November Read: One Small Step Can Change Your Life

KaizenOne of the perks of being a Kindle owner is being able to download free ebooks. (I think this is where Amazon puts new and aspiring authors to test the waters, you know, before they charge for their book … But I’m just taking a wild guess here 😁). 

Anyhow, I’ve downloaded quite a few free ebooks in the past and find that most of them should [perhaps] just remain free. I don’t say this to be mean, I know writing takes a lot of work but, there’s something to be said for quality and talent (or real good editors & proofreaders). I just think that quality and talent deserve distinction, price be one of them.

I digress because I can’t imagine this book, authored by Clinical Psychologist Robert Maurer, would stay free for very long*. It is well-written and well-organized. I wasn’t distracted by errors in grammar and composition (which I sadly often find even in books that aren’t free), and the thought process represented by the chapters flows logically and smoothly.

But good grammar and composition is definitely not all this book has to offer. The content itself, while not something novel or ground-breaking, is gold.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Tao Te Ching

Kaizen, a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement, is very familiar in the field of work.  Kaizen advocates using very small steps to improve a habit, a process or product using very small moments to inspire new products and inventions. Because it is so identified with efficiency at work, it just totally escaped me that Kaizen could also be applied to your personal and daily life.  (Yes, I’m looking at you flabby, post-baby body! 😠).

“Confront the difficult while it is still easy; accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.” ~ Tao Te Ching

Chances are, there’s something in your life that you want to change or improve but have been dithering on.  According to the author:  “All changes, even positive ones, are scary. Attempts to reach goals through radical or revolutionary means often fail because they heighten fear.  But the small steps of kaizen disarm the brain’s fear response, stimulating rational thought and creative play.”

The key idea here is how fear (of change/improvement) can be conquered by something small. The book helps the reader explore how small can be very potent through chapters on asking small questions, thinking small thoughts, taking small actions, solving small problems, bestowing small rewards, and identifying small moments.

Even problems such as pessimism can be subdued by the question: What is one thing about me (or my spouse, or my place of work) that is special?

The book ends with the chapter “Kaizen for Life”  and encourages the reader to hold on to the essence of Kaizen, which is an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.

Like earlier mentioned this book was an easy yet stimulating read. I love books that give pragmatic and sound advice, more so this one where the recommendations do not involve drastic actions or shelling out money. I highly recommend this 🙂

In ending I’d like to share with you one of the phrases that I highlighted and which is, I think, my favorite in the entire book:

If you spend a minute or two each day writing a kind note to tuck into a loved one’s briefcase or a child’s lunchbox, you may save yourself the headache that comes  when relationships grow cool from a lack of nurturance and daily care”.

Now excuse me, I gotta go give my eldest a hug 🙂


‘* as of this blogpost, the Kindle edition is now priced at $7.23 … aww, drats! 😶


September Reads

rainy day

The rainy month of September was a good month for me to catch up on my reading 🙂Nothing like the soothing sound of steady rain to cocoon you into a fantasy world that exists between yummy smelling pages 💖💖

~ oOo ~


Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

A refreshing  and funny read from the 1900s about a 29 y.o. lady named Valancy who lives a miserable, uneventful life with her domineering mother and strict aunt. The story begins with her birthday and on this day she feels wretched with nothing to look forward to but only the same old same old.

Emboldened by her favorite author’s words to not let fear control your life and, unbeknownst to her family, she decides to go to a doctor to have her heart checked.  In the heat of a sudden emergency, the doctor mistakenly gives Valancy the wrong prognosis: she only has 1 year left to live. This sets off a whole chain of events that sees our heroin becoming assertive and making bold choices without consultation and input from her sanctimonious family – much to their great surprise and anxiety.

By following the desires of her heart, Valancy finally finds happiness and love … and great riches! Which of course completely upsets the family dynamics and forces the family to regard Valancy in a much more ‘favorable’ light.

They Mostly Come Out At Night  by BenProduct Detailsedict Patrick

The villagers of the forest seal themselves in their cellars at night, whispering folk tales to each other about the monsters that prey on them in the dark. Only the Magpie King, their shadowy, unseen protector, can keep them safe.

A dark, enthralling fairytale that reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” movie. Only that in this book, the monsters are very real.


These 2 wonderful home happiness themed books have given me plenty of inspiration, motivation, and ideas ~

Shelter for the Spirit: How to Make Your Home a Haven in a Hectic World by [Moran, Victoria]

Shelter for the Spirit: How to Make Your Home a Haven in a Hectic World by Victoria Moran

“Our homes can be so much more than drop-off zones where we collapse after work. It can be a haven in which people can revitalize mind, body and soul”.

