Category Archives: Wellness

Friday 5: Books on Acid Reflux & GERD

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Yesterday I shared the pain I’ve been dealing with over the past month or so with Acid Reflux/GERD. It took me about a month, but I strove to put my acid reflux at bay with minimal set backs.

When you are in pain, you will do just about anything to find relief! During that time, while taking Prilosec, I also followed as many common dietary and lifestyle recommendations which I have also listed in this post.

Still, I tried to learn everything there is to know about Acid Reflux / GERD and how to treat and manage it. Symptoms of heartburn, chest pain and bloat and burping don’t go away by popping antacids. Medications can take a few days to kick-in, so there is generally no instant relief. But once the relief started, I wanted to be armed with the information of what needs to be done to prevent this in the future.

I knew I didn’t want to just treat the symptoms. I also had read in online articles about the dangers of being on medications long-term. But there is so much conflicting information out there! Below are the books I turned to during this time. In this post, I included the year each book which published because that can sometimes matter when it comes to medical information.

~

The 7-Day Acid Reflux Diet:
by Robert M. Fleischer (2013)

This was a quick Kindle purchase for $2.50. The publication is only available as an e-book. I rated it a 2 out of 5 on Goodreads. That basically is the rating for “it was ok”. Why did I rate it as such? One Amazon reviewer indicated:

“No new info here – very overpriced. Just a rehash of info you can find on the web for free.” 

That might be the case, but I tend to agree with another Amazon reviewer whose quote I now cannot find that indicated that this may include info that you can find on the web; but here you’ve got it all in one place without having to do the research yourself, especially if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes. In fact, I forgot about them until now.

~

Acid Reflux:
How to Treat Acid Reflux
How to Prevent Acid Reflux
by Ace McCloud (audio, 2017)

I downloaded this audiobook from my library because it was only a 56-minute book. There were no reviews on Goodreads at the time. I rated it a 3 (“I liked it”) and someone has since rated it a 2 (“it was ok”). This was written by a guy who has suffered from acid reflux, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to give it a listen. There is not too much new here that you can’t find online, but again may be worth a listen if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

However, since listening to this book I found that author Ace McCloud has written 400 different works ranging from cookie recipes, to habits, to money, to Miley Cyrus. Doesn’t sound like much of an expert, now, huh. He advertises some of his books throughout the audio – like “checkout my book for managing stress” or something to that affect, which may be helpful; but some may find the shameless plug annoying.

Still there was one new nugget of information I did take away:

  • Aloe Vera Juice

I didn’t know this stuff existed or if drinking it would actually work. It’s a cheap purchase at Walmart in the pharmacy section. I listened to this book early on in my stages and I was willing to try anything. It tastes just like you’d think – like aloe vera gel smells, but slides down like a liquid. Not very tasty, but you only drink about 1/4 cup at a time before or with meals. I added some to my smoothies! Who is to say this works or doesn’t work with all of the other things I was trying at once!

~

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet
by Maria A. Bella (2012)

I haven’t read a Complete Idiot’s Guide to anything since… the 90s? But it was available at my library, so why not?! You’ll get a lot of info on how the stomach and esophagus work in this book. It’s got a lot of very detailed information for anyone new to acid reflux, including foods to avoid and friendly foods.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions, however. Many acid reflux cookbooks will suggest avoiding foods, but then put them in their own recipes! Also, although I know there is a correlation with high fat and acid reflux, I don’t like when low-fat and fat-free products are pushed so heavily.

~

Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux (Revised Edition):
Nutrition You Can Live With
by Elaine Magee (2008)

I loved the title of this book because when one has acid reflux and starts to do some research, one learns all of the foods to avoid. It gets to the point where you start thinking, “Well, what CAN I eat?” It’s a pretty well laid-out and straight-forward kind of book.

