Tuesday, June 28

The Blessing

The certainty that one is loved, purely and unconditionally serves as a solid foundation upon which to build a successful life; the lack of that foundation is almost always crippling. Simplified into five easy-to-understand elements, the authors lay out the principle of generational blessing in these pages, putting this powerful tool within the grasp of every adult seeking to be a blessing or struggling with the fallout of never having received that foundation themselves.

I give the book high technical points: brief but appropriate reflection questions, corresponding chapter videos available online, and structured materials for optional small group follow-up all create a strong program for success. Far more important, however, are the authors' unmistakable compassion and the high-impact truth behind their words. I'm adding this book to my list of resources every family should read to break the bonds of the past, build strong ties in the present and lay down positive traditions for the generations to come.

Domesticity in Pictures

Between the rant-inducing news and the great posts everywhere else to share of late, I realized I've been completely failing to post any domestically related updates of my own! This is not, I assure you, because I have been slacking on the home front! This in an unimpressive picture of the very beautiful flowers my parents sent me for my birthday. Someone asked if I was worried about turning 30, but I'm pleased to report I have no qualms about this milestone. Life is good and I am blessed!

This is the awesome ice cream maker my husband surprised me with for my birthday. It's the perfect size and I'm very happy with it, although mastering delectable ice cream recipes is proving to be a matter of trial and error.

This is a very spoiled puppy. See that blue thing? It's a Kong brand squeaky toy. As indestructible as squeaky toys can possibly get. Which, if you own a bordie collie, means it's max life span is two hours. Seriously. I love to watch this dog ferociously attack squeaky toys, but I think I just have to give it up. If Kong only lasts two hours, there's just no hope.

Here's the adorable fabric I finally picked to make a quilt for a friend's new baby girl. We will not discuss how long it took to track down a satisfactory pattern and pleasing fabric for what is supposed to be a simple project. Lol.

Strawberry rhubarb pie filling, safely canned and waiting to become a fast, delectable dessert!

Ground beef, in the process of being canned compliments of my shiny new pressure canner! (I canned chicken as well, but couldn't get any pictures that didn't remind me of the weird aliens suspended in horror-movie science lab tubes.)

As you can see, I had two books with all my instructions laid out. It's a little intimidating to pressure can the first couple times when you know there's a chance of blowing up your kitchen if you don't do it right! Lol. On the bright side, I didn't break anything and it was much less stressful the second time through. I love that my tiny freezer isn't stuffed to the gills and that things like chicken can be lined up in neat jars on pantry shelves for easy access and inventory!

Last but not least, a couple good recipes to pass along:
Maple Slow Cooker Ribs
Garlic & Brie Pizza



My friend Kerry posted an awesome story she ran across called Which Brother Are You? It was short and profound. I highly recommend taking a minute to read it!


Linda over at Creekside is hosting a giveaway. Up for grabs is a REAL SIMPLE Solutions Notebook (a vinyl, 10" x 12" looseleaf organizer filled with plastic sleeves for all your paper gear, divided into sections for MONEY, FOOD, HOME, STYLE, BEAUTY, BODY, ETIQUETTE).

If you or someone you know would be blessed by that, hop over to her site by the end of the day July 1st and leave a comment!

Saturday, June 25

Budget Friendly News

Good news for your budget - 2011 is a bad year to buy a new car and a good time to protest retail deception by boycotting major clothing stores!

According to the annual new car reliability study, "the quality of all-new 2011 models “declined considerably". Apparently, the engines are not good quality and all the fancy electronic gizmo they're stuffing the backseat with to keep kids busy add further glitches and complications to the debuting vehicles.

So if you've been putting off a new car because of the economy, you can now cheerfully plan to keep that car a few years longer and tell everyone that studies show there just wasn't anything worth buying and you're too smart to pay for low quality!

Those on a budget (which I think is pretty much all of us at the moment) will also be cheered to hear that you can cut your clothes shopping budget and boost your socially- conscious reputation at the same time. A new report shows what many of us already knew - clothing retailers are quietly adjusting the sizing of their clothing lines. For most retailers, this means that what was once a size 16, for example, has become a 12.

This re-sizing allows progressively more overweight consumers to continue buying the size they think they should be. While great for self-esteem, its very bad for physical health as people (primarily women) lose one of the standard measures by which they track their weight and one of the biggest motivators to stay in shape.

