Bookshelf Review~ A Table in the Orchard- My Delicious Life by Michelle Crawford

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When I walked past this book I just had to pick it up and with the title, A Table in the Orchard- My Delicious Life by Michelle Crawford I could not resist. Then when I flicked through it the gorgeous pictures caught my eye and captured my imagination, I had to take this book home.

This book is full of stories and photo’s of Michelle’s life changing move from Sydney to Tasmania, and her life looks and sounds delicious. Michelle left Sydney to live in Tasmania with her husband and two children. They now live in a Georgian Farmhouse on a small farm in the Tasmanian Country side.

The book is full of gorgeous photos of food, and life in picturesque Tasmania. Michelle has mouth watering recipes accompanying all her stories. It’s theme of home grown, locally bought, being resourceful whilst cooking from scratch and passion for food permeate this book.

Take- aways from this book:

Take time and hard work to grow your own vegetables and fruit, it not only results in a tasty crop of food, but a greater appreciation of that food. There is joy in the experience of growing your own food. For myself, this means getting out into my backyard vegetable patch.

Be resourceful, grow your own food, barter for foods, use good locally grown ingredients, and cook from scratch using what you have. Good quality food, home grown and home cooked result in delicious good quality meals.

Enjoy the experiences of your environment, and community, and make food part of that experience, discover the yumminess around you. For myself, as a suburbanite, this could mean visiting a Farmers Market, Local Markets or going for a drive in the country side on the weekend and discovering new foods.

It was quite clear that Michelle did not have a lot of money to spend. That she was patient and saved up for the important things they valued for their home like her wood stove and renovating her kitchen. She was resourceful using what she had to create amazing recipes. Her family enjoyed the simple things in life and the experiences of farm life and exploring their local community.

Richness in life also came from being connected with family and friends, and the way that food connected them, that celebration of gathering and food. Yes, I am thinking more family gatherings, friends over for dinner, BBQ’s, picnics and camping weekends.

Finally, understanding that richness comes through our simple daily experiences, the way we interact with family, food, home, and nature. It doesn’t take a lot of money to live a rich life, it takes a passion for life, appreciation of the moment, and current circumstance. It takes a dream of that delicious life we desire, and a slow moving towards it, enjoying the journey as we go.

More details about this book go to  Michelle Crawford’s website  Hugo and Elsa 

This book is a must read for all those Happy Suburban Chicks out in the world. A frugal tip, try borrowing it from your local library.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

FRAN DISHON

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Bookshelf Review~The Spy by Paulo Coelho

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Historical fiction I love. This author’s work I love. This book brought to life the historical story of Mata Hari (Margaretha Zella) who became famous as an exotic dancer and high-end prostitute to powerful and rich men. The character is painted as a strong and independent woman whose ” only crime was to be an independent woman.” She was betrayed, executed, and used as a Scapegoat to distract the publics attention from the brutal loss of young men’s lives due to the war at that time.

Immediately the book grabbed my attention from the very beginning starting boldly with the execution. It was engaging, easy to follow and told in the first person by Mata Hari and the Lawyer through letters they wrote.

It creates Mata Hari as a very strong character who had come from difficult circumstances. She was raped at 16, then found herself in a physically and sexually abusive marriage, she suffered the death of a son, whilst her abusive husband had custody of her daughter. I felt her desperation to survive and thrive. I felt her courage and strength to reinvent herself and do what she needed to do to survive. I don’t know that she had many choices however she chose a daring and controversial path.

It was a great read, although I feel it glamorized her position as a dancer and prostitute. I really wonder how much choice she really had, how much pain she suffered, and how difficult it must have been for her at the time. The book makes it sound like her time as an exotic dancer and prostitute were easy.

However, I liked that I could admire her for being strong, taking control of her life, and daring to think out of the box, use her smarts, looks and talents to survive and thrive. Whilst from the beginning to end she was treated unjustly, especially the final betrayal by men and her country France, and yet she never acted like the victim, rather with pride.

