Monthly Archives

January 2015

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Free Printable: Valentine Cards

Free Printable Valentine Cards • Little Gold Pixel

Valentine’s Day, eh? It’s so divisive. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people are indifferent because they love their loved ones every day of the year (ahem).

It’s not like I’m going to turn down a box of chocolates or a thoughtful greeting card. But I’m not on the edge of my seat, waiting to judge H’s gift like it’s a some kind of symbolic temperature gauge for our relationship.

In other words, it’s not like I’m the horrible people in that horrible movie … what is it called? Oh, yeah, Valentine’s Day.

If you’re a fan of that movie, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Well, maybe we can be friends. But only if you buy me some chocolate first.

(I like truffles.)

Anyway, funny story about these cards. I was snooping around in my old computer folders, tossing things and rearranging things when I found this scrawl, one of the first things I wrote after receiving a Wacom tablet as a surprise Christmas gift.

I love that tablet almost as much as I love chocolate truffles.

Here are a few simple V-Day cards for you to print out at home. Scribble your sweet nothings inside and leave it for your special someone. I’m certain he/she won’t care it’s not from Hallmark. Especially if you leave a suggestive comment inside or a coupon for a lengthy foot massage (that gets ’em every time, wink wink).

I Love You Free Printable Valentine Cards

High-res PDFs in 8×10 format, easy to print on 8.5×11 paper. I recommend cardstock for this project. Fold on line for traditional card experience. Another idea: Fold on line and glue together for a postcard presentation.

Free Printable Valentine Cards • Little Gold Pixel

Download Red Download Watercolor

THE FINE PRINT: As always, play nice. For personal use only. Share with friends. Tag @littlegoldpixel on Instagram so I can see the cards in action!

P.S. More freebies!

12 Books That Are Still On My Mind

12 Books That Are Still On My Mind • littlegoldpixel.com

Last week when we were staying in the hotel, I awoke in the middle of the night completely disoriented, thinking I was someone else and somewhere else. As I eased back into sleep I realized I had been dreaming about a book I read nearly a year ago.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you ever find yourself thinking about a book long after you’ve read it?

Maybe it’s not the characters you’re thinking about. Maybe it’s one scene, or a line that resonated with you so much it shook you to the core. Or maybe the themes are mirroring your life in an eerie way?

If so, you’ll understand the list of 12 books that are still on my mind.

But first …

In preparation for this post, I had fun breaking down the 77 books I read in 2014 into different categories and charts. Bear with me while I get into a bit of geekery before I get into my list.

By rating

First, I was happy to see that I read more good books than bad books this year, at least according to my Goodreads ratings. A huge chunk were 5-star books (including the 12 I’ll mention in this post). Happily, I only gave out four 1-star ratings, which means I didn’t finish the book because it was that bad/boring/horribly written I couldn’t bear it.

In case you’re interested in my rating system:

5 stars = LOVED it // 4 stars = Really liked it, but … // 3 stars = It was OK // 2 stars = Meh, but I finished it // 1 star = Did not finish

books-ratings

By gender

In a twist, I read wayyyy more books written by women (61) than by men this year, a sharp contrast with 2013, which was more even. 12 Books That Are Still On My Mind • littlegoldpixel.com

By genre

I’m a bit of a sucker for suspense, apparently. This is my definition of suspense, which might vary from the bookstore’s definition, by the way.

I read so many WWII books in 2013. It was funny to note that I didn’t read a single one in 2014. I actually stayed away from All the Light We Cannot See because … I just can’t read any more depressing war stories right now. Eventually …

12 Books That Are Still On My Mind • littlegoldpixel.com

By author

Not counting series, these are the authors I read multiples of in 2014. It’s worth noting that I hated both Megan Abbott books and will no longer seek out her work. Donna Tartt, Jennifer McMahon and A.S. King — well, I’ll line up to read anything they write.

12 Books That Are Still On My Mind • littlegoldpixel.com

Do you notice trends in your reading? Do you gravitate toward the same genres, authors, etc.? I’m going to try to step out of my comfort zones a little more in 2015. One caveat, though: My to-read list is too long to suffer things I do not appreciate.