New nuggets for me:

  • Chew gum. This was the first time I heard this suggestion, but it makes sense:
    • “The saliva stimulated by chewing seems to help neutralize acid and force stomach fluids back where it belongs.”
    • Generally speaking, this seems to be working for me, but I started doing this way into my treatment that… who knows!
    • I quit gum years ago; but now I may have a new gum addiction. Whoops.
  • High-protein diets are NOT more healthful that high-carbohydrate diets
    • I loved this nugget of advice. People often give up carbs to lose weight (weight loss is a big suggestion to combat acid reflux); but ignore the saturated fat that often comes with eating a high protein diet. Too much saturated fat with exacerbate acid reflux. It’s a high fiber diet that’s more important.
  • Health, NOT Weight Loss
    • This was an aha! moment for me!
    • Focusing on losing weight puts you into a dieting mindset where are you more likely to fail. All diets “work” if you work them, but they aren’t always healthy.
    • Instead, “change your focus to being and feeling healthy.” The weight loss with follow naturally.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions in this book. I did try one for Green Sauced Chicken Enchiladas. They were a little cumbersome and tasted okay, not great. It did make me think of this Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole, though, and that I should make that again soon and can use green (tomatillo) salsa if I feel like tomatoes and I should continue our (sad) divorce.

~

The Acid Reflux Solution:
A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally
by Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD (2012) – MUST READ

This is the one book I would read if you want some good information on the whys, hows and what-to-do-nows of acid reflux. I checked it out from the library and have since purchased it on Thriftbooks. It’s written by a doctor who had experienced acid reflex himself for many years.

I like how Rodriguez addresses the medication situation – that it is useful to treat symptoms in the short-term; but that by no means should it be continued for long term use. PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), like Prilosec, should not be “prescribed longer than 50 days”. PPIs stop the production of the stomach acid so that there will be none to reflux up the esophagus. This is why it often takes 24 hours to three days to feel any relief of symptoms.

However, you do need that acid to break down food and absorb important nutrients in the long term! Without it, you will have trouble absorbing calcium, magnesium, iron and maybe even B vitamins, as well. Even if you think you are getting enough of these nutrients, you may not be soaking them up, which can affect your bones, red blood cells and heart in the long-term.

Rodriguez also addresses the usual list of trigger foods, indicating that that list may not be as long as we think! There is really only a short list of what foods may cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax, causing the reflux to occur in the first place. The other items may irritate an already inflamed esophagus, which is why some people can and some people cannot tolerate certain items. Maybe tomatoes, garlic, onions and I can all get back together and become one happy family?! In any case, real food that’s high in fiber and eaten in controlled portions is best.

There is much, much more to this book and I found it to be the most informational and liberating of all the books I read – the reason why I purchased it.

Some of the recipes in the book have longer ingredient lists and include complicated methods, but not all. At first glance, I thumbed through the recipes, skipping over many. But giving it a closer look, I found reasons to try some things I may normally swept under the rug, like Fennel-Scented Lentil Soup. (Fennel is a natural digestive aid!) I would have loved photos of each recipe as well as the nutrition facts. That may have made it a 5-star book for me.

~

Eating for Acid Reflux:
A Handbook and Cookbook for Those with Heartburn
by Jill Sklar & Annabel Cohen (2003)

This bonus 6th book on acid reflux isn’t really a bonus. I honestly didn’t read this book thoroughly, just thumbed through it. Frankly, I was quite sick of reading the same stuff about acid reflux and I felt like I got the information I really needed out of The Acid Reflux Solution.

This book goes very in depth about common causes and all the medical issues surrounding acid reflux. That part looks very detailed, but I did not read that lengthy section. It also goes over treatment and medication options, listing PPIs as part of “maintenance therapy”, which after what I’ve read about long-term use, makes this book seem dated!

What I did found intriguing in this book, though, were the recipes. I think I’d like to try every soup in the book despite the fact that there are no photos for any of them! And I found very few recipes touting the importance of low-fat or fat-free items. I may have to get a copy of this book just for the recipes!

~

In the end, any of these books could be helpful if you are suffering from acid reflux or GERD. However, if you don’t want to weed through everything out there, I’d recommend The Acid Reflux Solution.

