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Stacy’s challenges

Pinterest Challenge – Fall Leaves

Pinterest Challenge – Fall Leaves

I usually get into fall decorating, but have been too overwhelmed with other things to take the time and now it’s almost time to decorate for Christmas.  I thought I could choose a few simple things this next week.  I went for a quick one today since I’m still putting my office back together from yesterday!

I saw this pin and immediately pictured the leaves on my front door.  I also thought I had an unopened bag of those leaves from years ago that I never used.  This morning I looked in the closet and JACKPOT!

IMG_2162I only used two things I already had in the house and now I’ve got some fall color on my front door.  A quick 20 minute project.

IMG_2164This is not what I envisioned, but I think it looks fine from the street 🙂  In the next few days I’m going to fall-ify the shelves by the door.  I wouldn’t consider this a Pinterest win or fail, but it’s alright.  I almost wish I’d shaped them in a circle like a wreath!

Pinterest Challenge

Pinterest Challenge

After taking October off, my first without a challenge in a year, I wanted to ease back in with something fun and useful.  Thirty days, thirty Pinterest pins.  You can follow me there and see what I’m pinning.  I’d like to do a combination of crafts, recipes, home stuff, organization, decorating…pretty much whatever strikes my fancy that day.

As I was looking around yesterday I found this pin and I was inspired by the blogger’s bravery since she was willing to show her messy room and her five steps to de-clutter it.  Without dwelling too much on what was ahead of me, I dove right in after I dropped off Gage at the bus this morning.  I finished with step one five minutes before I went to pick him up, lol.

My office is…embarrassing.  I’m a clutter bug and my office, because I can easily close the door, is a total wreck.  Like, it’s hard to breathe in there because I feel all the stuff closing in around me.  So, I decided this would be a fun first challenge without taking into account that the blogger was really only fixing a small corner of her room and I was attempting months of piles.   Nonetheless, I began with step one – emptying the whole room.  

I did decide to keep all of my unread books on the shelves because they are neat and would have just gone right back where they started, but everything else, gone.  Brace yourself, I am about to make you feel great about your own office…

The Before

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What is all of this crap you may ask and I could tell you most of it.  I take responsibility for all of it but two of the piles of random paper on the floors. Gage sometimes makes messes that I don’t take the time to clean up.  So, I guess I should just claim those too 🙁

 

The After

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So, the obvious question is, “Where’s all the stuff?”  Two bag went to recycling, two bags into the trash, some things back to where they belonged, and the rest is out in our foyer awaiting their fate.  I had planned on taking out the glass shelves in the corner (they used to house Jason’s favorite chess sets and a few still remain), but think I’ll just remove the chess set and repurpose them for myself.

This is not a one day project, but I am so happy with the beginning.  I will probably do another pin related to the office tomorrow that will help me better file or better use my shelves.  I’ll show you an updated pic tomorrow on the progress.  Despite the mess in the foyer I’m feeling accomplished- even if I only finished step one of the pin.

Book A Day Challenge, Year 2 – We did it!

Book A Day Challenge, Year 2 – We did it!

Woo hoo!!!!!!  G and I were 30 for 30 this month!  This year, maybe because I tried to focus my reading on memoirs and classics, was more difficult than last year, when I chose what to read on a whim.  G was so happy when he finished his last book this month, wanna see?

IMG_1711 (2)He finished strong with I Love Mom with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  He read way too easy books BUT he is now in the habit of reading a book a day so I’m hoping we can build on that.  He asked when he could do his next challenge so I’m going to have to come up with something for him soon.

I read 18 memoirs, 8 classics, 3 biographies, and 2 non-fiction books.  15 were by men, 12 women, 2 editors, and 1 by a mother and son combo.

Here are the books I read this month in the order that I liked them best, linked to my post about the book.

  1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker  – classic
  2. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines – classic
  3. Love That Boy: What Two President, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier
  4. A life in Parts by Bryan Cranston  audio – memoir
  5. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah audio – memoir
  6. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut  – classic
  7. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – audio – memoir
  8. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson – classic
  9. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Lawson – biography
  10. Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell – audio – memoir
  11. 1984 by George Orwell  – audio – classic
  12. How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gill – memoir
  13. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard – memoir
  14. Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Meternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman – memoir
  15. What Would Martin Say? by Clarence B Jones – biography-ish
  16. Something New:Twales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley – graphic memoir
  17. Yes Please by Amy Pohler – audio – memoir
  18. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome – classic
  19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – audio – classic
  20. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells – classic
  21. A Year By the Sea by Joan Anderson – memoir
  22. Hourglass: Time, Memoir, Marriage by Dani Shapiro – memoir
  23. An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son’s Story of Love, Determination, Autism, and Art by Debra and Seth Chwast – memoir
  24. Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw – memoir
  25. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen – memoir
  26. Why We March and Why I March  – photos from the Women’s March
  27. The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of am Awakening by Nancy Torgrove Clasby – memoir
  28. Herman Hesse: A Pictorial Biography by Voler Michels  – biography
  29. The Everything Candida Diet Book by Jeffrey McCombs  – nonfiction.  I just finished this one today because we will be starting this diet for Gage next week. This book is an excellent resource and surprisingly progressive in it’s knowledge.  Highly recommended if you suspect you have a candida problem. You can treat at home without a doctor using diet and supplements.
  30. Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem by Leon Chaitow – nonfiction

