Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Online Guitar Lessons—Affordable & Convenient Lessons with Fender Play

Thank you Fender for sponsoring this post. Learn guitar at home with Fender Play.


A couple years ago, my teenage daughter Bria decided that she wanted to learn the guitar. She saved up her money and purchased a shiny black Fender acoustic guitar and was SO excited to get started with learning to play it. (Just look how thrilled she was the day it arrived at our house!)

Learn to play the acoustic guitar online with Fender Play's online guitar lessons


But we had a slight problem—we didn't have either the time or the money to put her in guitar lessons. Bria is a violinist and we already pay a significant amount for her private violin lessons. She is already practicing violin daily, plus doing all of the things that a normal teenager does. Homework, school, friends, running cross-country—all of it takes time, and while I was totally on board with her learning how to play the guitar, I didn't know how we would fit in formal lessons.

Bria turned to YouTube and was able to pick up quite a bit that way. But learning via YouTube was still sometimes a frustrating process for her, even though she is an accomplished musician. Lessons aren't really organized and she soon stopped. She would play her guitar often enough, but she went more than a year without really learning anything new.

If you are looking for an affordable option for taking online guitar lessons, check out Fender Play. It is an extensive, customized, convenient, and affordable way to learn to play the guitar!


Enter Fender Play, a subscription service for online guitar lessons. Bria was recently given the opportunity to try this new service out and she was over the moon happy about it. She was especially glad to finally have a structured lesson program that teaches you in a step-by-step manner. It keeps track of your progress and allows you to learn at your own pace, and it has a library of tons of familiar songs to learn, no matter what your level of playing is.


What Bria loves about Fender Play:

She can use Fender Play when she has time and go at her own pace.


As a busy teenager who loves music and really wants to be more proficient at the guitar, sometimes your chemistry class has to take priority. It's nice to know that Fender Play will be waiting for you to pick up right where you left off after exam week or summer camp.

She also really likes that it is completely self-paced. You can skip things you already know, go over more difficult techniques as many times as you need to, and learn things as slowly or quickly as you are able to.

Fender Play is an affordable and convenient option for learning to play the guitar.


The extensive song library on Fender Play.


There are hundreds of her favorite rock songs on Fender Play. You can search for any song you'd like to learn and the videos will break the riffs down to the most basic parts so you can learn them. You do have to learn a few basic techniques before you will be able to learn any songs, but she likes that, too! It ensures that you are learning things correctly.

She loves that there are many different genres to choose from (rock, blues, country, folk, and pop) and that you can also choose an acoustic or electric path. Since she already had an acoustic guitar, Fender sent her a beautiful Stratocaster electric guitar, so she has been learning on the electric guitar path for now.

The split-screen videos on Fender Play.


Fender Play's split screen technology makes it easier to learn to play the guitar online.

When you're learning guitar, there are a lot of things to be thinking about. Bria really appreciated the split-screens so she could see the fingerings up close as well as the strumming patterns. Many of the videos also feature an over-the-shoulder angle which makes it even easier to understand the fingerings for the chords.

You can access Fender Play on your phone or your computer.


While it's certainly a bit easier to do on her laptop, it's nice that there is also an app that can be used on your phone if for some reason you don't have access to a larger screen. The greatest thing is that you can really learn the guitar anywhere—wherever is convenient for you. The Fender Play interface is extremely easy to navigate which makes Bria much more likely to want to sit down and use it.

Sit outside on a nice summer day and learn to play the guitar with Fender Play's online guitar lessons.


What I love about Fender Play:

Fender Play is an affordable alternative to in person guitar lessons


The Fender Play subscription is only $20.00 a month. I pay ten times that amount monthly for her violin lessons, so to me that seems like a pretty incredible deal! With all that it includes, it really is a great bang for your buck, if online guitar lessons are the best option for you.

You can do a 30-day free trial to see if you love it just as much as Bria does. Go to Fender Play and click on the free trial link at the top of your screen.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.