I have to agree that “this book helps all readers make their homes places in which they and their guests enjoy spending their moments”.  With chapters on simplifying, cooking, celebrating and comforts among others, it made me look at the home as a place where beauty, love and magic can happen every day.


The Art of HomeMaking by [May, Alison]

The Art of Homemaking by Alison May

“There is much joy to be found within our own four walls if we are only willing to stop trying to escape ourselves by filling up our days with a stream of outside activity that serves little purpose”.

This book is a nifty 30-day guide of ways to organize and enjoy the art of home-making, as well as to make lovely space for YOU, the home-maker magician that’s in charge of the castle.  Each day provides you with something to focus on, along with a short task-list of things to do to bring that day’s focus into practice.

This book can be used as a sort of 30-day project to introduce you to the art of home-making one daily focus at a time, or used as a reference to improve certain aspects of one’s home-making. I am a stickler for guide books like these and was only too enthusiastic to dive into the daily assignments and tips. I only chose those that were relevant for me of course, but I’ve been non-the-less inspired and motivated 🙂

~ oOo ~

Books, Home & Heart

July Reads: Happy At Home

July found myself wanting to get back to reading again, a favorite hobby which I sorta left by the wayside when I experienced a preference for more active hobbies – exercising, knitting, crocheting, blogging, trying out new recipes when lightning struck (ha!).

After sorting out how I wanted to balance my preference for physical books with the convenience of downloading on my Kindle, I started my bookish adventures with the following:

Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin (non-fiction)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI truly enjoyed Gretchen’s Happiness Project when I read it several years ago and, since this time around I’m a SAHM on a mission to create a happy home, Happier At Home was an easy pick.  I enjoy Gretchen’s writing style, and the fact that the act of pursuing happiness is approached as a personal experiment. Therefore, not everything will stick, and just because it makes somebody else happy doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. But you do get to learn about yourself & what works along the way.

The book is chock-full of practical lessons a few of which that I could apply immediately are:

“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy”.

Respond to the spirit of the gift. How wise this is! How many times have I responded to the gift instead of the spirit of the gift, and been a scrooge for it. For example, if my daughter makes up the bed but doesn’t fold the blanket just perfectly so, I should not respond with criticism or re-do the whole thing the way I want it.  I should be happy about the fact that my daughter wanted to help, that’s the real gift.  Ditto for when my husband tries to cook and leaves the kitchen an amazing mess 🙃

Everything looks better arranged on a tray. Just try this one out, it’s true! 😁

Celebrate holiday breakfasts. This one made me think about how my family usually does not plan for special occasions but sorta just wings it. I decided that henceforth and at the very least, celebratory cakes will be available for enjoyment on-date, ordered beforehand, and not just some random, yummy-enough sounding cake that we buy whereabouts dinnertime on the date itself. (We can do better!🙄)

Embrace good smells. This motivated me to enroll in an online aromatherapy course.  My husband and I are absolute suckers for nice smells. We are never without perfume, room-specific fresheners and deodorants of all types.  I make doing laundry enjoyable by finding the freshest, cleanest, loveliest smelling detergents and fabric softeners I can get my hands on.  An aromatherapy course would promote going natural on some of these fumes for better health without compromising on the happiness factor 😁😁

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (fiction)

An absolute page turner, I read it in 1 day, it was just difficult to put down.  The topic of teen suicide made me think back to my own teenage years and made me appreciate growing up under strong Catholic influence.  “There IS a God watching over all of us and He strongly disapproves of suicide”.  Bless those austere rosary-bead stringing nuns and stern, disapproving priests we used to secretly poke fun of, they at the very least instilled in us the habit of praying for even our most worrisome problems that were too embarrassing for human ears.  In my darkest moments I never felt alone.


My So-Called Life As A Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn (non-fiction)

This book popped up as one of the suggested reads on my Kindle and is about a woman’s experiment in trying to be like the biblical Proverbs 31 wife. I thought it would just be a book with suggestions and funny anecdotes, but mid-way through it I slowly started to realize that being a SAHM is not about ME. This stay in Indonesia (which I still struggle with) is about my family being together, being a wife to my husband, a mother to my daughter and being the “thermostat of the home” as Sara puts it.

Where Happier At Home starts from a self-centered place of what makes ME happy that will also make my husband and daughter happy,  My So-Called Life focuses on the important role of a wife, mother and homemaker and the huge impact that has on the family.  Think of it as being on a team, and you’re the specialist at something and without you contributing your uniqueness to the team (the family unit), it just won’t work.

