Wall Décor Tour

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            It’s March, I think March of 2020 was like a week ago but here we are in March 2021 and I cannot believe that, but here we are no matter what. 

            I am super kitschy when it comes to art on my walls that I didn’t create, I love things on the walls though and I need to put more stuff up but I am waiting to move into a place that is larger than my apartment, like a house but that is just not in the card at the moment. Most of it I found at random stores; like Hobby Lobby, Target, and At Home. I know that there are probably thousands of people who have this same picture but that’s never really bothered me because it’s my style and while some it is unique I am still sometimes a basic white girl.

Llama(?) picture:

            It might be an alpaca and I really do want a black and white photo of an alpaca for my wall but again that will be eventually because I have not found one that I like on the internet or in a store to this point so eventually but not today. I found this one at At Home when I moved to Arkansas so it’s almost three years ago now and I really love seeing it every time I walk out of my bedroom. 

Quote 1:

            I also got this one at At Home and it’s on the wall directly across from my bedroom door so I see it literally every time I walk out of my bedroom and I love it, it just says ‘Don’t tell people your dream, show them’ and some days I need that affirmation.

Quote 2:

            This is in my office and it says ‘messy bun, getting stuff done’ I am a huge fan of typography in general and I found this also when I moved down here at Hobby Lobby and I have seen other people with the same sign. It doesn’t really matter if someone else has it because that’s how mass produced art works. 

London Skyline:

            I got this from Etsy several years ago, from a shop called artPause, in late 2016 because this came down from Indiana with me and I love it so much because London is one of the places that I desperately want to go. I wholeheartedly regret not going abroad in college, but here we are. The shop still exists so if you want to check it out go ahead because I really love the piece. I would for sure buy more art from Etsy because some of it so cool. 

            Small pause, I would put my diplomas here as well but there is some wall art that I won’t be sharing, my diplomas included and a poster or two that I have around my apartment because I don’t have to share everything.

Mask:

            My parents got this in New Orleans in 2015 and I love masks, my graduation party from high school was Mardi Gras themed and I have a bunch of masks tucked away in boxes all over the apartment and I have a few that I want to put up but they have to be shadow boxed and that hasn’t happened yet because I need help making the shadow boxes, this hung up in my room in Indiana as well and it is one of my favorites. I got one in New Orleans when I was there in 2017 that’s half metal scroll work and that one for sure will be up eventually but it really needs to have something around it that protects it.

            I have a few things around the apartment that are supposed to be on the wall but are on the floor because they are heavy and I cannot pound nails into the walls of my apartment so all of my honor cords, tassels, and graduation caps from undergrad will go up eventually but not now.

            Can we count things on my doors as wall décor? I’m going to anyway. I have a little banner on my office door and my bedroom door, the one on my bedroom door says ‘Follow your heart’ and it’s for sure for Valentine’s Day but it stays up all year except for Christmas and the one on my office door says ‘Heck yes’ and that also comes down at Christmas. I am working on one for my office closet door but that is a DIY kit from Target and I am going to be working on that at some point this week.

            I feel like I have more pieces but I don’t have to share all of them, some of them are my personal art, posters, and even my old cork octagons that used to hang above my desk, I moved my desk and they stayed so they are above the side piece that holds all of my book binders and things. I have a few prints from the Art Institute in Chicago but they need frames and that’s a project that I have asked my dad to help me with but that is an eventually thing.

            I have a lot of things on the wall, I used to have more including my Instagram pictures, an inspiration wall of quotes and stuff, and other things but that was in Indiana and times have changed since then. Décor is amazing and I really like some classy stuff and also some really not so much. I have things that need to be put up a London skyline that actually fell off the wall because it was too heavy for command strips, art that I have created, things that have been given to me, and other that I cannot hang at the moment, I will eventually but right now that’s not in the cards so what I have or now, will have to do. 

            Alright I will see everyone later in the week for another post so until then I hope that everyone has a great week!

            -MJ 

Books I’ve Read so Far in 2021 Part #1

            Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            Here we are in 2021 and here I am with my first batch of books I have read this year. I mentioned last year that I was going to read kind of differently this year and I want to break that down in this post so going forward it makes more sense because I am going to be reading some different things than I did last year and this year also I have increased my number read goal to 45 even though I for sure have also written 42 in various places but I am hoping to get 45 but if I only get 42 I won’t be all that upset. 

So what is my attempted reading book list this year? 

I am going to give you a list that comprises of 45 books so just bear with me. I own most of the books I plan on reading already so they are mostly already pulled from my collection and piled on the shelf in my office because why not. I am doing this to branch back out and not just read cozy mysteries this year, granted I will be reading a bunch of them because they are quick reads but I want to have a variety. 

-10 Classics (hopefully)

            I am not going to list them but it’s basically just a collection of classics I already have and throwing darts at the Barnes and Noble classics collection. 

-5 Historical Fiction

            I read a lot of pre-World War 1 English historical fiction and I haven’t picked one up since then so I plan on reading 5 historical fictions this year. 

-5 Sci-Fi or Fantasy

            I love sci-fi and fantasy but I haven’t been reading them lately so I have already picked five out of my collection and they are on the list.

-5 General Fiction 

            Just random books, they can be whatever genre of fiction that I kind of feel like but most of them are just regular books. 

-2 Memoir’s/ Autobiography’s 

            I like books about people written by the person it’s about, I read a few last year and I have had several in my collection for years and it’s time to give myself a reason to read them. 

