Top 10 Book Boyfriends

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It’s National Boyfriend Day, and The Broke & Bookish is celebrating with the Top Ten prompt “Top Ten Book Boyfriends”.

Though I was brief in my explanations, I thought long and hard about this list… it’s funny noting the ways that my taste has changed since I was a teen, and the ways it stayed the same. Growing up is weird dude.

1. Brian Belden

One of my earliest… he was so handsome, and mature, and responsible. Not to mention loyal, protective, and studying to be a doctor.

2. Laurie

Jo may have blown him off as merely a boy, but as a teenager, I was taken by his charm.

3. Johnny Tremaine

To this day, the crucible scene still pisses me off.

4. Calvin

Sweet Calvin is one of the first people to make Meg Murray feel beautiful. What girl doesn’t want that?

5. Rhett

Not the healthiest example of masculinity, but he’s suave, knows how to dance, and treats Mammy better than almost anyone else in the book. And he’s just about the only person who can go toe to toe with Scarlett.

6. Maxon

Prince Mason from the Selection… a tortured soul, aiming to be better than his father.

7. Ze’ev/Wolf

I’m already a big fan of werewolf stories, and in typical Lunar Chronicles fashion this is an interesting twist.

8. Han Solo

Courtship of Princess Leia… that’s all I’m saying.

9. Riker

Imzadi… that’s all I’m saying.

10. Gilbert Blythe

Hilariously, I actually married. someone who’s very Gilbert-esque. Mischievous (sometimes taking it too far), hard-working, confident, and persistent.  

Who are your bookish crushes? I’d love to hear down in the comments! <3

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.




10 of My Favorite Lettering Artists On Instagram

Top 10 Favorite Lettering Artists On Instagram

I woke up this morning to the senseless tragedy of Las Vegas. That, unfortunately seemed to set the pace for my day. I read all of the updates, then I saw that someone had been fired for a crass response to the tragedy. I escaped by doing my Inktober doodle of the day, and the lettering for my challenge. I spent a quiet half hour lettering “Loki” and drawing his horns. But then I retuned to more hate and sorrow. So for today’s blog post, I just wanted to focus on the pretty. 🙂

Flourishing Script (Anyssa Holland)

Modest Designary (Rebecca Hsieh)

Calligraphy Nerd (Andrea Fowler)

Amanda Kammarada

Amanda Arneill

Kiley In Kentucky

Oh if you only knew. This post is different than my usual happy, colorful vibe because I'm participating in #theimperfectboss campaign by sharing something about myself that embarrasses me in this small biz world. I am embarrassed and slightly ashamed to admit that I literally do not look at any analytics. Not on any platform. It gives me LITERAL HIVES to think about opening up an analytics page. So I don't. I never ever do. Not on Facebook. Not on Instagram. Certainly not my newsletter---why on God's green Earth would I want to see who unsubbed from my weekly emails? I avert my eyes and try not to look, try not to care. I try to not concentrate on the number of followers I have because my memory is too good, and I'll know if I have 2 less Facebook page likes than yesterday. I guess what is most embarrassing is that my skin doesn't seem to want to toughen and also, why the heck do I care so much?! It makes me feel extremely self-centered and just icky to be honest. Lastly, I know I'm missing a ton of valuable information about my audience by avoiding all of the numbers, but until my outlook and attitude undergo a change, I guess I'll just be ignoring and averting my eyes forever. Please tell me I'm not the only one that takes something so trivial so personally?!

A post shared by Kiley Bennett (@kileyinkentucky) on

Designs By Ellen

Doris Fullgrabe

Letters By Melissa

Ian Barnard

Through wind, rain and 24hrs of daylight, we (@stefankunz & @willpat) managed to produce this lettering piece on a beach, in the middle of this gloriously country called Iceland. Thanks to @cadevisualsfor his excellent work capturing this on film. There's also a behind the scenes video coming out soon. Big thank you to @skillshare who sponsored this crazy idea that we had and going along with it. Over the week we were discussing how many of the courses on Skillshare have impacted us in our careers and how much it's benefited our business, especially the lettering side. So don't miss out on the 2 months of free Skillshare access using the code IANLETTERS and clicking on the link in my bio. You will learn so much in just those 60 days! Roll on the next crazy #letteringadventure #skillshare #lettering #handlettering #typography #calligraphy #learning

A post shared by Ian Barnard (@ianbarnard) on

There are so many more amazing lettering artists out there, and I’d love to know… who are your favorites? Do you do lettering? Drop your Instagram handle below! I’d love to come check it out.

