Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Reviews: 21 - 25 of 2017

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** is pretty much exactly as it sounds: a wake up call for those who think they should care about everything all the time and have made themselves vastly unhappy. A lot of the information has scientific research to back it up, but a lot of it is also just good common sense. We cannot care about everything all the time and still live our lives. It's just not possible. By worrying and making everyone else's problems into your own problems and thinking you can control anything about other people will just make you feel like a failure. This book really drove home a lot of concepts I have learned for myself and in a poignant way. All I can say is that everyone should read this book. Obviously there is language, but the underlying message is something we all need to embrace to be happy. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather is a classic story of turn of the century middle America. Jim is orphaned young and moves from Virginia to Nebraska to live with his grandparents. On the same train with Jim are the Shimerdas, a Bohemian family moving to the area next to his grandparent's farm, and the book chronicles Jim's friendship with the daughter named Ántonia. Jim has an obvious crush on Ántonia that carries with him throughout his life. The Shimerdas speak almost no English, so Jim is enlisted to teach Ántonia. They spend a lot of time together before tragedy strikes and their familys fall out of favor with each other. Jim's family eventually moves to town for an easier life, and Ántonia follows to work for another family in the town. Their paths always seem to cross, and even when Jim is much older and Ántonia is married with lots of children, they still have a deep fondness for each other. I enjoyed this little glimpse into life in the late 1800s in the midwest, and the story keeps you engaged. While I wouldn't call this a great work, it's a nice little window into a different time and place. I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.

Who's In Charge? is an interesting look at brain science and what they know about "free will"... if you can get past the very long intro of technical jargon first, and if you don't mind seeing the word "homunculus" more times then you ever thought possible. The information this book offers is great. I found the section on what problems different lesions in the brain caused for some patients (my fav: apparently there is a type of brain lesion that makes the victim unable to identify fruit but is normal in every other way). The info is engaging even if the writing style is not. If you can push forward, you should find something to enjoy. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking is an entire book that could technically just be a paragraph when you get down to it. The idea is cute enough: Hygge is the cozy, contented feeling that the Danish try to build their lives around. Of course that's a good idea by anyone's standards. The book starts off interesting, but quickly begins repeating itself, then turns to things like recipes and recommendations on home decor to fill the space (and it's still a small book). While I like the overall idea, I don't feel I really needed to read a book about it. Maybe if I'd lit a candle in a reading nook next to a fire with candles around me while wearing woolen socks with a cold storm outside while I read this book then I would have appreciated it more. Alas, I live in Florida. Hygge for me has nothing to do with woolen socks and fires. Cute, but not worth the hype in my opinion.  I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is not a book I would typically go for. I read the synopsis and realized this is the book that the movie Clue was based on, so I had to give it a read. 10 people arrive on a remote island off the coast of Devon, England with only vague ideas of their host or reason for being invited. When people start dying off in a style that consists with the 10 Little Soldier Boys nursery rhyme the book touts, the island visitors become distressed trying to figure out Whodunit. The book was enjoyable - a decent mystery escape, typical of Agatha Christie. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Hurricane Irma - Damage and Clean Up