I don’t have the pain that I did back at the end of April, but I can tell that my esophagus is still somewhat inflamed and irritated. Some days I make good choices, other days I don’t and pay dearly. But at least I have the tools to move in the right direction.

~

Do you have any favorite cookbooks or recipes for acid reflux sufferers?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Oh my GERD!

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After a stressful April at work (including an IT debacle that made doing work very difficult), a much-needed, almost-perfect vacation of overindulgence, I revisited a health issue that once struck me in my 20s – ACID REFLUX.

Now when I say acid reflux, most people think heartburn, which is something with which I can totally deal. But acid reflux is something that is persistent and never seems to go away no matter how many antacids one takes. And even changing the diet takes a long time before relief is found.

My symptoms were similar to, but not exactly like those I found when I was diagnosed in my 20s – after college when I returned to live my parents, was stressed-out trying to figure out what to do with my life while working a temp job.

This time, it was the tightness in the chest and dizzy spells, however, that sent me to Urgent Care rather than making an appointment with my doctor. After many tests to rule out anything heart-related, I concluded with the Urgent Care physician that this was an acid reflux situation or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

And I basically knew what to do – get on some PPIs (aka Prilosec) and change my diet. STAT. (That night, I did begin to experience the same symptoms as I did in my 20s – heart attack-like chest pains so severe that I could feel it under my breast bone right through my back, like someone stabbing me.)

So, I made one of the healthiest, somewhat bland throw-together bowls ever and really enjoyed it:

This bowl included kale, rice, black beans, butternut squash, avocado and pepitas. I may have a drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top, too. (And yes, that is a picture of restaurateur Jamie Malone from the 2018 Restaurant of the Year edition of Food & Wine magazine. I’ve been reading all about Grand Cafe and am hoping to visit soon!)

But I wanted to learn more about treating my esophagus, not just the symptoms. There is so much conflicting information out there! So while I tried to adhere to many of these recommendations…

  • Avoid trigger foods/irritants:
    • Citrus fruits
    • Tomatoes
    • Garlic & Onions
    • Spicy foods
    • Coffee (caffeinated and decaf)
    • Most Teas
    • Chocolate
    • Alcohol
    • Fried foods
    • High-fat foods
    • Mint
    • Carbonated Beverages
  • Manage Stress
  • Lose weight
  • Don’t lie down until 2, preferably 3 hours after eating
  • Limit portion sizes
  • Sleep on your left side
  • Don’t take NSAIDs, like aspirin and Aleve
  • Eat a diet high in fiber

…while I tried to adhere to all of that, I got on the interwebs and checked out books to learn more. What of all the conflicting information is correct?! Well, if you are experiencing Acid Reflux, GERD or even persistent heartburn, I’ll share with you which books and information was worth my while and which ones you can SKIP. I hope to have this post up and info reviewed in the coming week or so!

When talking with people about my acid reflux, I’ve learned that a quite surprising number of people I know have been on PPIs for years. They are treating the symptoms, which I understand. It’s painful and hard to concentrate when you are feeling pain. But for years? In my reading, I learned why one shouldn’t be on medications like Prilosec for long-term use; yet, doctors are prescribing it over and over again anyway.

Changing diet and lifestyle is hard, but I’d rather give that a go than create future complications! More to come…

Do you have any favorite books, tips or recipes to help combat acid reflux or GERD?

Cheers~
Carrie

Books about Hygge

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Have you heard of hygge? {Pronounced hoo-ga.} I’ve seen the word so many times over the past year that I had to do some digging.

Scandanavians consistently rank as some of the happiest in the world, most notably the Danes. Some think it has to do with a little something they call hygge. It’s a way of life, a state of being, but it is not entirely easily to translate.

The word originates from the proto-language Old Norse – hyggja means thinking and feeling satisfied and is related to finding shelter, rest and safety, and regaining energy and courage. ~ from Hygge by Marie Tourell Soderberg

Still, you’d be surprised to how many activities to it can be referred! Here’s what I explored to learn more about hygge.

