Independent Bookstore Day 2017

I love this time of year, there are three very special Saturdays three weekends in a row.  Last week there was Record Store Day(and Earth Day!), tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, and next Saturday is Free Comic Book Day.  I’ll be making my rounds at one of our local Avid Bookshops tomorrow.  Independent bookstores are wonderful because they house so much literary culture and are such a special experience to peruse.  I love our bookstore because they are an active part of the community, house secret signed copies of books, and they have handwritten notes under some books with their personal reviews.  In honor of this day, I wanted to share some books I recommend, as well as some I’ve been itching to read as of late.

This post isn’t sponsored or affiliated with any company, but I want to encourage you to support an independent bookstore tomorrow, whether in person or through a purchase online.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? -Maria Semple

This was the book I found last year on this day.  On trips before I had noticed it, read the message of recommendation but decided it was out of my reading comfort zone.  For that reason, this time I decided to get it and I’m glad I did.  I took it along on my vacation, a cruise, not even realizing I was bringing along a book about a family that wins a vacation on a cruise to Antarctica.  The book is organized into letters, emails, and memories along with those told from the viewpoint of 15 year old Bee.  It’s in seven parts, each dedicated to telling a part of the story of the disappearance of Bee’s mother, Bernadette.  Bernadette is a different mother than those around her, and she clashes with the die hard school affiliated, structured, event organizing mom’s that operate around her.  Her past has something to do with this, and Bee hunts for any evidence to tie what happened to her in the past to what is happening to her in the present in order to find out why she disappeared the day they were supposed to leave for their much awaited and anticipated cruise.  Throughout a series of events, they find out Bernadette isn’t so different from the other mom’s after all.

The Art of Asking -Amanda Palmer

I find inspiration in other people and seeing how they accomplish their goals.  I didn’t know much about Amanda Palmer, except that she was married to Neil Gaiman and makes music, before I read this book.  I hadn’t even seen her Ted Talk which has a lot to do with the premise of her book.  She was just an intriguing person to me and my partner, Ty, had just finished reading her book and recommended I read it.  I found so much in reading her book, especially as someone who has so much trouble with asking for help.  Amanda is truly a free spirit and a gifted writer.  Her experiences have been catered by asking, dreaming, loving, hurting, and never giving up.  She has shaped a life unlike any other I’ve known and is someone I very much support and admire.


Ready Player One -Ernest Cline
This book is quite dear to me, it helped me to rediscover a love of reading I had forgotten.  Thank you uncles for recommending and letting me borrow.  If you have a sentimental spot for the pop culture of the eighties or love a great book about adventure and alternate realities, this is the perfect book for you.  I love the world Ernest Cline creates in Ready Player One, a virtual reality induced way of existence.  Ready Player One is the story of  Wade Watts, a boy who is not at all noteworthy, until the day when his name shows up on the top score list of a worldwide contest for the complete estate of the person who gave everyone the virtual world they exist in.  His world is turned upside down, as he now has to fight for his life and the world’s fate as he tries to win the contest.  This was one of those books I was so sad about finishing, because it was such a great read.  In March 2018 the movie comes out and I can not wait to see it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) –Mindy Kaling

A lover of The Mindy Project, I wanted to know more about Mindy Kaling.  Her book is so funny, I had to read aloud some parts to Ty.  It’s an easy read, and inspired me to watch the office, which she helps write, and is fantastic (just get through the first season).  Her humor and wit are similar to that you’d find on the Mindy Project, as her character is based on herself.  It was nice to figure out how she became who she is and this is a very entertaining and light read.


My Reading Wish List:

1. Make It Up -Marie Rayma
A week or two ago I stumbled upon an A Beautiful Mess article suggesting this book.  I’ve been wanting to make my own makeup for a while, I’ve been leading up to it by making my own body care items and collecting ingredients.  I’d love to have this book just to have a physical guide on how to make my own products, plus it seems Marie Rayma has already gone through the experimenting process.
2. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo -Amy Schumer
I love what Amy Schumer does in the world of comedy and her movie Train Wreck is so great.  I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it came out, and still am very much interested in reading it still.
3. Silent Spring –Rachel Carson
Next month I’m taking an Environmental Studies maymester and I’ve decided to spend the month learning more about humanity’s impact on the environment as it’s something that interests me.  I’ve always wanted to read Silent Spring, so I thought it would be perfect timing and not a bad idea to have a book for reference.
4. Today Will Be Different -Maria Semple
I liked Where’d You Go Bernadette, and I want to read another piece of work Maria Semple has created.

