Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter Bucket List


It’s fairly common for people to make a Summer Bucket List – which is a list of things they hope to do or accomplish during the summer months. I’ve done these for the past few years, but I also have many things I want to do during the Winter months, so I thought I’d share my list here with you and you can let me know what items you hope to accomplish during December, January, and February.
  1. Go to a local holiday play
  2. Drive around and see Christmas lights- especially the house whose lights match up to music on a certain radio station
  3. Make holiday related crafts- especially at the library!
  4. Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey
  5. Watch Love Actually
  6. Make Christmas cookies
  7. Make at least two DIY gifts for people


What would you put on your Winter Bucket List? I might just add to mine after seeing your ideas! Also, I made the above image for this post - feel free to use it on your blog if you want to make and share your own list. 

-Lauren

amazon associates: I included links to buy the two movies I love during the holiday season, if you wish to check them out. I get a percentage of any sale. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Discussion: The Do's and Do Not's of Blog Swaps


The Do's and the Do Not's of Blog Swaps by Lauren

One of the things that I love about blogging is participating in blog swaps. If you haven’t seen these around, then the idea is essentially like Secret Santa, but it happens all year round. One or two blogs create a swap – based around a season/holiday/theme- and other bloggers can sign up. Once the sign up period is over, whoever created the swap will match you up. Sometimes who you give to isn’t the same person who gives to you, but most of the time you are matched up with one other person. You give to them, they give to you. This is a really good way to get to know another blogger! You use email, their blog, or other social media sites to learn more about them and figure out just what you want to send. 

Most blogs have a set dollar limit they want you to hit so that the gifts will be of equal value. Also, if the swap has a theme, that might limit what you give. Maybe you need to send a book in your box or maybe you need to get things in the person’s favorite color. Whatever the theme/reason for the swap, you are still allowed to use your creativity and your swap partner’s interests to create a solely unique and exciting gift for them! Plus, who doesn’t like getting gifts in the mail? Definitely think about signing up for a blog swap if you haven’t taken part in one yet.

However, whether you have been in a blog swap or not, I thought I would share my personal Do’s and Do Not’s of Blog Swapping. Please don’t take offense to any of these, and note that these are my own personal Do’s and Do Not’s so you might have different ones! I’m writing this post more as a guide than as a hard and fast rule.

Do’s

·         Make sure you follow the rules – spend the right amount, mail the package when you should, etc.
·         Keep in touch with the hosts and/or your swap partner. Make sure they know if you will be mailing late, send a tracking number if you are meant to (that goes with follow the rules) and generally make sure they know you are doing your part!
·         Ask questions! I don’t think I’ve ever done a blog swap where you can’t contact the person you are sending to, so make sure you ask them questions. Whether the swap has a theme or not, there are always questions you can ask your person to make sure you are creating the best gift box for them. You want it to be things they will enjoy, after all, since you are putting time and money into it!
·         Every swap I’ve been in, you have to share what you got on your blog afterwards and link up with everyone else. This is a good way for your swap partner to know you got their gifts (and what you thought) as well as see what everyone else got/sent. I’m putting this on Do, even though it’s usually a set rule anyway, because I wanted to add that you should include at least two pictures of your swap package (if you can) to fully show off the items you received, and you should try and write as much as possible about what you got. What did you just LOVE? Any items you were surprised to get, but were super excited about? All of this shows that you really appreciated your gift and as the saying goes “the more, the merrier.”

