Books of 2016!

I set a lofty goal for 2016 – to finish 25 books.

I didn’t make it.

But I DID read 20 books. Over 8,000 pages. Not too shabby!  (I track my reading using Goodreads which syncs to my Kindle).

Here are my 20 books of 2016:

books

 

My least favorites of the bunch?

  • The Paying Guests (too long, not particularly compelling, and I just didn’t care about the characters very much)
  • Shrill (I wanted to like it, but I felt like it was billed as something new, brash and fresh, and it just wasn’t)

My favorites of the bunch?

Goals for 2017?

  • Read 25 books (I just finished my first book of 2017 – The Muse)
  • Finish the Harry Potter series (I am planning to read these to my children, and wanted to read them all myself, first)
  • Finally read The Goldfinch (it has been on my nightstand for 2 years)
  • Read at least 3 non-fiction titles. I’m thinking Between the World and Me, When Breath Becomes Air and Born to Run will make the cut. Speaking of…
  • Listen to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run on audio book (an awesome Christmas present from my dad!) I was going to read it in hardcover, but Bruce reads the audio book version himself. I’m a big fan (I’ve been to 50 shows!) and the book is poetry, so I’m going to dedicate my commute to listening. And yes, I’m counting it in my 2017 total.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017? Suggestions for books you think I’d love? Books to avoid?  Please let me know!  And connect with me on Goodreads, too!

Happy reading!

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Books for Christmas

It is a Christmas tradition – the nieces and nephews each get a book from me for Christmas.  (Yes, they get a toy or two, as well.)  So what are we putting under the tree this year?  I tried to focus on stories that feature characters being brave, persevering, and learning gratitude.  And I tried to find some books that feature characters, locations and traditions that might be different from ours.  I have linked these images to Amazon so you can learn more about them, but – as always – I’d encourage you to support your local independent bookstore and buy there!  Here’s our list:

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar. By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field Ages 3-5

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar.
By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field
Ages 3-5

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco. By Evan Turk Ages 4-8

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco.
By Evan Turk
Ages 4-8

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson Ages 3-5

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. Features people of all shapes, colors and abilities!
By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Ages 3-5

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals. By Celina Kalluk Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis Ages 2-3

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals.
By Celina Kalluk, Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Ages 2-3

A clever and lovely seek-and-find book By B.B. Cronin Ages 3-7

A clever and lovely (and detailed!) seek-and-find book
By B.B. Cronin
Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving. By Ashley Spires Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving.
By Ashley Spires
Ages 3-7

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells the readers what his life is really like. By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith Preschool - Grade 2

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells readers what his life is really like.
By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith
Ages 3-7

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland. By Rebecca Young Illustrated by Matt Ottley Ages 4-8

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland.
By Rebecca Young, Illustrated by Matt Ottley
Ages 4-8

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play. By David Litchfield Preschool - Grade 2

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play.
By David Litchfield
Ages 4-7

Happy shopping and reading!

Things I Love Thursdays – Baby Shower Edition

Baby Showers!  I’m nearing 40 so, alas, my baby shower attendance has dropped off a bit in the last few years. Sadness.  Hopefully I have a few left to attend.  Here is a list of a few of my favorite baby shower gifts to give (and get!).

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote

This is one of my very favorite gifts to give.  They are made in the good ol’ U.S. of A and last forever.  Know baby’s name?  Add a monogram!  Or perhaps add just the last initial.  I have a large collection of these bags and use them for everything.  They have served as diaper bags, luggage, and grocery bags.  I use them daily.  My favorite is the large tote with long handles (to go over shoulders when arms are full of baby and baby things).  I do have a zippered version, which works well for travel.

112636_2253_41

 

Nightlights

I always get an inexpensive pack of nightlights for new moms and dads.  These are really helpful when you are groggily nursing at 4am, and they are usually an afterthought.  Middle of the night diaper changes are jarring enough, low light makes it a little easier.

Nightlights

 

Books

Now that my littlest is in size 3T (sniff!) I am certainly drawn towards those adorable tiny clothes.  But new parents get lots of clothes at showers, so I usually try to give them something else – books.  Also, I am a nerd.  I pretty much think books are the coolest.  I usually try to give a small collection of the titles that were kid tested and kid approved at my house.  So many are available inexpensively on Amazon.  And many come in a variety of formats – board books for younger children, hard cover for keepsakes, and soft cover for when they are a little older.

Engine

 

Zoo

 

words

 

jack

 

bear

 

Clothes

Yes, I know I said I tend to avoid giving clothes, but I love these Hanna Andersson sleepers so much I sometimes just have to gift them.  They are a bit pricey, but the quality is always excellent, and the cotton really is the softest.  We own a lot of Hanna Andersson at my house and not one piece has ever worn out – even items that have been handed down three times.  So pick up one of these adorable sleepers in a gender neutral pattern, and know that it will last through kid after kid after kid and wash after wash after wash.  I like the footed ones for babies, and the footless ones for toddlers.

Sleeper 1

 

village

 

After the shower…

Anything personalized makes a great new baby gift.  Sweet gifts include personalized blankets, birthday blocks, and framed birth info (check Etsy for tons of choices).  And of course, gift certificates to local restaurants are great, too.  With a new baby, sometimes take out is a life saver!

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

Chamois Stroller Blankets from Pottery Barn are lovely, useful and not too expensive.

