Sunday, January 24, 2016

Spark Joy: an Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying up

You may remember that I read and reviewed Marie Kondo's other very popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up and LOVED it.  I still find myself going back to it to think about certain concepts or ideas.  Her new book, Spark Joy, is a companion to that first book, and it's well-worth my time as well.  It's more specific about certain ideas, and it still has illustrative stories.  This volume has pictures too in order to help people understand the folding processes etc.  What's kind of funny to me is that these two books are some of the few I feel like I really need to keep for the present.  There's nothing of literary inspiration etc., but I really am enjoying mulling over certain Japanese sensibilities and Kondo's own ideas of making/keeping things tidy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Wounded Healer


For Sunday School, I read this classic by Henri Nouwen.  The first part of it really surprised me in terms of when it was published.  It was early 70s, and the postmodern issues are what we see now.  Some parts of it were very rich in terms of insight.  Others were kinda meh.

Hands Free Life


This second book is a lot of the same thinking/ideas as what we find in the first book she did, but I really enjoyed some of the details/stories.  I even dog-eared a few pages for ideas to express love for my dear ones when I'm out of ideas.  There are first rate ideas for connection, how to enact priorities etc.  It was very worth the read. :)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Learning

I'm thankful for the following:

Books:
  • The Danish Way of Parenting (Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandhal)
  • Living Well, Spending Less (Ruth Soukup)
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now (Walter Brueggemann)
  • The Fear Cure (Lissa Rankin)
  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo)
  • The Soul of Discipline (Kim John Payne)
  • Goddesses Never Age (Christiane Northrup)
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen)
  • The Emotion Code (Bradley Nelson)
  • Coyote Medicine (Lewis Mehl-Madrona)
  • Healing Wise (Susun Weed)
  • The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing (Maya Tiwari)
  • Woman Code (Alisa Vitti)
  • Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (Dan Buettner)
  • The Wisdom of Insecurity (Alan Watts)
  • The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
  • Hands Free Mama (Rachel Macy Stafford)


Courses:
  • Making Sense of Adolescence (Neufeld Institute)
  • Heart Matters: The Science of Emotion (Neufeld Institute)
  • Art of Home Herbalism (Thyme Herbal)
  • Whole Food Freezer Cooking (Heather Bruggeman)
  • The Five Phases from TCM (Larken Bunce)
  • Helping a Child Grow Up (Power to Parent II-Neufeld Institute)
  • Common Challenges (Power to Parent III-Neufeld Institute)

The Danish way of Parenting

I really enjoyed "The Danish Way of Parenting."  It's a book as much about Danish values and living as it is about parenting.  For over 40 years, the Danes have been voted the happiest people in the world.  This book explores a lot of that and attributes the happiness strongly to how they raise their families.  A+
They use an acronym to illustrate the various points: PARENT

Play

Authenticity

Reframing

Empathy

No Ultimatums

Togetherness.

Those themes are explored in detail and done well.  I might take issue with a few tiny details in how to best help/support children aspect, but the heart of it is still consistent with what I understand.  Most ideas weren't new, but looking at how they're exercised/experienced was instructive and helpful.  For most of my dear friends/acquaintances, many of the ideas would be quite new.  It also brought home to me how easily I might enjoy this culture/society!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Living Well Spending Less

Another popular home-type book: Living Well Spending Less.  It was okay--worth skimming really.  There's lots of descriptive self-disclosure in terms of her addiction to shopping that might help some people realize what that addiction looks like, but after a while it got a bit tiring.  This book was the result of her very popular blog (by the same name).  I know of the blog because she and her husband removed ALL their kids' toys for a while and then added back very few.
She does recount that story when she deals with the holidays.  She said they finally ended up with books, art supplies, a few dolls/lovies, some barbies and legos.  Christmas features a lot fewer gifts, and more of them are things they need like shoes, clothes etc.  They also focus on experiences like trips to the zoo or family trips.  She said they spend a lot of that season doing for others, and their family's favorite tradition lately is to bring cookies to the local fire station Christmas Eve.  They do other traditional charity work around holidays because they're teaching the kids that Jesus taught us to take care of people who can't take care of themselves.

They have no-gift birthday parties where any gifts brought go into the donate box so now friends and family do take them seriously and only bring gifts if they want to donate.

The book has practical advice for cleaning, saving money, couponing, sales etc. also.  They did a month of zero spending (almost--basic food necessities and bills and then ate what they could creatively from the pantry--saved $1,000 that month).  They did that by very seriously looking at wants vs. needs.  That included home repairs, gifts and basic purchases we often make.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Echinacea

 First we collected full blossoms and "almost there" buds and leaves (the youngest) to tincture this Echinacea we have been growing.
 I had some good help with those leaves.  We have to cut and tear everything up so the vodka can extract as much as possible.  I use Smirnoff since it's from corn and won't aggravate any gluten issues.
 Here we are six weeks later--strained and bottled.  I still need more droppers, but we're off to a good start.  Next will come the labels.  Those are fun and take a little thought.  I think for Christmas, these will be part of our homemade gifts.  Vanilla is ready (but not yet bottled/labelled).  We are also currently extracting our Yarrow.  I think later in my herbal course, I'll be learning more things like lotions and salves.  We already planned some lip balm so this should be fun.  (For the lotions and salves, I have been extracting via alcohol and olive oil various herbs that are good for the skin.  A lot messier to strain!)
Another idea was to make some herbal ghee, but I think I have less confidence in that seeming "normal" than some of these other things.