Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book List 2016

The simple thing would be to link you to My Year in Books on Goodreads, BUT I started putting together a list of all the books I read starting back in 2008, so it just seems the thing to do. Because of Goodreads, I know that I read fewer books this year, but it will still be fun to go through them, and see how many pages and how many hours of reading I had in 2016.

Also, once again I'll link to any reviews I did. I started out with good intentions to review more of the books I read, but I'm not sure how I did. I guess we'll find out.

  1. Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline - 278 pages
  2. Barefoot Summer (Chapel Springs #1) - Denise Hunter (audio) - 7 hrs 27 min
  3. The Darke Toad (Septimus Heap #1.5) - Angie Sage - 96 pages
  4. Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel - David Limbaugh - 406 pages
  5. March - Geraldine Brooks (audio) - 10 hrs 22 min
780 pages | 17 hours and 49 minutes

  1. Family (Firstborn #4) - Karen Kingsbury - 345 pages
  2. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History - by Chris Kyle (audio) - 10 hrs 22 min
  3. Caretaker (Caretaker Chronicles #1) - Josi Russell - 325 pages
  4. Forever (Firstborn #5) - Karen Kingsbury - 346 pages
1016 pages | 10 hours 22 minutes

  1. Guardians (Caretaker Chronicles #2) - by Josi Russell - 394 pages
  2. The Fixer - by Joseph Finder (audio) - 9 hrs 38 min
  3. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands - Lysa TerKeurst (audio) - 6 hrs 31 min
  4. Forever (Firstborn #5) - Karen Kingsbury - 346 pages
740 pages | 16 hours 9 minutes

  1. The Good Girl - Mary Kubica (audio) - 10 hrs 38 min 
10 hours 38 minutes

  1. Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts - Sara Frankl, Mary Carver - 208 pages
  2. I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist - by Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek (audio) - 14 hrs 47 min
  3. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (Enola Holmes #5) - Nancy Springer (audio) - 3 hrs 9 min
208 pages | 17 hours 56 minutes

  1. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins (audio) - 10 hrs 59 min
  2. Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story - Andrea Warren (audio) - 1 hr 26 min
12 hours 25 minutes

  1. The Elijah Calling: The Hidden & Revealed Messiah! (Restoring Truth #1) - Ken Mentell - 487 pages
  2. Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) - Angie Sage (audio) - 12 hrs 10 min
  3. Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle (Landon Snow #1) - R.K. Mortenson (audio) - 6 hrs 30 min
487 pages | 18 hours 40 minutes

  1. The Passage (The Passage #1) - Justin Cronin - 897 pages
  2. An Invisible Client - Victor Methos - 240 pages
  3. The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #1) - Erika Johansen (audio) - 14 hrs 30 min
1137 pages | 14 hours 30 minutes

  1. The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #2) - Erika Johansen (audio) - 18 hrs 4 min
  2. How It Went Down - Kekla Magoon (audio) - 7 hrs 10 min
25 hours 14 minutes

  1. The Twelve (The Passage #2) - Justin Cronin 626 pages
  2. Fractured - Catherine McKenzie 492 pages
  3. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad - M.T. Anderson (audio) 10 hrs 20 min
1118 pages | 10 hours 20 minutes

  1. You Can't Do it Naked: From Exposed to Fully Clothed in the Armor of God - Kim M. Snyder 116 pages
  2. All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven (audio) 11 hrs 4 min
116 pages | 11 hours 4 minutes

  1. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) - Amie Kaufman (audio) 11 hrs 41 min
  2. Beginning at Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament - Michael P.V. Barrett 328 pages
  3. Torn from Troy (Odyssey of a Slave #1) - Patrick Bowman (audio) 5 hrs 28 min
  4. The Murder Game - Julie Apple 300 pages
  5. David and the Psalms - Michael J. Ruszala 184 pages
  6. Our Presidents & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America's Leaders - Rand Paul 160 pages
972 pages | 17 hours 9 minutes

  • Total books - 38 (compare to 43 in 2015)
  • Total pages - 6574 (compare to 6533 pages in 2015)
  • Total time - 182 hours 16 minutes  (compare to 200 hours in 2015)
Page counts courtesy of Goodreads; audio lengths courtesy of Audible.

I even wrote a review for 20 of the books, so that's a little better than last year. Scrolling through the list, I see several books that I really meant to write a review for, but somehow I just didn't do it. I think that maybe I think too hard about it and write these great reviews in my head, and then I just never get around to actually posting a review. Because when I sit down to type it, all those things I was going to say just don't seem to be there anymore. I just noticed that there's a new feature on Goodreads that lets me see, and share if i want, my highlights and notes from the Kindle books I read. Perhaps having that to easily look at will help for future reviews? I guess we'll see.

