Pirate Hunter original soundtrack released

For those of you who read and enjoyed reading How to Become a Pirate Hunter like my family and I did, you're going to be pretty happy about this announcement: an original soundtrack/companion album of the same name by Tanner Lex Jones has just been released.

How to Become a Pirate Hunter's songs go hand in hand with the storyline of the book, generally following the chapters through a character's point of view. Think Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, but with more satisfying correlations.

Admittedly, I'm no music critic. And, full disclaimer, Tanner Lex Jones is my cousin and friend. But the truth is that I've both read Marty Reeder's Pirate Hunter book and listened to Tanner Lex Jones' companion CD, and the combination of prose and music is delightful.

Each of the album's tracks is catchy, musical, and true to the pirate genre in its own way. The soundtrack is unified in style, and I enjoyed listening to each song's unique flavor and musicality. Through his music, Tanner Lex Jones (and  has woven together this engaging storyline, his songs each a unique and distinct thread of the overall tapestry. Track #5, This Boy, about having the faith and guts to risk it when it counts, has been released as the single and is a favorite.

I recommend this album in its own right, but especially as a companion to the Pirate Hunter novel.

The new How to Become a Pirate Hunter soundtrack is available for purchase on all major digital media marketplaces. You can also place orders for physical copies through the Tanner Lex Jones Facebook page.


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How to Become a Pirate Hunter: Book Release & Review

You guys. Fun news!

Today, March 14, marks the release date of a fantastic new young adult novel, "How to Become a Pirate Hunter." Written by Marty Reeder, high school English teacher extraordinaire and also cousin of yours truly, this book was a delight for me to read and review. Check out the review and a fun interview with the author himself here.  

Don't forget to order your own copy of this fun, creative novel!
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Exercise: Trick Yourself into Getting it Done

If you're like me (or, frankly, anyone in the galaxy), you have a hard time being motivated to exercise sometimes. I've dealt with this lots and lots over the years as I've trained for marathons, ultramarathons, and just the day-to-day routine of staying generally healthy.

So I've compiled all the tips and tricks I've used over the years on days I just really didn't want to work out but knew I needed to. It's called, "The Benefits are Real, But the Struggle is Realer." 

Check it out on amazon.com if you're interested! And if you do, reviews are always appreciated!
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My first eBook

Just wanted to let you know I've published an itty bitty eBook of short vignettes. It's not life-changing, it's not inspiring, it's not terribly thought-provoking. I tried to make it entertaining, but I may have failed on that front. It is, however, short. So. There's that. 

I'd love it if you had a few minutes to check it out...and then a few minutes after that to read it...and (you see where this is going, don't you?) then to leave a mildly positive review. :)

- Brittney

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How to Build a Grape Arbor

Hey! It's been a while, I know. This tends to happen every spring... I fall off the blogging radar. I still manage to keep busy around my house and yard, I just don't post as much.
Like what we just completed in the ol' backyard - a grape arbor, slash, privacy shield.
If you're looking for ideas on building a grape arbor, building a decorative arbor, or sprucing up your backyard space in general, check out the full tutorial I wrote for Homedit.com.  

We love this thing. It's beautiful. Now, whether or not the grapes will grow is a whole nother story... 
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Rug Pads for Carpeted or Hardwood Floors

Happy mid-January, everyone. Is it just me, or is time FLYING by lately? I have had barely a minute to even think about my house or home d├ęcor over the past few months. Which is both good (time with family, exercising, pursuing other interests) and bad (my home needs some freshening up). But it is what it is, I guess.
Nevertheless, I have a very important, albeit not-super-glamorous, discovery to share with you all. It involves rugs and a product that keeps them squared up and in place.
We've got wall-to-wall carpet in our living room (although we hope to remedy this in the near future), and you may or may not remember the two rugs (first and second) I've tried out in here. Over time, I'll admit to having gotten a bit frustrated because the rugs wouldn't stay put. They would inch, ever so slightly, to some slightly askew position, even with furniture legs holding them down.
Like so (this is a straight-on photo; notice the clockwise shift of the rug?):
Every week or so, I'd be on my hands and knees moving living room furniture aside so I could yank a couple of unruly area rug corners back into place. Not my fave activity.
You can, hopefully, imagine my delight when a representative from Rug Pad USA contacted me with an opportunity to review a couple of their products. The company is based outside of the Greater New York area and specializes in manufacturing premium rug underlays for area and Oriental
rugs...but, more importantly to me, they thought they could fix my rug-shifting woes, both on carpet and hardwood floors.
After giving them two rug dimensions (one larger rug on carpet, one smaller flatweave rug on slippery hardwood in my kitchen), Rug Pad USA custom cut the pads and promptly shipped them out. I have been living with the rug pads for several weeks now, and they.are.awesome.
For the rug-on-carpet dilemma, I was sent an Premium-Lock felt & rubber rug pad (I think), which consists of a grippy rubber mat...
...attached to (surprise!) some thicker felt for padding.
I laid the rug pad down (rubber side on top of carpet, area rug on top of felt), adjusted the squareness of my rug, and went on with daily life for weeks. This rug hasn't moved, people. And we've even had some major Kinect-playing hours, full of jumping and sliding and shaking all around by humans young and old, right on top of this thing. I'm sold.
For the flatweave on the hardwood (which had a rug pad underneath previously, although you wouldn't know it by how slippery it was), Rug Pad USA recommended their Eco-Solid organic rug pad. Again, the pad came custom cut, so I opened the package and put it under the small rug in front of the kitchen sink (after a lightning-fast disposal of my old, useless rug pad) and went about my life.
Weeks later, I'm impressed and satisfied and able to easily recommend both the products and service provided by Rug Pad USA. I find I still need to adjust the kitchen rug slightly, but I think that's more because the rug itself gets rammed and upheaved by the legs of bar stools that my toddler pushes around the kitchen to "help" me with dishes. Which inevitably ends up in my having to towel down the entire kitchen, top to bottom, an hour later.
But that's another story for another day.
In the meantime, if you have a pesky shifting area rug, no matter the surface of your floor, you should check out Rug Pad USA. No lie. It may just change your life.
This post is sponsored by Rug Pad USA. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. 
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Living Room Mood Board

