Category Archives: Wellness

Friday 5: Books with Cool Covers & Strange Titles


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… ūüėČ

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) ‚Äď worth a read/listen


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) ‚Äď DNF


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) ‚Ästworth a read


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!


by Roxane Gay¬†(fiction, short stories) ‚Ästworth a read


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) ‚Äď worth a read (especially if you are thinking about writing)


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.


Do you choose books by their covers or titles?

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



What Valentine’s Day Means to Me


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.


5 Things I’m Loving Right Now


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


1 – 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!


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!


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.


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.


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!



All About Audiobooks {And a Few Recommendations}


You guys.

Audiobooks have changed my life.

{Also, my favorite book of 2016 is in this post.}

How It Began

When my professional life changed and my commute went from 5 minutes to 30, I knew I had to do something. I’ve been a nervous driver since our accident last February. I over-anticipate what’s going to happen. I think every vehicle is coming into my lane. I don’t trust anyone. {I’m not a very good rider, either. But that’s another story. That’s when real books and magazines come in to play!}

Truth be told, I used to love driving! I used to drive all over the Twin Cities teaching about wine! Back then, I happily listened to mixed CDs that my husband made me. There were only a couple of audiobooks that I had ever listened to at that time; but they were books that I had already read: The Secret¬†and¬†The Power¬†by Rhonda Byrne. I was discussing them¬†with a colleague and she mentioned how listening to them on CD in her car really did wonders for absorbing each book’s message. So I bought them.

When I discovered I could borrow audiobooks from the library just like any other books, I thought, Why not?”¬†

Does It Count as Reading?

Now I listen to books as if I’m reading them – for the first time. At first, I wondered if listening to an audiobook “counted” as reading the book itself. I read several articles on this topic and the verdict is – It sure does! You do need to concentrate when you are listening to an audiobook. I find that I cannot listen to one while I’m cooking and concentrating on¬†what needs to added¬†next to my dish.¬†However, with driving, it allows me to focus on something else just enough to keep my mind off the driving anxiety, but without distracting me completely. It’s not like the radio, which can be more like background noise. I’m thinking I might enjoy listening to an audiobook while walking or running, now, too.

Choosing an Audiobook

The hardest part is choosing the right one. Not all audiobooks are equal to their originals. It’s a different experience whether you devour¬†a book with your eyeballs or your ears! A book may be great, but the reader’s voice may not suit you, or even suit the book. Sometimes the book might come off¬†better¬†on audio. Other times, it just takes a few minutes to get used to the voice or the style and then I’m okay. All I really can rely on?


First, I have found that books written by comedians tend to make great audiobooks because they are often read by the authors. They know how to deliver! How did I discover this?

Trial and Error.

One of the first ones I listened to was Amy Schumer’s¬†The Girl with The Lower Back Tattoo.¬†Loved it.

Here are a few other audiobooks I’ve tried, written by comedians and other celebrities. Of course, if you aren’t interested in any of these celebrities, you probably won’t enjoy them.


Why Not Me?
by Mindy Kaling
¬†(non-fiction) ‚Äď worth a¬†listen

For me, this was more a bit of fluff. I got to learn a few things about Mindy and what Hollywood is like. I feel like she’s someone I could hang out with sometime. She seems pretty easy going.



Yes Please
by Amy Poehler
¬†(non-fiction) ‚Äď must listen

This is is one book that I could argue that the audiobook is even better than the hard copy without having read the hard copy. Why? Because it’s as if Amy Poehler is talking to you. She reads from¬†her own studio and invites guests in to talk in¬†between about some of the chapters. The last chapter is actually read on stage at a stand-up show. I loved it.



What I Know For Sure
by Oprah Winfrey 
(non-fiction) ‚Äď must listen

There’s just something about Oprah¬†sharing the¬†things she’s learned in life that makes me feel like I’m “almost” talking with a mom or a mentor over coffee.


