March 29, 2016

Keepin' hot, HOT, and cold, COLD. #likeaboss #TryItTuesday #AmazonPrime #thermos

Try It Tuesday . . . Wherein I review things and stuff.

Tired of your coffee going cold after ten minutes? Wish you had something to actually keep your smoothie from becoming juice? Want your ice water to stay icy?

Lemme introduce you to your beverage future . . .

Today's product: Klean Kanteen insulated thermos

Where to find: Amazon | Klean Kanteen
Average cost: $12 - $50 (depends on size, style, etc.)
Lasts: Still have mine after 3 years

Karen's rating: 

Why is this such a great thermos?

First of all, it's extremely versatile. With so many size and lid options, you can use it for almost anything. I have the 12 oz with a 'cafe' lid for coffee, the 16 oz for water or juice or iced coffee, and the 20 oz for smoothies or for a travel water. (When I make smoothies, I use the 'cafe' lid with this--different brand--straw.)

Second, they actually do what a thermos is meant to do: Keep hot things HOT and cold things COLD--for a long mothertrekkin' time. Since having my lil wild man, drinking my morning coffee is no longer a leisurely endeavor. Thankfully, I have my kanteen because it keeps my coffee hot for almost three hours (with the 'cafe' lid). That way I actually get to drink my coffee hot without microwaving it twelve times. If I use the twist-hook cap then my coffee will stay hot for a good five-ish hours.

My hubby absolutely swears by his Klean Kanteen tumbler for drinking water at home. He'll make an ice water before work to take his vitamins, leave it on the counter, and when he comes home from work there's still ice in the water. It's cray awesome.

Third, I love reusing a cup. Lemme explain . . . Washing dishes sucks. So, I'll totally use my coffee kanteen all week (rinse it out at the end of the day). That way I'm not dirtying a ton of dishes. Thereby conserving water AND saving money. It's pretty awesome to travel with too. That way at someone else's house I don't use a ton of their mugs. Plus, my coffee stays hot. HOLLA.

In addition to being a fantastic product, the company also gives back. According to their site: " In 2008, Klean Kanteen became a member of 1% for the Planet, making a commitment to donate at least 1% of annual sales to non-profit organizations working to protect, preserve and restore the natural environment." 

Lastly, holy trek, all the color choices!


How do you drink? What say you?


Wanna see more red balloons go by? Thought so. Check out my previous reviews*
*Reviews are my own opinions, I am not paid to promote any items.


Drinkin' . . . karen

March 28, 2016

The C.S. Lewis Rules for Writing. #amwriting #writemotivation #WIP #MondayMotivation

Monday Motivation . . . Writerly things and stuff.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Source C. S. Lewis' Letters to Children

Want more motivation? Who doesn't? Check out my other Monday posts.


Eating spaghetti and watching YouTube videos . . . karen

March 25, 2016

When THE END feels SOO good. Bunnies, eggs, and other unrelated things. #amwriting #FridayFeed

Friday Feed . . . Doing things and stuff.

Call me Karen. (writing words)

So, this was me earlier this week. Why? Cos, I typed THE END on my first ever middle grade novel. HOLLA.


Gotta say, this story... It's all the feels. And, believe me, I felt all of them writing it. I'm so, so very excited about this story. Don't tell the others, but it's my favorite. Shhhh. I said don't tell them.

I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking to just one POV (point-of-view) for this story. Normally, I do at least three. This one, I only heard the one voice. And it thrilled me.

Right now I'm going through it to smooth out the first draft messiness, and then I plan to have it to my betas by the end of March.

And then, hopefully, off to my freelance editor by the end of April/early May.

So. Excited.

Luke, I am your mother. (kiddo corner)

Been a low-key kind of week. Stayed home all week to make sure the Lukey was fully recovered from last week's plague. Thankfully, he is. Totally full of energy and an appetite that won't quit. WOOT. Currently, he's in the kitchen pulling out all the things from all the drawers. 

Pix for your viewing pleasure . . . 

Just keep swimming. (all the randomness)

Crazy week! Recovering from the plague and getting the house ready for fam. Excited to have family visiting for the Easter weekend.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.


Enjoy my Friday Feed? Here's more to delight you.

Reminder: This isn't the Hunger Games. Egg hunt responsibly . . . karen

March 22, 2016

A book fell on my head. I can only blame my shelf. :P #TryItTuesday #AmazonPrime #funwithpuns

Try It Tuesday . . . Wherein I review things and stuff.

This bookshelf could totally be used for children's books or as a sleek magazine rack or a modern-minimalist chic bookcase for your every day reads and cookbooks. 

