Recent Posts

10 Bookish Gifts for the book lover

10 Bookish Gifts for the book lover

— This post contains amazon affiliate links, if you click and purchase through my link, a small percentage will get donated to this blog at no cost to you.—

This year, I’ve vowed to be more organized for Christmas, and to TRY to avoid the last minute scramble on the last few days before the big day. I’ve started making spreadsheets with gift ideas, in hopes that maybe this year, I’ll have it all figured out without the last minute hurried run to the store, scavenging the shelves in desperation. Last year’s spreadsheet was titled the “The Big Day,” hoping to be a little ambiguous in case little eyes get ahold of my computer, and this year’s spreadsheet is titled, “December’s Double Whammy.” (We have a birthday a few days before Christmas too!)

Anyway, to help you avoid the last minute desperation, the aimlessly walking through stores, or the generic gift search on amazon, here are some curated ideas of gifts for the book lover in your life.  Whether it’s a friend, aunt, sister-in-law, mother or daughter, hopefully you’ll get an idea or two for someone on your shopping list this year. (Just to be clear, I love guys who read, but these are mostly girlish gift ideas for chicks like me.)

Okay, enough talking, let’s get shopping….

  1. Book darts

The first gift on my list is book darts. I have seen these on the internets and just ordered some for my nightstand. I plan to hide them in my stocking on Christmas Eve. Shhhh! 😉  Do you dog-ear your pages?  How about fill a book up with ripped sticky notes to remember a page you want to come back to? Or leave your book face down, open to the page you’re left on? I’m guilty of all these things. However, a sophisticated tin of book darts on my nightstand elevates my reading life, and makes me scour the pages for passages to remember, just so I can add one of these metallic beauties to the page.

2. Lovely book ends

A pair of lovely book ends takes a boring bookshelf up a notch. My nightstand is always piled high with books, a pair of book ends would keep them tamed…..maybe I’ll gift this one to myself this year.

3. Boxed set of pretty favorites
puffin books boxed set

Nothing is better to a book lover, than a beautiful edition of a cherished favorite. Puffin in bloom created this gorgeous boxed set of classic Children’s books, including Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, A little princess, and Heidi, but you can also buy the books individually.

Penguin books makes this beautiful boxed set of Jane Austen’s collection, as well as many other classics. Just search for “Penguin Classics Hardcover” and you’ll see a wide array of gorgeous classic hardcover editions.

4. Bookish coffee mug

Is there anything better than a book and a warm mug of your favorite beverage? For me it’s hot cocoa, with hazelnut coffee creamer.  Choose one of these literary quote mugs:

Or one of these funny reading quote mugs:

5. Nerdy T shirts.

Oh my gosh, y’all. I had so much fun browsing through t-shirts with reading quotes. There’s a lot to pick from, but here were a few of my favorites.

I’m such a dork. I remember when my high school students first explained to me what “lit” meant.  I told them we were going to have a quiz over their “lit terms,” and they wanted to know what made the terms so “lit.” Imagine their disappointment when I told them lit was short for literature. 😉


6. A trendy book light

The struggle to read at night before bed is real. If you don’t have a lamp on your nightstand, or you’re sleeping away from home, or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep,  the book light is your new best friend. I’ve tried the awkward phone flashlight in one hand, with my book balanced against a blanket to try to read at night. This option is so much better, and so much more fun, don’t you think?

7. Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is hands down my favorite way to read on a device. One feature I really love is being able to download the first chapter of a book before you buy it. It’s a great way to preview the book, then when you get to the end of the chapter, you can just purchase it and keep reading where you left off.  Remember the book light problem? Well, the Paperwhite has a backlit screen, but the light dims low enough to read in a pitch black room, so it doesn’t bother your eyes. It’s 10 million times better than reading on a phone or tablet. I love my Paperwhite, and I’ve read on the beach and pool with it because there’s no glare, oh and it holds a charge for a SUPER long time. So that’s another bonus.