Audiobook Duds

I’ve had a few other recommendations that were utter duds for me. But sometimes it’s the only way to pick them! Here’s why they didn’t work for me:


*A Short History of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson 
(non-fiction) ‚Äď DNF

I picked this one up not based on recommendations, but on a whim when I returned another one. I pulled it off the shelf because one of my favorite books is by Bryson – Neither Here Nor There. I read it right after my 12-week post-college backpacking trip through Europe. It was laugh-out-loud-funny. But as an audiobook, I just could not get into this one. The author did not read the book. Instead, it was a gentleman with a British accent. Bryson is not British; but he did live there. And most certainly books read in a British accent can work well. This one was just to dry for my tastes. Maybe I’ll find the humor if I read the hard copy one day…



What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
by Randall Munroe 
(non-fiction?) ‚Äď DNF

I know that this one was recommended on a Best Audiobooks list somewhere. Someone commented that they liked having it read by Wil Wheaton. But the book is horribly absurd. Why did you take these horrible minutes from me! Truly the worst, in my opinion.



Getting Things Done: The Act of Stress-Free Productivity
by David Allen 
(non-fiction) ‚Äď DNF

I thought that a motivational book would be great on audio! I was wrong.¬†The Secret¬†and¬†The Power¬†worked for me; but not this one. It just couldn’t keep my attention. There was too much theory and asserting of how these “methods” work before actually getting to the methods. I kept finding my mind wandering.



The Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom 
(fiction) ‚Äď DNF

Here is an audiobook that was recommended from the fiction category. The truth is, I did like the reader’s voice. She did the other character’s voices extremely well, too. I think it probably is a pretty great work of fiction set during the era of slavery. I just had trouble concentrating. It could have been timing. Or just me. It might be worth a revisit.


Best Sellers

The best part about borrowing bestsellers on audiobook is that you often don’t have to sit on the library waiting list nearly as long as you’d have to for the hard copy! Here are a few books I decided to soak up with my ears instead.


A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman 
(fiction) ‚Ästmust listen

Yes! Yes! This one was worth it on audiobook! They chose the perfect gentleman to read the English version of this book of Swedish origin to convey the essence of the main character. I also would have never known how¬†“Ove” was pronounced. I am looking forward to seeing the movie now. After listening to this audiobook, I’m¬†wondering if¬†The Nest¬†would be worth a listen rather than a read? I haven’t seen the sound recording on any¬†recommended¬†lists yet; but the audiobook is readily available at my library while I’m on the long wait list for the book. Should I take the plunge?



The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena 
(fiction) ‚Äď currently listening

I’m currently listening to this audiobook. I was strangely drawn to the cover. I’m not sure I love the reader’s voice; but it certainly is appropriate for the genre. I’ll have to get back to you on this one. As of right now, I think the book itself would be an easy read.


But the best, best, best audiobook I’ve read so far – AND my favorite book I “read” in 2016 is…


Kitchens of the Great Midwest
by J. Ryan Stradal 
(fiction) ‚Ästmust listen

I didn’t know anything about this book prior to listening to it.¬†I probably saw it on a list somewhere and added it to my¬†Good Reads¬†audio list. In fact, I thought it was non-fiction. I suspected it would cover actual kitchens and chefs in the Midwest.

But, no. It’s a genius work of fiction! I loved, loved every second of it. You must listen to this book if you live in the Midwest and are interested in food at all whatsoever. I laughed out loud so many times. Both readers are excellent and do accents and the character voices well. I did see a review of several books on a blog recently, and next to this one they noted, “Good/Not Great.”

WHAT?! I guess that goes to show how hard it is to rely on someone else’s opinion. I cannot recall the blog, but perhaps this person isn’t from the Midwest and couldn’t relate.¬†Or perhaps the audiobook made all of the difference in the world! This one comes¬†highly recommended from me.¬†I knew I had only a few minutes left in the book when I arrived home from my commute one day. The book was so good that I drove a round the block a few times just to finish it!


Going forward, I’ll include my audiobooks with all of my others, because to me, they are just as important.

 Do you listen to books on audio? 

If so, how do you choose them and what are your favorites?


Transitioning from 2016 to 2017


2016 was a tough year for me.