Plan With Me: October

Join me for my very first plan with me video!

I love planners.A lot. I’ve poked around in ones from Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart… I’ve purchased ones from Amazon or bookstores. I’ve dabbled in Erin Condren, and Happy Planner. I’ve poked around in homeschool planners, blogging planners, day planners…. just about everything.

But a little over a year ago, my friend & mentor April Bowles-Olin started posting creative journaling spreads, and they were so pretty! In case you’re not familiar with creative journaling… when a bullet journal and a scrapbook love each other very much… okay just kidding, kind of.

Creative journalling falls somewhere in between traditional bullet journaling, and art journaling. Break out the pens, markers, and watercolors and prepare to get colorful! It’s not quite art journaling, because there’s very much a planning aspect to these babies. How much, totally depends on you.

You can find the complete spectrum on Instagram and Pinterest… some have everything.. a calendar, to-do list, monthly spread, weekly spread, daily spread… some just keep it very minimal. Some go crazy with colors, and doodles, and washi, and paint…. some have a few beautifully paired colors, and a sleek design.

For my very first plan with me video, I primarily stuck with palette of dark grey and a purpley-red color, outside of my cover spread, which I got a bit more colorful on. I did get a bit flustered during this, but I left that in, so you can see how to “fix” a mistake. Some people freak out and tear out their pages… but these are numbered and I like continuity. Instead, I try to embrace these “happy little accidents” (thanks Bob!) and see how I can turn them into something that’s pretty and still functional for my design.

It’s about 26 minutes long, so grab yourself an Irish coffee and settle in. 🙂 And let me know what you think! I’d love a comment from ya!

10 of My Favorite Curmudgeonly Characters

There are a good many misconceptions about curmudgeons... we're not evil, just grumpy. And they're not even anti-social... we're selectively social. And those we choose to socialize with? We will be unwaveringly loyal to them. 

As this is a post for the Broke.& Bookish, this post won’t be including delightful representations from film and television, such as Dr. House, or the span of indomitable Dame Maggie Smith curmudgeons.

There are a good many misconceptions about curmudgeons… we’re not evil, just grumpy. And they’re not even anti-social… we’re selectively social. And those we choose to socialize with? We will be unwaveringly loyal to them.

We are not only the ones most likely to yell at the neighbor kids for cutting through our lawns, but we are also the ones most likely to grouse for another hour about the lack of respect children have these days. Some people’s kids.

So here are some of my faves…

1. Sherlock

Sherlock definitely meets the above criteria… he’s rude, arrogant, and demanding. But he connects with Watson in a way that no one else does.

2. Nero Wolfe

What is about all that time introspecting, that makes one a good detective? Nero Wolfe is a gourmand who investigates the cases his assistant brings his way. Unlike Sherlock, he rarely leaves his home, but when he does, the game is most definitely afoot. 😉

3, Professor Snape

Like many curmudgeon’s Snape gets a bad rap. If you’re still confused about whether Snape is good, just watch this video where his scenes are placed in chronological order. (Spoilers ahead, so don’t watch if you’re not done with the series.)

4. Professor McGonagall

Let me set the record straight… women are most definitely capable of being a curmudgeon. For some reason the majority of the examples are male… but the definition doesn’t say male anywhere.

Let’s see… acerbic… Dame Maggie Smith has it doesn’t to an artwork.
Good? Hell yes, and she’s a badassssss.
Loyal? The most.

5. Trumpkin

This cranky little dwarf from Narnia, is red-haired. So by the rules of C.S. Lewis, he is one of the good dwarves. But many a dwarf before and after him, he is cranky! He earns the nickname Dear Little Friend, which is later shortened to DLF much to his annoyance. However once the Pevensies earn his respect… they have it for the rest of his very long life.

6. Marilla Cuthbert

Another fantastic lady example. Marilla is a classic grouch with a heart of gold. In true curmudgeonly form, she’s abrasive to Anne in the beginning… partly because she’s guarded, and partly because she’d sent off for a boy. We kind like to have our way…

7. Gandalf the Grey

“Fool of a Took!”  I rest my case.

