Reading Is My Jam: 2016 Wrap-Up and 2017 Goals

Last year my reading goals were to:

I generally use goodreads  to track my reading throughout the year and just barely squeaked in with 52 books by the end of December. I don’t record everything I read there, though, so I read quite a few more than 52 in reality.

I read three of four from my shelf, which is more than I’ve done in the past, but nowhere near what I planned to do, especially since my to-read shelves are getting out of control. So that was pretty much a fail.

And here are the final totals on the challenges I worked on:

Several books are listed on both challenges, especially where there was overlap, but I came pretty close. In the end I didn’t read anything that had previously been banned, couldn’t find one written in the decade I was born (did anything good come out of the seventies, yall?), and pretty much just forgot about the one I should have read in school. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished last year. (I wouldn’t, however, recommend all of the books I have listed. Several were kind of awful and a few I had to really skim over parts of, etc.)

My favorites from 2016 were:

The Heretics Daughter by Kathleen Kent – about the Salem witch trials, which I find myself morbidly fascinated with

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Books – also set in the 1600’s about a minister’s daughter who befriends a Wampanoag boy

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – about a sea disaster in WWII that I’d never heard of – this one was super fascinating

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – my current favorite parenting book, which I already wrote about here

 

My goals for 2017 are much simpler: read the majority of the books on my to-read shelf. I’ve got to get them cleared off, especially since I have no more room to add new titles until I do. I rarely keep books after I read them unless I’m sure I’ll want to re-read them or read them with my girls at some point.

I’ve started collecting favorite quotes from books I really enjoyed so I’ll have something to look back on after I no longer own the book.
I know I’m a big-time nerd, but I really enjoy looking back to see my favorite moments/quotes/advice from a book.

Anybody else have reading goals for 2017? I love talking books so please share with me if you do.

 

Blog-tember, Day 12: Three Books (plus a bonus!)

Monday, Sept. 12: Three books! One you just read, one you’re currently reading, and one you want to read.

Soooo..obviously this isn’t Monday, the 12th, but yall know how much I love book posts so I knew I’d have to come back to this one when I had a chance.

A book I just read: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Yall. This was an amazing book, probably my favorite read on parenting ever. If you’re raising kids or plan to raise kids and want some solid Christian advice on training and disciplining children, be sure to check this one out. I absolutely love the heart behind the words and have had to re-think a lot of the ways I’ve been dealing with my girls. I can’t recommend this one enough.

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I bookmark passages I love to copy down into my book journal so even if I don’t keep books I can remember my favorite parts.

 

A book I’m currently reading: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

I’m actually listening to this one while I walk each evening and it’s one of the first audiobooks I’ve truly enjoyed. This is partly due to Kate Morton’s fantastic way with words, but if I’m really honest, I’m pretty much just in love with the narrators perfect English accent. She has the most lyrical voice ever. Plus it’s a super intriguing mystery and makes the miles in the hideous September heat feel more bearable. (Don’t get me started on Texas in September.)

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A book I want to read: Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Totally not gonna lie, this one is on my shelf only because a) the cover is interesting and b) everyone in the whole world seems to have read it and recommended it. I don’t even really know much of what it’s about (except that it’s set in England during the WWII, at least partially), but it’s been on my to-read list forever and I’m finally about to actually get to it.

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And here’s my bonus review: Me: A Compendium

I received a complimentary copy of this from Blogging for Books a few weeks ago and gave it to Susannah to fill out and she’s enjoyed it as much as I imagined she would. What I didn’t expect was for Madeline to be just as enthralled as Susannah (because she has very little patience for art/drawing/crafts), so after a few days I ordered a second copy for Madeline to complete as well. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of kid drawings and it made my heart happy to flip through these books and see their cute art.

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**This book was provided free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion via Blogging for Books. All thoughts regarding this book are my own. (And obviously we liked it well enough to purchase another.)

So how about you? Read anything recommendable lately? (Is recommendable even a word?) I love, love, love book suggestions!

