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Urban Leaving to Country Living

Wednesday HodgePodge 03Jan18


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Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond hosts a weekly hodepodge of questions.

I was sick yesterday so didn’t read my email with the HodgePodge questions until noon today. So I’m w-a-y- down the list of participants again, but here goes!


1. It’s that time of year again…time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words (or phrases) they’d like to see banished (for over-use, misuse, or general uselessness) in 2018. You can read more about the decision making process and word meaning here, but this year’s top vote getters are-

unpack, dish (as in dish out the latest rumor), pre-owned, onboarding/offboarding, nothingburger, let that sink in, let me ask you this, impactful, Cofefe, drill down, fake news, hot water heater (hot water doesn’t need to be heated), and gig economy

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you’d like to add?

I was puzzled to see unpack on this list but it’s referring to its misuse as a verb that should be analyze, consider, assess, and so on. That I can agree with.

The word I’d most like to see gone is impactful, as the panel says: “A frivolous word groping for something ‘effective’ or ‘influential.’” It seems to me to be just bad grammar.

And, yes, while we’re talking about this, I’ll tell you my pet peeve and hope that I don’t mortally offend anyone. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen (heard) that the word “died” has died an unnatural death in the English speaking world. A decade ago, someone would have died, or passed away, or even passed over, but now people only “pass”. I’m always tempted (very irreverently & probably offensively) to ask, “Pass wind?” Please, people, death is neither pleasant nor natural nor anything but grief-inducing, but it is what it is. Using that, may I say ‘trendy’, euphemism doesn’t alter the facts.


2. What’s something you need to get rid of in the new year?

I need to get rid of this house. I feel rather ill saying that. I love this property, I love this house, I love the village 6km down the road, but we need to be able to make decisions about retirement and we can’t be anchored here by a piece of real estate.


3. Where do you feel stuck?

I feel stuck in winter, as odd as that sounds. The cold makes it impossible to do work outside that needs to be done, both in the garden and on the buildings, and it makes it difficult to work in the unheated barn to sort and dispose there.


4. January is National Soup Month. When did you last have a bowl of soup? Was it made from scratch or from a can? Your favorite canned soup? Your favorite soup to make from scratch on a cold winter’s day?

I can’t remember the last time I had a bowl of soup and it was probably canned.

I guess one thing that winter is good for is soup-making and eating.

A friend gave me a big bag of freshly harvested carrots a couple of weeks ago and I have been roasting them for suppers. I think tomorrow would be a good day to make a pot of carrot soup. Usually, I make split pea.

5. Tell us one thing you’re looking forward to in 2018.

Finding out more about what the future holds for us! Where will we end up? By the end of this year, we should have the answers to a number of variables (when will the house sell? How much will it sell for? Where will our grandchildren be? Etc.) and should be narrowing in on our path for the next few years.


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6. Insert your own random thought here.

We laid the ceramic tile in the upstairs bathroom last week. Note the scraps of old dark wallpaper that the previous owners had covered with a high baseboard.

I’m so eager to get with on the rest of the reno in there!


Have you an opinion about any of these? Have I any readers left after question #1?

posted under Just Me | 14 Comments »

Wednesday Hodgepodge


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Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond hosts a weekly hodepodge of questions. This week’s questions piqued my interest.


1. ‘Hurry less, worry less’…what’s your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? How’s it going so far?

This one is easy. Since we don’t celebrate any holidays, there’s no more or no less to do than at any other time of the year. It’s working well, and has for the last 30 years.


Honey-Do List photo honey do list 250_zpswg0v6qu1.jpg2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourself or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks?

Not to prepare for the winter season, but to prepare for selling our house next year. There’s a list a mile long: strip & paint two bathrooms; replace counter, sinks, toilet; take up the old carpet on the stairs; sand & paint the stairs & lay new runner; clean the barn; and so on and so on. Lots of these I’m doing myself but we’re hiring some help: to trim the trees and carry the brush away; to put a door on the basement stairs; to clean up Bill’s to-do list that just seems to keep growing since he works full-time – including four hours commuting 4 days each week. By weekend, when he also has other responsibilities, he’s toast. I’m so happy to have found someone to clean this up for him.