Overal it was an interesting and engaging read, I think I would like it more had it been a little grittier.

Wishing you all a wonderful day

.FRAN DISHON

 

 

Bookshelf Review- The Art of Living

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Wednesday bookshelf review is running late this week. This blogging every day is working out to be quite a challenge and  I am already one blog post behind.

This week’s book was The Art of Living, by Bob Proctor and Sandra Gallagher.
It was very much based on the law of attraction, thoughts+emotions+ actions= results.

My takeaway from the book was to choose a big idea for a goal.

“Your setting the goal to raise your conscious awareness. That’s the real purpose of a goal. It’s to bring more of you to the surface. And when you do, you enjoy everything you do more” Bob Proctor.

A big worthy idea that you really want, something that is exciting and so big you don’t know how you are going to achieve it. The important thing is to focus on it, imagine it and imagine achieving that goal. Then continue to focus on it and take action. The opportunities and people will show up. By focusing on our big idea, we are likely to have more awareness of opportunities and people who can help us when they show up. The most important concept was that the purpose of a goal is to help us grow.

 

The next thing is to come up with the big idea! The book suggests expanding our awareness by taking a small idea and turning it into a bigger idea. Still, I have plenty of goals I am working towards but I don’t have a big idea goal. I guess I will just drink coffee, journal and let my ideas percolate until a big idea shows up. This is the next step to figure out what my big wonderful idea goal is.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

FRAN DISHON

 

Wednesday Bookshelf Review.

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I sat on the train, with the noise of the clattering train track sounds, people talking on phones, and music that could not be contained by headphones. It can be hard to get into a book with so much distraction. I like to read a lot of different types of books, fiction, and nonfiction. For a train trip full of distracting noises I chose the book “Life” by the author Paulo Coelho which is a selection of quotes. I loved this book because many times it took me back into his books that I had previously read. Whilst it was filled with beautiful colourful artistic pictures which I loved. I will share with you a couple of the quotes I enjoyed best.

The first quote is: ” No one day is like another, each tomorrow has its special miracle, its magic moment in which old universes are destroyed and new stars are created.” Paulo Coelho originally from By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.
A reminder to live life in the now, to appreciate each moment of life now. It is time to stop reliving the past so much, and wishing my days away in hope of the great things that might come in the future. What is important is for me to  focus  on thinking and being in the present, and be part of the magic of life that is happening now. Each day is uniquely new and magical if lived in the now.

The second quote is: ” Go is search of your Gift. The more you understand yourself, the more you will understand the World.” Paulo Coelho originally from the book Brida.  This reminded me to know myself, trust myself, and be myself.

There are many other quotes in this book that speak so much wisdom. I think it is a book full of wisdom. I just love reading it, and every time I read this book different quotes speak to me.

I love reading and have been reading a book a week, one of my goals this year is to read 52 books. I am thinking I will make Wednesday’s my Bookshelf review day. As for the book “Life”, well I highly recommend reading this book.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

FRAN DISHON

( The month of July I am doing a blog post a day as part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is my way of bring this blog back to life and getting back into blogging again.)

Book Review: Lessons From Madame Chic

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This book, Lessons From Madame Chic: The Top 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott, is the perfect read for all Happy Suburban Chicks who want to live life more beautifully.

 

Jennifer Scott shares the secrets she learned from Madame Chic  whilst living in Paris for six months with her host family. Certainly the modern Parisian family she stays with lives fulfilling and passionate lifestyle. As I read through the book, I discovered many tips and ideas on how to live more beautifully. Each chapter is full of stories, tips, and examples on how to apply  Parisian lifestyle and adjust it too the western style lifestyle. What stood out to me was how her host family lived simply, yet with great purpose everyday, and focused intensely on quality, especially quality of lifestyle. Jennifer tells many stories from her time in Paris as a student, and also how she has applied the principles to her current life.