8. A Subscription to Audible

Book lovers love audiobooks too! is my go-to for audiobooks. With an audible subscription, you get 1 credit a month to use on any audiobooks. My husband loves audible for listening to business books. (They are pricey, but the audible credit brings them to under $15!) I love to listen to non-fiction books while I do household stuff, and the kids love fiction in the car or at bedtime. Many audiobooks can be between $20-30 a month, so this is a no brainer. And right now, you can sign up for and receive TWO free audiobooks instead of one, if you click on this link or the icon below. {If you purchase through my link, I get a little bonus at no extra cost to you.}

Literary gifts from Etsy 

There are so many creative and talented sellers on I love the work from Carrot Top Paper Shop: Here’s a few of her prints that I think would be so fun to display on a bookshelf, if you’re a kindred spirit, you’ll love her shop!

This bookmark brightens my day:

I love her literary heroines.

literary gifts

I saved the best for last. This lovely print makes me want to move to Green Gables with Marilla and Matthew.literary gift, green gables

I love the beautiful simplicity of these Ink in the Ozarks Book quote prints:

This quote from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

harry potter gift, book lover gift, literary gifts

Or this one from Little Women, “She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain.”literary gift, bookish gift


Literary Tote bags

Amazon and etsy both have a nice selection of literary tote bags with bookish quotes, or quotes from your favorite books. I thought this one was so funny, and it’s on PRIME, so if you’re doing last minute shopping, this should arrive in time.

literary tote bag

Okay, that ends the gift guide for book lovers this year! I hope you found some inspiration and meaningful and thoughtful gift idea for someone on your list this year.

Talk to you again soon,



Be Seen: A mantra for embracing vulnerability

Be Seen: A mantra for embracing vulnerability

I think I found my new mantra.

I recently decided to find a few piano students in the new neighborhood we moved to. This shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve taught piano before and I’ve built a thriving piano studio from scratch when we lived in another state. My mistake was in thinking that this time it would be easy. Yesterday, I went to hang some flyers around, and I felt like I was going to die. My brain went wild.

People are going to think I’m silly. Or money hungry. Or unqualified.  Or maybe they’ll think my flyer looks unprofessional, or maybe it’s too small. Nobody wants to learn to play the piano. It’s a terrible time to look for piano students. I should go back home and eat lots of cereal instead of hanging flyers. Maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe I should check Facebook right now.

Now that I’m looking back on it, I remember that these are all just thoughts and totally optional. And then I remind myself that no one ever died from imaginary or actual judgment from others.

Today I listened to a podcast I’d never listened to before today. I don’t think it was an accident that the topic was how to stop hiding. And there I pictured myself, hiding in my house, and avoiding Being Seen.

I’m not going to let those thoughts win because how sad is it to hide in order to avoid some imaginary pain, instead of doing something I truly enjoy and that adds to my community in a positive way?

It’s on a sticky note on my desk now. Be Seen.

Be me, no matter what. Don’t hide because I have insecurities. (Lots of them.) Be okay with the fact that they’ll probably always be there.

Be Seen Anyway.


What’s Working Wednesday

What’s Working Wednesday

Hi there! Today I’m sharing what’s working this Wednesday for me… I hope this helps you get to know me a little better, and I find it valuable to reflect on ideas and strategies that are working well in my life, and also areas I need to improve. I hope it helps you get to know me a little better, and maybe it will help you reflect on what’s working and what’s not in your life too…

Without further ado, this week’s What’s Working and What’s Not.

What’s working:

Library Time: We lived here for over 6 weeks before I finally visited our local library and got a library card here. It was funny how amazingly whole and complete I felt once I had that card in my wallet. Now I go once a week with my tot on Thursdays so we don’t ever miss toddler time. It is our FAVORITE activity of the week. The leader of the class reads only ONE very short book, and the rest of the time is spent learning engaging songs and finger-plays.