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Thursday, August 03, 2017

4 Tips to Make Packing School Lunch Easy

I'm not gonna lie, packing lunches is the worst part of the school year for me. I can deal with the homework and the busy schedules, but for some reason I just dread packing lunches for my kids. It's just such a chore to make sure they are healthy and balanced and that they are something my kids will actually want to eat.

Over the last 13 years—yes, my eldest is going to be a senior this year and no, I definitely don't want to talk about it—I have learned a few great tips and tricks for making the whole lunch packing thing easy.

In fact, I've learned how to make it so easy that my youngest has been mostly packing her own lunches since first grade.

Following are the products that I use and all the tips I've got up my sleeve after doing this for so many years. I hope they help make packing school lunch easy for you, too!

**Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for the chance to download 7 back-to-school printables to help you be more organized this school year!**

Make it easy for your kids to pack HEALTHY LUNCHES this school year! These tips and tricks will keep you more ORGANIZED and packing lunches will not be something to dread anymore!

Back-to School Lunchbox Tips & Tricks


1. Use products that will help make eating lunch both easy and fun for your kids


For younger kids especially, this makes a huge difference. Buy them a lunchbox that they love, and then use containers and other accessories that will make it easy to pack their lunch and fun to eat.

Some of the things that we use often in our home:

(affiliate links)

Neoprene Lunchboxes—While we have used many different types of lunchboxes, I have found that we like the neoprene style best for cleaning.  This one and this one are both cute for girls, and I think boys would probably like one like this or this Batman one.

Nike Lunchboxes—Yes, I know I just said I like the neoprene ones best, but my teenagers think they are a little embarrassing. So, once they were out of elementary school, they started choosing more non-descript lunchboxes, and once Chloe found the Nike lunchbox, she fell in love.

Bubba Water Bottle—This has been our favorite water bottle the past couple years.

Compartmented lunch containers—I love these things. It makes it much easier for the kids to take leftovers and other healthier options in their lunchboxes. If you're super ambitious, you can certainly do the bento style lunches in these, too. (I'm not that ambitious.)

Small Thermos containers—These are perfect for soup or other warm foods. My kids do have access to a microwave at school, but it's nice to not have to worry about it and know that they have warm food in their lunchboxes. I really like these Foogoo style thermoses and these inexpensive ones also work remarkably well.

Mini containers—I like using these smaller containers for things like nuts, canned fruit (rather than buying the fruit cups), olives, trail mix, dried fruit, and so forth. I've collected a million different types of small containers over the years, but I really like these ones because they are nestable and much easier to store.

Sandwich cutters—My kids have largely grown out of these, but they loved them when they were younger. It's so much fun to open up your sandwich and find out you have dinosaurs or hearts or some other fun shape instead of a boring old sandwich!

Sandwich containers—And speaking of sandwiches, while there is a nice space for a sandwich in the compartmented containers I listed above, it is also nice to have separate sandwich containers. I'm not a fan of using plastic baggies for everything, so I like having it all in these types of containers. I like these colorful ones, or you could get really fancy with this kind.

All of these things are used regularly at my house. I have purchased other little fun things like these bento boiled egg molds, but mostly we stick to fun (and practical) containers and that does the trick.

2. Keep all your lunch supplies in one place


We keep lunchboxes, water bottles, and all lunch containers and lids in one cabinet. While I admit that it gets pretty messy in there sometimes, I try to keep it as organized as possible. I've got bins for the lids and the small containers and everything is relatively easy for the kids to find while they are packing their lunches.

3. Make and freeze healthy lunch food ahead of time


While we do buy some easy prepackaged stuff for lunches, I do try to make healthy options for the kids and freeze it ahead of time so it will last through the week (or longer, if I'm lucky!).

