Subscription Box Directory Update {July 2015}

7.01.2015

I have a not-so-secret obsession with both subscription boxes and making lists, which comes together perfectly in the form of my Subscription Box Directory!

The world of subscription boxes is always changing, with boxes constantly launching and failing. I try to keep the list as current as possible and just completed a big update!

Here are the boxes I added:

AdoreMe (lingerie and swimwear)

Angelino's Coffee (k-cup coffee)

Arcade Block (gamer gear, collectibles, etc, plus a new t-shirt each month)

Arianna Huffington (increase your productivity, lifestyle, health and wellness)

Art of Tea (tea of the month club)

Art Snacks (high quality art supplies)

The Austin BatBox (products from Austin, Texas)

Awesome Pack (board games, toys, and activities to encourage quality family time)

Bag and Wander (travel essentials)

Bare Bliss Box (organic makeup and beauty products)

BattlBox (survival and tactical gear)

Bean Genius (personalized coffee)

Beauteque Monthly (beauty products)

BeautyAdvisor Box (two full-size beauty products)

Beauty Joy Box (beauty and jewelry items)

Beauty DNA (customized full size beauty products)

Beauty Vault VIP (one full sized item, or a variety of sample products from Le Metier de Beaute)

Beer of the Month Club (beer)

Better Half Box (unique products for men or women on a theme)

Bill Nye (fun, learning experience in every package from modeling kits, to green products and even custom items from the Science Guy himself)

Black Box (goth accessories, candies, makeup, jewelry, music, art, and more)
BlackSocks (men's dress socks)

Bocandy (candy from around the world)

Book(ish) Box (bookish items, including a an exclusive tv and other book-themed items, but no books)

Box of Dread (horror themed items)

Box of Radiance (hand poured soy candles)

Box Me Mommy (box of fun for mommy and baby)

Bramble Box (creative play kits)

Brickell Men's Products (men's skincare and grooming products)

Bright Cellars (wine)

Buddhibox (products for a yoga lifestyle)

Burke Decor (spa or home products)

Candy Japan (Japanese candy)

CandyClub (candy)

Catch Em Club (fishing gear)

Cellars Wine Club (wine)

Chic Shave (razors for women)

Comic Block (comics, a t-shirt, and collectibles)

Curator and Mule (men's accessories like hats, wallets, sunglasses)

Baby Bin (baby products)

Book Riot (Books and bookish stuff)

Book Riot YA (Young Adult books and bookish stuff)

CauseBox (Socially conscious products curated by Sevenly)

Cheese of the Month Club (cheese)

Chocolate of the Month Club (world-class, gourmet chocolate)

Cigar Club (cigars)

Cocotique (deluxe beauty box subscription service for women of color and diverse ethnicities)

Collectible Geek (geeky goods)

Comic Con Box (exclusives, collectibles, comics, toys, and other geeky goodies)

Cooper & Kid (kits for dads and kids)

Craft Beer Club (craft beers from around the country)

CycleBox (cycling products)

DailyLook Elite (personal styling service for women that sends you 6-8 hand-selected items each month curated by your own personal stylist and tailored to your style profile)

Darby Smart (bi-monthly craft and DIY subscription box for tweens)

Datelivery (date night in a box)

Design*Sponge (handpicked artisan goods and home decor)

Doodle Crate (crafts for kids aged 9 to 16+)

Encourage Play (kids designed to build social skills through play)

Ewe Craft Cube (luxury handcrafted yarn paired with a suitable pattern suggestion)

Fair Ivy (handmade gifts)

Faith Box (inspirational quote and scripture, actions to enrich a Christian life, and products)

Farm Fresh to You (organic fruit and vegetable delivery)

Farmivore (fruits and veggies for juicing)

Fathom (cool, quirky, unique gifts from Fathom for the passionate and curious traveler)

Fitsnack (healthy snacks)

Flaviar (premium spirits)

Flavour Delivered (recipes and all the fresh spices needed to make an authentic Indian meal)

The Flavor Fix (Spice of the Month Club with Flavor Hacks and custom blends)

The Flowbox (Healthy, Vegan, & Gluten-Free foods)

Flower of the Month (bouquet of flowers)

Fortune Cookie Soap Box (soap)

French Box (French products)

Fresh Fiction (1 Paperback, 4-6 free eBooks, 4-6 swag items, and 1 Fresh Fiction gift)