It’s probably one of the reasons why I didn’t post much in the second half of the year. I think the worst part about it all was feeling so helpless and guilty about it when I knew other people who were going through much more difficult experiences.¬†I could go on about all of the personal reasons, professional changes and circumstances that led it to be so challenging.

But then I wouldn’t be moving on.

Instead I’d like reflect on the good things. Instead of wallowing in despair, I’d like to bask in the gratitude. I have every intention of manifesting a healthier, happier and kinder 2017.

We Lived

  • Rob and I walked away from a potentially fatal accident on February 14th. Rob was left with some physical scars. I’m still left with some mental¬†and¬†emotional ones – fear of driving in certain conditions and replays of the event in my mind. But we are still here. That is what matters.

I Read

  • I’ve often read that when you are unsure what to do with your life, think back to what you loved most as a child. I adored reading. I got back on it this year and it’s been my saving grace. It has not only challenged my mind, but it also helped me pass the time when all I could think are negative thoughts.
  • I set a¬†Good Reads goal to read 26 books in 2016. I chose this number because I’ve never measured the number of books I’ve read in a year before and I tend to read slowly. When I surpassed those 26 books, I changed my goal to 30. After that, I left the number the same; but in my mind set my sights on 52 books. In the end, I read 60 books in 2016. For me, that’s a feat.
  • I was introduced to audiobooks, which is something I really want to share with you in another post. It’s done wonders for keeping my mind from thinking worst case scenarios about every driver on the road and instead helps pass the time on my new commute.

I Returned to Yoga

  • When I moved to MN back in 2003, my friend Jen and I joined a yoga class together. I loved it. Every drive back from class, I would say to her, “I just love Yoga!” I was in a state of bliss.
  • In 2006 when Rob and I bought our house, I cut expenses in a ton of places, including our yoga class.
  • When I felt ready to go back, our truly perfect yoga instructor had retired and moved abroad. Finding another class was difficult. I couldn’t find anything else like her style or that suited me. I wasn’t one to do videos at home because I liked the personal instruction.
  • Then my friend Kristi casually told me about Yoga with Adriene – free You Tube videos that she said were great for beginners. She was right. I started doing those in the morning and it helped me reconnect to my body. But also because I didn’t want to be totally lost when…
  • Jen and I went on a yoga retreat to Kripalu. This was a 40th birthday gift to ourselves. It was blissful. I never felt better. I never really posted about this experince, but I would highly recommend it to anyone.¬†It was so nice to do gentle yoga¬†(my choice)¬†about three times a day, attend wellness sessions and have healthy meals prepared for¬†me. I also got two massages and learned that the hot stone massage is the one for me! Jen and I joked that it was a rough day when we had our silent breakfast, attended a¬†yoga class, leisurely read, enjoyed¬†lunch, attended a meditation session and then napped¬†before our massage appointments. ūüôā That was a true gift.

So in 2017, I want to continue to recognize all of those ways that I can be kinder to myself and continue to practice those things. Because I am grateful to be here.

It’s truly fitting that I start out the year with a cold – one that had me sleeping 12 hours overnight and then another 4 hours in the afternoon. My body is telling me to take care of myself and ease into this.

In what ways do practice self-care?


5 Gifts I Gave in 2015: Ideas for your 2016 Gift-Giving


Yeah, it’s been over two months¬†since I’ve last posted.

That’s my longest stretch since I’ve started this little blog. And I have lots to say. So much that I kept writing and re-writing the return post in my head over and over. It seems like there is no satisfying way to jump back in, so let’s just do it with something easy.

It’s my annual list of holiday¬†gifts I gave the previous year! I hope it spurs some ideas for you!

1 – Ornament Storage Box

Last year I shared how grateful I was that my husband’s mom gave him a new ornament every Christmas marked with the year. When we put up our first tree together, she made sure we got that box of ornaments. It’s just wonderful to have a tree filled with ornaments that have meaning and evoke precious memories!


