Monday, February 22, 2016

book 'em danno

Here we go- another post about books- NOT Hawaii 5-0.  Sorry to disappoint.  Yup, I like reading. Which you might probably have guessed by this post and this one aaaaaand the fact that I work in a library.

I've handed this down to my kids - there are books EVERYWHERE in this house. Especially in their room- ALL OVER THE FLOOR.  They like to read at night (they share a room remember) and I've had many an occasion where I have to de-bookify the bed when I go in and they are off in dream land.

All of us have been on a real reading jag lately- which is great considering I have been in a real reading funk for the last few months- and I just brought home 10 more books for us this afternoon.

I do try to keep track of what I have read for my work and for myself as well.  I am a bit competitive, so I like keeping track and see the numbers of books read rise.  I'm weird like that.

First, I kept a journal- I'd write down the title, author and copywrite date and maybe a little summary or what I thought, then I started a binder with printouts of cover art and synopsis from Barnes and Noble or Amazon, but now I keep track online.  I use Goodreads.


It's pretty simple. You open an account, you can link it to your email address or to your Facebook account and you can track your reading. You can add friends and see what they're reading.  You can get recommendations based on the books you're tracking- I track what I've read AND what I want to read.  I also break it down into years, and genres- if I'm looking for something to recommend to someone, it's easier for me to find. Usually.  I also take part in the Goodreads Challenge each year. You set a goal for yourself to read a number of books. Whatever YOU want. I have yet to complete a challenge.  I used to have pretty lofty goals of 100 books in a year.  That doesn't sound too bad, but if you have a few months where you don't read. It's pretty difficult.

If you decide to sign up- I don't think you'll regret it, if you have a poor memory like I do- you can find me here.  (pssst, there's an app too)

Ok, enough about that.  Let's talk books.

(If you click on the covers it will take you to Chapters Indigo's listings for the titles, just to help you out, I'm not getting paid or anything!)

*The Babysitters Club- graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier

If you'll remember when I wrote about my favorites, I waxed on about The Babysitters Club.  The are now available as graphic novels.

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #1: Kristy's Great Idea (Full Color Edition)

Same stories- I promise.  But they appeal to another audience now.  Graphic novels are a big thing - my kids love them.  I like them.  I don't love them.  I can read one of these in an hour, the novel would take more time.  But if they're reading, they're reading.  I'm actually reading them along with Max now too- I feel like Marty McFly.

*What Alice Forgot by Liane 
What Alice Forgot

I just read this one earlier in the month.  I really like Liane Moriarty- her book Big Little Lies was on my summer reading list, and I really enjoyed that one too.  Alice, mother of three is 39 in the midst of a divorce and comes to at the gym after passing out and hitting her head in spin class.  The problem is Alice has lost the last 10 years of her life.  The last thing she remembers is being 29, happily married and pregnant with her first child.  She has to rediscover her life and the people in it and see if forgetting is a blessing or a curse.  It's a lighter read, but it had me hooked a few pages in and I didn't want to put it down.

*Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages from Home by Doree Shafrir
Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages from Home

I laughed out loud while reading this book.  Not all moms are tech savvy.  They just aren't.  They can't help it.  I had a 20 minute messaging session with my mom one night about how to get the toilet emoji.  Yes.  I did.  (No worries, she's got it now.)   The texts, emails and messages collected in this book are funny and touching.  And yes WHEN YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS WE THINK YOU ARE YELLING.  It's a quick read, with some laughs and who doesn't need that.

*The Emperor of Paris by C.S. Richardson

The Emperor Of Paris

This is what I'm reading right now.  Tim's aunt, who lives in B.C. and is VERY well read gives me recommendations from time to time (which I love- love her too, she's an amazing woman) and this title was her most recent one.  Octavio, a baker in Notre Dame, does not know how to read, just like his father before him.  The only knowledge of the world outside his bakery comes from his imagination.  Isabeau works at the Louvre and tries to loose herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads.  A chain of events and curious characters cause them to meet.  The writing is beautiful.  There are some books that get me with more than the story- the language, the style.  It's skillfully crafted and just lovely to read.

*The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Ok, I know I'm late to the party on this one.  Like years and years late.  I was under the weather this past weekend and besides snoozing, I was reading this.  I LOVED it.  I like fantasy novels, and this has that element- time travel.  It's a really cool concept- passing through time through stones of the Earth (like Stonehenge) from 1945 to the 1700's in the Scottish highlands.  Claire is a strong female character thrown back to a time when women weren't.  She's in the midst of battles between clans and war with the English.  Yes, there's romance to it.  It's no Fifty Shades, ok.  But it's more than that. There's suspense and intrigue and history.  The next book is on my to read list- and the tv series is on my to-watch list too!

Some of the other books on my to-read list right now are:

*The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
The Mountain Story

I really enjoyed The Girls and The Wife's Tale by this author.  This totally intrigued me-
Four people - three of them know each other, the fourth was alone - are stranded on a mountain with no food, no water and no shelter for five days. Three make it down the mountain. And one of the survivors tells the tale....

*Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
Three Wishes

I already sang the praises of her work (btw, The Hypnotist's Love Story is really good too!)  It's a family saga- sisters.  I really enjoy those, so I'm looking forward to this.

And these ones for the kids (and let's be honest, for me too)

*The Star Wars graphics by Jeffrey Brown

SO.  DARN.  CUTE.  (Plus, I'm a big Star Wars nerd)

Vader's Little PrincessDarth Vader and SonGoodnight Darth VaderDarth Vader And Friends

via YouTube

If you have any recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them.  I'm always looking for another good read.  For now, I'm going to go clean up the mess of books and work on adding another title to my books of 2016 challenge!  And may the force be with you ;)


Monday, February 8, 2016

mom made valentines (with free printables!)

I heart Valentine's day.  I know it's cheesy and pretty much a greeting card holiday, but I love it anyways.  I remember in grade school getting so excited.  We would make a heart pocket envelope thing for all our friends to put our cards into.  My mom would bake heart sugar cookies and send them to school with us.  And then you'd open the cards.  Terrified and excited that someone wrote "Love So and So" on your card.  Hoping that it was NOT that boy who annoyed you, but that it WAS that boy who pretty much ignores you.  You know what I'm saying, don't you?


As an adult, I still love it.  It's this little bright spot in my most hated month.  It's hearts and candy and special somethings for the special someone(s) in your life. However, Tim and I are not the romantic type.  If we buy cards, they are usually funny ones and I might get a pack of Twizzlers (I LOVE TWIZZLERS!) nothing big- but it is nice to show people that you care and to have them do the same for you.  Maybe I AM a little romantic, just don't tell anyone.

As you know I like doing special things for my kids- for their birthdays and holidays- to take to school and share with their friends.  After one long Pinterest session last year, I decided to make them valentines.  A cute card with something a little extra to go along with it.  And that's when I made these.

Max- super, super into Lego and has been for a couple years.  He really likes the ninja ones- especially the green ninja.  I grabbed some lollipops at the bulk store and wrapped them in some green tissue.  I just cut a square, put it over top & twisted it around.  For the eyes, I just took some yellow vinyl I had (you could use construction paper or cardstock too) and cut the shape and drew on some (what I think are fierce) eyes,  Make an opening in the card, pop the "ninja head" in and voila.
And yes, as you'll see below, I got a little carried away with the puns.  I love me a cheesy pun.

For Elise, she never knows what she wants.  More what she doesn't want.  For her, I didn't want candy, she was only 4 at the time and I don't like teachers hating me.  Glow sticks were the obvious choice.  We love glow sticks over here.  Cut a little opening where the horn is, put in the glow stick (and add a little tape to hold it on, for this one and the lollipop) and you're done!

Easy, cute and something a little special.

This year, the school had boxes of valentines donated, and you know that Star Wars and Ever After High (which I would not have purchased) are cooler than mom.  So no homemade cards this year.   Sad face.

I hope you enjoy these valentines as much as I did.
To make them, just download the file, print on cardstock and add your little extra- glow sticks or lollipops.  Don't forget- address them before you add the extras!

To get the printable unicorn file click here

To get the printable ninja file click here

Happy Valentine's day my friends.  I'll have a twizzler for you.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

these pictures of you.... enjoying your photos off of your phone

I can almost believe that they're real....  80's kids.You know it. You're singing it, aren't you?  I'm pretty sure Robert Smith never intended on that song being used in a blog post about family pictures. Sorry Robert.

Ok, back to 2016.  Pictures.  We all love taking them, don't we.  Of our kids, our pets, our lovely significant others, ourselves (?), our vacations... need I go on?   My question to you is this.  What do you do with said pictures?  My guess is you have a pile of them on your phone and on your computer. Raise your hand if pretty much all your pictures are on your phone/computer.  Yup, that's what I thought.

Gone are the days of pulling out the old coil bound photo albums with those sticky pages and laughing at Uncle Erv's crazy hairdo.  (and yes, I do have an Uncle Erv, and his hair is far from crazy now... but, perm, 80's, that's all I'm saying)  Now, now you flip through your phone, unless you've backed them up on your computer and really, it's just not the same.

I love pictures.  Always have.  So what to do with this plethora of pictures.....

Photo Books

Not albums, photo books.  Both of my kids love sitting together and flipping through the pages- and the bonus here is no pictures fall out. No little hands rip those protective sheets and pictures fall out and get totally ruined all loved up.  What I have been trying to do with my pictures is make a family yearbook.  I got the idea a number of years ago, from one of my favorite blogs Young House Love- read about it here.  It was a total palm to the forehead moment.  Why didn't I think of that?  Possibly because Disorganized is my middle name (most people think it's Jane, but it's really not)

So that is what I've been trying to do.  I have some catching up to do- but I'm working on it. Now keep in mind- THIS IS NOT A QUICK PROCESS.  No sir.  You have to scour all your pics - for the whole entire year- and then lay them out in the book template.

