Sunday, March 25, 2018

Random Journal Reunion

Can anyone tell me how we got to the last week of March so soon? Happy Spring everyone! And yet, it is still flurrying a little here this morning---which makes me perfectly happy, but I am well aware that I am in the .00001% of the world's population that actually appreciates the cold and snow...I know the rest of you are more than ready for some warmth, sunshine, and brighter, beautiful days. It's coming, it's coming--just hang in there!

So, this morning I am linking up with some great old friends from 'back in the day' for a Random Journal Day Reunion. My dear friend, Dawn Paoletta, from Enthusiastically, Dawn, has wrangled a bunch of us up once more to share some of our journal highlights and journeys like we used to do, and it's always joyful inspiration to see what these wonderful women have to share.

If you are not familiar with my journaling history--this was from a whole other blog I used to post on, I have been journaling for as long as I can remember. Journaling has transformed over the years, like everything else is wont to do with life. I've gone from basic diary writing, to art and prayer journaling, and for the past few years I've fallen head over heels for bullet journaling. I am a self-confessed journal/planner junkie and had been bouncing between three or four different books, calendars and planners to trying to keep track of my days when I discovered bullet journals and knew immediately this was something that would work for me. That was almost four years ago and I love how it's evolved and become my central focus point for organizing and staying on top of life. So, that's what I'd like to share here today, some pages from my current bullet journal and a little from another journal that stole my heart this year as well....Daphne's Diary (it's the cutest thing to happen to journaling EVER!!) But first, let's bullet:

I use a simple grid style journal--everyone has their own personal preference and the grids work great for me to block out my week, make check boxes for tasks, and I find the grids super helpful with lettering layouts which I love to play with. Below are a few recent weeks' pages--it's just super fun, extremely easy to personalize to what works for you, and open to all sorts of possibilities:

Finally, here is my most recent week's page with a sketched out layout for next week. I've penciled in a few notes and appointments. It's so much fun to watch the blank page come to life each week with color, lettering, doodles, stickers, washi--and it's an incredibly effective tool for tracking tasks, lists, goals and so much more--I love it!

THEN!! I discovered Daphne Diary's annual journal and had to have it! It is bright, colorful, fun--there's stickers, postcards, monthly mood trackers, coloring pages, and plenty of space to plan and play every day:

One of the monthly mood trackers--each month you designate a color to correspond
with a particular mood and color in each day accordingly--super cute and so much fun!

There's plenty of room for fun lettering and doodling.

A weekly layout--look at these beautiful pages!! So inspiring to work with every week!

Fun stickers from Create365 add easy beauty and great inspiration
February I created the theme No Fear February as an inspiration to push fear and self-doubt aside and to bring creative efforts to the front. March's theme is Make Magic March (I wish the glitter would show up better in the pretty) More motivation to be creative and play...

I love the bright colorful pages all through this book!
So these are my daily journals--I keep track of gratitude and health stuff mostly in Daphne's, then weekly appointments, homework, chores and such in the bullet journal. I do write daily morning pages in another journal, but that's more brain dumping rather than anything creative--just a way to vent, breathe and refocus. If you want more journal inspiration, click on over to Enthusiastically, Dawn for our reunion post and check out some other incredible journalers' blogs! And, by all means, if you're a journaler and feel inspired to link up and share, please do so!! We love finding new friends!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A New Post

Well, now that I have all this extra time on my hands as I find myself without gainful employment, I figured it would be wise to do something creative, and henceforth productive, with this new gift of structure-less, schedule-less time. Heaven help me, I've been CLEANING the house!! Someone needs to hire me, and quick!! So, in an effort to end THAT madness, I've decided to set aside time to write, draw, paint, play, what have you, every day until someone deems me employable again and the dust bunnies be free to run rampant and unhindered once more.

This morning I pulled out a few of my writing books--I have a multitude. I know, me, a multitude of books--you're shocked. Don't worry, it'll pass. The shock. The books will stay. And multiply. I dove into Judy Reeve's Writer's Book of Days which gives a daily writing prompt along with sage wisdom and advice, and putting pen to paper, this is what I wrote:

I close my eyes. I still see light. You would think it's just darkness blotted black, but there is a glimmering golden light, reflections of what I see when my eyes are open. Ghostly outlines, film negatives, light becoming dark, and dark, light.

I see red. The blood of my life pulsing through tiny veins in my eyes, crisscrossing mad maps over my lids. Red pulsing golden, glimpsing green, its negative as well, flashing verdant edges, grassy banks, mossy soft.