 

One tip is living life as a formal event, with the focus on the evening meal.  The evening meal was an event every night; it included quality food, but also quality in the way it was presented, and quality to the time and focus that was given to it. Personally I like a sit down meal in the evenings, however after reading this book I see many areas where I could make it more special and memorable each night. The food and excise part was very motivating; it showed me the importance of not snacking, and focusing on the three meals a day. Also exercise was a big theme, everyday exercise from walking instead of driving and just being active even doing housework. Sometimes I find it hard to walk places in suburbia, the distances are big. Although I know that I am often lazy, I could walk to the supermarket across the road instead of driving. I could walk to the shops in the town center; I just hate walking past the traffic, the noise and fumes.

 

Another one of the lessons was about looking your best each day, yes I have often left the house in tracksuit and t-shirt. It is often embarrassing when I run into people, it might be a quick visit to the supermarket, and that will always be the time I run into someone. Where as when I look my best I feel confident, and proud. So I am making an effort to look my best no matter what, and it started with cleansing some of those frumpy clothes out of my wardrobe. Living in Melbourne I don’t think a 10-piece wardrobe will work for me. I really need four sessions of clothes in my wardrobe all year round, in fact here in Melbourne you can experience four sessions in one day. Certainly I am going to be more selective about the clothes I wear, and I will be checking myself in the mirror before I leave the house. Other tips was to invest in a stylish easy to maintain hairstyle and find your own signature perfume, and I think I already embraced the no- make up look many years ago.

 

It also addressees the importance of using your best things, not saving them for that one day, this is something I have adhered to in recent years, and it adds so much joy and luxury to life. Also reducing clutter, this is a hard one for me to break, although I don’t have a lot of clutter in my house, and often have to let things go, especially when I bring new things in. I think the focus is we can live with less, especially when we focus on quality.  Instead of having a lot of cheap stuff, you can choose to have one quality item.

 

I really have enjoyed reading this book; it is full of so many tips. Jennifer has a beautiful way of living her life, and embraces her femininity in an inspiring and cultivated way. I like her philosophies, I think they can be applied on a variety of budgets; mostly I like her attention to detail to everyday living.  Jennifer has a blog call, The Daily Connoisseur,  where she blogs about the fine art of living, and also has lots of videos on it. As a Happy Suburban Chick I am always looking for ways to live my life more beautifully. I certainly think Jennifer’s book and blog have helped me adopt some practices in my life that have improved my lifestyle and enjoyment levels from everyday living. I was extra lucky in that I was able to borrow this book from the library.  I just love visiting my local library.

Do you have any books that you would recommend a Happy Suburban Chick to read? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Also if you have read this book, what where your big take aways from it ? Please leave a comment I would love to know what your thoughts are on the book.

Wishing you all a wonderful day.

 

Book Musings~ Find Happiness Now.

This book came from my local library, I borrow so many books from the local library. It is great and saves me lots of money.

This book came from my local library, I borrow so many books from the local library. It is great and saves me lots of money.

Find Happiness Now written  by Jonathan Robinson. 
This book offers 50 ideas/strategies for bring more love, balance and joy into your life, so I was definitely curious about what gems it had in it. I am always looking for more ways to live life more beautifully. So here is the three that I decided to apply. 
1 The Three Good Things Exercise – according to the book this exercise can increase your happiness level by 25% in six months. This exercise was originally created by Positive Psychologist Dr. M. Seligman. It consists of three steps.  These are as follows:
  1. To identify something in your day that made you feel good or happy. 
  2. Then write down that thing that made you feel good or happy on a piece of paper or in a journal. (I like to write things down in my journal)
  3. Then reflect on your role in creating that moment of feeling good or happy. 
The next step is to repeat the above three steps another two times until you have three things that made you feel good or happy. 
(Robinson, J., 2014, p.17)
Of course the book explains this in much more depth, and gives details about why this exercise works. This exercise is perfect for me because I love my daily journaling practice, and are always looking for ways to make it more powerful.
 