3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be -turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc). What’s the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? Also, can milk really be dairy free? Is it still milk?

Thoughts: I’ll have to be sure to use up that turmeric tea in the cupboard; I’ve just collected the equipment for sprouting beans and alfalfa – darn! Does this make ‘trendy’? Yuck!; we already stock almond ‘milk’ for our grandson and I much prefer it for my smoothies; and now I can serve lentil soup and hummus with a ‘clean conscience’.

‘Milk’ is just semantics.


Welch's Can photo welchs can_zpsmabku8tl.jpg4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site ‘Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.’ What say you? Do you like the color purple? Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!? Is purple a color you wear often? Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple. If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018?

I like purple, but this ‘Ultra Violet’ is a little too purple for me. I mean, what are we supposed to do with that?

When I was a teen, I decorated my entire bedroom in shades of purple. That’s where the only purple item that I can think of in the house now is from: an old metal Welch’s grape juice can (it’s sold in cardboard now) that I use on my desk. How to describe it? Easy: grapey.

If I was in charge? I really don’t know – maybe a sage green. I think the world needs soothing right now.


The One and Only Ivan photo one and only ivan_zpsjzceje9s.jpg5. Favorite book you read this year?

I had a few 5 star books this year, but the one that is most memorable for me is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. It’s a middle grade book, based on a true story about a gorilla that spent decades alone in a cage in a mall in the southern USA. It’s haunting.


6. Insert your own random thought here.

This is the first time I’ve participated in Wednesday Hodgepodge. I can’t promise I’ll be in every week, but maybe now and then.


posted under Just Me | 10 Comments »

Taking a Break


Life is overwhelming me.

Since my surgery (spinal fusion) in September 2015, I have been trying to regain the cleanliness and order in my life that I had been gradually losing over the ten years previous.

too much stuff 95 photo 60c7d882-c5a9-40e1-905a-68345450f8aa_zpsivyjchif.jpg

Add to life in general, the sorting of not only the things I brought back from my mother’s house in 2014, but the items we took out of Bill’s mom’s house a year ago when Ma went to a nursing home and the house she had lived in since 1955 was sold.

Add to that the fact that we are embarking on an extensive reno of our house to prepare for sale when Bill retires in three years, and that we are going to visit friends in Ecuador for a couple of weeks in the new year and I have to learn a least a little bit more Spanish than how to order two beers, and life is overwhelming me.

How, I asked myself, did I ever manage when I worked full-time? And what am I spending my time on now? The answer lies largely in the Internet. It wasn’t there before. And now I spend lots and lots of time reading book blogs and commenting, and posting to, and following up comments on, Exurbanis.

Taking a Break 300 photo acfaf7cd-3aa2-4477-a38a-aabf693a6cb4_zps2hfsnxzq.png

So I’ve decided to take a digital break. I’m not going to post to this blog except for the exceptions noted below. I’m not going to read other book blogs and I’m not going to comment. I’m not going to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.

I am going to clean and sort and paint. I’m going to clear up backlogged projects, including my “Books Read” record, so you will see those posts as I get them done up (and I will gratefully read all your comments although I may not be able to respond). But other than that, my computer time is going to be severely limited.

 photo 4a58718d-ce92-4980-8cc8-9acbc7b15d45_zpsi66vyhtj.pngI’ll miss you all but please know that my silence isn’t because I don’t love you all. I just need to get my sane world back. I hope to be back by the time summer comes again to Nova Scotia.

posted under Just Me | 20 Comments »

The Daylilies are in Bloom Again


(Does anyone remember Katherine Hepburn’s famous line in Stage Door, 1937: “The calla lilies are in bloom again.”)?