I see nothing. Life blurs, blocks, stops. I see memory images of faces I love smiling slyly at me, at life. I see silence. I see peace. I see rest, if just for the moment under closed lids, to sleep, to dream, to forget. Lost. Just for the moment in a dark reverie, sparked golden bright at fiery edges.

I see me.

As for reading challenges, it's all going very slowly. I still have school work to keep up with and I've been bingeing This is Us. It's great having winter break off with Michael. Although the only time I see him is when he skulks downstairs to rummage for something to eat, rumpled hair and pajamas go grunting by. Teenage-dom. My heart...

Double stacked overly full bookshelves...also my heart....

My one condolence from all of this is that I do have more than plenty on hand to read for a good long time, and after that, there is always the library and Overdrive to keep me reading for free--free is my favorite! I'm not gonna complain or whine or gripe and moan. It's life. There are never any promises or guarantees. You fall down, you get back up again. It's all good.  Read on, dear friend, read on.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Snowing! And a Couple More Reading Challenges!

Hello! It is lightly flurrying here this afternoon so I whipped up a nice big batch of black bean soup, wrapped the pups in their blankies, and thought it might be a great time to post a couple last reading challenges before New Years hits tomorrow night--one must have time to prepare, right?
The only thing that would make this even better would be mugs of cozy!!
First is the Ultimate Pop Sugar Reading Challenge which I attempted last year but ended up falling short trying to complete my A to Z Challenge at the same time. I like the idea of these 'scavenger hunt' type challenges, it just sometimes takes a little too much thinking to come up with an appropriately matching book for some of the prompts. Like, just let me read!! But then, a friend sent me a second similar challenge which I'll also post here, so throwing both of these out there for any takers. Here's the Pop Sugar list for 2018:
Click here for a printable list
And a second list for more reading fun for the new year:
A Reading Challenge for 2018
o   A book with a one word title
o   A book with a number in the title
o   An autobiography or memoir
o   A book based on a true story
o   A book based on a historical event
o   A book you once started but never finished
o   A book that is more than 100 years old
o   A book that won the Pulitzer Prize
o   A book you read as a child
o   A book you own but haven’t read yet
o   A book that has been made into a movie
o   A book from last year’s bestseller list
o   A collection of short stories
o   A book with a color in the title
o   A book you chose because of the cover
o   A classic romance
o   A book your closest friend recommends
o   A book written by an author with your initials
o   A book published the year you were born
o   A book based in a place you want to visit
o   A book set in the summer
o   A crime novel
o   A book with a proper name in the title
o   A book with a child as the main character
The plan for the rest of today is to finish Toni Morrison's Love then a short story in Ken Liu's Paper Menagerie. Looks like my first read from my backlist will be Peter Brett's Warded Man, one I've had on hand for at least a couple years...Ready to knock this list DOWN!! I hope everyone has a safe, warm, healthy, happy new year--we need it, right?? Looking forward to great things in 2018!!



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

New Years is Almost Here

2017 has come and gone in the blink of an eye and now it's time to plan for new goals and new challenges for 2018. Along with my Beat the Backlist Challenge, and my A to Z title and author challenges, I want to try to conquer a subgenre list. I was completely unaware of just how many subgenres actually exist until I Googled the topic for the Goodreads Pop Sugar reading challenge last year. You can click here  to view a complete list--I haven't bothered to count, it's a whole lot! So, excluding any erotica (yeah, no thanks)--I'm planning to see just how many I can knock out next year.

For now, I'm finishing up the last of my reading for 2017--the last novel, Love by Toni Morrison. I completed 77 books out of my original 75 set for the year, yay me! Also yay me, I passed my ENG101 course for fall and have been invited to take honors classes for next semester. If I hadn't already ordered my text books, I'd probably consider the invitation but for now, I'm just sticking with what I've already scheduled for ENG102 and a college mathematics course. Keeping up with two courses ought to be challenging enough!

I did sit down and think about what my (hopeful) intentions might be for the coming year. I've let life slip by in such a blur since going back to working full time and I'm really craving some creativity time. So I'm hoping if I can set some daily and weekly goals for drawing and lettering, some art journaling, blogging for accountability, then perhaps I can stick to my intentions a little better? I'm playing around with tracker layouts in my bullet journal--that seems to be a simple way to remind myself of things that I might otherwise let slip by when I'm feeling too busy or too stressed to take time to play. Fingers crossed--I'll do my best to stay in touch here and see how it all goes...

