February Photo a Day Challenges

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Fun, photos | 2 comments

February 2017 Photo a Day Challenges

I have found a way to make daily photo prompts work well for me.

No single photo a day prompt list fully works for me. I choose to save several lists and choose one prompt each day from among those lists. I’m happy to say that I love this approach and it works great for me. I highly recommend it.

Here is a sample of the photo a day lists I’ll be using for February:
(click on the images to see larger versions)

If committing to a month at a time feels like too much, there are other weekly and daily options available on Instagram
There are several Instagram accounts that feature a new theme every day or every week. I follow these accounts and every once in a while they save me when I just don’t like any of the other prompts. These are all worth following on Instagram.

As you can tell, I am a huge fan of using prompts for daily photos because it helps make a personal photo journal and also makes me look for inspiration throughout my daily life. It helps me to notice and appreciate the little moments and things every day.

I’ve been doing this since March of 2012 so I’m closing in on 5 years of daily photos.

Follow my Daily Photos on Instagram

These are the most liked of my January 2017 Photo a Day photos:

If you’re not doing a Photo a Day challenge I hope you’ll consider it because it’s a fun way to have a photo journal. If you are, great! Keep up with it. You won’t be sorry. I highly recommend the pick from many prompts each day approach.

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Reading Tracking Spreadsheet Nirvana

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Blogging/Reading, Fun | 6 comments

I believe I have found reading tracking spreadsheet Nirvana

 

I have used a variety of excel spreadsheets over the years to track my books and reading.

 

I have one master that is all the books I’ve read or listened to since October of 2003

I also have a badly outdated TBR spreadsheet where I used to keep track of book I want to read and series I’ve started. I need to purge that one of these days. There are a lot of books and series on there that I’m no longer interested in reading.

For the past five or six years, I’ve used a variety of spreadsheets shared by other bloggers to keep track of my yearly reading stats. Some have worked better than others.

The one I’ve used for the past few years tracked most of what I wanted to track but there were a lot of columns on it that didn’t matter to me.

Earlier this week I started browsing for other reading tracking spreadsheets that might be available. Book folks love to share what they read and how they keep track of things so I knew I’d find options. Why recreate when I can take advantage of someone else’s expertise with excel formulas?

I found several. Some of which I quickly dismissed because they didn’t include audiobook listening time. Others were only focused on a couple of statistics.

 

Then I found Reading Tracking Spreadsheet Nirvana

Crini at All About Books  is a spreadsheet geek after my own heart. She has all kinds of posts about the spreadsheets she uses to track reading, books accumulated, series, review books, etc.

Seriously if you check through the posts for her spreadsheet category you’ll find all kinds of great stuff.

Her latest 2017 spreadsheet is fabulous.

First of all, it’s easy. You only have to enter the data on one sheet. All the overviews and specific stats are linked. It’s in Google Docs so all you have to do is save a copy of the empty spreadsheet.

The reason I love it is that not only does it track all the basic stuff I want but it’s also flexible. If there’s something I want to keep track of that’s not already set up it’s easy to do with tags. She’s got a column where you can enter any tags you want or need. There is a tab set up where you can filter your reading data by the established columns and also by your personal tags. So, If I want to track something not already on the spreadsheet I can do that. I have a Library tag for books I check out from the library.

Reading Tracking Filter

click on the image for a larger version

I did some minor renaming of a couple of columns. The original tracks hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio. I changed that to print, ebook, both, and audio because I often switch between print and ebook formats when I’m reading a book.

I like the output of the stats information more than my previous spreadsheet.

Reading Tracking Statistics

Click on the image for a larger version

As with any tracking spreadsheet set up by someone else there are parts of this I won’t use. I don’t intend to track acquisitions and money spent on books. What The Hubster doesn’t know is good for him.

Seriously. If you want easy tracking with a bunch of different statistics all set up for you go check out this spreadsheet.

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Weekend Update – The Ten Things I Liked This Week January 2017 Edition

Posted by on Jan 22, 2017 in Fun, photos, Ten Things, Weekend Update | 10 comments

Ten Things I Liked This Week January 2017

Ten Things I Liked This Week January 2017

I started doing Ten Things I Liked This Week a about a year and a half ago and it’s definitely become my favorite monthly post. I love adding to my list throughout the week.

Here are ten things I liked this week:

1. Snow Castles
We had some significant snow that stuck around for a while. The neighborhood got a little creative

Snow Castle

 

2. Dungeness Crab
The season was delayed a bit this year but it’s been delicious,

 

3. This
I saw this on my friend Eleanor’s blog and cracked up.
Meerkats

 

4. Little elephant playing in the snow
The Oregon Zoo was closed due to the snow but the animals had some fun. Lily is their youngest elephant (four years old) and she is hilarious.

 

5. 10 Reading Superstitions of Book Fanatics
I loved this list. I don’t agree with all of them but my favorite is “If You Walk Past a Bookstore, You Must Enter”. You have to.
Check out the the full list from The Strand Bookstore.

 

6. This one
A friend of mine posted this and it happened to be a day I could totally relate to this.
Got out of bed

 

7. Penguin Awareness Day
I had no idea about this until Katie at Words for Worms alerted me.

 

8. Finding Dory
Finally watched it this week.
Finding Dory

 

9. Birthday Brunch
My friend’s birthday was yesterday so we met for brunch before heading to the Women’s March.
Birthday Brunch

 

10. Women’s Marches
I participated in the Portland march yesterday. It was inspiring and empowering. I was so happy to see so many families there. Our weather was awful. We were all cold and drenched long before any marching started but I’m still glad I was there.

