July 31, 2014

Readalong time!


Today marks the kick-off of a 3 week readalong/blogging event hosted by multiple bloggers celebrating the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

This week everyone is reading Anna and the French Kiss and next week we will read Lola and the Boy Next Door. Then we'll be ready to read Isla and the Happily Ever After on its release day! To see the full schedule and sign up to participate, visit Paper Riot.

I'm really looking forward to re-reading Anna and Lola and finally getting to read Isla! Will you be joining the readalong?

July 30, 2014

Erin Condren Life Planner Review + $10 off for you!

While I am quick to embrace new technology, there are some things I just prefer to do on paper. I've tried using Google calendar and different apps on my phone to keep organized, but over time I just keep coming back to using a paper planner. Call me old fashioned, but it's the only system I have found that will actually keep me organized! 

My favorite planners are made by Erin Condren, and I'm now starting my 3rd year in a row of using one of her Classic Life Planners. They are customizable and a little pricey, so I usually ask for it as a gift. However, this year I received an unexpected check in the mail on the same day I got a new job offer, so to celebrate I went ahead and treated myself to a new planner. (Some girls buy shoes or purses...but I splurge on books and office supplies. Go figure!) Anyway, I thought I'd share a little bit about why I like Erin Condren planners and how I use mine. 

My new 2014/2015 planner arrived this past weekend. 
Isn't the packaging just adorable? 

I love that there are laminated tabs to help you quickly navigate to different sections of the planner. I also ordered some coil clips so that I could insert extra things in when needed (for example, party invites that I want to keep handy). The clear bookmark came with the planner, and I use it to mark the current week. This is the Party Pops cover in charcoal. The front has my full name on it in multiple colors (see example here). There are so many designs to choose from, and now the covers are interchangeable, so you can buy as many as you want! I'm a minimalist, so I just have the one cover. 

This 18-month planner covers July 2014 - December 2015. Toward the front there is an overview of all the months. I'm pregnant now, but normally I use this section to track my cycles with little pink circle stickers (sorry...that's probably TMI!). Others use this to track goals progress (such as checking off each day they exercise that month). Or it's just a nice quick way to reference future dates. 

The monthly spreads cover 2 pages. I normally use mine as a reference for bills/paydays. Once they are paid I will check them off and write down the amount paid. There is also a section on the side for notes where I'll write down some general goals or things to do that month. I tend to use the weekly view more for "to-do" items that are time sensitive, but it's nice to have some space for that on the monthly view as well. I love that each month includes a motivational quote and has a different color scheme.
(The circle stickers are from Krissyanne Designs on Etsy.)

Here's what a weekly spread looks like for me. On the left side is a space for goals and notes, and I tend to break mine up into 3 sections: To Do, To Buy, and To Read. Each day is then split into Morning, Day and Night boxes. I use the Morning boxes to mark appointments and errands, the Day boxes for my work schedule and task list, and the Night boxes for home reminders/tasks. I don't always stick to this format, but I try to for consistency. I like putting check boxes next to all my tasks too because it gives me the satisfaction of checking things off as they are done! 

At the bottom, I use the lines to track my water intake, plan for dinner, and jot down other important notes. (I took these pictures on Monday, so I hadn't finished filling out dinner plans for the week just yet.) It would be a good place to note exercise plans as well, although at the moment I'm pretty much just propping up my swollen feet and resting my aching back all the time!

Here you can also see the bookmark and a coil clip in the middle holding a baby shower invite so that the date/time/address information is handy. 

In my weekly spread, I have a "Daily" checkbox which refers to a daily cleaning schedule I wrote down in the note pages. I'm trying to establish a daily, weekly, and bi-weekly cleaning schedule, so we'll see how that goes! There are several lined and unlined pages at the back of the planner for notes and sketches. Other uses for my note pages include: information from doctor appointments (tracking baby's heartbeat, my weight gain, my blood pressure, etc.), lists of dinner ideas, lists of books to be read or blog posts to write, lists of home projects and long term goals...the possibilities are endless!

The planners come with some pre-printed event stickers as well as some blank colored stickers. For a bit extra you can also customize your own event stickers.

Next there's a "keep it together" folder (2-sided). I use it to store extra stickers left over from last year's planner and some other stickers I've bought. I also put important papers or invites here until I file them away in their proper place. 

