Truth: every December rolls around and I’m not as prepared as I planned to be. All year we put a little money back for Christmas shopping, but then it’s never as much as I want it to be and I always wish we were better about putting away money in our Santa account at the bank. Anyone else feel me on that one?
So, in the spirit of Christmas and blessing others, some of my favorite people (who just happen to be bloggers) have come together to spread a little cheer. Because whether you need a little extra to cover presents this year or you want to help another family in need, a little extra spending money around the holidays is never a bad thing.
Good luck, friends!
The Lily Field // Life on a Mission // Trusty Chucks // Mercy Ink // Teressa Jane
Waiting with Joy // Unfading Grace // Sweet Home Santa Barbara // Heather Boersma // See You There
a Rafflecopter giveaway
open to U.S. / Canada residents ONLY // giveaway dates: December 2nd – 8th, 2013 //
winner will be notified no later than Tuesday, December 10th and will have 72 hours
to claim prize – failure to do so will result in forfeiture and a new winner will be chosen //
TWO winners will receive $100 Visa gift cards // this giveaway is NOT sponsored by VISA //
best of luck!
After I finished the third and final book to the Divergent series, I decided I wasn’t going to write about it. I wasn’t going to tell you to read it. I just couldn’t talk about it.
But now it’s been a few weeks and I think I’m ready.
I think you should read Divergent and Insurgent (my reviews are here and here). Those two are amazing. And you should read Allegiant also, but just be prepared to be so upset at the ending. Gah, even now I wish I could go back and change it. It didn’t have to end that way, I have other ideas!
These books, even with the way Allegiant ended, have become my favorite dystopian series. I connected with the characters and the struggle. I dreamed about what would happen when Tris and Four were finally free, I imagined them just being together and happy and safe. I realize that sounds completely ridiculous and these were just characters in a made-up book.
I acknowledge that argument, but I do not accept it. These characters were real. Their stories were real. And the ending was brutal.
Read this series if you haven’t already. The Divergent movie opens in March and I’m trying not to get excited but failing miserably. I might have watched the trailer with my students in class, on the big projector screen. We might already be discussing how we feel about the cast and how true to our imaginations they are. We might already be planning a class date to the movies like we did for Ender’s Game.
Books are powerful. Even if just for a moment.
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.
This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and People StyleWatch and InStyle magazines but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PeopleInStyle http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO
One of my favorite things to do as the weather turns cold is curl up in bed with a stack of magazines and spend the evening reading. There’s just something about cold weather that makes getting out of bed and into the world a little more difficult.
But when I do have to get out there, it’s nice to have a little style inspiration and those magazines come in pretty handy in that department. Ones like People StyleWatch and InStyle are overflowing with outfit ideas for the fashionable and fashion-challenged. (I am, depending on the day, one or the other.)
And with the holidays approaching, it’s nice to have some go-to outfits inspired by my favorite magazines to wear.
The holidays are synonymous with traveling and there’s no reason to fall into the yoga-pants trap thinking they’re the only comfy option. Taking a cue from InStyle magazine, I threw on some skinnies, a tee, some flats, and a structured jacket. Take the jacket off for long flights or trips in the car, and throw it back on when you’ve reached your destination. You’ll come out looking pulled together and polished.
The holidays are also the time everyone’s back in town so a night out is definitely on the agenda. Keeping with the tee and structured jacket, I changed into worn jeans and red heels for drinks with the girls. People StyleWatch helped make this transition effortless.
And my favorite part of the holidays: parties! Go with a traditional red dress for the office party or New Years, People StyleWatch has some great ideas on what kind of dress to wear for your body type. There’s something in there for everyone which keeps me inspired when I’m feeling less than stellar about my closet.
The best part of this whole using-magazines-for-fashion-inspiration is that right now, if you buy both People StyleWatch and InStyle magazines at Target, you’ll get a $5 gift card in return. It’s like getting one of the magazines for free! Or, if you think like me, it’s like getting an extra discount on that new shirt you just have to have. (Promotion ends 12/7.)
What do you think? Any travel or holiday fashion tips?
This weekend we had the talented Kaitlyn Meeks take our annual family photos. She’s our go-to woman for all things camera related and if you’re local to Indy, she should be your go-to as well. (She’s also really good at Photoshopping, check out 2011 and 2012 family pictures and watch me shrink!)
I love that we get to document the growth and changes in our family every fall. These pictures have become such a treasure and the girls love standing in our hallway looking at years’ past and talking about them. This year’s will be no different, I’m sure.
Another reason we wait to do family pictures every fall is so we can use them for our yearly Christmas cards. I love when the holidays roll around and we start getting friend’s and family’s cards in the mail. It feels so special that someone took the time to send us holiday wishes and I love being able to do it too.
This year we used Pikcal for our prints and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I was shocked with their selection and had to narrow it down to my top ten and then ask for help from Chris. Which is saying something, because I never ask for help.