Hi. Most of you don't even remember me, I know. Because I took a month-long hiatus from blogging whilst the holidays were upon me. Forgive me? No? Rats. But...oh well. We'll both live, now, won't we. :)
I'm helping my super awesome and stylish artistic friend update her living room. Like I said, she's a legitimate artist and has a great eye for colors, lines, and textures. She recognizes trends without being trendy, if you know what I mean. The main challenges of their living room are:
1) Space. With a large farmhouse dining table on one end of the modest-sized living room, there's not a ton of extra space.
2) Her husband digs contemporary minimalist style, she leans toward eclectic with soul and personality - a little tribal, vintage, industrial.
3) There are five children and a puppy to consider.
4) Budget. It's not inexpensive to makeover an entire living/dining room in one fell swoop. But they're ready to take a stab at it.
Without further ado, here is the preliminary (translation: expendable, jumping-off point, could be waaaaay off) mood board for their updated living room design:

(pre-script: Walls will be white.)
1 - Contemporary sofa. This Avec sofa from CB2 has clean, modern lines, while its grey tweed upholstery adds a bit of warmth and texture. (A similar form could also be replaced with light leather.) 
2 - Two-tiered coffee table. I like the combination of square shape (we'd use two), warm wood tones, and industrial vibe of this table. The under-shelf is necessary for a select few of the family's many many books and cool treasures.
3 - Red wooden side chair. They have a fireplace, and I envision a vintage chair pair (mismatched would be fantastic) flanking it. This little vintage red number caught my eye.
4 - Navy gooseneck barn sconces. Because floor space is so limited, side tables (and, consequently, their table lamps) are a big fat question mark. A couple of wall-mounted lamps will make a big difference in the room's lighting.  
5 - Palm frond throw pillow. What can I say? Just for fun. A little unexpected pattern and earthiness.
6 - Suzani rug. Tribal meets geometric meets modern meets perfect foundation for eclectic in this bold, graphic area rug. The colors can read as neutral or as great jumping-off points for other parts of the room.
7 - Mint velvet throw pillow. Nothing adds freshness to a fairly traditionally colored space than a bit of mint velvet. It's unexpected. I'd add contrasting navy piping.
8 - Medium-tone wooden bookcases. Two of these exist in the living room and aim to stay. Great wood bookshelves can almost always be worked with successfully.
9 - Leather butterfly chair. Provides a hip, retro vibe while still being classic in leather. Also, what can beat those lines? Nothing, that's what. Breaks up the solid chunks of a living room's inherently larger pieces (e.g., fireplace, sofa, dining table, etc.).
10 - Mustard and white herringbone window shades. Paying homage to the love of geometric shapes without competing with the rug or other pieces, this simple fabric adds just the right touch of visual interest and color.
11 - Medium-tone wood floor. Looooove a wood floor, especially if that wood floor is authentic and well-lived. A perfect start to a room's makeover, if you ask me.
12 - Brass pharmacy floor lamp. This type of lamp successfully bridges the gap between classic traditional and modern. Plus, every living room needs a bit of brass.
13 - Newsprint rhino head. A wall-mounted animal head, just for the fun of an eclectic living room. (Actually, upon seeing the mood board, my friend nixed the rhino head. No sweat. I want her to be happy!)
14 - Printed throw pillow. We'll vary the prints, patterns, and colors of the throw pillows. Not too many, but enough to bring a little life into the room.
15 - Leather armchair. This already exists in the room, which I'm glad about. Classic comfort.
16 - Mismatched dining chairs. As I mentioned, a large chunky wood farmhouse-style dining table sits at one end of the living room. It has a significant visual presence. Currently, the chairs are all dark wood like the table. I'd like to encourage a mix-and-match feel with the chairs, leaning toward vintage industrial.
This will be such a fun project; I'm excited to get going and will keep you all updated on our progress. Stay tuned!
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