Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Decoration Ideas for Your Home

If your walls look a little bare and you need some inspiration for decorating, consider these not-so-typical decoration ideas to add a splash of color to the walls.

    A Fine Day for a Drive
  • Landscape Photography - One great way to add some color to your home is by hanging landscape paintings or photographs. When it comes to landscapes, there are so many different kinds of photographs you can choose. If you prefer wooded scenes, ocean scenes or pictures of sunsets, a nice frame makes that photograph perfect to hang on the wall. If you want something a little different, you could get some alternative energy photography to decorate with. Beautiful wind turbines or images of solar panels reflecting a sunset can brighten a room.
  • Tapestries - Another fun way to decorate your home is with tapestries. You can cover an entire wall or just the corner of the room. Tapestries can be made with a variety of materials and come from many different countries. From patterns to scenery to texture, a tapestry can bring a whole new look to a room.
  • Upgraded Collage - While many people probably grew up making collages in school for projects and reports, why not make a collage as an adult? If you get a solid frame and cut out pieces from books or magazines, you can make a sprawling picture of the things or people you love. If you get a shadowbox, you can make an even more impressive collage of sorts out of pieces of items you no longer use. This home decoration can be like a little piece of modern art homemade by you.
  • Wall Plants - Most people keep plants in their home, but have you thought about hanging plants that grow from wall art or square vases? Put your plant collection on the wall for a bit of unconventional decor. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Book List 2019

I've been reading as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until 2008 that I started putting together a list of all the books I read each year. I use Goodreads to keep track throughout the year and then list them all here once the year is over. Even though Goodreads compiles my Year in Books, it's always fun to go back through all the books I've read over the course of the year and see how many pages I've read and how many hours I've spent listening over the course of the year.

Also, once again I'll link to any reviews I did. As always, I have good intentions to review more of the books I read, but I don't always follow through. Let's see what 2019 looked like, shall we?

Again, all books are listed by the month I finished them. Even if I started listening or reading the previous month.

  1. The Memory Box - Eva Lesko Natiello (audio) - 11 hrs 9 min
  2. A Mutiny in Time (Infinity Ring #1) - James Dashner (audio) - 4 hrs 30 min
  3. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life - Tish Harrison Warren - 184 pages
  4. Still Alice - Lisa Genova - 293 pages
  5. Vox - Christina Dalcher - 336 pages
  6. The Rule of One (The Rule of One #1) - Ashley Saunders, Leslie Saunders - 258 pages
1071 pages | 15 hours 39 minutes

  1. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again - Rachel Held Evans - 270 pages
  2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - 327 pages
  3. A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1) - Julie McElwain (audio) - 18 hrs 39 min 
  4. The Spitfire Girls - Soraya M. Lane - 328 pages - 328 pages  - (5 stars) 
  5. The Lost Girls of Paris - Pam Jenoff (audio) - 11 hrs 41 min
  6. Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward - Nabeel Qureshi- 176 pages
  7. The Wife - Meg Wolitzer 224 pages
1325 pages | 30 hours 20 minutes

  1. Gilead (Gilead #1) - Marilynne Robinson (audio) - 8 hrs 54 min
  2. Crosstalk - Connie Willis - 498 pages
  3. MAD Librarian: You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Library! - Michael Guillebeau - 402 pages
  4. Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World - Shelly Miller - 226 pages
  5. Under a Painted Sky - Stacey Lee (audio) - 10 hrs 11 min
1126 pages | 19 hours 5 minutes | a review for all 5

  1. Scrappy Little Nobody - Anna Kendrick (audio) - 6 hrs
  2. Five Feet Apart - Rachael Lippincott - 288 pages
  3. Charlotte Morgan and the Lemonade Stand (The Number Investigators Book 2) - Martin Tiller - 61 pages
  4. Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid (audio) - 9 hrs 3 min
  5. Elevation - Stephen King - 146 pages
  6. Bathed in Prayer: Father Tim's Prayers, Sermons, and Reflections from the Mitford Series - Jan Karon (audio) -  7 hrs 20 min
495 pages | 22 hours 23 minutes