When we moved here, there were several daylily plantings that have all thrived and grown. They really need to be divided this fall!

daylilies photo 2016-07-24 daylilies 2 400_zpss6aofcbp.jpg

A sea of colour. Unlike many parts of the country (I’m thinking of you, Ontario) we had lots of rain and cool weather in June so the garden is somewhat lush.

daylilies with bench photo 2016-07-24 daylilies w bench 400_zpsryhlv7rb.jpg

A sunny spot to sit for a minute.


Snapshot Saturday 21May16


Southern France 2014: Cows in the yard, in the heart of the village.  

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshot 14May16


Southern France – shouldn’t that be ARRÊTEZ?

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

ANYBODY OUT THERE? . . .there . . . there . . .


I have been absent from my blog for many, many, many months although I have been trying to keep current in the blogosphere, reading your posts and sometimes (alas, infrequently) commenting on them.

I had been keeping myself from a presence here until I could get all of my books records up to date but they are getting so far behind now that the thought is overwhelming (although I do still intend to finish them up) and I’ve decided to break radio silence and start posting again without meeting that goal first.

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So, this is just to notify you that I will be turning up in your readers and inboxes again, if there are any of you still out there. I won’t be posting every day, or maybe not even every week, but I’d like to at least make your acquaintance again.

SAD TIMES or Why I’ve Fallen of the Face of the (Blogging) Earth


Okay, so I was never the most regular of bloggers and I was way behind in 2013, just giving you my monthly reading summaries.
It was July when I posted “Books Read in May”.
It was October before I posted “Books Read in June”.
But I was this close to posting July’s books in November – and truly, really, catching up before the year-end.

And then my mother died. Very suddenly, very unexpectedly. If you’ve lost your mom, you know what a life-changing event this is. It’s like losing the solid ground you’re standing on. And , for good or for bad, we will all go through it.

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To add to my unmooring, I became responsible for sorting through Mom’s things, a task that took five months half a continent away from my husband, my friends, and my home.

And while I was gone, we lost both of our dogs. One, to old age: an expected ‘put-to-rest’, but the other to an agonizing death due to a cancerous tumour on his spleen that burst at the worst possible time to obtain veterinary help.

Thus, I’ve reeled through the past seven months. And, it may seem, I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

It’s very possible that no one out there cares, but I’ve come to rely on my blog as my personal record of books read. So for my benefit, if for NO one else’s, I’ll be posting throughout the next few weeks to at least catch up last year’s reading record.

It’s part of rebuilding the ground under my feet.

Saturday Snapshot: Baby Quilt


My new grandbaby is due to arrive this weekend and I’m having a hard time being patient.

This is the quilt I made for them: machine-quilted, but it’s the first pieced quilt I’ve ever made – and some of the first sewing in 25 years.

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I really had no idea how to properly piece a quilt, but last year I saw a quilting frame in my neighbour’s front room when I stopped to buy some fresh eggs. So I did what I never would have had the nerve to do in the city: I phoned her and asked for help.

She and her daughter invited me to their home and spent a morning teaching and helping me with this project. I will be forever grateful for country neighbours!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

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Who Wants Mail?


The month is nearly over and I almost missed it!

snail mail photo snail_mail_zpsbcf4e964.gifThe United States Postal Service has named April to be National Card and Letter-Writing Month. The USPS’s goal is to boost written—and mailed—communications to build relationships through cards and letters. “Touch them with a letter they can feel – and keep,” they say.

Maya Angelou is widely attributed with saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How long has it been since you’ve received a real card or letter in the mail? Snail mail? Probably far too long. But if it’s recent enough to recall, perhaps you can remember that it did indeed ‘touch you’.
Wouldn’t you like to make someone else feel that way? Maya says they’ll never forget it.

