Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Maunder: Currently . . . (The First Edition)

I've seen this little template floating around the blogosphere for a while now and have been wanting to give it a go, but have never thought of it until it was too late.  Well, today is the day to explore what I am currently doing.

Time:  4:53 pm MST

The Scene:  Today has been a great catch-up day, filled with phone calls and paperwork.  It really did not start out on the greatest foot, but it has been improving.  I did take a break to take my kids to swimming lessons this morning and get beat in a game of UNO by my son this afternoon.

Drinking:  Water.  In fact, it is time for another refill.

Reading:  I am hoping to finish The Picture of Dorian Gray later this evening.  I am not sure yet what my next read will be after that.  I am debating between returning to the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris for a bit of fun or picking up the bestseller, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins or going with a book I've been wanting to read for a while, Quiet by Susan Cain.  Any recommendations?

I am also currently listening to Four by Veronica Roth on audiobook and still reading The Sea of Monsters with my kids.

Writing:  I currently have so many writing projects on my plate right now!  I have been working on some fun writing prompts inspired by my writing group.  I am starting some things for a secret writing project.  And, I really, really need to work on catching up on reviews for the blog.  I am trying to write a little bit each day.  I missed a few days last week, but I also have improved from previous weeks, so I am counting that as progress.

Watching:  I am really not watching a lot these days.  My husband did receive Kingsman for Father's Day and we watched that over the weekend.  Oh, and we did have a family movie night with Paul Blart, Mall Cop (the first one).  What I really want to get to is more Sherlock!  I can never get enough of that show!

Promoting:  Book Bloggers International!!  Have you seen the latest updates coming from the site these days?!?  We have a new book blogger community calendar and next week will be the release of our fun little newsletter!  If you haven't already checked it out, you will definitely want to!

Listening:  We have been on a "Happy" kick here at our house, particularly when watching the official video that accompanies it.  It just makes us all want to smile and dance!

What is currently going on in your lives?  Do you like seeing this format for weekly check-ins or do you prefer my usual randomness instead?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Literary Link Love: June 2015

I cannot believe it is already time for another round of Literary Link Love!  I don't have a lot of links for you again this month (because I have no idea where the time went), but as always, they are good ones!!

Wouldn't it be great to read one of your favorite books again for the first time?  What book would you choose if you could?

Have you seen this picture circulating the interwebz?  I cannot agree with it more!

Just this last weekend, I was a guest over at I'm Lost in Books talking about summer.  Stop by and see what my plans are as well as a handful of my other favorite bloggers!

Last, but not least, did you see this NEW amazing resource from Book Bloggers International?!?  Okay, I may be a bit biased on this one.  Nonetheless, I still think it is pretty awesome!

What great links did I miss this month?  What have been some of your favorites?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Mud Volcano

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

I know this is a weird one to post, but for some reason I just love it!  It's from the mud volcanoes in Yellowstone National Park.  Might be a good photo to hang in the bathroom?!?  ;)

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Have you ever seen a bubbling mud volcano?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Maunder: Camping and Catching Up

What a week I have had!  Last week, I was chatting with you all about hoping to finish up that Bloggiesta list I had compiled.  Well, I can officially say that I didn't get a lot done in that area.  I was able to round out the week with some posts that I had stored up, but did not get much further than that.  And, the reason for that is because we took a long weekend and hid in the mountains!

This little trip has been in the works for quite a while, but I feel like it was never going to come to fruition.  Well, it did and somehow I was prepared for it!  We spent three days in the mountains, completely away from all civilization.  We spent time fishing, hiking, and relaxing.  I even got in a bit of reading, and a lot more sun than I expected.  And, we did not forget the smores!  The nights were cold, but the days were perfect.  It was hard to leave such a beautiful place, but I must be honest in saying that my bed and my shower were calling me home!

Now that things will be leveling off a bit for a while this summer, I am really looking forward to buckling down and getting caught up on all things blog related this week.  I've got a ton of reviews to write, Wordless Wednesday posts to schedule, more pictures to review and edit as necessary, and blog reading to catch up on.  I am hoping to increase my reading activity and even get in a bit of fun writing along the way.  Since I spent most of my day cleaning up after the big camping trip today, all of this is going to start tomorrow.  Feel free to email, message, or tweet me to check in on my progress, or continue to follow my Monday Maunder posts because I will be updating you all here as well.