(Incidentally, it's also a serious pain in the neck when it's time to go shopping. As if it didn't already take long enough to grab and try on four different cuts of jeans or tops to find one that's flattering, we now have to get each of those cuts in three sizes to figure out which one we need. Last I checked, dressing rooms only allowed up to six things at a time... I'm not a math genius, but even I can tell you those numbers don't work.)

Interestingly, some retailers are purportedly doing the opposite - scaling their clothing down to the smallest possible sizing to discourage larger women from buying those brands.

Where's the good news in this? You can proclaim yourself socially conscious and righteously indignant about the whole mess and declare that you're not buying any more expensive, mis-sized brand name clothing until they get their acts together! Then go shop second- hand or from independent on-line companies and spend an eighth of what you would have in the mall. Not only will you and your budget looking smashing at the end of the month, you'll have banked a little social capital besides!

Wednesday, June 22

Don't Eat the Marshmallow

I love Mental Floss So when I ran across an awesome study of the habit of delayed gratification done using marshmallows while reading Money Secrets of the Amish (which I reviewed here) I was not at all surprised to find that MF knew all about it!

Apparently, this is a pretty famous study, but since I'd never heard about it before I wanted to share it with you. Here's the basic outline:
In the late 1960s, researchers at Stanford devised what’s now known as the “marshmallow test” to test participants’ ability to defer gratification. The test went like this: put a marshmallow on the table in front of a four-year-old; tell the child that he or she can either eat the marshmallow now, or leave it uneaten for a while (15-20 minutes) and receive a second marshmallow at the end of the test... This a test of delayed gratification — the ability for a person to put off the instant thrill of one marshmallow for the promise of two marshmallows down the road. What’s interesting is that the test is apparently predictive of future life success.

[Researchers] noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

Why is this fascinating? Because success was all about knowing the rules.

When kids who had almost no ability to delay gratification were taught a few simple tricks or easy new thinking patterns, they were able to wait the full 15 minutes! Teaching children the habit of distracting themselves from the marshmallow, or to pretend that the treat was a picture surrounded by an imaginary frame (among other options) allowed them to make more profitable choices (holding out for the second marshmallow).

It's rather challenging to face the reality that we can control much more in our lives than we usually give ourselves credit for. Consciously building in ourselves healthy, smart patterns of thinking and behaving can revolutionize how we live. I'm not sure if that's intimidating or empowering, but it's an intriguing idea to roll around one's head on a grey, rainy morning like this one.

Join a Club... And Take Your Kid

This post is part of my Tocquville series. I started it literally weeks ago and realized I never finished it, which is dumb since it was one of my favorite things in the book!

There are a dozen fascinating facets of this theme, but I am going to endeavor to keep this short rather than get into all of them.

Did you know that social/civic organizations are an important component of democracy?

Maybe I just missed a memo, but until I read Tocquville and heard what the Founding Fathers had to say I never made the connection!

By participating in local civic organizations, citizens develop skills vital to the success of democracy.

They learn to find common ground with people very different from themselves and how to constructively leverage that ground. You and the grouchy guy down the street may have nothing in common but a love of gardening. Your combined contributions as part of the local garden club can ensure beautiful landscaping in public areas or the protection of a species of endangered local flora.

Groups of interested persons working towards a goal can provide benefits to their town or cause that it would otherwise have to do without or seek from government.
Working together to do fund-raisers, donate time and pool resources, local groups can tackle issues more quickly, cheaply and effectively than whatever form of government people would otherwise have to appeal to for remedy.

Filling leadership positions within an organization (treasurer, secretary, committee leader, etc.) grooms people for larger, more important public roles. Being an officer for a local organization breeds confidence and familiarity with the applicable laws and procedures. This informal training ground creates a pool of qualified applicants to run for official public positions. (Incidentally, it's ones of the reasons many people balked at Obama running for office; he lacked experience in roles such as mayor or governor that typically serve as testing grounds for those who want to advance in executive positions.)

Being in organizations together allows people to build bridges and forge connections that they otherwise would not have. I have only recently began to understand how this works. Relationships serve as scaffolding and a form of unspoken pre-screening. Need a contractor? You may not know any, but the guy in your hiking club may have worked in construction for twenty years. Not only can he give you inside information on who to trust, he can also put in a good word for you. His upfront assurance that you'll be a great customer with lots of referral potential can lead to you getting a little extra attention or a good deal. These kinds of loosely held connections facilitate the flow of goods and information in a community and benefit everyone.