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Let’s Talk About Adult Coloring Books

So, I was an awkward teenager. I definitely never fit in very well. And for a long time I was embarrassed about this, but I colored until I was about 16 or 17. Like…in Disney coloring books. And I always wished there was something else out there for me to color in, but trust me, I looked, and I never could find anything. (You should remember that this was before the internet!) And after all these years I find out this wasn’t as uncommon as I thought because apparently adults like to color, too. And a lot of them, if the trend of adult coloring books says anything. So even though I haven’t colored in quite a few years (except for a few pages with my girls here and there), I’m pretty thrilled with the selection available now. Now I can color without feeling like a total dork!

So. I now possess four coloring books, a few that were given to me, and a few I picked out myself. I thought I’d go through some of the pros and cons and share my favorite pages in case anyone had any of the same questions that I did. And because I like them and want to talk about them. 😉

Adult Coloring Books

So the first book I received was Fantastic Cities, and Jerm bought it for me off Amazon (a thousand brownie points to the hubs for knowing what I like without even asking!!). This is by far the most intimidating, intricate book of the four. The detail is AMAZING. Also, scary. Like…I don’t even know where to start. Check it out.

Fantastic Cities 1 Fantastic Cities 2 Fantastic Cities 3

I’m guessing that colored pencils will work best for this book. The pages are thick but the details are so tiny that I don’t know that paint or markers would do very well unless you’re extremely patient and steady.

Next I got the Extreme Wonders Color Art. You can pick this up from Walmart for under $5 and they have a variety of different designs to choose from. I either bought this for myself or it was gifted from maybe Heather. (Sorry, can’t remember.)

Extreme Wonders

The patterns are pretty detailed and each page has a blank back so even thought the paper is on the thinner side, markers would work. I’m not sure I’d try paint on these books because the paper isn’t very thick, but you may be able to get away with it.

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The Joyous Blooms is probably the book the I like the most. Every page is gorgeous and full of flowers, birds, nature scenes, etc.

Joyous Blooms

The paper is very good quality and thick enough to use watercolors on, which is my current favorite medium. (I should point out though, that’s it’s NOT watercolor paper). It also takes marker very well and although the pages are double-sided I haven’t had any bleed through issues.

Joyous Blooms 4 Joyous Blooms 3 Joyous Blooms 1 Joyous Blooms 2 Extreme Wonders 1

There are also really cool two page spreads like the butterfly above, which seems to be a unique feature (none of my other books do this). Most of the pages are not abstract, but I just adore the one above.

My last book, Whatever Is Lovely, was sent to me by Blogging For Books to review.

Whatever Is Lovely

I love the idea of a worship coloring book and had high hopes for this one. The con to this book is that it’s a compilation of many different artists/authors so I found many of the pages don’t really fit with my personal style preferences – but I do really like some of them. Overall I think I’d rather pick a book by one or two artists that I really like, but I can see how a lot of people might enjoy the diversity. The pages are really thick and the back of each is blank except for a small note about the song, reference, or author. I’ve worked with both watercolors and markers in this book and both worked beautifully.

Whatever Is Lovely 1 Whatever is Lovely 2 Whatever Is Lovely 3 Whatever Is Lovely 4 Whatever Is Lovely 5

(While I did receive this book for review, all opinions expressed are my own.)

So, what do you think about the adult coloring book trend? Which style is your favorite? Do you have any on your wishlist? I’m crushing on all of the Johanna Basford books (check them out here).

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A Fresh Start

Well, helloooo 2016. I think I’m going to like you. Even though things are already NOT going according to plan, I’m okay with it. This past week has been kind of busy and weird and full of sickness and family visiting (not necessarily a great combination, right?), so I haven’t had the kids fill out the annual Year in Review/Goals for the year sheets yet, but we’ll get to it for sure. I love, love, love having those to look back at and I want to make sure I have the kids participate for as long as they’re willing (or as long as I can force them to).

So, like always at the start of a fresh new year, I’ve been thinking about what my goals are for 2016, and although I won’t bore you with all of them, here are a few interesting things that I’d like to commit to trying:

Unlike the previous few years I’m not going to aim for just a certain number of books to read; instead I’m going to try a couple of different challenges that will force me to expand to other genres and books that I probably normally wouldn’t even consider.

http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2016-reading-challenge/
via Modern Mrs Darcy

First up, I definitely want to join this reading challenge  hosted by Modern Mrs Darcy. I don’t have a lot of trouble meeting my reading goals each year, but I love the direction this challenge gives me. Plus, it just sounds fun.

