Who and What

My name is Hailey and my grandfather is a farmer. I'm the 7th generation to live on the family farm, and my babies (when the time comes) are going to be the 8th. My husband and I are even renovating a trailer on my grandparent's farm so we can move back to the family farm sooner. This blog encompasses the things that are important to me. These things are:

~Special Education
~ADHD, including my own battle with it over the years. It's now my superpower.
~Farm Life
~Equal rights for women.
~Goal setting
~Fitness and health
~Financial Stability
~Personal Happiness

Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Zombie Apocalypse Vegas Slut Bag (Farm Girl Version)

Okay, before you panic and think I've gone totally off the deep end with the post title, let me explain. That comes from a show called Bunheads, which was made by the same person who created Gilmore Girls, but never reached the same level of popularity. In it, a Vegas showgirl  marries a man from a small coastal town on a whim and travels back with him to his home town. Less than a week into their marriage, he is killed in a freak car accident, and rather than return to Vegas, she opts to stay and teach at her mother in law's dance studio. The fact that is was cancelled is completely beyond me, but no one bothered to ask for my opinion. Moving on, though really I'm still not over it, especially since it ended on a cliff hanger.

In one episode, she pulls out a bag which she calls her "Zombie Apocalypse Vegas Slut Bag", which she says would help her survive anything from Vegas to the Zombie Apocalypse. I feel that every woman needs a survival kit of sorts, so I thought I'd tell you what should go into that of a farmer's granddaughter.

  1. A small memento, to always remind her who she is. 
  2. A good pair of backup socks. Blisters=bad, and if she's running from anything, it's probably a good idea to have them. 
  3. A shotgun, not so much to protect herself, but her animals. 
  4. A lighter, or matches, in case the need for fire arises.
  5. Hair ties. It's not a vanity thing. She can't stand to have hair in her face and shaving it, while appealing at times, on the whole sounds like it might be cold. 
  6. A hoof pick. Every horse woman knows the power of a hoof pick.
  7. Vet wrap. This works as an ace wrap and as bandaids. Just in case of injury. 
  8. A comfortable pillow. A girl has to sleep. 
  9. Duct tape. Essential for the farm life. 
  10. A really sturdy pair of gloves. Ones that will protect her hands from briars, baling twine, and all other essentials. 
  11. A baseball cap. Cowboy hats are over the top in 99% of cases. She lives in a baseball cap.
  12. Baling twine. In the farm world, if she has a roll of duct tape and a length of baling twine, she can fix just about anything. 
  13. A broken in pair of jeans. Dirt optional. 
  14. A good knife. Well cared for and sharpened. 
  15. A pad of blank paper, just in case she needs to write something down. 
  16. A flashlight, to see through the dark nights and early mornings. 
  17. A good camera, to preserve the moments. 
  18. A string of pearls, to appropriately dress up any look. 
  19. Hot sauce to keep things spicy. 
  20. A good book for when she has a few minutes of down time. 
  21. A helmet. Because a farmer's granddaughter guards her head and her heart. 
  22. A good leather cleaner, for keeping her tools in good repair. 
  23. A few peppermints for her favorite horse. 
  24. An awesome sports bra. Support is no joke. 
  25. Fly spray to keep bugs away from herself and her horse. 
  26. A homemade quilt, stitched with love. 
  27. The knowledge that she is enough, that what she is doing is worth the trouble, and that those that matter love her unconditionally. 
What would be in your Zombie Apocalypse Vegas Slut Bag? 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Forget Being a Princess, I Want to Be a Farmer

Above is one of my favorite pictures from when I was little. A few things catch my attention. My hair is simply cut, I am on a green tractor, there is definitely mud in the vicinity, and those cows were not ones found at a petting zoo, but on my great-grandfather's farm. There is also an obvious joy in my eyes.

Fast forward about 20 years, and I am typing no more than 200 yards from that spot. I am sitting in the trailer my parents brought me home from the hospital to. The furniture is made from heavy duty wood that is scarred from many years of love. Two twin sized fitted sheets cover the circa 1970 couch cushions. From the living room windows I can see my grandparent's house (a mere 10 feet away) on one side, and my grandfather's garden on the other. This is home, and this is where I truly fit and am most myself.

The last six years have not been easy. I spent four years at Virginia Tech, which were certainly valuable, but perhaps not what I had hoped them to be. I failed to complete one of the two majors I set out to, which is something that I regret, but was a necessary sacrifice at the time. I then spent two years getting my M.Ed. in Special Education and working at a school for students with significant behavioral issues.

Somewhere in this mess and mayhem, I think I lost myself. I stopped doing many of the things that made me who I was. I stopped riding almost entirely. I told myself I didn't have time to read for pleasure, and while I did still pick up a book, it lacked the enthusiasm I had for it in high school. My personal care in terms of nutrition and fitness has been erratic at best. Perhaps worst of all, I stopped doing volunteer work. My focus has been lacking to say the least.

Six months ago, Brad and I finished renovating my grandparent's old trailer and moved back onto family land. We got our first dog, Sage, in October, and Kona came by surprise a month later. I started making friends and socializing again when I started working at BES, a small school in a rural community. Slowly but surely, I have started to feel more like myself. Blogging has definitely helped. However, I still feel as if I had a long way to go. I have set many small and medium goals for 2015, but the biggest one is simply to rediscover myself, love myself and reclaim a sense of purpose in my life.

In the last three weeks I have read, eaten well, exercised daily, and allowed my imagination to flow in a way I had forgotten it could. In that short time, the noise in my head has cleared to reveal a much clearer picture of what I want in my life.