12 Books I’m Still Thinking About

(2014 edition)

12 Books That Are Still On My Mind • littlegoldpixel.com

How to Love / Katie Cotugno
File under: Young adult, romance, coming of age
Plot: Teen mom comes to grips with her life and expectations when her baby daddy rolls back into town.
What I’m still thinking about: How beautifully done the entire book was, beginning to end. A happy ending that doesn’t feel forced is a rare thing! 
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
Ugly Girls / Lindsay Hunter
File under: Pulp fiction, trailer trash, black comedy
Plot: Two nasty teen girls seek escape from their tragic existence by committing petty crimes — until it catches up with them.
What I’m still thinking about: How tragic all the characters were, and yet I feel like I recognized them in certain situations and people I knew from my hometown.
Amazon Goodreads

biglittlelies

Big Little Lies / Liane Moriarty
File under: Suspense, mystery, chick lit, mama drama
Plot: Kindergarten moms are at odds with one another after what appears to be a clear-cut case of bullying in the classroom, but everything comes to a head when someone winds up dead at a school fundraiser. Whodunit and why?
What I’m still thinking about: The way this story unfolded like layers of an onion, and how Moriarty can so effortlessly write about lives of quiet desperation in a way you say to yourself, “No way would this ever happen to me … but maybe it could.”
Amazon Goodreads

howtotelltoledo

How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky / Lydia Netzer
File under: Literature, mystery, romance
Plot: The love story of astronomers George and Irene, whose astrologist mothers plotted their births and lives so they would be a perfect match for each other … and they are. Or is it all smoke and mirrors?
What I’m still thinking about: How much smarter I feel when I read Lydia Netzer’s novels. You can take the story at face value, and that’s great enough already, or you can read between the lines to really THINK. It’s brilliant.
Amazon Goodreads

colormaster

The Color Master / Aimee Bender
File under: Literature, short stories, whimsical
Plot: A collection of short stories that alternates between hyper-realistic and fairytale.
What I’m still thinking about: That story about the ogre. Seriously.
Amazon Goodreads

wonderbreadsummer

The Wonder Bread Summer / Jessica Anya Blau
File under: Literature, summer read, travel, adventure
Plot: Highly improbable things happen when a college student steals a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine in 1983.
What I’m still thinking about: How I want to read another book just like this. Get on it, Jessica!
Amazon Goodreads

toriseagain

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour / Joshua Ferris
File under: Literature, smarty-pants, humor, philosophy
Plot: An atheist dentist struggles to reclaim his identity when someone uses his name to spread religious messages online.
What I’m still thinking about: How easy it is to be lonely and disconnected in a world that’s constantly connected.
Amazon Goodreads

astonishme

Astonish Me / Maggie Shipstead
File under: Literature, dance, broken dreams, broken hearts
Plot: Joan is a good dancer, but not good enough. Her obsession with perfection leads to a brief relationship with a world-class dancer, the ramifications of which reverberate through her life for decades to come.
What I’m still thinking about: How much of our destiny/lives/personalities is nature vs. nurture, and whether you can ever feel fulfilled if you’re never “good enough.”
Amazon Goodreads

Rowland_Transcriptionist_NEW LION.indd

The Transcriptionist / Amy Rowland
File under: Literature, philosophy
Plot: Newspaper transcriptionist unravels after an acquaintance commits suicide by lion.
What I’m still thinking about: How well Rowland described the plight of the newspaper industry, and how I saw so many of my peers in her writing.
Amazon Goodreads

zanovelofzelda

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald / Therese Anne Fowler
File under: Historical lit, Lost Generation, 1920s
Plot: A fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life, from her perspective.
What I’m still thinking about: How perception is everything. One person’s crazy is another person’s genius is another person’s muse.
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future / A.S. King
File under: Y.A., coming of age
Plot: Teen girl drinks a bat and can see everyone’s pasts and futures just by looking at them.
What I’m still thinking about: That time I rode the subway in New York City a few weeks after I graduated high school and contemplated not getting on the plane home. That feeling of being on the verge of life and not knowing what the hell to do with myself.
Amazon Goodreads

astray

Astray / Emma Donoghue
File under: Short stories, historical literature
Plot: A collection of stories that all stem from enticing and/or mysterious historical news/documents about people who are either about to take on or finish a journey.
What I’m still thinking about: What would my story look like if Donoghue were to write it? Am I living a life worthy of documentation?
Amazon Goodreads

P.S. Check out all my book reviews.
P.P.S. My favorite books ever.