The photos and stories from all the marches all over the world give me hope.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Bout of Books 18 Kickoff and Updates Post

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in Blogging/Reading, Bout of Books, Fun | 6 comments

Bout of Books 18

Bout of Books 18

Bout of Books 18 kicked off at Midnight last night. I can always find a way to make Bout of Books work for me. This time I have the luxury of a holiday from work on the first day.

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender on a complete whim in August 2011. It took on a life of its own and was such a hit that Amanda decided to do it again and turn it into a somewhat regular occurrence.

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, usually from 12:01am on a Monday through 11:59pm on a Sunday in whatever time zone you are in.
  • It is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.

This is the stack of books I will be choosing from this week. I may not finish any of them. I may not read from all of them. It’s just good to have options readily available.
Bout of Books 18 Stack
In addition to the books pictured here I am also listening to the audio of A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny.

I will be using this post as my tracking post and adding daily updates each morning about what reading I have accomplished the day before. I’ll post updates here every morning Tuesday through Saturday. I’ll include my Sunday reading on my final wrap up post.

I don’t set goals but one thing I do a little different this week is to track all my reading time. I have a time tracking app on my phone and watch so it’s easy to hit the start and stop button and track whether it’s reading or listening time. One benefit of using this is it keeps me focused. I find I’m less inclined to get distracted by stuff that I could be doing around the house or playing on my phone if I’m feeling like I’m “on the clock” for reading.

So . . . Let the reading begin . . .

Monday Reading
Well – best laid plans and all that. I didn’t get the extended reading time I had hoped for but I did manage close to an hour of audiobook time (A Great Reckoning0 and an hour and a half of reading (The Last Kingdom).

Tuesday Reading
Today I managed 3 hours and 10 minutes of reading time.
A half hour of Listening to A Great Reckoning
2 hours and 40 minutes of reading. It was good short attention span reading today. I read a chapter of The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. I read a couple of chapters of the Illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (it’s GORGEOUS). I read the graphic novel of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery (illustrated by her grandson). I read a bit of Fables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham.
All in all a pretty good day of reading.

Wednesday Reading
Another decent reading day 2 hours and 50 minutes
A half hour of listening to The Great Reckoning
2 hours and 20 minutes of reading. I read more of The Last Kingdom and finished Fables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind.

Thursday Reading
Another pretty good reading day. Errands after work meant extra audiobook time and I listened to an hour of A great Reckoning. In print I read for 2 hours all in The Last Kingdom

Friday Reading
No audiobook time today because I worked from home so didn’t go anywhere (I only listen to audiobooks in my car). I did manage a solid three hours of reading though. All in The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Saturday Reading
Three hours and 20 minutes all reading The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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January Photo a Day Challenges

Posted by on Dec 31, 2016 in Fun, photos | 2 comments

January 2017 Photo a Day Challenges

I have found a way to make daily photo prompts work well for me.

No single photo a day prompt list fully works for me. I choose to save several lists and choose one prompt each day from among those lists. I’m happy to say that I love this approach and it works great for me. I highly recommend it.

Here is a sample of the photo a day lists I’ll be using for January:
(click on the images to see larger versions)

If committing to a month at a time feels like too much, there are other weekly and daily options available on Instagram
There are several Instagram accounts that feature a new theme every day or every week. I follow these accounts and every once in a while they save me when I just don’t like any of the other prompts. These are all worth following on Instagram.

As you can tell, I am a huge fan of using prompts for daily photos because it helps make a personal photo journal and also makes me look for inspiration throughout my daily life. It helps me to notice and appreciate the little moments and things every day.

I’ve been doing this since March of 2012 so I’m closing in on 5 years of daily photos.

Follow my Daily Photos on Instagram

These are the most liked of my December 2016 Photo a Day photos:

If you’re not doing a Photo a Day challenge I hope you’ll consider it because it’s a fun way to have a photo journal. If you are, great! Keep up with it. You won’t be sorry. I highly recommend the pick from many prompts each day approach.

Read More

Bout of Books 18 Will Soon Be Here

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in Blogging/Reading, Bout of Books, Fun | 6 comments

Bout of Books 118

It’s that time again. I’m joining in for my eleventh Bout of Books.

Bout of Books 18

Bout of Books 18 starts on Monday January 2nd.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I love Bout of Books. Three times a year I have an excuse to say “I can’t do that right now, it’s my reading week”. The Hubster is used to it by now. I don’t go into Bout of Books with any expectations of reading for X number of hours straight through. My life doesn’t let that kind of thing happen. The way I approach Bout of Books is to limit things like spending time on Twitter, or playing games on my phone and substituting reading time for all of those little distractions. I also set aside extra time in the evening for reading too.

I like to keep track of the time I spend reading during Bout of Books. I never track pages read but I do track time reading or listening to books. I use a great app on my phone to track my time. It’s called ATracker.

Bout of Books 17

It’s super easy to set up two tasks (reading and listening) and then it’s just a tap to start and stop tracking time. This year I’ll be able to use their Apple watch app to do that on my watch instead of my phone.

I think the reason I like to track time is that for me being ‘on the clock’ keeps me from getting distracted by my phone, the TV, that pile of papers on my desk, etc. I enjoy the time tracker and the daily and weekly reports I can get on how much time I’ve actually spent reading.

I won’t set any goal because that’s really not the purpose of Bout of Books. It’s all about a low key week long focus on reading more than usual. I will put together some theoretical reading plans and post them on the 2nd. numbers of books.

I hope you’ll check it out and decide to join in on the fun.

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