Freshly (pre-made and packaged meals delivered weekly, using natural and organic ingredients, no added sugars or sweeteners, and made in a gluten-free facility)

FYTSO (fitness outfits selected by a personal stylist)

Geek Fuel (geeky t-shirts, toys, digital games, limited edition collectibles, and all things epic)

Geek Me Box (geek and gamer box, including a t-shirt)

Gem La La (jewelry)

Gentlemen's Box (a copy of GQ and lifestyle products for men)

Glitter Daze (nail polish)

Global Wine Cellars (wine)

Gold Medal Wine Club (wine)

Golden Tote (women's clothing)

Good Habit Box (healthy snacks, teas, shakes, and breakfasts)

GoodMouth (toothbrushes and/or electric toothbrush heads)

Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club (gourmet cheese)

Groovy Lab in a Box (young STEMists will receive fun, hands-on projects and an engineering design challenge – all focused on that month’s STEM topic)

Hall and Madden (men's dress shirts)

Hamptons Lane (kitchen products, artisan foods and ingredients on a theme)

The Handy Box (new tools and gadgets)

Happy Mail (stationary from A Beautiful Mess)

HauteLook by Nordstrom (limited edition makeup and beauty sample bag offered every season from HauteLook)

Hello Fresh (recipes with pre-measured ingredients)

Her Fashion Box (fashion and beauty items)

Herbal Bliss (herbal products that are beautifully simple)

Hero Box (superhero mystery box)

Hero Crate (hero items and t-shirt)

Hey Gluten Free (gluten free foods)

Hobbytron (a new Remote Controlled Helicopter, Car, Truck, etc.)

Horror Block (horror themed t-shirt, plus toys and collectibles)

Incredibundles (baby gifts)

Inedible Treats (handcrafted food jewelry from Marvin's Corner)

It's Simply Local (local food and lifestyle products from NJ)

Japan Crate (candy from Japan)

Jeremy Lin (Jeremy Lin's Quarterly Box features what he uses to get game ready and after the game)

Jouer Le Matchbox (beauty products tailored to your skin tone and type)

Junior Explorers (for kids to explore and discover wildlife and nature)

Just Fab (clothing, shoes, handbags)

Kawaii Box (cute items from Japan and Korea)

Keep in Touch (a 7” x 7” postcard with a record pressed directly into a full color image curated by that month’s artist)

KitNipBox (variety of items for cats including toys, treats, accessories, hygiene products, and more)

Koala Crate (play-and-learn activities for preschoolers)

Kulture Krate (a Unit Study packed with activities, arts, crafts, and recipes for kids aged 8 - 18)

Le Parcel (period products, plus chocolate and a gift)

Le Tote (monthly styling and clothing rental)

Life's Little Goodies (a Christian subscription based company that sends sweet little surprises each month that encourage and express God’s love)

Linen Crate (premium bed sheets, curtains, bath towels, and more home decor items)

Lip Monthly (lip products)

Little Lace Box (fashion accessories for you or your home)

Lookfantastic Beauty Box (deluxe-sized beauty product samples)

Love Iberico (food products from Iberico)

Loved and Blessed (Christian encouragement)

Lullubee Craft Box (craft supplies for a specific project, with instructions)

Luxor Box (luxurious beauty, spa and lifestyle surprise)

Manpacks (monthly basics subscription service for men: socks, boxers, grooming supplies)

Marvel Collector Corps (Marvel & Funko including apparel, collectibles and accessories)

Melissa Joulwan (Start living a paleo lifestyle with paleo expert Melissa Joulwan)

Memebox (Korean beauty products)

Men's Accessories Shop (cuff links, ties, tie bars, money clips, shirt studs, lapel pins, tie tacks and pins)

Messy Box (scrapbooking subscription from A Beautiful Mess)

Mickey Monthly (souvenirs and treats from Disney World)

Mighty Fix (healthy home products)

Mix Cups (single cup coffees and teas)

Mizzfit (Stay fit and stylish with a curated subscription from Bianca Jade of Mizzfit)

Moda Box (styled outfits)

Modcloth Stylish Surprise (once a quarter mystery box)

MunchPak (snacks from all over the world)

Music Box (CDs and music-related items)

My Community Box (local products from Hampton Roads, Virginia)

My Dress Club (dress rental)

My Geek Box (geek gear, including a limited edition t-shirt)

My Geeky Goodies (rad gear, toys & collectibles, always includes a t-shirt or POP vinyl toy)