After toddler time, we pick out a few board books for my tot, I swing by the front desk and pick up a few holds, and then we drive through the drive through to return last week’s books. (In case you missed it, this was a little hint from my sister Rhonda’s post called 7 ways to use the library to turn your kids into readers.) 

Going to bed early: It took a few days to adjust to Daylight Saving Time, weirdly my kids wouldn’t go to bed on Sunday night until after 9:30 pm. (It should have felt like 10:30 pm to them? Weird?) Anyway, last night the exhaustion hit us all, and the kids were in bed by 7:45, and the hubs and I were PJ’ed and teeth-brushed by 8:45pm. Getting a solid 9 hours of sleep does wonders for me, and my body was naturally waking up around 6am before my alarm went off. I must keep this up, because I feel like an amazing energetic woman today.

What’s not:

Making plans for this blog. I’ve been in sort of a funk with this blog since moving 2 times this year, and have struggled to get back into the swing of things. I just found a plan on my computer that I had made for October.  Ooops.  I love writing posts spontaneously with things that just happen to be on my mind, but when I go about it that way, I tend to write infrequently, and I don’t accomplish the goals I’m working on. Anyway, I’m going to try to get back in the rhythm and do a better job of sticking to my plans.

My reading life: Guys, I told you last week (Click here for last week’s What’s working What’s Not post.) I was struggling, and I haven’t been a whole lot better this week. I have been reading a non-fiction parenting related book in response to a particular struggle with one of my children, and all my brain juice has been used up regarding that issue. I’m still on the same page of my novel as I was last week.

Okay, that’s it for What’s Working and What’s not this Wednesday.

I hope your Wednesday is fantastic.

Take care,


What’s working, what’s not

What’s working, what’s not

What’s working this week:

My planner. Planning has not always been my forte. I’m definitely a do-things-one-day-at-a-time, and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl.  I’m getting better and better at referring to my planner for my daily plan, and looking ahead at the next week and month.  I have the Create 365 Planner, and I love it! I bought it at Michaels (which means you can use a 40% off coupon!) This planner has cute accessories and interchangeable covers. (Also available HERE .)

Carpools. What would I do without my neighborhood ladies? There’s a carpool for sports, after-school pick-up, and church nights. Carpools are making my life completely do-able right now. Plus, it’s been a great way to make new friends here.

What’s not:

Parenting. I’m going to put my parenting in the “needs improvement” category for the week. Thanks to a lovely pep talk from my little sister, I’m feeling like I can do better and have a plan to improve.

My reading life. My reading life took a dive this week. With family in town, Halloween, and my Astros playing in the world series, I haven’t been reading as much as I would like to this week. I’m in the middle of a great book though, so I’m ready to get back at it.


What’s working and what’s not for you this week?

Talk to you soon,




Authenticity: a no-make up day on the blog

Authenticity: a no-make up day on the blog

Hi guys! It’s your lucky day. Today you showed up on my blog, and I’m not putting my make-up on. I’m going to try out some virtual authenticity. My hair’s a mess. I have bags under my eyes, and I’m wearing an old t-shirt and it’s on backwards.  You’re gonna take a look at some of my imperfections, blemishes, and see the real me.  When I’m pulled together and showered and presentable to the world, I can look really nice. Metaphorically, my life really is amazing and blessed, but I want you to know there’s a real authentic human behind your screen.

Okay, here we go…..

I lose my temper with my kids.

Sometimes I go to the bathroom, and I lock it and I sit there a LONG time just because it’s quiet.

I struggle to read my scriptures regularly. Since becoming a mom, I haven’t been doing it with any kind of consistency. (As a good Mormon girl, this is like a really terrible thing!)

I need a lot of sleep. I’m not a night person, or a morning person. I like naps as well, and I take them whenever I can. I’m not narcoleptic, I just function really well when I’ve had about 9 hours of sleep.

I’ve been eating cookies again. I’ve had a lot of anxiety lately, and cookies really help.

I pull out my hair. I’ve done it since elementary school. It’s a bad habit, like nail biting. Again, it kicks into gear with anxiety.