Hmmmm … definitely a profound lesson for me to learn 🤔

~~ oOo ~~

So those are the books I read in July.  Hopefully I can come back next month at about the same time with more interesting titles & lessons 😊

Oh and … have you come across a delicious read recently that you might want to recommend? Do tell! 😍

Books, Home & Heart

Honoring What I Love [With An Adjustment]

sunday slow down 2 I have a Kindle fire tablet that I’ve had since early 2012.  There are already a gazillion books on there but, honestly, I use it for games 80% of the time 😏

Recently when I asked my daughter whether she wanted ebook versions of the series she’s reading now she immediately responded with “No, I want to be able to smell them” 😄

The succinctness of her response made me take an honest look at what I have been denying myself ever since I came to Batam- the pleasure of my 1st love: real, physical books ❤️ It might seem silly but the feel of a real book in my hands just adds another level of pleasure to the reading experience.  I also do like burying my nose between the pages for a good whiff! 😘

But getting my hands on English books is costly as I’ll have to purchase them overseas. The bookstores in Batam only sell books/magazines in Indonesian.

A Concession

I examined my reading habits further and found out that I like to high-light when reading non-fiction.  And that it not only takes me longer to finish non-fiction because I take pauses to reflect on new ideas, but that I also enjoy re-reading them. Different ideas might find relevance at different times in my life.

Fiction on the other hand, is temporary entertainment, similar to movies.  I don’t underline passages in them, nor do I re-read them.

The path forward [to happiness] thus became clear to me: physical books for non-fiction, ebook versions for fiction 😁😁😁



The bonus to this is that now I can share/discuss with you what I learned from my non-fic reads 🙃 I’m always on the lookout for practical ideas and now I get to blog about them too!

Methinks it’s gonna be fun 🤸‍🤸‍


March Reads


Hello there beautiful people! 😀

Belated Happy Easter! I hope you had a meaningful observation of the holiday.

Here in Indonesia I didn’t notice Easter that much (were it not for a message from a friend) and it’s a first for me. Muslim and Christian holidays sorta just follow one after the other here and since Christians/Catholics are the minority, Christian holidays seem to  become more ordinary than festive. I don’t celebrate every holiday but it does seem a bit weird that the world around you is almost oblivious to it. I’ve become so used to having neighbors celebrate on behalf of an entire block where I came from and I sorta miss them!

Oh well, let’s talk books now, shall we? 🙂

So last week I decided to reignite my love for reading because ever since I stopped working the 9 to 5, my voraciousness for books has nosedived. My Kindle has become more of a gaming tool than anything else 🙄 I was therefore quite pleased that last week I really felt like reading. And so I did! I finished not one, but 2 splendid li’l books:

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by blogger turned writer Glennon Doyle Melton.


Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award

The inspiring and hilarious instant New York Times bestseller from the beloved writer, speaker, activist, and founder of whose writing is “like a warm embrace” (

 Glennon Doyle Melton’s hilarious and poignant reflections on our universal (yet often secret) experiences have inspired a social movement by reminding women that they’re not alone. In Carry On, Warrior, she shares her personal story in moving, refreshing, and laugh-out-loud-funny new essays and some of the best-loved material from Her writing invites us to believe in ourselves, to be brave and kind, to let go of the idea of perfection, and to stop making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard. In this one woman’s trying to love herself and others, readers will find a wise and witty friend who shows that we can build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

What can I say? I really, really like this book 🙂 It’s so down to earth and hilariously so that I felt as though Glennon was a personal friend who’s got this crazy-silly side that speaks so much to me XD It’s definitely a feel-good book that I can see myself reviewing every now and then to remind me that life is “brutiful” – brutal and beautiful.

 “The Rules of Life: A Personal Code for Living a Better, Happier, More Successful Life”by Richard Templar

This is a motivational book of 105 bite-sized ‘rules’ that are practical and simple.  I really also enjoy books like these where a chapter is but two pages long and the take-away is immediately applicable. It’s not very deep or profound, which I like because I wasn’t in the mood for anything serious and analytical. It’s a book you can keep on your nightstand and open randomly to any ‘rule’ and then make that your intention for the day.

The book is divided into 4 sections – there are the rules for you, partnership rules, family and friends rules and social rules. I read everything in one go but I think it’s also a good idea to focus on one section (one area) of life per week and finish the book in 4 weeks (a month). Come to think of it,  I’ll definitely do it this way the next time around as the book’s definitely worth reading again and again just for  some quick reminders or to give yourself a mood boost 🙂

So that was me last week, lost in the pages of these 2 books. My rediscovered yen for reading seems not to be slowing down yet so I have already downloaded several other book samples to my Kindle.  Oh dear, less time for crocheting I’m afraid XD

And, did you notice that it’s the last week of the month already? Have a strong, positive ending to March,sunbeams! ❤ 🙂


Would You Allow Yourself to Fall In Love With Someone 19 Years Younger?


