I am an organization junkie! I get excited when I can take something that isn't working or that's become a mess or cluttered and fix it by organizing. In fact, I love it so much I have from time to time messed things up so I can organize them again. I've had an ongoing problem keeping book series organized so that I know what book is next and what books I've already read. When I had paper books this was much easier but since I've started reading ebooks a few years back, it has gotten harder to do. The Kindle or Kindle apps don't have a way to organize your book lists, mark what's read, and add series info to keep them in order. And most online databases or apps have books missing, require too much upkeep or go out of favor and disappear.
I have tried to just write things down but that that wasn't always a good solution either. I didn't want to carry an extra journal or notebook around and invariably I'd need it when I wasn't at home. And if I made lists in my carry-around journal, I'd have to keep rewriting them after each journal is filled. (WHich doesn't take as long as you'd think.) After I spent way too long today trying to figure out which book came next in a series and which one was the last I had read, I decided to find an organized solution.
I recently picked up a planner punch from We R Memory Keepers and had purchased the additional punches for spiral notebooks. The four-holes-per-inch option was the perfect fit for my Erin Condren planner. While playing around with it and testing it a bit today, I came up with a solution: a single page typed list that I could punch and insert into my Erin Condren planner. Here's what makes it work so well:
I get very happy when I've found an easy system that keeps me organized. So today was a very good day!
I grilled fish and chicken today for tacos. It's not a traditional July 4th menu, but it was delicious! I'm just learning how to grill. This was my second attempt and I did a Baja lime seasoned fish and chicken, chili lime corn on the cob, hot sausages, a big cast iron skillet of onions and peppers and even heated up the soft taco shells on the grill. Everything turned out pretty good although I still have a lot to learn about grilling food.
As a side dish, I made pineapple slaw - a real summer favorite of mine. I make it often for pot-lucks, picnics and summer dinners on the patio. It's crunchy, sweet and packed with good stuff. Today, I thought it would make a great compliment to the fish and I was right! In addition to tasting pretty great, it also looks really pretty.
This recipe originally appeared in Taste of Home magazine several years ago, but I've made a few small changes. Maybe it will be a good fit at your next cookout or picnic!
• 1⁄2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
• 1⁄4 cup canola oil
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 2 tbls minced fresh cilantro
• 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
• 1⁄4 tsp salt
• 6 cups shredded cabbage
• 1/2 of a fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces
• 1 small sweet red pepper chopped
In a small bowl, whisk the pineapple juice, oil, lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt.
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, pineapple, papaya and pepper.
Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir just before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.
I have read 40 books so far this year. That's a pretty good pace, although my nonfiction reading has not been where it usually is. My winter and spring were difficult and I didn't have the mental energy to do too much concentrating on books. By the time I had a change to read, I was too tired and depleted to read nonfiction. But I've picked up the pace the last month and I expect to read a good deal of work-related books this summer.
I read seven books in June. The best book I read last month was Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. I highly recommend it. I was happy to know there are more books in the series and I plan to read all of them. They were a great blend of history, mystery and a tiny bit of romance. The author has a great way of creating a scene in your head and a time of history that I never experienced felt very real and familiar in her writing. Her character development was well done and while it can be classified as a cozy mystery, it felt much more substantial and richer than the usual cozy. The herione was likeable, smart and down to earth. She didn't do stupid things for no reason and her battles with being a woman in a man's world were relatable and humanizing. I cannot say enough good things about the book.
I continued my way through the Agatha Raisin books via audiobook. Penelope Keith is a great reader and makes Agatha come alive. My favorite Agatha conversation in the last book was:
Lawyer: I can't do anything. I'm not a criminal lawyer. I'm a business lawyer.
Agatha: Well get down here and learn!
I also read Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option. It left me with a lot to think about. I will likely be writing about it in more detail at some point once I've done some thinking about it.
In July, I am eager to read July Hyzy's latest Grace mystery and I'm finally getting around to the latest Spice Shop mystery. And the third book in the "Map of Fates" series comes out this month and I plan to read it in one sitting, as I did the first two in the series.
As for nonfiction, I'm currently re-reading a few books on spiritual formation for something I'm writing. And I plan to start the book "Loving My Actual Life" by Alexandra KuyKendall a little later this month.
What about you? What are you reading? Anything to recommend we read or something we should avoid? Share in the comments!
