Tag Archives: guest writer

The Last Lecture: Book Review

As promised, here is my second guest post! Shannon is a mother, wife artist and teacher. She blogs about maintaining an attached parenting style while working full time on her blog The ArtsyMama.  She also contributes to Natural Parents Network and Everything Cloth.

The Last Lecture
by Randy Pausch with Jeffery Zaslow

I first read this book a few years ago and I thought to myself – this will be a book I share with my children.  I was struck by the honesty and feeling with which this book was written.  The premise of the book is that the author Randy Pausch is dying and wants to share what he learned in life with his children.  The book stemmed from the last lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon where he was a professor.  He gave his lecture to his students and the faculty there at the university but the real “head-fake” was that the lecture was actually for his children who were too young at the time to understand what was going on or to understand the lessons he wanted to share with them.

The author frames his message through his childhood memories.  He discusses the plans he made as a child and what he did with those plans.  If you are looking for a book that touches on the spectrum of human emotion and is reflective of a life well lived, though cut short – pick up this book.  The book also has a companion website.

The Last Lecture is available on Amazon.com in hardcoverpaperback, Kindle edition and audio book formats.


When Pigs Move In: Book Review

8,000 hits are here and I have 2 guest writers this time! Today’s guest writer is Amy Phoenix. Amy is a gentle, yet direct parenting guide and healing facilitator dedicated to sharing insights and practices to transform frustration and anger, heal the past and nurture conscious relationships. You can visit her at Innate Wholeness. I hope you enjoy her book review below.

A few years ago I had a spiritually transforming experience when faced with death and cultivating an inner relationship with Christ has been a moment-to-moment journey ever since. In many ways it is about undoing negative influences in my consciousness to let God lead. I admit I was intrigued when a friend told me about the book When Pigs Move In written by Don Dickerman, who was spiritually anointed to help people become free of demonic influences.  The title of the book comes from Matthew 8:28-34, when Jesus drove devils out of a man and they asked to go into the pigs rather than the abyss.

via cdn.arsenalbooks.com

Although I have a broad view of Christianity and When Pigs Move In challenges how I would usually discuss spirituality, I have never been given a book that was not beneficial for my life. Dickerman, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, highlights the many ways Satan’s army robs, steals and deceives. Instead of this being some weird account of demonic possession and exorcism, it is a very straight forward book outlining how dark forces are responsible for many, if not all, of our ills. This ranges from negative thinking to depression to diseases of the body. He discusses how these demonic influences find ways to attach to us, what purposes they serve and how to remove them.

I appreciate passion and Dickerman employs it throughout the book. He was led to this type of ministry when he was preaching to people in prison. One evening after he spoke with a group he went to his hotel room feeling like he was not doing enough. He would lead people to Jesus only to see them still suffering. He fell on his knees asking God to show him how to really help these people. In the following weeks he had visions of God healing people through him. He was told that he may not know what to do, but that healing would take place. The book outlines situations where people who were previously tormented in various ways were freed through deliverance.

When Pigs Move In may bring up some core fears for Christians and it can also put those fears to rest. If you question how much influence dark forces can or are having in your life, this book can help you make that determination. Dickerman bases his work on Biblical scripture and gives clear directions for delivering one’s self from the traps of sin and evil through Jesus. Readers who do not have a stomach for strong Christian language or the evangelical approach may want to set judgment aside and ask God to lead them as they read.

View Dickerman’s video explaining his reason for writing When Pigs Move In.


Made From Scratch: Book Review (and a Recipe for the Perfect Salad!)

6,000 hits is here and with it is a new guest writer! Melissa from My Journey to Lean has some great things to share with you. Enjoy!

I have enjoyed reading Julia’s blog for several months now. She and I met in our adult Sunday School class at church, but we didn’t really get to know each other well until we both got into blogging. Since then, I’ve realized how much she and I have in common. We both have a passion for God and all things natural! One difference is that she’s a mom and I haven’t had that privilege yet. But I’m filing away her tips on cloth diapers and homemade baby food for when that day comes. Julia asked me to write a post to celebrate her reaching 6,000 hits on the blog! I had a hard time deciding what to write. After much deliberation, I decided to do a quick summary about my blog, a book review, and a quick recipe.