I’m forgetful. When we moved to Omaha, I forgot to pick up my kids at the bus stop after their 3rd day of school. (It was a Wednesday, and for some reason they got out early on Wednesdays.) The school tried to call me, but I was napping. (That again!) So they called my cousin (who was my emergency contact) who called my mom, who called my mother in law, who came and woke me up. A neighbor took them home until I picked them up.

I lose things all the time. Just this week I lost my phone at church, left it in a restaurant, and lost it at home. (It was on my front porch of all places!)

I’m pretty clumsy. I had to go to a fancy work dinner with my hubs last night. I kept bumping the table with my leg because I was crossing and uncrossing my legs so often. Every time I bumped it, all the wine glasses would shake. Embarrassing!

These are just a few examples of my HUMAN-ness. I hope you enjoyed this no-make up day. it’s actually been kind of fun to write this out and practice authenticity, by admitting a bunch of my imperfections. I’m sure my husband and family and friends could add a lot more things to the list too.  I’m pretty flawed, but I’m totally okay with that.

Thanks for reading, and loving me even though I’m sometimes a hot mess. Care to share some of your imperfections? I’m sure I can relate! Leave me a message below, or comment on facebook.

Talk to you soon,


7 ways moms suck at self-care

7 ways moms suck at self-care

In 2016, I picked a really simple resolution. It was simply one word: Gina.  I was allowed to be me, read and buy books when I wanted to, and to even sometimes put myself before others. As a people pleaser, this was at times uncomfortable to me.  The weirdest thing happened though. I was happier, and I had a lot more energy to give to others. I started to realize what self-care really meant, and that since becoming a mom, I hadn’t been doing that great of a job of taking care of me.

Part of this shift came from reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. She explains that focusing on your own happiness is not in fact selfish.  The happier we feel, the better people we are, and then we are able to influence more people for good. This makes total sense, but as moms, we are wired to care for our kids before ourselves, and many times we do it at the expense of our own mental health. Simply put, moms suck at self-care.

Here are 7 ways moms aren’t taking care of themselves:

Not getting your own back.

Gah. I can be terrible at this. Quieting that evil twin in your head can be hard. My brain has a good habit of waiting for others to validate everything that I do. Moms don’t get many pats on the back for changing diapers, making meals and lunches, and many of the little things we do all day. Instead of leaving it up to others to make you feel good, work on positive self talk. You may feel silly at first, but little pieces of praise that you say to yourself can go a long way.

Not having hobbies:

Be yourself, and embrace it. All of you.  How much social time do you need? What does a fulfilling day look like for you? What are your quirks, and what makes you unique? Is there a way to get in touch with things you truly enjoy? What did you enjoy as a child? Could you join a sports team or a local theatre, or find other activity that really makes you feel like you, for no other reason than that it is fun for you? Don’t sacrifice your own identity just because you have children who need you. Be creative and find little ways to embrace being yourself.

Defining yourself by “outside” standards.

I’ve always loved reading, and I was an English Major in college. I’ve read plenty of books. However, I’ve always struggled to define myself as a “reader” because there are so many people who read more than me, faster than me, and remember what they’ve read better than me. I felt like there was some kind of club out there, and once I had read enough classics, my name would somehow appear on that list. It’s silly, I know. Well, one day I decided that none of that mattered. I like to read, so I’m a reader. I told myself I was, and I decided to believe it. The same can be true for anything you like to do or want to become. YOU get to decide what makes you legitimate. Don’t wait for others to grant it to you.

Choosing cynicism or criticism over kindness

When we love others, we are the ones who get to feel love. Loving people feels great.  It feels way better than resentment, and we free up brain space for better and more important thoughts. Let things go. Look for the good in others. Choose kindness over criticism or gossiping. When you find the good in others, you’ll start to see it more in yourself too.