-1 Non-Fiction

            It’s going to be education related because that’s kind of my life so I plan on finding one that interests me, I may have one or two so we’ll see when it comes to that. 

-2 Thrillers

            I like serial killers and true crime as much as the next person and I have some fictionalized versions of actual serial killers so I plan on reading them this year and I am both dreading and excited for it because I haven’t read a thriller in years. 

-15 Choice

            This is where the cozies will show up and just random books that I want to read because between all of the categories that I am putting myself under this year I still want to just read random things and have the flexibility to do that so 1/3 of the books are my choice. 

            Alright on from that, I will probably keep a count of how many I’ve read this year in each section and put that at the bottom just to keep me accountable to it because it’s me and if I don’t I will just read whatever I want all year and all of those classics will just go back in the shelves and I don’t want to do that. 

            Let’s be real though, of course my first book of the year was a cozy though so we are just going to roll into that. 

Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

            Shannon Hammer as always is amazing and I love the series, I am going to do a suggested cozies post at some point soon so you know if you haven’t been following along you can just see what I enjoy reading. This one had so many twists and turns and I could feel the insanity of the person who actually committed the crimes. I loved the introduction of the character of Amanda, another woodworker and that’s again really cool because ladies doing carpentry is always a win in my book. I had to look up what an orangery actually looks like and I love them. I want a sun room made of glass on my house when I grow up. I still love the continued world building and I can’t wait to dive into the next one but I am going to hold off and read something else from my list first. 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

            So I grew up with the Disney versions of this book and my goal is still 10 classics this year and so this was my first. I actually really enjoyed it, I know it’s a lot, it’s very fanciful and it’s supposed to be that way. Someone I knew in high school called it a Victorian Acid Trip and I have never done acid but I can understand what they meant because the movie is very trippy. It’s just a really interesting book because it’s taking something that I have only seen in animated and live action films but reading something so familiar but also reading Through The Looking-Glass it was much different than the movie and I thought that was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it and it wasn’t a hard read, I read it in two days and for me that’s about average overall for my book read time when I actually get a chance to sit down and read. This book, if you like the movie, you should read because it’s the original classic that has become so familiar over the years to so many audiences. 

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding 

            Guess who didn’t know that this book was originally published in the 90’s, me, I had no idea. I saw the movie years ago, I think I might own it or I just watched it on the internet; honestly I cannot remember. I am a single human being approaching 30 and I am in that bubble where so many of my friends are getting married and having babies so I understood a lot of the feelings in this novel. Times have not changed much to be honest. I read it in pretty much two days because it was based around the premise of a diary so it was easy to read and digest and having seen the movie first I knew kind of what to expect but it was rather funny at parts and gave me a new take on really what we say we are going to resolve in the new year every year. I might read the other Bridget Jones novels at some point because let’s face it, I have been proven over and over again to love funny books. 

West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan 

            So I have read a few books about authors from this time period including The Paris Wife and I really like reading about early 20th century authors that we consider to be masters of the written word today. Truth be told though, I have never read any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s actual books. I am planning on it eventually but I have never gotten around to reading any of them, even The Great Gatsby which is one of those books that so many people have read and look at you funny when you haven’t read it or at least seen the movie. I find the lives of creative people of the past fascinating and that includes authors, artists, and actors because even if it’s fiction it gives such a perspective on a real person no matter the fictional underpinnings. It was a long read but it kept me interested and that’s really all that matters. I cannot tell you how long this book has been in my collection and if you like reading about people who write, this is a good one to do that with. 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

            I mean I watched the mini-series on Amazon Prime when it came out and I even wrote a blog post on it all that time ago. You can read it if you like. I loved the book, the show did it justice which sometimes is not the case. Though the book was also different from the series in some regards but it still read like a film and I couldn’t put it down. It’s separated into days unlike many books that are separated into chapters and it has so many story lines that finally come together at the end and it’s fantastic. Because there is a series (and I am watching it again because I can) I can see each character clearly in my head by their series counterparts and the casting was amazing because it just fit as I read the book. I feel like I am disjointed on this one but I still love the idea of a flaming Bentley blasting Queen racing toward the end of the world. 

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

            Second cozy mystery of the year because I needed a break for all of the rest of the stuff I was reading. It was a really quick read, it only took me two days in like two hour and a half long blocks because that’s just how my day works. It was a good book and it kept me turning pages, it was really good, though I have not read a book by Kate Carlisle that I haven’t liked. This one was really fast paced and I loved meeting Chloe, Shannon’s sister, for the first time in the series after hearing about her through several books now. Whitney, that character, grinds all of my gears because she reminds me of people that I went to high school and even college with. I went to a university in my home town and a lot of the students would call people from town “townies” and there was also this connotation that they were better than the people who lived in town and that bothered me quite a bit. So that theme throughout the series is sure a true problem and I get it. 

Esperanza Rising by Pan Munoz Ryan

            I read this with the sixth graders I work with, it was one of those books that I heard of but had never actually read but I did and as a coming of age book and a learning who you are kind of book for middle schoolers, it’s great. It’s really impactful in so many ways and seeing it through the lens of being an adult but also reading what kids had to say about it was fascinating to me. It is a quick read but if you have a middle school aged kid in your life, it’s worth the read. I did volley back and forth on whether or not to put this one on the list but this list is all the books I have read in 2021 so that means that it goes on the list! Also with this group I am going to get to read Tuck Everlasting and I’ve never read that one either so look forward to that eventually. 