My Pretend Place (a dress-up package that centers on a theme and includes a costume, plus books, crafts, activities, and even food)

Nadine West (outfits with tops and accessories)

Narwhal Bacon Box (reddit-inspired products for internet geeks)

Native Box (natural living)

Nerd Block Junior: Boys (geeky gear for kids ages 6-11)

Nerd Block Junior: Girls (geeky gear for kids ages 6-11)

New England Sack (products from New England)

Nibblr (snack foods)

Nicholas Black Box (grooming and lifestyle monthly subscription box service for men)

Nina Garcia (fashion and beauty)

Noble Brewer (limited-run craft beer)

Nomalicious (curated small batch, indie food boxes)

Notoriously Morbid Cosmetics Vanishing Cabinet (makeup)

NYC Metro Girl (handmade soap)

Olia Box (jewelry)

1Up Box (gear for geeks and gamers)

Oui Please (French products)

Paw Pack (healthy and sustainable pet products)

Paws and Play (pet treats, grooming supplies, gadgets, and toys)

Pennie Post (stationery)

People Magazine VIP (magazine subscription and three gift boxes with full size products each year)

The Personal Barber (shaving products)

Pet Box (pet products for dogs and cats)

Pet Gift Box (gifts for dogs and cats)

Pharrell Williams (every 3 months receive a package from Pharrell filled with his favorite items to pique your curiosity and keep you learning every day)

Phone Case of the Month (a new phone case each month)

Picky Club (real food performance bars for athletes)

Plonk Wine Club (wine of the month club)

Pooch Paw Box (American made products for dogs)

Power Up Box (geeky, nerdy, pop culture, and gamer items)

Prepper Gear Box (survival gear and education)

Pressed Juicery (juices)

PrettyFit (nutritional supplements, healthy snacks, workout gear and more)

Prize Candle (candles with hidden jewelry)

Prospurly (foods, luxurious essentials for rest and relaxation, and seriously fun games & gifts to share with friends)

Purr Packs (products for cats)

Quilty Crate (quilting products and ideas)

Rachel Zoe Box of Style (fashion, beauty, and lifestyle)

Rainbow Honey Mystery Bag (nail polish)

RawSpiceBar (spices)

Sapphire Soul Balance Box (yoga lifestyle products)

Say it with a Sock (sock of the month club)

Scratch Monthly Mani (nail wraps)

Send Me Gluten Free (gluten free foods)

Shoe Dazzle (shoes)

Smart Art (fine art projects)

Sock Panda (socks)

Style Quarterly (beauty, fashion accessories, lifestyle items)

Soxiety (Italian socks)

Stunner of the Month (sunglasses)

Quarterly Beauty (new beauty must-haves and exclusive fashion picks from industry experts)

Quarterly Food (curated by professional chefs)

Scent Trunk (perfume)

Scentbird (perfume)

Skandicrush (modern Scandinavian and Scandinavian inspired housewares)
Sketch Box (art supplies)

Smile Designed (boxes of encouragement for someone going through a difficult time)

Sock Fancy (socks)

Sockscribe Me (sock of the month club)

Soxiety (Italian socks)

Sprezza Box (men's clothing)

Sprouting Threads (clothing for children aged 2 - 8)

Standard Cocoa (artisan chocolate)

Starbucks Reserve Roastery (Starbucks coffee)

Stitch Fix (women's clothing)

Story Kits (paper crafting supplies from Ali Edwards)

Surprise My Pet (fun toys, bones, and all-natural treats for dogs)

Svbscription (personal shopping services for men's clothing, homewares, tech and grooming)

Taste Guru (Gluten Free foods)

Tea Box (fresh loose-leaf tea)

Tech & Gadgets (latest in cool tech gadgets for gamers to science geeks curated by social influencers)

The Tee Project (men's t-shirts)

Teens Turning Green Conscious Collections (thoughtfully curated, ethically-produced products across many lifestyle categories)

Thread Lab (men's clothing)

Threaded Canvas (stylish art tees)

Tinker Crate (experiments in the area of science, engineering, and technology for kids aged 9 - 14)

Tippy Taste Jewelry (a subscription service for people who love chic jewelry)

ToGoSpa Society (spa products)

TOM Box (each period cycle, necessary supplies as well as jewelry and makeup)

Travel Noire (Travel Noire is the perfect travel box for the unconventional travelers with all the tools and resources you need to travel the world.)

