Oy! How is it Friday already and this is my first post? I didn’t mean to take a blogging break on here, but I guess I needed one. To be honest, I am in a bit of a blogging rut lately. I go through spurts where I love blogging and have dozens of posts I can’t wait to write and get on here… and other times, not so much.
I’m blaming this break on the weather. Since I work full time, I have to write these blog posts either before work, after work or on the weekends. And lately the last thing I want to do is get behind a computer screen any more than I have to. Spring is too short, and I want to experience as much as I can before it turns to hot, humid summer.
This week I have been sad for Boston. And angry. There are a lot of things to fear when you run a marathon–the trek, the pain, the mental strain–but fearing for your life should not be one of them. And crossing the finish line after hours of running is such a sense of joy and relief and accomplishment! I hate that was taken from some people. Supporters and volunteers are so vital and precious to the race. When I approached the finish line at the Charleston Marathon my sisters, husband, parents, friends, and hard-working volunteers were there, cheering and supporting me. This week there was a friend, parent, husband, sister, volunteer that was injured or killed, and that makes me sad.
Growing up, I liked to view God only as loving, full of grace and goodness. Stories about God’s wrath and judgment scared me. But as I have gotten older and learned more about the evil in this world and the character of God, justice has become one of my favorite qualities. God is not only compassionate, loving, and gracious, but equally just and righteous, demanding payment for all evil in this world. It isn’t scary any more, but comforting to know that all of the wrong in this world will one day be made right.
On a lighter note, it’s Friday and the weekend is upon us! Sometimes I marvel at how sweet Fridays are. They come once a week, consistently every seven days, but each time there is a happy energy in the air that fun and rest are coming. I enjoy working and love staying busy, but each time Friday rolls around I realize how powerfully sweet a break from our routine can be. And how happy that it comes once a week!
What was the book about? Gretchen’s search for happiness continues. Modeled after her first book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen embarks on a nine-month search for happiness in her home.
Did you enjoy the book? Why? Why not?
Time for honesty? I didn’t like the book. I wanted to, and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it, but at the end of the day, not so much. This sounds so cynical, but it felt like she wrote this book just to make money. She (or her publisher) saw the success of The Happiness Project and wanted to jump on the bandwagon with another best seller.
I enjoyed The Happiness Project, probably because it actually gave some good guidance on finding daily happiness. It challenged me to look at my life and ask myself — what do I really like to do? What truly makes me happy? Am I doing this because it’s popular or because I like it? Her second book, however, just seemed to have random thoughts she didn’t have time to put in her first book.
I think my problem is that I took the title “Happier at Home” literally. I thought it meant finding happiness at home — the place I find solace and rest from the world. I was looking for more practical advice, like If you want to be happier at home, figure out your decorating style: Here is what my decorating style is! Or, If you want to be happier at home, try gardening: Here’s what I learned in gardening! Or, If you want to be happier at home, organize your pantry: Here is how I organized mine!
Instead, the book was basically a journal of all Gretchen’s first world problems. And granted, these are also things I complain about too (time management, cluttered house, etc.), but something about seeing them written in a book set me off edge.
I’ll give you a few examples.
One, the titles of the chapters. Let’s take December’s “Interior Design” chapter. She spent the whole time talking about how she needed to fast from sugar and avoid “happiness leaches.” I suppose it’s her inward “interior design” but the whole time I was expecting her to talk about decorating! My second pet peeve is when she would capitalize her happiness theories like she discovered something truly awesome — Seven Splendid Truths! Or Shrine for Scent! It just seemed a little too much. (This annoyed me in her first book.)
She had a whole chapter on facing her fears, which wouldn’t be a big deal, except her fear was learning to drive. Now. I know there are a lot of people who are afraid of driving or prefer not to, but for most of the population we have no choice. It felt like a really limited example that only a handful of readers could relate to. But I get it, she was trying to be true to herself.
And while we’re at it, one of the things I took away from her first book was Be Gretchen — to figure out what she liked and didn’t like, and be true to who she was. In this book, though, I felt like she used that mantra as an excuse to get out of things.
Lastly, the thing that resonated with me the most was how exhausting it felt constantly striving for happiness. I think it’s good to be conscious about what you like, don’t like, and what goals you want to set for yourself to get you out of your comfort zone (I write about that on here all the time), but the way she craved it seemed a little unhealthy. She obviously didn’t find the happiness she was looking for in the first book, and clearly won’t find it in this search either. Because here’s the thing, there’s no true happiness this side of heaven. Sure there are fleeting moments of happiness, but this fallen earth is filled with sin, death, sorrow, tears and broken hearts. And that’s the whole point of God sending Jesus to die for us — so that in him we can have that happy ending and one day be reunited with the things our heart long for the most: peace, joy, love and everlasting contentment.
