Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: March Update

Still progressing well with my goal of reading 100 books in 2015. I read a total of 10 books in March which puts me on track.

I am very much enjoying my reading challenge because it reminds me to read when I have free time. It is too easy to get distracted by the internet and not even think about picking up a book. I do absolutely love to read. So, for me, the goal gives me that little bit of encouragement that I need to choose a book over other distractions.

Here's what I read in March.

The Together Teacher - Maia Heyck-Merlin
Since my time in France is ending, I've started to prepare for teaching in the US again. I had seen reviews of this book before, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. It is an excellent resource for teachers who need to get organized. Yes, there are plenty of books on organization and time management, but a teacher's day is so different from other professionals. This book has strategies that work for teachers. I will be using the techniques in this book. If you are a teacher, or you know a teacher, this book is very much recommended.

My Week with Marilyn - Colin Clark
This book has been on my to-read list since I saw the movie. How could anyone not enjoy a book with a personal account of time spend with the movie star Marilyn Monroe? While not quite as charming as the movie, the book is an interesting read.

Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal
I've accidentally started a new series. This book is a fantasy novel (points since I enjoy fantasy.) As I was reading it, I kept feeling that it resembled a Jane Austen novel. So, I was pleased in the acknowledgements to read that the author was inspired by Jane Austen (more points because of Jane Austen.) Also, since I caught the Pride and Prejudice theme, I thought I knew which character the main character would end up with, but it turns out I picked the wrong one as being Darcy. So it's a fantasy novel with Jane Austen elements that is cleverly written. Basically, everything that I want in a light read.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
This book was on my reading list because I've heard it described as a new "classic." The story of adventure and personal discovery is interesting. The writing style is enjoyable. But. It didn't have a profound influence on me. It is good, but for me not as amazing as I had been led to believe. Which is fine.

The Perks of Being  a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
A friend recommended that I read this book. Quite frankly, I still don't know how I feel about the book. It deals with a difficult subject. Emotionally, it was difficult for me to read. I know that lots of people love this book, but for me, it was too much at once.

Beauty and the Werewolf - Mercedes Lackey
I'm still reading the Five Hundred Kingdom series. This is the 6th book in the series, and as the title implies, it is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (with a little bit of Little Red Riding Hood and plenty of other fairy tales mixed in.)

Prince - Kiera Cass
Prince is a novella in the Selection series. The story is told from Prince Maxon's point of view as he deals with the idea of meeting and choosing a girl to marry during the selection. Since I like Maxon's character, I liked having his point of view on the proceedings. While it isn't necessary to understanding the plot of the series, it is a good read while waiting for the rest of the series to be released.

Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry
This is the second book in The Giver Quartet. I liked reading The Giver in high school, and it is interesting to read the rest of the series now. I still haven't figured out yet how this book is related to the first one, but I think that the two collide somewhere later in the series. It is an intelligent dystopian novel. There is less drama than in some of the current popular dystopian novels aimed at young adults. I'd definitely advise adding this book to your to-read list.

Harry Potter et le Prince de Sang-Mêlé - J.K. Rowling
If you've been following these updates, you'll know that I've been trying to finish all of the Harry Potter books in French before I leave France. I know that I've said it before, but these books are so good. I remember very little from the first time that I read them (it's been a while), but I am so impressed by the quality of the plot and the writing.

Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year - Esmé Raji Codell
I finished off the month with some more non-fiction. In this work, the author recounts some of her experience during her first year of teaching in a difficult school. For me, it was good to read and relate to some of her struggles during her first year. Her story was inspirational to me as well. I certainly did not handle my first year teaching in the same way that she did. She has an unconventional approach, and while my approach to teaching differs some, I will definitely be trying to keep the same spirit that Esmé has while teaching.

Those are the books that I read in March. I have quite the mix of styles of fiction and nonfiction, but I think that it's more fun to read as many different types of writing as I can. In the upcoming months, I'll be reading more books about teaching and books aimed at teens since I will hopefully be teaching high school or middle school English in August (not that I will complain if I manage to find a high school French job.) My goal in April is to read as many books as possible because I know that things will get extremely busy once I start my summer job in May and my teaching job in August.

