Hot Reads 11/23/14

Happy Sunday, all! I’ve been reading blogs quite a bit in the last couple of weeks (as usual!). Blogs, especially personal ones, can be really interesting and enlightening. Bloggers can make you see things from a different point of view and make you think in ways you may not have considered before. I like reading writers who live in other states, countries, and in alternative ways. Some of today’s offerings are nice representations of all that. I hope you enjoy.


shedFrom The Dark Mountain Project: Why I Live in a Shed: A Sideways Response to the Housing Crisis
Favorite Quote: “I could tell her about all the things I wanted to do with my wild and precious life. How I wanted to go exploring. To see with my own eyes all the wonders of the world. To ride camels and climb mountains, test myself against the elements, find my own limitations, make my own mistakes. And then, when I had finished wandering, I wanted to come home and write love songs and death poems and books about fear, because I’d felt love and I’d touched death and I’d faced oceans of fear and found oceans of courage, and, frankly, after all that life I didn’t want to go inside and sit in an office working to prop up someone else’s failing economy.”


From Ludica: A Brief History of the Crêpe
Favorite Quote: “I discriminate a lot when it comes to food and drink, but when it comes to the crepe I’m all about love and acceptance, wide hearted, wide armed, wide eyed, and wide mouthed.”




From Ally Malinenko’s blog: The Beat Goes On….Unless You’re in Hollywood
Favorite quote: “And since then many of the women of the Beat Movement have been re-fashioned as Muses, there to inspire the brilliant men they found themselves around. Their role was to be passive, attractive, to keep their mouth shut and their eyes open and maybe, just maybe they might learn something. And this role was not specific to the Beats.”



From The Guardian: Why Must the “best new writers” Be Under 40?
Favorite Quote: “Sometimes the literary bitcoin is just life: some people have more to say aged 50, than at 30; for others it’s the opposite. But what about the writers who are slowed down because they have to do a day job? What about the authors (mainly women) whose writing time is interrupted for long periods by care for children, or relatives? “



From HuffPo: 10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With the World
Favorite Quote because it is so me!: “Most introverts screen their phone calls — even from their friends — for several reasons. The intrusive ringing forces them to abandon focus on a current project or thought and reassign it to something unexpected. Plus, most phone conversations require a certain level of small talk that introverts avoid. Instead, introverts may let calls go to voicemail so they can return them when they have the proper energy and attention to dedicate to the conversation.”




Our featured book list is from Epic Reads: 25 Adult Books for Fans of YA. I’m not much of a YA fan but, honestly, I haven’t read much of the genre at all. Several of the books on this list look interesting so this may be my bridge into wading into more YA waters.


Featured poem is by Marilyn Cavicchia, a poet I’ve been following online for a long time. She posted this the other day and I just loved it! I think you will too.


Keep This To Yourself
By Marilyn Cavicchia

Anyway, I don’t believe in
whiskers on kittens, gratitude
journals, fluffy slippers, or
any of those Martha Stewart

Good Things or whatever
it is that Oprah knows
for sure. I’m a crank,
and I’m meaner than I look.

But I know and you know
that there are still
lowercase, non-italic
(Roman, let’s say)

good things in this world,
and it is still worth
being here, if for no
other reason than to see

what happens next–even if
that thing is terrible
and you can’t stop it, so
it keeps you up at night

or it wakes you up just
before your alarm goes off.
Look, I’m not an optimist.
The power of my positive

thinking? It could maybe,
on a good day, light up
Duluth. Not even. Bemidji,
let’s say. Maybe just

a bar in Bemidji, some dark
little place with whiskey,
beer, and Paul Bunyan. Here
I am, struggling over this

on my couch in Chicago,
and there you are, wherever
it is that you are. If I
could, I’d meet you at that

Paul Bunyan bar in Bemidji,
our good things like tiny
suns, bouncing off ice cubes,
making indoor Northern Lights.

Have a great reading week and remember to follow us on Pinterest!


2012 and the Minimalist Lifestyle

Minimalism and it’s growing social trend fascinates and appeals to me. I’m not talking art, I’m talking simple living. 2011 was a year of purging and decluttering for me and, in doing so, I became interested in reading about others who felt the need to purge and declutter and what about their life made them desire downsizing. I found out I’ve pretty much always been a minimalist  – I just didn’t know it – and here’s why:

  • I still live in the first house I bought in 1980. When my peers “traded up” from their first homes, I stayed in mine because I liked the neighborhood and I didn’t need or want a bigger home. I like the sense of place I feel by living in the same home for so long. My mortgage was paid off years ago which has given me peace of mind in knowing I will always have a roof over my head as long as I can pay the taxes.
  • Much of the furniture in my house is the same I bought initially.
  • I rarely eat out and never buy from fast food places – we (my husband and I) cook real food and look at it as fueling our bodies and souls as well as honing a skill. Eating out is for special occasions and the best restaurants.
  • I don’t have much in the way of tech gadgets. We don’t have a Wii or whatever the equivalent of video games are right now, we do have satellite TV but only the basic package.
  • We have dumb cell phones which we use sparingly. I tried a smartphone but sent it back after three weeks because I found it added no value to my life.
  • We don’t belong to gyms; we walk for exercise.
  • We really don’t spend a lot of money on entertainment because we really aren’t night people and prefer a picnic in the park over fighting the jostling crowds. That’s not to say we don’t go to events; we do.  We’re fortunate to live in New Orleans where there are so many free and low cost events and those are the ones we enjoy.
  • I buy clothes when I need them or if I need something for a special occasion. I don’t shop for pleasure or entertainment because I don’t usually find it pleasurable or entertaining.
  • We have two cars but could easily get along with one and we have in the past. The car I now have is only the fourth car I’ve owned in 31 years.
  • I use things (household items, electronics, handbags, etc,etc) until they wear out instead of robotically buying the “new thing”.

