My Bullet Journal: Starting a New Journal

This is my third year using a bullet journal and I love it. It has increased my creativity and feeds the artistic side of me. You can see all of my past bullet journal posts via this linkI hope you enjoy my spreads and ideas from my bullet journal. I’d love if you would share your own ideas or photos of your journals with me, too!

Step 1 – Cracking Open 

I am using a Leuchtturm 1917 Medium Size Hardcover A5 Notebook with Dotted Pages in Ice Blue for 2019. I noticed they have done a little updating to the first few pages and how they have the Return To and Index structured. I like the old way better, but I don’t get to make those choices. 

For the last two years as I’ve gone deeper and further back into my journal, I’ve had significant issues with where the page meets the binding. It has been hard to get washi tape or a ruler to align correctly. I’ve kind of had a “fuck it” mentality when it comes to the crack. I remembered seeing a video on how to properly open a Leuchtturm for the first time when I first started bullet journaling and figuring out what the heck I needed to do. After much digging, I found the video. This makes the spine flexible so it won’t break down easily. I think most people crack them open incorrectly like I have been.


Step 2 – Establish a Ladder

Image result for ladder

A whaaat?!

No, not that kind of ladder.

This kind:

Image result for yearbook ladder

I use a ladder each year to set up our yearbook. It helps frame what content goes on each page and how everything will be organized and laid out. For YRBK, I have to have a paper and digital ladder.

Set up a ladder for your new journal before you begin. Each year I realize things I need to add to the next year’s journal, usually things that need to go in the front or additional things I want to add in each month.  Try a template to get started, or just use paper and pencil.


Step 3 – Pick Supplies & Test

Once you’ve set up your journal and your ladder, it’s time to decide what supplies you will use for your first sets of pages. My biggest problem when trying something new is matching colors. I use the back pages in my first bullet journal to see what each color will look like on the page and what two colors look like side by side or blended together before I use them on a new spread in my new journal. I do this even with colors I know that I’ve used before. I recommend doing this with different pens, too, especially if you have not used them before. This is also a great way to do an easy practice with any of your supplies before putting it down to permanence in your new journal.

What spreads would you put in your bullet journal?


Season’s Greetings!

New number. Who dis?

Right? LOL. 

I have had *the* most stressful semester of my life. I was supposed to return from my hiatus this fall. I came back for a few weeks, and then fell off the face of the planet. Since you last really heard from me…

  • My district implemented an actual curriculum for advanced classes
  • We still did not have books until mid-October.
  • Our copies were limited to 10,000. 
  • Then they were “Indian given” down to 2,000. FOR THE YEAR, not semester. 
  • One of the math teachers totally went MIA. The kids think she died. 
  • Then the district decided the scope and sequence for on-level classes was going to move from TRS to the new curriculum…which ruins all of the district tests that have been painstakingly written. 
  • My partner and I were bullied into this huge project that we were lied to about.
  • We have been working on a semester-long set of lessons for the state of Texas. We will be filmed December 19th. (At this point, IDGAF anymore.)
  • I drove to Missouri to see my baby brother graduate basic. And raced time trying to catch up to military buses before they reached Texas. (My mom said for 2 hours it wouldn’t happen. It did, people.) 
  • My oldest brother contracted a potentially fatal infection in Africa. He has since been returned to the states, but treatment is highly questionable. 
  • My oldest and youngest brothers are both stationed on the same base within a 2-hour drive.
  • My almost SIL had a tonic-clonic seizure at my house. Exactly one week before…
  • My middle brother got married. #drama
  • I have done a lot of work on the cottage. More is still to come. 
  • I have officially been diagnosed with diabetes and on meds. 
  • I am also back in the pre-cancerous watch zone I was for 6 of the past 8 years. 
  • I have been stressing about getting this yearbook finished by the January deadline. No support to do what we need. We still don’t even have our student portraits. Ridiculousness. 
  • My mother’s job at a small school district fired her for going to my great-uncle’s funeral. They still have not sent her final check…three months later. #lawsuitmuch
  • I stopped reading. Entirely. Haven’t touched my Kindle since August. Just thinking about that gives me major anxiety. 
  • I feel way too micro-managed as a teacher. 
  • My principal used me as a guinea pig without telling me for his Harvard cohort. 
  • My observation this year was stellar. My AP told me I needed to be proud of myself. 
  • I found out my crazy call-the-cops-on-the-cop ex tried switching shifts to avoid being put on the spot and called out by certain individuals he has to work with…and the sergeant denied it with a huge hell no. KARMA. I felt so validated when I received that message. 
  • I have a foster fail dog turned MINE! We made it legit official on December 5th, microchip and all. He loves Baby and she loves him when she’s not being all Eeyore. His name is debatable. Call him any Mexican food you want…also answers to Chico and Little Puppy. 
  • My hair is finally growing out. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get the extensions in December. Nearly a year after the first appointment! 