Popular make ahead items at our house:

Quinoa bites
Gluten-free muffins
Banana bread
Cookies (not necessarily healthy, I know, but I do make them ahead and freeze them)

I freeze these things because if I don't, they will get eaten very quickly! I set out enough to defrost the night before, so the kids can put them in their lunches. If you are sandwich people, then you can also make those ahead of time and freeze them.

4. Make it easy for your kids to find food to pack 


When you pack lunches, it's probably fairly easy for you to find the food quickly in order to pack a healthy balanced lunch. I've found that it's harder for the kids to do it, though. We keep a lunch basket on top of the pantry that holds all the things they can put into their lunch (nuts, applesauce, crackers, trail mix, granola bars, etc.). We also designate one drawer in the fridge that holds anything that needs to be refrigerated (cheese sticks, boiled eggs, vegetables, yogurt, etc.)

I also have a build a healthy lunch printable hanging in my pantry that shows the kids what they should be packing in order to keep their lunches healthy and balanced. We've been using it for a couple years now, and I love that they are learning to do this one their own.

You can download this printable at the bottom of this post, along with several other back-to-school printables.




Some of my favorite bloggers and I have teamed up to help you be more organized in all areas this school year! We are offering a back-to-school printable bundle that includes my Build a Healthy Lunch printable and 40 other pages of back-to-school printables.

What's included:

Back-to-School video interviewsKatelyn from What's Up Fagans? has put together a great package to help you capture your children's personalities each year as school starts. She has tips to make the videos turn out great as well as lists of questions to ask for kids of all ages.

Build a Healthy Lunch—My printable is meant to hang in your pantry to help kids know what to include in their lunches. This way they can learn to pack a healthy and balanced lunch while they are still young. My girls use this printable on a daily basis during the school year and it has saved me a lot of time.

First Day of School SignsKatie from Clarks Condensed has made adorable chalkboard printables for the first (and last) day of school for preschool all the way up to 12th grade! Your kids can hold them up in their photos as they go to school on the first day.

Daily School Schedules/Emergency Contact Forms—When you start to have kids in more than one school, keeping their schedules straight becomes really complicated. Hilary from Pulling Curls makes this a lot easier with her school schedule printable. She also includes a printable for emergency contact information so you don't have to look it up every time you need to fill out forms during the first weeks of school.

After School ChecklistAnnette at Tips from a Typical Mom has made a cute checklist for the kids to refer to after school. You can frame it so they can use a dry-erase marker to check off their progress.

Back-to-School CountdownJen from Your Everyday Family has created the most adorable way to countdown to the first day of school! If your kids love pirates and treasure maps, they will especially love this idea!

Lunchbox Notes—My girls love it when I include fun little notes in their lunchboxes! Sophia has even gone so far as to bring me a pen and paper and tell me to write something for her lunchbox after she's packed her own lunch! Kristina at Mother's Niche has made this easy to do with a cute printable to start your notes off right.

To Download:

Simply enter your email address into the form below and the printables will be sent directly to you via email!



Happy Back to School!

BACK TO SCHOOL PRINTABLE BUNDLE! Get 7 free printables to help you be more organized this school year!


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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

August 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout

The visiting teaching message for August is titled "Living a Consecrated Life." Consecrating our lives to God means that we are giving our whole selves—not just our material possessions—to God. In doing so, we become true disciples.

So many of the quotes in this lesson struck me.

I loved the quote by Carole M. Stephens:

“Elder Robert D. Hales taught, ‘When we make and keep covenants, we are coming out of the world and into the kingdom of God.’

“We are changed. We look different, and we act different. The things we listen to and read and say are different, and what we wear is different because we become daughters of God bound to Him by covenant.”

I think it's fun to watch missionaries come home and see that change in action as they are coming off a long period of truly consecrating their lives to the work of the Lord. It makes me hope to do better in my life, even though it is full of more distractions than it was when I was a missionary myself.

August 2017 framed visiting teaching printable. Quote by D. Todd Christofferson: "True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is our time and our choices—to God's purposes."


