Bookroo: A Bookish Subscription Service

bookroo box and wrapped booksSeems like subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and it’s easy to understand why. New items sent right to your door? How fun!

But beauty boxes aren’t my thing, and even clothing ones don’t tempt me that much. I’d rather spend my money on books and things for my kids.

Now a subscription box of kids’ books? SIGN ME UP.

H with Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep-Over 2Literally, sign me up. I jumped at the chance to try Bookroo. No, this post isn’t sponsored by them (although they did give me a discount code to try them. And I also have a discount for you to try them too!) I was just that enthusiastic to try what looked like such a fun product.

Before I signed up, I checked out what books they’ve been sending in the past. What fun would it be if it’s all old familar books we already have read or own? Nowhere near as much fun as it’d be if they were new discoveries.

Glancing over previous boxes, I found one – ONE – title that we already read, let alone owned. And that solitary title is an absolute favorite, so that speaks well to their taste.

H reading Hugless DouglasSo, we’re trying it out. I signed up for a three-month subscription, and they’re nice enough to let me alternate between picture books and board books.

Our first month’s delivery arrived, and it was all I could do to hold off the kids long enough to get a picture. I had thoughts of taking an unboxing video but that wasn’t happening. Too much excitement by the big kids! (How convenient it is for me that two picture books = one for each kid to immediately claim. Board book subscriptions come with 3 book in each box.)

boo_headIf you want to try Bookroo, you can get $4 off a subscription. Where I think think Bookroo really shines is for gifts – they make it super easy, and the packaging is nice. I would have been delighted to get this as a baby shower gift, and I love the idea of sending this to friends who have new babies.

And a reminder: This post is not sponsored by them, and I’m not an affiliate. They did give me a discount code to use to try their service, but you can also get a discount too: If you click over to them using my link, you’ll automatically get $4 off your order.

Bookish Gifts for the Late Shopper

Bookish Gifts 2014 with bannerStill have some gifts to buy, but worry that you’re running out of time to get them before the big day?

This is why I love online shopping – no battling the crowds in the stores, no dragging overstimulated kids in and out (and dealing with car seats and straps for the two who aren’t able to do for themselves), no extra sensory overload on me. It’s a winner all around. And even if you’ve missed the shopping deadline for Christmas delivery from many stores (like the ones I featured in last year’s bookish gifts roundup), you’ve still got plenty of time if you order from Amazon.

In case you’re also trying to take advantage of the benefits of online shopping, here are some of the bookish gifts that I’ve either already purchased, or am seriously considering:

Read-Aloud HandbookA book about books. I love supporting reading, and the benefits of reading aloud, and The Read-Aloud HandbookThe Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition by Jim Trelease does just that. Lots of information on why you should read aloud to your children, and then tons of book suggestions. If you want still more book suggestions, try Honey for a Child’s HeartHoney for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt or Honey for a Teen’s HeartHoney for a Teen's Heart by Gladys Hunt and Barbara Hampton. All are packed with great title ideas. I’m only a little bit embarrassed to admit that I own all three of them. 🙂

JackeryExtra boost for your electronic devices. My Jackery backup battery chargerJackery portable charger power bank has been one of my useful purchases over the last year. It’s small enough to easily fit in my bag, and it will charge my phone a couple of times before it needs to be recharged itself. No worries about running out of power during the day. You wouldn’t think it’d matter that much, since I’m a stay-at-home mom, but there are plenty of times when that doesn’t involve as much staying-at-home as you might think. With this backup, I can read all the books I want to on my phone with no worries about having enough power, even if I’ve been using my phone frequently.

Great First Lines of Literature MugA fun mug. I drink multiple cups of tea every day, so my mugs get tons of use. This Great First Lines of Literature MugGreat First Lines of Literature Mug looks perfect for a book lover! If you’re extra ambitious, include some of your favorite tea inside the mug.

Q&A a Day for KidsQ&A a Day Journal – either the Q&A a Day: 5-Year JournalQ&A a Day: 5-Year Journal, or the Q&A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year JournalQ&A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal. This is another one that I keep debating about getting for my kids – I think it could be so fun to do this and see how they change over the three years the journal lasts.