I’ve said before: I love mail. While the USPS’s goal of increasing snail mail is admittedly self-serving, I endorse it whole-heartedly. Here’s what I want to say:

 photo TheRodgerssign225_zpse22a0b36.jpg1. Stop right now and think of someone in your life who needs to be appreciated. Send him or her a card or letter today.

Say thank-you, say I love you, say I’m thinking of you, I miss you, get well, happy anniversary, I appreciate you, I’m sorry, welcome to the neighbourhood, have a good trip, good work, it was nice to meet you . . .you get the picture. Just say something and get it in the mail!

2. No matter where you are in the world (I want to take mail-sending international), if you’d like to get some snail mail yourself, just send an email (the irony is not lost on me) to debbie at Exurbanis (dot) com and give me your name and snail mail address. I’d love to send you a note to say ‘hi’.



I have a confession to make: for the past few months, I have had a growing creature on the corner of my desk. It was my INBOX.

In the dark days of winter when I couldn’t face making decisions, everything went into my INBOX – for the “next” time I was at my desk; I would deal with it then.

It started out so innocently (4 years ago) like this:
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(It was in better shape then.)

But the pile outgrew the box and reached the point where it couldn’t support itself. So I put it in this:
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(See how nicely it fits!)

Alas, even that didn’t last and I had to find another box:
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(See all the room around the red box? That’s extra space for “stuff!”

No question about it: my INBOX was threatening to physically take over my office, as well as burdening me with lots and lots of guilt. Mind you, I have a number of other baskets to cull, but they’re project files, not current items that keep me awake at night.
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(This is “BEFORE”.)

I don’t know how she did it but my favourite organizing guru, Jen Hofmann at Inspired Home Office, threw me a life-preserver last week, in the form of her monthly newsletter, Juicy Gems. The subject line read: What to do with the baby elephant on your desk.

Jennifer wrote that newsletter especially for me; I know she did. So, I listened to her advice. It was brilliant!

I had my husband carry the box down to the dining room table, and I dumped it out upside down (one of Jen’s tactics). I spent many 5 minutes periods over the next couple of days standing (another two of Jen’s tips) at the table, sorting.

I pushed anything paper that was no longer relevant down to the edge of the table where my husband picked it up each time he walked past to go to the basement to feed the wood furnace. (Yet one more of Jennifer’s hints – not that the paper be burned, but that disposal be easy).

When I got to the bottom of my pile, I had several smaller piles that I knew exactly what to do with: file, return to shelf, put away in drawers, and so on. This was all in my INBOX – and probably half again as much paper but Bill took it away too fast to be photographed.
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AND I have new INBOX:
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(This is “AFTER”.)

I know it still looks like a lot to do, but it works for me. And I’m so proud that I just had to share it.

SO – what’s the state of your inbox? As bad as mine was? Worse?

posted under Just Me | 10 Comments »

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Box


One of the pitfalls of moving to the country is the same for moving anywhere – you leave family. Nearly all of our family is in Ontario (where we spent our first five decades), about a 1,700 km (1,000 miles) drive. Visiting can be expensive and there’s only so many vacation days available in a year.

250So when I saw this idea in Real Simple Magazine a couple of years ago, I jumped on it. I took a large shoe box, covered it in old maps, and lined it with fabric. Then I filled it with small gifts that I had picked up in my day to day travels, and sent it to my sister.

We call it our “sister safe” and it travels back and forth between us at erratic intervals. When I got a parcel notice in my mail box last week, I had no idea what was waiting for me at the post office. It was surprise gifts from my little sis.

Sister box contents

Here’s what was in the box, all individually wrapped in tissue paper. Delightful! Thanks, Jul!

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The Catching of Mice


Here’s the thing: country living in an old farmhouse = mice in the house.

We’ve seen several mice hiding in the basement woodpile this winter so my husband set traps. (Country living tip: rodent traps are more effective set perpendicular to the walls along which the mice run.)

