Archive for ‘Photoblog’

2017, January 6

My 2016 in books

In 2016, I challenged myself to read 20 books and made it to 23 instead. I have to admit, that includes both reading for fun and for work, but hey, at least sometimes I’m getting paid to read so I won’t complain!

At the end of 2015, I won an Amazon gift card at work, and promptly ordered a few books for myself, which my dear friend from London was so kind to bring with her when she visited her grandmother so I could make use of Amazon stores “free shipping in the UK” policies. I have to say, I haven’t finished reading half of those titles, but I am very happy to have them close by.

my-year-2016-in-books

I read in several genres, from murder mystery, romance, young adult, to poetry, recipes, instructional books, and even fairy tales and a comic book.

One book that I regret not finishing this year is the DOODLE ART HANDBOOK: The Non-Artist’s Guide in Creative Drawing by Lana Karr, Olga Dee,  especially because I would’ve liked to doodle more, and this book is wonderful for someone just starting out in that department.

The total page count only comes to 3521, with the longest book being The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press at 1026 pages.

My favorite reads of 2016 are actually series rather than single books this time around:

  • Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski – In June, I took part in Janel Gradowski’s book launch tour, and for this occasion I re-read the novels I finished before, and read the ones I haven’t from her culinary competition mystery book series.
    When I finished reading Banana Muffins & Mayhem, the fifth novel, I came to the conclusion that it was my favorite of the series. As much as I love the main character, Amy, I really loved getting a different POV from her best friend Carla in this novel. Reading the book coincided with a pretty complicated year in my life, and especially some of the advice given to Amy regarding life and family I have taken as my own silver lighting and put my worries aside for now.
  • These Are the Moments, by Jenny Bravo – I have to say, I fell in love with Jenny Bravo’s writing style! She writes with such ease, yet conveys such raw, complicated and powerful emotions through her characters, that I was drawn in from the very first sentence of each book.
    Although I loved every single one of the books, These Are the Moments was my favorite of the series so far. As the book’s description befittingly states, this young adult and new adult fiction novel dares to ask the questions: Do people ever really change? Do two people, who can never make it work, actually make it right? And most importantly, do they even want to?
    I actually read the Those Were the Days: A TATM Short Story (in a heartbeat!) first, which was free on Kindle (Amazon), and immediately bought the novel and also the novella Moments Like These: A TATM novella. I look forward to reading the newest novel in the series which I bought right after it was published in December, That Was the Year, and already can’t wait for the third novel!

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

2016-in-books

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2016 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

Since I would’ve liked to read even more last year but did end up surpassing my goal, I decided to challenge myself to read 25 books in 2017. That was my goal in 2013, too, and just like that year, I totally plan to update this with higher numbers over the course of the year!
I am already ahead of schedule with a book I finished reading on January 2nd ;)

Here’s to a great 2017, filled with lots of reading!

2016, December 30

Six reasons to smile in December

This month, I couldn’t help but notice a trend: Winter weather has definitely settled in to stay in this little corner of the world, ever since mid-October actually when the weather changed drastically, and many of the things which made me smile every day are off of my Cozy List for Sweater Weather. And then there was Christmas, too, and being off from work, getting the chance to finally rest for a bit sure made it easier to smile.

I wonder if I should continue posting these six reasons to smile blog posts next year as well? They were fun to write up and share the pics, yet I’m not sure if I want to continue…

Here are the reasons I smiled in December:

six-reasons-december

Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2016, December 9

What do You gift writers?

2016 is nearly over and I’d like to thank every single one of my readers for making it such an amazing one, and my bloggy friends who have filled it with so much awesome blogging, flash fiction, poems and even essays to read, each week!

Here’s wishing you all an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

tea-book-gift

As for my blog post’s title? I wrote this back in 2011 for FFDO, but wanted to share here on my own blog now since that website closed.

This is the season of gift giving, and more often than not, we end up with gifts we like, but which aren’t too related to our field. When I give a gift I like to really think about what the person would enjoy and use. Shopping for writers is rather easy, in my opinion, as we all have access to the basics.

While I do not personally have the one formula you could use to determine what each of your fellow scribbler and avid reader family members or friends would like to receive, I have put together a short list of things which could tickle their fancy.

