Friday, December 30, 2016

Jess Reads December

So I made it.  My yearly goal is 100 books, and I squeaked them in by the skin of my teeth!

Here's what December was:

1.  A Letter of Mary

I continue to move through this series focusing on Mary Russell, now Sherlock Holme's wife and partner.  I'm still dealing with the crazy 30 year gap in their ages, so unrealistic, but the books are still awesome anyways.  You'll love this series, if my last few months of raving about the books aren't enough to tell you that!

2.  To the Bright Edge of the World

I was fairly excited about this book which focuses on Colonel Allen Forrester as he led a very small group of men into Alaska and across the Wolverine River into unchartered areas.  It was sort of advertised as a great epic voyage mixed in with some fantasy elements.  Written in letter format from the perspective of Allen as well as his wife Sophie who was left behind in Vancouver, it focuses on both of their stories simultaneously.  The back and forth letters drove me a little batty- I tend to not love stories told in letter format.  In the end I kind of felt that it was lacking, both in the adventure of Alaska, I was expecting more of what they suffered, what they did, saw, ate, etc., and I felt it was lacking in more of the fantasy.  There were some fascinating fantasy traditions from Native lore, but again I felt like it was just a little bit, not enough to really engage me and I wish they would have fleshed these out a bit, especially the ones involving Sophie thousands of miles away.  But it could just be me, the book has 4.6 stars on Amazon.

3.  The Snow Child

This book was written by the same author as To the Bright Edge of the World.  Actually written first, it focuses on an infertile couple in their 50s living in Alaska near the Wolverine River.  (The author is actually from Alaska).  The couple emotionally have been struggling for years because of their inability to have children, and now are estranged from each other in a lot of ways.  One night inspired by a beautiful snow fall, they build a little snow child.  They giver her hair and a face and the next morning when they wake up the snow is half gone/toppled and there are steps leading only away from the snow girl.  This is essentially a fairy tale, and I can't really give all that much detail about it without giving it away.  A much better book by Eowyn Ivey in my personal opinion, and was actually a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.

4-9.  Laura Ingalls Wilder series

The weather got cold here and I decided to read the first Little House book, my all time favorite in the series. This caused me to go down a Little House hole of which I haven't quite come out of yet.  I read Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, skipped Farmer Boy, read On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, and Little Town on the Prairie.  I love Farmer Boy but wanted to concentrate on just the Laura books.

I love this series and probably read it every year.  It makes me feel like I'd rather simplify my life and calm down a little bit and be grateful for all of the things I have.  It also leads me to be frustrated with my kids at how much they have and don't appreciate.

Pa always has great sayings, things like (summarizing) "modern inventions are great but then we rely on them".  He was talking about kerosene for a light and Ma had said they never had kerosene when she was growing up but still somehow had light.  Can you imagine?!  Americans have no practical skills anymore, and this is a huge reminder of that.  Makes me want to learn how to do things "the old way".

I think everybody and their mother has read this series, but if not, buy it ASAP, you'll be glad you did.  All in all, a good way to end 2016.

Final 2016 book total: 104

Currently reading Robinson Crusoe for the first time and Pride and Prejudice (again...).  Wonder which one will be my first book for 2017?!

And here's a post on Five books to spend your hard-earned money on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What I Asked for Christmas

Chris is a terrible gift giver.  Like the absolute worse.  After 15.5 years of marriage I've learned it's really just best to give him a list.  Here's what's on it this year in no particular order:

1.  My Burberry Black Perfume

I haven't worn perfume in years and as I've gotten older I can't wear anything sweet smelling.  My Burberry Black falls into the spicy category and while I don't love it immediately after I spray it, the lingering scent is amazing and makes me feel like I come from old money.  I want to make this my signature scent. $95 for 1.6oz

2.  A New Watch
Image result for michael kors rose gold watch with leather band

My beloved Swiss Army watch broke a few weeks ago.  I've had it for 8 years and I literally feel naked without it.  It's a metal men's watch, and this time around I've been feeling like maybe a leather band.  I went to TJ Maxx and they had great name brand watches for much cheaper.  Then I found out that a jeweler in town can probably fix my watch.  So this isn't going to make an appearance under my tree, but at least I have a better idea for the future.

