...but decided I liked how it looked without them better.

Second, place a piece of paper in your frame on which to glue your flowers.

Third, place your flowers on the page in the form of a heart.

Fourth, hot glue the flowers in place. Realize that as you glue your flowers in place, the shape may shift. I ended up altering my design and fiddling with it a bit after I'd glued several flowers in place. The other flowers had shifted, and it didn't look the way I wanted anymore. So make sure you have some extra flowers to help you rearrange the unglued portion if necessary.

Fifth, admire your handiwork. :) This is my favorite step.

Places I've Linked:

Pink Hippo PartyPhotobucket
NightOwlCraftingCraft Goodies