Weekly Pixels #3

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

This is an update in my Weekly Pixels series, a weekly photo project for managing my family’s digital files in lieu of printed photos. At the end of the year I will create a yearbook out of my images. Here’s what the third week of January looked like for us.

Finding paints we didn’t know we had! Naturally we had to test them out to make sure they worked.

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

I made a giant bowl of guacamole. It didn’t last long between the three of us.

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

We had to stay in a hotel while our condo was tented and fumigated. It’s always interesting to put a small child to sleep in the same room you’re awake in.

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Here I go again with my office sunset photos.

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

I have absolutely no recollection of taking this photo, so of course I had to keep it.

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Glitter on the ground.

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

When I cleaned out my purse, I found duplicates of everything.

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Friday afternoon Starbucks run = NECESSITY.

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Saturday morning coffee at our usual spot, so Alexa could climb on the patio furniture with minimal onlookers…

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

… And find foliage to bestow upon me.

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Then we went to the park, where H and I sat on the wet grass while our kid made fast friends with a girl she called “Hey Little Girl.”

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

I’m starting to appreciate how awesomely stylized those Batman episodes are. Consider this all-pink scene:

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Alexa tried to rip off H’s head with her natural martial arts skills.

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

She begged me to play in her room. When I entered, it was in shambles. But hey! She let me braid her hair.

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

But then she shook it out and dressed up like Ariel instead.

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

And I started designing a few minimalist/retro printables. I reopened my Etsy store and put a few in there at $5 each (they’re instant downloads).

Weekly Pixels 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Are you doing a photo project this year? If so, link in the comments so I can follow along!

P.S. Past photo projects: 2012, 2013, 2014
P.P.S. Follow me on Instagram for more photos.

Hang These Free Printables On Your Gallery Walls

Psst — hi there! Did you find this post via Pinterest? If so, nice to meet you, and thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a few minutes to click around so we can get to know each other better. A few good places to start: There is a freebies page I think you’d like, as well as a roundup of my Favorite Posts. Also, check out my premium printables, starting as low as $5.

Hang These Free Printables On Your Gallery Walls • Vol. 3 • In the latest roundup, I focus on an eclectic mix of patterns, prints, illustrations and stock photography to freshen up your home decor.

Clap your hands if you like free printables!

In my mind, I’m hearing a standing ovation because I happen to know for a fact that you LOVE free printables. You told me so after the first post and the second post and the kids post and the Christmas post and …

Wait a second.

Do you still have room on your walls for even more free printables?

Of course you do!

As I’m typing this I’m sitting in a hotel room, temporarily displaced from my home because it’s being fumigated. The walls are bare save a very random and very giant photo of chocolate-covered strawberries.

I’ll never understand what possesses hotels to buy the art they do buy. I imagine they paid someone something for this photograph. That someone was probably laughing all the way to the bank!

There are so many good artists out there whose work makes me happier than these strawberries, including artists who share the free printables I’ve rounded up here today.

33 Free Printables for Your Gallery Walls (Vol. 3)

To download: Click on links. Links will take you to the original download page. Find button/link on that page, and download. Some printables are in PDF format, others in JPG format. Most are easy to print in an 8×10 size. Use your discretion if cropping for a different frame size. You can either print at home on photo paper (matte is my preference) or take a USB to your printer for a longer-lasting print on archival paper.

Hang These Free Printables On Your Gallery Walls • Vol. 3 • In the latest roundup, I focus on an eclectic mix of patterns, prints, illustrations and stock photography to freshen up your home decor.

Mandala  (+ 3 more!) • Let the Sea Set You FreeLemonsBirdSunsetHustleHoneycombChevronsShine OnAnchorRetro Trees

I went for an eclectic vibe this go-round, mixing text and illustrations with photos. All the photos used here are from Snapwire Snaps, a stock image site I love. There are many others out there, but Snapwire fits my aesthetic perfectly. Plus I don’t have to think too much about it because they send me a download link to the latest pics every week.

