Sunday, April 27, 2014

End of Event: Readathon

And now it's over... My participation this year has really dwindled from when I first started, several years ago. Back then I was a newly-wed still in my last semester of school. I could easily choose to spend a Saturday how I wanted to... which was curled up with a book, leaving my hubby to find dinner for himself. Now, not so much. I read about an hour and a half throughout yesterday and I got 45 minutes in this morning after waking up before it was all over. 

I finished Allegiant yesterday, which I highly enjoyed. I keep reading these YA dystopian novels because they're the big thing and I want to see what everyone is so excited about. They've been readable to me but I wouldn't call them great books, but out of the ones that I've read, I think the Divergent series is the best. I liked the characters a lot. I enjoyed seeing them push themselves and discover who they are. 

Last night I started The Stand by Stephen King. This will be my third Stephen King novel (I've also read The Green Mile and Under the Dome (which is nothing like the TV show!)). I can't do horror at all, it totally freaks me out, but some of his works, while still tough to read, can be very engrossing. Or should I say, engrossing. I also love long books, so at over 1000 pages, I'm hoping this book will appeal to me.

Anyways, here is the end of event meme:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? After my daughter's first nap time, I couldn't find anymore time to read, everyone in the house seemed to need stuff done and that was it. I found it very frustrating and hopefully I can control the situation a little better next year.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? If you're into the YA dystopia genre, I highly enjoyed the Divergent series, I finished up Allegiant as part of the readathon.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Could you have a post on how to actually use Twitter? I'm still trying to figure that out and would love to try connect more with other readers.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I enjoy the visits from the cheerleaders.
  5. How many books did you read? Finished one that I had already started and just started another... so, 0.6 books?
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Allegiant by Veronica Roth and The Stand by Stephen King
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Allegiant
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I guess, The Stand, but I'm not far enough into it to know if I'll like it.
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? n/a
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Definitely! I think I'd like to try to be a cheerleader. I've never done it but it would take some pressure off me if I'm not trying to read whenever I get a free moment. Plus I'd love to see how other people handle their schedules and what they do during the readathon!
Happy Reading everyone! See you in October!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

24 Hour Readathon! Starts Now!

So it's a little after 8:30am here and I'm just getting started. I love this readathon and I hope to participate throughout the day but it's unlikely I'll be able to do much. My almost 8 month old just went down for her first nap and daddy is out today so as soon as she is up, I won't get much done.

Anyways, here's the opening meme questionnaire:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? PA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Allegiant by Veronica Roth, I'm about halfway through and I would love to finish it today! After that, if I have time and energy, I'm up in the air about a couple books. I'd love to start the second book in the Way of Kings series by Brandon Sanderson but I have some library books that I should probably read instead, like The Stand by Stephen King or The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar. Fiction is probably easier for a day like today but I do love non-fiction as well. Any input on these books? 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Hmmmmmm, apples and cheese! Yummy, filling, and won't make me want to take a post-food coma afterwards ;-)

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! My favorite book is Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? Last October I was too tired to do much reading since baby girl was only 6 weeks old and I was barely sleeping. This time around, I know I'll be busy but I think I'll be a little more prepared to sneak in reading throughout the day, plus after she goes to bed :)

.... and now off for a little reading before naptime is over!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

24 Hour Readathon!

It's Coming! The 24 hour readathon! Yay!!!

This Saturday!

8AM (EST) - 8AM

I've participated in a number of the 24 Hour Readathons, I started about 3 1/2 years ago, after hubby and I got married and I started my first blog, By the By Books. I've never quite made it the whole 24 hours, but I've done my best and enjoyed the experience every time.

The readathon happens twice a year, in October and April. Last October, I tried to participate but I think I managed to read all of a half hour. Little girl was only 6 weeks and I was still getting almost no sleep. 

This Saturday my hubby will be away volunteering but I'm hoping to take advantage of little girl's naps and read during that time, rather than trying to do housework or other projects I have going on. I'd also like to try to join the community a little more during this readathon, rather than just focusing on cramming as much reading in as I can. Maybe I'll finally figure out how Twitter works so I can join in the conversation and excitement on there.

If this at all intrigues you, I hope you'll consider joining the fun! It may sound overwhelming, but there is no pressure! The readathon is a day to celebrate reading and the enjoyment we can gain from books. Whether we are reading them, listening to them, or talking about  them with others. Please join us!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Do you ever just feel overwhelmed? I'm sure you do! It's part of human nature, right?!

