Hosting a Cookie Swap (with help from Paperless Post e-vites)

A table setting from Tiffany’s miniature holiday windows. Also: table setting goals.

When Paperless Post approached me to write a post about the services they have to offer, I knew it was the perfect time to share some tips for hosting my favorite type of party: a cookie swap. It’s still too warm here to really maximize my baking time but while I wait for the weather to cool, here’s my step-by-step guide to hosting a cookie swap of your own.

  • WHAT: A cookie swap is exactly what it sounds like. Guests come with a large stock of cookies and before the party ends everyone samples cookies and shares what they have brought. Everyone leaves with different kinds of cookies to try and share.
  • WHEN: Any time is a good time for cookies! While I host my cookie swap near the holidays but you can really host a cookie swap any time of year as long as it’s cool enough for baking.
  • WHO: Because there’s so much baking involved, I usually keep the cookie swap invitation list small. If I invite five people that means everyone is making five to six dozen cookies so that there are cookies to taste and for people to take home. I also give wiggle room saying people will leave with as many cookies as they bring. Because everyone has to make time to bake in addition to usual party planning I always try to send invitations out roughly a month in advance. I always send out e-invites because they make it so easy to send and to track RSVPs. Paperless Post has tons of invitation options whether you want to go with an e-invite or send physical invitations. I’ve got my eye on one from Kate Spade or one from Peppermint Patio for this year’s invites. But don’t tell anyone, it’s a surprise!
  • You can check out all of Paperless Post’s invitations here: https://www.paperlesspost.com/cards/section/invitations 

Now that you know what a cookie swap is and have some options for invitations, here’s what I always have on hand to put my party together:

  • Food: While everyone arrives expecting cookies, I serve some light food too. Since I usually have my party start in the early afternoon I like to go with brunch options like bagels or rolls with cream cheese, butter, or jam. Egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad are also good options. Just be sure to check if your guests have any allergies or dietary restrictions (if this is the case you should let everyone know ahead of time and be mindful of that with cookies as well).
  • Tableware: I host my party near Christmas so my holiday decorations always serve as part of the decor. I also spruce up the dining table with tablecloth and matching place mats. (I’ve never met a print I didn’t like so you’ll note that these are all red plaid designs.)
  • Utensils: I try to keep this party low key and simple so I go with plastic silverware and paper plates to serve everything. I also have plastic trays and serving utensils that I pull out every year to serve sandwiches and condiments during the party.
  • Storage: I always pre-package my cookies for friends. It makes it easier to keep track of how many I need to bake and it helps keep the cookies fresh if I decide to bake them a few days ahead of time. My favorite packaging method has been cellophane food bags. The standard size is perfect to hold 12-24 cookies and they can be found with cute designs or decorated with curling ribbon to tie them closed. Plastic bowls with lids are also great to store any cookies you receive.

I hope these tips inspire you to host your own cookie swap soon.

To get you started I will also give you one of the simplest and tastiest cookie recipes I’ve found: Easy Oreo Truffles (as seen on AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

Directions

Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

You can also buy a cookie press to make simple but stunning spritz cookies. (This link goes to the model I have–I use the butter cookie recipe on the box, add food coloring, and stamp out the cookies using different dies to up my cookie game.)

heart shaped spritz cookies

If you’re looking for more recipes, be sure to check out my Pinterest boards for more recipes.

*This post was created in cooperation with Paperless Post to review and publicize their services*

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Uppercase July 2017 Box Review

After experimenting with Owlcrate for a few months last year, I decided to give Uppercase a shot this year when I wanted to check out a new bookish subscription box.

Uppercase is a monthly book subscription box.

You have two options when subscribing: You can purchase the Book Exclusive Plan for $17/month which includes a new hardcover YA novel (signed or with a bookplate), a reading experience content (this includes a bookmark with links to special content to check out while you read the book), and a handwritten note about the contents of the box. The Expert Plan is $23/month and includes all of the Book Exclusive items plus one or two bookish items which can be anything from notebooks to wearables. Both plans adds $6.50 for shipping.

