FINDING TIME TO READ

I usually share what I'm reading over on Instagram, and inevitably always end up with at least one person asking the question - "how do you find time to read so much?!" I've never really given it much thought - I've always been an avid reader, as long as I can remember - but the more often I was asked, the more I wanted to figure out how I find that time. What don't I do, in order to make time to read? A lot of people told me when I was pregnant that I probably wouldn't read for the next 18 years. I"m happy to report that that certainly isn't true - and I'm on book #18 for this year, almost keeping pace with one book a week. Here's my best summary of how.

  • I always have a book next on my list. I usually make a list at the beginning of each calendar year of what I want to read that year. I have an Amazon wishlist of books I want to own. I'm making an effort to keep my GoodReads account up to date as far as what I want to read next. Knowing what I'll be diving into next, before I finish the book I'm on, keeps the momentum going.
  • I don't do Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. I'll admit it - I spend a LOT of time on Instagram and Snapchat, but that's really it. I deleted my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts last year - totally deleted. I do have a Facebook account, but only have 27 friends - family only - and use it solely to participate in groups. I hop on for 5-10 minutes once per day. I have no idea how much time I was spending between these three sites before, but I know that I spend as little time (or zero time) as possible on them now. Which leads me to my next point...
  • I'm never on BuzzFeed, or Hypeable, or any of those other sites. Since I'm rarely on Facebook, I never click Buzzfeed links or watch silly cat videos that people post on Facebook that lead you down a rabbithole of time wasting. I don't say this out of judgment or snarkyness at ALL - in fact I'm probably missing out on some seriously cute cat videos. And my friend Haley often has to explain who celebrities are to me because I have no idea what's going on in current pop culture, am constantly behind on memes and generally live under a rock, BUT it frees up lots of time to read.
  • I don't read or watch the news. This might make me a terrible citizen (probably), but I just can't handle the news. This also has a lot to do with my anxiety, but that's a post for another day. I check the weather app on my phone every morning, and that's about it. I trust that if something truly major happens, my husband or mom will fill me in. In addition to being terrifying and anxiety-inducing, news sites can be a time suck, so I just avoid them altogether. I read instead!
  • I read in pockets of time. Sure, I like an hour or two to curl up with a good book as much as the next girl, but that is not super realistic in my current season. So I use my fringe hours (a GREAT book if you haven't read it) and fit some reading into tiny pockets of time. For example: during Xavier's bathtime, I sit on the floor of the bathroom right next to the tub and read. He happily plays with his toys for 10-15 minutes until I actually bathe him, and I can usually read a chapter or two. I also usually read whenever I eat. And Xavier will typically play for anywhere from 10-30 minutes on his own before wanting my undivided attention, so I will sit in the same room as him and try to read when he's happily playing solo.
  • Instead of scrolling, I read before bed. Last year, Matt and I made it a habit to sleep with our phones in the living room, instead of our bedroom. It was an amazing shift for us. Prior to doing that, I would scroll while laying in bed. And even though we all know the research that says screentime right before bed leads to worse sleep, it doesn't really change our habits much. Although the phone has crept back into our bedroom overnight, I don't leave it on my nightstand (it charges on the floor on Matt's side of the bed) and after I hand it over to him, I read until I can't keep my eyes open. It has always been my favorite way to drift off to sleep!
  • I try to only read one book at a time. I know this is probably a personal preference, but I'm a one-book-at-a-time kinda gal. The exception to this is if I'm reading a Christian living type book as part of my morning quiet time, I'll still usually have a fiction book going for pure entertainment/bedtime reading. I feel like with most things, multitasking is not the most efficient way to get things done, no matter what we tell ourselves. Focusing on one book at a time helps me get through more, I think!
  • The TV is rarely on in our house. Case in point: Matt is working late tonight, like he always does on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He doesn't get home until around 11:00 p.m. I put Xavier down at 7, ate dinner and did all the dishes and sat down on the couch around 8:30 with a book and some ice cream. It's now 10:15 and aside from feeding Xavier for less than ten minutes, I've been reading the whole time. No catching up on DVR or binging on Gilmore Girls on Netflix. This is also probably a personal preference, but I've always been a book person rather than a TV person. I just don't love to watch TV or movies and will always take a book over that option.

I think it all comes down to realizing what it is you love to do - if you truly love to do something, you can almost always make time for it. I love to read, I've always loved to read, and I feel a little part of me start to dry up when I've gone awhile without getting absorbed in a book. I hope these little tips help you start to see pockets of time in your day-to-day life where you, too, can fit in a page turner if that's something you want to do! 

Book review: the postage stamp vegetable garden

bookreviewheader-01 Matt and I have been trying our hand at gardening, and it's been a really fun adventure! This is the second year we've had a plot in our city's community garden and so far it's going great! Last year we got a late start so we just used starter plants, but this year we were a little more ahead of the game and started a bunch of our plants from seed and it actually worked! We started bell peppers, jalapeño and tomato from seed and they're all doing great! We really know nothing about gardening at all, but thanks to Google (and my super wise parents) we've managed to grow real food. It's amazing! I highly recommend trying it.

And in addition to Google and constantly calling my mom, I recently checked out this book by Karen Newcomb, The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden. This isn't a new guide by any means -- it was published before "container gardening" was cool -- but it's been continually updated, and I felt like it was recently written, it seemed so current and hip. We'd already planted our garden for the year by the time I picked up a copy, but I'm so glad to have it on hand for next year, especially since we're hoping to plant more crops at our own house, mostly in containers. This is a super down-to-earth guide if you just want to wet your feet with gardening, and offers tons of practical tips to make the whole process way less overwhelming. I especially loved that it has tons of different potential garden layouts depending on the size of your space, with specific illustrations of what to plant where. The layout was super easy to follow, with the same categories listed for each different crop or herb, such as how to plant, when to harvest, how to "stretch" the crop to get more yield, typical problems and how to combat them, etc. It's truly a one-stop reference manual and so handy to have around as you have questions about your garden (which we do, often!)

If you're looking for an easy-to-follow, back-to-basics manual, whether you've been gardening forever or just want to get started, I'd highly recommend this book! It's proof that you don't need a huge space to successfully grow your own food, and offers step-by-step instructions for how to do so. I'm excited to have this on the shelf for years to come as we continue to expand our gardening!

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I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.