I'm not sure why I wrote the plural "readers" in the headline. I'm not sure I have more than one reader. I might not even have one. That gives me a lot of freedom to write poorly although I don't plan to. I don't really know what I want this blog to be. Conventional wisdom says that a blog needs to have a clear theme or area of focus and be updated frequently. You're not likely to see either of these things here. I'm too free-spirited to follow conventional wisdom.
I do know that I need the discipline of writing more often. I've struggled a bit with it since sabbatical and I need to get my inspiration back. I think the daily act of writing something will be a help in that regard. Not that I promise what I write will be interesting or all that good. But I am making an honest effort to put something on the blog every day in July. Maybe just a quote or prayer, maybe a book or movie review, or maybe a favorite recipe. I might post a recent crafty project or rave about a recent new set of pens. I could write about my planners or journals or even share something I learned in Bible study. And since it's in my nature to jump on a soapbox, you might even see a rant or two here and there. I'll go back to some old favorites from my golden age of blogging such as Favorite Things, Currently, and Reading Recaps. And I'll likely come up with something new to add to the mix. I'm unpredictible like that.
So don't have high expectations. But if you do read the blog I'm glad to have you here.
Lord, I commit today to:
Do all the good I can
By all the means I can
In all the ways I can
In all the places I can
At all the times I can
To all the people I can
As long as I ever can.
JOHN WESLEY, English minister/ founder of Methodism (1703–1791)
I want to like you. I really do. I like the idea of seeing what my friends are reading and sharing what I'm reading. I really need to be able to track what I'm reading and what I have still on the to-be-read pile. Finding like-minded readers is a fun idea. And setting a reading goal each year is my favorite part of the site.
But for all these good ideas, I really don't like you. I forget that once in awhile and drop by for a visit only to leave frustrated and unfulfilled. And then I waste an hour looking on the web for an alternative. So if you want us to be friends, you're going to have to make some effort to change a few things. Here's some good places to start:
A frustrated user
For some reason, I'm really excited about summer this year. It's not that I don't usually like the summer but I'm rarely excited about it. I don't like the heat and humidity we get and summer always means bugs so there's that. I don't go on vacation so I don't have that to look forward to do. And I often spend more time alone in the summer than I do at other times in year, so summer often means a lonelier time for me.
In spite of all that, I'm looking forward to summer. I was a bit more proactive than I have been for awhile and have planned some fun things to do, even making a bucket list. And I'm determined to do them even if I end up doing them alone. This summer, I'm going to:
• Visit Annapolis
• Find a pretty spot near a river or lake and have a picnic. (or two)
• Host an outdoor movie night at my house for all my friends and family
• Learn to make biscotti
• Eat breakfast on my patio every day (unless it's a downpour!)
• Host a Taco Tuesday party
• Go to a carnival
• Attend a classical music concert
• Go to the Maryland State Fair
• See a show at a dinner theater
This list is kinda long for all that I have going on with work this summer but I'm determined to soak in every bit of summer fun I can this year. Bring it on!
One of the things I liked best about blogging when I did it regularly years ago, was posting lists of my current favorite things. The list included not just objects but experiences as well. Basically, it was a list of things that were making me happy at that given moment. I do these in my journal from time to time but not as often as when I was blogging. So as I try a return to blogging again, I couldn't think of anything better to jump back in with than my favorite things.
I only read three books in December. I had a busy month with Christmas. If I hadn't gone to the beach for three days after Christmas, I'd have only read one book in December! After reading so much on sabbatical, I was in a bit of a reading slump. But January and February are always big reading months for me. There's something about cold weather that makes me crave a good book!
Here are the books I hope to get to in January:
How about you? What are you hoping to read in January?
I did not set a specific reading goal in 2017. I knew that it would be a different year for me because of my sabbatical and wasn't sure how much to expect. I ended up reading 66 books this year, which is less than normal but not as bad as my worst year in recent history, so I'm satisfied with that.
I do have two reading goals for 2017:
I'm on goodreads as jessilrobinson and I track my nonfiction reading there. If you want to see nonfiction is on my TBR shelf, drop by and visit my goodreads account.
Each month, I'll post a reading recap on the blog. I'll include the number of books I read the month before, any favorite titles to share from that list and a look at what I'll be reading next.
What about you? Do you have any book or reading goals for the new year?