~

The Book of Hygge
by Louisa Thomsen Brits 
(nonfiction) – skip

This book sometimes read more like a thesis or a professional journal than it did a book. I almost came away more confused about hygge than when I started. But in the end, I learned that everything can be hygge (just like everything can be yoga). It’s a way of life, but most likely learned subconcsiously. That’s why describing it is so hard.

“Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. It’s the things we do that give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous.”

It encompasses the following:

  • Belonging (inclusivity)
  • Shelter (within our homes, our lives, ourselves, our family)
  • Comfort (feeling welcome, warm, safe)
  • Well-being (contentedness)
  • Simplicity (and authenticity)
  • Observerance (mindfulness)

~

The Little Book of Hygge
by Meik Wiking 
(nonfiction) – worth a read!

Whenever I would encounter a little something about hygge, this is the book that was always recommended to learn more. And I see why! I learned so much about the Danish culture and think I have a pretty good grasp now on what hygge is.

When I’d read about it online, it was often referred to as coziness or that feeling of warmth and togetherness that we often feel during the holidays when we gather with friends and family. While both of those are the case, being alone, sipping on a cup of something warm and a good book can be hygge, too. It’s a sense of safety and security, but can also mean having a good time. It’s just the right lighting and warming up after coming in from out of the cold. But it can also be visiting a cabin in summer. It’s everyone pitching in and creating such a good time and feeling included to do so. It’s simplifying and getting everyday enjoyment out of life with your loved ones.

This book is written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (yes, that exists!) I feel compelled to travel to Denmark now, but am perplexed which time would be best. I am not a winter person, but that seems like it might be the hyggest time! This book comes with recipes, too.

I felt the hygge just reading this book. 🙂

~

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness
by Marie Tourell Soderberg (nonfiction) – worth a read

I was drawn to the cover of this book, as I am often to blue covers. The glow of the yellow light on the cover also cast a hygge-like spell that made me want to cozy up with this book. My library only had it available however as an e-book and the Cloud Library had a bit of issue with the pictures. I would have really liked to have looked at the photos that were often used to illustrate examples, but they were always cut off. There was no way to zoom in or zoom out. And while I could make the text on each page smaller or larger, it had no effect on the photos. My library did work with Cloud Library and the publisher to see if it could be fixed. They recreated the problem and thought they had fixed it, but nothing changed on my end, not logging out, not returning the book and checking it out again, not rebooting my phone or deleting and reinstalling the app.

So not hygge. 🙂

In any case, I got some really great nuggets of info from this book. Hygge can be described as a peaceful feeling, one of contentment, such as how one feels when they feel safe, secure or having a good time. I liked this quote:

“Hygge is a state of being you experience if you are at peace with yourself, your spouse, the tax authorities and your inner organs.” ~ Tove Ditlevesen

Also, the Danes are serious about their lighting. Most of them light candles every day. But one chapter of this book went as far to suggest the right kind of bulb and its color temperature in degrees Kelvin for the best kind of warm lighting!

Hygge is relaxed, informal and inclusionary. Danes don’t like so much to brag or be in the limelight. During times of hygge, no one talks of politics nor pushes the envelope.

~

How to Hygge:
The Nordic Secret to a Happy Life
by Signe Johansen (nonfiction) – worth a read

Here ^^ Sophie Jean is telling me to stop learning how to hygge and snuggle with her instead. Shouldn’t that be hygge enough? Truth be told, it is. But Sophie has an independent mind of her own and doesn’t always come to snuggle with me when I call her. {Unlike Miss Phoebe!} Instead, she gets to determine when we snuggle. I guess we know who runs our household.

