Friday Favorites – December is cold!

friday-favs-cold

Happy Friday! I’ve missed the past few Friday Favorites link-ups, so I feel like I have some catching up to do! I spent most of last week down in Key West (I’ll post about it soon!), which was lovely but made coming home to freezing temps really rough! Looking forward to moving back to Orlando ASAP so that when I travel, I’ll almost be returning home to awesomeness.

Let’s Friday Fav it up! (Contains affiliate links because cat food is expensive!)

1. The Target bird addiction continues. Added this guy to my collection recently:

target-bird-ornament

target-bird-ornaments

I NEED THEM ALL! 

llama-ornament

The birds are only in stores, but this awesome “Hairy Llama” guy is available online here! They also have this llama ornament, who kinda looks like a hipster llama to me.

hamilton-mixtape-way-out

2. So excited that the new Hamilton Mixtape is on Spotify now! There are a few songs I love (the one above, and the Kelly Clarkson cover of Quiet Uptown), but there are also a lot that are great but just not up to the original. It’s hard to remix perfection!

owl-pjs

3. You guys probably know by now that I’m in love with the cute “Nite Nite Munki Munki” sleepwear at Target. They came out with this SUPER cute new bird print, which I might have to treat myself to for my birthday (This weekend!) Looks like the print is only available on the long sleeved nightgown, which is kinda a bummer since I prefer pants, but it’s so cute I might go for it anyway. (They also have cute new Fa La Llama sleep pants that are super cute!)

4. I’ll write about my getaway to Key West soon, but I wanted to share a little thing there that I loved!

key-west-sidewalk-poem

We first spotted this poem embedded in the sidewalk just outside of the Key West cemetery. Over the next couple of days, we spotted two more sidewalk poems in other parts of the island. It was so fun to just be walking down a street and almost literally stumble upon a fun surprise. I just looked them up and found that there are 17 poems around Key West, all by local poets. Love it!

5. The Springfield, MO CVB recently sent me a press pass to check out some local attractions (more on that coming soon!). One place I got to check out was a bowling alley/arcade/entertainment center called Andy B’s. I’m sure I’ve driven past it a thousand times (It’s really close to the Battlefield Mall), but I’d never noticed it before! I was in Springfield solo that day, so I didn’t bowl or play laser tag, but I did have some fun in the arcade! They have some super high tech games, but I naturally gravitated towards the old school games. Was happy to see I still have some pretty impressive skee-ball skills!

skee-ball

clown-game

Throwing things at evil orange clowns with weird hair is easily the most therapeutic thing I’ve done since the election.

Traded in the tickets I earned for some fun little prizes. You know I’m a total #CatLady because I picked toys based on what the cats would want to play with.

 

They also have a restaurant with a full bar on-site, which is a huge step up from the usual beer and hot dogs you’d expect when bowling!

 

Two notes before I wrap up :

1) I’m working on an article on why hotels should work with travel bloggers. If you’d like to share your input or have a great post that you partnered with a hotel for, send ’em my way at andblueskyblog (at) gmail! Can’t guarantee I’ll include links to everyone who submits something, but I’ll do my best!

2) Don’t miss yesterday’s post filled with fun podcasts to listen to on your crazy holiday travels!

Happy weekend!

Friday blog linkup fri-favs

8 Podcasts For Your Holiday Travels

podcasts-for-travel

 

I just got back from a quick trip down to Key West (more on that soon!), and while I missed the craziest season of holiday travel, I found myself thinking a lot about all of the ways we amuse ourselves while we’re waiting around in airports, trying to survive multiple hours of no WiFi (THE HORROR!) while in flight, or even driving long stretches of unremarkable highway. I’m a podcast addict, so I thought I’d share a few of my current favs in case you need something interesting to listen to on your upcoming adventures!
 
 
rude-tudors
 
Rude Tudors is the only British history podcast you need in your life. Literary historian Liz Rodriguez and her hilarious co-host Nicole Keating take on the Renaissance with a unique spin that makes long drives fly by.  Previous episode have included important topics like old school contraception, historical hairstyles, and of course, cats.
 