2016BooksFinal I’m also considering this challenge hosted by Bringing Up Burns, because it’s quite a bit different from the first one and I just can’t decide between the two.

Another goal of mine is to continue working on some form of journaling/memory keeping for the entire year of 2016. Last year I did keep up with my Documented Faith journal, and while I don’t think I’ll continue with it this year, it did introduce me to that form of record-keeping and I loved it. The past few months I’ve been experimenting with guided challenges and list challenges and I have really enjoyed myself, so I plan to stick with that for 2016. I’ll include a couple of photos below because I’m sure that my explanations would just confuse everyone. 🙂

This was from a challenge I completed in November - this was actually supposed to be my life as a comic strip, but I can't draw, so this was my improvise.
This was from a challenge I completed in November – this was actually supposed to be my life as a comic strip, but I can’t draw, so this was my improvise.
Another challenge from Nobember, this was a gratitude journal with guided prompts.
Another challenge from Nobember, this was a gratitude journal with guided prompts.
Another page from the gratitude journal - I won't ever attempt to do two challenges in the same month again!
Another page from the gratitude journal – I won’t ever attempt to do two challenges in the same month again!

On that note, I’m pretty stoked to tell you guys that I’ve been asked to be part of The Ink Road’s new design team! I’ll be sharing my journaling/list challenge projects via my Instagram account, although I may share them here once in a while, too.

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Like I mentioned before, I don’t really have my act totally together yet, so most of my plans are still in-progress, but I’ll try to share more soon. I just love starting a fresh, new year! I know i say that every January, but seriously. How about yall? Any big goals or dreams for 2016?

 

Book Reviews: Trim Healthy Mama Plan and Washi Tape Crafts

Hey buddies, I know it’s been forever since I’ve blogged, but things have been crazy around here and I’ve been contemplating whether or not to continue writing (pretty much for the whole year) and where I want to go with this thing. I think I’ve made my decision, and I’ll be writing more about that soon, but today I wanted to share a couple of thoughts about two fun books I’ve read through in the past few weeks (okay..months. Like I said, crazy around here.)

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The Trim Healthy Mama Plan is the newest of the THM books, but I’d never read the original so it was all new to me. It’s been one of those books I kept intending to read and just never happened, but I’ve been hearing about it for the last several years and finally got around to it at the recommendation of my sisters, two of whom are following this plan successfully. Honestly, I’ve tried a lot of fad diets and I’m still not completely convinced about this one, especially since I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I like their simple approach, which is basiically: Don’t mix carbs and fats when you eat. Let me tell ya, I’ve been struggling to lose weight for several years now and I’m really, really tired of counting calories and not seeing results from my efforts, so I do plan to give this plan a try as soon as I get more familiar with the menu. I thought the book was well-written, easy to follow (not a lot of technical jargon that’s impossible to follow like a lot of diet books), and seriously, the recipes they’ve included actually sound really appetizing, which is a huge plus. (Seriously. Cilantro-Lime Burst Chicken? Yes, please!)  I’ve also talked to (and read about) quite a few people who’ve had great success on this plan. So overall, definitely an interesting read. I’d like to pick up their new cookbook as well.

The second book, Washi Tape Crafts, is a cute little craft book by the author of Mod Podge Rocks (Amy Anderson) and is filled with projects you can complete with washi tape. A super cool thing about the book – it comes with TEN rolls of washi included to try out some of the crafts yourself! I’ve been using washi for a few years now, mainly in journaling and papercrafting, but she has all kinds of cool ideas in this book. My favorites are the following:

I love this tumbler!
I love this tumbler!
The awesome thing about washi is that it doesn't leave residue behind and is repositionable, which makes it perfect on walls.
The awesome thing about washi is that it doesn’t leave residue behind and is repositionable, which makes it perfect on walls.
Make your keyboard pretty!
Make your keyboard pretty!