This book was written not by a Dane, but a Norwegian food writer, which shows that the hygge pours over to the rest of Scandinavia. You’ll get a hefty dose of Scandinavian recipes {especially sweets!} in this book. A few things I learned:

  • Scandinavians are active every day – no matter what the weather! Throughout these books, I keep seeing the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  It’s normal to just snap on some skis and go for a quick glide around the neighborhood in the winter, even in urban areas. Otherwise, Danes bike everywhere – taxes are 170% on cars.
  • Spending time in nature is common and important. Studies show that “spending time in nature means you are less prone to brooding”. Okay, Carrie, go for a walk, there’s no need for that runner’s high to be beneficial!
  • Bring the outside in. Scandinavians love to use natural materials to build furniture (often wood) and bring the outside in. My dentist office was newly decorated on my last visit and I felt like someone had read up on hygge…
  • “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth,” ~ Epicuris. Scandinavians teach their young not only to “survive”, but also how to flourish individually in society.

~

Happy as a Dane:
10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World

by Marlene Rydahl (nonfiction) – worth a read

Okay, this wasn’t exactly a book on hygge, but I’m sure you can guess that hygge was not left out of this book as one of the reasons the Danes live a fulfilling lifestyle! In fact, I learned a lot about the Danish mindset from this book. I won’t go through all ten points, I’d rather you pick up the book yourself. It’s a quick read.

The first “secret” of the Danes is not really even a secret at all. It’s something that has been ingrained subconsciously in their culture, their society. I don’t think it’s something any of us, especially in the U.S. can change individually and expect our lives to change or be happier:

TRUST

There are two specific examples of trust that stood out to me that I could never see working where I live, nor most places around the globe!

  • Farmers Markets – You won’t see farmers selling produce there. But what you will see is a jar in which to place your cash when you take what you need, as well as a few coins, in case you need to make change. The farmer comes back to collect the earnings and anything leftover at the end of the day.
  • Babies – It’s not uncommon for parents to leave strollers with their sleeping babies out by the curb while they run in to a store or sit and have lunch or coffee with someone, just as if they are sleeping in the other room. Around here, I know some people tie their dogs up outside when they run in, but I wouldn’t even do that!

With a tax rate near 60%, Danes have to trust that their money is being put to good use. And they do – most Danes are happy with what they’ve got, don’t strive for the big bucks and feel like they are investing in the greater good.

EDUCATION

  • Education is free at all levels
  • In fact, those going off to college will generally receive about $900/mo to pursue such.
  • The focus in education is not to be high-performing, but to find your personally fulfilling place in society.

~

I think many Americans already practice a sort of hygge in their lifestyles without realizing it because we don’t really have a word for it. I think it is the feeling you get around the holidays when you are bundled up and drinking hot chocolate or visiting loved ones even when the weather is frightful, because that fire really is so delightful. But it’s also that feeling you go up to a cabin in the summertime, where you are enjoying the outdoors and not necessarily any of the amenities you have in own home. It is the feeling you have when you curl up with a good book and a cup of tea or glass of wine. It is having candles lit and making friends and family feel welcome and comfortable in your own home. It is snuggling with the dog and walking in nature and hanging out with friends who make you feel comfortable and included.

These are all things many of us do already, any time of year. But maybe the key to happiness is to actually make the time to do them more often.

Have you read any books on 07?
If so, what do you think hygge means to you?

Cheers~
Carrie

Cold Cure

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I didn’t grow up drinking tea. In fact, it took me a long time to grow an affinity for it. Yet it has become one of those things that comforts me when I have a cold. The warmth of the hot liquid, just like soup, makes me feel better, if only mentally. Although there is some truth to hot liquids and steam opening the sinuses.

Recently, after a day or two of a slight scratchy throat, I woke up with a stuffy nose and head one morning. That night, when I tried to go to sleep, breathing out of my nose was impossible and I woke up with another scratchy throat for a different reason – I had been snoring.

Groggy, it was a morning of indecisiveness. So I got the idea to look up on the interwebs to find out what the best tea would be for a cold. As you can imagine, there is a wealth of knowledge and a number of opinions! {I’ve also found that while Hot Toddies in the evening may be be comforting, but I’m always left feeling a little more stuffed (and dehydrated) the next day.}

Last week, though, I think I found the trick! I drank this concoction and the next day…

I felt better.