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

            I normally don’t get super excited for books but Erin Morgenstern writes amazing books I cannot describe them in words but The Night Circus is my favorite book and being able to read another one of her works (finally after it sat on my shelf for a while) was like coming home. There are no words for how good this book was, all of the threads coming together and creating what I would describe as a literary masterpiece. I have so many words but no words at all, it was more sweet than bitter which I loved and the symbolism throughout had me turning pages faster than I could read and actually process them but I couldn’t stop. I want to read it again already and I just finished it, I also put it down for like a week and a half but that was an accident and I wish I hadn’t. It is so vivid I could see it in my brain, it was like watching a movie that I didn’t want to end. It’s fanciful, fairy tale-esque, and just down right amazing, (I feel like I say that a bunch but it’s true), I cannot describe how this book made me feel, I have no words even though I have so many that I want to say but none of them would accurately articulate how good this book was. I want to go to the Harbor, I want to get lost in stories, and feel like I am surrounded by magic. If I did long form book reviews this would be at the top of my list but I just don’t do that no matter how much I would like to. I will leave you with this, and Fate fell in love with Time. (How cool is that?!)

            Well that’s it for part one and below I put a counter of all the genres that I plan on reading this year so you can follow along. I was hoping to get ten books read in January and February and I was on track for that and then things changed so here’s hoping that I get more read in March and April, I think I am going to do every two months this year instead, like I did the last several months of last year just because I don’t want these posts to be TL:DR kind of posts. (My next book is my first thriller of the year so look forward to hearing how I feel about that one.)

            I hope that everyone has a good start to the week and I will be back mid-week with another post!

            -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  1/10

Historical Fiction:  1/5

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  2/5

General Fiction:  1/5

Memoirs/Autobiographies:  /2

Non-Fiction:  /1

Thrillers:  /2

Free Choice:  2/15

Anatomy of a Creative’s Desk

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I feel like I am on a hamster wheel and I kind of want to get off but there is no place to do that without causing great bodily harm. I know that we are already at the end of month one of 2021 and I feel like my stress level is just through the roof at the moment. I considered just taking today off and just rolling with it, really taking this week off and coming back next weekend but I am nothing if I am not a glutton for punishment. 

            I was watching Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith earlier and it occurred to me that I have never actually seen the movie, only the memes all over the internet. I knew what was going to happen but it is what it is. I got into the Star Wars game like super late because as a younger human I just wasn’t into it but I am now and better late than never right? 

            I have no idea how to open this post and I feel like I am rambling, I am one of those people who will talk and talk until someone tells me to shut up. I spend a lot of my time by myself so actually being able to talk to people means that I will talk and talk. My dad tells me all the time that my talking is the reason they named me Mary, after my grandmother, who also had the gift of gab. 

            My post is not about any of this but at the moment my brain is so scattered this post may be a post with no point, my downstairs neighbors have been fighting again and that very much disrupts my very quiet existence up here, I shouldn’t dwell on it but I do because I don’t like when people argue it makes me anxious. 

            What is this post really about you may ask? Well it’s in the title, I have had a number of desk set ups over the years, if I have any on my computer I will share them as well but I consider myself to be a pretty creative human on most days, some days I look at everything on my desk and just feel absolutely brain dead because I can’t produce anything productive. 

            My desk, my office really is a safe haven to me because it’s my space to work, to creative, and to be me without pretenses. I write a lot, I like art even though I am not great at it, and I really enjoy reading. If I could have an study, a library, and an art studio in a house someday no one would ever see me again; I would be a little more reclusive than I already am. 

            What’s on my desk though? 

            Notebooks, all sorts of notebooks, my bullet journal, my writing notebook, my writing prompt notebook, my outline and idea notebook, and sometimes just a writing notebook that I hand write in but that’s in my work bag so it’s not in here at the moment.

            Pens and things, all sorts of pens and things, markers, fine line sharpies, highlighters, and even some pencils for all of the things that I work on. They are mostly for my bullet journal but I use them for other things as well. 

            Assorted figurines, they are mostly Funko Pops!, eventually I will be doing a highlight reel of my collection but that’s an eventually plan when I have my whole collection at my place of residence. Except the ones that were stolen from my last apartment, I still miss all of my Doctor Who Pops that were lost which was most of them and some pretty expensive rare ones that were exclusives and someone took them. I hope that person rots in hell. One my desk though I have two of the characters from Funko’s original collection of Wetmore Forest which are Snuggletooth and Butterhorn, I love them both. I also have Rosie the Riveter and the Coca-Cola bear because I love the polar bears in their commercials. I also have a small Beanie Baby giraffe that was a present from my best friend a few years ago. I used to have more figurines on my desk but things have changed. 

            Random things, stapler, tape, sticky notes, lotions, white out, wireless ear buds, my backup hard drive, drinks, sometimes plates because I pretty much live at my desk. I also have a grammar book which I should look at more often as well as my address book because I still write cards to people. 

            My computers, I use my laptop every day, that’s what I do all of my work on. I have my iMac out because I use Photoshop on it, it’s so old I cannot update it anymore but it still has Photoshop so I still use it for that. Yes I am a Mac person, I have been since like 2007 with my first Macbook. 

            Things that are sometimes one my desk but aren’t at the moment:

            A book, usually the one I am reading or just finished.

            My phone, I’m using it to take the picture.

            Things for whatever I am writing a blog post about, ISPY stuff, makeup and skincare, books, random stuff, and anything that I am using that I know I need to remember to put in the post. 

            Binders, for whatever book I am working on but they live in the bookcase next to my desk most of the time. 

            More computer and electronic cords than I know what to do with but need. 