TriBox (products for triathaletes)

TruBrain (get the competitive edge of focused cognitive performance as an everyday alternative to over-reliance on caffeine and energy drinks)

Twenty Fourward (t-shirts)

Twenty One Bundles (baby-safe goodies for pregnant and new moms)

Vinyl Me, Please (A specially selected limited edition vinyl LP, a cocktail recipe to be paired with the music, an original piece of art, access to online magazine, access to forums, special deals on other albums)

Wagging Box (products for dogs)

Wil Wheaton (books, homebrew kits, handcrafted goods to games, toys and more; awesome, unique, quirky packages)

Wine of the Month Club (wine)

Yarn Box (at least two or more full-sized skeins, patterns and more from carefully selected sources)

Yogi Surprise (heath, wellness, and fitness products)

Yum Box (snacks from a different country each month)

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {June 29, 2015}

6.29.2015



There are a couple recipes on this week's menu that I've been dying to try for some time. {I post last week's menu so that I can offer an opinion on whether the recipes are any good!}

Sunday

Father's Day - we were going to do a BBQ, but the Father of the house decided he'd like to get Chando's Tacos, so off we went. I did make Chewy Chocolate Chip Brownies, but used the wrong pan, so I'm not sure whether to recommend this recipe or not!

Monday

Chicken Thighs with Mozzarella and Smoked Ham - this recipe from Recipe 30 has been floating around on Facebook for awhile and is just as delicious as you would think from watching the video. Try this recipe!!!

Tuesday

Grilled Hawaiian Pizza - I think this recipe is more trouble than it's worth and can easily be streamlined. I don't feel the need to have all the toppings grilled, so we just popped them on top without grilling. Then I realized there was no propane in the tank for the gas grill, so I slathered some olive oil in a baking sheet, stretched the dough to fit, and baked it in the oven following this method. Turned out great! I showed off the leftovers on Instagram.

A photo posted by Madeline Miller (@plantohappy) on

Wednesday

Thai Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Peanuts with Basmati Rice - I got this recipe from Cook's Illustrated, but refused to make my own curry paste and bought it at the store! This was just okay - I prefer this recipe for Green Chickpea and Chicken Curry with Swiss Chard.

Thursday

Leftover Wraps - we put the curry and rice into tortillas to make wraps. They were tasty!

Friday

Easy Sheet Pan Chicken - I've been having great luck with recipes from the New York Times Cooking newsletter, but I failed at meal planning on this one. I was thinking it would be a one-pan meal like the amazing Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula, and Garlic Yogurt, but it was just the chicken! I had to scramble a bit to put together sides, but it all worked out and the chicken was easy and yummy.

Saturday

We hosted a BBQ on Saturday and started with Creamy Fiesta Dip, which I would totally make again, but with the spicier Ro-tel. It was lighter than many dips, so perfect for a hot day. We also had Don't Kiss Me Garlic Burgers (the pesto is unbelievably good) and my new Summer Potluck party special, Ground Beef and Baked Bean Casserole. Our guests brought watermelon, macaroni salad, and strawberry shortcake. It was a feast!

Click this banner to check out Plan to Eat, the best meal planning website I have ever used!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat


Check out more recipes over at Menu Plan Monday!



{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Five Easy DIY Ideas for a Spectacular Fourth of July Party {and a Bonus Recipe}

6.26.2015


The Fourth of July is a week away, but there's still time to put together some cute, easy, DIY projects to make your party spectacular! Here are five ideas:

1. Pinwheel Centerpieces


Materials:

Red pitcher or other red container
Blue or white paper shreds
Floral block
12-inch wooden skewers
Red, white, and blue scrapbook paper (or card stock and a digital paper to print at home)
Stars or other embellishment to cover the center
Glue gun and glue

Instructions:

Just grab a cute red pitcher or vase and throw a floral block in the bottom. Then add some blue or white paper shreds or tissue to hide the floral block. Next, make pinwheels using this great tutorial from Love the Day. She used lollipop sticks, but skewers will give you more height. I had some patriotic papers from Erin Bradley Designs, but there are tons of free ones out there to choose from and print at home. A trip to the scrapbook store is also an option!

Glue the pinwheels onto the skewers, cover the center with an embellishment like a styrofoam star or sticker, and push the skewers into the floral block. You could also buy premade pinwheels or use small flags.

And see that super cute red and blue polka dot table cloth the centerpiece is on? That's just fabric from Joann's. I am sewing-impaired, so used Stitch Witch to hem it and ta da!