 
Real Talk Radio podcast with Nicole Antoinette
 
Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette

I followed Nicole‘s blog way back in the days of 20SB when it was called More Is Better, and then when it totally changed as her life did and became Life Less Bullshit. She’s now transitioned from blogging to podcasting, and is putting out fascinating episodes Netflix series style (entire season at a time) which is perfect if you want to binge listen on a long road trip. The latest seasons included talks with a burlesque dancer, a dogsled racer, and several professional runners.
 
 
bscc
 
I’ve posted about The Babysitters Club Club in my Friday Favorites before, but here it is again! If you happened to be a young girl in the late 80s and early 90s, you’ve almost certainly read the Babysitters Club books.  The hosts of this show, Jack Shepherd and Tanner Greenring are NOT young girls, mostly because they are dudes in their 30s. Each week they read and discuss one of the books, complete with charmingly way too in-depth analysis (ahem, Jack), totally off the wall paranormal theories (Tanner), and plenty of fresh perspective on old books.

 

buffering-vampire-slayer
 
Buffering the Vampire Slayer is still pretty new (They’re just finishing up Season 1) but a must for Buffy fans. Besides just being a great podcast, hosts Jenny Owen Youngs and Kristin Russo close out each episode with an original song. AND they have a great interview with Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder from seasons 1-3).

 

Love Alexi podcast on Nerdist with Alexi Wasser

Love, Alexi
 
Alexi Wasser used to run the blog I’m Boy Crazy, but now interviews a whole range of interesting guests on her Nerdist network podcast. There’s plenty of discussion about the entertainment industry, love and relationships, and just plain living your life, feeling your feelings. Most of the interviews are close to 2 hours long, so by the end guests are really opening up about the real stuff.
 
 
opp
 
I seriously binged on One Part Podcast during my drive from FL to MO earlier this year, so it’s one of those podcasts where I get all excited about new episodes since I’m totally out of old ones. In addition to eekly longform interviews, Jessica also does a monthly “Things that freaked my week” episode where a guest shares everything they’re digging right now. She has a new cookbook called One Part Plant coming out in 2017!
 
 

Let it Out with Katie Dalebout podcast
 
Let It Out with Katie Dalebout

I received Katie’s book of journaling exercises by the same name a couple of months ago (Yes, I’ll get around to reviewing it soon!) Some of her older episodes aren’t quite my jam, but it’s gotten way better over the years a both Katie’s skills at interviewing and her overall outlook on life have evolved. You’ll want a notebook and pen handy while listening to the recent interview with Josh Radnor (HIMYM) because he drops some seriously brilliant ideas.
 

Undisclosed

Season 1 of Undisclosed was a follow-up to Season 1 of Serial, bringing together Rabia Chaudrey (Family friend of Adnan Syed who originally brought the story to Sarah Koenig for Serial. I recently reviewed her book, Adnan’s Story), as well as law professor Colin Miller and legal badass Susan Simpson. The second season dives deep into another wrongful conviction that has resulted in an innocent man behind bars for murder since shortly after high school. Great for true crime fans or those who love geeking out about the law. There’s also a weekly addendum episode hosted by Jon Cryer.

 

Do you have any favorite podcasts that didn’t make my list? Let me know about them down in the comments!

Dot-To-Dot Books For Adults – Enter To Win One in the Stocking Stuffer Giveaway Hop! (11/30 US)

 
I posted a couple of months ago about my newfound love for dot-to-dot books for adults. I feel like these are going to be the next big thing, right up there with coloring books for adults! They’re similar in that you can kind of zen out and de-stress while working on a picture, but with the dot-to-dot books, your path is laid out for you and there’s no decision making involved (Am I the only one that freaks out over picking the right colored pencil to color each part of a page with? #Perfectionist). Plus, you don’t need a bunch of different supplies to enjoy them – a fine or medium tipped pen or marker does the trick!

I can’t really pick a favorite between adult coloring books and dot-to-dot books since they’re both so fun and addictive! If you haven’t had the opportunity to try out a dot-to-dot for adults yet, read on, because I get to hook one of you awesome readers up with a free book to chill out with this holiday season, or to gift to someone on your “nice” list!
 
Dot-to-Dot books for adults
 
I received 1000 Dot-To-Dot Animals and 1000 Dot-To-Dot Cities by Thomas Pavitte from the publisher to review and share with you guys. A you can probably guess from the titles, each picture in the books has 1000 dots to connect. These books are the 5th “brand” (for lack of a better word) of dot-to-dot books for adults that I’ve tried out, so I have a few opinions about how these compare to the others.