My three-year-old grandson has a toy snake that he threw down the basement several times without explaining why (and people brought up each time they fed the furnace). Crying, he explained, “I keep throwing my snake down and somebody keeps bringing it up. It needs to be down to catch the mice.” We couldn’t argue with the logic, so left the snake on the basement floor.

After my husband checked his trap-line this morning, here’s what Steven found.

snake and mouse

He could not believe his eyes (after all, he knows it’s a toy snake), but once he took things in, he was delighted! Ah, the joys of grandparenthood (in the country).

What Makes a 3-Year-Old Cry?


Our three-year-old grandson has a pretty happy disposition and not much gets him down, but he was in tears this morning. We’re having a bit of a blow here on the east coast – a nor-easter with lots of rain and winds that are gusting to 100 km/hr (60mph). The ‘breezes’ caught the tree that held the start of the tree-house that Grampa is building for Steven – and took it out by the roots. Tire swing’s gone, too.

treehouse down

The silver lining? As Steven, who never cries for long, says: “I can fill up that hole with water and jump in the B-I-G puddle!”

A Little Bit About Me


I’ve found that some of the blogs I enjoy the most are the ones where I know a little about the person behind it. So, I picked this up from A Sorta Fairy Tale and thought I’d complete it A-Z. Some of these questions are not the ones I’d ask (or answer) but sometimes what other people want to know is what they want to know!

More book and country related posts this week…

A. Age: 57
B. Bed size: King (& pillow-top) and I can’t imagine going smaller now
C. Chore that you hate: Cleaning the toilets
PWes & FarlowD. Dogs: Wes, a yellow Lab and Farlow, whose mom is a Valley Bulldog & dad is presumed to be a German Shepherd. All of our dogs have been named after guitar players (Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, Lenny Breau, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow)
E. Essential start to your day: swing my legs over the edge of the bed!
F. Favourite colors: Wedgewood blue, soft gold and forest green
G. Gold or Silver: Silver
H. Height: 5’8”
I. Instruments you play: the piano (although I haven’t for years, so maybe I don’t)
J. Job title: Card Sender & blogger – and volunteer minister
K. Kids: a lovely red-headed grown daughter
L. Live: Tatamagouche Nova Scotia
M. Mother-in-law’s name: Eileen
N. Nicknames: Deb, Auditor-general
O. Overnight hospital stays: to have my tonsils out when I was 5, to have my daughter (decades ago), other surgery in 2001
P. Pet peeves: television! (It rots your brain…)
Q. Quote from a movie: it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. (Casablanca 1942)
R. Right or left handed: Right handed.
S. Siblings: four, all younger
T. Time you wake up: Usually between 7 & 8 a.m. (I used to be in the office every day at 7:30, so this is sleeping in)
U. Underwear: Yes
V. Vegetable you hate: Fennel
W. What makes you run late: Trying to do just one more thing…
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Dental, my arm, my foot, my other foot…c’mon I’m nearly sixty, there’s likely lots more I can’t remember
Y. Yummy food that you make: pasta with fresh garlic, tomatoes & basil
Z. Zoo animal: Elephant. I’ve always had a weakness for them.

And I love to get know my readers. What about you – want to answer one of these?

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Summer’s Swan Song – a September Day at the Beach


I was out doing volunteer work yesterday afternoon and got quite warm in the car. Each time we drove past an ocean view, the water looked so blue & inviting that I thought of stopping the car and just diving in.
catching the waves
Today promised to be as warm so we decided to make a last run to the beach. (Much cooler weather is forecast, starting tomorrow.) That ol’ Atlantic was darn cold – and rough, what with the stiff breeze coming in, but my three-year-old grandson had a ball while his mom & I sat in the sun.

making sand castles

Even if we have a very warm Indian summer next month, this will probably be our last beach trip for the year. Bittersweet.

