Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Friday, August 5, 2016

Book Review: The Golden Braid

Melanie Dickerson is another new author for me and though I have seen her around in the book catalogs I’ve never picked up any of her books until now. The Golden Braid is a retelling of the Rapunzel story and this book has an amazing and striking cover showcasing the heroine in vibrant rich colors! I was immediately drawn to it! Reading up on this book a little I also learned that it is a young adult (YA) story, it’s been a while since I reviewed one of those- and since the last YA I reviewed was set in this time period  I was eager to dig into this one and see how they compared.

The Rapunzel story has been told and retold many times but this retelling has been very thoughtfully and carefully told. In short an evil mother keeps her daughter locked away in a tower where no one will ever see her great beauty or hear her beautiful voice. She is rescued by a handsome prince who breaches her prison by climbing her long hair. In this story there are great twists on the story from beginning to end! The story begins long before Rapunzel is locked in the tower- Rapunzel is eager to learn how to read and has dreams for her future, her mother is legit paranoid insane, and the prince turns out to be a grumpy but handsome knight! The extra twist on Rapunzel’s story is a great one that I don’t want to spoil but I will say I was pleased with it and it set things up for a really cool and satisfying ending!

In the beginning part of this book things sometimes seemed to be repetitious with facts gone over again and again but I don’t know if a teen reader would necessarily notice that and as the book progresses it does get better and begins bringing in new details and storylines. I really liked how there were several morals that were woven throughout the story including that of healthy relationships between both parent and child and between guys and girls. Sir Gerek was a true hero who demonstrated his dedication to his vows and acted honorably towards Rapunzel. There is a romantic element to the story, and yes, even some kissing and unchaperoned travel but through it all nothing felt it was ‘off’ or inappropriate to the characters and their ages (Rapunzel is 19 and Sir Gerek 23). This was something that was really nice to see in a YA book and I was pleased that the author balanced romance and purity well. Other themes were forgiveness, patience, and timing, and these were all well woven through the story and never felt like the reader was being bombarded with a religious or moral message.

As a side note, some retellings of Rapunzel have been questionable to me as they have presented a picture of joyful consequence free teenage rebellion but I didn’t feel this was the case in this book. This Rapunzel is a young woman of legal age and she only leaves her mother’s side when her mother’s madness takes a turn from bad to worse and Rapunzel’s safety is threatened. I felt it marked an appropriate time for her to move on and taught the reader about taking the right kind of actions for personal safety.

In the end, The Golden Braid was a great novel and I enjoyed it as much as I think a YA reader would! I would recommend it to any of the teen girls that I know!

Final Rating: 4.5

I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Happy Planning for a Happy Girl

Well ladies a few days ago I re-posted an article on Facebook that was giving a few short points about why to buy a Happy Planner. It got some interest and I had already been thinking about doing a review of it on the blog here so a few snapshots later here we are! Prepare yourselves for a flood of love for my favorite planner!

Welcome to the Happy Planner!

What is a Happy Planner you say? 

Well the Happy Planner is the relatively new planner (two years old, I think) put out by MAMBI, or if you were a scrapbooker back in the day, you might recognise them more readily as Me & My Big Ideas.  

Front and back of the planner
This is what the front and back of the planner look like. The cover is very sturdy and is laminated. The Happy Planner comes in many different styles and it's a lot of fun to head over to their website and check out each of them. MAMBI has done a great job of letting you get a thorough look through with a short video of each design!
The Happy Planner operates off of the disk-bound binding system. Each sheet of paper that goes into the planner is punched with a notch and easily pops on to the disk ring. At first I was really unsure about how this system would work and was worried that I would be loosing pages or that things wouldn't stay together but that hasn't been the case- every thing has stayed neatly in the binding without any problems- a delightful surprise! Let me tell you why: CUSTOMIZATION! With no 'permanent' binding each page goes in and comes out as you wish it. There are three reasons why this is a good thing.
  1. Want to put in a sheet of notepaper or a list to write groceries on in it goes! 
  2. Want to take out your pages- to write on them, decorate them, or just move stuff around- you can! And it's not a hassle either. 
  3. Goodies. Accessories. Every variety of happiness that you can think of can be added in- but I'll get to that in a minute! :)   
Inside cover and added front folder
When you open the cover This is the inside page where you can add your contact info in case your planner should wander off without you. You will notice also that on the left is a pocket. That is one of our goodies and is an add in. The pockets are very sturdy and come in a multi-pack so you have several designs to choose from and can use multiple pockets if you want. In my planner I have one in the front and one in the back. The pockets are big enough to hold a half sheet of printer paper so I have easily stashed handouts, flyers, and class notes in these guys without a problem!

Monthly laminated-tabbed dividers 
Here's a quick look at the monthly dividers. Each Happy Planner has a different design theme on the inside. The planner I chose last year has a very graphic style topography that I love.  

Getting it Down

Monthly planning layout
Ok now here's where we start getting down to the nitty gritty of the actual planning. At  the end of every month there is this monthly review sheet. Happy planners have two different styles for this page and this is my favorite version. This is where as the month goes on I start prepping for the next month. There is spots for birthday's, goals, and for all the important stuff that I always forget. :) Overall I kinda use this spot for setting all my big vision goals for the month and it gives me a single spot to go to and check when I need to see what my month looks like.