Another quote I really liked (and that I used for the printable) is the one by Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

“To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes.”

Our time and our choices.

That has really given me a lot of pause when I consider all the ways in which I choose to spend my time. Some are wonderfully productive and Spirit-filled and even consecrated. But some are....not. Always lots to work on!


The download form is at the bottom of the post—Enjoy!

I recommend sending the file to a photo center such as Walmart or Costco if you don't have a good photo printer at home. I print mine on this Canon printer which does an excellent job. I print it straight onto 5x7 photo paper so it is ready to go into a frame for my sisters.

For more visiting teaching ideas, join us on Facebook!


True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is our time and our choices—to God's purposes.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson


To download:

Enter your email address into the form below. The visiting teaching printable will be sent directly to your inbox.





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Friday, July 28, 2017

Dollar Store Slime—Is It Really a Better Deal?

The slime rage has taken over my home, as it has the homes of tweens and teens everywhere. It started with watching slime videos online but quickly grew into using any money earned to purchase glue at the store and raiding my cabinets for the other ingredients.

Many slime batches later, I found I was always out of things I never run out of! Laundry starch, food coloring, contact solution, and even craft paint! I decided it was time to see if there was a cheaper way to do this whole slime thing because I do like that my girls were doing something screen-free that seemed to entertain them for hours.

We tried making fluffy slime entirely out of ingredients purchased at the Dollar Store. We found out whether or not it was possible and whether or not it was actually a better deal.


So, my girls and I decided to head to the dollar store and see if we could find all the ingredients for fluffy slime. We wanted to see if we could do a cheaper slime that was just as good by getting everything at the dollar store. Plus, I wanted them to have their own stash of slime ingredients so they'd stop using my household goods.

Note: This post isn't necessarily about HOW to make slime—my girls can now make fluffy slime in their sleep, but I've posted the basic recipe below.

1 4 oz bottle glue
4 cups shaving cream
1/2 cup lotion
2-3 teaspoons heavy starch or other sodium borate solution
paint
glitter

We were able to find some version of each ingredient at the dollar store, as well as a container that Sophia liked, so we took everything home to see how it went.

Ingredients purchased at the Dollar Store for making fluffy slime

Dollar Store items purchased:

(affiliate links to Dollar Tree—not all products found online)

Two packs of white glue
Poster Paint
Men's Shave Cream
Glitter
Fresh Aloe Vera Lotion
Heavy Starch (spray can)
Container for finished slime

Total cost: $8.00—Yield: 4 batches of fluffy slime ($2.00 per batch)

So far, the cost per slime batch was looking pretty good to me.

We got everything home and the girls started making fluffy slime.

First they poured the glue in (Sophia really liked that container, and wanted to make the slime right in it!)



As they added ingredients, it became clear that things weren't quite working like they normally do. The most obvious problem was that the slime wasn't activating no matter how much starch they sprayed into the concoction.

Slime does not work without sodium borate, which is the "activator" that makes it all stick together properly. Common sources for the sodium borate in slime recipes are heavy starch, contact solution, and Borax.



I had been a little unsure about the heavy starch we purchased at the Dollar Store because it had no ingredients listed on it. I had no way to know whether it actually contained sodium borate/boric acid or not! I figured it must, since most starches do, but I guess it didn't because that slime wasn't activating for anything.

We put the starch aside and made a Borax solution instead out of the Borax we had on hand, and then the slime activated right away.

Other observations:

The shaving cream from the dollar store was runnier than other shaving creams we have used, and while it worked out fine, the slime wasn't as fluffy as usual.



The poster paint we purchased was not very effective, so all the slime we made that day turned out to be very pastel in color, despite the brightly colored paint. You can see that the slime in the photos is a pale pink even though we used that very hot pink paint.

Verdict:

Aside from a proper activator (none of the contact solutions or eye drops at the Dollar Tree contained sodium borate, either), you CAN buy everything you need to make fluffy slime at the dollar store.