Today's product: KidKraft Bookshelf, natural

Where to find: Amazon | Walmart
Average cost: $35
Lasts: Still have ours after 2 years

Karen's rating: 

Why is this such a great bookshelf?

So . . . 

Hubs and I bought the natural color bookshelf for our son's nursery. We love it. I actually recently moved it to the living room, because so many of the toddler's books have ended up there. It looks great next to our fireplace.

Currently, I have 27 board books in this bookshelf. About 4 of those are fairly large books (wide) and another 5 or so are medium-sized and thick-ish books.

Also . . .

One, it holds a ton. Two, it doesn't scream I'm-a-kid's-bookcase-whoohoo-look-at-my-bright-arse-colors (there is a brighter version though, if primary colors are your thang). Three, it can definitely grow with us. So, after the kiddo starts collecting more books than we can keep up with, I'll probably use this bookshelf in my dining room for cookbooks--so, it's totally versatile. Four, it was easy to put together (at least it was for my Hubs, I did lay out all the pieces and instructions) with minimal cursing.

How do you store your books? What say you?


Wanna see more red balloons go by? Thought so. Check out my previous reviews*
*Reviews are my own opinions, I am not paid to promote any items.


Can't cook and drive, cos illegal--food truck facts . . . karen

March 21, 2016

10 Writing Tips That Can Help Most Anyone #amwriting #MondayMotivation #writeon

Monday Motivation . . . Writerly things and stuff.

This post by author Janet Fitch was extremely helpful and inspirational for me, and as a writer who often battles these issues on a daily basis, I could easily relate to what she had to say.

Below I've listed Janet's 10 tips and what they meant to me. Check out Janet's blog for the full post and more helpful tidbits.

1. Write the sentence, not just the story
This was something I'd actually never thought about until after I'd met my awesome freelance editor. I just wrote. Sure I'd gone back through the manuscript thousands (okay, maybe only hundreds) of times to annihilate adverbs and the evil was before I started querying, but I'd never actually thought about the story on it's most fundamental level...the sentence. I've become even more aware of this after writing a novella. Each sentence counts. Each word counts. After all the words are on the page, make sure to really analyze them. I love Janet's advice about reading aloud. It's kinda hard to do and way time consuming. But so worth it.

2. Pick a better verb
I struggle with this one. Yes, I admit it, sometimes I fall into the one-size-fits-all custom made suit, as Janet describes it. I want to know all the words and be able to use them to carry greater meaning and enhance the theme of my stories, but it's a challenge. One that I am working on. is my best friend. I love it. I've even taken it out on dates. How you might ask... Erm, it's an app on my phone. Duh. The moral of Tip 2: Don't settle.

3. Kill the cliché
Oh boy. It's so true what Janet says, "When you’re writing, anything you’ve ever heard or read before is a cliché." *readies the red pen* This one is a killer. Almost all of my first thoughts are a cliché. Sigh. On a positive note, I recognize it now. I try not to worry about it too much on my first drafts, but when I revise I start slashing away...tearing them down so I can build them back up. New and improved with my own Karen charm.

4. Variety is the key
Sentence structure. Subjects and verbs and objects...oh myyy. I'm guilty of this. So, yeah, I have a thing for short sentences. Just do. Love. Them. Can you tell? Sometimes I wonder if it's partially because of my love for Twitter and that blue birdie's addictive 140 characters. Whether it is or it isn't, this is a shackle I'm aware of and I'm making an attempt to break free. You know? Switch it up.

5. Explore sentences using dependent clauses
Okay, this is your freebie cos I just love how Janet puts it. "A dependent clause (a sentence fragment set off by commas, dontcha know) helps you explore your story by moving you deeper into the sentence. It allows you to stop and think harder about what you’ve already written. Often the story you’re looking for is inside the sentence. The dependent clause helps you uncover it."

6. Use the landscape
Don't know about you, but I'm a bare-bones kind of writer. At least I was until I started to get feedback from contests saying I needed more setting description. Challenge accepted. Another thing I've been actively working on is using landscape and setting as part of the story itself to set tone. Not just a way to give the characters location. Janet gives two great examples of authors to check out for help with this. Gotta check out her post to find out.

7. Smarten up your protagonist
This one is uber important. The protagonist is that special someone your reader will connect with. Make sure (s)he is always "looking, thinking, wondering, remembering."

8. Learn to write dialogue
I love dialogue. It's one of my fave things to read and write. It's all about keeping it natural. Natural for your voice and for your characters'. It can take a lot of practice to get it right, but reading writers of great prose dialogue is extremely helpful. And practice. Read it aloud. Does it sound like something a real person would say? One of Janet's great tips: "Skip the meet and greet."

