Lovely Little Shelf

Simple Life: Thoughts on Living Simply- Week 1

I think that people talk a lot about simplifying their lives and what they mean is get rid of old stuff to make way for new stuff. Living simply isn’t replacing your cups with mason jars. The appearance of “simple” can be deceiving- twee is not simple, it is planned and complicated and ick.

I think that this applies to things that we buy but also our state of mind. We are in this constant purging/acquiring pattern, which is maybe better than just continually acquiring but is no less exhausting or guilt ridden.

I have been on a mission to break out of the purge/acquire pattern and just live simply.

For me, simple means uncomplicated, transparent, quiet and just more relaxed.

For the next several weeks, I just want to talk about what that means to me, what that has looked like for our family and ways that you can start to make small steps to live just a little softer.

Here are my planned posting areas. If you have any other areas you would like to hear about, email me or just comment and I’ll either write about it or find someone more qualified to write about that area.

-Quieting the “need” monster

-Simple Life with children

-Simple Life with a techie husband

-Getting our actual needs (food, dress, home) met without getting complicated

-Art’s role in the Simple Life

-Thief of Joy (About comparison and social media)

-Simple is a mindset

There are certainly parts of my life that are un-simple and I’ll talk about those too. I think that living a non-consumerist life with kids is crazy hard and mine are only 1 & 3. This is an area I’m growing in all the time and am looking forward to tips from you all.


In January 2011, I read a biography of George Washington. Over the next 3.5 years, I read a presidential biography and wrote a review every single month. I just finished my last one and I couldn’t possibly be more proud. I sometimes cycle through interests and hobbies, so I’m super proud of myself for sticking with this for so long. Not only was it super fun, I also learned SO much and in the process became and absolute nerd over the presidents.  There are some other girls that were doing this with me and we have posted all of the reviews on a blog, just to keep them organized. Here is the full list of biographies I read and what I thought about them:

George Washington

John Adams

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

James Monroe

John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson

Martin Van Buren

William Henry Harrison

John Tyler

James K. Polk

Zachary Taylor

Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

Rutherford B. Hayes

James Garfield

Chester Arthur

Grover Cleveland

Benjamin Harrison

William McKinley

Theodore Roosevelt

William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Franklin Roosevelt

Harry Truman

Dwight Eisenhower

John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B Johnson

Richard Nixon

Gerald Ford

Jimmy Carter

Ronald Reagan

George H. W. Bush

Bill Clinton

George W Bush

Barack Obama

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I’m rereading one of my favorite books right now, The History of Love by Nichole Krause and maybe it’s just good timing, but when I came across this website today, I was just blown away.

I’ve often thought that we need more feeling words. There are so many that just don’t have a word… except now they do.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

If you love words and feelings and feeling just a teensy uncomfortable that someone else is so in your head, go check it out. I am in love.

Some that especially struck me:


n. the feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness—to the extent you have to keep reminding yourself that it happened at all, even though it felt so vivid just days ago—which makes you wish you could smoothly cross-dissolve back into everyday life, or just hold the shutter open indefinitely and let one scene become superimposed on the next, so all your days would run together and you’d never have to call cut.


n. frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone—spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the center of the house—wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first, before easing into casualness, until you’ve built up enough mystery over the years to ask them where they’re from, and what they do for a living.

mal de coucou

n. a phenomenon in which you have an active social life but very few close friends—people who you can trust, who you can be yourself with, who can help flush out the weird psychological toxins that tend to accumulate over time—which is a form of acute social malnutrition in which even if you devour an entire buffet of chitchat, you’ll still feel pangs of hunger.

What I’m Reading: My Life

I did a silly thing. I decided to start book blogging again. I’m so excited about it, thinking about it all the time. Then I also move my family into a new house, go on vacation and start a 1,000 page book.

Not just 1,000 pages. 1,000 of the tiniest typed pages I’ve ever seen.

I’ve been working on the Presidential Challenge (read presidential biographies in chronological order, one a month from Washington to Obama) since 2011 and feel so good about finally being in “I can remember that” territory. I think that Bill Clinton is a gifted writer because he just has the gift of gab… and maybe a photographic memory. Seriously.

But I’m struggling, folks. I’m enjoying it but it is just going so slow! I have been reading this for almost a week and am 280 pages in. Eek. I need to finish it by the end of the month (I haven’t missed a month yet and can’t start now!) but woah Nellie do I need a break.

What’s the last book you read that drug like that? Did you stop and mid-stream and read something else or just hunker down and get it finished?

Moving is Exhausting.

I think I’m dead.

You guys. If you have never moved a library and a toy store at the same time, you cannot understand my life right now. Don’t even try. All earlier hopes of a happy, cohesive bookshelf are gone. I just know want to know where my spoons are.

Sunday Morning Comics

Oh man, this is SO ME!

French Fries and Waffles

IKEA Bookshelf Hacks

We’re moving in two weeks (!!) and, well, our bookshelves didn’t make the cut. They look good and they’ve done their job, but they are just the $30 Target shelves and to be frank, I don’t think that they would hold up to a move. They are also only 5 shelves, which I feel like wastes precious book space.

My plan is to upgrade, but not all the way to, like, actual grown up furniture. Oh, no. I’ve got  my eye on the Billy from IKEA. While I think that they really do look fine on their own, I plan to buy several and put them side-by-side so I started clicking around Pinterest to see how I could liven them up a bit. My finds? Delightful.