Now I wasn’t 100% yet, but I woke up and could breathe freely through my nose. Usually, the morning of a cold is the worst. I ended up having another one before breakfast, too…

The DIY Stuffy Nose Remedy includes three medicinal ingredients:

  • honey
  • lemon
  • ginger

This is such an easy, natural tea you can make yourself using ingredients that have been known to treat symptoms for thousands of years. You can get the “recipe” here. But the truth is that there is no right or wrong ratio of these components – you can make it to taste. Here are the tips I’d like to offer that I think help make this tea best:

  1. You need a big mug – one that can hold two cups of water, like in the recipe. Otherwise, you’ll need to make yourself a second cup of tea and when you’re sick, that’s just a PITA. Get a big mug – or bowl – and settle in. This one did the trick for me. Just shy of two cups:
  2. Do not skimp on the ingredients!
    • Do not substitute stevia or another sweetener or leave out the honey! It’s the medicinal qualities in the honey that are helping you fight infection. The sweetening properties are just a bonus!
    • I found my personal best ratio is about 1 Tbsp or so of honey, juice of half of a lemon, 3/4″ piece of fresh ginger (freshly grated) and 2 cups of water. My humongo lemons from Costco were a bit much the first time around, so I upped the honey a bit. You can adjust to taste.
    • You might be able to use ground ginger or even a ginger tea in a pinch in place of fresh; but I haven’t tried and can’t vouch for it.
  3. Put the ingredients in your mug first.
  4. Boil your water separately.
    • Often, when I make tea, I heat the water in a mug in the microwave and add the teabag afterward. I know it’s better to pour boiling water over the teabag; but sometimes I’m just lazy. I don’t have a kettle and think it’d be silly to boil water for just one cup of tea.
    • This is a time that it’s worth it to heat your two cups of water in a separate bowl in the microwave – 3 to 4 minutes should do.
    • Take the water out of the mic using a pot holder and pour over your ingredients and stir.
  5. Adjust ingredients to taste. It tastes good and will make you feel good, too!

Do you have any home remedies you swear by for colds?

Be Well!
Carrie

 

 

Friday 5: Books with Cool Covers & Strange Titles

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So it just works out this way… I have a few restos I’m sure my husband would like me to write-up, but I find books so much easier! No worries, I’ll get going back to those soon, hopefully… 😉

Here are 5 recent books I read… Some with cool covers, others with strange titles.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
by Jenny Lawson 
(non-fiction; well, mostly) – worth a read/listen

furiously-happy

I think that this book helps shed a bit of the stigma of mental illness. Lawson is hilariously candid about things her life circumstances and experiences dealing with depression and anxiety; but also illustrates her difficulties and is serious about that. She shares her own personal coping mechanisms; but also reiterates that everyone is different and not every strategy will work for everyone nor all the time.

I like her over-the-top stories and sense of humor; but don’t be easily offended! She eloquently compares mental illness to other better-known diseases to create a better understanding and help break the stigma. At first, I found the author’s up-speak to be a bit difficult to listen to on the audiobook; but later realized that there would be no one better to narrate it! These are her words, thoughts and experiences… thus her excitement, candor and compassion shines through in just the right places.

I thought the cover of this book was just cute… but then you find out why it’s the cover of this book!

~

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion:
Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions
by Christopher K. Germer
 (non-fiction) – DNF

mindful-path

The author said that “This book will not be a lot of work.” I had to go back and look for the quote, because my memory thought he said, “This will not be hard. In fact, it’ll be easier than what you are doing now.” He did go on to state: “The hard work is actually behind you – fighting and resisting difficult feelings, blaming yourself for them and their causes.”

However, I did find this book to be difficult. Although I’m working on meditation a bit, I find quieting the mind very challenging. I had trouble with some of the exercises and felt overwhelmed… and I definitely wasn’t compassionate with myself about that! In any case, maybe it’s just not the right time for this book for me. This one might be better to purchase and work on little by little, rather than check it out from the library with the hopes of completing it when it’s due.

