Meeting my 2017 reading goals

December 29
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So each year here on the blog I share a little about my reading goals/what I’ve read over the year.

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This year I met my goal of 60 books. (yay!) but did not read as many classics as I wanted to. I had wanted to read 12 classics and 12 non-fiction books in 2017 and while I did read the non-fiction I did not meet my goal in classics. So we try again next year. I think my biggest problem with the classics is that I wasn’t super excited about a lot of them so even though I downloaded the books, I didn’t end up reading or listening to them as I wanted to go through the books that I was excited to get my hands on. To help with this I will be asking for recommendations of classic books so that I will be more interested in reading them.

Note: When I say classics I am referring to any book that stands the test of time and is still popular and relevant twenty or more years after its release. To me this includes The Handmaid’s Tale as well as The Iliad.

 

BONUS: Right now Amazon is giving away a $5 credit for Kindle books to most users. To find out if you qualify click here. Please note that not everyone is eligible for this promotion. Promo and credit expire January 1st. Don’t have a Kindle? Find out more here.

 

So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorites books from 2017. To see everything I read in 2017 click here.

 

Non-fiction:
 If you’re into history, New York, or public transit you might enjoy The Race Underground by Doug Most.  This books shares how Boston and New York created their first subway systems along with all the politics, science, and popular culture around the new system. I love riding the subway when I travel and this was super insightful.


If you have spent much time in the planner world you might be familiar with Emily Ley, creator of the Simplified Planner. Her newest book, A Simplified Life details useful tips and suggestions to make like clean, simple, and enjoyable. This book is for women of all ages and at all places in their lives. Bonus: This book is filled with beautiful photography of Emily and her home.

 

Fiction:

For the longest time I was not a Stephen King fan. I am not into horror and have not read It or The Dark Tower series or anything. This changed in 2012 when a coworker told me I had to read 11/22/63. So I read it and fell in love.  If you haven’t read it yet please stop what you’re doing and fix that. So since then I guess I have kind of been a Stephen King fan. I guess? I enjoyed the Mr. Mercedes series and have loved his newest book which he wrote with his son, Sleeping Beauties.

I picked this up on a whim from a recommendation from a coworker and I LOVED it. This historical fiction piece follows three girls from war torn Europe through present day. The ladies lives do connect many times and it is amazing to see what each has been through and how their lives touched one another for good and bad. A chunky read, this book is worth the time and energy and gives a great glimpse into how WWII affected our world and people.

 

This is just a small snippet of what I have read. If your interested in hearing more about what I am reading let me know! I am a professional librarian and I do love sharing books but I don’t want to over do it, so let me know what you’d like me to share. Have a favorite book from 2017? Share it in the comments!
PS: Isn’t this a fun little graphic? Log into your Goodreads account to find it.

 

Reading Goals (1)

 

 

 

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New Happy Planner accessories

December 27
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So today Me and My Big Ideas (the people who make the Happy Planner) are releasing new planner products. Although there are no new planners, there are tons of new inserts and stickers.  If you want to see everything check the videos here. Below I will go over the aspects of this release with screenshots from the YouTube video. Items are linked to Michaels and will be in stock soon online.

So the product I am most excited for is the new sticker rolls. The idea behind these is that they took the most popular stickers from the value packs and put them into one easy to access kit. Also included in the stickers release is mini stickers. These are all super cute mini stickers for all sorts of stuff. My favorite part of this kit is that they are not sized for the Happy Planner so they can be used with whatever planner you’d like.

Sticker roll options: Click the link to see info and purchase.
Wellness, appointments, faith, travel, checklists, mom, schedulefood, fitness, and home,

New sticker value packs: Mini, productivity, and budget.

To help turn your planner into a more general planner/notebook/life kit MAMBI has released tons of new inserts. These can be added wherever you’d like in your planner.

My favorite of the new inserts are the mini trendsetter/goal getter(hourly) expansion packs. These are great for someone wanting to try out one of these newer planner styles without committing to an entire year. I am currently using the Goal Getter planner so if you’d like to try it as well this is a great option. Also be sure to check out the Fitness and budget expansions as well if those are areas you’d like to focus on.

The last aspect of this release is the extra pages inserts. We’ve had these types of inserts for some time now, but these are just kind of better. First of all we have new pastel filler paper. These come in lots of color options like neon as well as some with a gold foil header. These are SUPER adorable. These come in regular and BIG sizes.

