"I am alive and kicking"

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bookish gifts for the book nerd

Imagination is your only limitation when finding the perfect gift for the book lover in your life. 
Here's a list to help you make your favorite book lover's day. 

1. A meaningful or handwritten bookmark. My most favorite bookish gift I received was a great bookmark with a poem about friendship. When I left my full-time job to pursue freelance writing, my friend Micaela gave me a bookmark from Blue Mountain Arts. The poem was touching and it has taken a place of honor in each book I read. 

Booksmarks with personal messages are a great
gift for book lovers. I personally have the "FRIENDS" bookmark
in the top center. (Blue Mountain Arts)

2. Bookends. Enough said. There are so many stylish, classy and quirky bookends out there, it would be hard to choose. PLUS, you can be creative and use almost anything as bookends. Again, imagination is your only limitation. 

I almost squeeled out loud when I saw this. Love it! 
3. Book-related games. While searching the Internet for some different ideas, I came across The Storymatic game and Rory's Story Cubes. This is also a thoughtful gift for the writer in your life as the games can stimulate the creative senses when writer's block takes hold. 

4. A boxed set of your reader's favorite series. Sometimes this can be cost prohibitive. For me, I'd be interested to see someone purchase Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series for me -- she just published X, which puts her at 24 books. Yikes! However, the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia would be a great gift, and probably more affordable. 

5. Book lights. I haven't personally used book lights for a while, but I used to when I was kid and rode the bus in the early mornings and late nights for school activities. I've been informed by a close friend that these are still popular for many and they come in some really cool designs. 

6. If you're feeling particularly generous, give your book lover a bookshelf. Some research -- possibly covert -- may be needed for this gift. Make sure whatever type of shelf you get is something your book lover needs and the size he or she can accommodate. For me, my house is tiny and I have little room for a bookshelf, and desperately need one. I've been thinking a tabletop shelf may be my best option. 

Perfect for that book lover in your life who has
a tiny, tiny living space.

7. Gift cards specifically for a book store. Book nerds are in love with the smell of books (really!). I love the good smell of an off-the-beaten-path bookstore. But also, book lovers enjoy, rather relish, spending time in a book store. Before they know it, they've spent hours perusing. I know I do. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

If I had a million bucks ...

In the last few years, I've had more realistic dreams of what I'd do if I won the lottery.
Here's the top 5:

1. Put aside an untouchable account for my son, which would give him enough money to attend college, trade school or the like. I would make sure he'd be able to not only pay tuition, room and board, but also have enough so he didn't HAVE to work and be able to focus on studying.

2. Purchase a storage shed and turn it into a tiny house. This is my current dream. My family and I already live in a tiny house, so this wouldn't be so far off course to actually do it.
My favorite sites to peruse are tinyhousetalk.com and tinyhouseswoon.com.
Both have great examples of projects from around the U.S.

A tiny house shown on tinyhouseswoon.com.

A tiny house shown on tinyhousetalk.com.

3. Buy a horse (perhaps two), and needed accessories. I've always wanted a horse and have loved riding since childhood. We had the space for a horse when I was a girl, but I knew it was a luxury and gave up on asking long ago.

4. Take a road trip. I've always wanted to take one of two types of road trips: A. Drive from home to a specific destination within a week, stopping wherever along the way. B. Just packing a bag and driving wherever the wind takes me.
Oh it would be fun to just drive along Route 66 -- cliche, I know, but still.

And, yes, I would use a paper map. GPS is for pansies. 

5. Pay off all my bills. No explanation needed there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Be Happy, Be Grateful

"The purpose of our lives is to be happy." ~ Dalai Lama

Be happy! Despite a crappy start to the morning,
my day got better and a little silly. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
Being happy is something I strive for every day, and often fail miserably.
However, days like today have been great. Despite my morning beginning with a 10 mile drive at 30 mph on ice and then some guy honking at me to go when a car was coming, today's been pretty good.
An author named SK Lamont shared a post from my writing site, annajauhola.com. I wrote about Ms. Lamont's post from Sunday, Jan. 24 because it was helpful for my writing endeavors.

Enjoy your day, everyone! I leave you with this:
"What if today, we were just grateful for everything?"

Monday, January 25, 2016

Travel exposure: Mount Rushmore post makes online paper

My post below about planning a trip to Mount Rushmore this summer has been picked up by an online travel paper called The Travel Daily! It published on Jan. 9.
Check it out here.
It's not Associated Press or anything, but it sure is exciting someone thought my random post was good enough to call a "Good Post." 

A screenshot of The Travel Daily's main page from the Jan. 9 edition.
The online paper picked up my Jan. 8 blog post about planning a trip to Mount Rushmore.
(Courtesy The Travel Daily)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Facing the mountain: Planning a real family vacation

Vacations are few and far between for our family, mostly due to work schedules.
I suppose it also comes from a childhood of not really taking family vacations, except to Lake of the Woods for fishing throughout the summer and to Lake of the Woods for ice fishing in the winter. We had the occasional trip to the Twin Cities, but that was pretty rare. So, the other day, when our son asked if he could go to Mount Rushmore, I was super excited.
Mount Rushmore during Memorial Day
weekend 2007. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)

We'd read a couple books about Mount Rushmore, how it was made, what kind of animals live there, and he became more interested. I LOVE Mount Rushmore and the surrounding area. The history alone gets me excited. And for him to want to go there is super exciting.
My husband and I once took a trip to Mount Rushmore before we were married. He treated me to the vacation for my 24th birthday. We went on Memorial Day weekend and had the whole place nearly to ourselves. It was awesome for this enochlophobic -- one who fears crowds.
Now, I know a six-year-old isn’t particularly interested in the history of the place, but he is excited to see the huge faces carved in a mountain. And for me, that’s pretty cool.
I know when we plan our trip, he’ll be excited to see all sorts of other things too -- the caves, the animals, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, and so on.

We've taken a few camping vacations together, but our next vacation is a great goal to look forward to and a fantastic motivator to put money aside.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Movie = Fantastic!

Ignore criticism, hype of new Star Wars; make your own decision

I purchased a single ticket for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
on New Year's Day. Unfortunately, I did not avoid any crowds.
My tips from work last week went to some much-needed me time.
I took a trip into town Friday, entered the theater alone and purchased a matinee ticket for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

As many know, I hate crowds. I chose Friday to go because it was New Year's Day and I was (foolishly) hoping few people would be at the theater.
I was so wrong.
I got there super early, walked into an empty theater and chose a seat right in the middle.
It was great, until a couple walked in and sat directly behind me. Then a group of people came in and sat right next to me.
So much for an easy route to get out to the bathroom, which I needed BADLY throughout half the movie. But I hung in there.
What did I think of the movie?
I love Star Wars. By no means am I a hardcore fan -- I did not dress up like Leia or a Storm Trooper, and I don't have posters or memorabilia at home -- but I sure did enjoy the story.
Although the person next to me said afterward, "That was the same plot as the rest of them," I enjoyed the action. I particularly enjoyed seeing the old characters mixed with the new.
I'm excited to see the next installment!

Monday, January 4, 2016

From holiday cluster to a resolution of organization

My only resolution is to have a better writing
schedule and keep up with my blog and website.

Well, crap.
My hiatus turned into much longer than anticipated.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's was one big cluster.
Do you ever wonder where one week goes and then realize that week is so far gone it's actually three or four weeks later?
Yep. That's what happened to me.
I won't bore you with the details, but I will say my resolution this year is to make a better writing schedule and keep up with my blog and website.
Here's to 2016, everyone!