Do Not’s

·         Never sign up for a swap and then not send something. I think this has happened to me once, but I know it’s happened to a lot of other people too and it’s not right and definitely not fair. Especially if the person is the one you have mailed a gift to – the idea is to reciprocate and if you don’t do that, then again, that’s wrong. Only sign up for a swap if you know you will be able to send a proper gift, and if something changes, get in touch with the hosts. Don’t just leave your partner hanging!
·         Don’t buy the majority of your gifts from the Target and Michael’s clearance aisle. I’ve had people do this a lot and while some of the gifts are nice, it’s easy to see they didn’t spend much time or money trying to send a nice gift and it’s kind of a bummer. You can definitely use these places and get an item or two from the clearance places – again, some of what they sell is nice –but don’t go overboard. For one thing, it’s easy to see you didn’t reach the $ limit for the swap, and for another, it’s obvious to most people who do swaps where you got your items because we shop here too!
·         Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for your partner. I know that you often have to wait to get paid, or you need a moment to really shop, but waiting too long means you might end up getting items that aren’t as thoughtful or nice for your partner. If you can’t buy something right away, think about “window shopping” a store and seeing what you can find or even searching online. I try to come up with ideas of things I want to get my person even before I buy them, so when I do have time/money, I can get on it right away! This also keeps you from having to mail your package too late.
·         Don’t mail your package too late. I’ve had to mail packages late. It happens. I didn’t have a box that fit. I don’t have the money to mail it. I need to make time to go to the post office. There are a ton of reasons, but try and mail it a day or two after the send date so it’s not getting to your partner way later than they sent yours. You don’t want them waiting too long, especially when everyone else is getting their goodies in the mail! Of course, mailing before or on the send date is ideal! 

Do you have any blog swap rules you follow? What do you think of mine?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December to Remember Giveaway Hop: $15 to Amazon or The Book Depository

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Welcome to the December to Remember Giveaway Hop brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers!
Sponsored By: EatSmart

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO ENTER TO WIN THE GRAND PRIZE

GRAND PRIZE: EatSmart Bathroom Scale The EatSmart Precision Digital Body Analyzer is not your ordinary bathroom scale because it quickly and easily measures weight, body fat, body water, body muscle and bone mass using electrode technology. This scale is perfect for individuals who are serious about taking control of their health. The Precision Digital Body Analyzer Scale stores up to 8 different users' personal profiles and will be able to recognize these users as soon as they step onto the scale. This auto recognition software makes it simple to operate, since all you have to do is stand on the platform barefoot and it identifies who you are based on past weight. Not having to select a user gives it the same functionality as a basic bathroom scale with added benefit of % body fat, % body muscle, % body water and bone mass. Let's not forget about its universal EatSmart features! The Precision Digital Body Analyzer uses "Step-On" technology which means no more tapping to turn on your scale. It measures up to 400lbs and will display an accurate readout to the nearest .2 lbs. on the oversized 3.7" LCD display. Its sleek design and slim profile fits perfectly into any surrounding. Purchase here.

Many bloggers have come together to bring you some amazing prizes! Each prize is worth a minimum of $15, but some are worth much more. There is no limit to how many you can win – so enter them all! GOOD LUCK!



I'm excited to take part in this giveaway hop! I hope you all will enter - there are a variety of entries! None are mandatory, so do one or do them all!

Prize: $15 to Amazon or The Book Depository (Amazon will be an e-gift card, TBD - you must choose items up to $15 and I'll order)

Open to: International if TBD ships to you! (U.S. will be Amazon - everyone else will be TBD)

Ends: December 20th


a Rafflecopter giveaway




The Hopping Bloggers and participating bloggers are not responsible for the delivery of prizes.
Are you a blogger looking to connect with brands? Join The Hopping Bloggers database and get started today! Are you a brand looking to connect with a network of over 1,000 professional bloggers? Click here to see all that we have to offer and get your personalized quote!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Womanizer by Katy Evans Release Day Blitz

Alicia here, celebrating the releae of Katy Evan's new book.

Enjoy!

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Womanizer by Katy Evans

Release Date: December 5th, 2016 

Genre: Contemporary Romance


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Synopsis:

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Evans comes a brand new contemporary romance. WOMANIZER is a full length standalone, and no other books in the series need to be read.

You've seen the headlines: Womanizing billionaire player! Watch out! Stay away!

We were just two strangers. Facing a forbidden attraction, a chemical connection. Neither of us expected or wanted it to amount to more.

But I had never been drawn to a guy the way I was drawn to this one: my brother's best friend, and CEO of the company where I interned.