3.  Wicked Good  Boots
Image result for wicked good boots
Most of our house is tiled, and while I love it that my kids aren't getting carpet filthy, it's more than a little chilly in the winter.  As I write this it was -5 this morning, no joke.  I've worn to death a pair of slippers from Gander Mountain but they are so old and worn that there is literally no support in them at all not to mention the traction is totally gone.  These LL Bean boots/slippers would totally fill the bill.  They are technically indoor/outdoor boots, but the carpet we do have is white! so these would be inside only shoes.  I would wear them all day everyday.  $129

4.  Duluth Pack Scout Pack

I've kind of been obsessed with backpacks lately.  I only carry purses that have a shoulder strap, I hate having something in my hands.  But the backpack goes to the next level, total hands-free and behind out of the way.  I'm really drawn to the natural color in this bag, but can't imagine trying to keep it clean.  Handmade in Duluth, Minnesota.  $135

Friday, December 9, 2016

What We're Getting the Kids for Christmas

Lol whaaa:

As mom to 5 this just might be true....

I struggle every year on what to get our kids for Christmas.  I think that too many toys stifles the imagination and leads to kids being dependent on "things" for fun.  Plus we really want to instill in our kids that Christmas really isn't all about the presents; contrary to what most of America thinks.

This year we actually did end up going with toys.  I am still trying to make peace with it.  For our two boys ages 5 & 6 we went with Legos.

This for Moyz.

This one for Truitt although we got it on amazon prime and much, much cheaper.

Kembia is getting this doll from Walmart.  It's sold out online but we got ours in the store.

This alt value should not be empty if you assign primary image
That fox purse kills me.

Owen is getting the newest Diary of a Wimpy kid book, plus a hunting snowsuit as well as this awesome multi-tool with a hatchet on it.

Ava is our tough one.  She already got a pair of combat boots she wanted early.  She'll also be getting skinny jeans, a gorgeous winter hat- think hipster style, and a pair of mittens.  She's a tough one with very defined ideas on what she likes.

Other than that, we're going very low key.  Our kids have every thing they need.  We've been reading through the Little House books, and are constantly amazed at how few things they  had, but how happy they were.  We're all kind of feeling that simplicity is better.

We have one main Christmas tradition,and that's pomegranates in the stockings.  But Ava felt like we didn't have enough traditions, so this year we decided that every Christmas Eve we'll make oyster soup inspired by non other than the Little House books again.  Not necessarily the main part of the meal, but definitely present at our evening meal the night before.

Other than that the kids have their stockings which are filled with goodies to eat, and one other very tiny present, Kembia is getting a Hello Kitty robe that we found at the goodwill, of all places.  She's been asking for a robe for the last several months.  We definitely don't believe that presents have to be new.

We're also doing the paper chain countdown until Christmas, honestly mostly for my sanity.  Moyz asks me every day if it's time to open presents....

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jess Reads November

Life's been crazy busy so no blogging recently....

Books for November:

1.  The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

This is a true story about saving priceless writings from Timbuktu in Africa.  The story focuses on the fact that most people think Africa was a continent of completely uneducated losers.  Contrary to this, there are manuscripts illuminated to the best of them, early Islamic teachings of equality and a woman's right to refuse how things have changed.  The story is interesting, especially because it brought to light how naive I personally am about early 14-17th century writings in Africa, but it ends up mostly being about radical Islam and how it has affected so many places and the desire to not let people be educated and do anything contrary to extremist teachings.  You will end the book seriously irritated about radical Islam and wishing it would all just stop.  Fascinating and sad all at the same time.