2. Dipped Pretzels

Materials needed:

White melting chocolate
Pretzel rods
Patriotic sprinkles

Instructions:

This is just too easy! I found the idea over at Praises of a Wife and Mommy. You just melt the chocolate, dip the pretzels, and decorate with sprinkles. The kids love to help out with this one!

3. Party Favors

Materials:

Cute paper sacks
4th of July themed candies
Stickers

Instructions:

Find some cute paper sacks, fill with 4th of July themed candies (think star-shaped gummies, red white and blue jelly beans, or anything patriotic!) and close with a simple sticker printed at home or purchased. I downloaded these free party circles from Tomkat Studio to make the stickers pictured above.

To easily print the stickers, buy a package of full sheet labels, print them, then use a punch to get cute shapes.

4. Lawn Stars

Materials:

Flour
Flour Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Cardboard or posterboard for stencil
Exacto Knife

Instructions:

The hardest part of this project is making the stencil! You want something that will maintain a hard edge and is large enough so that you don't have to worry about the flour falling over the edges (unless you want a frame around your star!). Draw a star on it and cut the star out using the Exacto knife.

Place the stencil down on the grass, but don't push down hard. Using the sifter, fill in the star shape with flour, making sure you do not get flour outside the edge of the stencil.

I found this idea over at Princess Pinky Girl.

5. Drink Station


Materials:

Large Beverage Dispenser
Smaller Beverage Dispenser
Patriotic Straws

Instructions:

Okay, this might not seem like an easy DIY idea, but a well organized drink station is key to party success on a hot day. In addition to sodas, kids drinks, and lovely adult beverages, put out a huge container of ice water and more cups than you think you need. Then put out a smaller pitcher of a fun drink like lemonade or iced tea. A cup full of cute straws makes the whole thing that much more fun.

But the thing that will set you apart? A SHARPIE! People can write their names on their cups, which they love.

Bonus Recipe:


No-Bake Red, White, and Blue Cheesecake from Martha Stewart - This recipe is so easy to make and has been a crowd-please every time! It would be a perfect dessert to bring to a 4th of July Potluck Party.

What are your favorite Fourth of July projects?


{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

20 Series for Advanced First and Second Grade Readers {and a few extras}

6.25.2015

It can be a daunting challenge to find great books for a 7- or 8-year old to read that are (a) at his or her reading level and (b) age appropriate. So many of those books have story lines that may be a little too intense or mature for her tender little heart, so I've been on a serious search. After spending way too much time on Amazon and Goodreads, asking friends, and begging for help at the library, here's what I found!

Criteria:

-An age range with a minimum number no higher than 8
-A minimum reading level of 2nd Grade, but no higher than 5th Grade
-Themes of fairy tales, space, and adventure preferred
-Avoid stories with a primary focus on popularity, love stories, and friendship dramas.

The list (in no particular order and linking to the first book in each series):


Sisters Grimm Series by Michael Buckley

Books in Series: 9 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 4 - 6, Ages 7 - 13

This series follows two orphaned sisters sent to live with a Grandmother they thought was dead. They learn that all those stories in the Brothers Grimm book of fairy tales are actually historically accurate. The girls then take on the family responsibility of becoming fairy-tale detectives.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Books in Series: 12 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 3 - 7, Ages 8 and Up

The movie version is only very loosely based on this series of novels by Cressida Cowell. These novels are peppered with goofy character names, fun illustrations, and a story that will keeps kids engaged. The introductory note from the main character sets the tone: "I was not the sort of boy who could train a dragon with a mere lifting of an eyebrow. I was not a natural at the Heroism business. I had to work at it. This is the story of becoming a Hero the Hard Way."

American Girl Series by Various Authors 

Books in Series: 12 series, each based on a different girl, with six books in most of them (full list)
Reading Level: Age 8 and Up

Each of these American Girl books focuses on one girl in a historical setting, like Kirsten coming to America with her family in 1854, Molly living during World War II with her father fighting overseas, and Caroline living during the beginning of the War of 1812. These books will lead to some great discussion about historical events!

A Series of Unfortunate Events Series by Lemony Snicket

Books in Series: 13 (full list)
Reading Level: Grade 5 and Up, Ages 8 - 12

According to Amazon: "While it's true that the events that unfold in Lemony Snicket's novels are bleak, and things never turn out as you'd hope, these delightful, funny, linguistically playful books are reminiscent of Roald Dahl (remember James and the Giant Peach and his horrid spinster aunts), Charles Dickens (the orphaned Pip in Great Expectations without the mysterious benefactor), and Edward Gorey (The Gashlycrumb Tinies)." This series gets top marks for readers in this category because Snicket uses some seriously tough vocabulary words, but offers definitions for them in the text.