Here are five of my favorites:
(ignore the publishing lines and purple border, those went away when I hit “order”)
Once our cards arrive, I’ll show you what we picked! Until then, you should get your cards (calendars, notebooks, and photo books, too) ordered. Plus, they always have FREE shipping and they’re offering a 20% off code just for being a Trusty Chucks’ reader. So, really, there’s no reason not to order your cards from them right now. Use BLOGCARD20 when you check out.
Tell me: what card do you think we should have picked? what cards are you ordering?
DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are mine.
As a stickler for only celebrating one holiday at a time (insert evil eye directed at everyone on Instagram), I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this week.
But I would be lying if I didn’t mention that our calendar is already starting to fill up with all the fun Christmas-related activities that we love. One of those activities is Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum. This season-long exhibit has a little Christmas magic for everyone, no matter your age. Kids will love visiting Santa, the winter wonderland, and riding on the Santa Claus Express. Adults will get a kick out of the recreated L.S. Ayres store windows, seeing the museum decked out in its holiday best, and grabbing a bite at the L.S. Ayres Tea Room. Introducing those old school traditions to your younger family members is something that shouldn’t be missed.
On Friday, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by helicopter to the museum (the reindeer are resting up for their big night, obviously) and that starts the month-long Celebration Crossing event. If you’re thinking about going (and you should be, by the way), here’s some of the events the museum is planning that you shouldn’t miss:
Santa’s Holiday Breakfast/Brunch presented by Macy’s
During the first, second and fourth weekends in December, guests will get to start their mornings off with delicious holiday breakfast as Mrs. Claus, Raggedy Ann and other holiday characters entertain the young ones before they visit Santa Claus and ride the Santa Claus Express. On Sunday, Dec. 15, adults and kids alike will join in the fun during this holiday brunch featuring traditional brunch dishes and festive holiday mimosas. Brunch also includes a visit with Santa and access to the rest of the Celebration Crossing activities.(reservations required for both events)
Throughout the month of December, guests will be treated to Santa’s (Imagination) playground in the Earl Goode Education Center on level 2. In addition to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-based activity area, there will also be crafts and a place for caregivers to sit and relax while their children play.
Hoosier Radio Hour: A 1940′s Christmas
During the first, second, fourth and fifth weekends, guests will get to join the Indiana State Museum Legacy Theater Troupe as they celebrate the holidays with “Hoosier Radio Hour: A 1940’s Christmas.” Original skits and familiar carols are part of this heart-warming production, suitable for all ages. Audience members will be invited to join the fun onstage as members of the sound effects staff.
Family New Year’s Eve
End the year with a bang with a family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration in the Governor Frank O’Bannon Great Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. Activities include face-painting, arts and craft, games, door prizes and a special musical performance by Indianapolis band The Tides. A balloon drop at 8 p.m. allows little ones to celebrate the New Year in style. (reservations recommended)
To make reservations or for more information, visit the Indiana State Museum website or call 317.232.1637. Be sure to make the Indiana State Museum part of your holiday tradition.
I use Grammarly for proofreading because every time you publish a typo five kittens die.
I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve read On Writing by Stephen King.
I can’t believe I’ve been teaching or learning about writing for fourteen years and this is the first time I’ve read this book.
I can’t believe I’ve been wanting to know how, when, and what to write while this book has been there the whole time.
I’ve never read a Stephen King book until now. I’ve never felt any interest in his genre; I don’t like scary, suspenseful books and there was always this idea in the back of my head that he was too old for me.
Stephen King: I’m sorry. You know your stuff. Who knew?
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft answered so many questions. It validated things I’ve been thinking about and it inspired me in so many ways. I devoured this book and continually marked up the pages with notes or comments. I think at least half of the book is underlined. It would have been easier if I had just decided in the beginning to underline the parts I didn’t find important. I would have saved myself some time.
If you’re a writer. If you want to be a writer. If you teach writing. If you like to read. If you already know how to write. If you’re interested in the act of writing or you like Stephen King as a writer.
This book is for you. Also, I’m still in shock that during the four million English classes I took in college, no one mentioned this book. I am now seriously doubting the credibility of all my writing professors. Read this book.
And then write.
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED. ALSO, THIS POST IS SPONSORED BUT ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.
Recently my dog found some shit in our yard—not his, we had an overnight visitor—and during his morning bathroom break, he decided the best thing to do would be to roll around in it. And then come back in the house smelling like rancid puke and try to cuddle with everyone he loves.
We tried to call our groomer but she wasn’t in that day so we (meaning Chris) had to give him a bath in the tub. Of course, we didn’t have any dog shampoo since we pay other people to bathe our animals so we had to make a run to the store first. So Blue got to spend some time in his crate, soaking up his own stink.
When the smell was gone and replaced with calming oatmeal goodness, I posted a picture on Instagram of cute little Blue in the bath all suds up. He looked sweet and innocent and it was almost enough to make me forget about the garbage smell he spread around our house all morning.
