January 17, 2017

What I Read in December, 2016 --
2017 Reading Goals

Guys, it has been a rough few weeks over here. I feel like we have been going non-stop since the holidays, and I can't see an end in sight. We have a ton of guests coming to visit over the next few weeks, and I am SO behind on my content calendar.

I have been trying to read a little bit every day, even if it is just for a few minutes, or listen to an audio book when I'm cleaning. This helps me decompress and relax when I get home from work. I'm not doing as much listening to audio books on my commute and recently switched my Audible membership for a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Even though we are halfway through January, I thought it would be fun to see what I read in December, as well as to share some of my reading goals for 2017.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick ★★★★
Book club read this for December, which honestly is kind of a weird choice for a book club. I really like Anna Kendrick, and it was interesting to get a look at her inner monologue. Looking at her life in the theatre, on the big screen, and in relationships was really fun. This is very stereotypical (and pretty basic), but I feel like we would be friends IRL. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling ★★★★★
My parents sent this to me for my birthday---but it was the illustrated version! I loved looking at the beautiful pictures as I read such a familiar story. Now I want the whole series in illustrated version!

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown ★★★★
This is the book club book for January, and was SO my speed. I enjoyed Margie's story MUCH more than Madeleine's, but it was sort of interesting. This could totally be a movie. 

There were some times when I thought each woman just needed to buck up and ask for what she wants. But as always, it isn't that easy. I would have loved to learn more about Margie's storyline.

The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander ★★★★
What an interesting topic. A while ago I watched part of a movie about the Magdalen Laundries on Netflix, so when I saw this title on NetGalley, I had to have it. 

This is based on TRUE EVENTS guys. I just can't even believe what these women endured while living in these convents. This particular story is so dramatic, and I really felt for the girls. 
*This book was provided for review by NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Annnnnnnnnd I'm still working on The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. There have been so many books that I've had to read on a deadline, that this one has kind of taken a back seat. My friend who lent it to me is coming to visit in a few weeks, though, so I need to do work! Does anyone have suggestions for working through something really long like this?

So now for my reading goals for 2017. I CRUSHED my goal of 40 books in 2016 by reading 50 books. I am starting my grad degree this year, so even though I wanted to increase my goal, I didn't want to be TOO ambitious.

This year I want to read 45 books, which is almost a book a week. Seeing as how I am reading multiple things at once, and am giving myself the grace to put something down if I don't like it, I'd say this is totally doable. Join me on Goodreads to follow my progress!

January 3, 2017

My 2017 Word of the Year

Happy Monday my friends! I hope 2017 has been great for you so far! Apologies for the somewhat unplanned break over the holidays, but to be honest, I needed it. It was so nice to be able to host others and travel to see our family, and to not have to worry so much about promotion, writing posts, or social media. 

Because of this break, I am a little bit behind schedule with content, but we will make it up this month. A lot of the stuff that I had planned for last week was really more relevant to the new year anyway.

Instead of making resolutions, I really like to decide on a focus word. I find that if I make a list of specific resolutions they are much easier to break. For me, if I pick a word and try to live in that way, I am much more successful.

This year I am choosing to focus on balance. I tend to be an all or nothing type person, which is honestly not healthy and has caused various physical and mental consequences for me. I'm either exercising every day or not at all. I either indulge in ALL the food or just eat salads for a week. The house is spotless or it is a pig stye. I either feel like I have no money and scrimp and save or I go on a spending spree.

My dad always tells me to work smarter, not harder. I can't think of a better way to phrase living in balance than that. 

Now that my family is feeling more settled, I want to focus on living a balanced life. I plan to take care of myself and my needs and to live in a healthy place. To have a positive outlook, but still be prepared for the unexpected.

2016 was weird, and great, and sad. Here's to a happy and healthy 2017!

See my past focus words here:

December 29, 2016

2016 Reader Survey

Hello, my friends! This has been such a successful year of growth for me both personally, professionally, and with this blog. There have been such highs, and I really feel like I'm catching my stride, especially as a blogger.

I truly value every single one of my readers and would love it if you can take a minute to let me know your thoughts on this little internet space. I am looking forward to 2017 with big plans, and would love to know if you have an opinion!

This survey is completely confidential, and I can't see who gives what responses. Please be honest, as I am looking for good feedback to make some changes in the new year.


December 22, 2016

Last Minute Gifts for your Significant Other

Friends, I can't be the only one who left their significant other's gift for last. I just got so caught up in buying for out of town family, that I ALMOST forgot my husband. Whoops!

Dave and I actually decided to get each other a joint gift (a dustbuster... #marriedlife), but I want to get him something small too. 

These gifts will work for your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, whoever! These are all very generic gifts, some of which can be personalized if that is your thing.

So I'm just going to throw it out there that the Harry Potter set is only $50 right now! That is less than $10 per book, AKA a steal!! And I think we may be the last household on the earth to own Cards against humanity. I usually try to get a board or card game for Dave every year, and this might have to be it this year!

We have that bar set, and it is SO NICE. Everything that you could need for cocktails is included, and it is so simple with the hammered steel. Love it.

See the rest of this year's gift guides here:

December 21, 2016

Our 2016 Christmas Cards - Married & Bright

One of my favorite things is sending snail mail. I love the whole process of it, and also that I might make someone's day brighter by sending it. I enjoyed the process of sending out all the different wedding mail, so it is no surprise that I have gotten into the Christmas card phenomenon. 

Last year, I designed our cards through Vistaprint, which was SO EASY, and the turnaround was so quick. I love that they have lots of pretty pre-made designs to choose from, because honestly, it is hard enough to pick a photo of the two of us. They always have awesome sales going on, and sometimes all it means is a quick google search. I got this order for 50% off!
It was a given that this year's Christmas card would have a wedding photo on it. I am seriously so obsessed with our wedding photos, and I love that you can see how happy Dave and I are. For our first year as "The Yargeaus," I thought it would be nice to send out cards that had a representation of our special day on it. I went with these cards, and it was so easy to put together.

One of the MUST HAVE things that I have found while sending out so much mail this year, is to have a good return address stamp. I am a fan of stickers too, but think the stamp just adds a little something extra.

I ordered the Self-Inking Return Address Stamp from MyCustomStamps on Etsy. I provided my information, and for $20 I got to see a proof, and have this awesome thing sent to me. This is WELL WORTH the money when you have a bunch of mail going out at once.

I could not be happier with how everything turned out, and I'm so excited to see everyone else's cards!

Now it’s your turn to link-up and share your wedding tales. I love reading all about your big day, someone else’s wedding adventures, or anything else wedding related. Nikki and I just can’t wait to read all about it!

Always Al