2.  Rooms

Rooms is a Christian fiction book.  It focuses on a young man who inherits an amazing house from a rich uncle he's never really been in contact with.  Then the house starts changing as he starts having to deal with issues from his past.  I've never been crazy about Christian fiction in general, and this book is no exception.  It's okay, but that's about it.  The story is okay and I like how he interacts with another main character, but it's utterly predictable which I think is my biggest beef against this genre.I probably wouldn't have finished it but I was sitting in a deer stand with literally nothing else to do. Pass.

3.  The Forgotten Sister

This is one of many Pride and Prejudice continuations.  The Forgotten Sister focuses on Mary and her story mostly during the time that Pride and Prejudice takes place.  P&P stories can be infuriatingly bad, but not this one.  I love Mary's story, her history that is given, and how her life plays out.  It's a fresh take on a character that wasn't exactly charming in the original.  She's slightly irritating here too, but it's how the book pulls everything together.  Read it, you'll be glad you did.

4.  The Monstrous Regiment of  Women

This is the second book in the Mary Russell series which follows Mary with her mentor and partner  Sherlock Holmes as she goes to college at Oxford and solves crime in her spare time.  It's an interesting take on Holmesian thinking from a woman's perspective, one which I love and appreciate it.  If you've read any Sherlock Holmes and enjoyed it, then you'll love this one too.  I am half way through the third one as well and they just don't disappoint.  They might not be serious reading but they sure are fun.

5.  The Bookshop on the Corner

A charming, and very quick read.  It focuses on a young English librarian named Nina who loses her job because her library is closing.  All she's ever wanted to do was help people find good books. Faced with no job and needing to pay the bills she buys a food truck style van and moves to Scotland to sell books to the masses in rural areas.  One caveat, the book lost some of its charm as the story progressed and Nina started making some not great choices.  Mostly having sex and getting slightly vulgar as the story goes on.  I felt like in the beginning I would have recommended this book to everyone, but the change in tone in the latter half of the book makes me think twice.  I so appreciate a story that has a character who loves books, that alone sold me on the first half, but wish the author would have left her just a little bit more carefree, sweet and dare I say it purer and wholesome.  Nina's not by any means outrageously vulgar, but I feel like somehow her personality didn't match who she was at the beginning.  Still a good book and probably worth your time.

6.  Rules of Civility

I read this after reading A Gentleman in Moscow, one of my favorite books of this year.  I figured Amor Towles' first novel must be just as good.  Boy was I wrong.  This book takes place in 1938, a decade I really dislike reading about.  That should have tipped me off but it didn't.  It's basically the story of a woman and her close friend and a man that they both liked and what happens among them after an automobile accident seriously injures one of them.  But really all you need to know is that this book is terrible.  There is none of the charm like Gentleman, and I don't really even feel like it seems like it's from the same author.  It's a good thing I read this second because had I read it first I never would have given Gentleman the time of day.  Skip it, not worth your time, which is a shame because clearly the author is capable of some amazing work.

7.  Valley of the Moon

Single mother Lux goes on a camping trip when her son is visiting his grandparents.  She wakes up in the middle of the night and has to go to the bathroom and finds herself surrounded by fog,  She follows a light and ends up back in time.  Lux finds rest and simplicity in 1906 in a community called Greengage but knows that she must go back to her own time in 1975 where her son is.  There she faces a tenuous and stressful relationship with her father, and her finances aren't all that great.  As the months go on she continues to travel back in time to Greengage for rest on weekends but comes to the realization that she needs to decide if she will stay forever or not.  This book has a great concept and it was executed fairly well.  I appreciated an ending that had a little bit more surprise in store than what I was thinking even if I guessed right for part of it.  This is a simple tale, simply wrote, but I appreciate it even more for that.  The author didn't try to overachieve or make the story more complicated then it needed to be.  A very quick read, even if you don't totally love it it's so quick I don't think you'll feel like you wasted your time.

