Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side

Honestly, there is nothing I hate worse than clutter. A long reformed slob, it drives me absolutely batty (shut up hubby!). Now with all our electronic gadgets, our kitchen island has become a mass charging station. Two Blackberries, 1 Samsung Galaxy, 2 digital cameras, iPods, Kindles, laptops, tablets…the list goes on and on.

I swear it looks like we are gearing up to power the next space shuttle. It’s an endless collection of gadgets that sends my visual senses into overload. When I come into the kitchen in the morning greeted by the sight of oodles of metal, chords and blinking lights, I cringe. Not the way to start the day…no sirree!

There’s got to be a better way!

You betcha!

Decorative Things Grass Charging Station (http://www.decorativethings.com)

Allow me to introduce you to the top of my Christmas wish list (cause it’s never too late to start wishing): the grass charging station by Decorative Things.

For $28 (plus shipping), I can create a zen-like charging station in my own home! Thassss right!

In this nature-inspired oasis, the coiled wires are hidden in the bottom while all my gadgets sit pretty on the grass charging away. Genius people!

I definitely need a couple for the kitchen but hell…I might just get one for every room in the house. Ya never know when ya gotta do an emergency charge, right? Might as well look good doing it!

And…It comes in WHITE and a MINI version people!

It’s gorgeous and so…calming! Now I’ll actually look forward to plugging in my gear in at night.

Sleep tight Blackberry….night night iPod…rest easy Kindle…sweet dreams tablet…I hope y’all are comfy in your grass bed! I am the world’s best gadget mom!!

How do you handle all the electronics clutter in your home? Do you have a dream charging station or do you just plug them in where ever you have a free outlet? How do you handle clutter? Come on…share the wealth…

It’s Twisted Tuesday and that means it’s time to enjoy a smile, giggle or laugh…here’s hoping I’ve provided it in spades…enjoy!

More blog deliciousness here:

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My fab 5 for 2011

I read a fantastic post by Ginger Calem on her top five for 2011. I loved it so much I thought I’d do my own fab 5 for 2011. As Ginger pointed out, the “givens” are already understood. We all know everyone is grateful for their spouses, family, children, health, home etc. This is more about those 5 fabulous little ditties that made you squeal in personal delight. They changed your pleasure world and gave you something unexpectedly delicious. They gave you itty bitty butterflies in your belly. You know…the FUN STUFF!

My fab 5 for 2011 (in no particular order) are:

1.      My Kindle

My Kindle was a 2011 birthday present and it’s been one of my most delicious finds for 2011. I love it so much; hubby thinks I am having an affair it. Every night I dash into bed excited to curl up with the little bugger. I love the convenience of it, the highlighting, the dictionary, the page turns, and the light! Best of all, a few weeks ago I bought the first book to the Vampire Diaries. And there I found myself at midnight, finished book one with no book two in hand. Well instead of having to wait until morning to head to the bookstore, I just fired up amazon, ordered book two and in under a minute, I was happily immersed in the story again having never left the comfort and warmth of my BED! LOVE THAT!

2. Blogging/WANA711/ROW80/Twitter

I lump all my social media fun into one fab 5 because they are all interconnected. 2011 was simply a huge social media year for me. I started the year strong but my readership and enthusiasm for blogging waned 6 months into the year. That’s when I came across Kristen Lamb’s blogging to build brand course and my world changed. It was, as we writers like to call it, the inciting event. My world has not been the same since. Through her course, and beyond, I have connected with so many amazing people who are encouraging me to chase my dream in ways that has deeply touched my soul! I don’t feel like we are just a network…we aren’t just a community…we are a family! And I don’t know what I’d do without each and every one of you. You’ve enriched my life and brought me such joy and laughter. The truest gift of friendship and support I’ve ever received….thank you simply does not come close to expressing my gratitude!