Each of has only 24 hours in a day; time is precious and must be spent wisely. Some of us are introverts and can only handle so much "people time". But we all have dozens of opportunities to build connections and reap the benefits for ourselves, our children, our communities and ultimately our nation. So consider taking a fresh look at your life and then join a club... and take your kids! It may be one of the best lessons in democracy you can give them.

Tuesday, June 21

Better to Remain Silent

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln

I've done my fair share of ranting, especially here on this blog, but I remain amazed by the things that people will open their mouths and say on the internet. Like this discussion about what to do if you go out to eat and your server is stoned.

So if your server appears to be mildly addled from a quick smoke in the parking lot, you should let him have his fun... [D]eal with an overly high server (emphasis mine) the same way you would deal with other faults in the service: Leave a really small tip.

Don't rat your server out to the manager, because the penalty could be severe...

Both my husband and I worked in food service during college (and me for years after that), so I feel fully qualified to offer my opinion on this subject: what a bunch of cr*p!

Having been in an industrial kitchen and seen the injuries perfectly sober, responsible people can incur from accidents and general conditions it is abhorrent to me that anyone considers it reasonable for people to go to work high and put themselves and their fellow workers at increased risk. That's to say nothing of the customers with potentially serious (or even fatal) food allergies who are depending on that server to pay attention and make sure their meals are safe.

I can't find anything particularly civil to say about the idea that there are distinctions between a high server and an "overly high server", so I'll leave it to you to consider.

I absolutely think that managers have a right to know when their servers are out of line or dysfunctional, especially since customer complaints are prime fuel for disciplining or firing problem employees who would otherwise claim discrimination, etc. and make themselves difficult to deal with.

Finally, I find the last comment most laughable. God forbid we hold adults on whom others people's safety rests accountable for their choices and suggest that there should be consequences for breaking the rules.

Monday, June 20

Be The People

Rarely have I read a book so well composed or so thoroughly footnoted; Carol Swain has done her homework. Tackling all the touchiest subjects - religion, abortion, immigration and racism – with a deft and firm touch, she debunks lies left and right. Her unique position as a highly educated black woman allows Swain to say things that need to be said but that so many cannot address without being shouted down by cries of racism, sexism, and discrimination.

It is rare for a book to make me nauseous, but this one did. Seeing the truth about the lies America has been fed through blatantly invented statistics, twisted re-tellings of history and clear outlines of the facts the media conveniently ignores was sickening. I came away from this book with a much stronger grasp of what the key issues in America are, why they are so contentious and where the nation really stands (or should stand) on them.

Swain plants her feet firmly on Biblical Truth and stands her ground. Maintaining a clear, even tone she nonetheless puts forth uncompromising truth but does so in a way that is not patronizing. I strongly advocate every American reading this book. This book will give you everything you need to know to stand up for our nation and put us back on course to become the brave and righteous nation we once were.

Skimpy Sundays

Once upon a time, Christians built breath-taking churches and cathedrals. With beautiful spires that pointed all eyes towards heaven and stone laid by masons who intended their work to serve for the glory of God for centuries, they were impossible to miss or mistake. (The picture is of the Old North Church in Boston.) They were a source of public pride and dignity.

I think of that whenever I drive past the modern industrial style buildings most churches in my state call home. While I appreciate that it is the people who make up a church and not the building, I see the failure to invest in and maintain beautiful churches as symptomatic of the larger lack of reverence in modern culture.

"Don't judge".
"We want everyone to be comfortable."
"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

Although I appreciate the loving hearts behind those messages, I believe they're wrong to give these ideas blanket application in churches and ministries.

We live in a world in which children are no longer taught boundaries and principles; many adults struggle in their jobs and families because no one ever taught them the basic rules of respect, appropriate speech and dress or reverence for sacred things. If the church does not step up and teach these things, who will?

I was both pleased and frustrated by this story about a Sacramento church that posted sign-age at the door clearly (but politely) delineating what was and was not appropriate attire for church, titled with the statement: ""Give God Your Best, Dress in A Dignified Manner When You Enter His House."

It's fantastic that the Priest supported the parents and parishioners who approached him about other attendees' skimpy and distracting club-style clothing on Sunday mornings, and that he was able to provide the instruction these people should have gotten from their own fathers. Plenty of church families struggle with their teens over what they can and cannot wear, and it's awfully hard to hold the line on modesty when other "church kids" are freely running around half-dressed like their favorite rock stars.