8.  The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

This was a super charming book about 69 year old Arthur Pepper and the mysterious charm bracelet he finds on the first anniversary of his wife's death.  It's a bracelet he's never seen before and on one of the charms he finds a phone number to India.  He makes a call which sets Arthur off on a journey to discover who his wife was before they were married and why she never talked about it.  I feel like the author was probably heavily influenced by the book Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, of which I also loved.  Arthur's journey is filled with both charm and chutzpah (for lack of a better word!) as he finds himself challenged by his situations and growing out of his widow mode and into what can only be described as him finally living his life after a year of moping for Miriam.  The only one thing I couldn't quite get on board with was the fact that Miriam hid so much stuff from him.  Turns out the reason is perhaps quite charming, but I am not sure I can believe it.  I would want to talk about all the things that happened in my past with my husband.  Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book. Definitely read it.

9.  Sahara

I have to admit it, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt series of which this is one, feels like old man reading.  I mean that in the best of ways, really I do.  It's adventure reading for the pleasure of adventure reading, something that I feel like older retired men would do.  Cussler wrote a whole series focusing on Dirk Pitt- an underwater researcher, who happens to be dashing with the ladies, can always get himself out of near-death experiences along with his best friend Al Giordino, and somehow always has the perfect one liner to say.  I love it.  And I'm not even a little bit ashamed.  Sahara focuses on Dirk Pitt in Mali looking for the source of a toxin that is headed towards killing all plant life in the entire world.  At the same time Dr. Eva Rojas is in Mali also looking for a toxin that is resulting in a plague affecting people and making them insane.  Sounds like Pulitzer prize winning stuff, huh!?  Add a tyrannical dictator and a billionaire suave Frenchman and you have yourself quite a story.  I love the Dirk Pitt series, every single one of them.  I read them whenever I want a literal escape from anything serious including reading.  One note, Cussler is a prolific writer, often teaming up with other authors to do writing for him.  I'd say stay away from those and only focus on books where Cussler is the only author.  This book was also made into a movie starring Matthew Mcconaughey as Dirk Pitt and Steve Zahn as Al Giordino.  It was considered a flop in terms of revenue, but I actually loved it.  It does swerve from the book a fair amount, but just like the book, it's adventure for the sake of adventure and sometimes a girl needs that!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Jess Reads October

1.  The Traitor's Wife

The Traitor's Wife follows a woman named Martha who goes to help a family where the wife is getting close to having a baby because the husband travels a lot; and where she proceeds to fall in love with a man named Thomas who has a secretive past in England.  This sounded like such a good book- using the history of the English Civil War to shape the characters and drive the story line. Except Martha is really hard to like and not a whole lot happens.  Honestly, when it came time to come back and do my books read for October I realized this book was completely forgettable.  Like literally.  I had to jump onto Amazon and remind myself what it was about because none of it stayed with me.  Skip it.

2.  Madame Curie

I'm going to be super honest here.  I don't love biographies.  They usually bore me to tears, and as a general rule I tend to stay away from them.  But I came across an old copy (not this one pictured here) for a dollar at a sale, and I have a soft spot for Marie Curie.  This book was amazing.  Written by her youngest daughter Eve, it goes through her life in Russia occupied Poland with her family, all of them also extremely intelligent, follows her into college in France where she meets Pierre, their courtship, struggle to find physics positions for both of them, their marriage and work (they discovered radiation along with several elements, naming one Polonium after her original country of Poland), and her incredible volunteer work in the first World War. There was so many amazing things about her that I had no clue of.  What a remarkable woman in so many ways.  And for most of her career, extremely undervalued.  They did their biggest discoveries in France in a shed with almost no heat.  It wasn't until after Pierre died only 8 years into their marriage where Marie took over his position as the first female ever allowed to work at the college, before she was essentially given the status that her incredible mind and research should have been given to the Curies years before.  She was also the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.  Marie and Pierre could have patented their research on radiation and become exceedingly wealthy, but decided that radiation was for everyone, and to make money off of it was "contrary to the scientific spirit".  An attitude you will almost never find today.  If you are even slightly science minded you should read this book. You should read it even if you hate science.  Madame Curie is 100% worthy of your time.