All of these books are available on Amazon. It's an affiliate link, so a portion of the price of anything that you buy after clicking on the link will go to support this blog and allow me to buy more books to read!

What did you read in March? Do you have any suggestions for my reading list?

Monday, March 30, 2015

April Journal Prompts + printable

Again thanks to everyone who has been sharing the previous months' journal posts. I'm so glad to hear from those of you who are using these prompts in your own journals.

This month, I am happy to share 30 new journal prompts for you to use. Pick a time out of your day to sit down with a hot beverage and spend some time writing. A printable version of these prompts is available at the bottom of the post. 

If you have never journaled before, or if you want some pointers on starting your journal, check out our post on starting a journal.

30 Journal Prompts for April

1. Your biggest dream
2. What place do you consider your home?
3. What are you most grateful for?
4. The most important qualities in a friend
5. One thing you need to stop doing
6. One thing you need to start doing
7. How are you feeling today?
8. Three things you and your best friend have in common
9. Your life story in five sentences
10. A place you have never visited
11. How important is fame?
12. What is a "perfect" day?
13. How do you make decisions?
14. Describe kindness
15. 10 things you should always have
16. The word that you overuse
17. A pun
18. How would you like to be described?
19. Your favorite song to sing
20. Would you like to know about the future?
21. How do you show people you care?
22. Your last important decision
23. Something that is always easy for you
24. A motto to live by
25. Happiness is...
26. Organized or messy?
27. A recent compliment
28. Where you want to be?
29. A happy moment
30. Your preferred method of communication

Download your printable PDF version of the prompts here.

Make sure that you get next month's prompts by following along with Life of Lovely on bloglovin, pinterest, or twitter.

We'd love to hear from you if you decide to use these prompts. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: February Update

My goal of reading 100 books in 2015 seems to be going well. I read 9 books in February. According to my challenge tracker on goodreads, I am near where I need to be in order to read all 100 by the end of the year.

I've recently gotten a subscription to Scribd which lets me read as many books from its catalog as I want each month. So far, I've been happy with the service. Plus, since I'm currently living abroad, I don't have as much access as normal to books in English. I do try to read in French as much as possible, but it is more difficult for me.

Here's what I read this month.

Harry Potter et l'Ordre du Phenix - J.K. Rowling
Still reading Harry Potter in French. I finished the 5th book early in the month, but I haven't been able to move on to the 6th one yet because who ever borrowed it hasn't returned it yet even though it was due two weeks ago.

The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
My book club decided that we should read this. I have to admit that it isn't my type of reading. While I do find political science interesting, I'd have to know more about it to understand why this book is important and how the thoughts in it have shaped different leaders. 

Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
This book was written by Allie Brosh. You might have seen her blog with the same name. Chances are that you've seen some of the memes based on what she's created there. I enjoyed her mix of writing and web comic on her site, and for that reason, I wanted to read her book when it came out. Her sense of humor is quite particular. While I did like reading parts of the book, she deals with some heavy topics like her struggles with depression. Lots of people find her writing on this subject to be very relatable, so I'd definitely recommend this book for some people. However, for me, it was interesting, but difficult to read at points.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
As the title of the book implies, this is an autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I remember reading an excerpt of it in high school and wanting to read more. It was a slow read for me, but I learned some things about an important figure in American history.

Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher
This memoir is by Carrie Fisher who is best know for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars. Since she was the daughter of two incredibly well known celebrities, her childhood and life was extremely different from most people's.

The Dress Doctor - Edith Head
Edith Head is a costume designer who won 8 Academy Awards for her costume designs. The list of stars and films that she designed for it too long to list, but you'd recognize names like Audrey Hepburn and Ginger Rogers on it. This book was adapted from her autobiography and includes her advice about how to dress for different occasions as well as tales about stars from the golden age of Hollywood. While the specific instructions about what to wear might not work as well today, I found this book to be an entertaining, easy read.

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey
I've talked before about how much I enjoy the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. It's a type of fairy tale re-telling, and I like the way the the author handles mixing the different tales together while still keeping the reader unsure of exactly how the story will end.

The Sleeping Beauty - Mercedes Lackey
Another book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. I'd definitely recommend these if you enjoy reading fantasy or fairy tales.