Reading is something I’ve always enjoyed doing and benefit from every time I do.  I may not end up picking up any of these tomorrow, but I’ll get to them, besides the fun of going to Independent Bookstores is picking up something you didn’t expect to.

Be my Goodreads friend! I’m on there as Madison Kourajian.
Follow me on Instagram to see what I pick up tomorrow : )
What Independent Bookstore do you love?
Any environmental books you have to recommend for me?
Comment below!


March 2017 Income Report

Why am I sharing this information?
When I was thinking about starting to blog, I got inspired by reading other’s income reports.  An avid reader of blogs, I was curious about how people could make enough money to support themselves while they did this cool thing.  I was particularly inspired by those who shared from the very beginning so you could see they too had months at the beginning where they made next to nothing.  It takes time to see real profit, and that can be discouraging.  Most reports I see are published by full time bloggers,  and I decided I wanted to share my income reports so others can see what it looks like to make money blogging part time from the very beginning.  

Why do I blog part time?
I am a student with a retail job and I run an Etsy shop.  I love to spend time with my family and friends, travel, volunteer, move, craft, garden and engage in other hobbies.  I like blogging, and I don’t want to get burnt out on it.  Also, I want to make sure I always publish quality posts, which for the first month each post has taken 4-10 hours before I hit publish.  I like to make sure I have enough time to promote, update my posts, and take financial initiatives.  I’m always trying to limit the amount of stress in my life, so blogging part time is the most suitable option for me.

All things must begin.  In my first month of blogging I made $0.00.
Keep reading and I’ll share my secrets ; )

Income Sources:
Affiliate Programs
Amazon: $0.00

Bluehost: $0.00

Starting out, these two are great.  The application process was very easy for both.  Amazon is easy to use, I just attach a link to their site with my username embedded to any item I discuss in my post.  If anybody clicks through from my post and makes a purchase, it doesn’t have to be the item I talked about, I get a percentage of income as soon as the item is shipped.  The more items that are purchased through my link, the higher percentage I receive.  When I’ve accumulated $100,  I can receive payment.  With Bluehost, you receive $65 per referral, which means if someone purchases hosting and doesn’t cancel it during the first month you receive payment.  For this reason, you get paid three months after the initial purchase.  This is just another reason why it takes time to make money blogging.



Strategizing and Goals:

Yearly Goal: break even

Monthly Goals

This first month I wasn’t focusing too much on the financial aspects of my blog, I spent my time working on my writing.  All in all I missed one week, due to unforeseen circumstances.  This is why I want to create a backlog of posts.  I want to get to the point where all my blog posts for the next month have a framework and photographs by the time my posting day comes around.  I want to do anything that makes me less frantic when it gets closer to posting day.

1. Have a backlog of three posts
2. Post by 3 PM
3. Photograph all posts in one day


I use Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to promote my blog, as well as staying on top of my SEO game.  My main goal is to have real followers/friends, for this reason I’m not aiming for a specific amount of followers.  The people I admire most on social media aren’t in it for the number of followers they have.  I recently watched a live interview with Summer Tannhauser where she gave out some of her Pinterest tips during The Passive Income Summit hosted by Caressa Lenae, and I’m going to incorporate them into my posts on that platform. 

1. Increase followers on all 3 platforms
2. Optimize Pinterest posts



My main focus is on my writing, but I always want to be taking steps to progress the financial status of my blog.  As I learn more information about the world of blogging I want to continually update my Bluehost post to be more helpful.  Regularly updating posts improve SEO as well, Google likes sites that do this.  Before I approach higher paying opportunities with companies or affiliate networks I want to have a more established site with more traffic to offer these organizations.  For now, I’m going to be using networks that will work with just about anyone.  I recently got approved by Google Ads, and I’m going to be incorporating a couple of them into my site.  I don’t know how I feel about them, but I want to test it out.

1. Update Bluehost post
2. Place Google Ads



One Day : )

Some of my favorite reports:
1. The Extra Income Project
2. Just a Girl and Her Blog
3. Boho Berry

Cash Flow Diaries fantastic list of reports

Any other new bloggers in the house? Any income report recommendations? Any tips for this new blogger?

☮ Madison

Spring Style Wish List – Under $30!