My very small desk, or at least part of it my senior year of college so this is late 2013 because I had Christmas stuff on the desk.
This is circa early 2016 so this was when I was still in Indiana right before I started my Master’s so I have no idea what was on the screen but I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time, I still do.
This was my original set-up when I moved to Arkansas so February-March 2018.
This was my second set-up at my old apartment and that was late 2018 or early 2019, more Christmas stuff there so it’s gotta be Christmas 2018 because I was only in that apartment for one Christmas.

            In hindsight I wish that I had taken more pictures of my set up over the years with how much it’s changed in my memory, I will put a few through this post because it’s a trip down memory lane for me, all the way back to college. I really do wish I had a picture of my old school desk from when I was in high school and I might somewhere but who knows where in my archives that could even be. I have gotten rid of so many photos over the years but even looking back to some of the ones on my computer from 2013 I realized most of the books in the bookcase I had at that time I don’t own anymore which is such a weird feeling knowing how many books I have donated over the years but that’s not what this post is about. 

            This post was more for me than anything else but I like showing small snippets of my life here I need to be more open but only to my comfort level at this point. 

            I will see everyone mid-week with a post that I haven’t decided on yet so that should be fun but until then I hope everyone has a good start to the week and a good start to February. 

            -MJ 

Gaming Update

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I was going to make this another MJ Plays like I did with Animal Crossing last year but I figured this post is just going to be a little more broad. I got a few games for Christmas and I might as well talk about them, right? 

            This post isn’t going to be long because it’s just one of those posts that’s filler for me. I know I shouldn’t have any filler posts on the blog but this is what I have in me tonight. I waited until the last minute and that’s about it really. I will hopefully actually get more into these games and things eventually but in this post it’s more of an overview so roll with me. 

            So I got three games for Christmas and I bought one over my Thanksgiving Break so I would have something besides Animal Crossing to play. I have 8th graders who tell me that the reason I am too busy to date is because I need to play Animal Crossing. Roll that through your brain for a second. 

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

            My best friend loves all of the Zelda games I think more than she loves to breathe so I figured if I played this then we would actually have something video game related to talk to besides Animal Crossing and Mario Kart. I am enjoying the game though I haven’t been playing much of anything recently just because my life is a little hectic and I keep dying in the game. I am so bad at games and that is no secret but I am trying with this one. It is beautiful and open world which is really great because I love the exploration aspect of it .

Pokémon Shield

            Got it for Christmas and I have been playing Pokémon since Ruby and Sapphire, I have missed a few in there but I absolutely love Pokémon, I grew up on the games, the TV show, and the cards even though I don’t think I have ever played a real Pokémon battle. I am naming all of my Pokémon in the game after artists I like and this is the first time I have used a fire type starter. It also is a lot different than games in the past but that is also just what is happening to video games they are going from side scrolling to open world and they are amazing. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

            I watched people play this last year and now I am playing it and I am stuck on like the second level because I am so bad at games! I really am enjoying it though and I need to get back into it because the graphics are cute and amazing and who doesn’t love the character’s from the Mario universe. 

Super Mario Odyssey

            I love the combination of platform side scroller game, open world game, and puzzles that you get with this game, again I am stuck in the desert and I will eventually get back into it because I am having so much fun playing it. 

            I didn’t play a lot of games growing up so I am catching up now and I am still not great at them but it’s just a hobby, I’m not trying to be the best because I feel like that takes the fun out of it. 

            I told y’all this wasn’t going to be a long post because I don’t feel like I have much to say tonight but maybe eventually I will be able to make posts on each of these games or reviews of them even though they have all been out for years now but I am usually behind on the trends so why would that change now? 

            Alright everyone I hope you have a great rest of the week and I will see you over the weekend with another post. 

            -MJ 

Cozy Mysteries To Try

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            I am a devourer of cozy mysteries I have a bunch in my collection, 40 actually, excluding the ones that I haven’t read yet, that span several authors. My mom has a series or two at her house and I have read many of them as well. So I am just going to run through the first’s in the series that I am currently reading and give my recommendations on cozy mysteries if you want to find a few to try out. 

Not pictured because I don’t have them in my personal collection, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder and Caught Dead Handed because they are in my mother’s collection.

            I am only including series where I have read two or more, I don’t want to base a suggestion on just one book; no matter how much I liked the first book. 

            I am not going to really summarize each series, just give my opinions on them and let you, if you want to, discover their content on your own as much as possible. If you really want to see some of the summaries I did read a lot of cozies last year and you can sift through the books I read last year series if you want to: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

  1. The Meg Langslow Mysteries by Donna Andrews. 

The first book is A Murder with Peacocks.

This is one of those series that I have been reading for a little over 4 years now. I have read all of the ones that are out in paperback so far and I am going to be honest it is one of my favorite series to read. I love the world and the characters and watching them all grow and change as time goes on. Some of them are a little hard to find, I know there was a second in the middle of the first fifteen or so that I had to order used and even then they were hard to come by. I hope they eventually rerelease them so they are easier to find because it’s so good.

2. The Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke 

The first book is Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

I started reading these after seeing the series on Hallmark and I have read the first several but again, finding them in bookstores can be hard if you don’t start a series pretty close to it’s beginning so I have to order them off the internet a lot, thanks Amazon. I enjoy the series and the characters, again. I also enjoy the cookie and other bakery treat recipes that are sprinkled throughout the book. They are not exactly the same as the TV movie series but I really enjoy them even though I haven’t read one since the middle of last year. 