MY BLOG

My Journey to Lean is about a personal journey to eliminate the unnecessary elements of various aspects of my life. It started as a physical journey to lose excess pounds and body fat. It continued as a spiritual journey, realizing that all aspects of life are ultimately spiritual, and that I can’t do anything on my own. Then it began to touch every aspect: social networking, entertainment choices, organizing and decorating my home, recipe creations, organic food options, and the list goes on. I’ve always been a journaler, so blogging came naturally. The only part I don’t like is that it’s not on paper (I still love an old-fashioned journal and pencil). There’s something about a blank page that speaks to me: it’s a world of opportunities and, call me crazy but, I just love the smell of paper and freshly sharpened pencils.

BOOK REVIEW

I picked up this book at Mast General Store over the weekend and thought it would be the perfect highlight for this blog. It’s called Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm.

Cover of "Made from Scratch: Discovering ...

Cover via Amazon

The author, Jenna Woginrich, caught a dream from a coworker who owned her own farm. She learned how to raise chickens, angora rabbits, and grow vegetables at a small rental house, how to play mountain music in TN, and eventually bought her own farm in VT, and started sheep farming. She loves antiques and simple living, including percolated coffee, knitting, and gardening. She believes it’s time to slow down and loves using hand-powered kitchen tools, like hand-cranked coffee grinders and antique cheese graters. She’s my kind of girl!

This book gives you insights (and even step-by-step dos and don’ts) regarding raising chickens, rabbits, and training dogs. She has a delightful narrative style. And what I appreciated most was her advice on page 12:

“I think the real trick to finding that sense of satisfaction is to realize you don’t need much to attain it. A window-box salad garden and a banjo hanging on the back of the door can be all the freedom  you need. If it isn’t everything you want for the future, let it be enough for tonight.

Don’t look at your current situation as a hindrance to living the way you want, because living the way you want has nothing to do with how much land you have or how much you can afford to spend on a new house. It has to do with the way you choose to live every day and how content you are with what you have. If a few things on your plate every season come from the work of  your hands, you are creating food for your body, and that is enough. If the hat on your head was knitted with your own hands, you’re providing warmth from string and that’s enough. If you rode your bike to work, trained your dog to pack, or just baked a loaf of bread, let it be enough.

Accepting where you are today, and working toward what’s ahead, is the best you can do. You can take the projects in this book as far as your chosen road will take you. Maybe your gardens and coops will outgrow mine, and before you know it you’ll be trading in your Audi for a pickup. But the starting point is to take control of what you can and smile with how things are. Find your own happiness and dance with it.”

The last section of the book contains all kinds of resources for each topic discussed in the book. I found my copy at Greenville’s Mast General Store on a buy-one-get-one-free sale; you can get yours on Amazon for about $10, too (also available for Kindle)!

I think it’s great anytime anyone tries to make small changes towards simpler living, whether it’s setting aside an hour on Saturday morning for a quiet cup of coffee and a good book, choosing an organic head of lettuce instead of conventional from the grocery store, starting your own garden, or buying a farm, take one small step at a time and enjoy every moment of it! This book doesn’t necessarily have a Christian worldview, so remember that whatever you do is for the glory of God. If you have a desire, recognize that it may be from God, and trust Him to fulfill your dreams. As a side note, you might be interested in the Simple Living section of one of my new favorite blogs: Frugal Granola. And feel free to stop by my blog anytime and leave your comments!

RECIPE: The Perfect Salad

 

1.       A Leafy Green Base: the darker the green, the more nutritious. Be creative and try a new lettuce variety, especially if you’re stuck on Iceberg; Bibb, Red Leaf, and Romaine are always good options, or you can branch out and add spinach, kale, or other greens likes collards, mustard greens, or Swiss chard. My favorite is the Organic Girl brand at Publix (when I can’t get it from my own garden).

via eating-in.com

2.       Add Some Color: I suggest at least one from each color group below…

a.       Something Red: grape tomatoes, red pepper, strawberries, pomegranate arils, sliced beets, dried cranberries, radishes, apples

b.      Something Orange or Yellow: bell peppers, carrots, banana peppers, mandarin oranges, mango salsa, corn

c.       Something Green: peppers, cucumbers, sprouts, green beans, granny smith apples, pears, zucchini, artichoke hearts, celery, broccoli, peas

d.      Something Blue or Purple: blueberries or other berries, purple cabbage, grapes, purple carrots, raisins

e.      Something White: mushrooms, onion, cauliflower, garlic or shallots

3.       Add a Protein: this can be grilled chicken or salmon on top of the salad, or something simple like a half cup of rinsed and drained beans (kidney beans, black beans, whatever your favorite is), a hardboiled egg or an ounce of low-fat cheese.