If you are only planning on making a few batches, it is probably a better deal to purchase as many ingredients as you can at the dollar store. However, if you have slime-obsessed children like I do, it will be more cost effective to buy most of your products elsewhere.

Here's a breakdown:

8 ounces of glue costs $1.00 at the dollar store, which is about 13 cents per ounce. You can buy an entire gallon of glue for around $13.00 (often less!) which comes out to 10 cents per ounce.

For activator, Borax is the most cost-effective, hands down. I bought my kids this box of Borax for around $11.00.  I'm pretty sure they will get a couple hundred batches of slime out of it since they use so little of it in each batch.

Craft paint is generally only a dollar per bottle, and the colors work so much better than the paint we purchased at the dollar store. Plus you will get a LOT more paint for your buck. The only issue is variety, but you can buy a multi-color package of craft paint for about $18.00 that will last quite a long time.

Purchasing just one large container of glitter for around $5.00 will also last much longer than the tiny glitter containers available at the dollar store, plus your kids won't want each batch to have glitter in it anyway.

Shaving cream and lotion from the dollar store work just fine and are definitely the cheapest option. You will need several bottles as each one is good for about 4 batches of slime. To match the amount of glue in a gallon, you'll probably need 8 bottles of each.

Total cost: $63.00—Yield: 32 batches of fluffy slime ($1.96 per batch)

This cost estimate includes purchasing 18 containers of paint, which isn't necessary, plus you can find most of these products for less—I am trying to estimate on the higher side.

If you are a crafter and already have a ton of craft paint on hand like I do, it takes your total cost down to $45.00 which equals about $1.40 per batch.

Final Verdict:

You can purchase most products to make fluffy slime at the dollar store, but it is slightly more cost effective to buy them in bulk elsewhere—plus you will get higher quality products in the end.

Since I see no end in sight to the slime making at my house, I just went ahead and bought the stinking gallon of glue!

Happy slime making!




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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Simple LEGO Organization Idea

My 11-year-old daughter, Sophia, has had a renewed interest in playing with LEGO lately. She is really enjoying building the sets we have and then breaking them down and coming up with her own awesome creations.

I recently received a Disney Princess Moana's Ocean Voyage set from LEGO, and she was so excited to get it built! She loved the movie, and since she has a bit of Hawaiian heritage from her Dad's side (and even a Hawaiian name of her own to match), Moana is now her favorite Disney Princess. Sadly, we had to wait until school was out, but on our first free morning of summer I found her in the back room happily working on it while still in her pajamas.

Sophia building the boat from her Moana LEGO set.

It's a bigger set than some of the ones we already had (we have a lot of LEGO Friends, having all girls), so it took her a couple hours, but she finished! Her older sisters even helped her a bit here and there. The finished product has been proudly on display in her room ever since!

Pretty awesome set, isn't it? Sophia is in love with it.

Disney Princess Moana's Ocean Voyage LEGO set


As we've been getting things more clean and organized this summer, I started to realize that we had LEGO all over the house. I would find random pieces in almost every room, and Sophia's LEGO creations were also everywhere. We started getting things consolidated and organized in the toy room, where I try to get rid of toys the kids are not playing with anymore often.

One Idea for Sorting and Organizing LEGO


Figuring out how to sort and organize your LEGO is overwhelming! Here's one simple organization idea that worked for us.


During this job of sorting toys (that is always bigger than you think it will be!) I discovered our LEGO organization was non-existent. It frustrated the girls, because all the LEGO pieces were just thrown into a bin and even the instructions to the sets were tossed in the bins, too. We've always had a bin for just the LEGO, but we were starting to have too many and it was becoming very difficult for the girls to find the pieces they wanted for their current creations.

Chloe and I decided to tackle the problem one day, and if I'm being honest, we had no idea what we were going to do to get the LEGO more organized, but we figured sorting them would be a good place to start.