There is something much more precious than happiness that we can have this side of heaven — JOY. Happiness is dependent on circumstances, but joy is transcendent and even in the midst of bad circumstances you delight in the hope of a new world where all tears will be wiped and there will be no death. I didn’t mean for this review to get all spiritual, but that’s really what I was thinking as I read every page of this book. :)
Would you recommend this book? No, I wouldn’t. I do recommend The Happiness Project though!
What’s your favorite quote from the book? Alright, not all of this book was devoid of goodness, here are a few of the quotes I enjoyed and challenged me:
“While some more passive forms of leisure, such as watching TV or surfing the Internet, are fun in the short term, over time, they don’t offer nearly the same happiness as more challenging activities.”
“As I turned the key and pushed open the front door, as I crossed the threshold, I thought how breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day Now is now. Here is my treasure.”
Have you read this book and want to participate? Write a review in your blog and post it back here, or comment below and tell me what you thought.
Next up: April’s Book is MWF Seeking BFF by Bertsche, Rachel. The review will be posted on May 6th.
*My original intention was to alternate fiction and non-fiction and I don’t know why I thought this book was fiction! We’ll have non-fiction three months in a row. Sorry about that!
After a lot of thought, I have decided to add sponsorships to My Pretty Pennies. If every unit is purchased each month, the income generated will total $210 a month.
Y’all. I’d love to have $210 more a month. I could put that towards our savings! I could buy more clothes! We could eat out more! We could move into a house sooner!
But a strange thing has happened: every time I start to write a post announcing my sponsorships, something in me hesitates. A little voice inside me says, Wait. Not just yet. The more I hesitated, the more I realized I don’t want just anyone to sponsor this blog. I want friends, partners to be on the sidebar over there. I want shops and sites that I love and support to be showcased to my readers.
And when I think about it, I am making $200 more a month than I did last year. More than $200, in fact, with my job change. But I’ve forgotten the joy of getting that extra amount in my paycheck. Can I not be content with the money we have now, without wanting more? Am I too consumed with the treasures on this earth, than to be content with what I have?
Yet, I’m still going to offer sponsorships.
But instead of pocketing that cash, it will be given away. Anyone who wants to sponsor here will essentially be donating their money to charity (without the benefits of a tax break, of course).
As for where this will be given away, that will vary by month based on the needs. Some months it may help formal non-profit organizations, others may go towards local efforts, and some may just help bloggers (I trust) who are adopting and need help bringing their baby home.
Would you like to partner with me?
There are three different units priced at $30, $20 or $10 a month. You will be donating to a good cause, plus gaining exposure to a large audience of devoted readers. Visit this sponsorships page to learn more about the units available and the readers behind this blog.
I am so, so excited about this opportunity and look forward to see what good comes out of this partnership!
PS – Please note, I have NO problem with bloggers who offer sponsorships on their site and make money on it! I understand everyone is different and don’t want this to come across as judging those who do offer sponsorships. :)
PPS - In case you are wondering, I will continue to have digital banner ads on the sidebar running and will occasionally accept affiliate or sponsored posts. The proceeds from this will go into growing the blog.
PPPS – Also, if you don’t have a blog, shop or site, but want to donate, contact me for more info. :)
PPPPS – I am using the phrase “Growing the Good” from Melissa at Dear Baby, since it best represents my purpose.
PPPPPS – How many post scripts can you have at once? I think I’ve broken that grammar rule… tehe.
Yesterday the world received some very sad news: Google Reader is going away. I know. Sad face. I’ve been using Google Reader since I first started following blogs back in 2008. I love the way that it’s attached to my gmail. I love the interface and the way I have everything organized. I love that it’s one of the first sites I pull up every morning when I enter this fabulous World Wide Web.
Despite my undying love for Google Reader, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better system out there. But like any change, it will take some getting used to. I did a little research to see what my next reader should be, and discovered there are some pretty neat sites out there! My favorite was Feedly, since it had the prettiest design, but since it needed a plugin on your browser, I decided to merge all of my blogs to BlogLovin‘. HelloCotton was the next runner up.
Merging your subscriptions isn’t too hard, but it does take a few steps. I’m not the most tech-savvy, so if I can figure it out, so can you my friend. Here is a step-by-step process on how to merge your Google reader subscriptions to BlogLovin’ complete with screenshots. If you are using another feed service, you’ll need to follow the first four steps.
Let’s get started!
UPDATE: Since writing this post, Bloglovin has made the step even easier!
1. Go to Settings (screenshot is on Step #5)
2. Scroll to the bottom and click on Import Blogs (Step #6) 3. Click “Import blogs.” Boom! It will all transfer.
Just disregard the rest of this post. :)
Step 1: In your Google Reader, click the icon on the top right. In the dropdown menu, click “Reader settings.”