  1. The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) - Justin Cronin - 602 pages
  2. Love and First Sight - Josh Sundquist (audio) - 6h 25m
  3. The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate - 325 pages
  4. The War That Saved My Life (The War That Saved My Life #1) - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - 316 pages - (5 stars)
  5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard: The Illustrated Edition (Hogwarts Library) - J.K. Rowling - 160 pages
  6. The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom (audio) -12 hrs 57 min
  7. The War I Finally Won (The War That Saved My Life #2) - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - 400 pages - (5 stars)
1803 pages | 19 hours 22 minutes

  1. Inside HBO's Game of Thrones: Seasons 1 & 2 - Bryan Cogman - 192 pages
  2. The Other Daughter - Lauren Willig (audio) - 10 hrs 39 min
192 pages | 10 hours 39 minutes

  1. The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen (audio) - 11 hrs 25 min
  2. Once We Had a Horse - Glen Rounds - 32 pages
  3. Light from Other Stars - Erika Swyler - 305 pages
  4. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower #6) - Stephen King - 413 pages
  5. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman (audio) - 12 hrs 32 min
  6. Murder on Birchardville Hill - Ruth Buchanan - 123 pages
 873 pages | 23 hours 57 minutes | reviews for 4 out of 6

  1. Have You Seen Luis Velez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde - 320 pages
  2. The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath - Mark Buchanan - 240 pages
  3. The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein (audio) - 6 hrs 56 min
  4. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek - Kim Michele Richardson (audio) - 9 hrs 26 min
  5. Enna Burning (The Books of Bayern #2) - Shannon Hale - 316 pages
  6. The Colorado Kid - Stephen King - 205 pages
  7. A Thousand Shall Fall - Susi Hasel Mundy - 178 pages
1259 pages | 16 hours 22 minutes

  1. The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland - Jim DeFede - 260 pages
  2. Extraordinary Means - Robyn Schneider (audio) - 8 hrs 7 min
  3. The Two Lila Bennetts - Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke - 307 pages
  4. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith - Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (audio) - 7 hrs 15 min
  5. The Grace Year - Kim Liggett - 407 pages
  6. Summerlings - Lisa Howorth - 256 pages
  7. These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (Sarah Agnes Prine #1) - Nancy E. Turner (audio) - 13 hrs 47 min - (5 stars)
  8. Love Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of Fake - Micah Berteau - 208 pages
1438 pages | 29 hours 9 minutes | 1 reviewed half of them...

  1. Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes - Jessica Pan - 274 pages(5 stars)
  2. The Martian - Andy Weir (audio) - 10 hrs 59 min - (5 stars)
274 pages | 10 hours 59 minutes

  1. The Furies - Katie Lowe - 357 pages
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles (audio) - 17 hrs 52 min
  3. Sold on a Monday - Kristina McMorris - 352 pages
  4. Glow (Sky Chasers #1) - Amy Kathleen Ryan (audio) - 9 hrs 56 min
  5. The Words between Us - Erin Bartels - 374 pages
  6. Spark (Sky Chasers #2) - Amy Kathleen Ryan (audio) - 11 hrs 12 min
1083 pages | 39 hours

  1. The Flatshare - Beth O'Leary - 336 pages
  2. Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World - Ella Frances Sanders - 112 pages
  3. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved - Kate Bowler - 183 pages
  4. A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) - Brittany Cavallaro (audio) - 9 hrs 7 min
  5. Red at the Bone - Jacqueline Woodson - 208 pages
  6. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 - Joseph Loconte - 232 pages
  7. One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow - Olivia Hawker (audio) - 19 hrs 2 min
  8. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version - 1328 pages - (5 stars)
  9. The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower #7) - Stephen King - 845 pages - I finished re-reading the series!
3244 pages | 28 hours 9 minutes
  • Total books - 71 (compare to 63 in 2018)
  • Total pages - 14,183 (compare to 13,698 pages in 2018)
  • Total time - 265 hours 4 minutes  (compare to 192 hours 13 minutes in 2018)
Page counts courtesy of Goodreads; audio lengths courtesy of Audible. My reading goal for the year was 50 books, and I met and surpassed it. I have yet to decide if I should shoot higher in 2020 or just go for 50 again and see how it turns out.