What I really like about Uppercase is you have options for buying as well. You can subscribe monthly with the typical automatic renewals (and option to cancel) OR you can pre-pay for a certain amount of boxes from 1 to 12 months. I decided to pre-pay for three months and got my second package in July.

I already shared about the box on Instagram but I decided I could do a full review on here too.

Here’s what I found in my July 2017 Uppercase which comes in the signature Uppercase pouch (and is mailed in a Priority Mail padded envelope):

  • Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton: Unlike the June package, July’s box had a book I’ve never heard of. That almost never happens to me! I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up on my own because it sounds sad but I’m game to see what it has in store and excited for the reading experience content.
  • Experience Bookmark: This is a special feature unique to Uppercase. The bookmark features page numbers and codes readers can enter online to unlock special content.
  • Sticker: The oversized cat sticker says “I love books.” It’s very cute but I have to admit I’m super not a cat person so this will probably be finding another home.
  • Socks: I always need new socks and I’m pretty happy with these Alice in Wonderland ones. They are a nice quality and look large enough to fit my big feet.
  • Postcard: It’s silly, but the postcard for Words in Deep Blue is one of my favorite things in this box. Cath Crowley is a long time favorite and I really enjoyed this book. I’m thrilled to have quote art from it.
  • Print: This print is an exclusive item with embossed artwork and fun lettering for Stephen King’s famous quote. I don’t have a lot of wall space right now but I might eventually get this and the postcard framed because I like them so much.

All in all I’m pretty happy with this book. The novelty of finding a completely new to me book was pretty great and I’m happy with the items. I really appreciate the option to pre-pay and may even order more boxes in the future. I like that it includes some extras without being overwhelming and I think it’s great that the books are signed. This is definitely a subscription box to consider for yourself or your bookish friends. Keep watching the blog for my review of my final Uppercase Box when it arrives in August!

Blog 10th Birthday (and Giveaway!)

Ten years ago, at this exact moment, I started Miss Print. It’s been a crazy ride and I’m so happy to have had this blog and the people I have met because of it as constants in my life over the last decade.

(If you’re only here for the giveaway just scroll down.)

Last year I talked about books I found because I started blogging. This feels like a very full circle moment for me. Ten years ago I was 21 years old, finishing college, and getting ready to apply to grad school–all factors that led to the creation of this blog. Now, ten years later, I’m a full-time librarian and have been able to parlay so many of the skills I learned and developed as a blogger into my professional life. I have made some of my best friends because of this blog and connected with so many wonderful authors and readers. Truly, I can’t imagine what my life would look like now if I hadn’t created this blog ten years ago. It’s unimaginable.

And what’s a big birthday without gifts? This year I’m giving away three prizes.

One winner will receive a bookish tote bag with this stack of ten of my all-time favorite books.

Two other winners will receive a personalized list of ten book recommendations from me based on what they tell me about likes/dislikes/owned books/etc. (This is something I do as part of my work too so again, full circle!)

THE DETAILS:

  • One winner will win a bookish tote of ten of my favorite books.
  • Two winners will receive a personalized list of ten book recommendations created by me.
  • Giveaway will run from August 12 to August 31. (Winners will be notified September 1. If I don’t hear back from the winners by September 3, I will pick a new winner from the entry pool as needed.)

ENTER HERE

Spread the word, share the love, and head over to Rafflecopter to enter my giveaway.

Uppercase June 2017 Box Review

After experimenting with Owlcrate for a few months last year, I decided to give Uppercase a shot this year when I wanted to check out a new bookish subscription box.

Uppercase is a monthly book subscription box.

You have two options when subscribing: You can purchase the Book Exclusive Plan for $17/month which includes a new hardcover YA novel (signed or with a bookplate), a reading experience content (this includes a bookmark with links to special content to check out while you read the book), and a handwritten note about the contents of the box. The Expert Plan is $23/month and includes all of the Book Exclusive items plus one or two bookish items which can be anything from notebooks to wearables. Both plans adds $6.50 for shipping.

What I really like about Uppercase is you have options for buying as well. You can subscribe monthly with the typical automatic renewals (and option to cancel) OR you can pre-pay for a certain amount of boxes from 1 to 12 months. I decided to pre-pay for three months and got my first package in June.