I’m Back…I Think?

I’m not jumping back in as fast-paced and full-speed as I was before. I think I’m going to take a page out of a few friends’ books and just post whenever. No set schedule. No making it any “work” like thing.  

But I do want to be back. I don’t think I can handle looking at my blog email…like, ever. So cutting that out might be a good thing for me to stay back and not stress.  Not gonna lie, some days I feel like taking 2 anxiety pills in the morning before I leave. 

Review: To the Duke, With Love


Title: To the Duke, With Love
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: December 2017
Length: 352 pages
Series?: The Rakes of St. James #2
Genre: Historical, Romance

Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn is guardian for his sweet, younger sister. Due to his misguided past as one of the infamous Rakes of St James, Hawk is hoping to avoid the Season by securing a match for her before it begins. He has the perfect gentleman in mind, but for one infuriating―and unexpectedly intoxicating―obstacle: the intended groom’s own sister, Miss Loretta Quick.

Having narrowly avoided her own arranged marriage to an unacceptable nobleman, Loretta is determined that her dear brother―a gentle, good-natured soul―should marry for love. Matching wits with Hawk may be her greatest challenge yet. . .until she realizes it may also be her greatest pleasure. For the young duke’s irresistible charm has not only begun to crumble her stubborn resolve, it has claimed her heart in true love as well.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

This is the second book in the Rakes of St. James series. I read the first book and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I was expecting so much from this next book. It fell flat for me. The obvious insta-lust was so strong, it didn’t even read right in this historical romance setting. I did not get the feeling that the primary couple actually fell in love with one another. “I want you” is not the same as “I love you.” Additionally, there was a great imbalance of financials, which rubs me the wrong way with that type of power play.

Sloane Knox, Duke of Hawksthorn, is one of the three Rakes of St. James who played a prank on a dozen debutantes a decade ago. Following last year’s season and a possible threat to the younger sister of one of the other Rakes of St. James, Sloane wants to bar any such threat happening to his younger sister, Adele, as she makes her debut. Arranging a secret engagement before the start of the season will ensure that Adele comes out successful with a suitor and free of any retribution. In efforts to arrange what Hawk believes is the perfect match, he travels to Mammoth House, set far in the countryside, remote and isolated. Eager to make arrangements with Paxton Quick, a handsome and kind man, Hawk is harshly surprised to find not Paxton, but his sister Loretta at Mammoth House. A confusing confrontation ensues, with lines drawn in the sand and Loretta firmly making her stance that she will do everything in her power to keep her brother from this marriage.

Despite being a drastic act, Loretta was once set up in an arranged marriage herself. It was a business transaction more than a love match. In fact, she didn’t feel anything for the man…and left him at the altar. Following her uncle’s severe embarrassment and ensuing rage, Loretta has been banished to live at the remote Mammoth House, not even allowed to visit the village. She is required to remain at Mammoth House and not allowed to leave and sees her uncle but once a year at Christmastime. Having suffered the repercussions, Loretta only wants her brother to marry for love.

Going against all etiquette, Hawk dines alone with Loretta that night as a massive storm blows in. Midway through, a young urchin is found at the backdoor. Hawk follows him into the storm and brings him back, while Loretta and the other staff nurse him back from the brink of death. Once he revives a little, he is feisty and foul-mouthed.

Hawk is bent on ensuring the match between Adele and Paxton, inviting them to London for a meeting. Going to the lengths to visit the Earl of Switchingham and fatten him up to the idea, Hawk also persuades him to allow Loretta to make the journey. Considering the earl will not be out one penny for any of the travel and it will only be acceptable for both siblings to make the journey, the earl agrees. Getting the responsibility of his nephew off his shoulders will be a welcome change.

