Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jess Reads March

Let's dive in, shall we?

Up first ( I list them in the order I finish them)

 Charlotte Collins.  

A continuation of Charlotte's story after her husband dies.  I kind of have a thing for books that finish up Jane Austen's characters that we are always left wondering about.  Fun, quick, and yes, it ends happily.  Which is what you hope for a girl who chose to marry Mr. Collins.

The Glass Sentence

This was a fun one.  It's about a time where all of the different eras of humanity have gotten mixed up.  As in, you may travel the world and be in 21st century Boston, but 500 miles away might be in 16th century North Carolina.  The details on this could have been taken a lot further because it is such a fun concept, but overall it was still a good book.

Death Comes to Pemberley

Six years after Elizabeth and Darcy married there is a death on their property and it looks like Mr. Wickham committed the murder.  Written by the famous PD James, of crime writing hall of fame, this was a great story that I loved even more for her subtle use of characters from Austen's Emma and Persuasion being involved (both referred to near the end).  And Lydia Bennett ends up getting an ending sufficient to her annoyingness!

Living Well Spending Less

I saw quite a few recommendations for this book.  It's the personal story of a former shopaholic overcoming her spending to save her marriage and improve her relationship with Jesus.  (She also has a blog.)  The book reads sort of like a self-help/bible study.   I appreciate her frankness in saying that she still overspends and that it is a struggle.  The information isn't new exactly, especially if you've read other Christian authors talking about spending and maintaining a home, but it is still good things to hear and hopefully help you reconsider a few things in your own life.  

Anti Cancer

Written by a doctor who developed brain cancer, it was his search to help his disease where he became a believer in how diet is the largest factor in disease development.  This book has transformed the way Chris and I view food.  I can pretty much promise you if you read it you will want to eat better and make a lot of changes in your life.  This is one of those books where I say buy it, but he does have a website that has a lot of valuable information on it.

Around the World in 80 Days

I was only meh about this book.  The reviews on Amazon are like 4.5 starts, so maybe it is just me.  It follows Phileas Fogg, a wealthy, eccentric man who takes on traveling around the world in the mid 1800s in 80 days.  He brings his new valet a Frenchman named Passepartout who is by far the most likable character in the book.

Technically, it's about their adventures as they traverse the world, but it's hard to get excited about it because Phileas Fogg doesn't even care about the world.  He's just traveling for the sake of the bet. It is kind of a bummer because the idea of this book is totally awesome and something I would be completely onboard with.  It just failed to inspire.  I much preferred Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Keep Chickens!

Self-explanatory.  However, the rest of the title is: tending small flocks in cities, suburbs and other small spaces.  None of which applies to us.  I grew up on a hobby farm, but I don't know a lot about chickens, so it's kind of like chickens for dummies specifically for Jess.  Not a whole lot to say because I can't talk about it like it's a novel.  If you want to get chickens read it.

The Return of the King

I finally finished this trilogy after starting it in 2015.  It's been 16 years since the last time I read the complete trilogy.  There's not much I can say as it's a series that should be read by everyone before they die.  The appendix at the end of this one is insane, with all of the background information Tolkien created for each race and the languages he made up.  The trilogy in order of my favorite: The Fellowship of the Ring (book 1), Return of the King (book 3)and the The Two Towers (book 2).  

Pride and Prejudice

Every year at some point I read all of Jane Austen's novels.  And like everyone else, I waffle back and forth about what book is my favorite.  So I decided that this is the year I will finally rank. them   Also, this book is a Barnes and Noble edition that is flexi-bound.  More than a softcover, but not quite hardcover.  The pages are very thick and of a great quality.  I've started collecting them for Ava.  She just received 4 for her birthday.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

You wouldn't think that a novel about a 68 year old British man falling in love with a Pakistani woman would hold your attention.  But this novel was completely charming.  It made me wish that Americans had retained a few of the British formalities and customs.  Because of his love interest being Pakistani, you are introduced to her nephew who leans towards being a religious zealot.  There are points in the book that just reiterate my frustrations with extreme Islam and its control over women.  It's all pivotal to the book but frustrating all the same.  But you still should read it.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Book 6 of the series, only one more to go.  I've thoroughly been enjoying this series again after 9 years.  Ava has read all of them as well, and went through a period where for 3 or 4 months all she read was Harry Potter.  I eventually had to take them away so she would read something else!  Her new kick that our pastor got her hooked on is The Ranger's Apprentice.  She flew through all 12 books in less than 2 months.

Book I didn't finish:

One Year After

Okay, technically I did finish this but only because I skimmed this book.  A lot.  So much that I felt I couldn't count it as a book I read for March.  His first book One Second After, was fantastic.  It was a look at what would happen if an EMP was set off over the US.  That book was actually brought before Congress to show them how vulnerable our electrical systems are to attack.  