How to encourage yourself. –  The art of rewards. This exercises on how to give yourself rewards appropriately in a way that is encouraging. Firstly the reader is encouraged to come up with a list of 12 rewards from small things like taking a bath to bigger rewards like going to your favourite restaurant, and the author recommends a variety of rewards. Then you ask yourself what behaviour you want to encourage. Then you can work out a reward system that encourages you to achieve that desired behaviour that you wish for. Once again the book explains it in much greater detail. (Robinson, J.  2014, p.37-39)
3.The Magical Playlist.
This one is easy and I have been creating my own play list, some of my music lists  are up beat and make me cheerful, and  some are relaxing and meditative, just slowing me down allowing me to feel in a relaxed mood. It is amazing how music can influence a persons mood, for me I like quietness most of the time, however I find certain songs can get me into a good mood quickly.
There are so many great ideas in this book, and there is sure to be a couple that will jump out at you. I chose these three because they jumped out at me, and they were three exercises that I can easily apply in my life, for example I already love journaling, so I am integrate the first excise into that. I am big into self-care, and the art of rewards fits well into that, and finally the magical playlist, well I now have four playlist and it is music that makes me feel good in some way.
Also excited about doing this :

 7 DAY MINDFULNESS CHALLENGE!

It is an online challenge were they send you out exercises to do for 7 days,  I found out about it in my Happiness & Its Causes newsletter that I receive, it says to share it so I am sharing the link to the challenge wiIt is an online challenge were they send you out exercises to do for 7 days,  I found out about it in my Happiness & Its Causes newsletter that I receive, it says to share it so I am sharing the link to the challenge, https://wired.ivvy.com/event/7DAYMC/ so click on the link to register for the challenge.

I am really looking forward to doing it.

 

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Book Musings~ The Gratitude Effect.

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The Gratitude Effect by Dr. John F Demartini.

 
This book explores the idea that we are grateful for everything. It acknowledges who we are in a holistic sense, everything that we are and everything that happens. It questions the ideas of good and bad. Our society encourages us to just focus on the positive however the so called negative parts of our lives have a very strong purpose in guiding us to who we are, and what we need to learn.”No matter what happens in your life, be sure to count your blessings because any crisis always has within it a hidden blessing if you take time to look a little closer.” Often these negative aspects can lead to positive outcomes. The author reminds us to be grateful for the things that challenge us. At the time we may think and feel no good can come from it. However every moment in our lives matters, and shapes who we are and helps us to grow. “When we are ungrateful, we close our life down in fear and guilt, but when we are filled with gratitude events that some call miracles happen.” One of the recommendation the author suggests is that we start our day of with gratitude and end our day with gratitude. When we focus on gratitude we can always find something to be grateful for. Building up our gratitude muscle can help us to be grateful when we are confronted with those challenging experiences and emotions that crop up in life from time to time. 
 
A strong emphasis was put on living our own lives and trusting in ourselves. When we judge our lives according to other individuals lives, we lack gratitude for who we are, it is difficult to be in a place of gratitude living someone else’s life. “When we aspire to be someone else, we live someone else’s life. We’ll be living with shoulds, ought to’s have to’s, and supposed to’s of someone else.” What we really want in life is too be loved and appreciated for who we really are. When it comes to ourselves,and others it is about deeply striving to be unconditionally loving and letting go of judgement and labelling. For me that would be undoing a lifetime of conditioning, for me awareness is the first step, catching myself labelling and judging and focussing on unconditional love is the second step. He also suggest when we are struggling and lacking confidence that is because we are out of touch with our own values, being aware of our own values and top priorities is a key factor. Whilst when it comes to taking action if we can link our actions with our highest priorities and values, we are more likely to achieve and be successful at what we are doing. Then be grateful for everything you learn every single day. 
 
