Book Review: The Home Edit

homeeditTitle: The Home Edit
Author: Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Clarkson Potter Publishers
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Pages: 256
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: There’s decorating, and then there’s organizing. From the Instagram-sensation home experts (with a serious fan club that includes Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mindy Kaling), here is an accessible, room-by-room guide to establishing new order in your home.

Believe this: every single space in your house has the potential to function efficiently and look great. The mishmash of summer and winter clothes in the closet? Yep. Even the dreaded junk drawer? Consider it done. And the best news: it’s not hard to do–in fact, it’s a lot of fun.

From the home organizers who made their orderly eye candy themethod that everyone swears by comes Joanna and Clea’s signature approach to decluttering. The Home Edit walks you through paring down your belongings in every room, arranging them in a stunning and easy-to-find way (hello, labels!), and maintaining the system so you don’t need another do-over in six months. When you’re done, you’ll not only know exactly where to find things, but you’ll also love the way it looks.

A masterclass and look book in one, The Home Edit is filled with bright photographs and detailed tips, from placing plastic dishware in a drawer where little hands can reach to categorizing pantry items by color (there’s nothing like a little ROYGBIV to soothe the soul). Above all, it’s like having your best friends at your side to help you turn the chaos into calm.

My Review: The authors of The Home Edit have their own home organization business. They have a good collaboration, as one focuses on practical use and one focuses on aesthetically pleasing. Both ideas are difficult for me to grasp when I am organizing my house, so I was more than ready to hear some functional organizing tips that also look good.

They start off with the practical:

  1. Don’t keep things you are not going to use.
  2. Don’t buy more items than you have space for, so understand your space restrictions. If you are bringing things into the house, make sure you are taking things out of the house. (This bit of advice was particularly helpful to me. I tend to buy and stock up on household items when they are on sale and then have no idea where to put them when I get home.)
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at one time. Start with one drawer.
  4. Everything should have a place.

Then they go into the functional but also looks great part of organizing. This tends to be the part that most people enjoy. Not many people like to go through their belongs and toss things and then try to decide where to put the items they are keeping. However, labeling and shopping for storage containers, etc. seem to bring more joy to the task. Personally, I am not sure I like any part of organizing, but when your life is crazy busy, being organized and knowing where your belongings are should be one less thing you need to stress about.

Here are some ways to get started on this part of organizing:

  1. Once you know everything that you have, design a system that is functional and looks good.
  2. Invest in shoe box containers (not the cardboard ones your shoe purchases come in).
  3. Having see-through containers means that you don’t necessarily need to label.
  4. Invest in over-the-door hanging organizers.
  5. Get in the habit of putting everything in its designated place, but also be prepared that things may not stay perfect.

While this was an enjoyable read, I found the authors need to constantly name drop a bit of a turnoff. In the Introduction, the reader becomes aware that the authors have done organization projects for many celebrities. I think it is a negative toward their home organizing points by using their projects for celebrities as everyday examples, because the average reader of this book is looking at organizing stuff into a much smaller space and with a much smaller budget. I didn’t feel like this book catered that much to someone on a tight budget. I went into the Container Store once, so I could get some organizing supplies and was totally shocked by how expensive many of the containers and organizers were. I am looking for much more affordable options, and didn’t feel that they really helped me understand where to get things that were affordable. However, I am aware that I listened to this audiobook through my library and apparently there is a downloadable pdf that is normally included with this audiobook that I did not receive.

I would normally have given this book more like a 3 out of 5 stars. However, while I found that much of the book wasn’t as helpful as I would have liked, the authors were humorous and personable and made this book a much more enjoyable read than most home organizing books tend to be, so it has earned my 4 out of 5 stars. The following passage really made me laugh hard:

“Top 5 ways to keep your entry looking picture-perfect at all times:

  1. Live alone.
  2. Make sure your kids use a separate entrance. 
  3. Don’t own things.
  4. Change your mailing address to your neighbors and pick up your mail once a week.
  5. Start going places without shoes or jackets, so there is nothing to take off when you walk in the door.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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Book Review: Happiness Hacks

9781615194421Title: Happiness Hacks: 100% Scientific! Curiously Effective!
Author: Alex Palmer
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages: 176
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: Could you be happier at work . . . in love . . . in life? You may not need a total overhaul—just a few good Happiness Hacks! Here are hundreds of shortcuts to brighten your day and boost your mood—and the science behind how they work. Discover why . . .
57°F (13.9°C) is the happiest temperature
Selfies give you a jolt of joy
Renters have a surprising edge over homeowners
17-minute breaks are the most productive
Intimacy is better than sex
It’s more satisfying to work a full 40-hour week
Date night is the key to a happy marriage
Just 10 minutes of exercise can cheer you up!
Whether you’re seeking better health, stronger friendships, or that elusive “happy place,” these stunningly simple tips are proven to help. You can hack your way to happiness!