Next September I’m going to see if I can get any of you to join me!!!

Book a Day Challenge – Days 26-28

Book a Day Challenge – Days 26-28

Coming down to the wire.  I need to finish two tomorrow so we’ll see if I can do it.  I’ve got a few started but none of them are grabbing me so I may have to rely on a few super short ones.

IMG_1700 (2)G and I took turns reading Clifford Sees America.  He read one half one day and then the other half the next day.  He felt proud of himself, but still tends to be too hard on himself when he doesn’t know words, even words he has no way of knowing.  We’ll get there.  He also wanted to make sure his sandwich got in the pic 🙂

I read the graphic memoir Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley.  This is my third book by the talented graphic artist and author and this feel between the two for me.  I liked it and loved her drawings, but I was also bored.  Wedding planning is a wonderful and tedious business and it is probably most interesting to the people who know you or are going through the same process.  I do think this would be a perfect gift for the newly engaged.

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G read From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – fun!  and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold.  They are reading all the Fly Guy books for school.  They are just right where he needs to be to be pushing himself a bit.

I listened to Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, read by Hillary Huber.  The Mennonites aren’t new to me,  live within an hours or so of the biggest Amish community outside of Pennsylvania and have visited often, but if they had been maybe this would have been a little more interesting.  Rhoda had a string of bad luck culminating when her husband left for someone he met on gay.com and she moved back in with her parents in her 40’s.  It was a little disjointed, but ultimately I liked it.

I read Hourglass: Time, Memoir, Marriage by Dani Shapiro.  This slight memoir flitting around her marriage from before to beginning to present with little vignettes about things that happened over the years of their 18 year marriage.  The writing was beautiful and some of it was thought provoking, although I had expected it to go a bit deeper.  I enjoyed the writing so I’ll have to add some of Shapiro’s fiction to my reading list.  Thank to my friend Britt who recommended this 145 page book to get me close to the finish line of this month’s challenge.

 

Book A Day Challenge Days 24 & 25

Book A Day Challenge Days 24 & 25

It’s going to be an exciting finish.  We’ll see if I can make it to 30!

IMG_1692G read two Eric Carle books, Today is Monday, which was hard, and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, which wasn’t.  But both super fun and he liked them.

I listened to Yes Please by Amy Pohler.  She read it along with a few friends helping her along the way: Kathleen Turner, Seth Meyers, Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, her parent, and probably one or two more that I forgot about.

I liked it, but for me, I felt like she was trying to hard.  Maybe that’s just part of her charm, because I know she’s funny.  I laughed and learned that she’d been at this comedy thing longer than I thought.  I was impressed to learn about the Upright Citizens’ Brigade that she helped form, less impressed with her sex tips. She is accomplished and successful and full of energy.  I LOVE Parks and Recreation and might have loved a book written by the great Leslie Knope even better.

I also listened to what will surely be added to my list of favorite books, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines.  I found it addictive.  I couldn’t wait to sit down and put my feet up to read.  But, I should point out that this is not a true story, it is not an autobiography.  It’s fiction.  Miss Jane was 110 years old when she was being interviewed for this book, having been a slave until Lincoln freed her. She thinks she was 11, but isn’t sure.  She tried to start walking to Ohio, but never did make it out of Louisiana.  Her plight was choppy, I mean, she ‘s covering 110 years in a 300 page book, but her stories were perfect.  I loved the writing and I broke into tears in the middle (this almost never happens!)  I wanted to spend way more time with Miss Jane, but I find solace in the fact that there is an old movie I can watch.

 

Book a Day Challenge – Day 23

Book a Day Challenge – Day 23

I could do more reviews, but I’ve got to wait until G gets home to catch up on the pictures of the books we’ve read.

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G read I See A Cat and it was fun and easy and he enjoyed it.

I read What Would Martin Say? by Clarence B. Jones and Joel Engel.