Sorting LEGO by color instead of type. LEGO organization idea.


But then we realized there are several ways you can sort LEGO! So, we ended up sorting them mostly by color, but also made piles of minifigures and special pieces like wheels and doors and leaves.

We have a lot more LEGO than we used to have, but we still don't have a lot by many standards—I've got a friend who has an entire room in her house that is just for LEGO! For us it made the most sense to just organize them by color. Obviously, we couldn't just sort them and then throw them back in the bin, so we had to make a trip to the Dollar Store to buy some cheap containers to keep the LEGO in.

We ended up buying four rectangular containers with lids, and three plastic jars with screw-on lids.

I brought my laptop and my favorite Plug-n-Play label maker up to the playroom, and we worked on making labels for the containers we had purchased. I love this label maker because you can use any font already installed on your computer, and while I didn't choose any super exciting fonts for this project, I love that I can.

Use a labelmaker to label the toys in your playroom—including LEGO bins.


We decided on the following organization for our LEGO:

White LEGO pieces
Brown/Grey/Black LEGO pieces
Pink/Red/Orange/Yellow LEGO pieces
Blue/Green/Purple LEGO pieces
Minifigures (including any animals)
Windows and Wheels
Other Special LEGO pieces (including the teeny tiny pieces of any color)

The regular pieces went into the square containers, and the specialty pieces went into the jars. The base pieces are separate from the containers.

For now, the instruction booklets went into their own bin (I use a toy sorter with multiple bins like this one—it has served us well for about 16 years!). I may put them into a binder someday, but this works for the time being.

Use a labelmaker to label the toys in your playroom—including LEGO bins.

Use a labelmaker to label the toys in your playroom—including LEGO bins.

Use a labelmaker to label the toys in your playroom—including LEGO bins.


I have found that when I label the bins and containers in the playroom, the likelihood of toys being put away properly is greatly increased! And kids are also much more likely to play with toys that are organized and easily found. So even though it sometimes seem annoying to have to sort through them when you're finished playing, it's ultimately worth it for the kids.

This project took Chloe and I about two hours to complete. Depending on how many LEGO you have, and how you choose to sort them, it may be shorter or longer for you! We are just glad to have it finished.

Use a labelmaker to label the toys in your playroom—including LEGO bins.


This is what it the completed project looks like—my playroom is too small to get a full photo of the toy bins, but the LEGO have the position of honor on top since they are the favorite toy du jour. I'm always excited to see what Sophia comes up with next!

Disney Princess Moana's Ocean Voyage LEGO set


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Easy Gluten Free Butterbeer Cake

For the past few Julys, I have been participating in a fun celebration of Harry Potter's birthday! I was sad to miss it last year since we were busy moving across the country for sabbatical on Harry's special day, but I'm back!

This year, I wanted to try out a simple cake mix hack in order to make a butterbeer cake. I was super pleased with the results—and even better—my family thought it was amazing. Gluten-free cake mixes don't come in many varieties. Usually I only find either chocolate or yellow, so it's up to me to make birthday cakes a little snazzier than that since we need them to be gluten-free.

Easy CAKE MIX RECIPE hack to make an amazing GLUTEN FREE BUTTERBEER CAKE for your next HARRY POTTER party


For this butterbeer cake, I started with a gluten-free yellow cake mix. I used this one, but I'm sure that any GF yellow mix will work just fine. Because I am a lazy baker (hello, cake mix hack!), I just used some canned buttercream frosting and gold sprinkles. It was perfect, but if you are a frosting connoisseur, you may want to make our own.  Now I just need a kid to have a Harry Potter themed birthday party so that I have a good reason to make it again.