These books definitely have the smallest dots and numbers I’ve seen so far. As an example:

dot-size
 
They do have a feature I loved, which you can see above: Each set of 100 numbers (1-100, 101-200, etc) is printed in a different color. This makes it so much easier not only to find the next dot you’re looking for, but to avoid accidentally going to say 910 when you meant to draw a line to 610.

dots-in-progress
 
Each book has 20 pictures, and a larger pull-out poster you can complete as well. The finished images are interesting and unique – definitely not the simple pictures you’d find in less complicated dot-to-dot books! In fact, with most of the images, it’s tough to tell what the final picture will be until you’re around halfway through. I like the mystery!
 
dot-to-dot-animals

(Oops, ignore that I totally *haven’t* finished the lower part of this gator guy.)

 
The paper is nice and thick, so you’re unlikely to have bleed-through with most pens or markers. Each page is perforated, so you can pull them out to share with friends, or maybe display a finished project you especially like!
 
dot-to-dot-cities
helper

I recommend enlisting a small, furry assistant to oversee your work!

 
 

Suggested Pens For Dot-To-Dot Books:

I usually use slightly larger pens for my dot-to-dot books (PaperMate Flair medium tips) but since the numbers on these are a bit smaller, I went with fine tip Inc Optimus pens. For some reason these run $7-8 per 2 pack on Amazon, but you can find them at Dollar General for $1.

dot-to-dot-pens
 
 

More 1000 Dot-To-Dots For Adults

In addition to the two books I got, there are several more by the same author. (You can click a cover below to go to each book’s Amazon page and peek inside!)


 
 

Enter To Win!

One winner will get to choose a 1000 Dot-To-Dots book of their choice from those above (The two I reviewed plus the three linked above). Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to those with a US shipping address, and will end at 11:59 pm Eastern on November 30th. All of the giveaway entries are optional, so feel free to do as many as you’d like to increase your chances of winning! You can even get a free entry for visiting this page each day. Woohoo!
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

After entering my giveaway, be sure to scroll down for links to the other blog participating in the Super Stocking Stuffer giveaway hop, hosted by The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It! There are over 100 other bloggers participating, each with a unique prize you can enter to win. Good luck!

 

 

Stocking Stuffer Giveaway Hop 2016

Show Us Your Books – November Edition

Hey.

My plan was to finish this post up yesterday to get it up on Show Us Your Books Day, but instead after voting I came home and took a 2 hour stress nap, then watched the results unfold until the bitter end. I haven’ slept. Guessing most of you haven’t, either. Lots of love with everyone struggling to figure out how to face not only today, but the foreseeable future.

So I never did finish writing about all the books I read this month, but I’ll go head and share the two I did get around to reviewing. After you check out what I read this month and then head over to Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other awesome bloggers have been reading, and fill your to-read list with all kinds of goodness. Then go out and hug someone who is really hurting to day.

Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman

Amazon * Goodreads

This book will be released in January, 2017. Got my advance review copy courtesy of the awesome folks at Netgalley.

I’ve followed the UfYH Tumblr for years. It’s not a daily read, but it’s great to open when you need some inspiration to get things done, kinda like turning on a Hoarders marathon. A lot of the book’s contents can be found on the website, if you have the patience to dig through like 5 years worth of posts. The book version is great if you’d prefer all of the suggestions and motivation in one place, though.

One thing I love about the UfYH book is that the author takes into account situations that most organizing or cleaning blogs or books don’t consider – things like living with roommates, dealing with mental or physical illnesses that make cleaning tough, or living in just one room of your parents’ house. She even includes an easy to follow guide for those times that you need to do a last minute emergency clean-up before something like an apartment inspection or important visitors. It’s the perfect hand-holding guide if you often find yourself overwhelmed and just not sure where to start.

If you’ve already got a pretty good handle on keeping your house looking great, you probably don’t need this book. But if you’re like me and often get so wrapped up in work and life that you often look up and notice that things have gotten out of control without you even noticing, or if you simply didn’t grow up in a home where you learned how to clean and maintain your space and you could use a breakdown of the basics, it’s definitely a handy guide.

gala-self-love

Radical Self Love

Goodreads

I liked Gala’s blog back in its early years (I think I read around 2008 or 2009?) but I eventually stopped reading because that thing happened where a blogger gets popular and their whole writing/posting style changes (Rarely for the better) and they become something of a caricature of themselves. I’m always curious about books by bloggers, though, so I requested this one from Netgalley when I saw it was available there.