Embarking to London, Loretta makes the last-minute decision to bring Farley with them. He needs to be seen by a doctor, but Hawk is cold to the idea and cold to Farley. He sees him as a street rat who will pilfer anything. The two males almost have a burning hatred in their eyes for one another. The boy is quick witted for sure and brings comedic relief and drama to the unfolding story.

The insta-lust is palpable even from the immediate start of the book, and continues on throughout the book. There are a few close calls where they are almost caught, and Hawk makes some pre-arranged tasks for others so that he and Loretta can be alone. Ironically, Adele and Paxton hit it off extremely well and their match seems inevitable.

There were a couple of inaccuracies (dollars in England?) that showed the lesser planning for this second installment. I was looking forward to this second book in the Rakes of St. James series and the insta-love and some of the awkward wording dropped the book significantly from the momentum established with the first book. I’m not sure what to expect with the next in the series.


Amelia Grey (aka Gloria Dale Skinner) grew up in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over twenty-five years. She has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire and now lives in Florida.

Amelia has won the coveted Romantic Times award for Love and Laughter, the prestigious Maggie award for best historical and Affaire de Coeur’s best American historical award. She has been a finalist for the Golden Heart and the Holt Medallion awards which are given by Romance Writers of America and numerous other awards. Her books have been sold to many countries in Europe, Russia and China.

Amelia likes flowers, candlelight, sweet smiles, gentle laughter and sunshine.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Review: The Christmas Cowboy Hero


Title: The Christmas Cowboy Hero
Author: Donna Grant
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 2017
Length: 320 pages
Series?: Heart of Texas #1
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays―even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wit’s end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby―and the inescapable longing in his heart―off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

The Christmas Cowboy Hero is the first book in the new Heart of Texas series. Set in Clearview, Texas, this book focuses on the cattle and ranching industry, a staple of Texas with some long-running, large family ranches.

Clayton East is an ex-Navy SEAL now working in Africa protecting big game from poachers. After separating from the military, he purposefully did not return home to the East Ranch. Being there brings back reminders and is too painful. Shortly before Christmas, he gets a call he can’t keep ignoring: his dad isn’t doing well and the ranch is in trouble.

Upon arriving home, Clayton discovers the East Ranch is a mess. Their accountant has disappeared with essentially all of the ranch’s money. Additionally, someone has stolen a hundred head of cattle, most of which are cows ready to calve. Their prize bull was also stolen.  The total of the theft alone comes to $275,000.

One of the rustlers, a 16-year-old kid, is arrested. Going to the station, Clayton meets Brice Harper, who won’t talk and is obviously scared of something. He also meets Brice’s sister, Abby Harper, whom he instantly is drawn toward. After being informed Brice has never been in trouble before, Clayton has a moment of self-motivated kindness. Believing in second chances and hatching a plan to gain Brice’s trust, Clayton offers Brice a job working at the ranch to work off his debt in lieu of going to jail. Hoping Brice will eventually open up and talk about the theft, it also gives Clayton opportunities to see Abby Harper again.

Abby was only 18 when her mother abandoned her, leaving the guardianship of her two young brothers to her. It’s been eight years and she’s never come back, leaving Abby struggling just to manage and raise her 16 and 14 year old brothers. She works at an accounting firm being paid in the drudges. When she can scrape together enough funds, she attends school part-time to continue toward her accounting degree. They’ve only known hardship and struggle, but there is a lot of love in the Harper family.

After Brice begins at the East Ranch, he is enamored of the work and the people and the animals. Soon, his younger brother Caleb is also tagging along to work at the ranch. While still paying off his debt, Brice is openly welcomed and supported and encouraged to be the best version of himself he can be. With her brothers being at the ranch so long, Abby also ends up spending time there and is introduced to the ranch’s accounting books. After digging through them, she discovers many things about the AWOL accountant and the status of the ranch. Their mutual attraction slowly blossoms into a budding Christmas romance.