 

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

Keepsake Birth Blocks by Smiling Tree Toys

 

As always, no affiliate links.  I have linked these items for your convenience. 

 

Things I Love Thursdays

Just a quick post to let you know about a few things I’m digging right now.

Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson

This great kids’ book by the author of The Gruffalo is a new favorite in our house.  The rhyme scheme is lovely, the photos are colorful and goofy and the story is fun.  In order to cure his Grandmother’s case of the moozles, Jack and his friends go on an adventure to the Isle of Blowyernose to find the rare flumflum fruit. They run into obstacles during the voyage, but are saved by the items Granny has packed for them.  I love the line that repeats throughout,

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” said Jack. “Let’s have a look in the patchwork sack!”  

Of course, my children get a great kick out of the “knickers in a twist” part, too.

flum

(Aside: if you have a chance to check out The Gruffalo short film, do!  It is on Netflix and it is beautifully done.  The cast is stellar – Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Wilkinson to name a few – the animation is lovely, and of course, the story is great. Be warned: it is a bit scary.)

*****

Chatbooks

I am loving my Chatbooks app.  You download the app, link your account to your Instagram account (or use photos directly from your phone), and the app creates lovely 6×6 inch, color, soft-cover books from your photos.  Cost per book?  $6.  You can customize, take photos out, add more pages, etc., but I’m taking the easy route.  When 60 new photos are added to my Instagram account, it automatically creates my book, and ships it to me. Done.  Captions and dates included.  I don’t have to think about it, and I don’t have to DO anything.   My kids love looking through the books, which become like little journals.  And the price is right.

If you use my code to subscribe I get a $1 credit, and you get a free book.  No pressure!

 If you use my code to subscribe I get a $1 credit, and you get a free book. Everyone wins! Please note that Chatbooks 2.0 will be released in July.  At that point their services will increase, but so will their prices.  Books will be $8 each.  Sign up before the new version is released to be grandfathered in to the new pricing for 2 years! 

The negatives?  The cheap shipping takes forever and I’m not sure I’d think it was worth doing if I didn’t have an Instagram account.

*****

Rimmel London’s Scandaleyes Shadow Stick

I should wear make-up more often, as evidenced by the WORST SELFIE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE that I took two weeks ago.  Yikes.  And no way am I sharing it. Heck no.  So when I saw these recommended in one of my feedly blogs, I figured I’d give them a try.  I’m not usually a fan of eye shadow pencils – I feel like I don’t have enough control over the amount of shadow applied, and sort of feel like I’m drawing on my eyelids.  But at $4.50 a shadow stick (or even less!) I figured I wouldn’t be too mad about wasting my money if I hated them.

But I love them.  They work almost like a creamy, colored, primer. The shadow doesn’t crease or creep.  They go on smoothly and easily, and can be blended by fingers.  The colors I’ve tried are lovely. My only complaint?  You will eventually need a special sharpener, since they are large pencils. (I bought one at Target for $5.)

Photo by Rimmel London.  Click on it to be taken there.

Photo by Rimmel London. Click on it to be taken there.

I have three colors so far: Trespassing Taupe (matte), Bulletproof Beige, and Bluffing. I think I’ll go back for a few more colors (though probably not the turquoise).

Happy summer!  And remember, don’t get your knickers in a twist!

Things I Love Thursdays

I’m a sucker for stationery. Right this very minute I have 3 sets of personalized note cards sitting on my desk. And return address labels and stamps?  Don’t get me started.  

So I’m kind of geeking out about these clever letterpress cards by Sapling Press (also on Etsy). They get ideas from websites and their favorite Twitter feeds, and then make beautiful goofy cards.  

check stupidparenting milkshake   spongepumpernickle john

And a few oldies but goodies that are making regular appearances at my house at bedtime?

The princess-to-be goes on a quest to save her intended, Ronald, from a fire-breathing dragon. She outsmarts the dragon and then bids Ronald farewell after he doesn’t appreciate her efforts. He’s no prince after all – he’s a BUM.

Life gets a little boring if you eat the same thing every day, even if it is your very favorite.

Life gets a little boring if you eat the same thing every day, even if it is your very favorite.

Keep on, keepin’ on, my friends!

Things I Love Thursdays

And now for your latest installment of TILT!  Just so you know, these aren’t affiliate links, I just like this stuff.

MagnaTiles – These flat, magnetic blocks are awesome. My children play with these just about every day.  We build buildings, make pizza, make rockets, the options are unlimited, and they really encourage creative play. They are even fun for parents.  Downside? Super expensive. 

Image from MagnaTiles.com. Click on the image for to go there.

Image from MagnaTiles.com. Click on the image to go there.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee – I know I’m not alone in my love of this book.  It is a simple (and not too long! Major perk at bedtime – I’m looking at you Mike Mulligan) book about sweet friendship and the illustrations are just lovely.  We have a lot of books, and this one consistently ranks among my favorites.

Amos

Image from Amazon.

Max Daniel Security Blanket – Pickle and Plum chose Angel Dear Blankies as their security blankets/lovies. I thought Pistachio would do the same.  But this soft, silky blanket gifted by my sister is his lovey of choice.  I can’t say I blame him.  It is cozy and luxurious, and a nice size.  It is pretty darn expensive for a lovey but it is his favorite. 

Image from Amazon (click on photo to link there).  You can also see these at maxdaniel.com.

Image from Amazon (click on photo to link there). You can also see these at maxdaniel.com.