Not taking care of your future self

Instead of living for the day-to-day moment, take care of future-you. It can be hard to plan ahead when the laundry is piled high, and cheerios line the floor, but doing things for your future self is a great hack to reframe the way you get things done. Think about doing things on your to-do list as a gift to your future self.  The more you do this, the more present you’ll be able to be in the day-t0-day moments.

Letting your kids think you’re supermom

When my kids get home from school, they must think I have super powers. They’re talking all at once, and think that I can listen, respond, get them a snack, a drink, sign papers, help someone with piano practice and change a diaper at the same time. Sound familiar? When they’re all talking at once, melting down, and trying to get my attention, I don’t handle it well. I used to (okay, I still do!)  get really frustrated as I tried meet all their needs at the same time. I’m learning to tell each of them to stop and wait because I’m just one person and there’s no way I can meet all their needs at once. I try to remind them that there’s just one of me, and I’m just a regular human. Taking turns, doing chores, and not getting their needs met right away,  is just part of having me as their mom, and in turn gives me the head space to be a regular, not super, human.

Not getting help when you need it

I went through a really rough bout of depression a few years ago. Pregnant and overwhelmed with a busy toddler, my brain chemicals were out of whack, and I didn’t feel like myself.  I really struggled for a long time before I finally got the help that I needed for myself. It was so hard for me to ask my doctor to refer me to someone to talk about my depression. I wasn’t even sure if it was depression, and felt so much shame in not being the happy person that I used to be. If I could go back, I would tell myself to just do it instead of putting it off, or waiting to see if it would just get better on its own.

Luckily for me, the therapist I was referred to was fantastic. I learned some tools to deal with parts of my life that were causing me unneeded pain, and I went on an anti-depressant as soon as the baby was born. Getting on the drug snapped me out of that low that I was in, and I felt so much better. I remember waking up and feeling a sense of relief, and thinking, is this how everyone else feels every morning? Well, no wonder it was so dang hard!  Since then, I’ve kept a close check on my mental health, noticing when I need a “tune up” or some extra help.

As a mom, you have small people depending on you to be your best self, and you can’t do your best parenting when you are being unauthentic and feeling inadequate. Take little steps each day to treat yourself a little better, and you will be that much closer to living your best life.




6 Podcasts for Moms that Uplift and Inspire

6 Podcasts for Moms that Uplift and Inspire

Hey, are you guys listening to podcasts? Seriously, I love them. There’s so much amazing content out there, and you can take it with you anywhere. Listen while you do dishes or laundry, or while you run kids around town. New podcasts are popping up all the time, and now there are ever increasing number of podcasts on very niche topics. Almost anything you are interested in learning about is out there, and it’s all free. I’m kind of a podcast junkie, and I’m constantly trying out new ones. (more…)

What I learned from taking a decorating class

What I learned from taking a decorating class

Quiet the Space

I recently took an online decorating course called Cozy Minimalism from Myquillin Smith. The first principle of her course is quieting the space.* To quiet a space, take everything out except for your big foundational pieces, like your sofa, chairs, or tables. When you quiet the space you leave only what you must have in the room, and then everything else is added back in thoughtfully and intentionally.  (more…)

I quit sugar for 8 weeks: Here’s what happened

I quit sugar for 8 weeks: Here’s what happened

Hi y’all! I can say y’all now because I am writing to you from the great state of Texas! I grew up “mostly” in Houston, and it feels good to be reconnecting with my roots. The Texas hospitality is real and awesome. We are loving the sunshine and the swimming and all the good Mexican food down here. (more…)

How to raise a reader: Birth to age 8

How to raise a reader: Birth to age 8

Do you want to raise a reader? Do you hope your young child will love books, and have confidence as he approaches any text in school?  If you’re reading this post, you probably do, and you probably agree that one of our primary goals as parents should be to raise confident, happy readers. Sadly, wanting it for our child, doesn’t always make it happen.  The awesome news is that it’s not hard to raise a child who is a fantastic reader, especially if you start doing a few simple things while your child is young.  (more…)