Here's to a great week of reading, blogging, and all things summer to all of you!

How has your summer been so far?  What do you have in store for this week?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Reading Plans!!

Woohoo!!  Summer is finally here!!

I know that I am not the only one excited for the summer and all the reading that it comes with.  At least one of my two children is as well.  The other is slowly growing on the idea though.  Since we have been dismissed for the year, I have had multiple people ask me our plans for the summer, particularly in regards to reading.  I thought this would be a better place than any to share those amazing summer reading plans.


I have my kids jammed with reading fun!  Earlier this week, I presented them with their reading binder to kick off the summer.  But before we get to what's included in that binder, I have to admit that they started a little early with . . . .

The Scholastic Summer Reading Program!

If you have not yet heard about this program, I have to brag about it for just a moment.  Kids log the number of minutes they read each day.  If they meet the weekly goal set by Scholastic, they can then spin the wheel for a cool literary badge to add to their collection.  In addition, they can compete in chapter challenges to earn free chapters to all the popular Scholastic books.  And, my favorite addition to the program this year is the new stories written by Scholastic authors that are released about every week.  We have been reading these together and absolutely adore them.  And, they come with an audio option!  Scholastic also keeps a running tally of minutes for everyone participating, and my kids adore seeing how much this number grows every time we log in.

In addition to the Scholastic Summer Reading Program, my kids are also participating in the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading program as well as our local library's summer program.  The former has kids record the number of books read with their recommendation.  The latter has chosen to go another direction and reward kids instead on how many times they visit their local library . . . because reading is a reward in and of itself!

I have also printed off these Summer Reading Logs for each of my children to keep track of all their books read this summer, and encouraging each child to complete a book report for at least five books read.  I have also provided them with a fun reading challenge scavenger hunt, if they so choose to participate.

Last, but not least, I am continuing with their reading incentive program that I implement during the school year.  For every thirty minutes read, I give them one ticket.  They can also earn tickets by cleaning their rooms once a week.  They can cash in their tickets for electronic time (1 ticket = 30 minutes of electronics) or for a book from the bookstore (10 tickets = 1 book).  I had to add this latter incentive because my daughter's tickets were overflowing and she prefers books over electronics!


I really have no particular plans for my summer reading . . . just doing a lot of it!  I am co-hosting a reading challenge through one of my online book groups to help in expanding people's reading, but most of my books on my unpacked TBR will cover the categories.  I honestly just look forward to reading at every opportunity that I get, with or without my children by my side!

I am seriously considering a book-buying ban for the summer though because my TBR seems to have exploded the last couple of months.  My only concern is that I am really anticipating Go Set a Watchman this summer.  And, I just found out that there is going to be a local author event with Jamie Ford that I really want to attend.  Then, I see that there is a readalong for Atlas Shrugged.  Maybe I will allow myself three exceptions for these three special circumstances.  The question is . . . Will I have the power to limit myself to those three exceptions only?!?

Do you have any special plans for yourself or your family for summer reading?  Any books that you are excited about reading this summer?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (Audiobook Review)

I have frequently been recommended to read the works of Sarah Addison Allen.  At first, I honestly shrugged her off, thinking she was not my cup of tea.  She writes southern literature with hints of romance - not the kind of stories that I tend to gravitate towards.  A number of weeks ago, I could not find an audiobook that I was in the mood for.  I ran across The Peach Keeper and reluctantly decided to give it a try.  Afterall, nothing else seemed to be calling out to me and I needed to have an audiobook on hand.

In The Peachkeeper, we meet Willa Jackson, the Walls of Water mysterious prankster during high school and later the non-outdoorsy sporting goods store owner.  We also meet Paxton Osgood, Willa's opposite in so many ways.  Their grandmothers used to be the best of friends, but drama had separated the families for years.  That is, until the renovations of the Blue Ridge Madam reveals secrets that have been buried for years.

I was quite shocked at how quickly this story drew me in.  I immediately adored Willa, and Paxton grew on me.  I liked the magic and the mystery, though subtle, that was woven into the story.  And, the narrator, Karen White brought the perfect amount of Southern to enhance the tale even more.