  1. Gift baskets. I know what you’re thinking. Gift baskets come in all shapes and sizes, but not one shop or website carries one named “Writer’s gift basket”; right? They don’t, or at least not the ones I looked through around here as research for this article. So why did I include this here? Because, you can make it yourself!
    Grab a pretty basket and fill it up with: pens and pencils, pencil cases, bookmarks, journals, stapler & staples, ink (either for a pen or for a printer), notepads, erasers, post-it notes in any or all shapes and sizes, stationery, note books (maybe something fancier, like a leather note book), day planners, diaries, bookplates, writing-themed magnets (magnetic scrabble fridge tiles), a book light, memory sticks, and chocolate. Every writer loves chocolate.
  2. Books. Kind of obvious, yes. But every writer I know has a never-ending wishlist. Many have books on the craft of writing, technical books, collections of writing prompts or all those wonderful novels and poetry out there which they would love to own, yet simply can’t afford or feel that they shouldn’t indulge.
    See if they are willing to share the wishlist (or they might have one online on Goodreads, Amazon, or BookDepository so you can check it without them even suspecting what you are up to).
  3. I’d like to include Literary Magazines, either Single issues or Subscriptions under this category, too. This is a luxury most poetry or short story writers would appreciate as it’s always nice to hold a magazine in hand while reading rather than the average e-mail subscriptions.
  4. Amazon Prime might be a good idea as well. I think if there weren’t the added benefits like free same-day or two-day delivery, unlimited streaming for movies and series, hundreds of playlists and unlimited photo storage, the single reason a writer would choose Amazon Prime is: borrowing one book per month with no due date from the collection of over 800,000 books of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library!
  5. Other Software or Updates. In this very tech-y day an age, most writers use a laptop for writing, on a daily basis. The key software for these writers is a word-processing software. Most PC users use Microsoft Office-based Word, however there are other ones out there as well, like Scrivener or White Smoke.
    If you’re feeling fancy, ask if they’d like to switch from their free blogging platform to their own self-hosted domain. They’re not as expensive as eight years ago when I first started blogging.
  6. An editor. Let me rephrase that since editors might not let you tie a pretty red bow around their neck and agree to sit pretty under the Christmas tree: An editing session. Are the writers in your life in need of a second opinion? Are they letting their masterpiece collect dust on a shelf, or putting off writing/sending out query letters because it needs more editing? An editing session could help them out big time.
  7. A creative writing class, workshops or conferences. Either in “real-life” or online, many writers would like to further perfect their craft. Have they got fear of writing, issues with time management, or are in need of fresh creative energy to move out of a rut? There are several websites you can check out, and in case you can not decide on your own, include the writer in the decision making process. They are the ones who best know what they need.
  8. Customized items. Great for stocking fillers. In this area of gifts, there are many things you can customize, like jewelry: cufflinks, pins and badges, pendants, bracelets engraved with their favorite (short) quote, earrings;
    clothing: T-shirst, neck ties, hats, scarves;
    and even kitchen items: mugs, serving trays, bowls, wine bottles, etc. And you can never go wrong with writing-themed Christmas tree ornaments!
  9. High end pens. Quill pens, fountain pens, ballpoint pens. These are good choices for every writer of course, but especially for pen-enthusiasts.
  10. Book ends. They seem underrated, but I think they are worth keeping in mind because they not only keep books from falling off not-yet-filled-up shelves, they allow for building a bookshelf anywhere – on a windowsill, a desk, etc. They also come in all shapes and sizes and are customisable to your writer’s dreams.
  11. Time to write. This can be as simple as arranging play-dates, taking the kids to a movie one day per week, going to visit the grandparents without your spouse on a weekend, taking over some of the chores or cooking dinner yourself so your writer will have a bit of time to themselves, to clear their head from the everyday worries and write without interruptions.
  12. A place to write. If you are in the mood to make over a room in your house, how about giving your writer a cozy space to read and write in? A door to shut would be ideal, but even simply rearranging a shared space to make room for a bookshelf, a comfy chair, or a desk will go a long way. Build them a book lover’s Christmas Tree!
  13. A writer’s retreat or travel for research. If you can afford it, check out a few places close by and send your writer on a short writing retreat. Or if they have a trip coming up, offer to extend it by a few days. Send them on a short trip for research, if for example, they are city-bound yet writing about a beach setting.
    A weekend away from a noisy house, in a cute little bed and breakfast is guaranteed to make their year!