Gluten Free Butterbeer Cake


Ingredients:

1 gluten-free yellow cake mix
1 small (3.4 ounce) box butterscotch instant pudding
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp rum flavoring
1 tsp gluten-free vanilla
gold sprinkles

Make this amazing butterbeer cake for your next Harry Potter party. It's gluten free, and easy to make | cake mix recipe hack


Directions:

Mix all ingredients together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Spread batter evenly into two 9" round cake pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Baking at the lower temperature helps the batter cook more evenly and prevents the doming from happening in the cake. I just learned this trick and it works like a charm! Perfectly flat rounds that are easily stacked for a perfectly shaped cake. I love it!

Cool cake and frost. Top with golden sprinkles. Or whatever other Harry Potter-esque topping you want.

A simple cake mix hack for HARRY POTTER BUTTERBEER CAKE. It's GLUTEN FREE, easy to make, and totally delicious!


As part of Happy Harry Potter, there is a fun giveaway and I LOVE the fun things here. Just enter in the rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post to win.

Happy birthday, Harry!

See my past Happy Harry Potter posts here:

How to Make a Golden Snitch Costume

Harry Potter Book Club Ideas (includes a yummy Butterbeer recipe!)




This year's Happy Harry Potter giveaway winner will give a fun package including:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Books I Read: June 2017

I didn't read as much in June as I had hoped I would. The kids got out of school on June 8 and that first week was crazy busy. I always hope that once summer begins I'll have a ton of reading time, but this year has just been different since my kids are older and busier.

I had also hoped to get a lot of reading done at the beach, but instead it rained 23 out of 30 days in June and I went to the beach exactly one time. For as crazy and beach-free as this month has been, though, I'm impressed with how much I was still able to finish.

I have high hopes for July, though! Not only do I want to read at the beach, I want to get more use out of my awesome Dr Pepper float!

In June 2017 I read Chemistry by Weike Wang, A Man Called Ove, Fortune Cookie by Josi Kilpack and Wedding Cake by Josi Kilpack


Books I Read in June 2017

(affiliate links)


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


This was our book club selection for June. I was the one who chose it and hosted it, and though I didn't know much about the book when I picked it, I really liked it. What a great story of learning to understand people and the reasons why they do what they do. Such a great feel-good book! I give it a solid 5 stars—it definitely deserves all of the acclaim it's been getting lately.

Buy on paperback
Buy on Kindle



Fortune Cookie by Josi Kilpack


This is the penultimate book in Josi Kilpack's Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series. I read the first one (Lemon Tart) about 8 years ago, and I really enjoy the main character and her quirks and her ability to find and solve murder mysteries. And even though I don't cook much, I have actually tried many of the recipes included in the books.

At some point I just stopped reading the series (I think because these last two books weren't out yet). So when I saw them on my Deseret Bookshelf PLUS app, I figured I should finally finish the series! I had forgotten a few details from previous books, but this book stands alone really well.

Buy on paperback
Buy on Kindle
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS (you can get a free 30-day trial)



Wedding Cake by Josi Kilpack


This is the final book in the Sadie Hoffmiller series. I think there are 9-10 books in all, but I'd have to check. This book does not stand alone well, and the author even put a disclaimer at the beginning that it does not. She brought back a ton of characters from previous books. I enjoyed the way the story ended and am happy to have finally finished the series! I listened to this one on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS as well.

Buy on paperback
Buy on Kindle
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Chemistry by Weike Wang


In my resolve to read more, I decided to join the Book of the Month Club. I am not a very good library patron, and find that I spend more money on fines than I do if I just buy books—I'm working on it, though. Still, I liked the idea of getting new releases shipped to me for a pretty discounted price.

I chose this one for my June BOTM box after reading reviews on the four choices I was offered. It is written in a stream of consciousness style, which I am not used to, but I did enjoy the main character. She is a doctoral candidate in chemistry and has something of a life crisis as she realizes that she doesn't want to be where she is in life. The stream of consciousness style works us through her mind and heart as she works through her difficulties over the space of two years. I thought it was very relatable. I give it 3.5 stars.

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Happy reading!
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