One of my friends commented on the photo that at least it wasn’t one of the girls that found the mess in the backyard. Or my husband. It kind of made me laugh, in an evil way, to think of Chris covered in animal poop in the backyard.
And then, because my mind and God work in mysterious ways, I started thinking about all my shit. Not literally shit, but my mess, the mess that I carry around every day. And what it would be like if it was visible, how my world would change, how different people would treat me, how my relationships would change.
My shit is food. And I wore that around, visibly, for years. My shit is spending too much money, wanting too many things. My shit is a short temper, a tongue that destroys more than it builds up, and gossiping. And while we all have shit, we don’t have to wear all of it around in public. We get to pretend we’ve got it together. We can pretend other people’s problems are not our problems. Because it’s easier and less messy that way. And no one is offended by our smell because we can keep it under wraps.
If I had to tell every person I met, right after meeting them, what my shit was, I think it would change how I handled, or didn’t handle, things. I might work on it more. I might be more mindful of my words, of my attitude, or my thoughts. I’d be more ashamed of it and more eager to change.
But for the most part, I’m not.
Maybe I’m supposed to be more like my dog: wearing my shit on my sleeve, so to speak, so that it’s uncomfortable, that it makes me sick, that I long for change. Being more open and real. Vulnerable. Needy.
Things I don’t like the sound of. Things that make me uncomfortable.
I’m praying for an open heart and mind, asking to see my shit the way God does, the way he hates my sin, but loves me far more than I can ever fathom. I want to desire purity and goodness and light and cleanliness instead of being apathetic and full of excuses.
There’s my shit. What’s yours? Are you working on it?
On Saturday we ventured to the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indy for the opening of their Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons exhibit sponsored by IMI. I hadn’t been to the museum in a long time and was shocked by how amazing it is; world-class exhibits, family-friendly activities, and room after room of Indiana-related goodness. It made me all warm and fuzzy for my state.
The Ice Age exhibit focuses on all the mammoths and mastodons found in Indiana soil. I was shocked to learn that most of Indiana’s 92 counties have produced mastodon bones, including some near my hometown. We saw a recreation of a dig site, the girls tried out some bone excavation, and they got to practice their spear hunting which was nice because that’s been on our to-do list for weeks.
Outside the exhibit, a fossil festival was going on and it was a major hit. Anything hands-on will entertain my kids for hours and they would’ve spent all day here if we let them. Searching for bones in sand, fossil hunting in pebbles, putting together a giant fossil puzzle, and making cement paperweights while checking out real-life, large scale fossils were some of the activities that had them enthralled. Plus, I think they walked away with some candy; someone knows the trick to getting kids learning, bribe them with sugar.
The exhibit runs from now until August 2014 and is included with your general admission ticket. For dates and times open, visit indianamuseum.org. We had a blast and the girls were worn out by the time we were finished the Ice Age exhibit which was a bummer since there was so much more of the museum we wanted to explore. If you’re local to Indy or making a trip here soon, make sure you stop by the Indiana State Museum, you’ll be amazed.
DISCLOSURE: I was gifted admission to the museum in exchange for this post, but all opinions are my own.
(skinnies & blouse: Old Navy, booties: Kohls, necklace: Kohls)
(skirt: Kohls, shirt: Madewell, sweater: Old Navy, tights & booties: Kohls, necklace: Forever 21) [also, this is what pictures look like when it's raining. cool.]
(pants: Kohls, blouse: Old Navy, booties: Kohls)
(jeans & vest: Old Navy, chambray shirt: Kohls, booties: Kohls)
Stay warm this week; last week it was frigid in Indy, so layers were the answer. Happy Monday!
Have a reluctant reader? Have a reluctant reader that happens to be a boy?
I’ve got your answer: Harlan Coben.
Coben started out as an adult author and in the past few years made his way to young adult fiction. And I’m so happy he did. I haven’t read any of his adult books, but they’re definitely on my list. He writes such action-packed, edge-of-your-seat YA novels that I can’t imagine what his adult books are like.
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben is the second book in the Mickey Bolitar series. It picks up right where Shelter left off which is good since Shelter left so many questions unanswered. (Check out my review of Shelter here.) It drives me crazy when an author leaves me hanging and I have to wait for the next book to be written. That’s one of the pluses of reading a series after the initial popularity is over; you don’t have to wait anxiously for the next one, they’re all already written for you.
This second book jumps right into the action almost from page one. Mickey and his unlikely band of friends are once again wrapped up in things bigger than themselves and battling adults, secrets, and lies to solve mysteries. Kids will love the adult versus child storylines and the regular high school drama makes it feel current and real.
There are just enough twists in this one to keep readers on their toes and guessing. A few times when I just knew what was going to happen next, I’d read on to learn I was completely wrong. Coban knows how to keep you engaged, always guessing, and always wanting more.
Seconds Away would make a great gift, just make sure you pick up Shelter too. These high-interest novels won’t disappoint kids or adults.
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.