How many books did you read in 2016?  I'd love to hear some suggestions for my 2017 reading list.

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy  from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

$3000 College Scholarship Essay Contest

I just received this information about a scholarship opportunity.

anti-smoking ad 3The scholarship is sponsored by Mig Vapor, a company that creates products designed to help people reduce their dependency on tobacco, and each semester they award $3,000 scholarships to students who help bring awareness to the dangers of smoking.

The scholarship recipients are selected through an essay contest with the winning essays to be selected on the basis of how well-written, compelling, and persuasive they are.

Applicants must be a full-time student at an accredited four-year or two-year university, community college or junior college, or a graduate degree program. There are no costs associated with submitting an application for this scholarship, and the application deadline for Fall 2017 semester scholarships is May 31st, 2017.

For more information, be sure to check out the MigVapor Scholarship Essay Contest page. Feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be interested.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tips for Helping the Whole Family Sleep Well

365/84 Bed time [Explored]Sleep deprivation can have an adverse affect on both kids and parents. As a parent or anyone who has spent time with young children, you know that when they get tired, they can get a little cranky. Although adults may not like the comparison, they too get a little irritable when they are sleep deprived. A lack of sleep can make kids and adults accident prone as well as making it difficult to concentrate at school or at work. Here are several things to look at that can help your whole family get a good night's sleep each night.
  • The Bedroom
    It's difficult to relax and feel a sense of calmness in a cluttered bedroom. Clearing the clutter and simplifying the décor can make the bedroom a more pleasant sleeping area. Some experts suggest that a bedroom be painted in soothing colors that encourage sleep. It's also difficult to sleep soundly in a room that is either too hot or too cold. Experts suggest that the ideal temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees. If noise prohibits kids from going to sleep or sleeping soundly through the night, a white noise machine could resolve that problem.
  • The Bed
    A good mattress is essential to good sleep. It's worth investing in the best non-toxic mattresses for everyone in your household. Memory foam mattresses and those with heat dissipating gel can provide a comfortable sleeping area for kids and adults. In addition to a comfortable, supportive mattress, everyone should have a high quality pillow on their bed. 
  • Routine Bedtime Stories
    Having the whole family establish a pre-bedtime ritual can help everyone go to sleep faster. This routine should start at the same time each evening. Keeping the same bedtime and wake-up time throughout the week and weekend is beneficial to the family. For everyone's benefit, you should set a technology curfew. Some studies show that watching television, using a laptop, or playing electronic games is not a good pre-bedtime activity. Bath time, followed by story time, is a good ritual for the kids. Reading prior to bedtime is also a good way for teens and adults to relax.
When every family member gets a sufficient amount of sleep, there's likely to be less conflict among siblings and less stress for parents.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trampolines for Fun and Exercise

Children and adults love to jump and bounce, sometimes for hours, for play and exercise. Trampolines are a fantastic way to stay healthy and fit. With many new technological advancements, they have become safer than ever before. We don't see many trampolines without strong reinforced nets for safety, but  here are a few safety innovations you may not have heard of.
  • Springfree trampolines have eliminated the traditional spring system and offer a wider jumping surface and a softer bounce. 
  • The AlleyOOP Double Bed is actually two trampolines. You can bounce on the top bed, and the second bed is eight inches below. When the bottom bed engages, it takes stress off knees and joints and creates a much softer and more controlled bounce. A great deal of the kickback force of the top bed is removed and offers less displacement when there are multiple jumpers. 
  • A Surestep Trampoline Ladder is easy to assemble and is non-permanent, so that it can be removed easily in order to limit access to the trampoline. In addition to having lasting weather protection, the two-step ladder fits most trampolines between 33 inches and 37 inches tall and has large, flat platform steps.
With safety taken care of, it's time to explore the playfort accessories for even more enjoyment.  Here are a couple that look fun:

  • A Pro Flex Basketball Hoop is designed specifically to be used with AlleyOOP Safety Enclosures. It attaches securely and comes with a reinforced full-size backboard, a cushioned hoop, heavy-duty hardware, and a five-inch inflatable basketball.
  • An Outback Tent can be used for daytime adventures or sleepovers. Made specifically for AlleyOOP and JumpSport Sports Safety Enclosures on 12 to 14 foot round trampolines, this giant 11-feet-across and 5.5 feet high tent has a netted/screened zippered door and three windows, a full floor, and attaches easily to the Safety Enclosure in under five minutes. No poles are used; the tent uses bungee cords that are suspended to the bottom and top of the enclosure.
Check out Play N Learn’s Playground Superstores for a wonderful selection of the safest trampolines on the market that will give many hours of fun to enthusiasts of all ages.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rules of the Aisles

I don't like shopping very much at any time, but it's particularly crazy this time of year.  There are so many people in the stores.  It's practically impossible to get from Point A to Point B, grab the things I need and get out of there.