(All the pictures link back to their source)

Gorgeous, right?! The crown molding, the lights, the way the front piece is pulled out to make the whole thing look layered? I LOVE this and I feel like it wouldn’t be too terribly pricy to throw together.

This space is not my style at all, but I LOVE the arches on the bookshelves. I also love that it is laden with books. Sometimes when I see pictures of shelves and it’s half decorative stuff and like 9 books, I have a hard time picturing what it will look like when I fill it up with 9,000 books. Ha. I love this look.

I found a ton of pictures of the Billy being turned into built-ins, but we’ll still be renting so this isn’t an option for us. I love the look though!

Another example of a built-in, but what I loved here was the color on the back. I saw a lot of these that seemed too bold to use if I’m actually filling the shelves up with books, but I love the softer color here. So pretty.

Do you have Billy bookshelves? Have you hacked them in any way or just let them stand it all of their from-the-box glory?

Side question: Have you moved recently? With more books than a library? Any tips? Because my arms are aching just looking at this pile of boxes.

Review: Hopeless

The Book: Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover

The Story (Goodreads):

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

What I Thought: Do you ever start a book that is universally loved and start getting that sinking feeling like you are going to be the only one who hates it? So. Much. Of. That.

I mean, from about page 5 I was done. The names are so stupid I cannot even deal. It was honestly distracting. Sky, Holder and Six are the main characters. They are people. Not beloved pets. People. Awful.

And the weird stalking-means-love vibe makes me puke my brains out. THIS IS NOT ROMANTIC. Punching things? Not romantic. Window climbing? Not romantic. Scary Glares? Not Romantic. None of it is romantic.  I sent Jennie and Julie (Of Book Hooked fame) a text when I was about a quarter of the way through, genuinely confused about if Holder was supposed to be romantic or scary. I honestly could not tell. That is a problem.

I thought that there were a lot of inconsistencies with the past timeline and story. I really liked the friendship between Six and Sky in the beginning of the book but then I started to feel like it was really just a plot device to get Sky a phone because after the phone was acquired, Six was rarely mentioned again except for Sky admitting to Holder that Six’s texts were starting to annoy her. Come on.

I hated that it was all tied up so neatly and I hated the meaning of the title and… I could go on.

I will admit that I was compelled to continue reading- although I was really annoyed, I wanted to know what happened. I thought that it was moderately well written, but it was one of those cases where it was just not enough to redeem it. Sorry folks, this one missed the mark for me.

Conclusion: Skip, skip, skip.

Book Nerd Euphoria

I’m from a teeny town in Southwestern Ohio and no one has ever heard of it (although they always do this “Oh! Lebanon! Where the dog track is!” thing. Nope. No dog track, although our mascot is the greyhound. Ha.) and the greatest thing happened yesterday.

new leb

Do you see that?! I was reading One Summer by Bill Bryson and, wa la! My teeny town!

He was talking about how many new radio stations popped up in the early 2o’s and said that even a poultry farm in New Lebanon, Ohio had a station. Greatest. Ever!

I literally got up out of bed to go show Shaun. You read that right. I was reading quietly and I got up. That was my level of excitement.

Have you ever had any cool mentions of your town or area or something that you are really familiar with in a book? Did it get you so excited you talked about it for days?

The New Things

And here is a tidy little list of things that are different since I last posted two years ago. Let’s get this out of the way and then we’ll proceed like that little mid-life crisis never happened, sound good?

  • I guess my biggest life change is that I’m a mom of two little guys now. Jude was born August 2, 2012, making him almost exactly two years younger than Isaac. He’s delightful and hilarious. Let’s not talk even for one second about how not-delightful those first 11 or 12 months are, because we’re past that now. He’s walking and talking and making messes and seeing the boys together is just the best thing on Earth.
  • In the same line, Isaac is almost four. He’s a preschooler now. He’s just fantastic. He’s obsessed with having all these little “nature collections” so we have a house full of rocks and pinecones and leaves and sticks. It’s the greatest.
  • I’m a gardener now. I had my first garden last year and was just crazy about it. I love setting it up and working it and having just this really tangible result from all the work. Can’t wait to get mine set up this year- it’s almost that time :)
  • Like I mentioned in the last post, I am blogging over at We Still Read. It’s so fun to be part of something with these other women who are likeminded in the “we’re going to read even though we have busy lives and all these kids” way. It’s the greatest.
  • I got a blush stick (Is there a fancier word for this? I have no idea.) as a gift and I love it. I just look so much less dead now. Progress, people.
  • I’m still reading. A lot. I think I read 125 in 2012 and 100 in 2013. I’m over 30 this year so far. So no worries there, there will be content galore, my friends. Content galore.
  • When I posted last, I had just finished Andrew Johnson in the Presidential Challenge. This month I read George H. W. Bush. That’s right- I have 3 more presidents and we can call it a wrap. I threw together a wordpress blog with all of the reviews from the people participating in the challenge so you can find all of my reviews over there.
  • I have a Kindle Paperwhite and I LOVE it. I was kind of late on the e-reader train, but I think it’s because I was waiting for one that was perfect for me.

And there ya have it. I’m so excited to be back and share bookish stuff with you!