Book List: Books Read in March & April

My book list is serving me well this year.  I haven’t been disappointed yet and hope that the rest of the list follows suit.  Here are the books I read in March & April (along with a couple not on my list) and a few thoughts about them:

The Hiding Place: This book is nothing short of inspiring.  Unfortunately, I didn’t read this as a young adult, it somehow slipped under my radar all these years and I’m grateful I finally happened upon it (or happened upon online recommendations to read it).  Continue reading

Catching the worm

There was a time in my stay-at-home-mom life when I was waking before the sun.  I’d relax with tea or coffee, make breakfast, exercise a bit, cross off multiple items on my to-do list.  All before anyone (be it dog or person) woke.

And then one day I decided to sleep in.  Soon 5:00 or 5:30 became a distant memory and my mornings became a blur.  Continue reading

Book List Reads: March Update

In the new year, I’ve made some progress on my book list and it has worked out pretty well for me.  Although I’ve gone through magazines every spare minute I get (the purge continues!), I try to drop the mags and relax with a book at night instead.  Nothing like a good book at the end of the day to ease you into a slumber (well, and red wine…I’ve heard)–except that when the book is engaging, I don’t want to turn off the light and dear, sweet sleep is sacrificed.

I’m also currently reading books which aren’t on my list (I couldn’t resist!), but here are the books I’ve read from my book list thus far and a few thoughts about them:

The Forgotten Garden: I enjoyed this sprawling book more than I thought I would.  I’ve heard people express that it was unnecessarily long, however, I don’t agree and was intrigued with this story that begins with a little girl left alone on a ship headed to Australia in 1913.  Morton weaves a touching tale filled with heartache, often through the use of children’s imaginations and, in ways, pays homage to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden (a childhood favorite of hers and mine).  It appealed to my emotions as a mother and I won’t hesitate to pick up another book by Morton.

Imperfect Justice: My main reason for reading this book was, as I mentioned in my book list post, I couldn’t stop thinking of this tragedy and trial.  I didn’t miss a minute of this trial last summer and I’m not proud of that.  I felt this book might help me with closure.  Personal opinions about the verdict and defendant aside, it did help me “let go.”  I appreciated Ashton’s perspective and though I wasn’t looking for entertainment, I found the behind the scenes proceedings, investigation, and the hows and whys with regard to the prosecution building their case very engrossing.  And now I’m done with it all–which is Ashton’s advice–be done with it, move on.  Thank you, Mr. Ashton.

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: I can’t say enough positive things about Paine’s approach to budgeting and the class and kindness with which she shares her experiences and offers sage advice.  Although I thought this book might be a pretty package of everything I’ve already learned from her, I should have known that it would be far more than that.  What I love about Paine’s style is that she goes beyond telling you what you should be doing–she provides real-life examples and guides you with step-by-step approaches to reaching your budgeting and financial goals.  Her book was especially timely for me because of my household and personal goals for 2012.  I aim to declutter my entire life this year and Paine is one of the biggest proponents of decluttering your home as a stepping stone to gaining control of your finances and  budget.  This is a practical and useful book that I’d highly recommend to ANYONE looking to organize their life and finances.

What’s on your nightstand?  Any good reads you’d recommend?

DIY Project: Homemade hair detangler

When I discovered hair detangler last year, I knew instantly I’d be eternally grateful to Hair Product Developers of the World.  Trying to comb through my little girl’s head of curls each morning was no small feat.  Even if I brush it while giving her a bath, the morning is still no fun.  And I had no idea this gift from the Hair Gods even existed until that fateful day at Target.

Cut forward a month and I was going through detangler at a rate that was not making this mama too happy.  I don’t know why I decided to check the ingredients, but I did and I realized that the detangler is essentially watered down hair conditioner.  Interesting…and then not one, but two blogs I read posted about making homemade detangler.  Word.  Up.

And this is all you need to make your own detangler:

Yes: water, squirt bottle, and conditioner.  And since you only need a smidge or two of conditioner per bottle, I used up a sample I received in the mail.  How frugal of me.

You will need:

  • Warm water
  • About 1 to 2 tablespoons conditioner
  • Spray bottle (I used an 12 oz. bottle)


    • Squeeze the conditioner into the empty spray bottle and fill with warm water.  Shake bottle until mixed.  Spray on hair and brush through gently.  ahhh.

I’ll see how well I like it after using it a few times.  Also, I think I’d like to research a bit and use a conditioner I feel more comfortable leaving on my little girl’s hair.  Until I perfect the homemade version (get the right scent and the safest ingredients I can find), I’ll use this as a back-up when we run low on our store bought version.

DIY Project #1: Complete!