There are a few different sites to go to to make your book.  I have tried 4 different ones, but have yet to come up with a favorite.

My Publisher  Sign up with them and you'll get tons of emails with specials and promos.  I really love the quality of this book- and the setup was awesome.  I downloaded the desktop version and made my book.  I'm fussy with layouts, so it takes me a good long while.  My two downsides, that are kind of the same.  I live in Canada.  So duty-  sad face.  And poor Canadian dollar- sad face part 2.

Blurb  These guys are into lots of publishing types- trade books, self publishing, magazines, e-books, whew.  Lots.  And photo books.  The pricing is pretty good- AND it's in Canadian dollars. Big bonus.  Again, it's easy to layout and edit.  My only issue was the quality of the printing.  I have some spots on my book that make me cranky- but again, I am fussy.  I don't feel like the crispness is there in the photos the same as the MyPublisher ones- but I'm not throwing it out or anything... seeing as I'm the only one who notices anyways.  Tim.  Head. Over.

Photolab  This one is for my fellow Canadians.  Photolab is under that Loblaws umbrella.  And I love my Real Canadian Superstore.  I really do.  I did my book for 2014 (I'm totally a year behind folks) through these guys.  It's a big more basic than the others.  I put in all of my pictures on the preset layouts (which fussypants here didn't like and was slightly irritated over) but then was able to go in and customize.  Yay.  That made me happy.  It was the least expensive of the three- but it doesn't look like it.  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the other two, but for the price and no shipping charge (they send it to my store) I'm totally happy.

Shutterfly  I haven't done a yearbook with Shutterfly, but I did make a family recipe book for my mom and brother a couple of Christmases ago.  (this is a great gift idea!)  I incorporated family photos and handwritten recipes in it.  I wish I would have got one for myself.  Duh.  Again, lots of promos through Shutterfly- ALL THE TIME.  If you want your book more scrap book-ish- with doo dads and patterned backgrounds and stuff, they have this like crazy.  I've come to realize, I prefer my books simple with white pages and black text.  It's simple and the photos are the stars, not the clip art.
Very easy, good quality- but again boo for duty and poor Canadian $$$.

Now just think, you can make your books and still sit as a family to giggle at whatever will be equivalent to 80's perms in 20 years.  Yay for photo books!

Canvas prints

If you come to my house, you will see that we are BIG fans of canvas prints.  We have the ability to print our own here at home on our sign equipment, so that's a big reason why.  (We didn't print this one pictured, my friend who is an awesome photog, took this and her lab developed it- it's my favorite.  The chins.  The pigtails.  Love.)

That AND that I love how they look.  I wouldn't only want canvases, I still love frames and mats, but they add texture and dimension.  The fibers in the canvas soften your picture- which is good when your picture isn't super high resolution.  And the depth (I prefer thicker styles) of the frame gives the canvas more visual weight on your wall.

It looks substantial.  Also most canvas prints wrap the picture around the edges so you don't just have a black or white 2 inch wide bar if you're looking at it from the side.  It's like a photo infinity pool.  Well, not really, but I kind of like that analogy.


If you think an 8 x 10 is too big- think again.  Big photo.  Big impact.  Now, not every photo you take deserves to be blown up to 16 x 20, but there are some.  Think of the really special ones that make you happy just to look at them.  Like these ones of my peeps.

That girl- those eyes.  That photo is like magic (and btw, I took that on my iPod touch with the VSCO camera app, use it, you'll thank me) And the dude.  This is just him.  A little shy.  A lot cute.  These frames are from IKEA and I think the fact that they are matter (which makes this extra extra large now) makes them have that much more presence.  **** I have seen all over Pinterest (as I'm sure you have too) that you can get your pics enlarged at Staples as engineering prints.  I have not yet been able to do this- maybe it's an American thing.  I cannot find the option for it on my Canadian Staples site.  If you have. please let me know where I'm going wrong!****


Maybe collages are a little passe.  I don't care.  I still like them.  I don't want them everywhere (nor should you) but one never hurt anyone.  Sometimes you can't decide on JUST ONE PICTURE.  You know that feeling, don't you.  I like this one, but I like this one, but I really like this one too.  And I don't want 85 pictures of the same event on my wall, even if I like them.  So I make a collage.

Here's a tip- if the backgrounds are similar in color (for example, mine has quite a bit of dark backgrounds) it reads more like a single picture.  If all of the pics in your collage are very different, it will be very busy and not as cohesive.

So now, get out there and get those pictures off of that phone and your computer.   Check out all your local choices for photo labs, shop around for prices and sizes.  See what kind of customization you can get too.  Don't rush it, take you time and pick the ones you really love.  The ones that make you happy just to look at them. You're taking them- you should enjoy them!