I realize our lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it’s perfect for us. We’ve always been this way, not just since we became older.  I just don’t need to be entertained by something or someone every minute of the day – I can entertain myself. I don’t need huge amounts of stuff in my house that only creates clutter and is a background stress plus has to be dusted and cleaned. I’d rather be doing something else than cleaning or paying someone else to clean my stuff. One of the greatest benefits of a simpler way of life is the decrease of overwhelm in your life.

I haven’t always been the perfect minimalist, I can’t lie. Over the span of a 30+ year marriage I’ve accumulated lots of stuff by not purging while accumulating and through shopping binges that I thought would make me happy but didn’t. Last year I began a quest to declutter my house which I’ve written a little bit about on my personal blog. This decluttering has dramatically decreased the background stress I was feeling and has made my  place a more tranquil refuge from the world.

Q: Why be a minimalist?

A: “It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.” ~ Leo Babauta

As I said, in the past year I’ve discovered a growing movement toward minimalism and simple living. I can only imagine it’s the result of the economy, the rampant trend of foreclosure and the high unemployment rate among other things. Many appear to be scaling down their spending and making do with less. Some people look at “making do” as a negative instead of looking at it creatively and giving the minimalist lifestyle a chance. There are a few websites and newsletters I read by the pioneers (relatively speaking) of the new minimalist movement who mostly appear to be in their 20’s and 30’s. Although much of what they write about are ideas and habits I already use, I like communicating with others who think like I do and I do find that I’ve learned things I didn’t know by reading their work. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept and want to explore the minimalist lifestyle, read this and check out the websites of the minimalists that I follow below. (Be sure to peruse the archives for specific topics.)

Zen Habits
The Minimalists
Rowdy Kittens

Checking out these sites doesn’t mean you have to drink the kool-aid,  it just means you’re mind is open. And that’s a good thing.

Random Ramblings On Blogging & Social Media

Once again I’m ruminating on social media and my participation in it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the interaction on Google+ where I’ve been very careful as to who I circle. I’ve learned from my Facebook account that friending/circling can get out of hand in a flash and you end up with the electronic version of junk mail in your stream. The other day a friend posted this about sharing blog posts on G+:You’re not going to get far on social media if your entire stream says “check out my interview with X, Y, or Z,” or “Go read my latest blog entry.” I commented that he had given me something to think about since I routinely share blog posts from all my blogs. I assumed (ahem, yes.) that friends would be interested in my extended thoughts or, if not, would simply move on. I don’t write a lot on G+ but instead use it to share information, funnies, music – ya know, content I think my friends and I have in common. I comment on others posts when I have something to say but don’t feel obligated to comment if I don’t. Another person (not someone I know or follow) stated she thought “a lot of “traditional” bloggers have very boring streams and if you’re going to be on here you really need to engage”. (I found it interesting she referenced “traditional” bloggers – as if that were something out of date. I don’t see blogs going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon as long as people prefer getting information in a format larger than 140 characters.)  This was a rather ungracious comment, imo, and it prompted me to reply that  “people have all sorts of reasons for engaging on social sites – one being to keep up with IRL friends & acquaintances, not as a tool for anything more. Fortunately what’s boring for one is not boring for all”. As my friend stated, “there’s definitely a way to balance things”, a concept foreign to some people, I guess.All of which reminds me of a quote I read by Tom Petty in a recent Twitter interview. When asked his opinion on social media he replied, “End of the world. Everybody has their head up their own ass thinking their every breath is important.”I lmao at that. Truer words…..

Speaking of blogging, I haven’t done any link love in a long time so I’m going to share a list (in no particular order) of blogs from all over that I’ve read regularly in the past year and recommend you check out. Just so you know, I trend toward lifestyle, photography and blogs with a lit bent. I read political blogs too but I don’t talk politics here. Happy New Year to all and here’s looking forward to a great year of – yes – “traditional” blogging!

Zoom Yummy ~ Cooking, knitting, photography. I’ve found some great dessert recipes here.

Broadside ~ Writer Caitlin Kelly blogs about about women, work, journalism, books, culture, family and relationships.

Mighty Termitey ~ My online sista from another mother who always makes me smile and I bet she can make you smile too!

Cliff’s Crib ~ Proud parent, community leader and New Orleanian who points out our warts as well as our beauty marks. This man takes no prisoners but also has a soft-ish side.

Kiss My Gumbo ~ One of the smartest women I read and know personally. Her recent posts on caring for her father with Alzhiemer’s are truly inspirational.

Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans ~ Amazing writer and poet focusing mainly on life in New Orleans, of course.

Shay’s Word Garden ~ An extremely talented poet whose work will astound you. If you think you don’t like poetry, try reading her. Her work is street smart and tender all at the same time.

My two favorite photography sites: 504ever and My Life in the Quarter – two very talented men you need to meet.

YatCuisine ~ Yummy food blog!

B2L2 ~ A group blog consisting of writers doing their thing including essays and opinion pieces. Good stuff.