I think I won this copy in a giveaway when it first came out…in 2008.  It looked interesting, but not interesting enough.  Now that I’ve finished it I feel much the same way.  It started so strong and I was loving it and then somewhere around the halfway point (on immigration) he lost me.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man taken to soon by a madman’s bullet (too common even today because of the NRA). What would have happened if he lived (would he still be attending RNC conferences?)?  How different would America look?  See what I did here by adding pointless political comments that add nothing to the conversation?  Clarence B. Jones, King’s personal lawyer for eight years, couldn’t seem to stop from adding these asides to illuminate the Republican party in a positive light. The first half was so interesting and I loved the behind the scenes look at history.  It led to great discussions with Jason as I was reading.  This was pretty much a play by play of the conservative view of race and how it should be handled.  I recognized all of the talking points, but the stories and the ease of the storytelling made it fresh.  Then halfway in he turned to immigration, anti-Semitism, and terrorism and it felt more like Jones justifying how he felt and using King to do so.  The problem is that these are different problems than when Martin was alive and Jones was too adamant about putting words in King’s mouth, understandable since he helped write King’s speeches.  I no longer felt like he was channeling King.

So, it was a mixed bag for me.  I loved the history and personal stories.  The beginning about how King recruited him was fun and also showed a lot about King himself.  It was worth reading for sure, but it did disappoint in the end, not because I agreed or disagreed, but because he never really convinced me that he knew with certainty what Kings’ views would be.  It was a discussion starter for sure.

Book a Day Challenge – 20-22, Good Stuff

Book a Day Challenge – 20-22, Good Stuff

Okay, okay, I need catch up this week since day 30 is fast approaching.  I am one book behind.  Not panicking yet, but I’m close.  I made use of shorter books these past few days so that’s helped my sense of accomplishment.  Maybe next year I’ll do a graphic novel a day.

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G read Fly High, Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold. This was to be read for school and he read it to his Grandma.

Last week when I took my mom vacation day I visited a new independent bookstore and found these two books featuring the Women’s March in January.  I wasn’t sure which one I wanted so I bought both.  Between the two, Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope by Artisan Press and Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World edited by Samantha Weiner and Emma Jacobs, I preferred the former (on the bottom in the picture).  It had quotes from the march in Washington DC that the other didn’t.  Both were great and took me back to one of the most inspiring days of my life.  This country needs a little more protesting and a little less sitting on our butts and complaining about people who don’t agree with us.  We need more of what I felt that day, hope.  And belief that there are enough good, decent people who are willing to take time out their days to fight for a kinder and smarter country with leaders we can actually be proud of.  There were marches on every continent – even Antarctica – and no arrests. I will always support a peaceful protest. I was inspired all over again.  Here are a few of my favorite signs.

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IMG_1671G read Have You Seen My Cat by Eric Carle.  At first he complained about all the words and how long it was and then he realize it was basically the same to sentences on every page.  Win for him.

I read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.  I admit that I picked this up at a book sale last week because it was short and a memoir.  I’m so glad that I made the impulsive choice.  I’ve never read Annie Dillard before, but found her writing beautiful.  She doesn’t make the writing life sound like very much fun, but I loved the honesty and the insight into how a mind can go a little nutty while writing.  If you are a writer I think this slim book is worth reading.

IMG_1650 (2)G read Maisy Goes to Bed by Lucy Cousins.  This was pretty easy and it had stuff to move and open so that was fun.  So much fun I think he even liked reading it.

I read Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem by Leon Chaitow.  Last year a friend gave me this book when I told her I’d always suspected that G had a yeast problem.  I kept it, unread, until a Thursday doctor appointment confirming my suspicions (among many other things).  So, this book was helpful for me to get and overview and firmer grasp on treatment. A treatment I need to start for G this week which means changing about 75-80% of his diet. Fun times.

Book a Day Challenge – Bad Mother and Mr. Wonka

Book a Day Challenge – Bad Mother and Mr. Wonka

I’m never going to keep up with these reviews!  Nothing to be done for it but to fir them in when I can.  We combined our books for the 18th & 19th pic because we’re getting a little behind on the photo taking too.  This challenge is kicking my butt.

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G read 2 Biscuit books and gave no complaints, woohoo!  Slowly, slowly but surely he is becoming more confident in himself and his reading abilities.

I read Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments Grace by Ayelet Waldman

I’m not sure why I was expecting something funny, but I was.  Although Waldman does write with humor this book was heartfelt and dealt with some heavy topics.  Sex, abortion, bipolar disorder, sexual identity, social media pushback, four kids with different needs.  There’s a lot to take in and appreciate.  Her honesty was admirable, her battles recognizable, and her love of family inspiring.  I really liked this one even though it wasn’t the barrels of laughs I was hoping for.