But this book is a giant bore.  Lots of fighting, and just not interesting.  Not saying it isn't what could happen, but I just could not get into it.  Skip it and read the first one instead.

Jess Reads February
Jess Reads January

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Liz Marie

I've been sort of following the blog Liz Marie for quite a while now.  I say sort of because I don't check everyday, but I  like to pop in at least weekly and see what she's done with her house.

Her style is definitely modern farmhouse, with lots and lots of white.

DIY shiplap walls - How to shiplap an entire room for LESS THAN $100. A full tutorial on how to shiplap the easy way & the cheapest way for a huge impact. A must pin for future shiplap projects!
Shiplap tutorial here.


 Cozy Neutral Farmhouse Style Living Room - With Ikea Ektorp Sectional. Cozy cottage style vibe makeover progress with source list of everything in the room - Great pin for neutral cozy home decor!

One of my favorite bedrooms ever.

DIY rolling bookshelf - A vintage inspired DIY bookshelf that is so easy to build! With complete instructions on how to build your very own custom one. A great piece for living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, media rooms, & so much more!
DIY rolling bookshelf   I may really just make this a reality for our house.

She also does great inspirational design spreads.

Untitled Industrial Home Decor All From Target - a great source for amazing industrial furniture & home decor.

If you go here you can read their struggle with infertility.  They have lost 6 babies in the last 4 years, and the grace with which they have handled it is amazing.  I cannot even imagine.

Definitely check out her blog, I think you'll love is as much as I do.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Kind of all the rage right now.

Even if country chic isn't the first phrase you'd use to describe your decor taste, we're guessing you've sat spellbound through at least one episode of HGTV's Fixer Upper.:

Which sort of makes me laugh because I grew up with the ugliest brown, faux wood paneling, reminiscent of this new trend.

Incorporating Shiplap Walls in your Home || Studio McGee:  fixer-upper7-800x1200

Call me crazy, but I do like it.  A cleaner version of the pallet walls that were all the rage a couple of years ago.

Transitional Nursery With Rustic Wood Wall | Fresh Faces of Design | HGTV:

Give your home a rustic chic interior design makeover with these home decor styling tips.:

Actually, for our bedroom I still contemplate a wood pallet wall.  But I love it in white too.  It may be a fun option for our lower level (in white) that I just don't know what to do with.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Natural Deodorant Update

A while ago I posted about making natural deodorant.  I thought I'd give you an update on how it's working.

Homemade Deodorant without Baking Soda - If you've tried to make deodorant and found that your pits couldn't handle the baking soda, you're not alone! After a year of trying to handle the burning under my armpits I gave up and looked for a new homemade deodorant without baking soda. This new formula works and doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.

Initially, it worked great.  And then I shaved my armpits for a fancy event.  Which pretty much messed everything up.  Remember how I said that I don't shave my pits?  Well, get rid of that hair and your body has a thing or two to say about it.

A lot of people have an adjustment period before natural deodorant works, and getting rid of my hair caused me to have that issue.  Instead of the deodorant working awesome as it had initially, I headed straight to stinkville.

It's two weeks later and the deodorant is finally starting to work again like it did at first when I still had hair.  Which I am greatly pleased about because it's no fun to go out into public and you're super conscious if anyone can smell you!  The only thing I don't know for sure if if it's working because my body is adjusting, or if it's working because my hair is growing back.

At this point I am  not complaining because it's working.  We'll worry about hair and tank top season when that comes.....At the very least I am not putting aluminum into my body anymore, and I do appreciate that.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Turquoise Glassware: A True Story

Last fall I came across A Beautiful Mess' collection of colored glassware.  So much fun.

In progress- collecting colorful glassware!

I filed it away for "someday" and forgot about it until recently when I was looking at Pioneer Woman dishes at Walmart.  And came across these ice cream dishes.

The actual conversation in my head went something like this.  "Oh my gosh!  These are awesome, and beautiful!  I have to have them!  But Chris would kill me if I bought dishes just for ice cream." And so I left them on the shelf and reluctantly said goodbye.

Two weeks ago we were having ice cream in our regular sized Pioneer woman bowls, and the very next day Chris left a note saying that he wanted small bowls for ice cream.  I almost died.

Guess what I did?!

Friday, March 18, 2016


You may be wondering what in the world is a chemex?  And it would be the most gorgeous coffee device ever invented.  And I really want one.

It's a pour over coffee device, similar to a french press in that way, but you do use filters for the top. I've researched a Chemex compared to a French Press and the consensus is that the french press makes a better cup of coffee, with the chemex a close second.

Apparently, the chemex is a smoother cup because of the filter, but I actually like the sediment that comes with the french press.

