Posted in Books

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. If their book garners praises, then they can charge for it, if not … But I don’t really know, I’m just guessing 😁).Β 

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.Β  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.Β  (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.Β  According to the author:Β  “All changes, even positive ones, are scary. Attempts to reach goals through radical or revolutionary means often fail because they heighten fear.Β  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”Β  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 πŸ™‚

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 comesΒ  when relationships grow cool from a lack of nurturance and daily care”.

Now excuse me, I gotta go give my eldest a hug πŸ™‚

 

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

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Posted in Books

September Reads

rainy day

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

~ oOo ~

Fiction:

Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

A refreshingΒ  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.Β  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 NightΒ  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.

Non-Fiction:

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”.Β  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.Β  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 πŸ™‚

~ oOo ~

Posted in Crochet

Dippin’ My Hook In Filet (Stashbustin’ Part 2)

chemin-aux-papilllons
source

I’ve been crushing on filet crochet for the longest time now (maybe longer than my crush on Irish crochet 😍) but have always been daunted to try it.

Isn’t it difficult and labor intensive? It’s gorgeous but … won’t it take too long to finish say, a table runner? And can you do it while listening to an audiobook? Or must you focus your attention on it 110% that even stopping to breathe renders a mistake in pattern execution? πŸ€”

(I ask because of this exercise which turned out to be quite stressful).

But I have this project of using up all the yarns I currently have on hand you see. I am shifting my focus and creativity into thread crochet and crochet for warm weather (excited much!πŸ™ƒ 😁) and I didn’t want to be burdened with the cold weather yarns I bought back when I was into sweaters.

I have this fancy turquoise yarn I used in the past to make an infinity cowl and my Kindle cosy with. It’s got good drape but the metallic thread that runs through it gives it a bit of a rough texture that bites into skin. It’s not really that bad, but enough to make me push my cowl into the back of the closet. You know how soft always trumps everything else when it comes to wearables!

metallic turquise silver

The metallic thread also gives it a fancy look that I don’t quite know what to do with. I think you can use it best to crochet embellishments with like trims and edges. Or perhaps fancy accessories that you only wear for special occasions. (Another obstacle in buying yarn online, you don’t get to use the important sense of touch).

Anyhoot, I decided to use it for my very first ever filet crochet experience. Ta-daaaaah!!!

filet crochet

As you can see, I just started with the simplest filet pattern I could find. And I didn’t know where the project was headed, I just wanted to use up the yarn πŸ˜„

Notice how I progressed in pattern choice from very easy to easy and then to okay, now we’re talkin’? 🀣. Surprisingly, I found the whole filet exercise to be hassle-free.

The verdict on filet: definitely thumbs up! πŸ‘πŸ‘ I know it depends on the pattern of course, but this project was quite easy to do. I didn’t even have a print-out of the pattern, I just took it right off my laptop screen.Β  (For more intricate patterns though, a print-out is imperative I would say).

And what’s best, I was doing it while listening to my audio studies πŸ‘ Score!

Filet crochet is definitely going into my crochet bucket list. Plus, I used up all that fancy turquoise yarn!πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ

Posted in Share Your World

Share Your World – September 4, 2017

old plants

Participating in this week’s SYW prompt πŸ˜ƒ It’s already Tuesday here in Indonesia but this is when I get to see the questions, so … and technically it should still be Monday evening in some parts of the world anyways 😁

So here we go:

What colour do you feel most comfortable wearing?

Right now in my pregnant state almost all pieces are black. There’s one blue, one gray, one white and one silver – because they did not come in black and I really needed them. A dress for special occasions is green, but this was lent to me by my cousin.

The moment I learned I was pregnant I right away chose black to be my colour because I didn’t want to invest in a lot of pregnancy clothes. Nobody can truly be sure that today I’m wearing the same top that I wore last Saturday. And that’s my point!Β πŸ˜†Β πŸ˜† Black also does a fine job hiding the flab and making me look pulled together somehowΒ πŸ‘

What is your favourite type of dog?

One that can take care of itself πŸ™„

List at least five favourite flowers or plants?

I can’t! I don’t know their names πŸ˜† Besides, I love all plants as long as they’re healthy, happily blooming and have no desire to take over my house with their roots and unwieldy leaves. Flowering plants are the best, but they’re also high maintenance in my experience.

This is a very timely question because lately I have become interested in buying (and caring for) potted plants.Β  The picture at the top of this post was taken when my plants first came home. I don’t have a green thumb, so by now of course, a few have already given up all hope of survival and still a few are struggling to make sense of their situation πŸ˜†

These 3 beauties I just bought last Saturday after my doctor’s appointment:

new plants

I hope they bloom instead of giving up on me right away πŸ˜† The 3rd one on the right is my favorite – it seems to be a very resilient plant and I usually see them at resorts, al fresco restos, hotels and golf courses in various lovely colors:

favorite

What inspired you this past week?