Speaking of which, have you signed up for the Little Gold Pixel newsletter? I send out a free printable with each one!

Hang These Free Printables On Your Gallery Walls • Vol. 3 • In the latest roundup, I focus on an eclectic mix of patterns, prints, illustrations and stock photography to freshen up your home decor.

It’s Gonna Be Fucking AwesomePlus Signs • Ombre HeartFerns Pattern • Watercolor BirdBridgeTreat Yo’self • Water + Trees LandscapeFlowerTrianglesBeautiful Things Happen When You Think

Another fun thing I did with these gallery groupings was insert more patterns to break things up some. Can’t go wrong with chevrons, triangles and plus signs. I like the mix of watercolor/bright colors with the stark black & white graphic elements.

Tip: Mix feminine with masculine to create an eclectic vibe.

Sometimes bloggers offer free wallpaper or wrapping paper patterns. These are good resources to print. A pretty pattern goes a long way toward making your gallery wall look intentional. It’s also a good way to inject some funky personality.

Hang These Free Printables On Your Gallery Walls • Vol. 3 • In the latest roundup, I focus on an eclectic mix of patterns, prints, illustrations and stock photography to freshen up your home decor.

A Pineapple a DayCoffee DateVintage Flora #1 (+ more) • LoveWindowsAmpersandQueen of HeartsLove Yourself FirstVintage Flora #2Seuss QuoteCircles

Last but not least — I enjoy rounding up my fave free printables almost as much as you like reading these posts. I’ll aim to give you an update periodically, probably every other month or so. In the meantime, if you spy a free printable you think I’d enjoy, drop me a line with the link, and maybe I’ll include it in the next roundup (along with a finder’s shout-out!). I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can tag me on Pinterest. Or use this email form if you’d like. Hashtag: #goforgoldpixel

P.S. Past Little Gold Pixel freebies!

Gif Me a Break

Funny Gif Posts • Little Gold Pixel

Ever since I wrote about the plethora of memes on my husband’s phone, something strange has happened.

There are now FIVE memes in my camera roll, which is a lot considering I used to have ZERO. Something must’ve snapped in me when I was making fun (in the nicest way) of H’s meme hoarding problem. I’m like the child who makes silly faces at strangers only to have it get “stuck” that way.

Next thing you know I’ll be posting cat videos.

I warned you!

There is a time and place for jokes. This is the right time, and certainly the right place.

Enter: Gif Me a Break, an occasional series in which I find the perfect funny Gif to sum up a situation.

It’s amazing how a two-second video clip can be a highlight of your day. Because sometimes words just do not do a situation justice. And because sometimes, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

For example …

When you reminisce about your long-forgotten hairstyles, it’s like:

Funny Gif Posts • Little Gold Pixel

Source: Helen Green

(Only the reality isn’t quite so cool because you’re not David Bowie. Shame.)

When you wake up feeling ancient, it’s like:

When you remember all the fun parties you used to have back in the day, it’s like:

When you almost chip in your valid two cents on an out-of-control comment thread, it’s like:

When your daughter, who has been waking in the middle of the night complaining that there are “bees” (read: imaginary) in her room, wakes up inconsolable yet again, it’s like:

When you envision how you looked dancing on stage in high school, it’s like:

But the reality was probably more like:

When you remember that couch you had to chop in two because you couldn’t get it out the door, it’s like:

When a 3-year-old wants you to pick her up, you know it’ll be like:

When you think back on the most questionable fashion of your youth, you have to admit it’s the crop top you wore in junior high, like:

When both you and your husband stay calm through five minutes of a screaming threenager, otherwise known as a Time Out, it’s like:

When you remember that time you were in a rock band, it’s like:

(Because you DID play cowbell on a few songs, and obviously more of it was needed!)

When that toy that sings the ABC song drives you nuts, but your kid can’t stop playing with it, it’s like:

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

P.S. Past funny Gif posts. (Hilarity awaits.)

Weekly Pixels #2

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

This is an update in my Weekly Pixels series, a weekly photo project for managing my family’s digital files in lieu of printed photos. At the end of the year I will create a yearbook out of my images. Here’s what the second week of January looked like for us.