Even knowing I should stay away, I proved to be too human, after all.

The chemistry was amazing.

The laughs were incredible.

I opened up to him in more ways than I'd opened up to anyone before.
But sex was as far as I'd go.

Just sex because he was too irresistible.

Just sex because I wouldn't be falling for him.

Just sex because I'd leave in three months, and I'd like for my brother not to kill me, and for nobody to find out he was my wicked little secret.

He wasn't the One.

He was just a womanizer.

But for a time, he would be mine. 



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Buy Links:

Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/2bKd6iU


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About the Author:

Katy Evans is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her debut REAL shot to the top of the bestselling lists in 2013 and since then 9 of her titles have been New York Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages across the world.

Connect with the Author:
Email: katyevansauthor@gmail.com 
Twitter @authorkatyevans 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal


The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.

But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.

Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?
 


ReviewJack Buckles is in London, England with his mom and sister in order to look for his father, who has gone missing on business. Jack doesn’t think there is hope, but his little sister Sadie does. When Sadie runs off, believing to see their father, Jack follows and they soon find themselves at The Lost Property Office, where they meet Mrs. Hudson and Gwen Kincaid.

This book has a lot of Sherlock Holmes references, which I really loved! They were all pretty basic, though, so you don’t have to know a ton about Holmes to catch them. While this is an MG novel, I would highly recommend it for older readers too, as I really did love it. It’s a quick read, but it’s also full of imaginative and historical elements that capture your attention throughout.
The main plot of this book is that Jack learns he’s a Tracker, someone who can sense history in stone and the like and is good at finding missing things. He’s given the task to find the Ember by the Clockmaker, or else his father will be killed. Neither Jack nor Gwen, his lovely sidekick, knows what the Ember is, but the Clockmaker’s clues lead them to realize it has something to do with The Great Fire of London. All of the details about the Great Fire were fascinating to read about, and I love that this moment in history is getting a bit of a twist in an MG novel. Hopefully it will lead some readers to want to know more about the official event.

As for the characters, Jack and Gwen are a good match for each other. Jack can sense history and see clues, but for the most part, Gwen is the one who pieces things together and leads them on the right track. They really are a bit like Sherlock and Watson, but also I’d say Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. While these are the main characters in the novel, they are surrounded by a mix of eclectic secondary characters who I enjoyed getting to know as well!

The Lost Property Office is a fairly quick, enjoyable read! It’s full of history, suspense, family/friendship, and even a little bit of magic! This is the first in the Section 13 series, and I will definitely keep reading! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Outfielders by Robert P. Rowe


The Outfielders by Robert P. Rowe

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryTony was waiting until he went away to college to come out to his parents and start his new gay life. Unfortunately, at twenty-four, it doesn’t look like college is going to happen after all. Stuck in a dead-end job in a small town and still living at home, with all the arrested development that entails, he finds escape in playing for the company baseball team and lusting after his straight outfielder crush, Alex. But Tony’s best friend, Jennifer, thinks she’s found a plan in the pages of gay romance novels. All Tony has to do is convince Alex he’s gay for you… or for Tony. It’s easy—just find some excuse to be alone in bed together and let nature take its course. What could possibly go wrong?

ReviewI was given a chance to read and review The Outfielders from Dreamspinner Press and while it's not my new favorite LGBT+ novel, it was still really enjoyable. The premise of The Outfielders is that twenty-something Tony is stuck in a dead end job in a dead end town. Oh, and he's gay and nobody knows but his best friend, Jennifer, who most people believe is his girlfriend. He's been crushing on his baseball teammate Alex for years, but Alex is straight, so it's pointless, right? 

Having read many m/m romance stories, Jennifer tells Tony about "gay for you" storylines - you know the ones! An otherwise straight guy falls for his best guy friend, making him "gay for you" instead of just gay. Jennifer tries to give Tony tips on how to make Alex fall for him, even telling him to read a book called The Outfielders. Tony refers to the two main characters in this as Book Tony and Book Alex. Don't worry, it's not as confusing as it seems - and the two storylines don't quite match up, so it's not a complete spoiler!