It appalls me that the other pastor sought out for quotes by the journalist writing the article above was dismissive and un-supportive:
"[Pastor] Ray Johnston... said he is just glad to see people in church. He has not worn a tie to worship in 10 years. He prefers golf shirts.

"I think God cares about what's in our heart, not what we are wearing," said Johnston.

He added that he does not want to be critical of churches that have dress codes. "There are all kinds of churches for all kinds of people," he said. "But I don't want to put up barriers to church. After all, from everything I know, Jesus wore sandals."

This is a straw-man argument and shameful. Golf shirts and sandals have nothing to do with the topic at hand which was not dressing like a floozy in church. Everyone owns something more appropriate than skimpy club wear that they can wear to church - asking them to so is not "putting up a barrier". Asking them to do so is not judging them or devaluing what's "in their heart". Stating that "there are all kinds of churches for all kinds of people" clearly suggests that Christians can pick and choose which Biblical principles they consider worth abiding by. Don't want to practice modesty, reverence or humility? No problem - there's a church for that!

I'll stop ranting here, as this has gotten much longer than I anticipated. If you go to church that's holding the line on dress code and modesty, though, will you do me a favor? Give you Pastor a pat on the back and thank him for having the guts to honor his Father and ask others to do the same. Some of us out here still notice and appreciate courage like that.

Dying of Embarassment

I often wonder when I read the news how the reasonable, sane citizens of California (surely there must be some) do not die of embarrassment every time they open the newspaper or turn on their computers.

Take this little gem for example:

"Nearly every national chain is under legal attack in California for failing to provide "suitable seating" for cashiers and other employees who are expected to spend most of their work day on their feet."

Thanks to a poorly worded phrase in the state labor code, greedy lawyers have prompted hourly workers in California to sue their employers on a massive scale for not providing "suitable seating" near their posts so that they can sit down every minute they're not actively involved in duties that make it necessary to stand.

This is appalling and baffling to me on several counts:

1. Nowhere is "suitable seating" actually defined, making it practically impossible for employers to ensure compliance.

2. The way the code was written led employers to believe it was a suggestion rather than a mandate; at no time were any measures taken to inform employers of the rule, provide them with a deadline for compliance, or identify the consequences of failing to do so.

3. The court refused to recognize the employers' understandable confusion or to allow any common-sense resolution such as promptly providing said chairs and creating clear policies for ensuring future compliance.

4. No employees were injured or discriminated against in any way - so what are they suing over?!

5. Employees with health problems or special needs that would entitle them to/ require them to have a chair are already covered under other laws.

6. Common sense says that when you take a job in retail, you can expect to be on your feet most of the shift. Get good shoes, a squishy mat for your register space if you really need one, and get over it! We have some of the best working conditions in history (and the world). Remembering that goes a long way.

7. Finally - though this is extremely un-PC - in a nation where an average of 60% of the population is obsese (California's obesity rate in 2010 was 57%), it stands to reason that a little extra standing and moving around on the job might actually do people some good...

Thursday, June 16

That's What We Do

This isn't new, and I don't know how I've never seen or heard of it before, but it's beautiful. Especially the end.

Women Who Make the World Worse

This book was stunning - well researched, flawlessly written and spot-on with its assessments and critiques of the feminist agenda.

Tackling issues as diverse as family, child care, the glass ceiling and women's wages, sports, schooling, the military and abortion, Ms. O'Beirne brings truth and clarity to the table in direct contrast to the stated and demonstrated agendas of America's feminists.

Although not new to the topic, I was shocked by much of what I learned: the outright false and invented numbers frequently cited by feminist journalists and talking heads, the abundant scientific evidence unavoidably contradicting the gender-neutral strategies in schooling and sports, and especially the vicious satisfaction feminist leaders admit to in "furthering the cause" through sickening events like the capture and deaths of female American soldiers in combat.

Smoothly written and impeccably documented, this is a must read. The feminist propaganda sold to women for decades now is eroding and cheating the lives of all Americans, and only armed with the kind of truth laid out in this book do we stand a chance of reclaiming our rights and happiness. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Jury Duty: The Secret Truth

I have a confession: I have never had Jury Duty. When I got a form last month about needing to verify my information so they could potentially call me, I winced a little. It's not so much that I don't want to be on a jury as that I hate finding my way downtown to places I haven't been to be amongst a bunch of people I don't know all by myself.