So now's as good a time as any - probably a really good time - to ask:

When you meet up with someone in the store aisle, which way do you move so that you can get past each other?

To me it seems obvious - move to the right. The same way you'd move if you were on the road driving. I asked this question the other day and had at least one person wondering if that's a rule in the store aisles.  Is it?  Does it need to be an actual rule? What about common sense and trying to help traffic flow through the store so that we can all get in, get our shopping done, and get on with our lives? While avoiding that awkward dance where both parties move in the same direction, and then in the other direction - back and forth until someone finally stops or makes a dash for it.

But why do they seem to always choose to move to the left first? Isn't it ingrained in those of us who drive to move to the right? In my mind, these are the same people who always insist on walking on the right-hand side of the road with the traffic, but somehow that doesn't follow them into the store.

Mostly I just avoid the awkward dance. I move to the right - because that's the only logical thing to do, and I can't do otherwise - and then just stay put until the other person goes around me.  And I do a lot of extra walking - looking for the empty aisles to walk down instead of fighting through the people-clogged aisles if I don't need anything in those particular aisles and am just trying to get from one side of the store to the other. If there are any unclogged aisles...

There's nothing as frustrating as not being able to move. Or get where I need to go. So many of these people seem to be in no hurry whatsoever, and they really seem absolutely unaware that there is anyone else in the store with them. The question of which way to move probably never even crossed their minds, because why would they ever need to move over. Or move forward at anything greater than a snail's pace?

I think I'll just stay home until this insane season is over. Or forever. Aren't there services that deliver groceries now? Or at least bring them to your car after you order them online.  That sounds nice. Maybe I'll check that out...

Friday, December 09, 2016

Why Making Your Bed Daily is Important

As a child, your parents may have nagged you to make your bed each day. While this may have been annoying at the time, it turns out that making your bed every day has many benefits. Here are a few of them:

  • You'll Develop Good Habits
    If there are areas of your life where you would like to improve discipline, such as curbing spending or exercising more, making your bed at the same time every day may actually help you achieve these goals. According to some mental health experts, a simple habit change can become a practice that you can build on to improve in other areas of your life.
  • You'll Improve Your Living Space
    Most people are happiest when they are living in an attractive, clean environment. Taking a few minutes each day to make your bed can greatly improve the way your bedroom looks, something that can have a positive effect on your mental state.
  • You'll Sleep Better
    You probably already know about the importance of getting a good night's sleep. One way that you can improve the quality of your sleep is making sure that your bed is inviting and comfortable. When you don't make your bed, it's easy for your sheets and blankets to get tangled up and even soiled due to pets or kids sitting on your sheets. It can also be frustrating to have to quickly make up your bed when you are already tired.
    When your bed is all ready for you at the end of the day, bedtime becomes a time for relaxation. This makes it easier for you to go to sleep and get the rest you need.
  • Your Mattress will be Protected
    If you are the kind of person who insists on sleeping on the best natural mattress, such as those sold by Health Rest Mattresses & Pillows, you probably want to protect your investment. By making your bed each day, you help to minimize damage because your mattress is fully covered with bedding, which is typically much less expensive to replace than the mattress itself. (I would also suggest a good waterproof or water-resistant mattress pad.)
Raise your hand (or comment) if you make your bed every day.  I do!  Well, most days...

Before and After

Beth Cleans
I always clean the house before we have company (or family) visit. Even though I know that it won't be long after they've arrived - especially if they're staying for a while - that it will be pretty much impossible to tell that I even tried cleaning the place up. But I just can't help myself. I have to clean first, and I know I'll have to do it all over again once they've left.

That's exactly what happened over Thanksgiving weekend. I had the house all cleaned up. It was actually looking pretty good. And then an extra dozen people dropped in for the weekend. Not that I'm complaining because they were all family, and it was awesome having them here.  -- They should come more often. --
But, wow - things just kind of exploded, and all the evidence of my cleaning disappeared. (Amazingly enough, it's exactly the same when it's just my kids here; it does not seem to be proportionate to the number of people in the house. Or else it's my kids and other people are perfectly neat. Hmmm... I'll have to think about that one.)