I just finished the hilarious and intriguing book, “Younger” by Pamela Redmond Satran. It’s about a newly divorced 44-y.o. housewife who creates a new life by posing as a younger, twenty-something version of herself.

According to this book, losing weight, wearing tight jeans and getting some highlights is all it takes! Inclusive of token 25 y.o. boyfriend who’s hot like a rockstar and who adores you like a puppy 😀

Read more here.

The main character’s experience of this new ‘younger’ version of herself is both stimulating and eye-opening. Thankfully, she has her bestie Maggie to encourage and help her navigate through it. In the end, everything wraps up neatly like a fairy tale 🙂 Except for the much younger boyfriend, who the author conveniently sends off to Japan, reduced to exchanging romantic emails with the main character.

I really don’t know, 19 years seems like a lot. And while I sense that the book is encouraging the main character to not sacrifice today for what might happen tomorrow, she is wise to wonder.  Isn’t it a sign of maturity  to also  think of consequences and not just YOLO all the way? I don’t think I can play with my heart and peace of mind like that 🙄 Could you and would you?

Favorite lines:

“It was as if I’d dived into an ocean that had looked fun and exciting from the shore, but had found myself getting knocked down by waves that up close proved far too wild for me.  All I could think about was making my way back to the sand.”

“Suppose I came out as fourty-four to the entire world.  Wouldn’t it still make sense for me to try to look as youthful as I possibly could?”

Read if:

You’re a woman – regardless of age – who’s wondering about the romantic trajectory of her life.


Uprooted: A Book Review

us-uprooted1I did not want to review this novel because I can only say one thing about it: amazing!  Absolutely amazing.  Either that or I’d have a very hard time stopping myself from rambling on and on about how good it is 😀

However, it’s a July goal for me to review 2 books, not 1 so, I am duty bound.

From the author’s website:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Skillfully written by Naomi Novik, Uprooted is based on a Polish fairytale with an unlikely heroin who, unbeknownst to all including herself, possesses great magical powers.  Her powers play a vital role in vanquishing an evil force, an enchanted forest that is threatening to corrupt and swallow the countries Polya and Rosya.  Anybody who ever enters the Wood beware, it is said that death in comparison is even merciful.

The descriptions of the Wood immediately brought to mind Game of Thrones’ ‘other side of the wall’, where wights have the equivalent of ‘walkers’ in Uprooted – there are differences in physical appearance but both are equally frightening. As well, I haven’t been as enthralled with a book like this since GOT.

The sinister force emanating from the Wood has been steadily growing for hundreds of years silently mocking the king’s most powerful wizards.  The ‘Dragon’ is the most skilled of them all, and he lives alone in a tower guarding the Wood, ready to assist villagers who fall victim to its sinister and frequent attacks.  However, the Wood is not only malevolent and magical, it is also a smart and stealthy opponent that knows how to use man’s frailties to get what it wants.

I mentioned Game of Thrones here and that is saying a lot.  But where Game of Thrones toys with our emotions by brutally killing off every character we desperately cling to in an attempt to get a respite from all the chaos that’s happening (sorry, I just have to mention that), Uprooted is mercifully straightforward – good and evil do not interchange multiple times throughout the story.  In Uprooted, we know who the enemy is, we gradually understand how it operates, and the heroes have the capability to defeat it, albeit not easily and not completely at once. Oh and, bonus, the heroes remain alive till the end of the story! 🙂

Even the corrupt Wood can be likened to Maleficent, the root of its evil has a relatable story – but I’ve already spilled too much, let me just keep that for you to discover ❤

What I didn’t like was the sexual intimacy that happened between the Dragon and Agniezka.  I did not think it was necessary [to the story] and it came across as cheap.  Let us imagine Optimus Prime as somehow having the ability to get romantically involved with a human, and a lady and single version of Sam Witwicky, do you honestly think some romance is needed between the two? Heck no! Let’s just get on with the fight against evil, shall we? I remember rolling my eyes and going “blech!” – incidentally, the only thing in Uprooted that disappointed me.

So let me (finally!) close with: this book is ah-mazing.  It has all the right ingredients for a Grimm-esque fairy tale and wraps up neatly on a promising note.


~  Paardje 💋‍