I have no idea what is in style.  I am not a fashion expert (even though I’m well read* on the subject), nor do I claim to be, but it’s so much fun to put together outfits.  My closet is mostly made up of thrifted, gifted, and handed down clothing and I love it.  I am a very picky shopper and I like to collect special pieces that I can wear in a variety of ways.  One day I would like to learn how to make my own clothes, and revamp clothing like Coolirpa does, but for now you’ll find me headed straight for the clearance section.

*If you decide to get this hilarious book, I’ll receive commission  : )

Image result for laci grey swimsuit adore me
Grey Strappy Swimsuit
 It is very difficult to find swimsuits that cater to my size.  I have yet to find one that fits me well in all places and holds everything in, at least at a reasonable price.  It limits my options, but this simple swimsuit is cute but sexy, and I love the extra straps.  Additionally, the bottoms look like they will actually cover everything and are included with the top (Who decided swim pieces needed to be sold separately???).

Laura Cross Back Pinafore Dress
Pinafore Dress
This dress may resemble an apron, but I don’t care.  It would be a very versatile piece to have, and easy to accessorize with.  Bonus, I could get away with wearing it year round if I styled it right.

White Sleeveless Asymmetric Hem Flare Dress
White Asymmetrically Hemmed Dress
It terrifies me that this dress is white and I can only imagine the stains awaiting it if it ever becomes a part of my closet.  Regardless, I love the way this dress flows, and it would be super easy to style.

Detailed Harem Pants
These pants look super comfy, and comfort is the most important thing to me when I dress.  I hate wearing outfits I’m constantly adjusting, or skirts I have to pull down repeatedly.  If I’m in a dress or skirt, I will always have yoga shorts underneath it, because frolicking shouldn’t be limited by your outfit.  I don’t currently have any harem pants, and I need to get my hands on a pair of these as well as a pair of palazzo pants.

Silver Leg Chain
One day a couple of years ago, I was raiding the clearance rack and found a leg chain for $5.  Of course, I snagged it and had no idea how much I would end up wearing it.  It’s broken now, but I fixed it and made it work as long as I could, through the use of safety pins, ribbon, and my trusty glue gun.  I got compliments on it all the time, and it added a lot to my outfits.  I would love to have another one to wear out in the same manner.

Gold Hair Crown
This is just beautiful, and it would add a little extra something to any outfit.  I love how Sunaina added an elastic headband, because these things are not easy to keep on sometimes.


I didn’t expect to write this post today, but I had fun doing it.  Now I’m off to catch up on life, decorate my dreads, and create some things for myself and for you on Etsy.  What are you excited to wear this spring?

☮ Madison

Board Games for Two

I’m a little bit of a game enthusiast.  Every once in a while, I have to get rid of games in order to make room for more.  I love to go to secondhand shops and rummage through the games.  Occasionally I have to make a couple pieces or substitute parts it’s missing but it’s worth it when you get a game like Bezzerwizzer, that’s normally around $50, for $2.

Ty and I love to play games together.  We actually have tried to play every three+ player game we have with two people.  I have learned there is absolutely no way to play Clue with two players, but Outburst is pretty easy to make into a two player dual.

I am part of Amazon’s affiliate program, this means if you follow the links on my site and make a purchase, I’ll receive commission, which helps keep this site running.

Here are five board games we love to play together:

  1. Parcheesi
    The version we have is Pacheesi, which is the same, just a cheaper version with a smaller board.  We like to play with a couple house rules I grew up with (didn’t know they were house rules at the time) to make the game a little more interesting.  In this game, the goal is to get your four pawns around the board and into your home.  However, it’s not that easy.  You can use your pawns to form blockades that other players can’t get past or hop safe spaces to your home.  Also, if you knock someone out you can move an additional 20 spaces.  Sometimes, we like to play this where each of us controls two different colors, if we’re feeling a little wild that night.

  2. Monopoly
    We have the Monopoly Here and Now: World Edition, which we found for four dollars at a used bookstore in Tennessee.  I just love a good game steal, and it was even better that all the pieces were still in tact.  This game comes with six game tokens, which are different in every box, representing things from around the world.  The big difference between this version and the original is the money.  First, the money is in thousands and millions, which was easy to get used to.  The big difference is there is no paper money.  Instead of paper money, everyone has a plastic credit card and an electronic banking unit is used to track payments and balances.  I was a little skeptical at first, but I actually don’t mind playing with it, it’s pretty simple to use and makes it easy to set the game up.  When we have the time to play, it’s fun to purchase and trade different places around the world in this classic, wonderful game.