My 2012 DIY list

Photo credit

Let me just say this:  I am not crafty.

Crafting and DIY projects simultaneously scare and excite me.  I can usually follow directions and come up with a pretty good replica of a simple craft, but there have been failures.  Many failures.

But this is the year I take the bull by the horns and go for it!  I’ll be proud of myself for trying, but I also hope to “succeed” in some crafty projects this fine year of 2012.

It might not be pretty nor pleasant, but I will try each project on this list.  I just might not show you each final product…:)

I’ll do a couple each month which gives me plenty of time to research (beg friends and family for help) and prep each project.  I love working in the kitchen so my DIY list involves bunches of cooking.  I’m going to split the Food DIY into 1 per month.  I figure those projects have a better chance at success than the others–that’ll give me a boost of confidence and the will to go on when I want to throw measuring tapes, Mod Podge, yeast, and scissors through the windows.  I have a bit of a temper.

You might notice how simple many of these DIY projects are…ridiculously simple.  And I like it that way.

Since I have to go with what I’m “in the mood” for, I haven’t decided when I’ll do each project.  But I’ll let you know what I do each month.  Here goes…


  • Embroider a “vintage” dishtowel/bathroom handtowels
  • Sew curtains for our powder room
  • Sew curtains for laundry room
  • Make a chalkboard frame
  • Sew basket liners
  • Make chairpads
  • Make seasonal placemats
  • Create Family Picture Gallery



  • Create a digital family cookbook (I bought a Groupon for this and it expires soon!)
  • Homemade dog biscuits
  • Sew a phone pouch


  • Sew a cuddling pillow
  • Make hair detangler
  • Make a clip holder for daughter’s room
  • Embroidery to frame for daughter’s room

Because I’m determined (but unproductive thus far) to complete a scrapbook this year, I’ll also be continually working on that.  I’ll add that to my weekly goals and do a page or 2 (or 10?) when I have time.  I’ll also be slowly decorating and cozying up our home which will take me all year.  Or all decade.  eep.

Do you have any DIY projects you’re hoping to tackle this year?  What projects have you already completed?  Love to hear about your DIYs!

A little kick in the pants

English: Signatures of Mark Twain
Image via Wikipedia

Today all I wanted to do was finish up my errands in a jiffy so I could get home, put my pjs back on, and do…well, nothing.  And then I didn’t even get to my errands.  Not exactly my plan for 2012.  “Waste Days by Doing Nothing” isn’t a bullet point on my goal list.

After breakfast I was going through some old books on my packed bookshelves and came across one of my favorite gems from that sweet chap Mark Twain.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Oh, Mark.  Way to guilt me into living.

I think I’ll post this on my fridge so I’m motivated to do more than stand like a penguin in front of the open fridge door, waiting for food to find its way to my mouth.

My 2012 Book List

Photo courtesy of Claire Brocato

I’ve put off posting my booklist for 2012 because I keep making changes to it, reviewing it, making more changes, and so on.  Stifling personal progress!  So I went back to my original list, am sticking with it, and finally posting it today.

I love to read other people’s book lists and many of those lists  inspired me while I created mine.  Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom has been instrumental in motivating me to create and stick with my 2012 Goals (which I’ve not posted, but will do this coming week).  Crystal writes about public accountability (posting yearly and weekly goals) and how this helps her stick to her goals–I think highly of this concept.  I liken it to public shaming (although I don’t think that’s what Crystal has in mind) and I’d like to avoid that.  She also shares her book lists each year which encourage me as well.

My book list plays a large role in my goals for the year–each group of books offers me something different; outlets with inspiration, education, motivation.  And as I work on my disciplined life and accountability, my hope is that at least some of these books aid me in my quest to meet this year’s goals.

I’m including 34 books on my list.   A few of the books are short e-books and quick reads (I don’t own an e-reader, but I downloaded the Kindle for PC software for free which enables me to read the short e-books).  A couple are cookbooks (I read more cookbooks in bed than I do novels).  In addition, I’ll read other books that grab my attention throughout the year, but I’m “committing” to just those on my list.

Many of these books have been on my bookshelves for some time while others come highly recommended or have been on my mental book list for years.  I’ve requested the ones I don’t own from my public library–I can’t say enough positive things about the library.  I do miss the Dewey Decimal System though.  Remember those card catalogs?

Without further ado (because I’ll change it if I don’t hurry up already) here is my 2012 Book list.

Faith, Family, & Parenting

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson (I’m hoping her books are as amazing as I’ve heard they are!)

Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow (Highly recommended by so many.  Can’t wait to begin this one)

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity by Meg Meeker

The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You’ve Always Wanted by Kathi Lipp (I hear so many wonderful things about Kathi’s books.  Had to put a couple on my list)

The Husband Project: 21 Days of Loving Your Man–on Purpose and with a Plan by Kathi Lipp

Don’t Make Me Come Up There! by Kristen Welch

Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families by Sarah Clarkson

Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

Homemanagement & Homemaking

One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider (e-book)

Plan It, Don’t Panic by Stephanie Langford (e-book)

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider (e-book)

Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson

A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Cooking Magazine  (I read the magazine in bed so why not the book?)

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook


One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony by Jeff Ashton ( I need closure.  Sadly, this trial consumed me and I.need.closure)

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (yay!)

Persuasion  by Jane Austen(re-read)

Best of Stillmeadow by Gladys Taber (So tough to find her books!)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson  (started, but never finished)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier (A little light-hearted fun)

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I’ve resisted this one for a long time, but since a copy sits on my shelf I’m giving it a shot)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout

Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty by Robert K. Massie (A trip to Russia piqued my interest)

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Finances & Budgeting

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (I’ve listened to and watched Dave as well as followed some of his writing, but I want to dive into his books this year.)

The Money Answer Book by Dave Ramsey

Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

The Money Class by Suze Orman (I’ve always liked her straightforward style and money smarts.)

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget by Crystal Paine

I’d be thrilled if you shared books you are reading/plan to read this year, some of your favorite reads, or thoughts and feedback on books on my list.  If you’d like to provide a link to your book list, I urge you to do so!

Photo courtesy of the talented Claire Brocato.  Thanks, Claire!

New Year Ramblings

Only 10 days into the new year and I’m feeling like 2012 is going to be an above average year.  Nothing has happened, but I think nothing happening is a good thing.  I don’t thrive on excitement–I like a little adventure, but my idea of adventure is going on a hike and picnic with my family or testing out 5 new recipes in a week each starring a different protein.  Not exactly the mind-blowing, electrifying adventures people crave.  But that suits me just fine.

We ended 2011 with family and commenced 2012 with family as well.  A positive and heartening way for us to bid adieu to last year and welcome the new one.  To top it off, I’m continuing this feel-good month with a visit from my friend Jennifer.  Good for the soul.

We met in high school French class (Je voudrais un Orangina, un chausson aux pommes, et une croque-madame, s’il vous plait) and am I ever glad I had the bad junior manners to sit next to that sassy senior.  Years and years later, she remains a steadfast friend no matter what season of life I’m in.  Jennifer is honest and kind.  Tough and attentive.  Real and loyal.  She’s what a best friend should be.  We laugh until we’re crying, we text like it’s going out of style (is it?).  If I need to hear the truth, she provides it.  When my mind is buzzing with irrational thoughts or when I make excuses for, oh say, not going to the gym, she becomes the no-nonsense coach I want to yell, “You can’t make me!” at and stomp out of the room.

Most importantly, Jennifer is there in the good and the bad times (even though we live miles and miles and miles apart).  The good times in my life far outweigh any bad moments, but still, you want your friends and family there for you during even the most minor icky moments.  I can rely on Jennifer.  As it says in Proverbs, “A friend loves at all times…”

Sappy, sappy.  I spy with my little eyes good times ahead for me this week and this year…and I’m oh-so-thankful.

In other unrelated news, the doorbell rang this week and I bolted to the door to find my Gooseberry Patch and coconut oil orders!  Nope, not exactly.

Laugh if you must.  But I’ve been pouncing on online toilet paper deals for about 6 months and I LOVE IT.  I appreciate the price, the convenience, and I appreciate it when the FedEx or UPS delivery man tucks the Charmin box to the side of my front porch instead of leaving it right on the welcome mat.  I also appreciate not having to run to Target for t.p. where I inevitably find $100 worth of items I suddenly need.

I did get my coconut oil and Gooseberry orders today and look forward to their help with my menu planning next week.  I still welcome any suggestions with the coconut oil.  Any baked goods suggestions? :)  My little one asked me to make gnocchi and broccoli with the coconut oil.  I’m thinking no, probably not a good idea.

Besides our regular weekly happenings, I’ve been tweaking and finishing up my goals for 2012 which cover so many aspects of my life–everything from books I plan to read, to DIY projects I hope to tackle, to daily habits I’d like to form .  I’ll be sharing them soon and I hope you’ll share some of your goals for the year with me.  I’m also working on redesigning this blog (ack!) with the help of Google and many online tutorials.  Stay tuned…or don’t–you might be waiting a long time.  I do not know what I’m doing!

Time to finish up my household organization tasks for the week(btw, how are you doing with the Organized Home Challenge?).  But maybe a cup of tea with a few biscuits first.

Wishing you success, happiness, and health in 2012!