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A Year of No Sugar, A Beautiful Mess, and more (What I’ve been reading!)

I seem to have been reading blue books lately:

a year of no sugar

We’ll start from the top.

Year of No Sugar

I received a review copy of Year of No Sugar (by Eve Schaub) and sort of reluctantly started reading it.   See, I don’t eat TONS of sugar, but I do have some every day, and I feel kind of attached to it.

I don’t want to eat Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts for breakfast or anything and I am perfectly happy drinking water instead of soda or juice.   But what would life be without a little sugar in my morning tea??   Or without dark chocolate??

(The horror.)

The book chronicles the Schaub’s (a mom, a dad, and two school-aged girls) efforts to live an entire year without eating sugar, which means they had no fruit juice, no honey, no maple syrup, no artificial sweeteners, and of course, no white sugar or brown sugar or molasses.

It’s not a scientific tome which will educate you about the dangers of sugar, but is rather a story about the ups and downs of trying to avoid sugar in our sugar-saturated culture, and I found it to be a really enjoyable read (I especially loved the journal entries from her older daughter about the tribulations of living sugar free.)

Though they gave up sugar entirely for a year, and though they continue to live a very, very low-sugar lifestyle now (Here are six ways they still live sugar-free), the book wasn’t judgy or preachy, and after reading it, I felt inspired to keep trying to lower the amount of sugar we consume at our house.

(As Eve says, every little bit you avoid counts for something!)

For those of us who can’t imagine going a whole year without sugar, Eve has put forth a Day of No Sugar challenge, which is in just two days, on April 9th.   If you sign up for the challenge, you’ll be entered to win one of 10 Year of No Sugar books.

The Ministry of Motherhood

I’m actually still working my way through this one, which I snagged for just a few dollars on   I appreciate so much that this book is written by a seasoned mom.

It seems like there is a lot of mothering advice available from young moms, especially in the age of the internet, and while I think some of that is helpful and good, I am far more desperate to hear from someone who has been mothering for decades longer than I have.

Sally’s kids are all graduated (her youngest is in college, I believe), so she’s been at this for much longer than I have, and I’m delighted to be able to learn from what she’s learned.

the frugal girl's book pile

Notes From a Blue Bike

This is an easy read from Tsh Oxenreider, whom you probably know from her blog, The Art of Simple.

Notes from a Blue Bike chronicles her family’s journey from expat living to U.S. living, and is basically about her efforts to make choices that help her live intentionally and in a way that accurately reflects her passions and priorities.

I did enjoy this book, but to be terribly honest, one thing that was a bit of a downer for me is that one of the ways Tsh simplified her life was by giving up homeschooling.   Which is of course completely fine for her to do, but reading about it was a little bit discouraging for me, especially at this burn-out-y time in the school year.

On the other hand, reading Tsh’s story reminded me that it is not very possible to homeschool four children AND grow/manage a blog as large as The Art of Simple (Tsh was overwhelmed by homeschooling and I believe she was only teaching one child.)

This is good for me to remember…yes, maybe I could be super professional at this blogging gig if I had the time, but the fact of the matter is that I am homeschooling four people right now and so I’m just not going to be able to do All of The Things that really good bloggers should do.

Anyway, as long as you aren’t currently experiencing homeschooling/blogging angst , I think you’ll really enjoy this book.

A Beautiful Mess

I put A Beautiful Mess on hold at the library after reading about it on a blog (I think!) and I was super excited.   I thought it would be all about capturing every day life through a camera lens (which I really love doing).

However, the book involved a lot more contrived and formal photography situations than I expected so I was a little bit disappointed.   Some of it was casual, but there was a lot about doing self-portraits and making photo backdrops and arranging things for shots, and less about shooting life as it happens.

(Some of this is possibly due to the fact that to my knowledge, neither of the authors have children, and so if they want to take pictures, it has to be of themselves or their spouses.)

Anyway.   If you want a book with some good basic photography tips and self-portrait photo ideas, I think you’d like this book.   You just have to not be expecting tips on photographing real, messy life.


What have you been reading lately?   Anything good?  

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on any of the books I’m reading!


Joshua’s 52 Project post: Eclipse

(I bought a glass gazing globe, not for us to gaze at but for us, especially Joshua, to use for photography.   So you’ll probably see more of this in the future!)