3. The Fixer-Upper Mysteries by Kate Carlisle

The first book is  A High End Finish

I read the first several in this series over the last year and I have fallen in love with the series as a whole. The characters and the story lines, the world building and the fact that the main character is in construction because you don’t see a lot of ladies in building. Sometimes these are hard to find as well but also it might just be my specific Barnes and Noble that fails me on having books beyond the first one sometimes and maybe the fifth one. 

4. The Cookie House Mysteries by Eve Calder

The first book is And Then There Were Crumbs

I didn’t start this series until late last year but I read both books in like a week and am patiently but not so patiently waiting for the third one which comes out in April, I think. It’s not the same style as others I have read in the past and I love that to be honest. I am looking forward to seeing the expansion of the world and the characters in the future because both books urged me to keep reading even when I knew I should put the book down. 

5. The Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries

The first book is Murder’s No Votive Confidence

Like the Meg Langslow mysteries I didn’t read the first one first, I read the third one first because it was in a Halloween book box from last year. I read all three in like a week and a half and again I couldn’t put them down. I love candles and used to have a much larger collection than I do now but I do follow some artisanal candle companies on the internet. It takes place on Nantucket, so a small island and that feels like a locked room mystery series to me and I absolutely love it.

6. The Witch City Mysteries

The first book is Caught Dead Handed

I am never against a mystery series that is slightly supernatural, I love the characters and all of the craziness that happens, I have a degree in TV and Radio so seeing a TV personality in a mystery book is never something that bothers me. It’s just slightly magical which is really cool because sometimes authors go overboard with the magical nature of things or it becomes cliché but this series is for sure worth a read.

            For now that’s about it, I know that in the future I will have a second post with more books because I know me, I have enough to read that as I get more series in my book shelf and I need to get the second and third books in series that I have only read one book in so I can add to this list but for now I am giving suggestions on six series that total somewhere around 80 books in total to read so I think that will keep anyone and everyone who wants to read them busy for a while. 

            Alright, this is my first book post of the year and there will be more because I like writing about what I am reading. My first reading post will come out late next month if everything goes well but we will see I guess. 

            So I will see everyone later in the week with a new post and as always I hope that everyone has a great start to the week!

            -MJ 

Quilting Update

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            So I did a post like this last fall and I have like two more things in process at the moment because that’s just what my life is like. Nothing has been finished just because between my mom and I we have like fifteen projects to go onto the machine and we don’t have any backing. I also realized that I didn’t put anything in that I made for anyone else; the problem with that though is, I made three small lap quilts for my roommates in college and didn’t take any pictures of them because I am an idiot but I did build two quilts for my best friend and I am going to include those here, one that she has and one that she’s eventually going to get. Once I get it finished and she finally texts me back, I am beginning to worry about her to be honest. 

            Right on to the quilts that I have been working on in the last few weeks, there are just two more projects and two that I have to actually build once I can find the fabric I need for them. Neither of them are complete yet, the tops aren’t even fully finished but right now this is the post that I wanted to come out with so here we are, a new quilt update. 

Project one: 

            This I bought as a pre-cut kit years ago in Grand Rapids and I liked it a lot more then but my tastes have changed since I bought this, I am not this loud anymore but it will make for a good thing to have in a guest room when I eventually get a house or something. I am going to frame it in black and then border it with a white on white fabric which is a white fabric with a white pattern on it, I put a picture of it below with the quilt so y’all can get an idea of what I am talking about because there is white on white fabric in the main body of the quilt as well. 

Project two:

            This project was two Moda Nordic Stitches Charm Packs and I am making a lap quilt out of it for the winter for my couch, I did this one mostly over Christmas Break and I have to just add the blue frame and then I am not sure what kind of border and binding I am going to go with. I just haven’t decided yet so that’s totally okay because sometimes that happens, you don’t know what you are going to do with the edge of it after you get the main body done. Ironically while I was working on this my mom was working on a queen sized version of almost the same idea with the rails between each piece but her rails are black and it’s a very busy quilt; too busy for me actually. 

Quilt’s for my Best Friend: 

            My best friend loves Transformers and so I made her a Transformers quilt for her when we were both still in Indiana. I hand cut out all of the logos in the center and appliquéd them on which was fun but I loved working on that quilt. 

            This second one I messed up on the bottom but I am rolling with it because I finished it years ago but that was as far as I got on it, I have a matching panel that I plan on making a quilt for me as well, something probably pretty similar to this one but I really enjoyed making geeky quilts and I will get back into it eventually. 

            I know that this post isn’t going to be long because since my last update I have only managed to make two of my own and I am showing you two that I have made for my best friend so it’s not a long post because it doesn’t need to be. 

            I hope everyone has a good week and I will be back over the weekend with another post!

            -MJ 

My Favorite Pages from My 2020 Bullet Journal

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            If you want to see a lot of pages from my 2020 Bullet Journal you can I wrote three posts about it this year one for January-April, one for May-August, and the last from September-December. I don’t really have much of a lead up to this post it’s just going to be some of my absolute favorite pages, some will be repeats from those aforementioned posts and some will be pages that I didn’t show so here we go.

I am going to start with just my random lead up pages that I really enjoyed: 

            My cover for 2020 was so hopeful, here we are with 2020 vision and man did this year suck so I guess now we can say hindsight is 2020 or something. I just like simple yearly covers because my monthly covers are so involved.

            My bookcases with all of the books that I read this year and I hit my goal of 40, you can read about all the books that I read (1,2,3, & 4) because why not. I really enjoy seeing these shelves fill up as the year goes on because that just means that I read another book. 