I didn't do such a good job of writing reviews this year - 34 reviews out of 71 books, so less than half. Some of them were just a few words, but I suppose that's better than nothing, right? Still, there were books that I really meant to review but didn't...

 How many books did you read in 2019?  I'd love to hear some suggestions for my 2020 reading list.  Because my already crazy long and ever-growing TBR list can always use a few more, right?

*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!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

What You Need To Know About Renewing a Notary Certificate

Renewing your notary public certification is an important step to maintaining your ability to notarize. If your certification expires and you act as a notary, even if accidentally, it can result in a misdemeanor. This is why it’s important to stay ahead of the renewal process so you can ensure a continuation of your service while meeting laws and guidelines.

NotaryThings to Keep In Mind:
  • How Long a Notary Appointment Lasts
    Depending on which state you live in, the length of your appointment as a notary public may vary. For example, an appointment for a notary in Florida lasts four years. If you are currently a notary public and want to renew your certificate, look up your state’s length of service requirements and when they recommend beginning renewal. It is good to keep in mind the length of your appointment so you can plan ahead for renewal.
  • What is Involved in the Renewal Process
    In some states, the process to renew a notary certificate is the same process you went through to obtain the certificate in the first place. You can research your state’s renewal process by searching Florida notary renewal (if you live in Florida, or insert your own state into the search) and reading through the requirements of your particular state. It can take as long as six months to complete the required steps of renewal and receive your updated certificate, so be sure to plan ahead so you can complete the process before your current appointment expires.
  • Remember To Restock Your Supplies
    As a notary, there are different supplies you may find useful in your role. Some of these supplies are a self-inking notary stamp, a notary journal, a receipt book for items you’ve notarized and other supplies. It can be a good idea to make a list of supplies you commonly use while fulfilling your duties as a notary and keep those items stocked so you’re always prepared. If you’re renewing your appointment, consider restocking your supplies as well.
Remember that notaries are a great service to the community and in high demand nationally. The high demand and appreciation of clients can make this a great side job.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Easy Ways to Improve Your Home

It does not have to cost thousands of dollars to give your home and update and achieve the look you desire. Here are some simple ways to bring your space to the next level.
  • Paint an Accent Wall - Sometimes a splash of color is all that you need to completely change the mood of a room. This can be achieved easily by painting an accent wall, which means painting one wall a bright or deep color in an otherwise neutral room. You can also get more creative and use a different material for your accent wall, such as brick, tile, or wood. Make sure that it stands out and will bring attention from guests, and harmony to the room
  • New rug
  • Add a Rug - A custom rug can brighten any room or area. You can choose a small rug as an accent, or a large rug that covers a bigger space. To find the perfect carpet, you should consult a specialty store in your area. For example, if you live in Atlanta, Georgia, simply search the internet for "rug store in atlanta ga," and you will find a list of vendors that are in your city. From there, you can compare your options.
  • open essential oil bottle
  • Pick a New Scent - It is always wonderful to come home to a great smelling space. Spice up your house by adding candles with seasonal scents, an essential oil diffuser, or even by simmering some apple slices and cinnamon sticks on your stove or in a crockpot. Many scents can have therapeutic effects, which can positively alter your mental health and well being. Mix up your fragrances depending on which room you are in, or the time of year you are in. The possibilities are endless.

Home improvement does not have to be a costly project. With these options, you can help your house feel more comfortable and inviting.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Inexpensive Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy

If you've got kids, you know that they always want to have something to do or you're going to hear a chorus of "I'm bored!" multiple times a day. And, if you're like me, you don't want to have to be going and doing and spending lots of money just to keep the kids entertained - though I may be more likely to do that with the grandkids than I ever was with my own kids. It's still a good idea to have some ideas for keeping kids entertained without spending a lot of money.

