Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping Backyard Chickens Meat, Eggs, and Fun

My chicken journey started in 2013. I was experimenting with gardening, and learned from a library book that chicken manure is prized as a fertilizer. As I investigated further, I learned more about the conditions in which chickens are raised on industrial farms and was very surprised. Partly in protest, partly for the fertilizer, partly in the spirit of experimentation, I decided to try raising a small flock.

The reasons people raise chickens at home are varied, and the trend is growing. No one tracks chicken ownership statistics, but my own experience suggests that the trend is exponential. When I bought my first set of chicks, no one I knew in my suburban community was raising backyard chickens. Twelve months later, five families in our immediate area have started small flocks. Before joining the trend, prospective chicken owners should consider the following points: Click on the link for the rest of the article.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best Present for 40th Birthday: 40 Pounds of Flesh Gone

When I wrote my piece for Yahoo I didn't add a before and after picture. I honestly didn't think the change in my size was overly dramatic. Then I got to thinking it wouldn't hurt to just see what a side by side would look like. So I went through some photos---harder than you may think as I delete most that showed my lower half. I put the side by side together and even I was shocked!

Writing about losing weight wasn't easy. It's not easy to share about losing so much weight, it's embarrassing. Now that I've written the article, I've got some encouraging feedback. Even looking at the pictures reignites my desire to get to my target weight.

If you haven't read my article please do! Best Present for 40th Birthday: 40 Pounds of Flesh Gone.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Heat Wave Torches Vegetables, Crops in Tennessee

On Jul 3, 2012 my husband put together a video about what the heat wave was doing to our backyard garden. Our sunflowers flourished, while other pants did not fare so well.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CLEVER GIRL by Tessa Hadley

All the qualities that readers praised in The London Train are present in CLEVER GIRL, Tessa Hadley's brilliant new novel. It follows the story of Stella, from her childhood as the daughter of a single mother in a Bristol bedsit in the 1960s into the mysterious shallows of her middle age. The story is full of drama - violent deaths, an abrupt end to Stella's schooldays, two sons by different fathers who aren't around to see the boys grow up - but as ever it is her observation of ordinary lives, of the way men and women think and feel and relate to one another, that dazzles. Yes, you think. This is how it is.

My thoughts:
I have not read Tessa Hadley before, but I do have more than one of her books on my wishlist. I have to say this novel was a bit different. It's written almost like a diary or a memoir where she is retelling her story. She was a young girl growing up in the 60's in England. Her father is dead (but she wonders if he really is) and her mom is single. Her mother eventually remarries and moves Stella to the suburbs. She always seems a bit of an outcast, but finds a place in the new generation. She becomes a sort of hippie. There is sex and drugs without commitment. She moves along in her life determined to not be her mother--to be more, because she is clever. She has two children without being married and no real support system in place. Stella eventually finds her way.

For me CLEVER GIRL is a mixed bag. Tessa Hadley had me thoroughly convinced with Stella's story. Completely believable. I can't say I liked Stella nor can I say I thought she made good decisions, but Tessa wrote a character who felt so true and Stella was always true to character. Not only was Stella's character real, but the world around her. I could almost feel the avocado shag carpeting under my feet as I read. I was transported into Stella's story. I didn't like Stella. I wanted better for Stella. But Stella carves out a life, which is true to her. It's hard to explain, you have to read it.

I felt I walked away from CLEVER GIRL understanding people a bit more. Her choices and life path are foreign to me, but she made me respect her differences. I feel like I understand a generation I didn't know before. For as much as I didn't like the story, I loved it. For as much as I didn't like Stella, I loved her. I recommend you take a trip to your local bookstore and open CLEVER GIRL up. This isn't a 'typical' read, not a 'typical' story. It is very good, but may not be for everyone. I do want to say I think you should take time and read a few chapters. CLEVER GIRL by Tessa Hadley is the exact reason why I became a book reviewer. I knew I wanted to experience new genres and writing techniques, I may have otherwise not tried. If you are looking for a more unique experience in your reading selections, than I recommend CLEVER GIRL.

What others are saying about CLEVER GIRL by Tessa Hadley:
“Hadley displays the keen insight and masterful portrayal of the domestic life for which she has become known.”

Ron Rash
“One woman’s story comes to exemplify a whole era in this marvelous novel. Tessa Hadley writes with a poet’s attentiveness to language, and finds the profound and wondrous in the seemingly quietest of lives.”

Carol Anshaw
“With Clever Girl, Tessa Hadley examines the blunt force of young adulthood. She deftly portrays this short stretch of time in which we make many of the most important decisions of our lives, all while driving under the influence of ignorance and inchoate sexuality.”

Sunday Times (London)
“Quietly brilliant….Hadley has always been adept at drawing out the unrecognisable from the everyday….Domestic fiction is often disparaged as less than serious, but Hadley demonstrates admirably that the genre can carry weight.”

Buy your copy of CLEVER GIRL by Tessa Hadley

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

OVERVIEW (Barnes & Noble):

Here's a story about love and loss as only Chris Rashcka can tell it. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy's anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book Yo! Yes?, Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka's signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special.

Winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011

A BALL FOR DAISY, is a hardbound wordless book. From the illustrations the story is that of a dog who loves his ball, loses his ball and gains a new friend.

I sat down with my 5 and 3 year old and really wasn't sure what to expect. I can't say I've ever bought a book without words, I sure didn't expect much to be honest with you. Wow was I wrong! Both kids LOVED this book! With each picture they started telling me the story they say on the pages (and yes most of the time telling me at the same time, lol). Not only were they extra animated, but we easily discussed "feelings of losing a toy" and "how do we behave when someone accidentally breaks something of ours." Not only did they both enjoy it, but my three year old has been dragging it around the house so she can "read" it by herself!

This would make a fantastic gift for your pre-readers! Definite recommend!

Buy a copy for a little one at Barnes & Noble or Amazon!

The books we review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to us by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice.  We never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are our own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.

Easy weekly menu and what I need to buy!

Meal planning, oh how I hate thee. Let's be honest it is necessary if you want to stay at all on top of your grocery spending and avoid eating out. I find if I know first thing in the morning what I'm going to make for dinner, my day runs a little more smoothly. I know what time I need to get started. I know we have soccer at five on Thursday nights, so I will make something in the crock pot. If I know ahead of time what I'm going to make and actually have everything I need--presto better day. Whereas, when I'm not meal planning it may slip my mind it's Thursday and at 4:30 I'm throwing together sandwiches or running to Sonic.

An important aspect of meal planning, is getting the right groceries. I know I've stood many times in the middle of Krogger wondering if I have refried beans at home or not. Then getting home and finding no I don't and didn't buy them or I do buy them and I already have six cans, but I didn't buy the olives I need. With meal planning, I simply right down what I want to make each night (make sure you do this next to your weekly calendar). Then I take my list and go through the cabinets and fridge and see what I have and what I need. Now I know what I need to buy. If I was really good I'd do this for lunches too, but one thing at a time!

All I did I was go into Word and type this up. Took all of five mins, but will save me time and money.