Besides the full page inserts there are also half sheets. The half sheets have a notes option, a weekly menu plan, and weekly half sheets. There is also an expense tracker that looks super useful for those working on budgeting or if you need to track expenses for work.  The half sheet daily inserts are great for those random busy days.
These items will start appearing in Michaels stores December 28th. Michaels puts out new products as they change for the season so they will be put out when staff have time. If you find items in your store tag me in photos on instagram! I’m @_amberdowns!

All items will also be available in the mambi shop on January 8th.

 

HP winter release PIN

 

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My planning plans for 2018

December 15
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It is December which means it is time to start talking about 2018 planners. Excited? I know, right! For the fourth year in a row I will be using a Happy Planner as my main planner. This year I will be using the Happy Planner Girl Goal Getter planner option. This planner is a little different than the other Happy Planners in that each day is set up in an hourly fashion. I have gone back and forth about this set up but I think in the end I will like it. I will share another post next week explaining how I will set this planner up.

For work I will continue to use my Agendio planner. This company is still fairly new on the scene but is pretty amazing. They allow you to create your own custom planner. They offer daily, weekly, and monthly setups and you can start in any month. You can order your planner bound or in an A5 format like I have both punched or without holes. Agendio does not sell planner binder right now so I put my planner in a 6 ring planner blinder. This is a great vegan option.

Some other great options include:

The Day Designer- These ladies make lovely spiral-bound and A5 daily and weekly planners. Like, now that I am looking at them again I want one again.
Erin Condren Life Planner- A spiral bound weekly planner similar to The Happy Planner. Tons of custom covers

The Happy Planner Mini– A small personal size planner perfect for not-so-busy schedules and perfect to fit in your bag.

Kikki planners– These come in multiple sizes with beautiful leather cases. They are A5 so you can buy refills for your planner case.

Kate Spade- I love Kate Spade and although they are not know as a planner company they make beautiful planners and paper goods. The planners are also surprisingly reasonable.

 

What planner are you using for 2018 and why?

DIY BB9-E from a sock

December 14
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If you recall, back when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in 2015 I shared a blog post about a DIY BB-8 that I made after falling in love with the droid.

Well there is a new Star Wars movie coming out this week and to celebrate I wanted to share a DIY BB9-E, a droid from the new movie.

Like my BB-8, BB9-E is made from odds and ends around the house including a sock.  Below are some basic instructions on how I made it.

Materials:

Black socks
Stuffing
Gray felt.  (I love the peel and stick kind.)
Thick cardboard
One brad
Red paint or nail polish.
Small bag of rice
Small rubber bands. (I use the clear hair elastics)
Scissors
Marker
Gray comb
The first thing we did was to make the top. First cut two circles out of the thick cardboard with one slightly smaller than the other. Note: We suggest a thick cardboard both so that it is sturdy and so that when we insert the comb it stays straight and firm.

My husband came up with a great way to make the antenna with a comb. We cut the comb and then removed some teeth. We then poked holes in the cardboard and pushed the comb through. This made it so that the antenna would not come out easily. This is hard to explain to check the photos for details.

So next you are going to want to make your felt circles. I took my larger cardboard circle and traced it four times on my felt. Again, I prefer the peel and stick version because I can draw my outline onto it easily which is super helpful. We freehanded the four circles so feel free to look at BB9-E and decide for yourself what you would like him to look like.

 


Our next step is to start assembling our droid. I started by cutting the leg off the sock and then taking the smaller circle with the comb parts and inserting it into the sock. The goal will be to have the antenna stick through the sock. It may take some playing with to get it to lay just right as the sock toe is in that area.

Once your top is in fill the sock with some stuffing and then add the second circle. Feel free to play with how much stuffing you want as it is all personal preference.

Once you are stuffed and circled take a rubber band and place it around the sock separating the top section from the rest. Depending on size you may want to wrap the band twice.


Now stuff the rest of your sock as much as needed to give your droid a nice round shape. After he is filled take a small bag of rice and put in into the sock. This will act as a weight to keep the droid standing.

Once you are happy with the stuffing and rice take another hair elastic and tie off the sock. Feel free to cut excess off. Play with the rice to get the droid to stand nicely.

 

Next stick or glue (we love this glue)  your felt onto your droid. Cut a few extras for the top. We stuck the brad through the felt and then the sock for the “eye.” We added a dot of red nail polish for the color.

 

 

 

 

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