Tot school: The books we read for green week

In keeping with our color-a-week approach for tot school, I headed back to the library to gather a haul for green week. Turns out, at least at our library, green is a tough color! I found a few, and Little Rabbit rocked it, but it took quite a bit of searching. Here’s what we read:

Lizette’s Green Sock

Where is the green sheep?

Green Eggs and Ham

Little Green Peas

Lemons are not red (This one is about colors in general)

Such a short list! Most of what I found when looking for “green” books was about caring for the environment. Not exactly what I was hoping for. I managed to cobble together a decent collection for the week, but I still took to Amazon to find a few other options to keep in mind for any future color-learners that might grace our little home (or yours). Here’s my “additional options” list:


Blue Hat, Green Hat

Green is a Chile Pepper

Red, Stop! Green, Go!

Green as a Bean

What is Green?

Camping in Green

How do you teach colors?


Challenge #27 [July 28-August 3]

challenge titleChallenge #27: Try a new medium.

If you usually paint with watercolor, try acrylic. If you always write, try drawing. If you’re a photographer, try your hand at sketching instead. Get outside your “usual” and try something different!

Good luck!

Why I switched to the MAMBI Happy Planner (and why it’s better than the Erin Condren)

After I came home to hang with Little Rabbit, I sortof stopped using a planner. Before that, I’d always been an obsessive planner girl. I didn’t really get fancy–I’m not about to be featured on anyone’s blog as a cool, creative planner decorator–but I was very picky about my planner layout, size, structure, appearance, etc. I tried all the greats–Erin Condren and Whitney English were my favorites. I spent a ton of time researching options, a ton of money trying them out a year at a time, and a ton of energy wondering if there was something better out there. Ugh. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. 

When I became a SAHM, I suddenly had a lot less to plan out–there was no work schedule, no daycare closings to note, no special office events or projects to keep track of–and spending $50+ on a planner to keep it all organized seemed totally ridiculous. I switched to keeping my photography schedule on my computer, and I put my daily to-do lists on random sheets of paper. It wasn’t perfect, but I figured that it was cheap/free and therefore just fine.

Fast-forward a year, and I found myself jonesing for a real planner again. I’ve started freelancing on the side, doing tot school with Little Rabbit, wanting to physically track my photo shoot schedule, and generally having more to keep organized. I’m sure my computer calendar could serve the purpose, but it’s not the same as writing things down on paper. I’m a paper girl, y’all, and digital just doesn’t do it for me.

I searched Target and all the office supply stores, but I couldn’t find anything that I really liked. At the same time, I didn’t feel comfortable shelling out so much money for one of my old favorites (the prices of which seem to keep rising little by little). I felt stuck, until I finally found a Happy Planner at Hobby Lobby.

The Happy Planner is made by MAMBI (which stands for Me and My Big Ideas), and it’s laid out just like the Erin Condren, with vertical columns divided into three unlabeled sections (though they’re releasing an alternate horizontal layout sometime later this year, for those who prefer that). But it’s also got a “dashboard” page for each month, like the Inkwell Press planners. (It’s not exactly the same–there are actually more sections/different things on the MAMBI monthly dashboard, and I like it better.) There are a variety of design options that include both different covers and different interior schemes. And, probably the best part, the planners use a ring system that allows you to add and remove pages/sections at will–so you can customize your planner nearly 100 percent.

What’s the biggest selling point of the Happy Planner? It’s only $29.99. AND, if you buy it at Hobby Lobby, you can use the 40% off coupon and get it for even less. Compare that to the prices of some of the other popular options and, well, you can see the appeal. It’s essentially the same product, with more flexibility, for a lot less.

And, as a fun little bonus, MAMBI designs a ton of different stickers specifically for use in the Happy Planner. They’re (obviously) optional, but they are fun. (Of course, you could get the stickers and use them in another brand of planner if you wanted.) Both the planners and the stickers are sold at Michaels and Hobby Lobby–the stores don’t carry exactly the same set of products all the time (they get different deals with new product releases), but there’s generally quite a bit of overlap. And, as always, store coupons for the win.

And that, my friends, is why I’m a Happy Planner convert. Price, first and foremost (for a very comparable product). Followed by fun accessories. Because paper people can’t help but want accessories… it’s a sickness.

How do you plan?

Challenge #26 [July 21-27]

challenge titleChallenge #26: Commit to studying something in-depth.

Of course, actually studying this thing is going to take more than a week. But the first step is committing to doing it. So, identify your topic or skill and gather whatever resources you think you’ll need to start learning. Order the book or paints or equipment. Clear a space in your home or schedule. Draft a plan. Get ready, and dive in!

Good luck!

The Little Paris Bookshop [book review]

Monsieur Perdu, secretly suffering from a broken heart himself, uses books to “treat” the ailments of his fellow Parisians. When he finally reads a letter from his long-lost lover, he sets out on a journey to discover what really happened to end their affair years ago.

The premise of this book sounds great. As a bibliophile myself, the idea of “prescribing” books for the troubles we humans face seems quite romantic. I could totally see myself being that sort of little old lady, always sending grandkids and visitors home with a book in hand. I tend to think that the right book can fix anything. I wanted to love this story, for no other reason than its celebration of books. Plus, it takes place in Paris (well, in various parts of France, actually). What more pleasant an escape is there than Paris?

But, it was a no go. SO MUCH a no go.

There isn’t a single character in this book who is well developed or believable. I just couldn’t take them seriously–which didn’t exactly get things off on the right foot.

The plot is awkward, moved forward time and again by coincidences, and doesn’t flow smoothly. Events and people aren’t tied together very well. Things happen that are neither believable in and of themselves nor written about in a way that draws you in and makes you forget that such things don’t really happen–I read most of the book in a permanent state of incredulity. It’s drawn out, meandering, and boring. (Also, there’s quite a bit of sex in there. No thanks.)

When I wasn’t struggling with the plot, I was stumbling over the writing itself. This book is almost entirely a heavy-handed moral and philosophical sermon. Even when there’s “action” (what little there is), the writer is still droning on and on. #Boring. And it’s not even well done. The writing is full of cliche imagery, bad similes, and cumbersome metaphors. Reading it was a little like beating myself over the head with a rubber mallet. Please, just make it stop.

This book was just plain bad. It’s not even worth writing much about, except to say don’t bother. There are much better uses of your time.

P.S. I received this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review (um, obviously). All thoughts and opinions are my own.