We met this guy on the way to the car first thing Monday morning.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Alexa: Do snails have teeth?
Me: No …
Alexa: Oh, good. He won’t bite me.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Splitting a last dessert with my pal Annie, who is studying in Paris for a year. I’ll have to put my Long Beach restaurant tour on hold till she returns.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Oranges really do taste better when they’re plucked straight from the tree.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Sometimes I work so hard I forget to look outside until the sunset demands attention.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Green stuff.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

I told you the sunset demands my attention.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Alexa, I can teach you about guitars and giraffes, but I don’t know anything about golf (except that I do not like it).

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

My kid can kick. (H will see this as evidence that she belongs in a martial arts class.)

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Trying to get the monster to like broccoli. This app is a riot. Do you have any favorite iPad apps for your kids?

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

After a decade of living here, we finally spotted whales migrating close to shore. It was fascinating, but of course their surfacing was unpredictable so I never managed to capture them on camera.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Sunsets make the best shadows.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Someone needed a potty break right at that magic moment when the sea eats the sun.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

H puts down his coffee for nothing, not even for a dance party with his family.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Princess Anna (er, Alexa) insists on testing the washer and dryer sets every time she’s in Best Buy.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

It’s nice to have the affirmation.

Weekly Pixels #2 • Weekly Photos for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Are you doing a photo project this year? If so, link in the comments so I can follow along!

P.S. Past photo projects: 2012, 2013, 2014
P.P.S. Follow me on Instagram for more photos.

My Last 7 Book Reviews from 2014

Book Reviews 2014 • Little Gold Pixel

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Ugly Girls, Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham, Rainbow Rowell, Landline, A.S. King

This is an occasional series that chronicles my quest to read 60 books in 2014. This is the final pass, take eight. Let’s see how it went, shall we?

Everything I’ve read has just been icing on the cake, considering I hit my goal last month.

I was hoping to finish strong at 80 books, but I fell three books short when I didn’t read anything in Hawaii. And I mean NOTHING at all. I felt like taking a huge break, and surprisingly that meant from reading, too. I tried and failed to get into two audiobooks on the plane, so I gave up and read Hyacinth Girls in fits and starts, finally finishing it before the ball dropped to 2015.

(Do you follow me on Goodreads? You should!)

P.S. Book Reviews 2014: Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5 and Part 6 and Part 7

 

Book Reviews 2014: 77/60

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
Ugly Girls / Lindsay Hunter
File under: Pulp fiction, trailer trash, black comedy
Plot: Two nasty teen girls seek escape from their tragic existence by committing petty crimes — until it catches up with them.
Review: As one Goodreads reviewer said: “The most feel-bad book of the year. I adored it.”
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Not That Kind of Girl / Lena Dunham
File under: Memoir, twentysomethings, pre-life crisis
Plot: Lena Dunham tells you what it’s like to be Lena Dunham.
Review: It’s not terribly interesting to be Lena Dunham.
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • The Look of Love by Sarah Jio
The Look of Love / Sarah Jio
File under: Romance, whimsy, Love Actually
Plot: Woman has ability to “see” love in the form of an aura. She has one year to identify the six types of love, or she will be cursed to never see true love in her own life.
Review: Much like “Love Actually,” it’s under-baked and slightly off, but it’ll do for holiday entertainment if you decide to look past all that.
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Friendship by Emily Gould
Friendship / Emily Gould
File under: Literature, Quarter(ish) Life Crisis, millennials, Girls, New York City
Plot: Two friends struggle to get their lives together as they’re staring down 30.
Review: Often compared with Girls, I think this book is a far more accessible take on millennial twentysomethings. It’s about what happens to your friendships as you age and decide whether to grow apart or grow together.
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future / A.S. King
File under: Y.A., coming of age
Plot: Teen girl drinks a bat and can see everyone’s pasts and futures just by looking at them.
Review: Guys, I can’t do this book justice with a review (although click on the Goodreads button below to see my longwinded thoughts). It’s so very good. Please read it.
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Landline / Rainbow Rowell
File under: Literature, 1990s, love and marriage, Hot Tub Time Machine
Plot: Woman hopes to fix her marriage when she finds a Phone Time Machine.
Review: Rainbow Rowell can do no wrong. She cuts right to the heart of a very realistic relationship, holding no punches while she lays bare the good, the bad and ugly.
Amazon Goodreads