            My self-care page is a little better than last year’s and I really liked it, my page this year is different so that is something that evolves every year and last year was one of those years where we all needed to think about good ways to practice self-care and these were some of the things that work for me. 

On to monthly pages (again all of these have been featured on the blog before so just roll with me): 

Don’t judge my kanji and stuff, it’s been like a decade since I have actually written much in Japanese.

            My January mood tracker, I love Studio Ghibli and have for years and the soot sprites from Spirited Away and I wanted to have them in my bullet journal, they are super cute and fun. 

            My April cover, again I chose themes of series that I love and so putting the Avengers tower in on my April cover was really awesome and this one was one that took me such a long time to color but I am really proud of it. 

            My May cover, it’s Star Wars because Star Wars, I didn’t hate the new trilogy and let’s be real the porg’s are my favorite (if you search porg on Pinterest it gets mad and thinks you are searching up something that starts with por and ends with n, I’m not a promise I am just looking for CGI puffins.)

            My last page of May, I just really liked drawing Baby Yoda, one of my goals this year is to actually get Disney+ and actually watch the show because it’s such a phenomenon. I just love the character of The Child and how cute he is. 

            My August cover, Tolkien’s Middle Earth is one of those universe’s that I grew up in. I was in fourth grade when the Fellowship of the Ring came out and that was my first PG-13 movies that I ever saw. The Hobbit came out when I was in college and those movies were cinematically amazing. I still want to go to New Zealand and actually go see the beautiful landscape that is immortalized in those films. 

            Random pages because I messed up, I did a worry tree which I will probably put at the very back of my current year bullet journal as well as well as an inspirational quote page. I just needed a break in my months I guess even subconsciously because I missed some pages. I like quote breaks and sometimes you just need a little quote that lifts you up.

            My November cover, I love Doctor Who and this one took me a long time as well but I wanted to put the TARDIS in my bullet journal. There isn’t much else besides the fact that the oil paint pen I used bled through to both of the pages on either side but it’s fine because the dots look pretty cool.

            So those are some of my favorite pages, I really enjoyed my bullet journal last year and my goal again this year is to bullet journal for the whole year and this year is Disney themed which is difficult but guess what, I’m doing it. 

            I’ll see everyone later in the week with another post, I hope everyone has a great couple of days! 

            -MJ 

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2020 Part 4

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Writing this post like this seems like such a better choice for me so I think I will continue to write my little blurbs as I finish a book because to me in hindsight and foresight that seems like a much better plan moving forward. 

            So here we are with part four and hopefully the end of my 40 books this year goal. I had a middle schooler tell me today (I’m writing this the day before Halloween so to give y’all some context) that she didn’t trust anyone who read for fun and that to me is so weird because I love to read but I guess that’s not always the case. 

            Welcome to the end of 2020 though and I am hoping maybe by now everything has leveled off but who knows at this point. (haha)

            While you read this post you may be wondering, MJ why so many cozy mysteries? I don’t know I just have really been enjoying them and they are quick reads an that’s about all I can say about them now, I just really enjoy them. 

            So what did I read after my last post of this nature? 

15 Minutes of Flame by Christin Brecher 

            I wrote a whole post about this book and how cool it was so I don’t really want to say all that much here but I will say at least a little, hopefully by the time this comes out I have read the first two in the series, honestly I hope they are underneath this one somewhere soon because I really want to read them. I really enjoyed this book for a kind of Halloween mystery and I liked the concept of the story line of this novel as well as the writing style so overall this would be a book I would suggest to anyone who likes the cozy mystery genre in general.

Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle 

            So I took a break from this one to read 15 Minutes of Flame and then another little break because I was a little burnt out reading and wanted to write like 25 pages in a few days instead but then I got back into this and let me tell you I had the time to finish it in one day and I did.  It was so good and it kept you guessing about who the killer actually was. It was a lot of high school drama being dragged back up and as someone who didn’t like high school it felt very real. I love the character development and the whole world building of this series. My Barnes and Noble doesn’t have the next one so I have to order it which is always a pain because I have to wait to read it but maybe that will make me read them slower, that is utterly doubtful but I can joke about it. 

Murder’s No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher

            So this is the first book in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries, I read the third one first because it came in as the Once Upon A Book Club Halloween box and as I mentioned above I wrote a whole post on it, so if you are interested go read it. This book was great, I couldn’t put it down. After reading the third book I knew some of the character relationships already but to see them be created and introduced in this novel gave them a new meaning which I really enjoyed. I also really like the idea of having special candles at a wedding that seems like such a fun idea. I don’t know if I would ever do that in reality but I love the idea. It was a really quick read and I still love the story and the characters, it took me a long time to figure out who did it because these books are written giving so many avenues and logical explanations and threads to suspect multiple people. This is one of those series that pull you in from page one and don’t let you go until the very last words and I will probably be reading the second one next so I will be caught up with where the series is currently. 

Murder Makes Scents by Christin Brecher 

            So this is the second in the series and it was so good, it was half spy novel half cozy mystery. It was such a good book, I still love the expansion of the cast of characters throughout a series like this. I was just shocked how much spy novel this one was like actually, I liked the element but it was such a departure from the other two in the series. It wasn’t actually a really long book only like 240 or so which is pretty short for a cozy mystery but it is a pretty quick read and I really enjoyed it. I know that I say that about most every book that I read but isn’t that the point, you want to enjoy what you are reading and if you don’t enjoy it you won’t keep reading it so I want to enjoy what I read. I think that most of November will be cozy mystery month because I still have two more books to read at least this month and I am kind of on a cozy mystery kick. 