Meanwhile, I did whip up a bookmark for Beat the Backlist and a tracker in my bujo for the A to Z Challenge:

I'm on the Book Bards team, hence the logo on the bookmark...It'll be fun to watch them both fill up! we go! I'm sure 2018 is gonna fly even faster than this year did--don't blink!! See ya' in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Harry vs. Twilight--One Final Essay

Last night was my ENG101 final and we could choose the essay genre for which we would write one final essay. I immediately went for a Compare/Contrast of Harry Potter vs. Twilight (when offered the opportunity to write about Harry, one always writes about Harry!!) I enjoyed it so much, I thought I'd share it here for my Potterhead family. And, with this, my first college semester is comfortably behind me--I did it!!

The essay:

                Twi-Nerds and Potterheads have had a long-standing rivalry over which series is better. And, although I must shamefully confess to having a wee bit of Twi-Nerdom in my heart--c’mon, who doesn’t adore a tragic/romantic love story?--Harry will always win, hands down, every time. Let me explain.

First, to all Harry Potter fans, there is no doubt that Hogwarts is real. The statement, “Hogwarts is my home” rings true in each of our beating hearts as we wait every summer for our Hogwarts letter to arrive, and even though the owl post misses us each time, we never give up hope. (That Errol is a hopeless mess. I know he’s just lost my letter somewhere!) JK Rowling has developed the wizarding world so well, so richly, you are swept away completely. You know the streets and shops of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley like the back of your hand. You not only know all the house crests and creeds, but have been sorted and sport your house colors every opportunity you get. Rowling has given us an entire wizarding realm, filled to the brim with diverse languages, spells, charms, and creatures, all steeped in rich magical history and lore. In stark contrast, Stephanie Meyer’s vampire world in Forks, WA is as boring as the actual city, bland and with a complete lack of diversity. Her back-story development is slipshod and poor with so little history that it’s left flat, tired, and unimaginative. Twilight is less concerned with giving us an engaging world we can live in than it is with shoving a tedious romance down our throats.

Harry Potter’s characters are entirely more endearing and entertaining. First, our hearts break for Harry, orphaned as a baby when Voldemort ruthlessly murders Harry’s parents. Then he’s raised, unwanted and unloved by his muggle aunt and uncle, relentlessly bullied by his rotten cousin, Dudley. He finally finds refuge, respect, and a true home when Hagrid brings him to Hogwarts. He makes fast friends with Ron and Hermione, and even faster enemies with Draco Malfoy and Professor Snape. He is lovingly welcomed into the Weasley family as one of their own, Ron as much a brother to him, Molly the much wanted mother, and Arthur a guiding father figure. Hermione is his best friend, moral compass, and endless source of wisdom. This golden trio carry us through all the typical struggles of growing up, making the story so honest and relatable. We find heroes, loyalty, true friendship, and romance. We mourn the heartbreaking loss of characters we know and love like family. And ultimately cheer the triumph of good over evil. What do we get from Twilight’s characters? A twisted, tortured love triangle that is cheesy rather than heart felt. A fangless vampire that sparkles in the sunlight rather than burns, and doesn’t even drink human blood. And a pack of Native Indians that “pop” into werewolves when angered, like the Hulk, not when exposed to a full moon. That is the extent of Meyer’s “creativity”.

The story of Harry speaks to people of all ages. From young kids to grown adults, the series connects with fans on such a deep level. There’s something for everyone: adventure, fantasy, thrills, mystery, drama, comedy, and romance. We look forward to sharing the series with the next generation, and reliving it again through their hearts and eyes. On the other hand, the emotional, romantic plot of Twilight is directed more at teenage girls, rather than trying to reach across generations. Where you feel like you’ve grown up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, you don’t get that connection with Bella, Edward, and Jacob. The Twilight storyline is rushed and just doesn’t connect as well with wider audiences. Rowling has made Harry’s life, although quite fantastic and unusual, still very tangible and relatable as he grows from a young boy into a heroic man that we all deeply love and root for—our Chosen One.

Overall, Harry Potter’s story and characters have been better developed, and feel much more real to fans. Disney hasn’t recreated a Twilight theme park, but daily fans flock madly to live out their magical dreams in the Wizarding World at Universal. That alone speaks volumes. We all want to touch a piece of that wonderful world of magic created by JK Rowling. No one wants to go to forgettable Forks. And, there you have it—Harry wins. Always.