It’s strange… Gala is clearly a creative, bright woman, so why is 75% of her book totally generic self help stuff? It’s 2016… who is NOT familiar with the concepts of affirmations and getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in the past year? Disappointing, especially since she seems to lead an unconventional life and so I’d expect her to have some more interesting advice, or at least fresh takes on the old standards. It felt more like a collection of “here are all of the points you should talk about when it comes to self help” than “here’s my unique take on life and happiness”.

Even with so much generic padding, the book did have a few bright moments, and I did get feel a little motivated to do things just from reading.

Unfortunately, it seemed like every time I’d be impressed by an interesting idea or suggestion, weird word choice or awkward phrasing would break the spell and bring me back down. For example, there are several instances n the  book that begin with “It may sound silly, but…” followed by something totally mundane. (The example I highlighted was “It may sound funny, but when it comes to shaking hands, a firm grip is very important.” ) Also a lot of instances where word choice came off like an old person trying to sound cool, or as just trying too hard to be creative and just coming off awkward instead.

An example: “It’s pretty common to believe that we’re just going to end up like our parents, but once you get hip to the fact that you can create your own life, those thoughts become as dated as disco!”

There are also countless prompts to visit her website to get additional info/tips from a companion guide. Why not put those things in the book? It comes across as desperately seeking pageviews (or probably newsletter sign-ups…  never visited the page). She also gives the URL to her blog page about tapping (EFT) at least a dozen times. Her “solve everything by tapping” philosophy is also a little worrisome. It’s great if it truly worked for her, but given that she claims it cured her eating disorder overnight, it seems like she’s bordering on giving unqualified “medical” advice. I was also amused that she said she first heard about it in 2006 when she claims it was “very fringe”. If I was introduced to it in early 2007 in middle of nowhere Missouri, it can’t have been THAT fringe. And although she claims in the book that she doesn’t know anyone it hasn’t worked for, I know I saw no results from it. Anyway, it worries me that a lot of younger girls will probably read this book and then wonder why their body issues or depression or other problems they should be seeking real help for aren’t being immediately cured by tapping on their head.  Recommending it as a way to work through problems is fine, but praising it as the magical cure to any issue really is not.

Since pretty much everything in the book is either common knowledge or covered on her blog, I feel like it would been so much better if she’d written a book about something like using your uniqueness to grow an online following/presence, since she’s definitely been successful at that.

I saw a Goodreads review that said, “It’s fun to read in a Cosmo Magazine kind of way.” and I feel like that hits the nail on the head. Entertaining, but take the advice with a grain of salt and don’t expect anything too deep.

Friday Favorites – Voting Is My Favorite!

Happy November! YOU GUYS. In 100 hours from the time I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, election results are going to be starting to roll in!! CAN NOT WAIT!!

Here are this week’s favs:

1. Look, I hate when stores roll out Christmas stuff before Halloween is even over as much as everyone else, BUT I got these guys at Target for $3 each this week, so…

target-christmas-ornaments

They have SO MANY cute ornaments this year! Could have easily spent a billion dollars.

2. I’ve started a new thing where I scroll through all of the photos I took that day when I’m in bed at night (before reading) and deleting the unnecessary one. It takes like two minutes but it’s made SUCH a big difference in the crazy hoarder-like number of photos that usually amass over the course of a few weeks! Highly suggested.

sugar-cookie-pop-tarts

3. My favorite seasonal pop tarts are back! I don’t want to know what it says about me that I have a favorite seasonal pop tart.

4. I moved my blog to a new host this week (After Blue Host tried to auto-charge me like $170 for the next year when I was on a $5/mo plan. LOLNOPE) and it went so smoothly! I’ve used Total Choice Hosting for my old blog since like 2004, so I switched this site to them and THEY MOVED EVERYTHING FOR ME. Freaking heroes. I love stuff that is $4/month and involves zero work on my part!!

pumpkin-spice

5. OMG. Got my 2nd Graze box (I’ll review soon!) and these pumpkin spice bars are MAGICAL. Feel free to use my link to get a free Graze box of healthy snacks – you can go into the “our food” section of the site and bump up your rating of the pumpkin spice flapjacks to increase your chances of getting them!

 

I don’t know about you guys, but I SERIOUSLY need some outdoorsy time this weekend! (I think I’ve said that every Friday for the past month. Oops. Y’all have my permission to call me out if I don’t go do something fun to take advantage of the gorgeous weather this weekend.)

GO VOTE this Tuesday if you haven’t already! Preferably for the awesome candidate, but whatevs, just make sure your voice is heard!

Friday blog linkup fri-favs