~

The Fox From His Lair
by Elizabeth Cadell
 (fiction) – worth a read

the-fox-from-his-lair

Truth be told, I picked up this book because the story is set in Portugal. Rob and I are thinking of spending our international vacation there this year. I did a search for guidebooks on Portugal on my library’s website and this book was one of the results. I hadn’t even realized it was written in the 60s until I picked it up. It even had its old check-out card and pocket still fastened on the inside cover!fox-lairThis book is categorized as “romantic suspense fiction”. I didn’t choose it because of that descriptions and would have never considered it a romance novel until maybe the very end. There is just so much more to this story. I think it transcends time, too! I really enjoyed it, although I’m not sure where the title comes in to play. And although the setting is just background, I still enjoyed reading about a location I may soon visit. I also love the cover of this book!

~

DIFFICULT WOMEN
by Roxane Gay (fiction, short stories) – worth a read

difficult-women

Although I am not a fan of the color pink, I just love this cover! Before I read the book, I read a review that the title was not quite fitting. I would have to agree. In this age of “nasty” women, I expected this book to be about women who may be considered difficult, in the sense that they are challenging the norm and making breakthroughs. I expected to be inspired, not having read anything really what this book was truly about.

Instead, it may be said that this is book is about women in difficult situations. It’s a collection of short stories about women. The writing is absolutely fantastic, though the stories are a bit disheartening and sad. I’d say it’s about women and abuse and twins and sex and baths and motherhood and Michigan. If there weren’t exactly parallels in the stories, there were certain elements that were similar.

I’m curious and looking forward to reading Gay’s other works.

 

~

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
by Ann Patchett
 (non-fiction) – worth a read (especially if you are thinking about writing)

getaway-car

I don’t have a Kindle or any type of e-reader, but I do have the Kindle app downloaded on my phone. I don’t like reading on my phone very much at all, but I having a short or less-involved story available on that app at all times in case I end up in a line or waiting room somewhere and haven’t a book with me!

I thought this was a short story written by Patchett; but instead it’s a bit of a memoir. It’s kind of funny to read this having never read any of her books before. {I’m now reading Commonwealth.} While I don’t exactly understand the butterflies on her cover, the getaway car is in reference to her attempt as a novelist to escape a life of waitressing. It’s full of sensible advice to those aspiring to write; but also gives a look into the life of a novelist.

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Do you choose books by their covers or titles?

What book do you think has had the best title or cover?

Cheers~
Carrie

What Valentine’s Day Means to Me

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For some, Valentine’s Day is a day to express your love to that special person in your life. This can be with romantic gestures, thoughtful gifts or over a nice meal.

For others, it is an even bigger, annoying reminder of their singlehood.

Some consider it just a Hallmark holiday that has been fabricated; so there is no reason to celebrate at all.

Some parents love to shower their kids with heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast or candy as a treat.

But often it’s just the pressure to find the right gift.

I’ve experienced Valentine’s Day in all of these ways.

My feelings about this holiday have run the gamut, despite the fact that I’ve had some perfectly loving, giddy, Hallmark-style ones.

When I started dating my husband Rob, I told him that we didn’t need to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I was at a point in my life where I felt that it was a holiday for men {yes, specifically men; how sexist of me!} who never did anything for their significant others throughout the year. He was surprised. He told his friends. They said I was lying, that I’d still expect something. But I meant it. And he respected my wishes.

That was 13 years ago.

Over the years, we tried to find ways to get around Valentine’s Day because we like to dine out and and Valentine’s Day is one of the the worsts days to do that. It’s such a bad value and the menus are often limited. Everything is overpriced!

Within the last couple of years though, I’ve almost started to regret my snubbing of cupid’s holiday. I thought a little romantic gesture would be nice. I didn’t want a grand ordeal, just something unexpected and special.

But none of that matters; because last year, things changed.

We were in a terrible rollover accident last February 14th that left us shaken and grateful to be alive. I still have flashbacks of the event and some anxiety driving and even riding along.