My Review: I’m currently going through that little funk you experience when you get back from an amazing vacation and have to go back to real life. I thought reading a book about grabbing some happiness in your every day life would help me move passed this funk. For the most part, this book is states a lot of the same key points you learn reading other happiness-related books – exercise more, drink more water, volunteer, go outside more (clearly the author doesn’t live in the hot hell that is Texas), take breaks from technology, and watch less television. This book does give you a bit more as far as everyday tasks that can help on your way to living a happier life and provides the scientific research to back up these ideas.

This book talks about the ways to be happier at work, at home, in relationship, and with yourself. It dives into the topics of technology, health and finances. I really don’t feel that this book left out any component. I think it covered all the happiness highlights, which is why I think it felt a bit more repetitious to me.

I did appreciate a few happiness hacks that I am going to try to incorporate into my life:

  1. Personalize my work space. I have a sort of cubicle style desk space. While I don’t have a private office space, I could put up some personal pictures or other things personal items that might make my space more comfortable.
  2. Take more work breaks to induce more productivity. During the work day, I do have a few burnout moments, and I think getting up and away from my computer would be a helpful thing to clear my mind for a minute.
  3. Cut down on my television watching. There has been so many wonderful things to binge this summer on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime, etc., that I have spent much more time in front of the television than I should. I think I would be more productive at home and get more sleep if I don’t spend so much time in front of the television.
  4. Financial plan with spouse. Finances can be a stressful on a personal relationship. Having a present and future plan when it comes to money might be helpful.
  5. Exercise with others. Exercising with others holds you accountable to someone else. You can’t talk yourself out of doing it. A few years back, my husband and I would take nightly walks. It was a great way to connect, while moving at the same time. I would like to get back to that.

While I actually don’t spend that much time on my phone anymore – scrolling through different social media sights – I know plenty of people who do. This book addresses limiting the time you are on your phone or other tech gadgets. That technology does not necessarily make us happy and can lead to addiction, anxiety and possible harm to relationships.

If you are new to self-help and looking at ways to bring more happiness to your life, Happiness Hacks is a good baseline with plenty of helpful suggestions.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Bout of Books 26 Wrap-Up – August 2019

Bout of Books

This last week I participated in the Bout of Books 26 Readathon. This readathon really helped me get back into reading after a busy summer of work and travel. I was really happy with the goals that I set for myself. This is how I did:

1. Complete 80% of the Challenge:

Instagram = 6 posts (85% of the challenges)
Twitter = 9 posts (didn’t necessarily do the challenges, but I gave updates everyday)
Blog = 2 posts

2. Finish 3 books:

Here are the books I completed:

3. Read 800 pages:

I read a total of 1,179 pages.

4. Read for at least 2 hours a day:

I read for an average of 3 hours per day during the readathon.

I’m so glad I participated in this readathon, as it definitely helped me get my reading groove back!

Bout of Books 27 dates:
January 6-12, 2020

 

WWW Wednesdays – August 21, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I got back last week from my road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland and am now getting back to my beautiful books. Surprisingly, I did not read AT ALL on vacation. That is so unlike me, but I really wanted to embrace the sights on this trip and got to spend quality time with my husband that does not get to happen too often. I did, however, visit some amazing bookstores in Ireland. Here are just some of my bookstore purchases:

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I’m also trying to catch up on some reading by participating in the Bout of Books Readathon that started on Monday. Anyone else participating?

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Focus on Authors: One Summer by Bill Bryson – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Focus on Authors: Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Becoming by Michelle Obama – audiobook/book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
IRL Book Club: Tigerman by Nick Harkaway – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦
Happiness Hacks by Alex Palmer – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Reading Next

What are y’all reading? Tell me what you are reading or post your WWW link in the comments!

HAPPY READING!!!