And then there were Crumbs by Eve Calder

            I already bought the second one, I finished it in the morning and went to Barnes and Noble instantly because I needed to read the second one; like right now. It was so good, I loved the twists and turns with this book. I love all the characters and there is a poodle in it and by now I feel like everyone should know that I love poodles because I grew up with them so a poodle in a story is an automatic win for me. This was one of those books that I could not put down, the chapters are nice and short, some are only a page or two and so when I flipped through to see the total chapters in the book and saw that there were 69 chapters I thought it was daunting but it was a quick read with a really interesting conclusion on who done it. Let’s just say, it was someone’s ‘just desserts’. Seriously this had been one of the best mysteries that I have read all year and November is mystery month so I’m excited to dive into the next one. 

Sugar and Vice by Eve Calder

            So I read the second one, I could not put this one down and now I am sad because the next one doesn’t come out until next year and I have to wait for it. I love the series, I really really do. I love the characters, the world that is being built, and everything about the mysteries in these novels. So far they are not the traditional “the heroine is trapped about to die” kind of mysteries and I love the change of pace. Again there is a poodle, love poodles so I love the character of Oliver. Seriously these books keep you guessing until the very end and I read most of this book in one day because I could not stop reading it. Today it was rainy and windy so it was the perfect day to curl up with a book. This is one of those series so far that has just blown me away, I want to read more like right now but I have to wait…I don’t wanna but it keeps you gripped from page one and doesn’t let you go until you read the last word. Also I want to make like all of the cookies that they mention in this series, seriously. 

Terns of Endearment by Donna Andrews

            This is something like the 25th book in the series and let me tell you it’s one of my favorites. I love the characters and the mystery and this one was really cool, like an augmented locked room mystery with the whole cast of characters that I have come to love over the last few years reading this series on a cruise ship that “breaks down” in the middle of a cruise to Bermuda. It was one of those books that kept me gripped to it. It was such a bait and switch mystery that was kind of reminiscent of any of the cruise ships breaking down in the last several years. I loved that it had writers in it on the cruise and expanded on a universe that I found by accident looking for a Halloween themed mystery book a few years ago (Lord of the Wings) and have been hooked ever since. I have the next one and I will be cracking it open tomorrow.

Owl be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews

            I know, another cozy mystery but at least this one is Christmas themed, this is again another Meg Langslow book and I love the series so much. This like that last was also kind of a locked room mystery with everyone trapped in a hotel for Owl Fest 2019, I mean that sounds fun. I was confused about one thing though, one the back of the book it said that a character was going to be there and I don’t think she was even in the book but I could have just glazed over her, it was just odd. There were a lot of twists and turns in this book and I was shocked but not so shocked about who the killer was. I was shocked by the reason and I feel like it was just another classic case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. I was also a little surprised when it resolved with several pages left to go and then I understood why, no spoilers if you want to read the series. I love seeing returning minor characters in series like this because it just weaves an amazing story and world that you can think back to the last time you saw that character. Overall great book, can’t wait to read the next one. 

City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman

            I am a sucker for romantic comedies, I have been for years and I have had this book in my library for years now and I finally decided it was time to read this. I read it in a few days because I could not put it down. I love the small town aesthetic and this book pulled me in and didn’t let go. I know that the rest of the books in this post are cozy mysteries, even the next one that I am reading, this one was so good though. It wrapped up a little bit of Romeo and Juliette, a little rom com, and a little vet TV show. All of the characters felt real and different which was really nice because not everyone got along and you didn’t have a repetitive story line that you get in a lot of rom coms. I really enjoyed this book and there are more in the series and I may have to read them, I found this out from Barnes and Noble’s website the other day and I may read more eventually because I liked the characters and the writing style. 

Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle

            Look at me going back to cozy mysteries because well, why not? I really enjoyed this one because it was Christmas themed also I read it all in one day, it is also my 40th book this year so that’s also really exciting because that was my goal for this year and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to that goal this year. But that is not what this post is about it’s about the book that I read, it was so good I really liked it. The story line was awesome with a whole lot of twists and turns and so many familiar characters that just immerse you back into the story. This one involved an ax, a banker, and a Victorian house that is being renovated into apartments. It was great and heartwarming to read even though there was a murder but that’s one good thing about a cozy mystery it’s not just a murder mystery it’s also the building of a community and the allowance to have jokes and fun while still solving a murder. I still love the character of Shannon Hammer because lady carpenters for the win. I cannot wait to read the next one to see the further progression of this series and I actually have the next one so there is a good chance that I will be reading that next because well cozy mysteries. 

            I thought maybe I would get another book read this year but since I finished the last one I just haven’t had the motivation to read, though I did hit my goal of 40 books this year. I may read another one before the end of the year but I had to put this post up early because my fabfitfun box still hasn’t shown up and it shipped like the second of this month so there’s that. I just needed to get a post up and I figured this one would be good. 

If you want to know what other books I have read this year you can with parts 1, 2, and 3.

            This is the first year in three years that I have actually hit my reading goal and next year I have plans to read even more and I have a list of genres and titles that I plan on reading next year which is always a crap shoot whether or not that I actually get them done. 

            Well 2020 is almost over and that’s fine, I did get one of my goals done this year and that was my reading goal. I know people who read 100 books a year and that to me is just too many because I don’t have the time but I can get away with 40. I enjoyed most of the books I read this year but isn’t that the point of reading, to enjoy it? 