In a strange coincidence, however, at right about the same time that the form arrived I was listening to a lecture (the Great Courses Series) on Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. And guess what? Tocqueville was all about Jury Duty!!

In a perspective I've never heard voiced before, he lauded the American system of juries because, in it's original setup, it was designed to be a free training ground for all American citizens in law and democracy!

Before people "learned" about the drama of court from Law & Order and the "adjustments" to our legal system (which take as much as possible out of a jury's hands), the court system was a true check- and- balance to the other branches of government. Juries were allowed to make decisions and set sentences for those convicted. If they believed an action was justified, they could choose not to convict or not to sentence.

Moreover, it was not the judges and lawyers who held the reins of power, but the people. Because the people held the power, educated and experienced lawyers and judges took the time and made the effort to explain to everyday people on the jury what the applicable law was in language they could understand. This ensured that the average citizenry developed and maintained a grasp of key issues related to power, law and constitutionality.

I'm not sure how exactly we as a nation slipped from the proud origins of this system our Founding Fathers set up for our benefit to our shameful current state where finding ways to get out of Jury Duty is a universal joke. I do know that it's a sad state of affairs that we'd be wise to change.

I, for one, would love to serve on a Jury that defies lawyers and judges to hand down a sentence actually applicable to the crimes committed and that will actually deter further offenses. That would give Law & Order something to rip from the headlines.

Monday, June 13


I have a habit of picking up books that I can tell from the title and amazon.com summaries are going to be either really good or really bad.

Sometimes they're awful; I usually don't finish them, give them 1 star ratings and get on with my life.

On rare occasions, though, this system brings into my hands rare gems that I would otherwise been unlikely to find; Half the Church is a perfect example.

Whether you go to church regularly or (like me) almost never, this book will blow your mind. Ms. James demonstrates great wisdom by avoiding the contentious, divisive debates that eat through churches and denominations and focuses instead on the earth-shattering Biblical truths usually overlooked. She describes them as "land-mines"; just underfoot, stepped right over as we breeze through too-familiar Bible passages. But if we actually saw them, stepped into them, they would blow our minds and the basic premises from which we work to smitherines.

Her vision for the women of God is beautiful, brilliant and all-encompassing. No matter what your gifts or you position relative to the church, if you believe in God there is fresh vision and electric encouragement in these pages. Men and women will be blessed by the truths and guidance she offers, and I strongly encourage you to snag a copy of this and check it out for yourself!

Wednesday, June 8

A Question

Are you asking for more investment from God without being faithful with what He's already given you? ...

When you meet your heavenly Father and he asks you "What have you done with what I have given you?" how will you respond?

These were the questions posed over on Kingdom Commerce today, and they really challenged me.

In the midst of every day life, it's easy to lose focus on the gifts we've been given and the imperative to invest them. Not just out of duty, but with a genuine expectation of return on investment!

That idea is both a challenge and an unexpected encouragement to me. Check out the rest of Jesse's post and see what you think!

Sandwich Generation

Over on (in)Courage this morning, a woman posted about being in the "Sandwich Generation". For those of you not familiar with the term, it refers to the current generation of adults raising children and also finding themselves primary caregivers for aging parents. Although this is not a new phenomenon, strictly speaking, it has taken on new dimensions in recent years as the elderly are living longer than ever, often with physical and psychological demands of unprecedented complexity.

Her post really caught my eye, because multiple people that I know - many the same age as I am - have been dealing with the challenges and heartbreaks so often involved in being part of the SG.

In part from the stories they've told me, and in part from reading I've done various places, I'd like to offer a few suggestions every family should consider to ease their eventual transition into and through this period of life.

1. Build a support network. Friends, family, your church - invest in relationships and cultivate honesty in your interactions. When push comes to shove, these people will be physical and emotional support for you and your family.

2. Consider your kids' comfort. Talk to friends you trust or trusted parents of your kids' friends. Discuss the possibility of taking each other's children for overnights or a weekend if need be. When you are already comfortable with each other's routines, basic health concerns, etc. it will be much easier to help out in times of stress or crisis. (My parents did this with us when I was younger and one of siblings were seriously ill. It was a huge blessing for all of us.)