9. Write in scenes
Oh man. Janet's tip for scenes is perfect. I'm gonna be a big tease and totally make you check this one out on your own (here). Bwa. Ha. Ha.

10. Torture your protagonist
No problem there. I live for this. Dream about it even. I just keep throwing things at the protagonist until they probably hate me. But, I do reward them in the end. So just remember, "The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story."

Want more motivation? Who doesn't? Check out my other Monday posts.

Currently being fed apple by my toddler . . . karen

For more on this post check out Janet Fitch's Blog.

March 18, 2016

Writing words, fighting the plague, and searchin' for my pot o' gold! #amwriting #mommylife #FridayFeed

Friday Feed . . . Doing things and stuff.

Call me Karen. (writing words)


And then . . .

Yup. Been a mixed bag of emotions this week on the writing-front. Making progress though. I'm around 53k words, and I should only have about 2k left to go. HOLLA.

I'm soooo excited about this story. Writing a middle grade fantasy has been a wonderful, frustrating, scary, amazing journey of words. Can't wait to write The End and share my soul.

Luke, I am your mother. (kiddo corner)

Omigosh, this has been a crazy week. Busy, busy bees here. Started over the weekend, trying to get things together for my DIY height chart project for Lukey (more on that below) and also trying to adjust to Daylight Savings Time.
Monday only some of the things were done--even though, at the time, it felt like I was accomplishing a lot.
Tuesday we had story time at the library and had to cut our play time short for an emergency trip to a consignment shop for summer clothes. Cos, trekking-A it's suddenly 80 degrees.
Wednesday morning we went to a friggin' awesome FREE farm that was sooo much fun. There were goats and sheep and peacocks and playground equipment and picnic tables and, and, and all the things. That afternoon we babysat Lukey's sweet girlfriend (teehee) for a bit, so that her parents could recuperate from the plague.
Thursday was spent mostly cleaning puke and poop off the Lukey and off me. Four loads of laundry later, clothes are clean. Somebody wanna fold them for me?? Takers? Anyone? Yeah, don't blame ya. Laundry is the worst.
As for today, who knows what surprises await.

Pix for your viewing pleasure . . .

Just keep swimming. (all the randomness)

 So, my DIY project. Update: first, there is no way in Hellz that this project cost only FIVE dollars (see below), unless the blogger had literally almost ALL the bloody materials to begin with--cos, I spent more than FIVE dollars on discount/mis-tinted paint. I digress. Second, most of my materials (paint, stencils, and brushes) have been purchased. Just gotta find a piece of fence post that hasn't been pressure-treated. Surprisingly hard. Third, despite the amount of work this project has turned out to be--and it isn't even technically started yet--I am seriously excited about it. LOL When it's finished, it's gonna be trekkin' cool, yo.

DIY directions here

In other news, Happy belated St. Patrick's Day! Hope your day was filled with good luck and cheer.


Enjoy my Friday Feed? Here's more to delight you.

11 March
19 February
12 February
5 February
29 January
22 January
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8 January

Searching for the end of the rainbow . . . karen

March 15, 2016

Horses and ducks and trucks...oh my! Neigh. Quack. BEEP. #TryItTuesday #childrensbooks #amreading

Try It Tuesday . . . Wherein I review things and stuff.
Looking for a fantastic children's book with just the right amount of words, beautiful illustrations, and a thoughtful message? 

Do I have the book for you. 

Little Blue Truck is a wonderful, fun read!

Today's product: Little Blue Truck

Where to find: Amazon | Blue's Website | Library (FREE)
Average cost: $FREE to $25
Lasts: Until your kiddo destroys it.

Karen's rating: 

What's so great about another truck book? Blue is relate-able, kind of like a little kid, learning and exploring the world around him. The best part for me (as an adult) is that the book number 1, isn't boring and has good rhythm when reading aloud. Number 2, has a simple, yet thoughtful message. Number 3, is illustrated in a lovely/rustic (not garish) manner.

My 17-month-old has been all about this book since well before his first birthday. He enjoys when my hubby and I make the animal sounds, and he loves to point/find the animals. He brings us this book and another in the series (Little Blue Truck's Christmas) almost every night to read to him. Lots of times he'll get this book from his bookcase and climb onto the couch to look at it by himself. 

Another thing I love about this book/series: the toad. Blue and Toad are good friends. So sweet.

Also, totally pumped for Little Blue Truck's Halloween, releasing in July. WOOT.


Do you have a favorite board book or children's series? What say you?


Wanna see more red balloons go by? Thought so. Check out my previous reviews*
*Reviews are my own opinions, I am not paid to promote any items.


Changing the toddler's third poop of the day . . . karen