The problem with me feeling overwhelmed, though, is that I create it all myself. I create my own chaos! And my stress. And my anxieties.

I've been working very hard to come with a system to stay organized and make sure I get the things done that I want to accomplish. But either I'm awful with time management, having a baby in the house slows me down tremendously, and/or I just have too much that I want to do. It's probably all three.

Currently, I want to....

  • Be the best Mom I can be, 24/7/365.
  • Capture, record, remember, and enjoy all moments, large and small, with our daughter.
  • Learn photography (just bought a Nikon D5200!)
    • So that I can take beautiful pictures of our daughter
    • Take great pictures for my Etsy shop (which I need to do a lot of work on!)
    • Take inspiring/eye-catching photos for this blog
  • Grow this blog so that people follow me-
    • I want to inspire others
    • I want to relate and connect with others
    • I want to inform others with topics that I find interesting
    • I would love to generate some sort of revenue since I stay at home, but I don't know how to do this and know that I am a far way away from that.
  • Develop my Etsy shop to support the activities that I love doing and perhaps provide some stream of income into our household
  • Maintain financial literacy education, make smart financial moves
    • Continue working on and sticking to budget---- we just started our third month of using YNAB and love it!
    • Continue to save for retirement and learn which investing vehicles are best for us
    • Save for college
    • Make sure buying a house is right for us, do renovations only within our budget and that will add value to the house
    • Learn how to invest money
    • Continue saving for a rainy day and for vacations in the future when our kid(s) are older
  • Continue all crafts that I am already involved in and continue to learn others
    • Three cross-stitch projects
    • Crochet another blanket
    • Crochet a birthday present for sister
    • Make an stuffed elephant taggie for daughter
    • Learn to quilt
    • Learn to machine embroider
    • Learn to make a small quilt for when daughter can have a blanket in bed
  • Buy a house
  • Plan renovations and decorations for said home
  • Find a way to organize my time so that I can keep up on housecleaning and cooking, so that everything gets done and it's not a huge job at any one time
  • Try to find time to keep reading... my first passion and hobby, and the one that keeps getting pushed back since it's for when I have time to "not do anything"
  • Try to find more time to relax with hubby. He not only commutes over 3 hours a day, but just got approved for overtime, so he's working 10 hour days. It's tough.

While I definitely can't work on all of this list at once, I keep jumping around. And I'm just feeling frazzled. If anyone has any tips or input on how to handle everything that you want to do, please leave me a comment- I'd love to chat! Even if you just want to let off a little steam about how much you have to do! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig


The Garden Intrigue
By: Lauren Willig
  • SBN-13: 9780525952541
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/16/2012
  • Series: Pink Carnation Series, #9
  • Pages: 400


First off, this is the ninth book in the Pink Carnation series, so there may be some spoilers to previous books. 

Eloise and Colin are hosting a film crew at the house, where they are filming an awful regency movie. Colin can't stand having the film crew trod through his grounds but he was outvoted by both his sister, Serena, and enemy, Jeremy. Eloise is on edge because she is offered a teaching position for the fall... back in the U.S.

In France, however, Augustus Whittlesby continues to surreptitiously woo Jane Wooliston, who is having none of it. His mission throws him into the constant presence of Emma Delagardie, an American connected to the Royal family, in order to discover the machine Napoleon plans to use to invade England. There is lots of misunderstandings between the Augustus and Emma, leading to anger and hurt and Augustus must face the choice between his mission and the woman he loves.


If you haven't read the Pink Carnation series and you enjoy historical fiction, you really should stop what you are doing and go get the first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. It's a delightful series that chronicles English spies during the time of Napoleon and a modern day History student doing dissertation research in England.

Once again Lauren Willig has set up her characters wonderfully, we see another match made amongst the spies and Eloise's relationship with Colin starts to become rocky as her time in England starts to wind down. 

I love the juxtaposition of the historical (well, not technically historical) stories against Eloise's story. Although the spies move much quicker, whole relationships form and end within one book, whereas Eloise moves much slow, I like that her story connects the series together. 