Reading Bill Bryson – July 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I read Bill Bryson as my July author. I thought this would be a fun author to read, as he writes a lot of travel literature and I was preparing for my own summer travels.

road to dribblingTitle: The Road to Little Dribbling
Author: Bill Bryson
Genre: Travel
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: October 8, 2015
Pages: 380
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone (however, is a follow-up of Notes from a Small Island)
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: July 20, 2019

Goodreads Description: In 1995 Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long farewell motoring trip about England before moving his family back to the United States. The book about that trip, Notes from a Small Island, is uproarious and endlessly endearing, one of the most acute and affectionate portrayals of England in all its glorious eccentricity ever written. Two decades later, he set out again to rediscover that country, and the result is The Road to Little Dribbling. Nothing is funnier than Bill Bryson on the road—prepare for the total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Notes From A Small IslandTitle: Notes from a Small Island
Author: Bill Bryson
Genre: Travel
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1995
Pages: 324
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone (however, there is a follow-up called The Road to Little Dribbling)
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: August 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson – bestselling author of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to return to the United States. (“I had recently read,” Bryson writes, “that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But before departing, he set out on a grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Bryson1-673x1024
Title:
 One Summer
Author: Bill Bryson
Genre: History
Publisher: DoubleDay
Publication Date: August 2013
Pages: 456
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 15, 2019

Goodreads Description: In One Summer Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back to one amazing season in American life.

The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history. In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.
All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: I’ve read a couple of Bill Bryson’s travel memoirs in the past (A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country) and enjoyed them immensely, so I decided to read a few more of his travel memoirs that included Notes from a Small Island and The Road to Little Dribbling, which was a sequel to Notes from a Small Island.

The more I read Bill Bryson, the more I discover this internal struggle. I have enjoyed his travel memoirs, and I feel that this is often because of Bryson’s humor. However, it is the humor that sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable, because most of the time he is making fun or criticizing some place, some thing or someone.

In Notes from a Small Island, Bryson wrote a whole chapter about his dislike of Oxford. His reason for this boils down to the fact that the city has a poor layout and is not pretty. He briefly mentions in The Road to Little Dribbling that Oxford has improved and even includes pedestrian only streets. I recently visited Oxford and found it a very beautiful city and wished I had had more time there to explore. I know that it is okay for me to disagree with the author, but I get turned off when an author gives a whole chapter to negative rants and later gives one paragraph to a more positive view.

This being said, Bryson’s travel memoirs are full of interesting travel notes and adventures, and there were moments that I did laugh out loud. For instance, this passage from The Road to Little Dribbling:

“Naively I pulled off my t-shirt and sprinted into the water. It was like running into liquid nitrogen. It was the only time in my life in which I have moved like someone does when a piece of film is reversed. I dived into the water and straight back out again, backwards, and have never gone into the English sea again. Since that day, I have never assumed that anything is fun just because it looks like the English are enjoying themselves doing it.”

Through Notes From a Small Island and The Road to Little Dribbling, the reader could really picture every part of England from the big cities of London and Manchester to smaller cities like Bradford and Wigan. You really can understand why Bill Bryson loves England so much, as it does accommodate his love of walking. I, too, have managed to walk quite a bit every time I visit England and truly appreciate the author’s love of it.

“There isn’t a landscape in the world that is more artfully worked, more lovely to behold, more comfortable to be in, than the countryside of Great Britain.” ~The Road to Little Dribbling

As I finished reading his two books about his exploration of the UK, I couldn’t help but wonder what the author might think about the impending Brexit policy.

I also read One Summer: America, 1927. It was refreshing to hear the author’s voice in something other than a travel memoir. Who knew that so many interesting events occurred in the summer of 1927, including the Mississippi Flood, Charles Lindbergh’s nonstop solo transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, the premier of The Jazz Singer (which ended silent film), prohibition and the building of Mount Rushmore. This book covered many interesting characters as well, like Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Buster Keaton, Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was a fascinating time in American history. However, you can see from the characters I listed, that there was little mention of women in this book.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Bout of Books 26 – August 19-25, 2019

I’m gearing up for Bout of Books 26! After going on vacation and not reading at all, I am more than ready to get back to all my beautiful books. If you don’t know what the Bout of Books Readathon is, here is a description created by the hosts:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, Twitter chats, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 26 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
– From the Bout of Books team

Here are my goals for the readathon:

  1. Do at least 80% of the challenges.
  2. Finish 3 books.
  3. Read 800 pages.
  4. Read for at least 2 hours a day.

Here is what I will be reading:

If any of you are interested in participating in the Bout of Books Readathon, you can sign up here. It’ll be an amazing time!!!

HAPPY READING!!!

