Friday, November 28, 2014

Being West is Best: A Book Review

Today I'm pleased to review Being West is Best: A Ginnie West Adventure (Book 3) by Monique Bucheger. Here's the summary from the back cover:

Twelve-year-old BFFs, Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, are matchmaking geniuses. Together, they maneuvered Ginnie’s widower-dad into proposing to Tillie’s divorcee-mom. Sweet! Certain they are well on their way to sisterhood, each girl is floored when Tillie’s lousy-excuse-for-a-father puts in an appearance after a six year absence. Too bad “lousy dad repellant” doesn’t come in a can. Even though Tillie’s dad has sobered up and is determined to make amends, Tillie would rather he just disappear again. If he stays, “Operation: Secret Sisters” may need to be renamed “Operation: Not Gonna Happen.” 

If that’s not bad enough, the biggest bully in seventh grade comes over often and wishes he could call the West’s farmhouse “home.” When the bully’s abusive dad shows up as well, Ginnie thinks it’s time to change her family’s motto from “When you’re here, you’re family” to “There’s no more room at the West’s.”

My review: As you can tell, this book is written for pre-teen girls, and it is exactly the type of book I enjoyed at that stage of my life. There's a lot of drama from a previous divorce, an impending remarriage, and school bullying. The characters are face with some grown-up problems, and they have to learn to deal with them in grown-up ways. I was a fan of Judy Blume as a kid, and this book reminds me of her writing. As an adult, I'm not such a big fan of Judy Blume's books because I noticed my kids showed more disrespect after reading them. That's why I like Monique's books so much. They reinforce traditional values like respect for parents, honesty, and forgiveness. Plus, the farm setting is really fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Losing Weight with Gun Control

Last year, in between Halloween and Christmas, I gained five pounds. "No biggy," I thought. "I'll just make a New Year's resolution to lose five pounds." Well, if you're anything like me, you know how that went. I managed to gain three more pounds over the course of the last ten months. The week before Halloween, I decided enough was enough. I was not going to gain any more weight this holiday season. For one thing, I was starting to have trouble with heart burn, and for another, my pants were all too tight. (Gotta love those yoga pants.)

I'd heard about a program called, where you can sign up to give money to an anti-charity if you don't manage to keep your goals. I'm the world's biggest cheapskate, so I thought losing money would motivate me. And, even if I failed every week for eight weeks, I'd still only pay $40--that was cheaper than any other weight loss program I could find. But, here was the clincher, I'd be giving the money to an anti-charity--like Congress or the NRA. I picked the NRA because my husband disapproved of giving any money to Congress. To quote him, "That's just pure evil." On the other hand, he doesn't mind donating to the NRA (unlike me.)

So, I bit the bullet (haha), and signed up to lose half a pound a week. Each week, I check in to tell my weight. If I don't stay on track, they send $5 to the NRA. My kids still have their Halloween candy. If I'm ever tempted to eat some, they only had to say, "Sure, I don't mind you donating to the NRA." It's been four weeks, and I have yet to make a single donation. Yahoo!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Remodel

I know this is far from a design blog, but we've spent the last two-and-a-half years remodeling our living room and entry area. And, thanks to some good luck at the thrift store this weekend, it is almost finished! So I thought I'd show off what we've done (even if it's only interesting to my mother.)

There was a lot that needed to be changed. We started by painting the walls, including one that's fifteen feet tall. Then we had someone come in to replace the fireplace.

Here's the before of our fireplace. Lovely, right? I've always had an affinity for fake stone.

And here's the after:

Then we changed the carpet to laminate flooring. I hate having contractors come into my house. If you want to know why, check out my blog post on the time I got quarantined for Hep A. So, to make it easy on me, we had our contractor friend come do the floor while we were on vacation. We came home to this: 

We spent long hours shopping for couches at furniture stores and discussing what I really wanted. Then, last Friday I walked into the thrift store and saw these:

Now all I need is a new TV stand to go with the monstrous TV my husband won at his office. Anyone know where to find a great TV stand? I feel like I've looked everywhere.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

If Jane Austen Came for Thanksgiving

I dressed up as a Jane Austen character for Halloween this year. As I was cleaning up after our party, I got a little too into the part and wished I had some servants to clean for me. Then I mentally flogged myself. If I lived in Jane Austen's time, I would most likely be a servant, and if I was anything like Jane Austen herself, I would also be dead by the time I reached my current age.

Later, while browsing through Facebook and reading my friends' grateful lists, I wondered what Jane Austen would find to be grateful for in our modern times. So, setting aside any concerns she might have about moral decay, here is Jane Austen's 2014 gratitude list:

  1. The financial freedom of women. Women are no longer dependent on men for their financial well-being.
  2. Dressing without the help of a ladies' maid.
  3. Online dating.
  4. Being able to drive a car.
  5. Not having to wear a corset.
  6. Modern medicine, which probably could have extended her life and the lives of others who died from disease or childbirth.
  7. Computers, word processing software, and keyboards
  8. Indoor plumbing and mechanized servants: heaters, hot water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, mixers, crockpots, lawnmowers, light bulbs, etc.
  9. Public libraries.
  10. Public schools.
Looking at my life through Jane Austen's perspective helped me realize how rich I really am. What else do you think Jane Austen would find to be grateful for?