Space Taxi Series by Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer

Books in Series: 3 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4

Archie Morningstar wakes up on the occasion of being eight years, eight months, and eight days old to learn the family secret - his Dad is no ordinary taxi driver. Instead, his Dad is a Space Taxi driver who needs a navigator and Archie is him! This story is full of interesting scientific facts mixed with whimsy and excitement.

Candy Fairies by Helen Perelman

Books in Series: 14 (full list)
Reading Level: Grade 2 - 5, Ages 7 - 10

Set in Sugar Valley, this series includes mysteries all with an imaginative use of candy. These are on the shorter side for chapter books, but will give you a break if you can't stand hearing about one more Rainbow Magic Fairy book, but your kid still loves the genre.

Never Girls Series by Kiki Thorpe 

Books in Series: 9 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4, Ages 6 - 9

Four girls are magically transported to Neverland and spend time at Pixie Hollow, exploring the island. They learn about fairy life and wonder how and when they will return home. This book is on the easier side of reading, with large fonts and illustrations, but the story is engaging, especially for fans of Tinkerbell and the fairies of Pixie Hollow.

Nancy Clancy Series by Jane O'Conner

Books in Series: 5 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5, Ages 6 - 10

Kids who grew up having the Fancy Nancy picture books read to them will enjoy this chapter book version of Nancy Clancy stories. With a familiar cast of characters, Nancy and her friends solve mysteries and learn lessons along they way.

Whatever After Series by Sarah Mlynowski

Books in Series: 7 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 4 - 6, Ages 8 - 12

Abby and her younger brother find a magic mirror in their basement that transports them into fairy tale stories, where they have exciting and dangerous adventures. There are plot twists and common complaints from 10-year olds, along with a healthy dose of sibling bickering and love. Fans of fairy tales will enjoy hearing these stories with a modern "fish out of water" girl involved.

Amelia Bedelia Series by Herman Parish

Books in Series: 8 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4, Ages 6 - 10

We started this as a read-aloud, but put it down when my daughter lost interest. However, once she could read them on her own, the entire series was a big hit. Amelia Bedelia is always going from one hilarious misunderstanding to another in these chapter books. Some of the puns went right over my 7-year old's head, but enough of them stuck for a fun experience.

Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Books in Series: 137! (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5, Ages 7 and Up

This renowned classic is about four young orphans who learn how to survive in a boxcar and go on countless adventures. Children will revel in the themes of freedom, independence, and self-sufficiency. And there are 137 of them, so you know they won't run out of reading material.

Anna & Elsa Series by Erica David

Books in Series: 4 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 1 - 4, Ages 6 - 9

This series picks up where the movie left off and follows Elsa and Anna on adventures. They get to know each other, travel around, and solve problems. All the beloved characters are here, making this series attractive to both boys and girls.

Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol

Books in Series: 28 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 3 - 7, Ages 8 - 12

These classic books follow Encyclopedia Brown on his Boy Detective adventures. How did Encyclopedia Brown solve the mystery? That's the question asked at the end of each chapter of this series, which is totally engrossing! You have to flip to the back of the book to find the answer (and sometimes track down Mom or Dad to explain, too).

Geronimo Stilton Series by Geronimo Stilton

Books in Series: 58 (full list)
Reading Level: Grade 5, Ages 7 - 10

Geronimo Stilton is sort of a James Bond, but in mouse form and without the romantic entanglements. He's the publisher of a newspaper who goes on many adventures on Mouse Island and writes them all up in these bestselling novels. This series, which originated in Italy, includes colorful illustrations to accompany the story. Geronimo's sister Thea has her own series, too.

Cam Jansen Series by David A. Adler

Books in Series: 34 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5, Ages 7 - 10

Cam Jansen has a photographic memory and uses her skills to solve mysteries. There are a few dicey situations, like a robber pointing a gun at a store owner, that almost disqualified this book from the list, but the humor and determination of Cam Jansen to solve mysteries outweighs the negatives.

Twice Upon a Time Series by Wendy Mass

Books in Series: 3 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 3 - 7, Ages 8 - 12

After loving the Space Taxi series by Mass, I went hunting for more of her books and ran across this one. These are the old, familiar fairy tales, but with a twist. For example, in the first of the series, the Rapunzel tale is also told from the perspective of Prince Benjamin.