In The Garden Intrigue, I liked learning more about Jane and her role in the network, even though she is still not the main character. While I enjoyed seeing her again, I do wish she could be a little more human and less ethereal. Augustus' character contrasts her nicely since even though he lauds himself as a seasoned spy, he still falls prey to his heart- much like the poet he "pretends" to be ;-) I hope we see Augustus and Emma again back in England. I'm also anxious to keep reading just to see how Eloise's relationship progresses- I love Colin and want to see them happy together! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I want amazing pictures of our little girl! Beautiful pictures! And lots of them! 

Pictures that I can print on canvas and let them surround us in our home. 

I feel like I really missed out by not getting newborn pictures, although we were really way to busy to do them (C-section recovery, moving across the state, blah blah blah). 

So I've started looking into some local photographers, and I would love to support them.... but have you seen how expensive it is to purchase the digital images? I'm not interested in having them print pictures for me, I want the digital images so that I can print them, post them online, put them in my photobook creations. But if I want good pictures several times a year, it would cost me a fortune to do that!

Because of the expense of purchasing digital images, my husband and I are looking at purchasing a DSLR, figuring out a good lighting set-up, taking some classes and figuring it all out on our own. It will definitely be a very large upfront cost, but if we stick to it and do it right, it will save us a lot in the long run. I hate not supporting local photographers, especially since so many do such great work, but I just can't stomach paying $150+ for just a few digital images, not including the sitting fees. Especially in the DIY-culture that we are a part of.

We've both always wanted a DSLR but we could never justify it enough. Now we look at our little girl and think how could we not spend our time and money documenting her life. 

So now I have another goal to add to my list of things to do right now! Learn about saving retirement, buying a house, and how to take and edit beautiful photographs. Ready... set... go!

If anyone has any advice on what cameras to look at (we're thinking one of the Canon Rebels?) or where to get some good information, please share!! I'm all ears, well, eyes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby


Nick Carraway narrates his past relationships with the mysterious Jay Gatsby, a reclusive and wealthy man who holds extremely lavish parties at his mansion. Gatsby uses his relationship with Nick to gain access to the lost love of his life, a woman already married. Gatsby and his love begin an affair, but her husband becomes aware of it as Gatsby urges her to leave her husband and stay with him. Tragedies unfold as love triangles break up into pieces throughout the course of an evening, leaving everyone heartbroken.


So I've never reviewed a movie before, and I definitely don't claim to be a movie critic, but I just wanted to share some thoughts on the new movie The Great Gatsby. I just received it last week from Netflix, I know I'm so behind the times but that's what a baby does to you. I had wanted to see it in theaters but hubby did not and so I didn't push it.

Anyways, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a gorgeous movie. I loved the the cinematography and the glitz and glam of the 1920's costumes and sets. The whole way through it, I kept thinking how the cinematography reminded me of Baz Luhrmann films... and sure enough, after it was over I checked it, and it was directed by Luhrmann! Do I know directors or what? He's the only one I can recognize though just by watching the movie. I haven't liked all of his movies (Strictly Ballroom), but I like most, especially Moulin Rouge.

I also enjoyed the movie because I finally felt like I understood the appeal of the story. I read the book back in high school, and either from my age or the actual book, I just never connected with storyline. I didn't understand why I should care about any of the characters and their lives were just so shallow and vapid that I didn't care what happened to them. As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, it bothered me that I didn't understand the appeal of this classic, but after seeing the movie, I think I get it. I should probably give the book another try now since I am a little older and I've seen the movie.

If you have a free evening, I recommend this movie! It could definitely be a good date night movie! Unfortunately I watched it during the day so hubby didn't have a chance to watch it with me (he goes to bed too early anyways) so I don't have his take on the movie.

Directed byBaz Luhrmann
Produced byBaz Luhrmann
Douglas Wick
Lucy Fisher
Catherine Martin
Catherine Knapman
Screenplay byBaz Luhrmann
Craig Pearce
Based onThe Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
StarringLeonardo DiCaprio
Tobey Maguire
Carey Mulligan
Joel Edgerton
Isla Fisher
Elizabeth Debicki
Jason Clarke
Music byCraig Armstrong
CinematographySimon Duggan
Editing byMatt Villa
Jason Ballantine
Jonathan Redmond
StudioVillage Roadshow Pictures
Bazmark Productions
A&E Television
Red Wagon Entertainment
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • May 1, 2013(New York City premiere)
  • May 10, 2013(United States)
  • May 30, 2013 (Australia)
Running time142 minutes[1]

**copied from Wikipedia**