I really liked learning about Tony and his world. He's good at explaining his hometown and the people that populate it. He's not the brightest crayon in the box, which Jennifer is always lovingly telling him. He does mean well though and while he wishes Alex were gay, he's not willing to push the issue and lose him as a friend. The book has some other interconnecting story lines as well which makes the book more than just a romance. 

The Outfielders was slow in parts, but I did want to keep reading, and I was satisfied with the ending! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Highlights of November 2016

What's New With You

I've been reading a lot of lifestyle/personal blogs lately so I thought it might be fun to try and link up to some of their hops - get to know people a bit better! Plus, I kind of like doing these type of more personal posts and I want to add more in with all of my book/entertainment posts. Hopefully this will be interesting to most of you! Don't worry if you are here for book talk though - there will still be plenty of that, believe me!

Anyway, November 2016. I'm not actually a huge fan of November. I love October because of the beginning of fall and Halloween, but I don't like Thanksgiving. I mean, the overall idea of gratitude is nice but I tend to get depressed on or around the holiday, so I'm glad that it's currently behind me. I am excited for all the fun Christmas themed events happening in December though! I have a ton of library craft events to go to as well, so be sure and follow me on Instagram if you want to see photos! 

Highlights of November:


One of my birthday gifts from my sister was a gift card to this place called Cheers to Art. You choose the day/evening you want to attend (based on what painting they are doing) and then you visit one of two locations and paint along with the instructor. My birthday is in May but we finally went in November and we decided to do a winter scene, so we could put the canvas up for the holiday season and then take it down for the rest of the year. Yes, I painted this all by myself! I will admit that we had a stencil for the outline of the cardinal though! I think it turned out well. If you have something like this near you, I recommend going! It's a lot of fun.


I had a Cookie Exchange Party this past Saturday. My sister and I co-hosted for the second year in a row. I was a bit bummed more people couldn't make it, but it was still fun and we all left with a lot of cookies! The ones above are what I made. I saw it online and it's super easy to make. It's just a sugar cookie with white chocolate covering half and some peppermint pieces sprinkled on top! Yum!! 


When looking for cookies to make for the party, I came across this mini cherry pie recipe and I knew I had to make it! Okay, my sister made them, but aren't they adorable? She did a great job and they are really yummy! You bake them in the lid of a mason jar. In my cookie picture above, you can see the glasses in the back. These were the mason jars that the lids came with. I used them for glasses. When everyone was finished with their pie, we kept the lids and cleaned them so we had them to make more pies in the future! The recipe said to use regular size mason jar lids. Well, I didn't know what size that meant! I eventually figured 12 oz was "regular" and that's what I used. It worked out, so there you are! These would make really cute gifts too.


This is me awkwardly trying to take a photo of my outfit. Hah! Anyway, the leggings I'm showing here are from LulaRoe and OMG, they are amazing. I've been hearing about them and I got my first pair (purple colored) at a craft show recently and these were sent to me for hosting an online party. They really are like butter. These are the most comfortable leggings I've ever worn. There are two sizes for adults. I get the TC (tall and curvy) and they work well for me! 

I'm actually hosting that party I mentioned above this Friday on Facebook. If you're interested in joining, please let me know! We just need to be friends on Facebook. Add me here and let me know you want an invite! This doesn't mean you have to buy anything - no pressure! It's just a good chance to check out what LulaRoe offers - amazing leggings, dresses, tops, cardigans, skirts, and even leggings for kids! I own two leggings and a skirt and I love it all. I really want to get more, especially an Amelia dress! So yeah, let me know if you want an invite so you can check it all out! 

That's about it for my November!! I've been trying to read as much as possible, so hopefully I can start getting more book review posts scheduled out. I'm almost through all I've scheduled so far. Sigh, where does the time go? 

Any December plans coming up? If you have a November wrap-up post, let me know, and I'll come check it out!

-Lauren