The month view with side notes section
When you flip over into your month you have this great layout of a full month view. The boxes in this are roughly 1 1/2 inch square so you have lots of room to write! There is also a sidebar for notes.

The week view with side notes section
Okay, not here is probably my favorite part of the Happy Planner- BOXES. I love boxes. Usually it's a bad thing to be 'inside the box' but when it comes to planning it is a very good thing! This is what makes my head happy and my mind at rest because this is where clarity and ease of use come in. Each day is divided into morning/afternoon/evening sections so I can section off my day and know even if I don't accomplish certain tasks as certain hours that IT'S OKAY and I just need to do it within the block of time. This vertical style is a mental lifesaver for me. The HP is also now in a horizontal style layout so if you aren't a box girl they've got you covered too!  

NOW, something that you will start to notice here is that there are a lot of colors on that page! 

So I have a confession:

I am a colored pen junkie. 

I like them for a lot of reasons (one of which is that it helps me to like my handwriting) but in this context I like them because I am able to color code. At the beginning of the year I got me a stash of Paper-Mate Flair pens (which don't bleed through the pages) and assigned each area of my life/responsibility/job a different color so I could see different events from each other and to also see where I was spending/not spending my time. 

You may call this super over-organized. I prefer to think I'm super cool. ;)   

Puttin' on the Glitz

My entire 'planner stash'. It all fits into one small cookie tin and one small pen holder. 

As soon as you begin to look up planners online one of the main things that you will encounter is how to decorate your planner. Everybody has a style, and there are an endless list of opinions as to how to decorate. A lot of people choose to cover their boxes in the week view with stickers and/or scrapbooking paper. To be frank, I'm really not into this style as I feel it makes the whole planner unuseable. 
I am not, however, opposed to decoration in moderation! I love using MAMBI's quote sticker packs to add an inspirational note to the beginning of my week layout; or an extra motivational punch to special days! You can also utilize washi tape in doing simple border designs, and blocking off special days or events.

One of my favorite add-ons for the planner are the snap-in tabs. These tabs are a sturdy plastic punched to fit into the rings of the planner and have a strip of adhesive along one side. This means that you can add in anything and everything you want to personalize your planner! In the picture I have attached it to a strip of HP sticky notes so I can keep them close at hand when I need to add a little reminder in somewhere! With these tabs you can add everything from a card with a Bible verse or quote, to a picture, to the ticket stubs from last week's special event with your family. Anything is possible! 

There are a lot of reasons that we buy a planner. 

We want to stay on track and organized with our time, we want to look forward to the future, we want to remember the past and look back on it in pleasure. I have a stack of old planners in my room, basic black, simple, flat, uninteresting, unremarkable. They indeed hold the details of my past days and show the kind of life that I have lived in starkly printed lines. The thing is that my life isn't stark, or routine, or basic. My life is vivid and full of action, color, and design! For me the Happy Planner reflects the creative part of me and how I want to remember both myself and my days. The Happy Planner helps me to grab hold of my days and plan them to the fullest- and that makes me one happy girl! 

Clockwise from top left: Martha Stewart Home Office note pad, HP magnetic bookmarks, homemade bookmark listing how I divide my color coding, weekly inspirational sticker on my weekly view. 

Where to Purchase

  • Many Sam's and Cosco's are now carrying bundled kits! Check your local store! 

Book Review: Restore My Soul

With today being National Coloring Book Day I thought it was time to get this review up!

Well unless you have been living the life of a hermit I'm sure you have noticed that in the last two years the coloring book craze has majorly taken off! Books of every size and description are available everywhere from the supermarket check-out aisle, to the local craft store, and are seen in spades at the big box bookstores.

It's a craze that I don't think is going anywhere any time soon- and I think that's great news!

I have always been a fan of crafting for relaxation and coloring books for adults provide a great outlet for you to unwind and destress without needing a lot of fuss and muss.

Restore My Soul by Ann-Margret Hovsepian is the newest addition to the world of inspirational coloring and is a lovely one at that! This 10x10 inch book boasts about 80 pages of coloring delights. The unique thing about this book is that it's not just a coloring book but it's one that is paired with devotionals too! For every coloring page there is a devotional page opposite it for meditation and reflection.

The devotionals in this book are really nice with a verse at the beginning and a passage that you can read in a few minutes to give you a little bit to think about for the day.
The illustrations in this book are really nice too and have lots of different styles of drawing, enough to keep you busy picking and choosing for a while!

w/colored pencil 

w/colored pencil

w/Distress Crayons

w/Distress Crayons- after watercoloring 

For me I really like designs that have lots of open room like the above 'Celebrate Today' page or the 'Fruit of the Spirit' page and I had fun coloring those because I could finish a page in a reasonable amount of time. Many of the other pages though are much more detailed and even after spending hours on them I still have never finished them. Detailed pages aren't necessarily a bad thing, the problem with them for me was that continually coming back to the same devotional reading and that frustrated me. I think it would be better to have illustrations that were easier to accomplish in a shorter amount of time.

Overall I thought this was a good Christian coloring book and I feel like many people would enjoy working through it!

Final Rating: 4

I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.