Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Links - January 25, 2014

We should be working on the house right now. We should be moving more stuff in. But we are not because COLD, ICE, & SNOW are our lives right now. Hoping for the snow plows to come through soon so we can at least do some work today.

Meanwhile, here are some links for you.

Spiritual / Sanctity of Life
Marriage / Parenting
For Fun
  • Homeschool Barbie from Bubblews. I actually laughed out loud while reading this (and there may have been some hot tea spewing. I'll never tell).
  • Is a Lot of Scientific Research Just... from Hot Air. Not a humor post, but it is pointing out the absurdity of much of what passes for "Science" these days.
  • 2014 Is The Year of The Viral Debunk from Buzzfeed. Not unrelated to the above post. I saw that "ghost ship" headline on Yahoo earlier this week. C'mon, Yahoo. Lame.
  • The Definitive Ranking of London Tube Lines from Buzzfeed. In related news: I went to London almost five years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it, including riding most of these lines. Some are quite a bit better than others. I wish we could go back this year. We were going to, but then we bought a house. (Goodbye, pennies saved through meticulous saving! You look more like tile floors and tub surround than tickets to London.) I miss London. I miss anywhere that has ever been warmer than right here, right now.
  • Look-Alike College Friends Discover They are Sisters. (Auto-play video warning) Once you get past the "Ew" factor (and the Brave New World we're living in as far as making babies and giving birth is concerned) this sounds like the true life update of one of my favorite childhood movies. Hayley Mills, call your agent (she can be the grandma or something in the new movie they should make with this story).
That's it for this week. What caught your eye?
And if you have a second or two, please pray for Sun and Higher Than Freezing temps!

This post is linked here:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Checking In - Birthdays, House, and So Cold

First, and most importantly, Happy Birthday to my favorite person on the planet. The day you were born was a very good day, even if I'm not actually old enough to remember it.

Second, we're still working on the house. We have a week to move out of the rental and in to the new house. I'm thinking it's not going to happen and we're going to have to pay rent and a mortgage in February.

Third, we're still working on the house. Wait, you say, you already mentioned that. Well. It's a huge factor in our non-lives right now. Seriously. Nothing else is getting done. We've sent two children to stay with grandparents and still nothing is getting done. The house is destroyed. The rental isn't packed up. Schoolwork is a joke. We're eating take-out and scrounged up meals. I have food in the pantry but no time to cook here at the rental and no kitchen to cook in at the new house.

Renovation is hard enough without temperatures that my youngest sister has been known to call, "negative cold". You guys: the cold is just ridiculous. The snow, the ice, they are annoying. But the cold is just stupid cold. (Sorry for the extreme language.)

And everyone in the family seems to be sick with some minor cold / congestion / mild sore throat / mild fever kind of thing. Never all at once and it doesn't seem to be debilitating but it is a factor. That and the fact that iBoy is still not a fan of real food and must be going through a growth spurt because he wants to nurse ALL THE TIME mean we are not getting a lot of sleep these days.

That candle at the top of this post is the only birthday candle my darling husband is likely to get. There is no cake. There will not be a cake. "The cake is a lie." (little shout out to one of my husband's favorite games)

Meanwhile, people we know and care about are struggling with real things, serious things like Cancer and grief and uncertainty. It feels ridiculous to complain about the weather or paying a month's rent when you know there are things that are much Bigger to face.

Prayers. For you, for them, for anyone facing this awful winter. For me. Please?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekend Links - January 18, 2014

Renovating a house is time consuming. It's seriously cutting into my computer time, my reading time, my homeschooling time...and any other time I had before.

Here are the few links that I stumbled on this week:

For Ministry Wives
Homeschooling / Inner Life
Just for Fun
Over at the other blog I explained how the online auction process worked when we bought our new house: We Bought a House Online.

What caught your eye this week?
This post is linked here:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Weekend Links - January 11, 2014

No time for chit-chat today - far too much house related stuff to be doing. Plus the rental house is in dire need of a tidy & clean. Usually people with two houses have money for staff.

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Education / Homeschooling
Everything Else
What caught your eye this week?
This post is linked here:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Read More in 2014

  1. Plan now - resolve to read more this year
  2. Set a goal - a number gives you something to measure success. (Later I'll suggest a few goals & share my own goal for this year)
  3. Keep track. Join Goodreads. Or buy a notebook just for recording all the book titles you finish this year. You can write your favorite quotes in there too and then you have a Commonplace Book. Or do both, which is what I do. (See below for notebooks that would make great Commonplace books)
  4. Make reading a priority - no TV, no computer, no phone, NO SCREENS until you've read a set amount, either a certain time (like 15 minutes) or a specific quantity (like 10 pages).
  5. Include your kids. If Reading Time is part of the routine, they'll acclimate. Eventually they'll miss it when it gets cancelled once too often.
  6. Always carry your Kindle or a paperback with you. There are many lost minutes in a day - fill them with a good story or book.
  7. Turn off the TV. (I know, I'm repeating myself already.) No Netflix.Put Amazon Prime in its place. These can be huge timewasters. One reason I read a relative lot of books is because I don't watch many shows or movies.
  8. Keep a stack of books at the ready. You don't want to run out one night and be unable to get to the library right away. Don't let this happen to you. Be prepared with a book stack!
  9. Variation can be key. If you've already read 15 sweet Amish romances this year (WHY?), maybe it's time for some non-fiction. If you've only been reading autobiographies of famous Americans, maybe a British mystery will cleanse your reading palate.
  10. Don't give up. OK, yesterday was busy, you fell into bed and you only checked Facebook and read the junk mail flyers that came in the mail. You might have read the label on the milk carton but then your toddler spilled it. Tomorrow is another day. 
  11. Don't say negative things about your reading life like, "I don't have time," "I'm behind with my reading list," or "I'm not a Reader."
You are a Reader and 2014 is your year.