Both boys show great improvement under Clayton’s direction. Abby also sees some reprieve in her future with the potential to work at the East ranch with a significant pay raise. Carrying all the burdens of the world on her shoulders, she has been the heart and soul of her family. The mother, father, and sister. Being shown she doesn’t have to do it alone, that she can share her burden, is a glimpse of a life that appeals and frightens Abby. What if she is abandoned again?

The suspense over the missing cattle is an angle Clayton still can’t seem to work out. Brice won’t budge. Abby begins digging around at her office and unearths a possible connection. The disappearance of the accountant is no longer such a mystery, but there is a growing danger as Abby tries to puzzle things out.

For the first time in his life, Clayton opens up about the loss and pain and guilt he feels. This is why he never wanted to return to the East Ranch. That moment of vulnerability changes things between Abby and Clayton.

The characters and down-home feel are what made the story for me. Clayton and Abby both have their flaws, and both come from families you can depend upon in a time of need. Even the cast of East Ranch characters were ones I could connect with. The Easts are the quintessential family. It seems the perfect place to be. Friendly and welcoming, the Texas way.

The setting was familiar and the East family is heartwarming. The characters brought the story to life and kept the pace moving. This was one of my favorite holiday reads and I couldn’t put it down. I definitely want to continue reading the Heart of Texas series.


Born and raised in Texas, Donna has ties across the border in Louisiana. Growing up with two such vibrant cultures, her Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding. She is never far from her faithful 80 pound dog, Sisko, or her three cats. She can often be found at the movies or bookstore with her children. Or buying makeup. And shoes.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: The Duke and Miss Christmas


Title: The Duke and Miss Christmas
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: October 2015
Length: 65 pages
Series?: The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels #2.5
Genre: Historical, Romance

Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, has never met a woman he couldn’t handle—until he’s hit over the head with a basketful of mistletoe by a young lady who mistakes his intentions. When he gets into a tussle with her—and she can hold her own—Crispin knows he has finally met his match.

Miss Gwen Prim is mortified that she attacked a duke, but even more concerning is the way her resolve melts when she’s near him. She’s never felt this way about a London gentleman in her life. And with the magic of Christmas in the air, she may end up with a proposal she didn’t expect.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

Crispin is the seventh Duke of Hurst and and a member of the Heirs’ Club, a group of young men who become embroiled in scandal. Waiting for the gossip to die down, he join his mother and siblings in America before returning to England and accepting an invitation to the Christmas Ball hosted by his friend, the Duke of Drakestone. While riding to Drakestone, Crispin stumbles upon a young girl named Sybil sitting in the snow. Cutting greenery in a tree, she fell and injured her leg. Crispin arranges Sybil on his horse. In the process, her leg is pressed upon, causing her to cry out. Crispin is suddenly attacked from behind. It is another woman with a basket, who wields it like a madman. Crispin tries to calm the woman and explain he was assisting young Sybil. Refusing to give her name, he calls her Miss Christmas.

Gwen Prim has returned to Drakestone following her season. Heartbroken by her journey into the ton, she flies into action when she discovers her sister being attacked by a strange man. Being the sister-in-law to the Duke of Drakestone, Gwen and her siblings are well-cared for. At dinner, she is shocked to learn Crispin is also a duke and staying at Drakestone. Her utter embarrassment is palpable and she silently cowers in her seat in mortal fear that it will be revealed that she struck a duke.

I liked the characters, both of whom come from large families with several siblings. Gwen is a fiesty redhead who protects her family. Crispin has a humorous, good nature for a duke.

The insta-love reaction to one another rankled. The one issue I had was with the steamy scene. I don’t buy it as a reader. Gwen was just giving narration about the potentials of pregnancy after a single encounter. Knowing the ramifications, the fact that she gives into a single encounter – in the snow – at the end of an outing with her sisters – seemed against Gwen’s morals and out of place.

This was one of the shortest novellas I’ve read. It was constantly moving along and was a funny Christmas read that can be read as a standalone.


Amelia Grey (aka Gloria Dale Skinner) grew up in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over twenty-five years. She has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire and now lives in Florida.

Amelia has won the coveted Romantic Times award for Love and Laughter, the prestigious Maggie award for best historical and Affaire de Coeur’s best American historical award. She has been a finalist for the Golden Heart and the Holt Medallion awards which are given by Romance Writers of America and numerous other awards. Her books have been sold to many countries in Europe, Russia and China.