Lettre du Mon Moulin - Alfred Daudet
The teachers at one of the elementary schools where I work recommended this book when I told them I wanted to read more in French. It's a collection of short stories that describes life and culture in the south of France during the 1800s. I found it easy to read because I could stop between stories and because the subject changes frequently from day to day happenings to folk-tales to observations. If you're looking for a mid-range level French book to read that the French public will be familiar while, this is a good choice.

So, those are the books that I read in February. I don't have quite as many French books as I'd like on the list. I'll have to make more of an effort to read more in French during March. Now that I have Scribd it's much easier for me to read in English while I'm here. Actually, in order to stay on track with my challenge, I probably need to read as much as possible during March and April because I think things will become much busier once I return home, and I won't have as much time available for reading.

All of these books are available on Amazon. It's an affiliate link, so a portion of the price of anything that you buy after clicking on the link will go to support this blog and allow me to buy more books to read!

What did you read in February? Do you have any suggestions for my reading list?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My First Julep Box

I might have a small obsession with cosmetic products and purple. So when I saw an ad on Facebook saying that Julep would send me a box of three purple nail polishes and one black eyeliner for my birthday for free I had to check it out. I looked at the website, and it looked legit. It said I would only have to pay $2.99 for shipping and that if I didn't want a second box to come in March then all I had to do was call Julep and tell them by the 20th and they would cancel the order. I thought I'll just take advantage of this one free box, and then I'll cancel.

Then, my beautiful wild orchid purple box of nail polish and makeup came in the mailbox, and now I think I'm hooked...


First, I tried out the Hazel nail polish which is one of Julep's Boho Glam nail colors. I wasn't really expecting a lot because hey it was free. But it really did go on very smoothly and easily with a rich color. I only needed two coats for an opaque finish, and it worked well with my Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat. The end product was an opaque deep purple with a sort of metallic-y fine shimmer that Julep describes as a wild violet and bronze duochrome. I think it works beautifully on cool skin tones. This one has become my new favorite nail polish! It adds some personality to my usual grey and pink ensembles, and I've gotten complimented on it every day it's been on my nails.


The second color I tried was Margit, one of the It Girl nail colors. I loved the ease of application of this nail polish too. It went on opaquely and evenly with two coats. Margit is a pale lavender polish that Julep describes as mushroom with rose shimmer. It's definitely a very in color right now. Sadly, it brought out a little too much red in my skin tone, but I think it would be gorgeous on warm, darker skin tones. I think I'll probably still wear it though because the color is too pretty to waste!


And last but not least is Bernadette, named for Bernadette Peters. The black onyx nail polish was made specially for us gals with February birthdays! First off, I love Bernadette Peters so I had high expectations for this nail polish. It had the same smooth application as the other nail polishes and only needed two coats for opaque color. The end result is very unique and cool. It's a purple-y black with small flecks of silver shimmer. It basically looks like the night-sky.

Blackest Black

I also got a black eye-liner in the maven box, but I really am not a fan of how eyeliner makes me look, so I'll save that review for when Elizabeth can try it out.

Overall, I was super impressed with my first Maven box! And after reading a little bit about the company values, and seeing my options for this month I think I'll keep buying them periodically and keep y'all updated.  Also, you'll notice that we now have a badge for Julep that says "I'm classic with a twist." If you think you want to try Julep for free then give it a click or click here, and Julep will give you a code for a free box. If you decide to subscribe after you've gotten your free box, then I'll get credit I can put towards a box for referring you. You can do the same on your blogs to earn free boxes! Hope you enjoy and let us know what you think about your boxes!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

March Journal Prompts + printable

First of all, thanks to everyone who shared February's journal prompts with your friends last month. I did not expect to have such a positive response to the first set of prompts, and of course, I am excited to be able to share another set with you today.

If you need some help, check out our post on starting a journal.

Grab your favorite journaling supplies and find a comfy chair. You can use these prompts to journal however you like. A printable version is available at the bottom of the post.