Book Reviews 2014 Part 8 • Little Gold Pixel • Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel
Hyacinth Girls / Lauren Frankel*
File under: Mean Girls, teen drama, Y.A.
Plot: Teen girl is accused of bullying. She says she didn’t do it. But did she?
Review: Despite a slow start, the suspense grows as more layers are peeled away in the present drama — and in past crimes.
Amazon Goodreads

In a Nutshell

Three to read: Glory O’Brien, Ugly Girls and Landline

Two to pass: Not that Kind of Girl (read Friendship instead) and The Look of Love

Of these books, two are about mean girls. Two are about twentysomethings in New York. All are written by women. And all have pretty bad-ass covers.

So there you have it. 77 down! I didn’t quite hit 80, so I’ll aim for that number this year.

What have you been reading lately? I’m always on the lookout for a good book … do share recommendations in the comments. Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with my assessment? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Linking up with modernmrsdarcy.com, a great place to find good reads. Check it out.
*This one was an advance reader copy from NetGalley; I believe it comes out in March.
THE SMALL PRINT: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Little Gold Pixel!

Shine On Free Art Printable

Shine On Free Art Printable • littlegoldpixel.com • As the ever so wise John Lennon said: We all shine on/like the moon and the stars and the sun/We all shine on/On and on and on and on

Have you ever lost a gem that is super precious to you, like, say, your diamond wedding ring?

And have you ever searched high and low, all over your house, looking in vein for this wedding ring only to come up empty?

And have you ever thought long and hard about the last place you left it, which was a really really really obvious place, and start to wonder whether you’re losing your mind?

And have you ever kinda-sorta suspected your daughter of plucking up the ring during playtime and hoarding it in a super secret location of her own choosing, only for her to grow exasperated with your line of questioning by rolling her eyes and saying, “I haven’t seen it, ugh”?

And have you ever had that fleeting fear that your daughter might’ve tossed it in yesterday’s garbage instead (it has happened before with remote controls, so it’s not so far-fetched)?

And have you ever had an amazing husband who says, “Don’t worry. It’ll turn up. If not I’ll buy you another one“?

He’s a keeper.

And yes, while I’ve been losing my mind over my lost ring, I’ve also had Instant Karma (it’s gonna get you) on my brain for the past few days. Hence our free printable today:

Shine On Free Art Printable

High-res PDF in 8×10 format, easy to print on 8.5×11 paper.

Shine On Free Art Printable • littlegoldpixel.com • As the ever so wise John Lennon said: We all shine on/like the moon and the stars and the sun/We all shine on/On and on and on and on

Download

THE FINE PRINT: As always, play nice. For personal use only. Share with friends. Tag @littlegoldpixel on Instagram so I can see the printable in action.

P.S. More freebies!

Persia Lou

Weekly Pixels #1

Weekly Pixels • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

This is an update in my Weekly Pixels series, a weekly photo project for managing my family’s digital files in lieu of printed photos. At the end of the year I will create a yearbook out of my images. Here’s what the first week of January looked like for us.

Watching Alexa ride her bike faster and faster and … woah.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

She really shot off like a rocket.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

I briefly considered doing a self-portrait project, but this is as good as it would get, I’m afraid.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

You know that last moment of relaxation on vacation before heading back to the daily grind? Here it is.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

We switched things up in our living/dining area. It feels so much airier and lighter in here now.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Midafternoon daze.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

After all that vacation food, let there be salad.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

A return to the vivid winter sunsets from the eighth floor.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Unreal.

Weekly Pixels #1 • Weekly Photo Project for 2015 • littlegoldpixel.com

Eggs in the morning = MUST.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

Vignette on my desk. Isn’t it funny how a few items can say so much about their owner? My loves and interests: Alexa, Pretty Little Liars, The Beatles, books.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

The Planking Princess.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

These meerkats stared me down in a McDonald’s restroom in the Valley.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

It is my duty as an Angeleno to report that it rained this weekend.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

It’s always jarring (in a good way) to find random foliage.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

Post-lunch walk in a pretty office park.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

I love those shoes.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

Another cotton candy sunset. Alexa chased the birds away.