A clear pouch is included at the back with several colorful gift labels included. There are also some labels personalized to match your chosen cover and color scheme, which is really nice! I plan to use those little spiral clips as page markers in the notes section. A couple "Let's Get Together" cards are also included for you to write down your contact information on. It's a nice little pouch full of goodies! 

This pouch also comes in  handy for me as I'll use it to store appointment reminder cards or business cards until I file them somewhere else. And my order came with a discount code for my NEXT order, so I stored it in this pouch for safekeeping. 

I forgot to take a picture of the perpetual calendar booklet which comes with the planner (or can also be ordered separately). This is nice for keeping track of birthdays, anniversaries, or other important dates. There's some space for a few key contacts, but it's not big enough to hold your entire address book. I will probably just use some of the note pages in the life planner to jot down important numbers and contacts.

I love these planners and will most likely continue to get one each year. They really help me keep organized in all aspects of my life!

If you're interested in purchasing one but are hesitant about the price, you can use my referral code for $10 off

Do you prefer paper calendars or digital? Tell me how you stay organized in the comments!

July 29, 2014

Baby Got BOOKS

I like kids books and I cannot lie...baby got BOOKS!



Thanks to our generous friends and family, our baby bookworm already has his own home library waiting for him! For the time being I repurposed one of my shelves in the living room to store all the books, but I'd like to find a tall and narrow shelf to fit in the nursery (and maybe even add some IKEA spice rack shelves to the walls too). The boxes are holding the teeny tiny books plus some books that came with hand puppets -- I don't want my dog chewing them up before the baby even arrives! 

On a semi-related note, my friend recently took some maternity pictures, and you know I had to incorporate a book into the photo shoot somehow:
Photo by Kristen Johnston
Leave a comment and let me know how you organize your kids' books, OR tell me what their favorite books are! 

July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (17)



Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

Purchased
Most of these I've already read but wanted to buy a copy for my home library. I haven't read More Than Music but it's been getting great reviews from bloggers and readers I trust! 

Received as Gifts
I had another baby shower this week (last one!) and received some more great additions to baby bookworm's library! 

What did you add to your shelves this week?

July 15, 2014

My Top Ten Favorite TV Shows


We're cable cutters, but I love using Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus to discover older shows and keep up with current favorites. (I redeem my Bing Rewards points each month for 1-month of Hulu Plus, so it doesn't even cost me anything out of pocket!). Here are some of my favorites:

Grey's Anatomy
My college roomies and I used to watch this together, and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one still sticking with it. Sure there were some crazy storylines for a while, but I think the most recent season was much better.

Glee
I can't help but sing along with this show! The plots can get cheesy, but I love the music.

Modern Family
This is one of my favorite comedies. It always makes me laugh!

Nashville
This one can get sort of soap-opera-ish, but I'm addicted. The music is great, too!

Parenthood
This is one of the best shows on TV in my opinion. But I can't watch it without a box of tissues nearby!

Saturday Night Live
I love SNL although I tend to fall asleep before the end of the show since I'm old. ;)

So You Think You Can Dance
As someone who grew up taking dance lessons in many different styles and participating in multiple dance teams, I LOVE this show. It makes me miss dancing though. :(

The Middle
So funny, and I love that it's set in Indiana. 

The Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling is hilarious, and I love her character. 

The Voice
Out of all the singing competitions, this is the only one I watch. I'm excited for Gwen Stefani to be a judge! I've been a fan of hers since the No Doubt days.

What are your favorites?

July 12, 2014

Scribd Reads (1)

A while ago, I tried out Oyster, an eBook subscription service, and really liked it. Recently I decided to try out Scribd, a similar service, and I actually like it even better. I prefer the look and feel of the iPhone/iPad app with Scribd and I like that I also have the option of reading in a browser. (If you use a Kindle Fire or Android device, there are apps available for those devices, too.) The syncing across apps seems to work better with Scribd, in my experience. You can also store up to 20 books on your device for offline reading with Scribd versus only 10 with Oyster. And Scribd is $1 cheaper per month--every little bit helps when you're on a tight budget!

I signed up for the free trial of Scribd which lasts 1 month. Then I earned a 2nd free month by sharing links on social media. Then I earned a 3rd free month by sharing my personal referral link with a friend (who in turn received an extra month on the free trial herself). So basically I'm all set for summer! I'm using this to supplement my library reads and purchased reads.