Anyway, if only I could restrain myself and just save the cleaning for after they leave...  Well, for everything except the bathrooms. Bathrooms must always be cleaned.

Anyone else?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Backyard

Are you tired of the same old backyard that you've had for years? Are you ready to shake things up with new features, fresh accessories and one-of-a-kind design elements? Here are just a few things that will make your backyard pop!
  1. Build a Gazebo
    Gazebos are a great way to add a touch of elegance to your backyard. Not only can you build the gazebo itself with any kind of shape, size, material or feature that you desire, but once it's finished, you'll also have a blast decorating it! From paint to pillows, the design is all up to you. Try building a gazebo if you're looking for a creative backyard endeavor.
  2. Put in a Pool
    When it comes to Jacksonville backyard water features, it's hard to beat the idea of a pool. Construct an elaborate infinity pool with steps, inclines and special water jets; inflate a simple above-ground pool for pets and kids; create something else entirely with a little water and a lot of imagination. Any kind of pool is a good pool, so don't be afraid to dream big.
  3. Install a Fire Pit fire pit
    There's nothing like sitting around a fire on a chilly evening to warm you up inside and out. While the large, ceremonial fire pits can cost a pretty penny, there are numerous designs for smaller and more intimate ones that can be installed in any backyard. Just ask your local contractor or outdoor design company for help!
  4. Add a Patio
    Patios are both functional and fashionable, so you'll get a lot of mileage when you add one to your yard. Not only are they great architectural elements that can add thousands of dollars of property value when it's time to resell your home, but they'll also be highly convenient until then as a place to host parties and gatherings.
  5. Plant a Garden
    Do you dream of a colorful, bountiful vegetable garden filled with fresh goodies of all shapes and sizes? Or maybe you'd prefer a quiet zen garden that you can treat as an oasis in the whirlwind of your life. Whatever your preferred aesthetic, every garden starts with a single flower, so grab your shovel and start digging.
There are many more ways to breathe new life into your backyard, so don't be limited by this list. Use it for inspiration and come up with some great ideas of your own.

Monday, November 21, 2016

More Missing Words

Recently I mentioned my frustration with those cryptic symbols on laundry tags, and while those may be annoying, I think I found something even more annoying.

This weekend my husband had to assemble something - something that most definitely needed to be done correctly.   And this is what the directions looked like:

No words. No explanations. Just a bunch of very helpful incredibly confusing pictures.  Thankfully he's pretty good at stuff so he got it figured out - except for those one things that we have no idea what they are so they didn't get put on.  Hopefully it's not a big deal...

Again - why can't they just use words? Along with the pictures.  The pictures might actually be helpful if there were some words to go along with them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

4 Ways to Be a Better Web Designer

Easy Development of Web Design TemplatesAre you feeling uninspired with your current web designs? Do you need something to boost your creativity or kick-start your productivity? It's not uncommon to experience a slump, especially if you've been in the business for awhile; the key is to not let it defeat you. Here are just a few ways to become a better web designer.
  1. Get New Software
    The same way a Mastercam dealer can provide CAD/CAM software tools for all types of programming and machining needs, there are many different software packages for web design. New software may be exactly what you need to grease the wheels of your imagination. As a bonus, the right software will handle all of the boring automated stuff while you're free to let your creativity take flight.
  2. Experiment With Different Styles
    It's easy to fall into familiar patterns when you've been doing something for a long time. If you feel like your designs are becoming too boring or too similar, it's time to break out of your shell and try something new. Go crazy with colors; flip your typical layouts upside down and inside out; erase your old templates and start from scratch. You never know when you'll stumble onto your new trademark.
  3. Enforce Deadlines
    Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come at the eleventh hour? It's no coincidence; it's the way the human brain works. You can deliberately harness this energy by setting and enforcing self-imposed deadlines that force your mind to work under time constraints. Instead of being a free-willed artist, you'll be a disciplined one, and your work will improve because of it.
  4. Ask for Input
    Don't be afraid to ask others for feedback. It doesn't matter if you're soliciting the opinions of clients, friends or random web users; in fact, getting advice from multiple sources is better than getting it from one. Just make sure that you actually listen to the suggestions that you're given. If everyone agrees that pink text on a red background is horrible, don't argue with them.
web design atlanta
The world of web design expands by the day, and if you aren't careful, it's easy to get swept away in the tide. Use these tips to ensure that you're always on the cutting edge of technology and style.