These plants I just featured. It’s always exciting to be at the start of a new hobby πŸ™‚

 

~~ oOo ~~

041514 sywbanner

~~ oOo ~~

Posted in Crochet, Knitting

Stashbustin’ Like A Boss Part 1

What do you do with something that has lost its purpose? The first answer would be to give it away to someone who might have use for it. The second answer would be to re-purpose it.

Well, prior to us leaving for Indonesia,Β  I had already donated quite a lot of my cold-weather yarns to my daughter’s school in Melbourne. I don’t know why precisely I hung on to these that I chose to keep but likely, I was feeling wasteful and wanted to redeem a bit of my guilty conscience.

At this point though they’re at a risk of seriously inhibiting my crafting mojo if I don’t do something really soon.

So I made the decision not to buy any warm-weather/tropical/beach yarns unless my stash of cold-weather yarns are at leastΒ  80% used up.Β  I figured I would still use the yarns to make items – even if these items are for cold weather and will be shipped off for donation at the end of this goal – as long as the projects expose me to new lessons in crochet & knitting.

Kinda like investing in collateral materials in a self-imposed knitting & crochet class.

Genius! 😎😎

And so for this first entry, may I present a knitted cowl and a crochet baby cocoon:

stashbustin part 1

Ze Cowl:

This project presented me with the opportunity to knit in a particular stitch pattern that required copious amounts of expletives and the frustrating experience of frogging 7 times (I kid you not, I actually counted the times so I could tell you afterwards).

This pattern required absolute concentration lest I forgot a single “K1” or “YO” or whether it was a “K2tog” or an “SSK” and whichever came first 😡😡😡. As a matter of fact I ended up reciting the individual stitches out loud while executing them to help keep me on track. For all 12 pattern repeats! I couldn’t wait for it to get finished πŸ€’

As you can see, I persevered and am proud to be able to claim having experience in the following:

  • Following a lace stitch pattern – it’s my 1st time to do it and I just find the result very encouraging even with the frogs and the errors πŸ˜Β πŸ˜†
  • Provisional cast on – my tip: be very careful when unraveling
  • Kitchener stitch – mine is a bit wonky but still exceeded my expectations
  • How to frog with grace πŸ’©

Here is the beautiful pattern if interested.

Ze Baby Cocoon:

Now this I might end up actually using for B3 😍 – although I still have to check later on if it won’t be too stuffy. Compared to the 1st project, this one was a breeze and I learned the following:

baby cocoon

  • Crocheting in the chevron pattern
  • Crocheting in the round (I need to improve my joining stitches)
  • The back post double crochet (or bpdc)

Here is the pattern if interested.

I think I reduced my stash by 2 1/2 skeins of yarn by the end of this project 😁 Yay!

Now on to the next!

Posted in Crochet, Knitting

Knitting Cables While Pondering The Fate of My Chosen Craft(s)

I was inspired to learn knitting because of the prospect of moving to Australia where colder weather was to be experienced.

knit kindle cosy

Oh the shawls, mittens, hats, sweaters, socks and what else I would knit!

kindle cosy opening 2

Now that we’re back in sunny, tropical Indonesia however, I’ve temporarily lost my mojo (this includes crochet) 😟 πŸ˜• πŸ™ ☹️ Will it just be doilies and curtain tiebacks henceforth?

kindle cosy opening

But my hands are restless and want to create, so while I’m assessing this tangled situation that I am in I decided to knit a Kindle cosy and practice knitting some cables while at it 😌

knit cable pattern

Turned out pretty okay 😁 I shall find my crafting way very soon. Like next week soon. Because the best way to get back on track is to just do it 😊

Have a wonderful weekend, y’all! πŸ’‹β€οΈ

Posted in 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.Β  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.Β  I should be happy about the fact that my daughter wanted to help, that’s the real gift.Β  Ditto for when my husband tries to cook and leaves the kitchen an amazing mess πŸ™ƒ

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!πŸ™„)

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.Β  The topic of teen suicide made me think back to my own teenage years and made me appreciate growing up under strong Catholic influence.Β  “There IS a God watching over all of us and He strongly disapproves of suicide”.Β  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.Β  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,Β  My So-Called Life focuses on the important role of a wife, mother and homemaker and the huge impact that has on the family.Β  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.

And it is not about sacrificing either, it is about giving from a place of empowerment.Β  In thinking of myself as a valuable, uniquely contributing team-member, I let go of the selfish & ultimately unsatisfying pursuit of chasing happiness for personal consumption

Hmmmm … definitely a profound lesson for me to learn πŸ€”

~~ 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! 😍