This book would make a great gift for someone who loves crafting, especially because of the washi that’s included.

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**I received the Trim Healthy Mama Plan from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion and Washi Tape Crafts from the author, Amy Anderson, also in exchange my honest review.

May/June Goals Update

Wow, peoples, it’s July. May and June were all kinds of weird and crazy, with huge chunks of time spent at the hospital. (We’ve learned that hospital waiting rooms are a strange time warp where you can lose hours and days at a time without even realizing it.) Luckily, I had scheduled June off from school already, so I had a little bit more time to catch up on all the stuff I was behind on.

I’m doing well on my reading goals, am a little ahead even. I’m one book behind with the girls read-alouds, but I think we’ll catch up pretty quickly. We just started Daddy Long Legs, one of my old favorites. Susannah’s been reading everything she can get her hands on lately (remind you of anyone, mom?) and she’s already blazed through several of the books I had picked out to read together so I’m looking for suggestions for good read-alouds. (Not Beverly Cleary, though. I’m not a fan.) Here’s the stack I’m currently working on/about to start.

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I’m a little behind on my Documented Faith journal, but not by much, and I’m working to catch up on it. I started using my Documented Life journal again, but without the weekly prompts. Instead I’m using it however I want for personal pages. I only sewed a couple of banners for a friend in May, but I’m still counting it since I did use the machine. And June’s project was mermaid tales for the girls at Susannahs party.

Under the Sea Party 24

 

 

My biggest accomplishment was finallllly getting the bathroom walls and cabinets repainted, which has been on my to-do list for several years now. Actually, other than a little work left on the trim, our floors are finally finished and we are so happy to be done. Now we can start looking for another house and start all over again. 🙂

Although I haven’t kept up with all of the goals I set for myself, I’m pretty okay with the progress I’ve made the first half of the year. I’ll try to update every few months to keep myself accountable.

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February Goals Update

Poor, neglected blog.  I know I’ve said this before, but I really am trying to push myself into a schedule that will allow time for more of the things I enjoy doing.  You know, like blogging.

February is long gone, and March is flying by, so here’s a quick update on how I did on my goals last month.

Let’s start with the successes, shall we?

I’m killing it on the reading front, although I haven’t read anything too spectacular lately.  By far my favorite reads were the concluding books in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series. I’d never read them before and the girls and I both enjoyed them immensely.  I was completely undone by the final book, Grandfather’s Dance, and was crying so hard during the last chapter that I really thought I would have to let Susannah take over for me.  I think I freaked the girls out a little, too. They’ll understand someday.  Right?

I sewed Madeline an Easter dress, so I met my sewing goal, although with March almost over I better GET IT or I’m doomed this month.  No photo yet, but I’ll be sure to snap one on Easter Sunday when she wears it.  I’ve kept up pretty well with my faith journal, but the Documented Life Project pretty much fell by the wayside in February.  I was gone for several weekends, and just haven’t been able to catch up.  Honestly, I’m a little lost by a lot of the weekly prompts, so I’m going to try branch off on my own using my Pinterest boards and Instagram for inspiration.

I sent at least one letter in February but have completely failed on keeping in better touch through phone.  I really want to communicate more often with my siblings and mom, but the time difference really hinders me a lot of times.  I’m working on a solution but so far it just hasn’t happened.

The color run I signed us up for was unexpectedly moved to just a few weeks away so we’re taking the girls out for evening jogs to try to prepare ourselves  a little.  Nice of them to not only change location but to move it up FIVE MONTHS with just a few weeks notice.  Way to let us train, peoples.

….And now for the fails.

I haven’t touched Project Life at all this year, and with 2015 being almost 1/4 over, I’m not seeing a lot of hope for this one.  Maybe.  Likewise with the girls art journals.  It’s been so crazy around here that we’re lucky to get the serious stuff done, but I’m hoping to carve out a normal time for art soon.

Sadly, our Scripture memorization has been limited to Sunday school verses, but I do hope to start tackling more with the girls soon.  How do people fit everything into a day?!

So I’m mostly on track, with a few fails to try to fix. How are your goals coming along this year? Read any fab books lately?  Am I the only one who feels like Easter is really early this year?

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