3, 4, 5.  The Eye of the World,  The Great Hunt,  The Dragon Reborn

When I was a senior in high school a friend of mine recommended The Wheel of Time series.  It was pretty much my first foray into fantasy writing and I loved it.  There are 14 books in this series, all of them in the 500+ pages category, so if you start them it is a commitment.  When I first was introduced to this series in 1999 there were already several in paper back but the series wasn't complete, and I was devoted.  I would read the new one every few years as they were released feeling like 2-4 years was such a long time to wait for the next book.  Sometimes forgetting stuff that would happen because they are so long and it had been such a long time since I read the last one.  And then the author died in 2007 before the series was ended.  You know how you become emotionally invested in something? Yep, that happened,  But Robert Jordan knew he was sick and took many notes and long talks with his wife led him to pick Brandon Sanderson as the author to help write the final books after his death. The final book was released in January of 2013.

All that info. stuff to say that I have decided to reread the series for the first time since the last book was completed almost 4 years ago.  It's been 18 years since I read the first book and I am excited to give it a go again.  It's kind of hard to describe the books because there are a lot of characters, and a lot of stuff going on.  Jordan can be wordy, and repeats background information a lot, but I guess when you write a series over an extremely extended period you need to do that.  My advice to you is just to read the first one and see if you like it.  You can google stuff about it, but all the summaries that I read make it sound kind of ridiculous and not anywhere near as good as it really is.  If you like fantasy, then this series is it.  He's widely recognized as one of of the best fantasy writers of all time. Just be prepared to get sucked down the Robert Jordan hole and not come out for a very long time.....

6.  The Beekeeper's Apprentice

A friend of mine recommended this to me quite a while ago, and I just finally got around to reading it.  It's about an extremely intelligent young girl named Mary Russell who happens upon Sherlock Holmes in the English countryside after he has retired.  They have a verbal exchange which leads to him realizing that an apprentice for himself has quite literally stumbled upon him.  The book moves forward from there as he trains her and follows her story at Oxford.  This is not just another Holmes book, although if you love Sherlock Holmes you definitely will not be disappointed in this.  It's a fresh way to experience "Holmes like" reasoning from a woman's perspective, which truly changes a lot.  This is the first in a series, and the only one that I have read so far.  I definitely will be continuing through them.  Read it.

7.  The One in A Million Boy

This book is very hyped in the blogging world.  It follows a young boy's relationship with a 104 year old woman until he unexpectedly dies and then his father who hasn't been around, vows to finish his son's obligations with the elderly lady.  Boring sounding, I know.  But this book deserves the hype that has been generated around it.  The interactions of the father with Ona (the old lady) throughout the book are incredible, and the pain that you read about through both parents seems genuine.  I feel like this book gave me a fresh perspective on people who are nearing the end of their life. Ona's thoughts on her life are a gentle reminder that you can't just write off people in society because they are old.  So obvious, I know, but something that I think our society forgets. Ona is by far my favorite character, full of spice and one liners, and I love that through the book you get clips of an interview that the boy did with her from just her side.  Read it.

8.  A Gentleman in Moscow

Another much-hyped book.  I loved it.  I loved it so much I am buying a copy.   And that is a rare thing indeed.  This book follows Count Alexander Rostov, an aristocrat who ends up getting house arrest in the Moscow hotel after the Bolsheviks come to power.  It follows his 30 odd years in the hotel and the relationships he forms with the patrons as Russia changes around him.  Alexander brings us back to a time when flowers were sent to someone based on what the flower said.  A time when wines were picked out specifically to complement flavors.  Rostov is a gentleman and while the Bolsheviks may not have appreciated it, you certainly will.  I already have a proclivity for Russian history and took Russian in college, so that may have swung me in favor of this book from the get go, but you will be charmed by this book.