This book is full of information, and was really a heavy read, which required me to take notes and really think about each chapter. Even some of the ideas were challenging for me, although I think it is a good thing to challenge my thoughts. 
The book covers every aspect of life, and the many ways to be grateful and see the blessings in situations. It also provides affirmations through out the book so I have picked out ten, which are as follows:
  1. I am grateful for both support and challenge; for, both serve me, open my heart, and help me strengthen my spiritual mission.
  2. Thank-you intuition, for guiding me to what’s really inspiring to me.
  3. Thank-you for the opportunity to be exposed to this refining challenge today.
  4. I keep growing for I have a purpose bigger than myself.
  5. I am extremely certain that amazing opportunities keep coming to me.
  6. Thank-you for the abundance I have today.
  7. I love myself exactly as I am. I am perfect the way I am.
  8. My heart guides me to say exactly what is wise and loving
  9. I am true to myself, I simply shine.
  10. I keep my body clean inside and out.

This book was full of inspiring and useful gems and insights. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to read it thanks to my local library. 

 
Are there any books that you loved reading and would recommend to others, please let me know I am after ideas about what to read next.


Wishing you all an amazing day!

 

Book Review~ The Food of Love Cookery School.

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I am always looking for a book to encourage me and give me good ideas of how to live more beautifully, and this was one of those books.

The Food of Love Cookery School by Nicky Pellegino, this is a lovely fiction book, perfect for that holiday read. It explores the journey of four lovely ladies and a owner of an Sicilian Cooking school which dose small holiday groups. It was easy to relate to the characters and fall in love with the story. It made me wish and dream about going on a cooking adventure for a holiday. At time of reading this book I was on holidays so it inspired me to enjoy my meals out a little more, and be more selective about what I was eating, savouring all the flavours. 

Some of the take-aways I got from reading this book, was that we can enjoy our own daily  cooking adventures, from selecting good fresh seasonal ingredients to cooking simple and flavourful dishes. Also the joy of enjoy food and sharing the experience with others. 
Whilst one of the characters highlighted another important point, “ All I need is a decent cookbook and I can go anywhere at all from the comfort of my own kitchen: Morocco, Mexico, China, you name it.” Moll is passionate about her cooking and talks about her cooking adventures at home. “ On weekends I’m always off on little adventures. I love finding spice shops or Italian delis and just breathing in the air. I lust after new recipes and the flavours I might find in them.” I finds such words and her characters story so inspiring and it made me more aware how I could have more of my own cooking adventures at home. Whilst the characters grandmother Nonna, reminded me it was not all about perfection rather the passion to come up with good dishes, and to be a little adventurous seek out new dishes and make them your own. 
I really enjoyed reading this book the love story about food and the lovely story that unfolds throughout  the novel. I enjoyed getting to know the main characters and learning about their journey. This book I felt was an encouragement to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, to pursue dreams and really enjoy food and the creating and sharing of food dishes.
Whilst it is the Easter weekend and I am spending Easter at work this year, even on special weekends and public holidays people get sick and need to be cared for, so off to work I go.
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Wishing you all a wonderful Easter! 
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Book Reading Musings

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I have books all over my house; I love the feel and touch of real books. I love the convenience and portability of my Kindle. I just love reading books, and learning new things. I also enjoy reading a book to simple relax, be entertained and to keep my imagination busy. This got me thinking, it would be fun to add my favorite readings to the blog, so this will be a new addition to my blog, which I hope to do on a regular basis. This already excites me so let’s get started.

 

 Review of the book: Living the Savvy Life by Melissa Tosetti and Kevin Gibbons

I am currently reading a book called Living the Savvy Life by Melissa Tosetti and Kevin Gibbons. It is mostly focused on money management for women. The Savvy women’s philosophy is “of saving money on the things that aren’t as important to you so you so you can afford to spend money on the things that are most important to you.” Page 30. An example of this in the book is cutting down on several average meals a week, by cooking more meals at home and then having the savings to spend on going out to a real classy restaurant and enjoying a quality meal and experience. I chose that example because I could relate to it. I notice that I often go out and end up having very average or below average takeaway meals. It would make more sense to pack a picnic lunch and have the joy of putting the money towards a really good night out or lunch at a restaurant. The book also gives examples of saving in other areas of spending, and using the savings towards a travel goal. So it is about making quality spending choices in the area of the things and experiences you really want in your life.

 

It also gives good quality advise like spending less than you make, saving 20percent of your income, paying yourself first, and paying your bills on pay day.