            Well we have this post and one more this year and I am excited about that because I am excited to see what 2021 brings in regard to my content. I have a lot of hopes for next year and I will make a goals post in January.

            I will see y’all later in the week for another post, I am really hoping that it’s my winter fanfitfun unboxing but who knows so I will be back Wednesday with a post regardless! I hope everyone had a good holiday and has a good start to the week! 

            -MJ

PS a bonus! This is the stack of books that I read this year, except for three which I gave back to my mom because they were hers but this stack is huge!

2020 Roundup

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            So this year has been a year even though it feels like 2020 has taken 5 years of time. I feel like the last few years have gone by so quickly but this year has been the complete opposite.

            My year started out great and then everything fell apart when the quarantine started in March and everything got turned on its head and things changed. Granted I believe that what is for you will not pass you and if it is meant to be it will be so that’s what I have to chalk certain things up to this year and I just have to leave it as that because otherwise I will feel like I am lost in the woods with no way out.

            Because we had to spend so much time at home and away from people, which is not really straying too far from my MO, even now I go to work, I may run an errand or two, and then I hang out at home. I got a lot of stuff done at home, I started to really game again, I explored new hobbies, and I wrote like a lot. 

            This year wasn’t so bad, like it was real bad a complete dumpster fire and there is no denying that because it’s been like a lot and I have said that pretty much in every post since March and I tried to look at this year as a year for personal growth and I had some luck with that though this year has also just been difficult and I have faltered.

            I made myself a promise in my bullet journal this year that I would have two posts a week and that didn’t really happen until the last quarter of the year and I want to keep that up into next year and writing down my ideas has really helped during the end of this year. 

            I wasn’t sure what this post was going to be actually and I still don’t really, just a little wrap up of the year and not much else. So what did I do this year? 

            I finished up writing four of my own novels, like I have written so many words this year. I have finished six co-written projects this year. I have so far written almost 900,000 words this year which is insanity. 

I have read 40 books this year which was my goal and guess what, I hit it. A lot of them were cozy mysteries because I needed some escapism in my life.

            I have done a lot of things, I have watched a lot of YouTube, started working out again, taking better care of me, and exploring more hobbies than years prior because I had so much time at home. I finished my entire bullet journal this year and started next year already. Over break I plan on doing all the way until at least April for next year so I don’t have to worry about it and then up until like July over spring break in March. 

            There has been so much that has happened this year and it won’t all just end when the clock strikes midnight on the 31st, we are still going to be living with a pandemic and I hope that everyone is doing okay and doing everything you can to keep yourself and the people that you care about safe and healthy. This year showed all of us that we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for because it has challenged us at every turn. We made it through the year, we made it to December but we don’t know if we still have tomorrow we never know if tomorrow is guaranteed because it’s not. So live every day as fully as you can because you never know what could change. 

            I don’t have any clever words or phrases at the end of this it’s just a roundup post, a moment to reflect on this year where every day showed us something new and sometimes terrifying. I hope that the end of everyone’s 2020 is good no matter how you are ending the year and that 2021 is not a challenging as this year has been for so many people. 

            I will see everyone this weekend with another post and I hope that everyone who celebrates Christmas has a happy one no matter how you are spending it this year. I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week!

            -MJ 

Christmas Candle Scent Round Up

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            I did a similar post for autumn and maybe I should have called this winter scents but let’s be real there are like four winter scent notes and I like all of them, vanilla, peppermint, cedar, and snow, whatever snow smells like. 

            I had a lot more holiday candles before we moved from Indiana but in an effort to not have to move so many candles because they are heavy I burned many of my holiday candles and I have yet to replace them so maybe this will be half scents of candles and the other half scent plugs of which I have two plug-ins in my apartment. I don’t know yet though so bear with me, let’s be real I never really know what’s going on, that’s just me as a person. 

            This post is probably going to be shorter than my autumn post with similar content but here we go.

Twisted Peppermint from Bath and Body Works, candle day was just a few short days ago and I of course skipped it because well I work during the week and I don’t feel like braving the mall in the evening this time of year, no thank you. I like the characters on this candle as well as the smell but for now it is going unburned on my bookshelf as part of a display of small stuffed animals.

            Evergreen also from Bath and Body Works, I love the smell of ever green trees and this one is great. I don’t really have much to say about this candle but I do really enjoy the scent and scents like it. 

            Several Bath and Body Works mini candles in Frosted Cranberry (pictured below), Fresh Sparkling Snow, and Fresh Balsam, I got these a while back actually when I was still working in Indiana during Secret Santa season, I bought some for myself while getting a gift for someone else and I haven’t burned them though I have had other mini candles from B&BW over the years and I have burned all of them. 

            My snowman candle holder, like my skull candle holder is from Yankee candle and I don’t actually know where all of my little votives are for this one the only one that I know where it is, is the one in the holder and that is North Pole. 

            Last but not least is my advent candle, I have had this one for probably 4 or 5 years now and I just don’t want to burn it, I know that burning candles is the purpose of candles but it’s the finality of it, besides I don’t actually have anything to put under it right now and I am still not allowed to burn candles so when I get a place that is really my own I will go back to purchasing and burning candles but until then they just hang out and are aesthetically pleasing. 

            Well I think that’s it for me for today, I know that this post isn’t long but they all don’t have to be epics in their own right. I have had a busy month and we only have one more week of school before break so there is always that to look forward to. 

            I will see everyone on Wednesday with another post but until then I hope that everyone has a great start to the week. 

            -MJ