9.  Commonwealth

For my third much-hyped book of the month, this one by far fell the flattest.  It follows the kids of two families who have become stepsiblings after an affair.  Commonwealth was super hard to follow as it jumped back and forth between time and people, and try as I could I just couldn't get into it. I didn't care one lick about what happened to anyone in any of the families.  About the only thing that I could appreciate was the stories of the dumb things the kids did when they were young and thinking about all the stupid things I did.  The rest of this book was a wash.  Not that interesting, not that thought provoking, and not worth your time.

Monday, October 24, 2016


We haven't turned our furnace on yet.

One morning we woke up and the house was 57 degrees.  A bit chilly, but I refuse to turn the heat on until November first.  We actually acclimated a ton, and anything above 64 my kids start complaining that they're hot.

Classy but I cuss a little. Digitally printed on an athletic tri-blend t-shirt. You'll love it's classic fit and ultra-soft feel. 50% Polyester / 25% Rayon / 25% Cotton. Each shirt is printed to order

But the cold will come and this year I've got a new game plan.  Flannel.

I  know that sounds so obvious, but come winter Chris and I have just added more blankets to our bed, not anything strategic.  Before we moved I never had any room for blankets for warmer months and blankets for cooler months.  So I mostly had blankets and covers that would work in milder weather and we just added multiples.

It recently occurred to me that I could put a flannel duvet on my bed and would up my warmth factor a ton.  It was kind of one of those lightbulb moments but at the same time I felt like an idiot, because hello, of course flannel will make your bed warmer.

Behold flannel and plaid.

Dark walls, gallery art and cozy bedding.:

Buffalo Check Duvet Cover & Sham | Pottery Barn:

Pendleton Flannel Glacier Queen Duvet Cover

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

10 Things You Must Bring to the Boundary Waters & Quetico

We just came back from Canada where we canoed into the Quetico (Canada's version of the Boundary Waters only with less people) with friends.  It was gorgeous.  No bugs, fall weather, good friends and food, why would people ever camp in the summer when they can go in the fall?!

gorgeous, isn't it?

In the morning after our first night.

I am not going to give a list on what you should bring with you when you go canoe/camping.  There is tons of that on Pinterest.  I'm just going to give a list of stuff that I felt like was indispensable. (Some which might be on the regular lists.)

1.  Butt Cream
        I'm just going to start with this one to get it out of the way.  You're in the middle of the wilderness, either cleaning by taking a dip in the freezing cold Canadian waters or..... not.  The middle of the nowhere is not the place to get sensitive skin....bring it and use it.  

2.  Baby Wipes
        This kind of piggy backs off number one, but wipes are great to have.  Wipe fish slime off your hands, clean up a bleeding cut, use it to wipe down a bit after you come out and before you get into your car....

3.  Baseball Hat
       Normally I am not a hat person.  And I recently cut my hair off into a pretty severe assymetrical style so when I wear a hat I look like a boy.  But you will want it on the water, especially if it's raining and especially if you wear glasses.

Baseball hat & one androgynous look.

This is what Chris caught...compared to mine above it.

4.  Cheap Prescription Glasses
       The wilderness is no place to take your best pair of glasses.  Hop on to Zenni Optical, buy a few pairs of cheap glasses (like $20 cheap) and use those.  That way if you wreck them you won't be bummed, and if you need glasses I'd recommend taking a second pair, cause you're pretty much screwed if something should happen to them and you need them to, you know, see.

Hipster blue, I could lose these and never feel bad about it.