It encourages the reading to really look at spending habits by tracking their spending and take a realistic assessment of where they are currently. It encourages people to set some financial goals, for example savings, or big purchases like a home, or even travel. It is a good idea to set goals, actionable steps and to set a dead line time. The writer suggests we spend our money on the things we love. This is not always easy because we can be lured into buying things we don’t want or need by advertising and even by what we think we are expected to have like a new car, when all we need is a reliable car, and would much sooner travel somewhere each year.

There are also lots of tips on ways to save money in different areas. Some examples are as follows:

  1. Home: take care of what you have~ Finding ways to make cleaning more fun like playing your favorite music, turning it into a mini workout and rewarding yourself for completing the job. I also add make your own natural cleaners, which will smell, better and be more friendly to use.

 

  1. Entertainment: Take advantage of free community events such as festivals and music in the park, often even children’s or family days in your city . ~Check local newspapers, council web sites, and community boards for these.

 

  1. Wardrobe: If you love fashion you could set up a spending budget for it~ The idea of allocating a certain amount of money towards the fashion contents of our wardrobe. This can also include planning purchases and thinking about quality core basics that last for years.

 

  1. Food: Develop cooking skills~ This could be trying to make one new dish a week, and taking advantage of all the great free recipe resources that are out there. I like this idea because with practice cooking nice inexpensive dishes becomes easy and enjoyable. It is also a way to be creative in the kitchen.

 

It also provides a chapter with questions so as you can identify your own saving’s goals. This is a great book about managing your money, making savings, and taking charge of your own lifestyle by choosing to spend money on the things and experiences you love.

 

Personally I loved the mindset it encourages, which is you can afford to live the life you love, by being more mindful about spending plus more purposeful in how you manage your money. It has encourage me to think more in terms of quality and less stuff, saving for holidays, and saving for the future, and watching for those areas where I waste money on things or experiences that just are not that important to me. Mostly it reminds me not to compare myself to others, rather to focus on what my finance goals are to create the life for family and myself that we want to live.

 What have you been excited about reading?

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Fran Dishon

Fran Dishon

 

 

Aromatherapy Favourites Simple and Easy.

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So busy not time to do anything so I thought a quick post about self-care would be appropriate.

 

 

For many years I have possessed the most useful aromatherapy book, Health Scents by Alan Hayes. A book about aromatherapy for health and healing.

I feel that aromatherapy can be a very affordable way to care for a health. It is a simple way to focus our mood and let our natural body heal itself. It is easy to just take a pill however I think sometimes we can avoid the pills by using so aromatherapy especially for self-care and health maintenance.

Here are some simple combinations to use in the bath. Just dilute 10 drops of  essential oil into 40 mls of carrier oil such as almond oil, store in an air tight bottle and keep in a dark cupboard to protect from light and sun. You can get special bottle but they cost a lot more.

Just add 10 drops of your favourite combination mixtures to your bath. I like to use my in a carrier oil like above as this infuses into my bath better and gives just the right strength of the aroma. I don’t like to aroma to be too overpowering.  I just add the 10 drops of mixture under a running tap of hot water into the bath.

A couple of my favourite combinations from the book are as follows:

Revitalise Combination.

5 drops of bergamot essential oil

5 drops of ylang – ylang essential oil

 

Relax and Unwind Combination

5 drops of lavender essential oil

5 drops of rosewood essential oil

Insomnia

Then just one final simple and easy trick for a good night sleep is to place one drop of lavender oil on a piece of cotton wool or hanky and place it under the pillow slip, this can help you relax and drift of to sleep.

Warning

Use oils with common sense, and always be careful about what oils you use if you are pregnant or have allergies. Don’t put essential oils directly onto your skin remember to dilute them in an appropriate amount of carrier oil.

Disclaimer

I am only a novice in aromatherapy, and only know what I have learned over the years on the subject from my interest in it as a hobby. I have found many helpful books and have learnt about the subject from short workshops. This information is not expert advice.