Ramona Quimby Series by Beverly Cleary

Books in Series: 8 (full list)
Reading Level: 8 - 12

Two books in this series were Newberry Honor winners and I bet many of us read them as children. They stand up to the test of time and are true classics that young readers will still adore. So many kids can relate to a bothersome sibling!

Land of Stories Series by Chris Colfer

Books in Series: 5 (full list)
Reading Level: Grades 4 - 6, Ages 8 - 12

Chris Colfer's debut novel (you may recognized him as Curt from Glee) is about twins who fall into The Land of Stories and follow mysterious instructions in a effort to return home. Reviews consistently state that the quality of writing increases in later books in the series.

Bad Kitty Series by Nick Bruel

Books in Series: 10 (full list, though it includes the picture books, too)
Reading Level: Grades 2 - 6, Ages 7 - 10

There are Bad Kitty picture books you may have already seen, but there are also a whole set of graphic novels that are just hilarious. Bad Kitty has a bunch of adventures, none of which go well, of course, but there is always a redeeming message in the end.

My Little Pony Series by G.M. Berrow

Books in Series: 6 (full list)
Reading Level: Grade 3 - 7, Ages 8 - 12

This series picks up where Season Three of the show leaves off. Fans of the series will learn new details about their favorite characters and follow them on new adventures in Ponyville. Each story has humor, suspense, and a lovely moral at the end.


And a few extras that don't exactly meet the criteria:


Ever After High Series by Shannon Hale and Ever After High: School Stories by Suzanne Colfer

Books in Series: 3 in Ever After High and 4 in School Stories
Reading Level: Grades 4 - 7, Ages 8 - 12

There is lots of talk of crushes and innocent love stories, as well as many pop culture references that will only distract young readers. However, the concept and writing are so good in these books that I had to include them! There's also a show on Netflix and YouTube and four million dolls.

Jedi Academy Series by Jeffrey Brown

Books in Series: 3 (so far)
Reading Level: Grades 3 - 8

Roan dreams of going to Pilot Academy like his brother, father, and grandfather, but is surprised to get the news that he is headed to Jedi Academy instead. This book is filled with jokes and familiar characters, all in a graphic novel style. At times, my daughter laughed so hard she cried while reading this book and she was constantly bringing it over to me to show me some silly part. The only reason it's not on the main list is a plot line about a middle school romance (Roan wonders if a girl likes him and learns to slow dance with a girl).

The Keepers Series by Jackie French Koller

Books in Series: 3 (full list)
Reading Level: Grade 2 - 6, Ages 8 - 12

Nell is a princess who wants to become an apprentice to the Imperial Wizard, but her father, the king, forbids it. All the boys who have tried the challenge have failed and time is running short to keep the forces of evil at bay. A 7-year old may have lots of questions about words in this book and there are some scary magical battles, but the point is to provide a challenge, right? Just offer to be there to answer questions about vocabulary or provide a dictionary with this one. One of the characters was "swearing" using the word "clop," but that's about as scandalous as this one gets.

Are there any books you would add to this list?


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This Week's Meal Plan {June 22, 2015}

6.22.2015



I am cooking for a crowd, so I picked recipes that were quick and easy, but fed many with some leftovers for lunch the next day!

Sunday

Burgers (I just bought the frozen patties because this mama was tired) with a toppings bar consisting of bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and Mississippi Comeback Sauce. I served it with my favorite A Berry White Sangria recipe, and an appetizer of famous Crack Dip. I ditched the Three Cheese Potatoes recipe when a guest showed up with a huge salad, but I'd still like to try this method of cooking potatoes on the grill.

Monday

Dinner is an old favorite from Rachael Ray - Firecracker Enchiladas. This Mexican Coleslaw stands up well over time and the Baked Refried Beans are a nice change from the usual side dish.

Tuesday

Ah, the quick and easy Meatball Sub Casserole is so easy to put together, you can make it while the oven is heating up. A green salad on the side and you are good to go! The kids gobbled this up.

Wednesday

The recipe for Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole can be very easy to make, but I insist on cooking my own chicken, steaming my own broccoli, steaming my own rice, and making homemade cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups. You could buy any or all of those ingredients pre-made, but I think it is worth the effort, especially if you are going to be making the freezer meals in addition to dinner for that night.