5.  A Book
        I brought along The Hobbit, because it seemed like a good book to read on an adventure of my  own.  In truth, I didn't get to read hardly at all, the trip was a little quick and filled with stuff, but I always, always carry a book.  I feel like a trip like this isn't really the time to bring a new book that you're interested in.  You're focusing on bringing as little as possible, so I wanted something I knew I would enjoy.  And for the love of all things holy, do not bring a hardcover.  

6.  Ear Plugs
        This is kind of a tough one for me.  At home I need a fan for white noise, but there is something about falling asleep with the wind in the wilderness blowing around you, and I love being in a tent when it rains.  But if your spouse snores or there is an owl that just won't be quiet, you will want these.  

7.  Paddling Gloves
        I actually used weightlifting gloves with the fingers missing.  I don't canoe a lot, and have wimpy hands so these helped in terms of not getting blisters.  They're not a necessity and I actually forgot to leave them out when packing to come home so I didn't use them on the way out.  And what did I get?  Blisters.  

If you look carefully you can see the gloves by the backpack.  Also, this is how you carry your crap when you portage.

8.  Yoga-type pants
        I bought those quick-wicking pants that you see on every outdoor adventurer.  And they worked great, and fit well.  But we spent a lot of time in canoes, and the button pushed into my not-so-flat-stomach when I was sitting and it irritated me after several hours of canoe time.  I actually mostly unbuttoned my pants in the canoe.  My girlfriend had on a yoga type pant and I eyed her up enviously throughout the trip wishing I had packed a pair of those as well.

9.  Lotion
       Your hands are going to be wet, a lot.  Wet mixed with cold leads to some incredibly unhappy hands- think chapped, itchy, and painful.  You will want lotion, cream or some type of salve to rub into them.  You don't need a large container as you don't want the weight, but definitely don't forget this one.

10.  Good Instant Coffee
        Okay, this one is kind of a cheat as you probably would all remember it anyway, but you will love something hot and delicious to drink.  Don't go cheap on this.  Spring for the Starbucks instant mocha, you'll appreciate the better quality out there in the wilderness when you're running only on what you brought with you.  We actually thought a lot about the Voyageurs and how crazy hard their life must have been.  And then I went back to sipping my mocha and being happy for my zero degree sleeping bag that kept me cozy at night.....

Paddling out in the rain- do not, under any circumstance, forget rain gear!  That should be number 11!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Purse Emergency Kit

I've carried an emergency kit of some type in my purse for several years now.  And I've used it a bunch of times.  Here is what I currently carry in my purse.  My current purse is a Duluth Pack Mini Haversack.  It's small.  So so is my stuff.

Starting from the upper left:

The pouch- it was from an ipsy subscription, these bags are perfect for purse kits

1. vaseline mini lip gloss
2. Band Aid Star wars tin, filled with band aids
3.  ibuprofen, just a few pills, go in the band aid box
4.  Peppermint essential oil roll on, in band aid box
5.  Lavender mini essential oil, in band aid box
6.  Mini triple antibiotic ointment, in band aid box
7.  nail trimmer
8.  small shiny container is filled with diy cream for Kembia's eczema
9.  homemade chapstick
10. Bic lighter- I've only used this to heat the end of a needle before removing splinters, but we once asked a DNR what he carried on his belt and he told us all of that but then said "always carry something to make fire with and extra light"
11. Floss, because there will be something in your teeth
12. swiss army knife.  Used it a million times, but mostly things like cutting stray strings off clothes, and trimming nose hair (sad, but true.)

Besides this, we carry a full first aid kit in the car, and a winter emergency kit when it's.....winter.
They have a lot of good ideas on Pinterest, most of the images have tons of stuff, but I like to be able to move the items around in my pouch easily.  If you put that much stuff in it gets hard to find what you are looking for.  I pair mine down and then keep the rest of that stuff in the car.

emergency kit for your's big enough. Why have I not thought of this sooner:

What's in My "Just in Case" Bag | Ashley Brooke | Orlando Florida Beauty and Fashion Blog by Ashley Brooke Nicholas:

Friday, September 30, 2016

Jess Reads September

September you flew by.