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

Weekly Pixels #1 • littlegoldpixel.com

Are you doing a photo project this year? If so, link in the comments so I can follow along!

P.S. Past photo projects: 2012, 2013, 2014
P.P.S. Follow me on Instagram for more photos.

In Search of Mom’s Perfect Chocolate Ganache

In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com

This morning my soon-to-be 4-year-old reminded me that her birthday is coming up in one week.

“More like three weeks, honey.”

“Oh. Three weeks, then.” She pauses dramatically, thinking on this. “Mama?”

“Yes?”

“In three weeks I have a birthday, and I get my very own cake!”

I laughed out loud, because of course.

Above presents, above parties, leave it to my child to wax poetic about birthday cakes. That’s how we know she’s mine. (That and the fact that she lived in my womb for nine months.)

I know that, when I was a kid, the best thing about waking up on my birthday was, hands down, knowing that my mom might be making a chocolate sheet cake with the most delectable icing on top.

I didn’t know much about what went into making this icing, frosting, ganache, whathaveyou. I just knew that it was the richest, shiniest, thinnest, sugar-grittiest shell that formed over the top and seemed to permeate the entire cake with its awesomeness. There was also some boiling involved. I remember this only because I would request a spoon for licking what remained in the pot (after it cooled down).

I want to re-create my mom’s cake and perfect chocolate ganache for Alexa, but I don’t have a recipe.

Good thing I have a secret weapon called the Internet.

What IS ganache, anyway?

Do you know the difference between icing, frosting, glaze and ganache?

I only roughly did until I started researching this recipe. There are some serious, hardcore ways to build a cake (those of you who have seen Cake Wars know what I’m talking about). I don’t want to get into all the details when others explain it so much better, so it’s best to read about the different kinds of frostings from sites with names like Confection Perfection and Crafty Baking.

For our purposes, we want a ganache.

Ganache is so quaint in comparison to some of the aforementioned Cake Wars techniques. I think of ganache as the old Southern Belle who would rather things taste good than look good. “Take your fondant and shove it,” she says.

Chocolate ganache needs two ingredients: chocolate and cream.

You can make additions for different results:

  • Oil or corn syrup for shiny glaze
  • Butter for shine and firmness
  • Alcohol/spices for flavor
  • Changing the ratio of chocolate : cream will either thicken or thin the ganache

So this ganache thing should be pretty simple, right?

It depends.

I am going for nostalgia here, so all bets are off. I found five methods I’d like to try to see which one comes closest to my mom’s.

1. Really involved

In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com

Of all the recipes I read, this one on The Kitchn seemed the most labor intensive, the most volatile … and the most delicious. Do click on that link to read about the trials and tribulations a woman had trying to re-create her grandmother’s celebrated ganache. It’s thoroughly fascinating. You know when someone writes “good luck!” at the end of a recipe card, you’re in for a treat.

Do you see the way the chocolate cracks and crumbles a little bit in the photo? That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the stuff!

2. Slightly less involved

In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com

The ganache made on Inspired Craft Ideas uses cocoa instead of baking chocolate. I’m intrigued by this one because the color is more consistent with my memories. Marry the color of this ganache with the crumbles of that first ganache, and we might have perfection.

3. Super simple

In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com
In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com

These two processes (top is from Natasha’s Kitchen and bottom is from Pretty Simple Sweet) are very similar, and I like that the results look consistent between the two. Chocolate + heavy cream + a little bit of timing and don’t burn it.

4. Letting ganache thicken up

In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com
In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com

If you want more of a traditional frosting, simply cool ganache and whip it back into shape. Top is from Diethood and bottom is from Take a Megabite.

5. Microwave hack

In Search of Mom's Perfect Chocolate Ganache • In which I hunt down clues on how to re-create my mom's perfect chocolate ganache. I uncover some recipes that are worthy of experimentation • littlegoldpixel.com

If you can’t wait around for boiling, there’s always the microwave method.

Which one should I try first? Any tips, family secrets? Share in the comments!


Lead image credit: Luisa Contreras via Wikimedia Commons; modified by Little Gold Pixel