So, this is where I must confess . . . I adored the story with unexpected surprise!  I found myself personally recommending it a multitude of times since finishing it.  I even purposefully sought out another Sarah Addison Allen tale for my next listen!  I guess that goes to show me on passing judgment before giving a book or author a try, right?!?

Have you enjoyed The Peach Keeper yet?  What other books would you recommend by Sarah Addison Allen?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Mercantile

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

Welcome to one of my favorite surprise photos!  This one was captured in Nevada City, Montana of an old mercantile building.

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Have you ever captured a photo that you ended up loving, but never expected to?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Maunder: Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

On Saturday morning, I shared that I was participating in Bloggiesta over the weekend.  It was a bit late in announcing my intent, but better late than never, right?!?  Afterall, I was in desperate need of catching up around here.  Well, catching up is what I did!  Here is my original list of tasks I had hoped to finish, complete with updates on each!
  1. Clean Out Inbox (29) -- DONE!  (I do have one email that I have left to respond to at the time that I write this, but it is one that needs some thought before I respond.)
  2. Back-up Blog -- DONE!
  3. Back-up Template -- DONE!
  4. Update Books Read in 2015 -- DONE! (View it here!)
  5. Update A-Z Review Index  -- DONE!  (View it here!)
  6. Update BBI Blog Index -- DONE!  (View it here!)
  7. Update BBI Guest Post Index -- DONE!  (View it here!)
  8. Clean Out TO READ Notebook (4) -- DONE!
  9. Clean Out Saved FB Links (14) -- DONE!
  10. Catch Up on Feedly (124)  -- Didn't touch this one.
  11. Write & Schedule Reviews (12) -- Didn't touch this one either.
  12. Schedule Wordless Wednesday Posts (6) -- Didn't touch this one either.

Final thoughts . . . I was able to cross off 9 of the 12 items on this list.  Sadly, the items that I did not get to were probably the ones that I really needed to.  Thankfully, summer is now here and I will have more time on my hands.  I am going to use this week as a bit of an extended Bloggiesta time and hopefully catch up on these last three items in the next few days.  Hopefully, I can actually complete all three items and then give myself a little reward over the weekend.  Check back next week to find out how I did!

Did you participate in Bloggiesta this last weekend?  How did you do?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mini-Bloggiesta: June 2015

Good Bloggiesta Morning!

I had every intention of sharing my plan to participate in this weekend's Bloggiesta earlier this week, but life was crazy with the last week of school and helping my mom run errands after her surgery.  And, let's be honest, life has just been crazy all around and the lack of posting here on the blog has shown that.  What better time for a little Mini-Bloggiesta to just catch up on all the basics!

For those who do not know what Bloggiesta is, it is a specified time devoted to just working on cleaning up and improving your blog.  This time around, it is a mini-event spanning only for two days.  I have participated many, many times, and the event always proves to be one of my favorites and one of the most productive.  For more information on the event, be sure to check out the devoted website here.

So, what are my goals for this weekend?  Let's take a look at my long list of playing catch-up!
  1. Clean Out Inbox (29)
  2. Back-up Blog 
  3. Back-up Template 
  4. Update Books Read in 2015 
  5. Update A-Z Review Index 
  6. Update BBI Blog Index 
  7. Update BBI Guest Post Index 
  8. Clean Out TO READ Notebook (4)
  9. Clean Out Saved FB Links (14)
  10. Catch Up on Feedly (124)
  11. Write & Schedule Reviews (12)
  12. Schedule Wordless Wednesday Posts (6)
**For those items with numbers listed, these reflect what I currently have pending.  I hope to at least reduce these by the end of the weekend.

Whew!  This looks a bit overwhelming, but a good chunk of these should not be too time consuming.  Here's to a great weekend of commiserating and being productive!

Are you participating in Bloggiesta this weekend?  If so, what's your plan for the next couple of days?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: A Protective Mother

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

I had the privilege to meet this protective mama turtle, preparing for the birth of her babes.  She is digging a hole; a hole that she had spent hours upon hours digging in anticipation of the arrival of her babies.  I guess all new mamas go through a nesting stage!

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Are you as fascinated by this determination as I am?