3.      My 6 foot pre-lit palm tree

You might think this sounds odd but I’ve wanted one of these bad boys for years! I mean, we don’t live anywhere my beloved palm trees so there’s something that just warms my heart every time we drive by a house that has one of these things lit up. “Look hubby…ahhhh…isn’t that gorgeous!!!” I’d say time and time again. It’s just one of those things that tweaked my weird funny bone. This year, hubby delivered at Christmas in spades and when I opened this box up, I literally squealed and did the flash dance toe-tap! I couldn’t wait to tear into the box and set it up. Although we put it up for a bit over Christmas, I decided our winter weather will likely destroy its beauty too quickly so it’s tucked away until spring when I will create a palm tree oasis on my back deck! Eeekeee…I can’t wait!

4.      Shoes – all of them – but especially the newbies to the collection!

I gotta say, nothing makes me feel sexier than a hot pair of shoes. There’s just something about it. Something that makes me stand taller, walk prouder, feel more confident. I swear, hot shoes could solve world peace! I have a good friend who has an addiction to hot shoes that makes my collection look like child’s play. Lucky for me, she enjoys passing her hardly-worn, slightly used oldies to make room for newbies meaning my shoe collection is growing in size and style. It’s hot hot hot! Tara, if you are reading this, thank you – you make my shoe world a rockin’ place to be.

5.      Clothes that fit

Most of you likely read my post about how hubby took me shopping for some new clothes to fit my growing body (no, I am not pregnant, just put on 20+ pounds this summer). I had been refusing for months and months promising I was going to drop some of the weight. He couldn’t take seeing me so unhappy and told me to suck it up and off we went to the mall. I had no idea that accommodating my weight gain by buying bigger sizes and clothes that fit would actually make me feel wonderful about myself and…smaller?!?! It was a true gift and one I’ve been reveling in ever since. Definitely one of my fab 5 experiences this year! And the new loot hanging in my closet helps!

There are probably a hundred other things, experiences, and emotions that I could add to this list. 2011 was really a stellar year for me with a ton of growth and change, most for the better. It’s going to be hard to top that year but…I have every hope that 2012 is going to blow it out of the water. That’s the plan anyway.

Here’s to maintaining an attitude of gratitude like Tameri Etherton is doing beyond this post of fabulousness…but all year-long! 

What’s your Fab 5 for 2011? How do you embrace an attitude of gratitude?

If you enjoyed this post, check out more blog deliciousness here:

  • We’ve all heard the science, we do better at anything (writing, work etc) when we are physically fit and active. I know when I sit and watch TV, I slowly move into numb land. But if I take a walk, I come home ready to write. Well Ginger Calem has come up with the #writersbutt program that’s going to make us all better, more productive writers and more physically fit. I joined up immediately! Check out her post and get to it!
  • There’s been a ton of posts out there on resolutions and goals setting but I really loved Kate MacNicol’s post on creating breakthrough goals. Those goals that really push us outside our comfort zone and make us reach for the stars!
  • Another key to success is making sure our goals are SMART. Marcia Richards wrote a fantastic post with 5 tips that will surely help us all reach our goals!

Dear blog…I am having an affair…

…with my Kindle!

I have had my e-reader, Amazon’s Kindle, for nearly two months. I bought the Wi-Fi-only, Graphite version which has a 6″ display and features Amazon’s new E Ink Pearl Technology. I have waited this long to write my review because I wanted to make sure that I really took the time to try it out and explore all the options, which, for the most part, I have.

Before I get to the good, the bad and the ugly, I should add a small disclaimer: I have no emotional attachment or connection to the physical book. In talking to a lot of people about the new e-readers on the market, I have come to learn that there are many folks out there who love the experience of reading an actual book including the weight, the feel, the smell, and even turning the corner of the pages to mark them. I respect these folks greatly but I am not one of them. To me, the book is a means to an end: the story and the characters. Also, know that I can’t compare the Kindle to the Kobo (Chapters Indigo) , the iPad (Apple), or the Nook (Barnes and Noble) since I’ve never seen or tried any of them.

So let’s get to it. What do I think of the Kindle?