Amelia likes flowers, candlelight, sweet smiles, gentle laughter and sunshine.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Review: Christmas at Seashell Cottage


Title: Christmas at Seashell Cottage
Author: Donna Alward
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: October 2014
Length: 198 pages
Series?: Jewell Cove #1.5
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

It’s Christmas in Jewell Cove, and local doctor Charlie Yang finds her quiet, steady life disrupted by both an abandoned baby in the nativity manger and a real-life mystery man. Sure, she’s always wanted a family of her own, but she didn’t imagine it coming from a baby that wasn’t hers and a man who was more interested in living day by day than making long-term plans…

Ex-SEAL Dave Ricker hadn’t planned on making Jewell Cove his forever home, but the talented and tender-hearted Charlie has him reconsidering his position on settling down. Can a beautiful woman, adorable baby, and a small town full of holiday spirit change his mind for good?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

Charlie Yang is relatively new to town. She defied her parents and accepted a small town doctor position. Growing up an only child and brushed off by her parents, she wants more from life than the living to climb the career ladder. With hopes of joining in the community and being accepted in an insular small town where everyone knows everyone, Charlie is struggling to be seen as anything but the town doctor.

Dave Ricker also recently moved to town after putting his Navy SEALs life to rest. Stuck in the in between and wanting to be near his young daughter, he’s taken a job working at the boat docks. Unbeknownst to him, Charlie spends many of her lunch breaks watching the new guy at the docks. She dreams of having the life she didn’t growing up: an adoring husband and family. Love.

In an effort to fit in more with the townspeople, Charlie and Dave both volunteer to help decorate the town for Christmas. They decide to meet for the annual tree lighting ceremony. Being the two outsiders in the town, they decide to band together at this town event. Despite Dave’s fear of commitment, they agree to a no-strings attached arrangement. With a plan to meet up with Charlie’s boss and some other townies, their night is thrown off-course after walking past the manger scene in front of the church. The plastic baby doll Jesus Charlie placed there just days before is gone. In it’s place is a real baby.

To fill her own void, Charlie agrees to foster the baby for a few weeks until the investigation is concluded. Trying to care for a newborn while maintaining her full-time doctor status eventually takes its toll.  In the meantime, the newcomer’s romance slowly starts to unfold. Together, Charlie and Dave care for this little Christmas miracle. But Charlie is not a no-strings, no connection girl. She pushes for more. Being relationshipaphobic, Dave retreats. Alternately, the two continue this strange mating dance of freaking out on one another and changing their minds. The continual cycle felt childish and manufactured to create a dramatic upheaval.

Being a short novella, the pacing was fairly quick and consistent. Charlie’s character was flushed out fairly well and developed. Her childhood has played a major role in her life and her emotions. On the other hand, Dave’s character is glossed over and lacking in that character background. His story and his personality were underdeveloped and a disservice to his character and the storyline.

There was a resolution to the mystery of where the mystery baby came from. Named Daniel by Charlie and Dave, Charlie is able to help the young mother set up and get on the right track.

I fell in love with the town of Jewell Cove and I was falling in love with the story and the characters until the manufactured drama turned up. It was like watching a high school couple fight about being together and then break up, and then fight about not being together and get back together, and then fight about not being together and break up again. I feel like something got lost a little somewhere in there and wished it had only happened once. It dampened my enjoyment of the book overall.


marti-corn-photography-donna-alward-h-r-1600While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!

Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Blogger Hop ~ Peeking at Views


The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. Each week poses a book-related question. The hop starts on Friday and ends on Thursday. The purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers.

Do you sneak a peek at the number of views your posts have gotten? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews)

I don’t really peek at how many views a post got. I do, though, want to know how many views my blog has had each day. Just to see what the trends are and to know what was good, what was apparently not so interesting, and figure out timing better. There are times of the year that are just bad for everyone – like school starting back up and the holidays. At the end of the month when I write my monthly Chit Chat, I will go back and find the views for the entire month. In my monthly, I used to do popular posts (by views) and ones that needed more love. It actually bothered me a lot knowing which ones were unpopular, so I quit doing that.