ColoringHere are a few of those ideas:

  • Coloring Books - One form of entertainment that has proven its worth for decades is the ageless coloring book. Thick coloring books can fill an afternoon with fun. The best part is that they can be purchased from almost anywhere-- from the local dollar store (my favorite!) to online coloring book publishers. There's always something for every interest. From princess pages to barnyard animals, there is sure to be something that every kid can enjoy, no matter their age or interests.
  • Scavenger Hunt - If parents have a little more time to be involved with setting up something fun to do, they can try their hands at a scavenger hunt. This activity is entirely free! There are a couple of ways that parents can set up a scavenger hunt. One way is to hide items around the house or outside, make a list, and have the children look for them. Another, less energy-intense way, is to make a list (or find one online) of items that can be easily found outside. This way, no set up is required!
  • Card Games - A deck of cards is extremely cheap and dozens of games can be played with one! So long as your children are old enough to understand rules, a deck of cards can fill an afternoon with fun. Try teaching little kids games like War or Go Fish. Older kids can have fun with Poker or Hearts.
Card game
These are just a few examples of games that parents can use to entertain their children for up to hours at a time. Try your hand at one of these activities the next time your children complain of boredom!

And, if these don't work, chores are always an option. You'll either get some work done around the house, or your kids will suddenly find something to do all on their own.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Keep Your Home Stocked All School Year

School Supplies
If you have a large family, keeping your home stocked with enough supplies throughout the school year can prove to be a difficult challenge. There are many ways you can ensure that all of your children have plenty of tools on hand to tackle any project no matter what subject it might involve.

Consider the following tips to help keep your home stocked from fall to summer.
  • Invest in Craft Supplies - Go out of your way to stock up on common craft supplies and keep them available in your home for surprise school projects. Popular supplies may include construction paper, paper confetti, yarn, felt and beads. Buy more than you think you're going to need when the Back-to-School sales are in full swing - or better yet, when all those extra supplies go on clearance after school has started (like now!) If you missed those sales or still feel there are things you will be needing, see if you can buy art supplies online to fulfill your needs. Buying in bulk often gives you the best prices.
  • Get Plenty of Paper - Make sure you always have plenty of paper on hand for restocking binders. In addition to looseleaf notebook paper, you can keep extra wire-bound notebooks, notepads, composition notebooks, and memo pads.
  • Keep Extra Binders and Folders - Get more binders and folders than what your children need when school first starts. Throughout the year, you may find yourself replacing them as their supplies become damaged, are submitted and kept by the teacher for projects or as they run out of space. You can buy basic binders and folders in bulk packs to help protect your wallet.
  • Get Printer Refills - Make sure you always have printer refill cartridges on hand. If one of your children has an important assignment due the next morning, the last thing you want to happen is having your printer run out of ink before they are able to print it out. Make sure to invest in both black and color ink cartridges.

By taking the time to prepare before the school year starts, you can help your children succeed in school.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

3 Ways to Brighten Up a Dark Room

There aren't many things more depressing than a room that is always dark and drab. The good news is – it doesn’t need to stay that way! With a few strategic changes you can take your gloomy room and make it into a bright and cheerful space you’ll love to spend time in.
  • Swap in Some new Shades - Many of us struggle with the blinds and shades in our homes. If we have them open, anyone can see in. Also, open shades or blinds can leave the room too bright, or too hot making it impossible to sit and watch TV or talk to someone comfortably. That problem is easily solved by solar roller shades new jersey. They let you leave the shade down all the time. The sun can come in to a degree, but it doesn’t get hot or cause horrible reflections on your TV. People can’t see in from the outside either. So, you get a bright room without all the drawbacks of blinds or traditional shades.
  • Add Some Large Mirrors - Mirrors do an excellent job of reflecting more than just your appearance. They can reflect light back into the room as well. There’s a scene from a movie about the life of Thomas Edison. As a child, he runs around his neighborhood getting mirrors from all to get enough light for a surgeon to operate on this mother with just a few candles. It’s an unfounded story, but a good illustration of what the effect is overall. You can decorate with some pretty mirrors and brighten your room at the same time.
  • Paint With Light Colors - Paint your room a white or light color. The lighter color will make the room seem immediately brighter. You can easily bring color into the room with accents. Plants and cut flowers will bring in color and have the bonus of brightening up the room as well. Make sure to use an eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss finish for easier cleaning.
It’s not very enjoyable to spend time in a room that is dark and dreary. With just a few changes, you can transform a dull room into a brighter, airier space for you to enjoy.