I absolutely, whole heartedly, 100% ADORE and LOVE IT!

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, here’s my low down on the Kindle and all its functionality!

The Screen (E Ink Pearl Technology)

Amazon claims the screen reads like paper and they aren’t kidding; it does…if not better! The screen is crystal clear, crisp, without glare, and the fonts are clean, crisp and dark. You can read in bright sunlight or in low light just as easy. Not to mention you can enlarge your font, how many words appear per line, and the justification – it’s customized reading for your ultimate pleasure and I love it! No more reading glasses for me!

Design/Weight/Page Turn

Amazon claims this latest version to be “thinner, lighter, faster, better than ever before.” Now I can’t attest to how it stacks up against earlier versions but I can say that the design and weight is very comfortable. I actually have mine in a case with a light (great for those nights at the camp when we shut down the power) and I find it extremely comfy. One of the issues I had with books is that I like to read in bed, on my side and sometimes holding a book opened or positioned just right was awkward but with the Kindle, it’s easy as pie!

The speed of the page turning makes for seamless reading. I couldn’t physically turn a page on a book faster than my Kindle turns a page. I find it extremely seamless and unnoticeable. There are two large buttons on either side for going forward and two smaller ones for going backwards and they are perfectly positioned and are easy to click.

Built-in Wi-Fi/Book Ordering

The website claims that you can shop and download books in less than 60 seconds and they ain’t kidding. I downloaded the Sookie Stackhouse series of eight books in 10 seconds flat. With Amazon, you can set up a prearranged account so that you can quite literally order books with one click and I haven’t seen a book take longer than 10 seconds to load yet. I was quite amazed. I want to finish reading all my books just so I can have the fun of ordering more.

Massive Selection

In the US, there are over 850,000 books including 107 of 111 New York Times best sellers plus audio books, periodicals, and blogs. In Canada, there are over 660,000 books. Add to that, there are 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright books with classics such as Pride and Prejudice.

I love how I can search by any means I like and I haven’t been able to not find a book I wanted yet. I do however tell people who are considering an e-reader such as Kindle to go on the site and search out the types of books they read to make sure they are there before they buy an e-reader.

Also, you can download and read the first chapter for free before you decide to buy so it’s just like shopping at the book store.

Cost

Books on average run from about .99 cents to $9.99 USD for new releases. I recently bought Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol for $7.99 USD and the Sookie Stackhouse 8-box set by Charlaine Harris for $36.24 USD (that’s $4.53 per book). I priced this box set at Chapters Indigo for $110 Cnd.

The Kindle itself comes in three versions. The version I bought which has Wi-Fi only for $140 USD. Kindle also has a model with 3G and Wi-Fi for $190 USD. It also comes in a 9.7” model with 3G for $379 USD.

Scott and I figure with how much I read that the actual cost of the Kindle will be recuperated in book cost savings in less than a year.

Dictionary Look up/Notes/Highlights

Now this is something I didn’t think would matter a whole lot to me but I am now IN LOVE with! I love Dan Brown’s books but I usually find there are a lot of words within the text that I don’t understand. Now, I can usually get the jist of the meaning from the context of the paragraph because I am certainly not going to read a book with a dictionary beside me. But now with my Kindle, I don’t have to settle with getting “the jist of it” anymore! Using my cursor, I just put it before the word I don’t understand and voilà: the definition (with the expansion option) appears at the top of my screen! WOW! I love this and used it extensively while reading Dan’s book. I felt like it enabled me to really enjoy the story while I also easily and without compromising the story flow was able to learn new vocabulary.

I haven’t used the highlight and notes section much yet. This is a feature where you can highlight text you’d like to “clip” out and save in a folder – say an inspirational paragraph or something you’d like to refer to later. Or you can make a note, which is like writing in the margin. So far, I haven’t used either but both look as user-friendly as all the other options.