Spot ItGames! We’re working on establishing a family game night tradition, and it helps to have lots of variety in the games we can play. I’m not quite sure my kids are ready for Story CubesRory's Story Cubes this year, but next year I think these are going to be under the tree, and they sound like they’ll be lots of fun. For this year it’s Spot ItSpot It and UnoUno Card Game going in the kids’ stockings.

The Night Before Christmas Pop Up EditionA beautiful holiday book. On the list of definitely NOT getting this year, but maybe once my children are old enough to trust with something so delicate, a gorgeous cut paperThe Night Before Christmas: A Magical Cut-Paper Edition or pop-up bookThe Night Before Christmas Pop-up to read on Christmas Eve. Either of these are lovely, but we’re a few years out from them being safe in my house.

Sticky Note DividersNote pads! If your bookish gift recipient likes taking notes from their books, these tabbed sticky notesRedi-Tag Divider Sticky Notes 60 Ruled Notes, 4 x 6 Inches, Assorted Neon Colors (29500) tabbed sticky notes look like they would be fantastic. I’m really tempted by these, and am trying to decide how much I’d use them. Considering my heavy usage of regular sticky notes, I’m thinking probably a lot.

And if you’re really stuck for a purchase, gift cards are perhaps the ultimate last-minute idea. 🙂

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E-book Review: Simple Scrubs to Make and Give

Simple Scrubs to Make and GiveSimple Scrubs to Make and GiveSimple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy Karen by Stacy Karen. (available as a PDF download or Kindle versionSimple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy Karen)

I can be a bit of a dreamer as far as “wouldn’t that be a fun idea? I could totally do that. Or that. Or even that.” And then I turn around and I’ve run out of time to do anything, let alone the fun ideas I thought of.

Why do I bring this up? Because it’s early November which means Christmas is getting close, but there is still time to make some homemade gifts (assuming they’re easy ones). For once I am maybe even thinking about it in time!

This year I’ve also started using essential oils, which is what lead me to DIY scrubs, which led me to this e-book.

what do I like?
  • The recipes are simple. The presentation ideas are simple. I don’t need to be super crafty to end up with something nice to use, either for myself or as a gift.
  • The book is arranged well. I’ve seen a lot of e-books where the layout isn’t done well. Karen was also thoughtful about readers wanting to print parts of the book, and has it structured so that’s easy to do without having to print lots of images as well, by having the end of the book include printing-friendly arrangements of the recipes detailed earlier. This might sound like a minor point, but I appreciated it.
  • She includes sourcing help. No idea where to find the items listed? She’s got most of them linked to a few sites. No worries about tracking down unusual ingredients. Actually, there aren’t any ingredients that I’d call unusual.
what do I not like?
  • To make it easier to present these as gifts, a label template might have been nice but that’s about the only thing I can think of that I missed seeing in it.
  • If you’re looking for an exhaustive book with thousands of specific recipes, this isn’t it. However, she’s got plenty of ideas, and the base recipe can be tweaked into endless variations depending on the combinations of ingredients or scents you choose.
  • If you’re experienced with making your own scrubs, this will likely be too basic for you. For beginners or those with limited experience, it’s helpful.

I can’t speak to every recipe being a winner, but I tried her basic sugar scrub, and added some citrus essential oils to it. I also made a salt scrub with peppermint for my feet. Both of them were super easy to do, and have been nice to use.

With lots of Googling, you can find free scrub recipes online easily, so it may not be worth it to you to buy this ebook. Sometimes I like having everything in one place and easy to find. She does a great job of describing some of the different oils you can use, and scent blends that will give various effects, and that’s nice to have consolidated together.

I got this e-book as part of a bundle, but it’s usually $4. Honestly, I doubt I would have ever bought it on its own, thinking instead that I could just find what I’d want online. Having seen it though, I’m glad I have it in this format and would recommend it if you’re interested in the topic, or are thinking about making some homemade gifts for this holiday season. [Read more…]