The real reason I want a chemex isn't for the coffee.  I actually want it because I have a ton of counter space that is begging for gorgeous things on it, and with a chemistry minor, I tend to have an affinity for all glassware that looks interesting and useful.  I've even tracked down real chemistry beakers to get and display just for fun.  Total nerd.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Anti Cancer & The Dirty Dozen/Clean 15

Our family has slowly been revamping the way we do medicine, use chemicals and eat.

We've focused on food a fair amount since our move because we are closer to stores that we can get organic and that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Recently, I read the book Anti Cancer, A New Way of Life

I highly recommend it.  The author is a neuropsychiatrist who developed brain cancer and through his research discovered how our food has been significantly altered since WW II and how that has changed both the food and our bodies.  And not for the better.

It's been a significant push for our family to go as organic as possible, and to really reconsider the chemicals we expose ourselves to.  The information in it can actually be more than a little scary and more than a little overwhelming.  But don't let that stop you from reading it.

Here is a great chart to print and bring with you to the store.  It has the dirty dozen foods you should always buy organic and the clean 15 that are the least contaminated.

This book is on my "buy" list.  I get a lot of my books from the library and don't really buy them anymore unless I love them exceedingly or find the information too valuable to not own.  This book falls in the latter category.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Best Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ava is the baker at our house.  And she totally rocks it.

We came across a recipe for Chocolate Chip Muffins on the blog Dishes and Dust Bunnies.  And it is by far the best we've ever made.  Plus we made it with some powdered milk and eggs we've had on hand for the last year and needed to use and they were still the best we've made.

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Her's are gorgeous pics, aren't they??

And a shot that I remembered quick at the end when I was baking the last 4.

I was actually a little nervous having my phone this close to an oven that was heated at 375!
This came straight from Dishes and Dust Bunnies.  And make sure you check out her hair, amazing color!

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • 2¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp + ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Optional - 1 tbsp coarse sugar - the clear kind that's used for decorating confections,etc
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Using cooking spray coat the muffin pan. Make sure that the whole top is covered, not just the part that the batter goes into.
  3. Place paper muffin/cupcake liners into the muffin pan.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a whisk so that everything is well combined. Stir in 1¾ cups of the chocolate chips.
  5. In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients, making sure the eggs are well incorporated as well.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. IMPORTANT: If you stir too much the muffins will become too dense and more like a puck. You want the muffins to be fluffy and moist just stir everything until the dry ingredients just combine with everything.
  7. Scoop out the batter evenly into each section of the muffin pan.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the batter with the remaining chocolate chips and the coarse sugar.
  9. Bake in the oven for 7 minutes at 425°F then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for 15-20 min.
  10. Once the muffins are finished baking cool in the muffin pan for 5-10 minutes.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tiny Houses??

You may have heard of the tiny house craze.

Little tiny houses that people live in.  There are even tiny house shows on tv!  A lot of them are around 300 square feet or smaller.

Most of them are on wheels, and the images always show them parked somewhere glorious in nature.

It does kind of look like a heavenly retreat.  But a full time home?  I'm rather doubtful.

Love the siding on this one, and the following two pictures are from this same home.

In theory, I love the tiny home idea.  Making an adorable house that you are very consciously choosing everything that can be used in more than one way.  I think this is a great counter to America's buy it all, have it all, excess-to-the fullest mentality.

In reality, I think it would be very, very hard to live there.  Especially if you have kids.

I kind of actually wonder what the divorce rate is for couples who live in extremely tiny houses like this.  Cause I might just freak out on Chris if this was our situation with our 5 kids!

I would totally put one of these on our property to have as a retreat for myself though!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tears and Two Chairs

Okay.  Tears might be exaggerating.  A little.

The family went to Goodwill on Saturday afternoon about 2:30.  I always go to the books first, which happen to be just past the furniture.  Sitting on the end were two gorgeous wing-backed chairs.  Navy blue fabric, some small pattern, a little old fashioned but not too much.  Similar to this.

I noted them, thought they'd make amazing chairs for our library, or maybe a chair in my room, and then continued on to the books.  Where I should probably mention I didn't find even a single book, although I did contemplate some Reader's Digests for decorating, but didn't because I didn't find spine colors I liked...first world problems.

I would have done something like this.  Maybe in the future.

Anyway, we went home and I thought about the chairs all the rest of the evening.  So I decided on Sunday to go back after church and get them if they were still there, which I highly doubted.  And they weren't.  I was bummed but not really surprised, and then I noticed a small, slightly mauve colored chair sitting there.

Now, I know the color isn't fantastic, but this chair is one I can easily slip cover, and when you put a pillow on top, it drastically improves it.  This chair is super comfy, and definitely more in line with my style.  And it was only $7.  I put it in my bedroom.