    This is the game all set up:

  3. Life
    Again, we have a different version from the original.  We have the Life: Simpsons Edition version of the game.  When my parents were getting rid of some of their games, I was lucky enough to inherit it.  This game is the same as the original, but each space is characterized by Simpsons culture and events from the show.  In this version you can adopt Sherri and Terri, become Mr. Plow, and reap the benefits for being mistaken as Mr. Burns heir.  This game is nostalgic for me, having grown up with the Simpsons, and having played a lot of Life.  I like to play Life whenever I want to play a long game, but not necessarily Monopoly long.

  4. Bezzerwizzer
    Last night I actually played this game for the millionth time, and still there are plenty of questions in this trivia game I haven’t come across.  In Bezzerwizzer, there are 20 different categories like technology, humans, sports and games, science, nature, traditions and beliefs, business world, and the one we dread, architecture.  Each round you choose four categories at random and arrange them according to which you think you have a better chance at.  For example, I would put humans in my four point slot, whereas I would put architecture in my one point slot.  Then each player gets a chance to swap or Zwap their tiles with another person’s on their turn, once per round.  This is when I would switch my architecture tile for a science tile and stick Ty with architecture.  Mwahaha!  In addition, each player has a chance to piggyback on a question using one Bezzerwizzer tile, up to two each round.  If you throw your Bezzerwizzer tile in because you are great at the science category and the opponent gets it wrong, then you get a chance to steal that question for three points.  I enjoy this game, because it’s a trivia game I actually have a chance at, as long as the architecture and sports questions come at a minimum.

  5. Risk
    This is actually a game I don’t own, but is at the top of my game wish list.  I grew up playing the 1980 version, and apparently there are a lot of different versions these days.  Personally, I’d be okay with owning the Star Wars or Marvel versions of the game.  We used to reserve this game for weekends or snow days, because it can take a lot of time.  Each player in the game is given troops, and countries they have power over.  The game is played carrying out dice wars that determine who gets to own each country, until one player has succeeded in world domination.  Risk is well worth playing if you have the time.

These are just a few of the board games I love.  It’s hard to find board games for two, so Ty and I play a lot of card and dexterity games as well.

If there are any two player board games you want to recommend, please share in the comments below : )

☮ Madison

St. Patrick’s Day Drink

 Happy St. Patrick’s day!  In honor of this holiday, I’ve spent some time in my kitchen creating a drink that was equal parts green and feisty.  This drink is very easy to make, and friendly to substitutions. If you want to get extra fancy and make a punch, I’ve included a recipe for that as well! : )

I am part of Amazon’s affiliate program, this means if you follow the links on my site and make a purchase, I’ll receive commission, which helps keep this site running.

St. Patrick’s Day Spritzer:
serves 1
-5 oz Smirnoff Green Apple
One pint will make three drinks
-1 shot Smirnoff Pineapple Vodka
You could try it with another type of vodka you have on hand, if your feeling dangerous
-3 chunks of pineapple
About a quarter cup, you could substitute one shot of pineapple juice
-3 drops of lime juice (optional)
Can use a 1/4 lime
-2 teaspoons green food coloring (optional)
I’ve included a recipe below if you would like to make your own natural food coloring

Step 1: Using a blender or food processor (I used my Magic Bullet), combine the Smirnoff Pineapple Rum and pineapple chunks.

Step 2: Pour in a glass

Step 3: Add Smirnoff Green Apple, green food coloring, and lime juice


If you would like to make this drink greener, you can add up to two teaspoons of your own natural food coloring (it’s very easy).
To make, add 1/2 cup frozen spinach (you won’t taste it) and 2 tablespoons of water to your food processor or blender.
Just blend and use a mesh strainer to collect the food coloring.
For more information, or to make with fresh spinach you can visit this link.


And the finished drink, settled with the food coloring included:

Ingredients for St. Patrick’s Day Spritzer Punch:
Serves 3-4
-1 Pint Smirnoff Green Apple
-4 shots pineapple rum
-12 chunks or one cup of pineapple
4 ounces of pineapple juice can be substituted
-12 drops of lime juice
1/2 a fresh lime can be substituted
-1 cup sherbet
-2 Tablespoons green food coloring (optional)
Easy natural food coloring recipe above


Step 1: Using a blender or food processor, combine the Smirnoff Pineapple Rum and pineapple chunks.

Step 2: Pour in a bowl

Step 3: Add Smirnoff Green Apple, sherbet, green food coloring, and lime juice

 What are you guys making tonight?

☮ Madison