Here are a few ideas, of varying difficulty, for your 2014 Reading Plan:
  • plan to read 2 more books than you did last year
  • plan to read 12 books - 1 a month
  • plan to read 24 books - one fiction and one nonfiction each month
  • plan to read 52 books - one a week
  • plan to read 5 classics you've never read before
  • plan to read all of an author you love (may I suggest Austen or Gaskell?)
  • plan to follow a recommended reading list
  • plan to join a reading challenge. For 2014, I suggest these two: 1. Reading to Know Classic Book Club 2014 or 2. Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge 2014.
My personal goal for 2014: to finish 110 books. This is slightly more than two a week, but much lower than my goal last year (150). I anticipate a busy year this year and I don't want to set myself up for failure. See? The goal should work for you, not the other way around.
    And, just in case you're interested, here are a few notebooks that I think would make good Commonplace books (affiliate links):



    So, what will your goal be this year?
    This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure page for more.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    New House, New Blog

    My sister and I are working on launching a new blog, focused on all things homemaking related. It's brand new and you need to think of it like a newborn kitten - fragile and its eyes aren't open yet.

    We hope to get it all shined up and ready for a big entrance sometime soon. In the meantime, she's busy packing up her current home and we're busy trying to get our new home move-in ready.

    'Cause, yeah, we bought a house.

    If you want to read more about that, and get a sneak peak at our new blog, follow these links:

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

    Books of 2013 - Reading Year in Review

    I'm pleased with this reading year: I finished 147 books (3 shy of my Goodreads goal), which is fairly close to my average since I've started keeping track. I felt like the quality of the books this year stayed reasonably high.

    Summary: Fiction 73, Nonfiction 74. How very balanced of me.

    Most Books Finished: tie between March and January, each with 17.
    Fewest Books Finished: tie between December and July.
    Most Fiction finished in a month: January, with 10.
    Most Nonfiction finished in a month: March, with 11.
    Average number of books finished each month: 12.25
    Average number of books finished each week: 2.83

    If I had to give 2013 a title, I'd call it "The Year of the Mystery". I finished mysteries by the following authors:
    C.S. Harris - 8 (all the Sebastian St. Cyr series to this point)
    Ngaio Marsh - 3
    Josephine Tey - 3
    Anne Perry - 3
    Rennie Airth - 3 (The John Madden series, no, not football related)
    Sarah Caudwell - 3
    Jill McGown - 3
    James Anderson - 3 (Inspector Wilkins series)
    Sally Wright - 1 (first in the Ben Reese series)
    Edmund Crispin - 1
    Agatha Christie - 1
    Charles Todd - 1 (the latest in the Inspector Rutledge series)
    M. C. Beaton - 1 (the latest Agatha Raisin)
    Deanna Raybourn - 1 (Lady Julia Grey series)
    James Runcie - 1 (first in the Sidney Chambers series)
    Victoria Abbott - 1 (first in the Book Collector series)
    Ashley Gardner - 1 (Capt. Lacey series,  too like romance novel so I won't be reading more)
    Christopher Fowler - 1 (first in the Peculiar Crimes Unit series)
    Susan Hill -1 (first in the Simon Serrailler series)
    Margery Allingham - 1 (first in the Albert Campion series)

    My favorite series was probably the Inspector Wilkins series by James Anderson. Such a shame there are only three.

    Number of books sent to me for review purposes: 4
    Best book I reviewed:Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Downby Joshua Harris.

    Number of books about writing: 4


    Best Show / Book combo: the only one I can think of is Call the Midwife.

    Funniest: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.
    Funniest, runner-up: The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting

    Top 3 "Just for Women" Books:
    1. Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Lifeby Emily Freeman
    2. Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wildby Mary Kassian.
    3.What Women Want: The Life You Crave and How God Satisfiesby Lisa T. Bergren & Rebecca Price.

    Best book on Prayer:A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World with Bonus Contentby Paul E. Miller.
    Most powerful & Moving: A Severe Mercyby Sheldon Vanauken. (Also wins: best C.S. Lewis tie-in for the letters from Lewis published in this book)
    Book I most need to re-read:The Mind of the Makerby Dorothy Sayers.

    Best Parenting Book:Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Childby Anthony Esolen.
    Best Parenting runner-up:Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesusby Elyse Fitzpatrick.
    Book that made me feel better about our larger than average family:What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disasterby Jonathan Last

    Best US President Related Book:Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
    President Related Book runner-up:Coolidgeby Amity Shlaes.

    Best Royalty related book:King George Vby Kenneth Rose.
    Best Churchill related book:A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Childby Mary Soames.
    Favorite book read as research:London War Notes, 1939-1945by Mollie Panter-Downes.

    Top 3 in Austen-related works:
    1.Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandomby Deborah Yaffe.
    2.The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever Afterby Elizabeth Kantor.
    3.Jane Austen's Englandby Roy & Lesley Adkins.

    Best new Kids' or YA series (though not necessarily as a read aloud):The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Placeby Maryrose Wood.

    Favorite Covers:


    If you'd like to know more about these or the rest of the books I finished in 2013, just use the label "Books of 2013".

    Previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.

    What did you read in 2013? Please share, whether in the comments or by leaving a link to a blog post.
    This post is linked to Modern Mrs. Darcy's Favorite Books of 2013, Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books and Booking Through Thursday.

    If you have a Goodreads account (it's free!), you can find me here: Candid Diversions

    If you'd like to support my book habit, please consider these links:

    Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.
    This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure page for more.