A Gold Star to These Four Websites

Hello again! I hope your holiday break was wonderful. Mine wasI had a lovely, warm time in AZ with family.

We did some campfire cooking, just for fun.
There are about a billion things I've been wanting to tell you about. Ok, I counted and there are actually four.

These are all websites that I hope will make your life easier, because they've helped me. Even though some of them aren't strictly book related, I hope you'll enjoy. It's funny, but sometimes I can't help but put myself into a (book) box. Even though I know I personally care about more than just books, sometimes when I consider posting about something that isn't about books I have this nasty second thought that says I'm not allowed. Luckily I usually have a third thought that says that I can post about whatever I want, especially if it is a good thing that will make people's lives easier.

First and foremost: The 2016 Cybils shortlists have been announced! I was on the Graphic Novels committee this year, so I helped narrow 55 middle grade nominees down to this list of commendable titles, and 52 Young Adult nominees down to this list of contenders. On February 14, the second round of judges will announce which book in each shortlist has won the big prize. To see all the categories, click here.

Next up: I wanted to tell you about the tool that helped our Cybils panel find a time when we could all chat about the nominees. It's called Doodle. I find it super useful when I'm trying to schedule something with more than three people. I'll be honest: if I can't just make two phone calls (or read replies to two emails) I can't keep track of it. Doodle lets you make a poll, "when do you want to do this," and people check yes or no for whatever possible times you have put in. Then it displays the results in red and green. I particularly like the function that lets you check yes, no, or "if need be," which turns yellow. Then the stoplight coloring is really coming through. Anyway, I don't use Doodle super often, and I've never used their paid premium version, but when I've needed it, I've been glad to know about it. I'm not an affiliate for Doodle, in case you were wondering.

I am an affiliate for Creativebug. I've just had a lot of fun with this service (I think of it as the Netflix of art and crafts tutorials), so I applied to be an affiliate with them. [This means that if you sign up for Creativebug through my links, they'll pay me a little bit.] Anyway, Creativebug seems like the kind of thing that's too fun to keep to myself. I've taken classes about drawing and sketchbooking, making my own envelopes, making quilts, using watercolors, and more. They have classes geared to kidsmy boys got into making sculpey creations after watching one class.

I drew these birds in Jan 2016 when I took the 31 Things To Draw with Lisa Congdon class.
One class I remember fondly was about how to choose a color palette. It was geared to quilters and I haven't ever made a quilt all by myself, but I was always wondering what colors to use in things (art, home decorating) and loved the color wheel technique the instructor used.

Anyway, I could go on about Creativebug all day. It's $5/month, and so worth it. You get to permanently save one class for every month that you subscribe, so even though I've cancelled my subscription for the moment (knew I wasn't going to be watching much while I was reading like a nut for the Cybils) I can still look back on those favorite classes I saved. And it's super easy to cancel and resubscribe. I've done it like 3 times. They're running a promotion right now for a free month (yes, you still get to save a class to your library) and along with it you get a 30% off coupon to JoAnn's. I'll stick a banner here so you can click on it if you're interested.

One last thing: Speaking of monthly subscription services, I've traded our Netflix subscription for a PBS sustainer's membership. Five words; The Great British Baking Show. I had to have more of it. Since there wasn't anything we were really into on Netflix, and since I kept hearing myself complain to Jacob that I wanted to watch more of GBBS, I just decided to do it. You get access to all the special back episodes of shows if you're a sustainer. I am not an affiliate for PBS, by the way. But if you make a one-time gift of $60 or sign up to make a monthly gift of $5, you get to watch all the Great British Baking Show you want. We took advantage of this over the holidays.

It was adorable to hear my kids walking around after the finale of Season 2. They kept saying "I can't believe ----- won!" Then my mom was like, "Do they have Poldark on there?" And I was like, "Yeah, is that a good show?" And she's like "So good. So. Good." So I might have to start watching that. And I might have to catch up on Sherlock and watch some old Antiques Roadshows or something. I guess I might not be so excited about this if we had TV, but we don't. I'm excited to have access to the PBS stuff that had "expired" for me before.

The only downside to this PBS thing is that the navigation is clunky. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to find the episode I'm looking for. I've solved that by adding episodes to my watchlist, for now.

So there you have it! A handful of the things on the internet that are keeping me happy and educated and helping me be creative and such. Do you already use any of these? I'd love to hear about it. Which one intrigues you the most? What do you have to add to the list?


  1. Poldark: I really like the setting, the costumes, and the language - all seem quite authentic. But today I am disenchanted with it because I watched season 2 episode 7 or 8 where Ross does something completely uncharacteristic and sleeps with the woman he has adored in the past but is not married to. So now our hero is just not as cool as he used to be - too bad!

    1. Mom, that was definitely a spoiler. (Also, for you, a spoiler! am i right?)


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