8. Haymitch Abernathy

I was kinda feeling like he’d qualify, so on a whim I googled “Haymitch” “Abernathy” “curmudgeon” and immediately pulled up a reference to him as a curmudgeonly alcoholic mentor. There you have it, Lord Google knows all. Seriously though… crabby-butt who’s secretly nice, with a soft spot for someone? Ting, ting, ting, we have a winner.

9. Ben Weatherstaff

This is one you might not recognize by name, but he’s been a favorite of mine since I was a child. He’s the cantankerous gardener of Misselthwaite Manor in The Secret Garden. His loyalty to the late Mrs. Craven was so intense, that despite her husband locking the garden up, he’s continued to tend it in her memory.

10. Ove

Okay this is a wee bit of a cheater, but I can’t resist. A good many of the curmudgeons I thought of were from TV & film, so I started scribbling those down for a future list, but I couldn’t get back on track. So while researching for more literary ones to job my memory, I came across innumerable references to A Man Called Ove. Cue a quick diversion to find out how his name is said… apparently it’s “ooh-veh”.

Anyway… no matter what term I used… curmudgeon, grumpy old man, cantankerous, literary grump…. all roads led to Ove. I have heard of the book in brief passing, but am not entirely familiar. Seeing as he’s apparently our most current literary curmudgeon, he’s now been added to my TBR stack. 🙂

Who is your favorite literary curmudgeon? I’d love to meet more!
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.



Top 10 Books On My Fall TBR List

As we usher in the season of boots, cowls, and mulled cider, it's time to choose our fall reading list. So with my mug of spiced (or spiked, ha!) cider in hand, here are the 10 books on my Fall TBR List.

As we usher in the season of boots, cowls, and mulled cider, it’s time to choose our fall reading list. So with my mug of spiced (or spiked, ha!) cider in hand, here are the 10 books on my Fall TBR List.

1. The Roses of May (Kindle) by Dot Hutchison

This is actually one that I’m partially into, but it’s not even halfway done, so I’m including it. It’s the 2nd book in the Butterfly Garden series from Dot Hutchins. So far, I’m not enjoying it as much as the first one, but I’m trying to give it a shot.

2. Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (Kindle)

I love a well done thriller, and this is getting some great reviews… It’s about a Midwestern wife & mother who discovers that her husband (now ex-husband) is a serial killer. He’s in jail, she’s moved to a quite new town, but then a body turns up in the lake….

I’m crossing my fingers that it’s a solid win… I only like psychological thrillers if they have a likable character in them. I absolutely despised Girl on the Train, because I couldn’t find one single character I liked.

3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I’ve never read one of Stephen King’s books before, and this definitely isn’t one of his typical books. This involves a man who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. I’ve always found the conspiracies fascinating, and I can’t resist a time travel read.

4. Copycat by Alex Lake

I’m not familiar with this author, so I have’t read her first book. This popped up on a list of upcoming releases (it’s only been out a few weeks at this point), and it’s a psychological thriller about a woman who discovers there’s another social media account with her name/face/info… even recent pictures that have been taken inside her house.

I actually had this happen, years ago. Not to this extent, and it was more of a spoof, but it was immensely disturbing. I was about 15-16 years old, and someone got peeved with me, so they set up a fake account using my photo/demographics, and turned it into this crazy over the top hyper-religious caricature of me.

Thankfully it was someone being petty, and not a creepy stalker. Nevertheless, the premise of this is creepily familiar, and therefore, creepily intriguing.

5. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Full disclosure, I’ve also started this one… but I’m all of one chapter in. So I’m putting it on the list. I’ve never read magic realism before, so I’m super excited to stretch myself!

6. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Honestly, the cover is what drew me in… it’s SO pretty! But when I saw this described as Labyrinth meets Beauty and the Beast…. how can I resist?

7. Winter by Marissa Meyer

Okay this one has given friends and my sister a heart attack. I read all of the Lunar Chronicles until Winter came out. Something was going on in my life (I don’t remember what) and I was super busy. Then I had a baby. Then I was eyeballs deep in trying to sort through my houseful of belongings to prep for a move halfway across the country.

Meanwhile my sister has been dying that I haven’t read it yet. So I’m about to relieve her anxiety.

8. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I absolutely couldn’t resist a book about Alice (of Wonderland fame) from the author of the Lunar Chronicles, but I’ve been a very good girl and waited until I finished the Lunar Chronicles series first (see above). And that cover is just stunning.

9. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I’m just going to drop the description here…

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

10. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Political fiction isn’t my usual genre, but I was still subscribed to the Book A Month club, and I wasn’t remotely interested in any of the other choices that month. I could, of course, have just skipped the month, but I chose to stretch myself instead.

It tells the tale of a Russian count who’s deemed an “unrepentant aristocrat” by a Bolshevik tribunal, and sentenced to house arrest during a tumultuous time in Russia’s history. And while I don’t always care about reviews, this has insanely high reviews on both Amazon, and Goodreads.

Those are my 10… I’d love to hear from you… what are your planned reads for fall?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. 

As we usher in the season of boots, cowls, and mulled cider, it's time to choose our fall reading list. So with my mug of spiced (or spiked, ha!) cider in hand, here are the 10 books on my Fall TBR List.

How To Get Started Lettering

Edgar Allan Poe

When I was a kid, my Mom did calligraphy for our local funeral home. That lovely little book nestled near the doorway, where those who’ve come to pay last respects sign their names? Yep, that’s the one.

I’d softly creep into her room, carefully trying to avoid the creaky wooden board, and I’d sit on the bed near her. She’d watch me warily to make sure I was settled, and she wouldn’t get joggled, and then she’d set to work again.

The whole process fascinated me… the little ink cartridges, the various nibs, and the way the lines went from thick to thin. It so much prettier than my handwriting, and it wasn’t long before I asked for a calligraphy set of my own.

I absolutely adored practicing with it, and it was even more fun than my mother’s calligraphy work, because I got to use colors! Funny thing about funeral books.. they only come in black writing.

Later, my love affair with calligraphy developed into an interest in dip pens. I read about dip pens, and sealing wax. I was charmed with the romantic nature of it all… especially since letter writing seemed to be a dying art. When my husband was in the military I sent him a few letters written in dip pen, and sealed with wax. It felt like something straight out a delicious adventure story… the handsome Airman, serving his country overseas, receiving letters from his wife, sealed from prying eyes.


But last year, I started digging into modern calligraphy and brush lettering. I even gave it a quick shot, and I was terrible. Of course, I was impatient, and did all the things wrong… I used whatever paper, a cheap brush pen I picked up somewhere, and I was sprawled out on my bed. But that’s not where I went the most awry… I didn’t bother to read up on how brush lettering was done.

I foolishly assumed I already had the gist from having seen it, and that I could just dive in. And because of that, my lettering was pretty bad. So I didn’t touch it again for months. But it kept nagging at me. This little piece of me was dying to really give it a try.

So at the end of 2016, I vowed that instead of flitting from one class to another, I’d choose 3 topics to really bear down on for 2017. I even created a secret Pinterest board and found as many of the classes, and books, and tutorials as I could. I chose lettering, watercolor, and doodling as my 3.

But most importantly, I promised that I would give those topics everything I had. I wouldn’t give up on the rough attempts. I wouldn’t assume I had no ability, and I wouldn’t give up on myself.

If, at the end of 2017, I didn’t like it… I would stop. But stopping, just because I wasn’t “amazing” wasn’t going to be good enough. Especially if I loved it… if you love something, you shouldn’t have to be good at it. Do it for the love, even if you suck.

So here we are. I haven’t played with doodling as much (so I’ll need to give it some serious love for the next couple of months), but I absolutely adore lettering and watercolor. And just think… if I adore doodling, I have potential to create some very unique and fun pieces!

So How Can YOU Get Started?

Firstly, promise yourself that it’s okay for the first tries to not be amazing. You weren’t born knowing how to walk, or speak, or read… don’t expect that first go-rounds of lettering will be anything you’d want to pop on Etsy. If they are, happy news! If they’re not, consider them what they are… a piece of the journey. A marker to look back on, and recognize just how far you’ve come. In fact, tuck it away somewhere and forget about it for 6 months.

Secondly, let’s start with the supplies you’ll need.


The good news is, that there are tons of options, and generally they’re budget friendly. I’m personally fond of the 6″ x 9.5″ sketchpad from Master’s Touch (Hobby Lobby), and the 9″ x 12″ Bristol Vellum* pad from Strathmore.