This is on a lot of peoples lists.  It's the story of a woman who's husband disappears on the eve of their one year anniversary.  In the beginning it sort of sounds a lot like the first episode of Homeland season 1.  (the only episode I saw of that show.)  Girl loses husband, girl finds great new guy, husband calls from missing for several years.  What's a girl to do?  Two great guys, one technically your husband, one your fiance.  This book is one that you will easily figure out the ending before it happens.  I can't say that I loved it, too predictable, but it is a quick read so it has that going for it.

2.  Pride and Prejudice

Okay, not the first time I've read it this year.  See here for my ranking of all of Jane Austen's novels.  I picked this up again after I watched the excellent movie version of Sense and Sensibility and just wanted to read something Austen.  

What does one read when you've read everything Austen again and again?  Georgette Heyer.  She was prolific and her books always have (at least all the ones I've read) a strong female lead character. This book focuses on Annis, a 29 year old wealthy, independent woman who accidentally ends up in charge of a young woman trying to flee a marriage proposal.  Annis comes into contact with the girl's guardian, Mr. Oliver Carleton, quite possibly the rudest man in all of England.  You can probably guess what happens but it sure is good.....

The second book about Calpurnia, this book focuses on her life in the year 1900 as she discovers the world of veterinary medicine, a cousin who takes over her room, and dealing with being a second class citizen in the world simply because she's a girl.  Not as good as the first but still completely charming.  If you have your daughter read it one caveat- this book focuses a lot on Darwinism (as does the first) as well as excellent science information.  I do not believe in macro-evolution, so be prepared to engage in conversations with your children about evolution and the like and if you aren't ready for those discussions or don't think your child can handle it, maybe wait a bit.  But as a Christian scientist (they do exist!!  My field was microbiology.)  I loved this book.  

This is the lovely Penguin drop caps version, I own it and a few others because I am working on something for our house.  This book is one of the 12 classics that Ava has to read for the year.  I've never read it and thought I maybe should before she does.  This book probably would have bored me to tears when I was young, but as an adult it wasn't terrible.  It follows Jim Burden as he moves to Nebraska after the death of his parents.  He notices a immigrant family with a girl named Antonia who happens to be their nearest neighbor.  The story moves through Jim and Antonia's life at different stages and their relationship.  I felt like the book was really only okay, I didn't hate it but didn't love it.  My favorite part was the ending bit but I can't really describe it without giving the book away, so I'll just say that it made me think about past relationships and what it would be like to come in contact with some of them again.  

6.  Butterfield 8

Again, the Penguin drop caps version.  This book focuses on a prostitute and a married man during the 30s prohibition and speakeasy times post Great Depression.  It's based on a true story which is honestly terrible.  I did not like this book even a little bit, I am a tad bit surprised that it got all of these great reviews when it was written, but then again, I don't like anything it talks about- prostitutes, loose living, being unfaithful to your spouse, so what can I expect.  I literally only read it because it's a book I got for my project.  I'd probably rather glue it shut so my kids can never see what's in it.  Skip it.  

7.  Jane Eyre

I love Jane Eyre more every time I read it.  Ava was reading it for her classic pick for the month of August and I decided to do it with her, only I got distracted by all of the above books and just finished it up.  She loved it just as much as I and we are desperately trying to find an open evening where we can watch the movie together starring Mia Wasikowski.  

Update on my reading goal:  I aim for 100 books every year.  It's not something I push myself to get to, but just a general goal.  Currently, I am at 74 for the year with 3 months left.  My reading has slowed down significantly the last few months with the addition of school back in the game.  (We homeschool.)  So while I think it's doable, I am not really sure.  This year Ava added a sport that she didn't play last year so quite a few of our evenings involve driving to games and I can't read in the car.  Insert sad emoji face here.   Last year my total was 111.