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Friday 11th of April 2014

Hi, Kristen -

Goodness! I'm not sure which is worse, no dark chocolate or no maple syrup!For me, the real deal is definitely a MUST with homemade pancakes! King Arthur "white whole wheat" flour makes lovely ones, with the red & white plaid cookbook recipe. It's on page 59 in my mom's cookbook. ;) I've no clue which it is in mine, but presumably something similar??? For an easy a.m. breakfast, keep a jar of the dry ingredients handy and just add the rest when you're ready to make them.

Hmm...recent reads...

I finished reading The Auschwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg (released 03/2014 - it's 400+ pages, btw!) This definitely had a different pace than his couple series of "could-happen" political/Israel-related series. I read it mostly for the story because I've read nearly everything he's written and this one seemed to feel less "naturally" written, flow-wise. Note: the book only minimally presented the severity of torture and I think is appropriate for high schoolers, probably also for mature middle-schoolers with historical context and how the Holocaust was nothing like the gratuitous violence today's culture exploits as entertainment. (I recommend his non-fiction/historical overview: Inside the Revolution (book) which is helpful as a broad introduction to understanding the countries/players in the Middle East, including Israel.)

My favorite Holocaust book is Night by Elie Wiesel. Very poignant. It is one of my five "stranded on an island" books.

I'm also randomly reading through An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. "Randomly" meaning I'm picking it up at random times and gradually reading the pages in order. :) I like her mix of humor in the everyday.

The Seventeen Traditions by Ralph Nader caught my eye recently, so I'm working my way through it, too, in spite of it being thin (once again the "random" effect). I'd probably call it a memoir of sorts. He recounts stories about the connectedness of generations during his childhood.

Two others of my 5 island books are: Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. When I feel like "thinking my tastes are broader", the last two in my list are up for grabs. Realistically and to those who know me best, predictably, the last two are written by P. G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen.

Other than these, my "go-to" books are: 1. Mysteries - A favorite I recommend is Rex Stout - great vocabulary - NYC setting in his Nero Wolfe series (1950s, mostly, I think) P. D. James - also great vocabulary. Be forewarned that she's heavy on description. I enjoyed her Austen-themed mystery titled Death Comes to Pemberley. :) Dorothy Sayers - creator of Lord Peter Wimsey. My favorite is Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.

2. P. G. Wodehouse - He's a British humorist - creator of Bertie & Jeeves and also of Blandings Castle. When it comes to understatement, you can't get funnier than Wodehouse. Also his books are great for reading aloud. It was one of my mom's staples for bedtime with us kids. :) I was always the last one awake, asking for "just a bit more"!

Well, it's now after 3 p.m. and I still haven't had lunch...I should probably go do something about it...

Thanks for your cheerful, encouraging, daily-life snapshots. I appreciate reading your realistic stories & if my lunch doesn't happen before 4 p.m. it's due to my consultation of your smart phone advice/recommendations/dos & don'ts! :)


Friday 11th of April 2014

Thanks for all the recommendations! And I do hope you managed to get yourself some lunch! :)


Tuesday 8th of April 2014

Even if you don't do All The Things, your blog is still my favorite. :)


Wednesday 9th of April 2014

Aww, thank you!


Tuesday 8th of April 2014

I wanted to chime in on the "what are you reading?" question too. My 7yo is a big reader, and his favorite books are the Great Illustrated Classics. One of the ones he got from the library last week was The Invisible Man by HG Wells. It looked really good, so I picked up the grownup version on Kindle for 99 cents. It's a great read if you're into fiction :)

Katie | The Surly Housewife

Tuesday 8th of April 2014

I am just impressed you have time to read!! Between homeschooling, blogging, and housework, I fall asleep after reading 2 pages! I am trying to start the second Game of Thrones book. The first time I tried it was a massive fail but I was finally on loan on ebook from the library so I figured I better jump at the chance :) Thanks for all the info on the books!


Monday 7th of April 2014

Ditto what all the other ladies are saying about your blogging. I love that you know what is important and have a plan in motion that reflects your heart. I learn things like that from you :) As far as what I'm reading - We are reading The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. This is the second time we've read it, and although it's going slower than I wanted, we are really enjoying this very special, sweet story. FYI, there are also some GREAT free lapbook resources on the internet in case you were wondering!

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