I've already added 275 books to my Scribd "library" (I know, I have a problem!). The selection is great, especially now that 2 of the big 5 publishers have added titles (Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster). I found tons of YA and nonfiction that have been on my TBR list for a long time.

If you want to try out Scribd, feel free to use my referral link and we'll both get an extra month free! You can also give subscriptions and receive gift subscriptions, so I might end up putting it on my birthday or Christmas list this year.

Here's what I read on Scribd in June:

In Honor by Jessi Kirby
I've heard great things about Jessi Kirby, and this novel did not disappoint! Grief, romance, and the ultimate road trip add up to one great book.

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
This is a great summer read. It's appropriate that it has a blurb from Sarah Dessen, since I would recommend it to fans of her books. It takes place at the beach and deals with family relationships, grief, and romance.

Send by Patty Blount
This was an interesting novel with subjects of bullying, suicide, and forgiveness.

Reading Now: 
Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels 
by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Stacking the Shelves (16)



Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 It's all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

Borrowed
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

For Review
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid 

Received as Gifts

I won't list these all individually, but I received a ton of awesome books for my baby bookworm at a baby shower this week! Now I just need to figure out a good way to organize and display his growing home library. 

What did you add to your shelves this week?

July 9, 2014

Book Launch Parties for The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day

I'm excited to share some information about Lori Rader-Day's upcoming book launch parties here in central Indiana! Rader-Day's debut novel, The Black Hour, is actually one of the books selected for this month's Library Reads list (the top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love--think of it as a nationwide staff picks list). I'm looking forward to reading it!

Book Launch Parties
JULY 24, 6 p.m.
Lebanon Public Library
104 E. Washington St., Lebanon, Indiana
Open to the public!

JULY 25, 7 p.m.
Indy Reads Books*
911 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana
Open to the public!

*This is my absolute favorite bookstore in the Indianapolis area. Go check it out!


The Black Hour: A Novel by Lori Rader-Day
For Chicago sociology professor Amelia Emmet, violence was a research topic—until a student she’d never met shot her.

He also shot himself. Now he’s dead and she’s back on campus, trying to keep up with her class schedule, a growing problem with painkillers, and a question she can’t let go: Why?

All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but normal is looking hard to come by. She’s 38 and hobbles with a cane. Her first student interaction ends in tears (hers). Her fellow faculty members seem uncomfortable with her, and her ex—whom she may or may not still love—has moved on.

Enter Nathaniel Barber, a graduate student obsessed with Chicago’s violent history. Nath is a serious scholar, but also a serious mess about his first heartbreak, his mother’s death, and his father’s disapproval. 

Assigned as Amelia’s teaching assistant, Nath also takes on the investigative legwork that Amelia can’t do. And meanwhile, he’s hoping she’ll approve his dissertation topic, the reason he came to grad school in the first place: the student attack on Amelia Emmet.

Together and at cross-purposes, Amelia and Nathaniel stumble toward a truth that will explain the attack and take them both through the darkest hours of their lives.

“A terrific whydunnit! This dark page-turner of a puzzle—well-written, with bite and style and edge and simmering conflict—will keep you riveted from page one.”
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark Award–winning author

“You know how wonderful it is to find a novel that you hate to put down? Lori Rader-Day’s debut The Black Hour was just such a book for me. From its breathtakingly beautiful prose to its artful, escalating suspense, The Black Hour kept pulling me back for just one more page, one more chapter. If The Black Hour is any indication of what’s to come from this fresh new voice in fiction, then Rader-Day clearly has a fabulous career ahead of her.”
Julie Hyzy, New York Times–bestselling author

Lori Rader-Day (Chicago, IL) has published fiction in Good Housekeeping, where she won first place in the magazine’s first short-story contest; The Madison Review, which awarded her the 2008 Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction; TimeOut Chicago; Southern Indiana Review; Crab Orchard Review; and other journals and magazines. She lives in Chicago, where she is active in the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter, Sisters in Crime Chicagoland Chapter, and International Thriller Writers. In addition, she is an instructor for Story Studio Chicago/North Shore, where she teaches mystery writing. The Black Hour is her first novel.

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