*It should be noted, that the Bristol must be smooth/vellum. When in doubt, feel it! It should be slippy. If it’s textured, avoid.

Other fantastic options include

  • Index cards
  • Cardstock
  • HP 32# Laser Paper
  • Marker paper
  • Hot press paper

It just needs to be heavy enough to handle whatever pen you choose, and smooth enough to not tear up the lovely felt tips. If you’re using an actual paint brush (including water brushes) you can get away with more texture to the paper.


Lettering Comparisons

*Links below are affiliate links, which means I get a teeny kickback. All proceeds are put towards global domination, and Netflix fees.

Tombow Fudenosuke (hard and soft)

These are what I started with, based on numerous recommendations, and they’re what I recommend starting with. As you can see, they’ve got one of the finest t tips, which also means it’s easier to control. Their cases are covered in kanji, but fear not… they’re color coded! Silver is the harder tip, gold is the softer tip. They create very similar writing, the gold is just slightly thicker on both the up and downstroke. Only comes in black.

Pentel Sign Pen

This is right around the same thickness as the soft Tombow fude, but it comes in 12 colors. Once you’ve got the hang of brush lettering down, this is a fun way to expand your color options, while staying in with an easier size tip.

*Quick tip – Because these are water based, you can create an easy ombre effect, by dipping them into liquid watercolors, and writing your word/phrase out. This goes for any of the water based inks, but your mileage will vary, dependent on the color of the pen, and the color of the ink.

PITT Artist Pen

I haven’t played with this as much as some of my other pens… I feel like these almost came frayed already, so they don’t create nice clean lines when I write. That having been said, I really love the shades of their greys.

Marvy LePlume II

These are fun to play with. I don’t think their color saturation is as well done as Tombow’s Dual Brush, but these are a pretty solid option. One of the fun things about these larger tips, is that on a lot of the colors, there’s an ombre effect created by the varying pressure of the pen… darker at the top, lighter at the bottom. Comes in 108 colors.

Tombow Dual Brush Pen

Let me give you the lowdown on these… they’re expensive. Especially if you want the big grandaddy package of 96. Which, by the way, is amazing. They run around $145 in the States. So if you’re drooling over these babies, and you’re not named Ellen Degeneres (and if you are, then hey girl!!! Let’s do lunch, I’ve got some friends who are dying to be on your show… and tell Gladys I said hi!) then stick ’em in your cart, or wish list, and stalk them. Every once in a while the stars align (and Mercury isn’t in retrograde) and you can snag them for about $20 less. Still not a huge bargain, but hey… anything helps right?

Belle - Kuretake Gold

Kuretake Metallic

I’ll be real… I don’t use these very often. But every time I do, I wish I remembered them more often. They’re a good bit thicker than most of my pens, so I have to pay attention to what I try to use them on, but they feel delicious on paper. My personal favorite is to use them on black paper. They’re one of my few pens that I can use on dark paper, and baby they gleam! Comes in 6 colors.

Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers

I saw these things making waves with art journalists, but hadn’t picked up any to play with. As it happened, I had a bad experience with another brand of brush markers, and to make up for it, I was sent a whole box of goodies to play with, including these. I haven’t played with them for very long, but they’re filled with liquid watercolor. Fun right? AND when they’re empty, you can refill them. Uhhhh yes please! Don’t be fooled by the watercolor part… the color in these is very saturated. Comes in 12 colors.

Spectrum Noir Sparkle

I haven’t written much with these, but when I have, I don’t feel like the tip stays together as well as some of the other ones I’ve used. These have nylon bristles like the watercolor brushes do, but they don’t hold together as nicely as some brands. That having been said, they’re fun for adding a little sparkle to your writing.

Pentel Aquash

And last, but certainly not least… the water brush. These delightful little numbers can be filled with water, and used with watercolors, or they can be filled with ink. Or liquid watercolor. Perfect for crossing the bridge between watercolors and brush lettering. They come in a variety of sizes, but I haven’t the faintest idea which one I used up there, because my kids ran off with the other 2, so I have nothing to compare with. 2 year olds love to run off with things. They’re like pack rats, except they don’t actually care if an item is shiny.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and there are many other great brands to try. But hopefully this gives you some ideas to start with, and a visual idea of what each one looks like when used.