I already shared about the box on Instagram but I’m so excited about it I wanted to do a full review on here too.

Here’s what I found in my June 2017 Uppercase which comes in the signature Uppercase pouch (and is mailed in a Priority Mail padded envelope):

  • Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser: This release from Bloomsbury has been on my radar since one of my best friends Becky reviewed it for School Library Journal. I am ready for this fantasy novel with pirates and adventure and I am delighted to know that Becky’s review was quoted on the back cover of this book. The book was also signed by the author.
  • Map: Inside the book is a pull out printed map for Song of the Current on glossy paper. I like that it’s a larger size that what would have been included if the map was in the actual book.
  • Experience Bookmark: This is a special feature unique to Uppercase. The bookmark features page numbers and codes readers can enter online to unlock special content. I am super excited to see what kind of things will be revealed as I read!
  • Tote Bag: This box featured an exclusive tote bag designed by Allison Cole Illustrations. The tote says “Reading is the Ultimate Adventure” and features a hot air balloon with a cat riding inside reading a book, of course. The tote bag is a nice quality with printing that isn’t likely to wear off and sturdy construction. I do wish the straps were a bit longer but I think they’ll stretch and anticipate this bag getting a lot of use.
  • Enamel Pin: The last item in the box is another exclusive. The Book Nerd pin is from Jubly-Umph and features a book with a ribbon across it reading “Book Nerd” along with some decorative flowers. I love Jubly-Umph but because they’re an Australian company it’s sometimes hard to find their jewelry in the US. I have a couple of necklaces from them (and after looking at the site I want almost everything they sell) and am very excited to add this pin to my collection. It’s too cute to put away so I have it pinned to a board I fill with artwork and other ephemera near my desk.

All in all I’m very happy with my first Uppercase. I really appreciate the option to pre-pay and may even order more boxes in the future. I like that it includes some extras without being overwhelming and I think it’s great that the books are signed. This is definitely a subscription box to consider for yourself or your bookish friends.

#MoxieGirlsFightBack and You Can Too.

I’ve been excited to read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu since publicist Mary Van Akin emailed me about it in March. It’s a story about a girl named Vivian who is inspired by her mother’s Riot Grrrl past to create a zine to expose and challenge the sexist culture in her high school.

You may have heard yesterday that Kirkus published a negative review of Moxie yesterday. I use the term “negative” pointedly here. Usually I say “critical review” instead because I don’t think a bad review is necessarily negative–it just has some criticism for a book that is likely valid. 

I don’t think that’s true for the Kirkus review which seems intent to highlight flaws in the book that are minor and also completely irrelevant to the story. More pointedly, the review manages to center male exclusion and male discomfort in a book about female empowerment and inclusion.

This review is indicative of the deeply internalized mysogyny and systemic sexism that plagues American culture. It also serves to underscore the deep-seated feminist backlash in the US that helped to contribute to our current political climate. 

Kirkus’ review is a problem for Moxie because it comes from one of the most respected and visible professional review sources (not to mention being the first professional review that I’ve seen publicly). In other words, because of a review that I think largely missed the point of the book, Moxie‘s sales might suffer as schools, libraries, and bookstores with limited budgets justify not purchasing this title. That is a huge problem for any book but especially for one that is so sorely needed.

I’m doing everything I can to support Moxie and, if you’re so inclined, I have some ways you can too:

PreOrder:

Usually I’m all about waiting until release week or later to get a book but in this case I’m making an exception. Pre-publication sales go a long way to demonstrate that a book is getting buzz and positive attention. They also contribute to release week sales which can determine if a book hits one of the bestseller lists (another important benchmark for a book’s success). I don’t want anyone breaking the bank BUT if you can afford to, here are some links to preorder from your venue of choice:

Word of Mouth

  • A great way to promote books is just by talking about them! Read an excerpt over at Entertainment Weekly and tell your friends.
  • Tweet about it: Moxie already has a hashtag. Show your love tweeting about the book with the tag #MoxieGirlsFightBack
  • If you’re an Instagram type tell your friends there with the tag #MoxieGirlsFightBack
  • This review, this book, this point in time are all teachable moments about feminism. Don’t let it pass without discussing it with your friends and family.