Charging

Amazon claims you can read for up to a month on a single charge and again they haven’t disappointed. I got my Kindle on Jan 26, 2011 and fully charged it in three hours. I read every night for 30-60 minutes and on the weekends for about three to four additional hours. One month later, on February 26, I recharged it but I had a quarter of a battery bar left. I haven’t charged it since and I am now, over a month later, at a quarter of a battery bar. Honestly, this thing has got all the juice I need.

What Page was I on?

No more cornering pages or wondering where I left off if I fall asleep while reading. With my Kindle, I can read three books at the same time and Kindle always remembers what page I left off in each and opens right to it when I launch the book.

And if I fall asleep, my Kindle goes into “sleep” mode after 10 minutes so as to not waste the battery. When I wake up and turn it back on, it’s right where I left off. This is huge convenience for me.

Organizing Books

To organize my books, I created folders on my home screen for what I am currently reading, what I’ve read, and what’s waiting to be read. I am sure in time as I amass books, I will organize perhaps by genre or some other meaningful way. I love this digital storing and organizing – everything is easy to find and right at a finger tip; quite literally!

Storage

It claims to store up to 3500 books. So far I have about a dozen on it with no issue. I’ll keep you posted if I ever start to max out.

New Webkit-Based Brower

This is an option listed on the Amazon site that says you can browse the Web over Wi-Fi and lists it as “experimental”. Honestly, I haven’t even tried it yet. I couldn’t see using my Kindle to surf the Wet unless I was in a real pinch.

In conclusion

Ok, so I think it’s pretty obvious I am a huge Kindle fan. The device lived up to every expectation I had and then some. As well, I felt it really exceeded every claim on the Amazon site. For me, it comes down to the fact that I love the convenience, immediacy, and flexibility that it allows me. When I travel, I no longer have to worry about how many books I bring, running out, or the weight in my luggage because everything is stored in one place taking up less room and weight than most hard covered books. Even if I am running to the doctor or dentist, it’s easy to bring anywhere with me. I find it more comfortable than traditional books and all the functionality really brings more to the reading experience for me.

If the “love of the book” isn’t an issue for you, I highly recommend trying an e-reader and I give the Amazon Kindle two very large thumbs up!

How about you: tried an e-reader yet? Which ones and what do you think?

Let the birthday seasons begin

This weekend was one of fun, friends, and shopping. Friday night I celebrated another gal pal’s upcoming birthday with dinner, wine, and lots of laughs. We were in the midst a serious snow storm (30 cm) so there was no better place to be but warm and inside. I wasn’t worried about getting home on the roads since this storm was no match for our newly acquired Dodge Ram (Scott was my chauffeur since I was enjoying some drinks). There’s something very special about girlie evenings where you sit around, munch on great food and great wine, and just ramble steadily for a couple of hours about boys, jobs, gossip etc. We tee-heed for hours and I came home feeling rejuvenated and giddy!

On Saturday, Scott and I ran errands and did some BIRTHDAY gift shopping. Scott’s 40th bday is around the corner (Jan 27) and I felt like the milestone warranted something special and long-lasting. We do have a dinner party and evening out planned for a Saturday night celebration with friends and family but still – it’s his 40th – and I am a huge birthday person so we needed to commemorate with some serious shopping.

Given the winter season, the recent dumping of snow, and our desperate efforts to try to find winter sports that ease the pain of getting through our  New Brunswick winters (which usually last about 5 months), cross-country skis came to mind. We have snowshoes and have enjoyed them in the past but – there’s something missing. I thought skis might be just the ticket. I would have actually preferred to buy downhill skis but the budget wasn’t quite that extensive so cross-country it was. And low and behold, Scott was on board with the idea so off we went Saturday a.m. shopping up a storm.

$700 bucks later, we were both geared up with skis, poles, boots and bindings (Happy Birthday to me to…again!)

We went out Sunday to give the little suckers a try. I cross-country skied as a young girl but hadn’t been on a set in about 20 years. Although I was shaky and wobbly (and did take a tumble), I loved it. And WOW – what a workout! We only went about 30 minutes and we are STILL recovering. Although, a contributing factor to my soreness may have been a zealous Pilates session Sunday evening adding to my screaming core, shoulders, and inner thighs! I stepped on the scale Sunday morning and had only lost 1.6 pounds in 20 days even with ALL my efforts so I got a bit extreme…no kidding!