Book Review: Love Changes Everything

I just finished reading Love Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of Fake by Micah Berteau. I was offered a free copy for review purposes, and the description had me intrigued. I had just heard a sermon about the story of Hosea and Gomer, and the timing seemed more than a coincidence, so I jumped at the chance.

This book promises to be life-changing. The author uses the example of Hosea and Gomer - where God tells the prophet to marry a prostitute, who later leaves him to run back to her old life, and instead of leaving it there, God expects Hosea to go and buy his own wife back - to show us exactly how much God loves us.

There were some good parts to this book and things to think about, but overall I just didn't connect with the author and what he was trying to get across. I didn't find any of it life-changing or earth-shattering, but overall it was a decent read with some good reminders. Perhaps for someone who has been struggling to understand the reality of God's love, it can be the book that changes everything...

Thanks to Revell (a division of Baker Publishing Group) for the copy. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 23, 2019

3 Signs Your AC Unit Needs Professional Attention

miami air conditioning repairMost people can't get through a summer day without air conditioning. Personally, I like hot weather, but it seems I'm in the minority. Those of you who like and depend on your air conditioning expect instant cooling relief when you walk through your front door. And if you're not feeling that, you quickly realize that something might be wrong - and probably start to panic.

If you’re unsure whether it’s time to call out an HVAC technician Harris County TX, here are three signs that your HVAC unit may be ready to call it quits.
  1. It’s Making Strange Sounds - A low humming noise is a perfectly normal sound to come from an AC unit. Anything else, however, is not. While rattling can be easily explained away by something coming loose inside (which may or may not be harmless), clunking and grinding sounds are always going to indicate a serious problem.
  2. It’s Not Blowing out Cold Air - As obvious as this may seem, it may take some time before you realize that you’re not just experiencing a scorching hot day and, instead, your air conditioning unit simply isn’t performing as it should. Keep an eye on how long your AC has been running; if you’ve had it on for longer than 10 minutes and the air still isn’t chill, you could have a problem on your hands.
  3. It’s Giving off a Bad Smell - An AC unit should never give off any strong odors, so a clear sign something is wrong is if yours starts to do so. A musty smell could be a sign you have a mold issue, and you must get a professional to clean it otherwise you’re at risk of breathing in poisonous spores. If the smell is pretty foul, it could mean the wires have burned out, in which case you need to get it fixed straight away to avoid a fire hazard.

The most important thing to remember is never try to fix your AC unit yourself. Electrical repairs can be complicated (and dangerous). Stay safe and always call in a professional.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Three Alternatives to Airport Parking

Heathrow Terminal 4Travel can be expensive, and parking at the airport can add significant expense to your travel costs. You also need to factor in the additional time and exertion to get to the terminal while towing luggage. You'll also be leaving your vehicle in an exposed lot for several days while you're gone, and there is always the risk of damage or theft. That is definitely not the way you want to end your trip!

Consider one of these alternatives:
  • Public Transit - If public transit such as buses or trains is available, consider using that to get to your preferred location of departure. Mass transit can be a very economical alternative to airport parking. The local bus or train schedule may not match up perfectly with your flight times, so you will need to factor additional time and effort if you go this route. And if you have a lot of luggage, this may not be the ideal option for you.
  • Shuttles and Ride Sharing - Shuttles and other transportation services can be a superior choice. A Houston to Galveston shuttle bus can save money and reduce the stress of parking and traveling to and from the terminal. Other choices for ground transportation include taxi and limo services which are available at most airports. Rideshare businesses such as Uber and Lyft may have available drivers nearby. Watch for price surges during busy times of the day such as morning and evening rush hours.
  • Friendly Chauffeur Option - Having a loved one drop off or pick up is probably the cheapest and most convenient option. You may be obligated to return the favor with a meal, gas money or some other offer. A drop-off or pickup at the terminal is the ultimate in convenience as it saves you the effort of walking to a parking space, especially while schlepping luggage. This is especially helpful if you're someone like me who has yet to figure out how to pack light.
The idea of leaving your car in a public place for a few days might not be appealing. Reduce your stress and stop your worrying. Consider these options to airport parking that offer the benefits of convenience and potential savings.