And then I saw some wood on a chair, so I had to investigate.  Totally ugly green cushion, but it could come off.  I can't believe this was still sitting there and for only $10.  Look at it!  It totally rocks.  I couldn't find any markings on who made it, but the cushion cover is real leather and not fake, so I am thinking it's probably not your average Target, but even if it was I don't care at all.  This chair is in my living room being admired by me every time I walk pass it.

I might still be a little bummed I missed out on the wingback chairs.  They really would have been gorgeous in the library, but it wasn't meant to be.  And next time, I will snatch those chairs up!

Monday, March 7, 2016

How I Use Amazon's Wish List

We're Amazon Prime members.  Love it so much I can't even handle it.  It has this awesome wish list function where anything you pull up can be put into a massive wish list.

You can do all sorts of things like make it public so your honey can see the things you'd want and others as well if you'd like.  I don't use it that way because I don't like people to have access to my stuff.

I do use it to mark anything that sparks my interest, and since my memory is terrible it is a great way for me to keep track of things I'd like in the future.

But mostly I use it for books.  It has become the way I keep track of any books I want to read and then I go over to my library's web page and borrow them.

Amazon may not technically love that it's used that way, but I would say 99% of my books are bought through Amazon, so they can't begrudge me too much.

I am always stumbling across books on websites or places, and I will quick do an amazon search and slap it into my wish list.  In the past I would write titles down on random pieces of paper and then immediately lose them.  Now I have a permanent way to keep track of my ever growing to-be-read list.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Perhaps Too Much Time?

I was on Pinterest looking for Hobbit cartoon characters to make bookmarks for Owen.  Anything to make my reluctant reader less reluctant.

I came across the buzzfeed quiz "Which male Lord of the Rings Character would fall in love with you"?  So of course I had to take it.  And got Kili.  Which makes me laugh a little bit because he's not even in the books, but was a fun addition to the story and probably by far the best looking dwarf in the movies!  Here to take it yourself, cause you probably want to.  (This might be a good time to add that we just got back from 9 days away from home and everyone may be having a slight time adjusting to our normal routine!)

You got: Kili

  1. This handsome young dwarf is completely in love with you. He was intrigued by your beauty at first, but soon discovered you have a great sense of humour, are fun to be around, and are loyal to those you love. You would fit in very well with the Durin family!
    Warner Bros.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jess Reads February

I  may have gone a little Harry Potter crazy this month.  For some reason, of which I can no longer recall, something gave me the idea to reread all the Harry Potter books.  I haven't ready any of them since the last one came out in 2009.

I didn't actually read them all, but I did read books 1-5 and am a significant way through book six.  I  knocked out 5 of my 9 monthly books with just this series.

It was pretty fun and very fast reading, although I kept envisioning the movie scenes as I read instead of using my imagination of what I thought it would look like because the first time around I read, not all the movies had been made.  And I am having an internal debate about which Dumbledore I like better, the Dumbledore from movies 1-3, or from movies 4-7.

Richard Harris, died of cancer      Michael Gambon, the replacement
Movies 1-3                                    Movies 4-7

I lean towards Richard Harris personally.

I also read :

The Two Towers

I read book one as my 2nd or 3rd book of 2015 and then never finished the series.  Again, it's been since college when I read these last, 1999 to be exact.  We've been watching a lot of the movies lately and I thought it was time to revisit them in book format.

Spark Joy

This is Marie Kondo's follow up book to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I actually ended up buying this book because I was 22nd on our library's waiting list.  Then the day it came in the mail the library copy was mine because our library system allows those in a specific library to have first dibs on the book before those requesting the book from outside it.

I'll probably do a separate post since the KonMarie method of tidying is pretty much sweeping the nation right now.

But I will say that if you can only buy one of her books buy the first one.  Spark Joy was good, but Life Changing Magic was better.

On the Path of the Immortals

All right, this one is a bit strange, to say the least.  It focuses on ancient peoples and their many references around the world from different cultures that claim to have seen giants, unexplained lights and other strange hybrids of animals, and humans.  They focus on researching these cultures that have no known links to each other, and also link it with thoughts on unidentifiable things seen today. President Jimmy Carter filed a claim that he saw a UFO, as did several US and Russian Astronauts as well as Walter Cronkite, Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus (both of these saw strange, round lights hovering and moving in the sky, a very common occurrence that continues to this day), to name a few well-known people.  This book is actually written by two Christians who research the sightings and cultural references with the view that these types of activities are mostly likely demonic related.

Weird but definitely interesting.  I wasn't smart enough to follow some of the physics like string theory and different dimensions that have been proven mathematically correct and how that factors in to some of these things, of which they delve into with some frequency.

I read 8 books for February, coming up short of the 9.3 I need to read to hit my goal of 100 for the year.