Today is our day that we thankful to be alive. To be grateful that we have each other. Instead of poo-pooing Valentine’s Day this year, do something nice for yourself or a loved one. Schedule a massage. Call a parent. Do one little thing for your spouse. Send flowers to a friend. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a today. Pick any day… any day that means something to you. Or better yet, any day when you are really feeling ALIVE and are grateful to be so.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

And guess what? Rob and I are going to indulge in one of the cheesy Valentine’s Day dinners tonight! In fact, last year, we were en route from IKEA to Burger Jones for lunch; but didn’t make it. We will get there this year for some burgers and a bottle of Dom.

Cheers~
Carrie

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

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I want to mix it up a bit for the five things I share on Friday. Today’s edition…

Five Things I’m Loving Right Now

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1 – Travelers

travelers

My husband is the king of finding shows to watch and telling me nothing about them before we watch them. Hold up. I LOVE THIS! I don’t like to see too many movie trailers or always know what shows are about befordhand. Rob found this Netflix original series when he was just browsing through different shows. Let’s just say – it’s not what you think. I probably wouldn’t have watched it if someone described it to me. So I won’t describe it to you. What I will say: I loved the first episode and was unsure how much more they could do beyond the second. But now we are hooked and have almost finished the season!

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2 – Yoga with Adriene

I’ve mentioned this YouTube channel in a previous post because it helped get me back into yoga. Adriene also hosts a blog by the same name. However, searching for one of Adriene’s videos on YouTube has been more my style. And while I’m currently working my way through her brand new 31-Day Yoga Revolution, I would highly recommend starting with her 30 Days of Yoga series first. I didn’t do them all consecutively, but it did get me into yoga again. Some of the videos are short, so there is a bit less of a time commitment than the Revolution. Alternatively, you can do a search for specific videos – yoga for complete beginners, yoga for lower back pain, yoga when you have a cold. You need it? She pretty much has it!

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3 – Insight Timer

I don’t love the name for this meditation app, but I do love using it! There are over 3,000 free guided meditations from which to choose. There is also a timer if you would like to do one on your own, perhaps with particular sounds. I mostly use the app to help me fall asleep. One of my favorites is Yoga Nidra for Sleep. {The instructor even encourages this meditation if you are on a plane. I never thought of that.} However, I did use a healing meditation once when I had a very uncomfortable stomach ache. There are also reviews of each meditation to help you decide if that particular guided meditation will be right for you.

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4 – TimeTree

Believe it or not, before now, Rob and I had a hard time keeping track of each other’s calendars. I tried using google; but I couldn’t get him to use it with me. I tried sharing my Yahoo calendar and that was too much trouble, too. For all of 2016, we each kept an Excel spreadsheet calendar on our desktops and sent it back and forth to each other whenever we made changes. Seriously. Sometimes, I had to tell people on the weekends that I’d have to check my calendar at work. I kept talking about finding an app that we could use, but wasn’t sure which one would work well for us. Instead, Rob took that action item and found the TimeTree app that has made our worlds so much easier! It’s a calendar that we can both add to and delete from and even color-code. It has been one best upgrades we’ve ever made. And yes, you can now welcome us to the 21st century.

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5 – Books as Movies

Most of the time, if someone reads a book and then goes to see the movie adaptation, the response is, “The book was better.” I am one to agree. {Except for the movie A Time to Kill. I preferred the movie to the book.} But lately, I think many of the screenplays adapted from books have been really well done. One example is A Man Called Ove. Please read the book or watch the movie!

I really enjoyed reading The Hunger Games series. The movies’ sci-fi aspect overshadows the heart of the books a bit in my opinion; but I still appreciated them. Currently, I’m looking forward to seeing A Dog’s Purpose, coming out this month! It is one of my favorite books of all time, from the point of view of a dog. So I’m curious how the movie will be done. Which reminds me, Girl on a Train is out now. I didn’t love the book, but thought it was good. Has anyone seen the movie yet?

Name one thing you are loving right now!

Cheers~
Carrie