 And now winter break begins...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Looking Ahead: 2018 Beat the Backlist Challenge

Welcome, welcome! I'm indulging myself in a well earned reward of dark chocolate and a hot cuppa joe this afternoon since I just completed my second rough draft of the final essay for my ENG101 course and submitted it for review to the online tutoring site. The tutors have been such a godsend. I love my teacher--she's super nice but absolutely zero help in regards to any type of feedback or actual instructional guidance. Perhaps kids today come out of high school well versed in creating MLA style essays, but it's been forever and a day since I graced any high school halls and even then we never covered MLA in any way, shape, or form, so I am utterly lost when it comes to proper citation. Thankfully, I have the online tutors giving me a hand to figuring it all out and getting everything properly cited and organized. Still, it's a bit overwhelming and stressful, so I'm glad to have this second draft done and off for review. Gimme da chocolat!!

And, meanwhile, December has descended, like it or not, and I've begun to wrap up my reading goals for 2017 and have begun looking ahead to upcoming challenges for 2018. Since my biggest need/want/concern is to lessen the number of books I have on hand to read, I've chosen the NovelKnight's Beat the Backlist Challenge to take front seat for the new year. With 183 books TBR, I honestly cannot justify buying any new books without putting some serious dents into what's already overcrowding my shelves.

I've started a 2018 Beat the Backlist shelf on my Goodreads page. It's only got the first four titles of what I'm planning to scratch off my current on hand list but I will update it as I shelve more books as I go along next year. I'm also intending to do another A to Z challenge, both titles and authors again, since that was a fun extra twist to this year. Not great pics, but these are the bookmarks I made for tracking my reading this year--I'll have to make more for 2018 (in all that extra free time I have!!)

L to R: back of A to Z, back of Books I've Read 2017, and More for 2017

My current TBR (actual on hand...and why I can't buy any new books) List:

1.        Abolition of Man-Lewis
3.        Amber Spyglass-Pullman
5.        Anthem-Rand
6.        Awakening-Chopin
7.        Barkskins-Proulx
8.        Beloved-Toni Morrison
9.        Barnaby Ridge-Dickens
10.      Beautiful and the Damned-Fitzgerald
11.      Bell Jar-Platt
12.      Big Little Lies-Moriarty
13.      Black Earth-Snyder
14.      Blade Itself-Abercrombie
16.      Blinding Knife-Weeks
17.      Blood of Flowers-Amirrezani
18.      Blood Mirror-Weeks
19.      Book of Laughter and Forgetting-Kundera
20.      Booth’s Sister-Singer
21.      Born on a Blue Day-Tammet
22.      Bridget Jones’ Diary-Fielding
23.      Broken Eye-Weeks
24.      Broken Sword-Anderson
25.      Brothers Karamazov-Dostoyevsky
26.      Caliban’s War-Corey
28.      Canterbury Tales-Chaucer
29.      Catch 22-Heller
31.      Columbine-Cullen
32.      Corelli’s Mandolin-de Bernieres
33.      Count of Monte Christo-Dumas
34.      Crime and Punishment-Dostoyevsky
36.      Dark Elf Trilogy-Salvatore
37.      David Copperfield-Dickens
38.      Dawn of the Dragons-Owen
39.      Deathnote 2-Ohba
40.      Divine Comedy-Aligheri
41.      Don Quioxte-Cervantes
42.      Dornby & Son-Dickens
43.      Dracula-Stoker
44.      Dragon’s Path-Abraham
45.      Dreams of Distant Shores-McKillip
46.      Dreamsongs-Martin
47.      Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde-Stevenson
48.      Eat Pray Love-Gilbert
49.      Edgar and Lucy-Lodato
50.      Empire Falls-Russo
51.      English Patient-Ondaatje
52.      Etched In Sand-Calcaterra
53.      A Fine Balance-Mistry
54.      First They Killed My Father-Ung
55.      Five Days at Memorial-Fink
56.      Four Loves-Lewis
57.      Game of Thrones-Martin
58.      Germinal-Zola
59.      Gilded Cage-James
60.      Girl with a Pearl Earring-Chevalier
61.      Giselle’s Bucket List-Watt
63.      Go Tell it on the Mountain-Baldwin
65.      Great Divorce-Lewis
66.      Great Expectations-Dickens
67.      Grief Observed-Lewis
68.      Hamilton-Chernow
69.      Hamlet-Shakespeare
70.      Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World-Murakami
71.      Hard Times-Dickens
72.      Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
73.      Head Full of Ghosts-Tremblay
74.      Heart of Darkness-Conrad
75.      Hero of the Empire-Millard
76.      Homegoing-Gyasi
77.      Horns-Hill
78.      Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet
80.      Invisible Man-Ellison
81.      In Search of Lost Time-Proust
82.      Joy Luck Club-Tan
83.      Jude the Obscure-Hardy
84.      Kiterunner-Hosseini
85.      Kushiel’s Dart-Carey
86.      Leonardo da Vinci-Isaacson
87.      Little Dorit-Dickens
88.      Lincoln in the Bardo-Saunders
89.      Little Prince-St Exupery
90.      Little Women-Alcott
91.      Lord of the Flies-Golding
92.      Love-Morrison
93.      Love in the Time of Cholera-Marquez
95.      A Man Called Ove-Backman
96.      Man in the High Castle-Dick
97.      March-Doctorow
98.      Martin Chuzzlewit-Dickens
99.      Memoirs of a Geisha-Golden
100.   Mere Christianity-Lewis
101.   Metamorphosis-Kafka
102.   Middlemarch-Eliot
104.   Miracles-Lewis
105.   Mistborn-Sanderson
106.   Moon and Sixpence-Maugham
107.   Mystery of Edwin Drood-Dickens
108.   Name of the Rose-Eco
110.   Native Son-Wright
111.   Nicholas Nickleby-Dickens
112.   Night Angel-Weeks
113.   Old Curiosity Shop-Dickens
114.   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-Kesey
115.   One Hundred Years of Solitude-Marquez
116.   Orphan Train-Kline
117.   Oryx and Crake-Atwood
118.   Our Mutual Friend-Dickens
119.   Paper Menagerie-Liu
120.   Pickwick Papers-Dickens
121.   Picture of Dorian Gray-Wilde
122.   Pillars of the Earth-Follett
123.   Possession-Byatt
124.   Prayer for Owen Meany-Irving
125.   The Prince-Machiavelli
126.   Princes of Ireland-Rutherford
127.   Problem of Pain-Lewis
128.   Rainbow-Lawrence
129.   Ravensbruck-Helm
130.   Reader-Schlink
131.   Regeneration-Barker
132.   Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve-Greenblatt
133.   Romeo and Juliet-Shakespeare
134.   Road to Jonestown-Guinn
135.   Robinson Crusoe-DeFoe
136.   Sarum-Rutherford
137.   Scarlet Letter-Hawthorne
138.   Schindler’s List-Keneally
139.   Screwtape Letters-Lewis
141.   A Separate Peace-Knowles
142.   Septimus Heap-Sage
143.   Setting Free the Kites-George
144.   Shadow of the Wind-Zafon
145.   Shipping News-Proulx
146.   Siddhartha-Hesse
147.   Silent Corner-Koontz
148.   Sing, Unburied Sing-Ward
149.   Sisi-Pataki
150.   Sister Carrie-Dreiser
152.   Sons and Soldiers-Henderson
153.   Strangeness in my Mind-Pamuk
154.   The Stranger-Camus
155.   A Stranger in a Strange Land-Heinlein
156.   Strange Weather-Hill
157.   Subtle Knife-Pullman
158.   A Suitable Boy-Vikram
159.   Summer Before the War-Simonson
160.   Sun Also Rises-Hemingway
161.   Sybil-Disraeli
162.   Tale of Two Cities-Dickens
163.   Tenant of Wildfell Hall-Bronte
165.   Things They Carried-OBrien
166.   Thirty-Nine Steps-Buchanan
167.   Three Men in a Boat-Jerome
168.   Three Muskateers-Dumas
169.   Tiger’s Daugher-Rivera
170.   Tom Jones-Fielding
171.   A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Smith
172.   Turn of the Screw-James
173.   Turning Angels-Isles
174.   Uncle Tom’s Cabin-Stowe
175.   Up From Slavery-Washington
177.   Vinegar Hill-Ansay
178.   Warded Man-Brett #1
179.   Warmth of Other Suns-Wilkerson
181.   Weird-Martin
182.   World Without End-Follett
183.   Zola-McColum
(Color code: Blue-paperback, Green-Nook, Black-Kindle, and highlighted-ARC)
Whew! Crazy, no? Lots of great stuff on there to read and I know it's gonna be a great year ahead, so--I'm gearing up! Let's do this!! What's on your list to read for 2018?


Random Journal Reunion

Can anyone tell me how we got to the last week of March so soon? Happy Spring everyone! And yet, it is still flurrying a little here this mo...