I started to give my niece and nephews an ornament each year so that they’ll have their own collection when they become adults, too. Some years, I’ve done person-specific ornaments. Other years, everyone gets the same thing, but marked with their name and the year. Some years, the ornaments will be purchased. (Last year was Packer footballs!) Other years, they will be handmade. Although I’m not very crafty. If you are, check out last year’s post filled with links to all the crafty ornament ideas.

But then I started to wonder what happened to all of these ornaments when the kids took them home. Were they scattered about the house? Put in boxes? Would they even find them by the time they move out?

That’s when I had the idea to get them each an ornament storage box. There are so many styles out there, but this is the one I snagged for each of them on Black Friday for only $14.99 last year:



You don’t have to start the ornament tradition at birth like Rob’s mom did. It’s never too late! Give a box and start now¬†with the very first ornament in the box.¬†If you are¬†crafty, you could even create yearly or special occasion ornaments. My hairdresser loved this idea so much that she thought about creating ornaments that represent each year; perhaps something from a vacation, an accomplishment or big moment in the year, a school photo. Then just put them all in the box to start!

Here is the note we included with the box for the kids:

Your Own Collection

Save all of the Christmas ornaments you receive over the years and store them safely in this container. When you grow-up and get your own place, you’ll not only have ornaments to put on your own tree, but also the memories of receiving them!


Aunt Carrie & Uncle Rob  ~ 2015


2 – Homemade Wine

You know all that wine we made in 2015? Well, our first batch was due to be ready on February 14th. Oh wow. That’s a little eerie typing that. February 14th has a whole new meaning for us¬†now.

Anyway, we gave a bottle of my parents and a bottle to my brother and sister-in-law with a tag indicating the date it would be ready to drink. We had no idea if it would be any good, so I also posted a recipe to make to make sangria or mulled wine with it!

When the wine was opened in February, they all said (politely?!) that they loved it. I personally did not like it. But we’ve had some great sangria and mulled wine in the past year! ūüôā


3 – Personalized Mugs

I¬†just love giving personalized mugs. One year we gave Photo Magic Mugs¬†that when hot liquid is added you can see a lovely photo of Sophie and Shamrock. Last year, I sent these to Rob’s parents, who live in Michigan.

I found the instructions here. ¬†I found it difficult to write “Miss You” on the bottom of the mug like they did. So when I failed on the first one, I put it on the lip instead.


4 –¬†Luxury

What you might find luxurious might be different¬†for¬†someone else. Have your gift recipient in mind. What would they find luxurious? A soft blanket? An electronic toothbrush? For a teenage girl, I thought a Venus razor set would be a break from the norm. I gave my favorite one. The type of razor does matter! One way to come up with a luxury gift for your¬†loved one¬†is to think of something they already like or already do and upgrade it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You could get someone who likes to write a nice journal and/or pen.


5 – Books You Love

Now that I am finally back into reading, I’ll be¬†giving a lot more of these¬†this year. Last year I gave my teenage nephew¬†A Dog’s Purpose –¬†one of my all-time favorite fictional books that is written from the point of view of a dog.

What’s absolutely wonderful is that this past year, W. Bruce Cameron adapted his wonderful story for young readers (for 8-12 year olds, grades 3 to 7)¬†and named it¬†Bailey’s Story. (Shhh!!! My 9-year-old nephew is getting it this year!)

What’s more is that A Dog’s Purpose is now a movie and will be out in theaters in January! I can’t wait to see it, but am curious how it will be done from a dog’s perspective.

Tailor your gift to your recipient, thinking about what he or she likes. Or, offer up your favorite book(s) that you think might make them as happy as they made you. I’ve been trying to think of who else would like the book I’m reading as I’m reading it.

Best book I read all year? Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I thought it was non-fiction, but it is a wonderful fictional story, especially if you live in the Midwest. It made me laugh out loud at times. Oh, but I listened to the audiobook version of this one. It was so worth it!


Want more unique gift-giving ideas? Here are a few of my posts from past years:

Looking for more ideas? Try these links!

Looking for more ideas? Try these links. Some are older, but I still think they have great ideas:

I’m baaaack…. (I think.)

What unique gifts did you give or receive last holiday season?