I also listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

The audio was excellent and even had sound effects.  At only 3 1/2 hours I’m thinking about listening to it again with G because I think this is perfect for kids.  Is Willy Wonka the best person to hold up as an example of all good things?  Nope.  But the story is so fantastical and fun that I can overlook that.  I loved the original movie with Gene Wilder and this took me right back there, to my childhood, excited every time one of the few channels on TV was showing the movie.  I can’t say enough good things about the audio production and am glad that I experienced the story that way for this one.

 

Book a Day Challenge – Days 16-17

Book a Day Challenge – Days 16-17

Okay, I’m here to do a bit of catching up before I get back to reading my book for the day.  Life has been busy and finding the time to read has been a struggle, but I will prevail.  I finished two books on Monday because I didn’t finish one on Sunday I chose a fun date night downtown with the hubby instead and he even put me up in a fancy hotel, woohoo :))  Anyhoo, here’s what we’ve been reading.

 

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We’re looking at the computer because his teacher assigned him a book to read online so we counted it as his daily book.  It was called Fog by John Rousselle and he did a good job.  Unlike his mama, he prefers the nonfiction, give-me-the-facts books.

I listened to Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I don’t keep up with Comedy Central’s The Daily Show much since Jon Stewart left, but I have seen Trevor and he’s good.  He’s smart and I love smart guys.  Also, as some of you may remember, we were able to have three Africans who were attending Mandela training here in the US over for dinner one night this summer and one of them was from South Africa, so I felt a real connection with Trevor and the stories from his home country.  Trevor’s honesty and humor about his early life during apartheid was shocking. His mother is black and his father is white.  Reading how he could not walk with his dad to the park or grocery shop with his mother made me so sad.  The memoir ended too soon and I wish it had been longer.  But now he can write another book and earn another payday.

IMG_1608G read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.  This one was long with lots of words so I read it to him twice before I made him try it.  It’s a great book and I highly recommend.  A mother and child plant flowers, plants and flowers every year to make a rainbow in their garden when everything blooms.

I finished The Color Purple by Alice Walker and I loved it.  Honestly, it was one of those classics like 1984 that I thought would not live up to the hype.  Only it did.  It exceeded expectations and now I’m anxious to get my hands on the movie. I want to spend more time with Celie and Sofia and Shug and Nettie.  I kind of want to read it again right now.  In 1930’s Georgia what kind of life did black women lead?  Still relevant and still addictingly readable.

 

Book a Day – this challenge is hard!

Book a Day – this challenge is hard!

So, we’ve read 15 books in 15 days although I finished none yesterday and two today.  I took a much needed mom vacation yesterday.  After dropping off Gage at the school bus I came home and slept for two hours then went to two bookstores, one waterfall, two restaurants and two movies and came home after my two guys were sleeping.  It was an energizing and centering day.   Today we went to a water treatment plant open house and our first stop on the tour was where they take to poop out.  Back on mom duty 🙂

IMG_1514G read Swimmers.  Contrary to this smile, when we read it ten minutes later all I got was attitude 🙁

I read A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson.

I really connected with this woman who was feeling out of sorts in her life.  Her sons were on their own and her husband came home and said that he had taken a job that would force them to move.  I got her.  I was rooting for her when she embraced new challenges on her own.  I’ve never lived on my own, always having a roommate, so I was living vicariously.  It started strong, but she did lose me a little halfway through.  I liked then ending so, all in all, I’m glad I read it.

IMG_1525 (2)G read What a Week  and Cute! both by Cynthia Amoroso and Bob Noyed to Grandma.  He was pretty disgruntled by the second one, but probably because it was a little longer.

I read Hemann Hesse: A Pictorial Biography Edited by Volker Michels.  I have never read anything by Hermann Hesse, but on my mom vacation I saw this out of print book and was intrigued.  It is seriously like an Hesse Instgram.  Pictures, drawings, and book covers on every pages with captions to tell his story.  I thought this translation was fun and loved to see the pictures from pre 1900’s in Europe with the captions that told his story.  It didn’t necessarily make me want to read his classic Siddhartha, but I did find it interesting.  Instagram before its time.

Not sure why my fingers look so funky in this pic.

I also listened to 1984 by George Orwell.  I finished this five minutes ago and need to go to bed.  My initial thoughts are that it, a book written in 1949, has so much to say about  today it’s scary.  The Doublespeak coming from the White Hose everyday should scare the crap out of everyone, no exceptions.  As a story it wasn’t the best, but the world building and insight into human nature make this a worthy classic.