I can’t wait to get out on the skis again. Hopefully, we will get out this weekend if we aren’t too “hung over” after the celebrations Saturday evening.

And…guess what arrived today…my KINDLE!

I have loaded Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and the Sookie Stackhouse series of eight books – in a mere 30 seconds (for everything…holy sh*t) and for a total of $40 bucks! Woot woot! I expect this will be a good start and now that my Kindle baby is fully charged, I think I’ll head off to bath and bed and give it a whirl…Stay tuned….

Books that have moved you

For the last few weeks, I’ve been considering purchasing a Kindle. It’s a portable e-book reader that I think is gaining quite a bit of popularity. Given the cost of books and how quickly I devour them, I think a Kindle would be a more cost-effective option for me. The last book I purchased was The Confession by John Grisham. I was in desperate need of a read, I like John’s writing, but the book was only available in hardcover so I caved and spent around $29.99 to buy it. As an e-book, it would have run me about $9.99. Considering the Kindle is $139.99, it would practically pay for itself in seven hardcover books and then…well…let the savings begin! At that rate, how can I not buy one???

Scott supports the idea and with a birthday coming up in March, he figures I am coming into a splurge opportunity. He knows how many books I go through in a year. I’ve never kept count but I’d guess I read around a book every two or three weeks – give or take and depending on the density. That’s around 12 to 16 books a year. Add to that, he thinks I’d actually be more “comfortable” reading on a Kindle than the traditional page turners – interesting – perhaps so?!

I also like the idea of the convenience of it. When I am done reading a book, I wouldn’t have to make a trip to the bookstore. I could just jump online, find the next best thing, click download and TADA – book ready! I don’t know how many times I haven’t anticipated finishing up a read only to be caught with no new material at the bedside – grrrr! This would definitely be a huge plus for me.

Anyone try the Kindle yet – thoughts?

And while we are at it, any great books to suggest?

I am hungry for a book that moves me. I’ve really enjoyed my Philippa Gregory run with the 16th Century Tudor stories and John’s was okay but I am looking for a book that inspires me, motivates me, and all around moves me.

Anyone had that experience with a book before?

For me, the book that has always stood out in my mind as a life changer was Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. Out of his long series of these books, I have only ever read this one, book 1, so I can’t speak to the others but this book helped me completely alter the way I saw myself. I realize that it had a lot to do with where I was in my life; going through a divorce at 28 years old, realizing I had dated the same type of guy for 10 years because I didn’t love myself enough to know that I deserved better. I was realizing the true meaning of personal responsibility and accountability and finally taking a hold of the fact that I was ultimately responsible for absolutely every piece of my life – past, present and future. It was a momentous time in my life to begin with and it was like this book found me, at the perfect time, when I needed it most.

And it spoke to me and it moved me. I read it four times (in a row) and used it to journal extensively. It absolutely played a significant cathartic and healing role throughout this period in my life because it helped me open my mind and learn to love myself. It also helped me open up to a new level of spirituality and enlightenment and enabled me to tap into a lot of the grief and pain I had been carrying around for years with regards to my father’s death and my insane fear of abandonment.

It helped me renew and rebuild myself.

I have given the book as a gift to many of my friends over the years but none have spoken of having the same type of experience with it, unfortunately. I realize it can be a very tough read, especially the first few chapters and the concept can be very difficult for some people to grasp but I loved it. And whether I believe that the answers are the word of God or not matters very little – what was written made sense to me and helped me renew my inner world.

Anyone have suggestions for books that have done that for them?

Or do you have suggestions for really great books to read? I am hoping to create a vast reading list this year.

In the meantime, I may just order my Kindle along with the e-book Conversations with God and read it for a fifth time – I can only imagine what it might bring to my life this time.

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