Hometown Adventure-Milwaukee-July 2019

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There is nothing like being a tourist in the city that you grew up in! My parents still live in Milwaukee and actually embraced our Milwaukee adventures during my short visit with my husband.

DAY ONE:

Summer is my favorite time to visit Milwaukee, and it is not just because I am soooo overMilwaukee_Summerfest_logo snow, but I love all the outdoor festivals, especially Summerfest – the largest outdoor music festival in the world. While I did not have an opportunity to attend Summerfest on the lakefront this year, I did manage to head to the lakefront for Milwaukee’s 3rd of July Fireworks. This has been a tradition in my family for years. Some families even camp out on the lake for days prior to the fireworks. We always head down in the afternoon with our cooler full of food/drinks, blankets/chairs, and games/books, where we will have a few hours to enjoy some fresh air and family time. We had an interesting experience this year, where we had perfect weather until about an hour before the fireworks when a wall of fog moved in. After a few test fireworks, we all realized we couldn’t see anything, so we packed up and started to walk to the car. We were actually on higher ground when the fireworks started, and we managed to see them afterall.

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DAY TWO:

My dad took my husband and I to the Milwaukee Public Market in the Third Ward. This is a great place to meet friends for food or drinks. There is free Wi-Fi and plenty of seating options. Sticking with my objective to be a tourist, we spent a majority of our market time at the cheese stand, but we also visited the spice stand and had to buy a 4th of July decorated treat.

From the Public Market, my husband and I walked along the Milwaukee River. We were blessed with perfect weather – see the picture at the top of this post. As we got near the theater district, we had to stop and say “Aaayy” to Henry Winkler’s Happy Days statue. At this point we opted to take a mini lunch break on the riverside patio of the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.

20190801_091013Then we met my parents at the Lakefront Brewery for a brewery tour. Definitely, try their appetizers. We enjoyed their pretzels and fried cheese curds so much. The tour and beer were outstanding. This is a must visit!

We decided to keep with the brewery theme and had dinner at the Water Street Brewery. This is a great place for a social dinner.

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DAY THREE:

20190801_090439We traveled around a lot more. I didn’t get to experience the new public transit called The Hop, but I saw it. We walked around the20190801_091301 Historic Third Ward again, where you will see a lot of boutique stores, art galleries, and even a speakeasy or two. I love the fact that Milwaukee now has bike rental stands, but I especially enjoyed that the rental bikes are called Bublr. You will understand why that is humorous if you are from Wisconsin. After learning a bit more about the history of the Third Ward district in Milwaukee, we saw another 20190704_194521historic landmark – Trinity Lutheran Church.

Trinity Lutheran Church has been around since 1878. My grandmother actually got married there. Unfortunately, less than one year before the horrific fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Trinity Lutheran Church also caught fire and had extensive damage, but at least it still stands, and I hope that they can repair the damage.

My parents then indulged my love of books and took me to an independent bookstore in Milwaukee called Boswell Books. It is large with perfect spaces to lounge with a good book. Actually it would be a great place to host a book club too.

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Down the street from the bookstore, we had a nice dinner. One beer I always like to have when I visit Wisconsin is Spotted Cow from New Glarius. It is one of my favorites. Even my mom ordered that, so that is a good recommendation right there.

No dinner is complete without the best Wisconsin dessert – frozen custard. While Kopps is a favorite custard stand in Milwaukee, and I enjoy them as well, my family has been going to Gillies Frozen Custard stand for years. I can’t visit Milwaukee without going there at least once. They have added a lot more outdoor seating too.

SIDE EXCURSION:

While there is still so many things to do in Milwaukee, my parents and I decided to take a20190731_151550 trip up north to visit some family. Some times it is nice to explore rural Wisconsin for a bit. We visited a small town just outside of Oshkosh, which is not just known for its kids clothing brand – OshKosh B’Gosh – but is also home to the EAA Aviation Center. The yearly airshow, which brings people from all over the country, was just this last weekend. Just outside of Oshkosh is the dairy farm my dad grew up on. It still has its beautiful red barn.

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There is something to be said for going back to the city you grew up in and just being a tourist. When you live in a place, you often don’t experience all it has to offer. For example, I love books and have for years, and yet I don’t think I ever stopped by one of Milwaukee’s largest independent bookstores. It’s nice to be able to go back and truly appreciate where you grew up. I hope to go back soon and experience a whole new list of what Milwaukee has to offer, and, of course, try some more beer…

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