However, I think this just makes one meal and one freezer bag when you plan on eating it for leftovers the next night! So, plan according to your family's appetites when you decide how much to freeze and how much to serve.

Thursday

Leftovers

Friday

It was Taco Night, but I can never decide whether to make Sara's Tacos or the Turkey Taco Night from my favorite cookbook. This week, it's Sara's with my favorite Mexican Rice recipe on the side. You'll never go back to the box!

Saturday

Eat out!

Click this banner to check out Plan to Eat, the best meal planning website I have ever used!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat


Check out more recipes over at Menu Plan Monday!



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What I've Been Reading {Quick Lit June 2015}

6.16.2015



Here's what I've been reading this month! Check out the links over at Modern Mrs. Darcy if you're in the mood to blow up your To Read List.

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner - I liked the new setting for the second book in the maze runner series. While the plot was strained at times, I still enjoyed the concept and the characters, so I continued in the series and immediately read...

The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner - I thought this was a good finish to a fun series. Again, like The Scorch Trials, the plot sometimes took some crazy twists and turns, but I was happy to be along for the ride!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - I loved One Plus One so much that I had to keep reading books by Moyes. However, this one just didn't grab me and I couldn't connect to the characters in the same way that I did One Plus One.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - This books gets a bad rap, but I enjoyed it! Maybe because I hated Wild so much, I appreciated that Gilbert didn't pretend that her trip was anything but highly self-indulgent.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld - Loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, I enjoyed the first three-quarters of the this book. After that, it got very preachy and I just checked out.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - I was so into the concept of this book! I had never read anything like it and was unable to put it down. Then I got to the end and thought, "well, that was a waste of time." Sigh.

T
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes - Again, I was not willing to give up on Moyes. but I liked this one even less than One Plus One. I appreciated the historical story, but the modern one was just a snoozer that that seemed highly unlikely and unrelatable.

The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy #3) by Shannon Hale - I just love this series! This was a fun installment that took well known characters far afield. I'll read just about anything by Shannon Hale!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Some reviewers think this novel is slow-moving, but I completely loved the intricate detail. I would read another book set in this world in a heartbeat.

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Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin {Book Review}

6.01.2015

I am not exaggerating when I say that Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project changed my life. In that book and its sequel, Happier at Home, Rubin applied a ridiculous amount of researched material to create tips and tricks for creating a happier life. I think of passages from those books on a daily basis ("most decisions do not require a great deal of research," "don't let perfect be the enemy of good," and cleaning up for myself instead of everyone else in the family are examples that immediately spring to mind). Given this context, I was on the pre-order list for her newest novel, Better than Before, which focuses on an important foundation for happiness - habits.

I have to say that Better than Before did not affect me with the same impact as The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, but I think the answer to why is found within the first few chapters of the book. There, Rubin sets up Four Tendencies (find out which one you are here) and points out that each approaches habits differently. Your tendency describes how to respond to expectations. I happen to be a rare category - The Upholder - like Rubin. She says that this category has an easier time adopting habits, which I find true for myself.

Based on the Four Tendencies, Rubin outlines strategies and tips for creating new habits that will improve your life in the short-term and in the long-term. For example, as an Upholder, I am driven by task lists and my calendar, so if I determine a new habit I would like to form, If it is scheduled, it happens, so I should put a new habit on my task list or calendar in order to help myself form the habit.

I gave this a test run in connection with a habit I need to form but have been resisting. No, not exercise. No, not my diet. Money. I hate categorizing transactions for our monthly budget because I just find it so stressful as we approach the end of each budget amount! The stress of almost going over budget is so frustrating that I just avoid the task altogether. Then, I create a self-fulfilling prophecy because if I am not tracking where each budget category is at, I go over budget.

Following the habit formation advice most suited to my Upholder tendency, I added "Categorize transactions" to my calendar for every Tuesday and Friday. This way, I would get an email reminder (as opposed to my task list app, which isn't quite so pushy) that I could not delete until I had accomplished the task. I have been using this tactic for a few weeks now and it has really made a difference - getting in the habit of just facing the issue has made it less traumatic and more part of everyday life.

So, if you were a fan of The Happiness Project and/or Happier at Home, I would highly recommend picking up Better than Before. This book is all about practical steps to improve your life, but is really focused on the fact that our personalities are a major determining factor in how we operate on a daily basis. As a result, the strategies offered are not one-size-fits-all, so are more effective. Let me know if you read Better than Before and tell me what you think!


{I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}