What I’ve Been Holding at the Library


Okay, still crushing on the library!

When I last posted what I was reading on Facebook commenting how I loved the hold service at the library because I got a BRAND SPANKING NEW book {as in no one else had read it yet}, a friend commented asking how it works because she spends way too much money on books.

And since it took me sooooo long to just get in and renew my 10-year-old library card, I thought I’d give some insight on the process¬†so that you don’t wait another moment and start utilizing your local library immediately! It’s so easy.

How to Put Books on Hold at the Library

I’m sure all libraries have a somewhat different system, but here is how my Dakota County Library works:

  • Email: When I reopened my account, the library asked me for a email address that I check all the time. They don’t spam you. I only receive an email to remind me if a book is almost due or if a book that is placed on hold is ready to pick up.
  • Library Card Number: I used to know my bank account number by heart. I had the account since I was 16. Then, a couple of years ago, I switched banks. I still don’t have that new account number memorized, but I do my library card number! You need this (and a pin or password) to access your account online. It’s here were you can put any book on hold!
  • The Queue: Once you put a book on hold {and indicate from which library you want to pick it up} you can see how far along you are in the queue for that book. You can also see how many books of each are available throughout the county. If it’s a popular book, there will be several. However, there may only be one of a particular book. If it’s checked out, it may take some time to get it. If there are several and the queue isn’t long, it’ll become available much more quickly!
  • Suspend Hold: If I am seeing that I am the 1st in a line for number of books, I can put my hold on suspension. This means if I’m not quite ready for it now, but I will be in a month, I can suspend my hold from now until a month from now. That way, I don’t have to delete it from my hold list and try to remember to put it on hold later. If I’m ready for the book before my designated suspension is up, I can cancel the suspension and, I believe, resume my place in the queue.
  • The Pick-Up: Once the book is available, I receive an email that it is ready. I have one week to pick it up or they will take it off of the hold status for me. When I go to my library, they have my book waiting for me in the “hold” section. I don’t have to ask anyone for it. I find it by my card number and last name and there is a slip in the book indicating that it is on hold for me. Not just anyone can grab these books, however. The self-serve checkout counter will only all the book to be checked out to me because it is on hold for ME! This takes me TWO MINUTES. So easy!

Side Note on E-Readers: If you are an e-book reader, I am 95% sure that you can do the same with holds online. It’s even easier for you because you don’t have to go to the library and pick it up when it’s available. I’ve yet to jump on that bandwagon. I borrowed a friend’s old Kindle when I went to Ireland and it was Just Fine. I didn’t like having to keep it charged. We weren’t too bright that we only brought one adapter/converter! I do like the feel of a real book in my hands. I tried reading on my phone and just can’t do it. The sheer number of e-readers overwhelms me. And with tablets, I fear being distracted by something else I can do on it. That happens to me all the time with my phone!


I currently have about 40¬†books on hold! The ones that are on order by the library show that my place in queue is “0”. I have several books suspended because I know I won’t even be able to read that many books at once. One of the books I have on hold is Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly Guilty. I am 195th in line! There looks like there are close to 50 copies available in my county. And several are Lucky U books, of which you can read more about under the¬†JoJo Moyes book I picked up¬†in this post. So if I really wanted to read it now, I could check online to see if a Lucky U book was available and run and pick it up.

Here’s what I had put on hold and was able to read over the past¬†couple of weeks!


Dancing with the Tiger¬†by Lili Wright¬†(fiction) ‚Ästworth a read

I found¬†Dancing with the Tiger¬†on a book blog. The blogger was recapping the books she read in July and noted this one as her favorite. I promptly put it on my Library Hold List and was surprised that when they got the book in stock, I was the first one who got to read it. ūüôā Brand new book! This is a fantastic, colorful debut work of fiction. I loved the short chapters that still made me want to continue¬†reading. What I didn’t like was¬†some of the Spanish used in the novel. I don’t speak Spanish; so I was lost on some of the phrases when they weren’t explained. Of course, I could figure some of them out by context or if it was similar to French, but not all

Wait. Scratch that. I found myself googling some of the phrases, which means I learned something, right?! I also liked learning about the world of Mexican masks.