How about you? Would you be happy to receive any of the above listed? How do you shop for the writers (and readers) in your life? Any ideas I could steal?

~~~

As a disclaimer, the above listed are things I use and love, or I would love to receive.

I have personally worked with Karen Schindler in the past, and she has edited my work in such a way that she kept my voice throughout the stories; sometimes sending them back with edits that I didn’t even notice at first were not my own writing. I highly recommend Karen’s services.

In April 2012, I took Milli Thornton’s Ace Your 10K Day online class. She has several classes to choose from, her insight for the issues I had were more than helpful as they were easily applicable; and overall, Milli was a pleasure to work with.

If you’re crafty, a while back I made myself some classy handmade bookmarks, and cute corner bookmarksa writer’s clock, pretty calligraphy ornaments and a travelogue and built a Booklover’s Christmas Tree! With a little imagination, they can easily be transformed to your own needs and even crafted with your children to gift to the writer in their life.

Happy gift giving!

2016, November 25

Six reasons to smile in November

I took part in Positively Present’s 2016 Gratitude Photo Challenge this month. You may recall I took part in the November 2011 one, carried my camera with me for the month of November and it inspired my very own, year-long photo challenge.

Go check out my Instagram or Facebook feed to see all the photos I posted this month. There are still a few days to go, but even so far it is a lot of fun, and it was hard to choose six that I love most. So, one of them is a collage of four as a small bonus.

I am so thankful for being able to take pictures and enjoy my surroundings. I need to be more present in the moment.

Here are the reasons I smiled in November:

six-reasons-november

Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2016, November 4

Fall in a jar

So, last year around Halloween, I bought some pasta. But not just any kind of pasta, Halloween-themed pasta! It is in three different colors and they’re shaped like pumpkins, spiders and bats. So very cute!

I’ve only tried cooking them once, and albeit still cute after done, they are so awful-tasting I had to throw them away.
I kept the left over pasta in the bag though, figuring I might try to use it for some kind of DIY project. And that day has come!

It’s a bit difficult to decorate the apartment with a way-too-curious and mischievous kitty underfoot, so for Christmas two years ago, I made a jar ornament (I’ll write about that one in December.) And it was perfect – no kitty attack whatsoever!
Two days ago, I remembered that little DIY project when rescuing the chestnut and acorn bowl from falling off the shelf due to curious paws, and decided to try the same for a fall-themed decoration. Here’s how I did it.

fall-in-a-jar page-fall-in-a-jar

Fall in a jar

jar with a lid, to your liking in size
Halloween-themed pasta
chestnuts
acorns
tea candle
crafting paper

Wash your jar out well, and remove any labels from its side. Mine was a huge pickle jar which I wrapped in a wet towel to soften the labels, then ran it under the tap and used a kitchen brush to rub the labels and adhesive off.
Let it dry thoroughly.

Add the pasta as a first layer, then place the chestnuts and acorns on top. Place the tea candle in the middle. I love that you can even burn the candle if you want, and then put it out by screwing the lid on.

Screw on the jar’s lid.
Mine wasn’t a single color, so I cut out and glued on a round piece of crafting paper to cover up the pickle brand’s name on the jar lid. It just so happens that it’s a Halloween poem, so it adds even more to the Fall feel of the decoration.

Place your jar on a side table or where ever you like, and enjoy the Fall decor.

PS: of course, you can skip adding pasta or any of the above mentioned and use what ever Fall things you have laying around. The possibilities are endless.

Happy crafting ;)

2016, October 28

Six reasons to smile in October

At the beginning of the month, my boyfriend and I took a little one day trip to Jibou, where we had the most lovely walk in its Botanical Garden. I never knew it existed until a friend of my mom’s told us about it. The place is really beautiful, and our day together came very close to perfection.

During the enigmatic and spooky team building I took with my firm last week in the mountains at over 1100 meters altitude, we stayed at Hotel Castel Dracula. It was a nice weekend, even nicer for the people who love partying. But the view did bring smiles to my face and I was happy that it stopped raining just enough for a one hour walk to take it all in.

Here are the reasons I smiled in October:

page-six-reasons-october

Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2016, September 23

Six reasons to smile in September

This month, I have signed up for George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, so I am posting this one week early. I know you won’t mind, once you see the pictures I’ll share ;)

Nearly every morning, I get one of these beautiful lattes, prepared by the boyfriend after he wakes me up. I love sitting on the balcony with him while drinking it.
For the birthday of a colleague at work, I decided to get a bit creative and place the money we raised in a jar filled with M&Ms – he loved it!
Pixel was all sorts of cute this past month – like always – and delighted me with a bunch of new poses.

I was walking on Eroilor Street one afternoon and saw an arrows-advertisement for WalkingMonth, which I found interesting. Teams of four people compete against each other to take as many steps as they can during September 12 – October 11, and the funds raised through registration will be donated to the children with neuromotor disabilities cared for by the Malteser Relief Service in Romania.
I would’ve loved to participate, if I hadn’t already (very bravely!) signed up for The Companies Cross, where you can run either as individuals or in teams, in a fun race of 6 km! My colleagues and I have formed teams and have trained for the run in Central Park every week this month, and honestly I can’t wait to see myself crossing that finish line on Sunday. Like my colleague also said, the benefits of doing sports are life changing: helps us clear our minds, makes us more productive, keeps us focused and in good shape. Definitely a nice little nudge to continue my new-found exercise routine! I only wish I could run during winter as well, without having to go to the gym, which I hate the thought of…

One evening when I was visiting my mom, I really felt like turning on the lamp my godfather made when he was young. I just needed a moment of quiet.
And one day after my afternoon run, I came across a really pretty sunflower. Just the one. In the middle of a grass patch. I loved it!

Here are the reasons I smiled in September:

page-reasons-to-smile-in-september

Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

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