31 Journal Prompts for March

1. A favorite song lyric
2. The thing you always forget to pack
3. A fictional character you'd like to switch places with
4. Something to let go of
5. What do you want more of?
6. A typical grocery list
7. A fact you don't usually tell people
8. What does it take to make a friend?
9. The thing that makes you excited
10. Everyone needs...
11. The best place to be
12. How do you focus?
13. Who is your "cheerleader?"
14. The goal you are working towards now
15. Three small steps towards your goal
16. The most inspiring person you've met
17. How would you describe yourself?
18. A few words of advice to someone younger
19. Ten things you learned in the past year
20. What is the most important thing in life?
21. An idea that seems great, but actually isn't
22. Five books everyone should read
23. Where do you most want to travel?
24. What are you good at?
25. Three things you learned today
26. Something you are looking forward to
27. Pick a movie character you identify with
28. Ten things you love about spring
29. Are you patient?
30. Describe a childhood memory
31. List some favorite jokes

Download your printable PDF version of the prompts.

Make sure that you get next month's prompts by following along with Life of Lovely on bloglovin, pinterest, or twitter.

We'd love to hear from you if you decide to use these prompts. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Field Notes: January 2015

January has flown by this year. Here are a few of the things that we loved from this month.

An inspiring post from Tirzah about giving yourself freedom to fail.

Here's a money saving challenge that looks like one you could actually stick to.

Jennifer is currently loving this recipe for smokey turkey and sweet potato chili. Perfect for cold, winter nights. 

Another recipe. Since I'm about halfway through my reading of Harry Potter in French, this recipe for frozen butterbeer sounds good to me!

A bit of motivation via unicorns.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: January Update

At the beginning of January, I announced my goal of reading 100 books in 2015. January went by quickly, and when looking over my total for books for the first month of 2015, it turns out that I have read 5 book. Which does put me a little behind on my goal. Not too much though, and since I have a two week holiday coming up in February, I will definitely have more time to read over the next few weeks.

Here's what I read this month.

Harry Potter et le prisonnier d'Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
To help improve my French, I've been reading Harry Potter in French. It does take longer for me to read in French (which is part of why my book number is low this month), but I've reached the point where I sometimes forget that I am reading in a different language which seems like a success for me.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid
My book club read this book recently (and by book club, I mean a group of English assistants who decided to get together sporadically to talk about books). It's a love story mixed in with the events that occur to Pakistani man after September 11. The form of narration is interesting, and although I would not have picked up the novel on my own, I found it thought-provoking.

Harry Potter et la Coupe de Feu - J.K. Rowling
More Harry Potter in French. This fourth book is so long. I wasn't sure for a while how I was ever going to finish it especially because I borrowed it from the library and I couldn't renew it because someone else was on the list to borrow it next. Reading back through the books, I remember why I like them so much. These books are good.

The Life of St. Francis of Assisi - Paul Sabatier
As the title suggests, this book is about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. I enjoyed learning more about St. Francis and the time period in which he lived. I felt sometimes as if I should have done a bit more research on my own first before trying to read this book, but overall, I think it was a good introduction to St. Francis.

Neuf Contes - Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault is a French author who is best known for rewriting folk tales into the fairy tales that many of us know today including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood. I actually found these slightly more difficult to read in French than Harry Potter just because the some of the words used in the story are older and used less frequently today. However, I would definitely advise reading these in French if you can. The French elementary teachers that I worked with suggested these to me when I asked what I should read that was traditionally French but not too difficult for someone who speaks French as a second language.

So that's what I read in January. I am proud of the amount of French that I read even if it means that it is slowing down my reading. While I am here in France and have access to all the French books I want (libraries are amazing), I am trying to read as much in French as possible. I'm currently about halfway through the 5th Harry Potter book so I will definitely finish that in February. I've also got another book of fairy tales and a book of poetry from the French teachers as well. And, my book club has picked another book for our next meeting. I will try to read a few more books in February, and I'll update you on my progress at the end of the month.

Also, if you're looking to read Harry Potter in French too and you have Amazon Prime, the French versions of Harry Potter are available to borrow for your kindle. If you don't have Amazon Prime, and you're interested in getting it, the link above will take you to sign up for a free 30 day trial. It's an affiliate link, so it's a win for both of us. I have used Amazon Prime in the past, and the only reason I didn't renew for this year is that I'm not in the US right now.

What did you read in January? Which books would you recommend?


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