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Book Review: UNFINISHED BUSINESS: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things by Lee Kravitz


4 star rating

What would you do if you suddenly lost your high-powered, high-pressure job in a declining industry, and received a year’s severance pay? Hit the pavement? Take up a hobby? Stay under the covers?

Unfinished Business,Lee KravitzThe author of Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things, Lee Kravitz, faced just such a situation in his mid-fifties. After taking stock of seemed to be a very successful life, he decided to spend that year reconnecting to the people in his life. As he says:

As good as my life looked on paper, it was sorely lacking in the one area that puts flesh on meaning: human connectedness.

We all have the kind of unfinished business to which Kravitz refers in the title of his book—emotional loose ends: old friends we’ve lost touch with, promises we made but didn’t keep, family we’ve grown apart from, things unsaid that need saying.

By the time we reach our fifties, most of us have accumulated a long list of such items, partly because we think we’ll get to them later, we need our own time, we’re busy with other things, or it’s just too difficult to or embarrassing to carry through. It’s true that as Kravitz says,

If we remembered how we could be separated from our loved ones at any moment, we would accumulate a lot less unfinished business.

In Kravitz’s year of making amends, he set out on ten ‘journeys’, including catching up with a loved aunt who had drifted out of his life, making an over-due condolence call, paying a 30-year-old debt to an associate, looking up a mentor of his youth, and visiting a high-school friend who is now a Greek Orthodox monk. Along the way, he gains insights into himself and into what really makes a life – his and ours.

Reading this book has made me aware of the emotional loose ends in my own life, but being aware and taking the time and effort to do something are two different things. Lee KravitzKravitz recognized how much of a struggle it would be to keep up the rekindled relationships on an on-gong basis once he ‘re-entered his life’. He determined to make time, and so should we all. I would be interested in a follow-up from Kravitz: how has he handled that intention?

Of course, you’ll relate to this book if you’re a baby-boomer, beginning to question the value of what you’re achieved thus far in life, but don’t wait until then. Read this at twenty, thirty, or forty and perhaps you’ll prevent some of the regret that comes of losing touch over the years with the people you care about. After all, as Kravitz says:

Life goes fast. Click. You are fifteen. Click, click. You are fifty-five. Click, click. You are gone. And so are the people who loved and nurtured you.

Link for my Canadian readers:

Unfinished Business

Note: is charging twice as much (19.44) as ($10.00 for hardcover), so if you’re in Canada, I’d suggest the Kindle version:

Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things

Book Review: The Daughter-in-Law Rules by Sally Shields


The Daughter-in-Law RulesFirst, let’s be sure you have this right. This is NOT the “daughter-in-law rules” as in “the cat rules, the dog drools” but as in rules of behavior for daughters-in-law or “101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-In-Law”.
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There are Stories to be Told: Start a Family Tradition


One of the most rewarding ways to use your larger outdoor living space in the country is to gather your family members for a reunion. Perhaps it’s a small group that gets together annually, or a large one whose far-flung members attend every two or five or even 10 years.

Whether large or small, a reunion is a wonderful opportunity to knit families closer together through shared stories. In the much-underrated 1990 film Avalon, a Russian immigrant to 1940s America relates the disintegration of his family ties. In his young manhood, his children gathered at the feet of older relatives during family gatherings and listened to tales of their heritage and history. As television took hold of society in the late ’50s, children and adults alike opted for the entertainment of television personalities, instead of the stories of their roots.

And just as the art of listening to stories has gone by the wayside, so has the art of telling them. Here’s how to re-start a tradition of storytelling at your family reunion. Read the rest of this entry »

Thank You Power


Two time Emmy winning newscaster Deborah Norville is a successful author of several books including her latest Knit with Deborah Norville, as well as Back on Track: How to Straighten Out Your Life When It Throws You a Curve, and two children’s pop-up books: I Don’t Want to Sleep Tonight and I Can Fly!

PhotobucketThe May issue of Success magazine contained an interview with Norville about her recent book Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You.
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