3. Plan ahead. Some of this sounds morbid to ask your loved ones about, but suck it up and do it anyway! Every adult needs a will, a health care proxy and a single, organized place in which to store their essential information. Phone numbers, medication lists, doctors' contact information. God forbid something happens to you, there needs to be a designated person with the information essential to make the decisions you would want made.

4. Do the paperwork. Make sure someone you trust has permission to pick your kids up from school in an emergency. Get access codes or backup permissions in place so that a trusted friend or executor can handle your bills, utilities, etc. if (God forbid) something happens to you. (This is especially important if you're single, or you and your spouse frequently travel together.) Please note that a lot of things can take months or even years to fully go into effect, so you want to get started on this well in advance of any issues.

5. Take care of yourself. Good nutrition, consistent sleep and at least a little exercise will go a long way. It may feel selfish at the time, but its an essential part of keeping yourself healthy and able to make the tough decisions everyone is counting on you for.

6. Clean up and pare down. Consider giving heirlooms to family members or friends before someone dies. This not only allows parents or grandparents to share the joy of the receiver, but prevents misunderstandings and conflict later on. Living creates random detritus; you don't want to leave any more of it than necessary for your family to sort through and deal with when you're gone or too sick to do it yourself. No one's saying you need to part from beloved objects, but devoting a little time to cleaning out the old, unnecessary and useless stuff that accumulates will be a precious gift to your family.

These are only a few ideas, but I encourage all families to have some honest, serious conversations about these tough subjects and consider what small steps you can begin taking to ease the transitions that all families inevitably face.

Have experiences or suggestions I didn't mention? Leave them in the comments!

Sunday, June 5


Have you ever heard of Sarah Haskins?

Note: some of her comments are not appropriate for little ears. Fellow Twilight loathers - check out her Vampires spot too!

(I discovered Sarah over on the Disney Princess Recovery blog - there's some great stuff over there, so check it out if you get a chance!)

Reclaiming Dinner

Reasons why everyone needs to read this awesome book I just discovered:

1. It's extremely well organized and stuffed with valuable content.

2. The author's casual tone and common sense welcomes both experienced and novice cooks alike.

3. It's not just about mechanics - it tackles the thought process behind learning to cook and understanding the value in cooking for yourself and your family.

4. It's practical - recognizing how little time most families have, the author focuses on simple preparations that can be made in half and hour or less for weeknight dining and that are comprised primarily of pantry/kitchen staples.

5. It would be a fantastic gift for the new college student, career girl (or guy) or new bride on your list!

6. If you teach your kids these simple, easy practices they will not someday end up in a Panera asking the cashier in all seriousness "does your bacon have swine flu?" (True story.)

7. Your budget will thank you.

8. Most importantly, when the zombie apocalypse hits, there's no guarantee we'll have our cookbooks or most of the ingredients needed to make our favorite recipes. Mastering the principles in this book will ensure that you can throw together a healthy, satisfying meal to feed your crew with whatever you have on hand so you can live to fight another day instead of becoming a healthy, satisfying meal to the ravaging hordes.


Thursday, June 2

Bumper Stickers

This showed up in my email recently and I had to pass it along because we've all seen and cringed at people like this!

Yellow Light

The light turned yellow just in front of him.

He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit the car with her hands up.

He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the "What Would Jesus Do", "Choose Life" and "Follow Me to Sunday School" bumper stickers and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally... I assumed you had stolen the car."

Wednesday, June 1

Money Secrets of the Amish

Prompted by the recent economic downturn, Lorilee Craker decided to revisit her Mennonite roots and explore the habits of pocketbook and heart that might explain the famous Amish resilience in times of financial difficulty. A self-confessed recovering shop-a-holic who has nightmares of financial guru Dave Ramsey, she brings a self-deprecating cheerfulness to her discussion of shopping habits, credit, cultivating contentment and green living.

The book is a fast read and cuts a fairly wide swath through a variety of lifestyle habits. It feels more like a pep talk than a primer for changing one's life, especially since the author's constant references to her flightiness and distractedness when presented with anything shiny eventually make readers question her common sense and judgment.

There's nothing in here readers won't have seen before, including a surprising amount of material from mainstream magazines, blogs and other similarly themed books. Anyone looking for solid tips, implementable practices or clear Amish wisdom are going to be disappointed. That said, nothing in the book would steer readers down the wrong path and the friendly tone might be enough to encourage other shop-a-holics to make some changes.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.