Tell Your Local Library

Ordering schedules vary but now is a great time to ask your local library to order copies of Moxie. Even if the library doesn’t handle ordering directly, chances are good they can pass on your recommendation. Library purchases contribute to book sales and by getting the title in your library you will be making sure lots more people have access to this book and maybe even getting it on your friendly librarian’s radar!

Read It

This is more for my blogger/librarian/bookseller types. If you have an early copy of Moxie read it now so you can start promoting it and talking it up ASAP. There are physical ARCs and eARCs from Netgalley and Edelweiss. If you have access, request and get reading! Alternately if you are going to read the book after it’s out, try to read it near the release date so more people hear about it and buy it. Please don’t let this book become a shelf sitter!

Review It

Whether you are a blogger, vlogger, bookstagrammer, or an avid reader, your review makes a difference. Online retailers (especially Amazon) offer special promotions and more publicity to books that receive 50 or more reviews. So if you read the book at any point, be sure to cross post your review so other readers can see it on Goodreads, Amazon and anywhere else you’re so inclined. If you’re a blogger, remember your audience. Most readers are going to want to purchase a book near its publication. Release week reviews are incredibly valuable and pre-publication reminders to watch for a book speak volumes.

I know I’ve been talking about Moxie here and if that book strikes a chord with you, I hope you join me in supporting it. But also remember these steps apply to any book you are excited about and want to help as much as you can. 

Buying a book is always a great way to show your support but I hope this post helps everyone who isn’t in a position to put their money literally behind every book they love.

Blog Book Giveaway: Workman Bundle (Spy on History, Boss Babes, Who Wins?)

Thanks to the lovely people at Workman, I’m ending February with a giveaway for three of their titles.

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Enter to win copies of Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring, Boss Babes: A Coloring and Activity Book for Adults, and Who Wins?

I “field tested” all of these with kids and teens at my library and they are a lot of fun. If you are a teacher or librarian, these are great titles to have for your classroom/programming. You can also earn a lot of street cred if you have young people in your life to gift these too. (And of course, they’re fun for readers of all ages if you might want to hold onto them for yourself.)

Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from midnight February 27 through March 6.

ENTER HERE

I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above or clicking the photo!

(Winner will be notified March 7. If I don’t hear back from any winner by March 8 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.)

Blog Tour: SPY ON HISTORY: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring

mary-bowser-blog-tour-bannerToday I’m joining Workman’s blog tour for the first book in their Spy on History series.

Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy RingSpy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring (2017) by Enigma Alberti, illustrated by Tony Cliff is an adventure based on the true story of Mary Bowser, a freed slave who became a spy for the Union and worked undercover as a maid for Jefferson Davis to gather Confederate secrets.

Mary pretended to be illiterate but in reality her photographic memory was as much of an asset to her spying as her ability to skillfully avoid discovery. In addition to detailing Mary’s life as a spy, the book is filled with lots of details about Mary’s spycraft techniques including ciphers, codes, and even the language of flowers. Hidden clues and secrets in the text of the book wait to be revealed by the reader and answer the question of where Mary hid her secret diary.

For the blog tour, I was asked to answer a simple question:

“If you could go back to any time or place in history, where would you put your spy skills to use?”

My answer for any time travel question is the same: I don’t want to travel anywhere else. While I love the idea of time and learning about the past–I prefer to engage with both from the comfort of my own home in the present. After all, you never know when a time machine might break down or a passage to the past might collapse. And then were are you? Likely trapped in an era without modern conveniences like medicine and antibiotics, running water, or electricity! I know my limitations and while I enjoy being an amateur spy in my own time, I also am well aware I would not be at my best in any period in the past.

Now that we’ve established where I would (not) time travel, I have a question for you and answering it will enter you in my giveaway:

Where would YOU visit in the past if time travel were possible?

 

***Tell me where you’d visit in the past in the comments to enter my giveaway.***

I’ll pick one winner from the comments to receive a Workman prize pack for a bundle of books including Spy on History, Who Wins?, and Boss Babes.

Giveaway is US only and ends February 12. Winner will be notified February 13. Be sure to comment to enter!