Step 2: Click “Import/Export” and click “Download your data through Takeout” at the bottom.
Step 3: Go to Choose Services and Reader should automatically be downloading. If it’s not, click Google Reader. It will start to download. Once you are done, click Create Archive at the bottom.
Step 4: Once you click “Create Archive” it will automatically take you to the third tab named “Downloads.” It may take a while to download all of the file, but for me it just took a minute or two.
Step 5: Once it is finished downloading, save the file. It should save as a zip file (this step technically isn’t pictured.) After that, go to BlogLovin’ and open your account (or create it. It’s easy if you have a Facebook account). Once you’re in BlogLovin, click on the heart that says “Account” and click on “Settings.”
Step 6: Scroll to the very bottom of the Settings page until you see “Other.” Click on “Import blogs.”
Step 7: Find your downloaded zip file that you saved from Step 5 (it will most likely be in your Downloads folder). Open the zip file and find the file that has .xml at the end. Click on the file and click “Choose.”
Step 8: It will take a minute or two for the file to upload. It didn’t work the first time, but eventually I saw the message that all my blogs had been imported. (I think I need to clean out my reader! I am following so many…:)
Step 9: Rejoice because all of your blogs are now on the Bloglovin homepage! And then go through and reorganize all of your blogs into groups.
Happy Wednesday my friends! Today I’m excited to share a little bit about me with the Influence Network ladies. I joined the Influence Network soon after the new year and LOVE IT. It’s been a place of collaboration, inspiration, and just plain fun getting to know like-minded women. The rules are: Post 3 things about yourself, 1 thing you’ve learned using the Network, and 1 photo of yourself that you love. Here goes!
3 things about myself: (I decided to share things that maybe my readers may not know:)
1. When I first started dating my now husband J, we found out that my grandmother 30 years earlier had introduced his parents. More on that story here.
2. I am really afraid of granddaddy long legs. And I know what you’re thinking, “Me too! I hate spiders!” But this is a serious phobia. Ask anyone that has ever lived with me.
3. When I was in 4th grade I started a newsletter for my friends that lived in different states. It had crossword puzzles and articles and was called “US Girls” (as in United States Girls, not “us” girls, even though that’s what everyone called it. Should have done my market research first.) I think I had five issues and about 50 subscribers, thanks to my aunt who signed up 45 of her friends.
1 thing I’ve learned from the Influence Network:
The Internet is a lot bigger and a lot smaller than I realized. It’s a lot bigger because wow are there so many wonderful, talented, beautiful bloggers out there! Seriously, I want to get to know every single one of those ladies. But it’s also a lot smaller. I have met girls who are friends with other blog friends I know. These women share the same fears, same insecurities, and same dreams as me. It’s such an encouraging space, and I’m so thankful for the friendships I’ve made so far.
A photo of myself:
It’s hard to find a photo just me, (and even still, this one includes my dog), but this was taken the day after I ran the Charleston Marathon. I love this photo because it reminds me of the great accomplishment I achieved and the joy of having it behind me. Also, I love my dog. And wearing stripes.
I found out last minute (thanks to my sister Carrie!) that Deb Perelman, the writer behind the Smitten Kitchen blog, was in Raleigh for a book signing last Friday. I was feeling particularly tired that day, so I had to ask myself: Should I stay inside on this wet, cold Friday night and relax after a long week? Or should I brave the gross weather and see one of my all-time favorite bloggers?
Thankfully, I chose the latter.
The Husband of the Year came with me, and we were lucky to get a good seat near the back. The Triangle loves Deb! The Quail Ridge Books & Music was packed.
It fascinates me how the blogging world has changed publishing. It was obvious that many of the people in the room (myself included) were long-time fans. The weekly, daily connections she makes with her readers (combined with her fool-proof recipes and winning photography), is what brings people back to her site each week and will make people go out on a gross, rainy night to hear to meet her.
Deb talked for maybe 15 minutes about her book, and then spent the next 30 minutes answering questions from the audience. She was just as witty in person as she is online. She spent the better part of 4 years declining a cookbook until she finally gave in with ridiculous requests, such as lay-flat binding, photos on every page, and a long description for each recipe. She admitted she doesn’t really like cookbooks (I love them!) and shared stories of how she tests her food, who does the cleaning in her house, and her obsession with Ina Garten.
J and I were lucky to be one of the first few in the line to get my book signed. She was so down to earth and really easy to talk to. I told her I’ve been reading her blog for a while and love her cookbook, but that the only complaint I had was that I wanted more photos of her son in the book. She laughed and said that reviewers on Amazon complained that there were too many photos.
Look, she spelled and pronounced my name correctly! #gushing
Have you ever been to a book signing before? This was my first, and most definitely not my last. I look forward to see which of my next favorite bloggers will publish a book and visit to Raleigh-Durham for a tour… :)