On the Edge of Reason

On the Edge of Reason¬†by Miroslav KrleŇĺa¬†(fiction) ‚ÄstDNF

This one I did not get from the library, but thought I could read in between holds because it is a rather short book (less than 200 pages). “How did I come across this book?”¬†you ask?¬†It’s been on my bookshelf for about 10 to 15 years. Back then, I tried to order the sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary, which is called¬†The Edge of Reason. But whoops, not paying attention, I put the wrong used book in my cart. One word can make a difference!

I decided to give this book a shot because of the accolades on the back:

Paris had its Balzac and Zola; Dubin its Joyce, Croatia its¬†KrleŇĺa… one of the ¬†most accomplished, profound authors in European literature…

The Croatian Miroslav¬†KrleŇĺa is amount the most neglected of the world’s great writers.

My new favorite word – folly. It is used often at the beginning of the book. Alas, I Did Not Finish this book. It was originally published in 1938. I sometimes need to push myself to read books that were written before me time. Right now, though, it’s back on the shelf for another day. I do intend to finish it, just not¬†now.


Make Room for What You Love

Make Room for What You Love¬†by Melissa Michaels¬†(non-fiction) ‚Ästskip it

Another brand new book from the library! This one was waiting for me, so it made me read Dancing with the Tiger faster. I wanted to be done before my hold deadline so I could just swap the books out. Not sure how I found out about this book – probably from an organizing blog? I often don’t remember where I hear of books, unless a friend recommends it.

I thought it landed in my hands at the perfect time because my husband was going out of town. Remember when I KonMari-ed my wardrobe the last time he was? I get into these kicks when he’s not around. ūüôā

What I learned is that I didn’t need this book. This surprised me, because I generally think of myself as a clutterbug. However, with the current change in circumstances at work and home, I was forced to change some habits! To be quite honest, I got annoyed after the first 60 pages or so that I skimmed the rest of the book.

There wasn’t anything revolutionary in here. The author focuses on simplifying, but then throws in so many questions to ask yourself and lists to make, that it is completely overwhelming as a reader! Most of the time she’d say, “Find ways to…” instead of just listing the ways to solve those problems.

I did like the little sideboxes with tips. And the one takeaway I did get from this book is that it’s indecisiveness that creates clutter. By not deciding what to do with something and putting it in a pile, you are actually deciding something – you are choosing clutter.

Still, there was a lot of generalizing going on, a lot of stating of the obvious {i.e. How do you feel when your house is cluttered? How would you feel if it wasn’t?} and a lot of repetition. The author has her own organizing and design blog. The book was written like I would write a blog post – like I’m talking to someone. In a book, it felt a little unprofessional. I think I would actually¬†prefer¬†to read her blog – with a little tip here or there, instead.



Night¬†by Elie Wiesel¬†(fiction) ‚Ästmust read

I’m sure I found this book a list of Short Books That Everyone Must Read. Or Books You Can Read in a Day. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I hadn’t heard of it nor did I know it was true story, a personal account. It’s sort of a classic and one that I do agree that Everyone Must Read or that it should be part of a curriculum. It’s a powerful reminder of the hatred during the time of Nazi rule. I did read it in a day; but I’m a slow reader. ¬†Many of you would have it completed in an afternoon. I have now put Wiesel’s subsequent works in this trilogy on hold at the library. But I’m also confused because books two and three appear to be works of fiction.


The Lake House

The Lake House¬†by Kate Morton¬†(fiction) ‚ÄstDNF

I have no idea how I found this book; but it had great reviews. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into it. I kept trying to push along, but kept getting distracted. Just like everything else in life, timing is everything. I do like the layout of this story and the mystery behind it. However, it’s just too slow for me right now. I’m more intrigued by the two books on hold at the library waiting for me to pick them up! Perhaps I’ll pick it up¬†The Lake House again sometime down the road…

Have you used your library’s hold feature?

What would be on your hold list at the library?