So, we have survived Hurricane Irma and have been busy cleaning up after it ever since! I've lived in Florida my whole life, and this was certainly an enormous storm, but at the same time I knew everything would be ok. In reality very few people die from hurricanes in the US, so while I knew we may not be super comfortable (when power and water goes out, if your roof blows off, etc), I knew we would all be fine in the end. And that is just what happened :) I live on the East Coast of Central Florida, which is where a great deal of the tornado activity came through. Thankfully none of my property was effected by the tornadoes, but I know several people who were and it's pretty crazy damage. I figured I would show anyone interested what we've been dealing with in my neck of the woods. 
Just after the storm passed us, we went to check on my house. I was pretty sure that some of my huge oak trees would fall on the house, but thankfully they stayed up and just littered my yard with debris. We had some pretty large limbs, but nothing fell on my house :) Super lucky, guys. I had some shingles blow off, but nothing that was any big deal.
My husband and I both (separately) worked on our yard over 2 days and this is the pile of debris by the road. And there is still more! It seems like my trees are held together with Spanish moss because it covered every inch of my grass, and there was still plenty more up in the trees. Crazy. After rubbing blisters in my hands from raking so much, I just didn't have the strength to carry all the piles from the back up to the front, so this pile will get bigger this weekend. Phew! I am still trying to sell my house, so now I can say this place is majorly hurricane tested :) (anyone want to buy my house? lol)
Next we went to check on the condo I'm living in while I try to sell my house. This is on a barrier island and my unit is bottom floor directly on the water, so I was under a mandatory evacuation. When we drove back up, this was the first thing we saw - the car port was everywhere. These are pieces of solid sheet metal that are peeled back like a tuna can top. The sheets were everywhere - attached to the port, up in trees, on the sidewalk, etc. Some people who didn't evacuate left their cars parked in their spaces and their back windows were busted out. Even a week later this place is still a mess of metal.
The other big bit of damage to my place is the dock - it's gone! The waves beat the dock so hard that it ripped off large sections and pulled back the parts that didn't come off. Even the land next to the dock is missing in some spots - we're talking major erosion. It even sucked the sod off and all in some places. The other end of the dock is still attached, but it curves about 4 feet away from the land in some spots. The pictures above are just out my back door. The bottom left picture shows something else pretty interesting - look at the 7th floor balcony - someone's porch is completely gone! I was extremely fortunate that there was no damage to the inside of my condo. My porch flooded, but no water got inside. Such a miracle considering what was happening outside.
These pictures are of what the car port looked like last night. It makes for some creepy sounding wind chimes, particularly at night. Thankfully my space was just fine and I'm able to park, but most others have had to figure out parking somewhere else.
Another happy incident involved my eye. I have no idea how, but Monday after the storm I burst a blood vessel in my eye :/ It's been a full week and I still have a ring of blood around the center of my eye.
And after cleaning up with my family all week and moving back to my condo, I went out with others from my church yesterday and helped people in the community. We went to 3 different cities with chainsaws and we took out trees for people who couldn't take care of it themselves or who couldn't afford to have it done. We chopped up 5 huge trees and cleaned 7 yards. We were hot and dirty (I was scratched up and sun burned too), but it was all worth it to see the relief in the faces of the people we helped. I got a great big hug from one woman, and we had several people in these neighborhoods come and thank us for helping their neighbors. It was a pretty good day. If you have a disaster come through your area, be on the lookout for out yellow shirts! We will surely be there :) Gotta love the Mormon Helping Hands.

So that's a little tour of my week. I finally got power back on Wednesday and water back on Thursday. I'm still on a boil water notice, but it could be so much worse. As this storm was coming towards our state, my area was being told to prepare for the worst category 4 or 5 and a direct hit. With the way the storm shifted and entered on the west of the state, we only had a category 2 when it arrived here. It was crazy to watch - my mom and I sat on her screened front porch at 2 am when the worst hit us and watched the wind. I know I keep saying "it was crazy", but I just can't describe it any other way. Sorry for my less-than-interesting writing style today, I think my brain is still recovering, lol. I'm glad we came through ok and that we were able to help others in the process :)

Were any of you effected by Hurricane Irma? How did you fare?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Be Back Soon - Hurricane Crossing!

Just a quick post to let you know I won't be able to post for a little while, lol. I'm located on the East Coast of Central Florida, so Hurricane Irma has kept me pretty busy this week. I live on the water, so I had a mandatory evacuation today, but I am hunkered down inland with my family and we should all be just fine. I made sure to pack plenty of yarn and patterns (and even some sewing stuff), so maybe I'll have something to show from this hurricane, lol. Hopefully I will be back next week reporting that everything is fine, but just in case I thought I'd put up a message that there may be a little blog silence depending on the outcome for my area. Who knows what will happen, but no matter what we will be ok :)

Thanks for being readers of my little blog, and I hope to be posting again very soon!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer of Basics: My Makes

Well, I managed to make these 6 pieces this summer, and they are my entries in the Summer of Basics make-along. The lovely part about a make-along like this (other than getting lots of very useful basic items to wear from it) is that there are prizes involved :) So I've organized my pieces by which category I will enter them in - nothing like the last minute!
First up is my coordinating pieces entry. This consists of my "outfit":
I've worn each of these pieces both together and with other things and they are definitely new favorites in my wardrobe :)

I also managed to make these 3 other pieces that technically go together, but I won't really be wearing 2 shirts at the same time. These have been well incorporated into my closet as well (particularly the black skirt).

And while I know it isn't the most technically advanced "pattern hack" around, I did hack the Renfrew neckline to be higher and did a different neckband treatment, so I'm throwing these into the ring as well.

Did you participate in the Summer of Basics? I'm really happy I did, and I hope this challenge continues each year because it really helps you make pieces that are very wearable. Yay for basic items!