4.       Add a Healthy Fat Source: 1 Tbsp. of olive oil or chopped olives, ¼ avocado, or a small handful of nuts and/or seeds. You need healthy fat in your meal if you want to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins available in the rest of your salad!

5.       Add Some Flavor: balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, freshly cracked black pepper, etc. Stay away from high-sodium and saturated fat laden options. Something crunchy is always fun too (depending on what you’ve already added): whole wheat croutons, asian noodles, or these salad toppers from Oh She Glows are all fun ideas.

Bon Appetit!

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you! And Congrats to Julia on 6,000 hits on her blog! Keep up the great work, Julia!

Enjoying the Journey, Melissa


Home Renovations – Which Ones Are Really Worth It?

A Little Bit of All of It has reached 4,000 hits so it’s time for a guest writer! I have been wanting a male voice here on the blog so I’m excited to welcome Josh Lyall! He blogs regularly for Jackson Marketing Group where he is involved in offering research-based strategic marketing solutions. I hope you enjoy something from the male point of view today here on the blog!

First, let me acknowledge what you are already thinking: “Josh is a weird name for somebody writing on a mommy blog.”  It’s true, I’m a dude – so what am I doing on a mommy blog?  Well, I thought about turning down the invite to guest-post, but this blog is just so warm and inviting compared to the normal ones I write for (marketing/business/technology blogs), that I just had to stay a little longer once I visited.

I know I could earn bonus points with my host if I wrote on one of her favorite topics like the upcoming National Hug a Pug Day (Note to Self:  March 23rd – make more effort than usual to avoid people with pugs) or my discovery of some sort of granola and green tea based exfoliating cream.  But instead, I thought I’d just write about something that is occupying a good percentage of my free time right now: home renovations, and deciding which ones are worth it.

My house is getting to the age when the second wave of more serious repairs/renovations kicks in.  At 15 years old, the house has been through a round of carpet and linoleum replacements and the normal paint and appliance/HVAC system repairs, but the bigger stuff is looming – roof, gutters, full HVAC replacement, etc.

It is with these larger repairs looming that I have been considering renovations.  The goal is to not incur significant costs that would limit the ability to complete larger projects that come up, while still making the house more livable and more re-sellable when the time comes.  As I went down the list of potential projects for the house and began to investigate their related costs, the need for some supporting research became clear (I don’t make decisions without data).

The Cost vs. Value Report published annually by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine provides a good resource for evaluating which home renovation projects give you the most value for your investment in the long-term appreciation of your house.  The data can be viewed broken down by the region of the country the house is in, which provides some interesting insights into the different average costs of projects throughout the country.  The most interesting information is definitely the average percent of project cost recouped.  Looking at different regions of the country, you’ll see things that make sense, like the value added to your house by adding a deck is higher in the Southeast or Pacific West than New England (where you’d need to shovel your deck to use it most months of the year).

For my purposes, I screened the data for the Southeast and compared all the potential renovation projects that were on my list.  It quickly became clear that several projects made the most sense, starting with a minor kitchen overhaul.  It is interesting that a minor overhaul (done well, of course) actually lends 4% more return on investment than a major overhaul.  Plus, both a minor and major kitchen overhaul are in the top ten for project costs recouped, putting them among the best projects to help your potential resale value.  Other high-return renovation projects are entry door and garage door replacement, changing to vinyl windows, and of course, adding that deck (assuming you’re in a climate with less than 10 months of winter – sorry Minnesota).

During a time when selling your house might not be possible and improvements are needed to make staying more enjoyable, it would be advisable to do a little investigation into which projects you will be able to get the most value out of when the housing market turns around and a move is possible once again.

Well, I’m heading back to tearing up flooring in my kitchen – thanks for the respite in the land of the mommy blogs.  And if someone does start selling green tea granola exfoliant, I want a cut.


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