Every nice day we have, I walk one or both of the dogs around the hayfield adjacent to our home. It is enormous, sloping, and makes a good long trek for  two very high energy breeds. At the highest point, I can see most of my parent's and grandparents land. The majority of it has been largely untouched by any farming other than baling hay or grazing cattle or horses for the last 40 years. Within it I see possibility for three of my favorite things: family, farming and food.

While the details are still hazy, I think I'm finally figuring it out. I want to farm this land, raise my family on it, and use it to teach the world. The very thought fills me with a joy like no other.

If you search for the typical photos of me as a little girl dressed as a princess, you will find them. But they are not nearly as numerous as the ones of me in overalls and surrounded by some form of livestock. Maybe that tiny little girl has something to teach me. I think she knew what I should be when I grow up: a farmer doing good things with family land.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

27 Ways to Feel Energized and Uplifted

Last Valentine's Day, which we spent shoveling snow for a friend and sledding. Talk about energizing!

I don't know about you, but this is the time of year where I have to fight not to become couch potato girl. It's gross, it's been cold for far too long, and there's either been too much or not enough snow. Plus the holidays are over, the days don't seem to be getting any longer anytime soon and most people are starting to kick their New Year's Resolutions to the curb. It's no wonder January is considered by the large majority to be the most depressing month of the year.

I'm desperately looking for ways to stop myself from going into hibernation. Here are 27 things I am doing to try to stay energized and uplifted while I wait for spring. 52 days, just in case you were wondering.

  1. Stick with it. Whatever your resolution was, stick to it and find a small way to reward yourself for doing so. 
  2. Plan your garden and look into ordering seeds. Not only will this give you something to look forward to, but it also means you won't miss starting plants you want to have this year. 
  3. Be careful about how to talk to yourself. If people ask how you are and your go to response is, "I'm tired," then that's how you're going to feel. 
  4. Unplug. Find something to do with your time that isn't staring at a screen. 
  5. Fit a little fun into every day. Watch a silly Youtube video, dance, or meet up with a friend. 
  6. Have a ritual at the end of the night that leaves you feeling peaceful. There is a "no television in the bedroom" rule at my house. It can interrupt your sleeps cycle and you're more likely to stay up longer. At the end of the day, I write down 5 good things and then read until I fall asleep. 
  7. Keep upbeat or relaxing music on, particularly on dreary days. 
  8. If gardening doesn't sound like your cup of tea, or if you need more than that, start looking into outdoor events in the spring. Put a few on your calendar. 
  9. On the rare occasion there is a nice day, get outside!
  10. Make sure you're eating a healthy and well balanced diet with lots of whole foods. 
  11. Stay hydrated. 
  12. Avoid toxic people. There are people that are so negative that its impossible to avoid being worn down by them. Stay far away. And if you can't then keep your interactions brief and find something super uplifting to do after. Also, don't be one of these people. Frankly, they suck. 
  13. Make your worries silly. I started doing this a lot after I read about it in a magazine. Let's say you're worried because you're about to have a performance review at work. Take it to the extreme until it just becomes laughable. "I'm going to get a bad review." "I'm going to lose my job." "My family will have to leave our home and become a band of nomads and use leaves for toilet paper." Make it so crazy you find it funny. 
  14. Reframe negative thoughts into more positive ones. "I have to go to a staff meeting after work," becomes, "I get to sit with people who have similar goals, and miss 5 o'clock traffic." This is one of my downfalls, but I'm working on it. 
  15. Don't try to be constantly upbeat, that's exhausting. Instead allow yourself to be frustrated, but put a cap on it. Think, "I'm going to be mad for 10 more minutes, and then I'm going to distract myself with [insert fun activity here]."
  16. Write. It doesn't even have to be about anything, just let your thoughts flow onto paper for a fe minutes. 
  17. Stay warm. There's a reason we refer to people being "frigid" or "giving a cold shoulder." We see cold as negative. If you are cold, find a way to warm up. 
  18. Celebrate what makes you awesome. 
  19. Surround yourself with a scent you love. 
  20. Cook something you know you make well and share it with others. My grandmother telling me she enjoyed my soup last week made my day. 
  21. Cross something, no matter how small, off your to-do list. 
  22. Dress in bright colors. I don't know why but this always makes me feel better. Or just wear your favorite outfit. 
  23. Commit a random act of kindness for someone else. 
  24. Go on a fun date with your spouse or significant other. Or, if your single, spend time with your best friend. 
  25. Eat something spicy. For some reason this gives me a little more pep in my step. I don't know if there's research to back it up, just that it helps me. 
  26. Read or listen to a book. I started on a mission to read 100 books this year. I've finished five and am working on two more (one audio, one print). I never realized how much happier and uplifted reading made me until I stopped and then restarted doing it. 
  27. Try something new. I don't care what it is, but do something that is totally unique to you in terms of experiences. 
How are you fighting the January funk. Tell me about it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Road Trip to Raleigh/Durham

Not the best picture, but what do you expect on a camera phone in a dark theatre. 
Instead of giving each other Christmas gifts this year, my husband and I opted to spend the money we would have spent on a road trip to Raleigh to spend a weekend together, and best of all to see Wicked. It was amazing!

I've spent a lot of time in the Raleigh area over the last few years. Throughout high school and college I was very involved with showing Morgan horses. Since there aren't many Morgans in Virginia, and quite a few Morgan enthusiasts in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area, we spent a lot of time down there. While I'd never want to live there, there's a sort of nostalgic homeyness to the place. This trip we did enjoyed some old favorites, and tried a lot of new things as well.

Whenever we go to Raleigh, we stay at the Country Inns and Suites near the airport. It's not overly expensive, its close to everything and it's clean. The one downside is that you do have planes going overhead continuously. Since I grew up a mile from an airport, I barely notice. There's also free continental breakfast that is actually pretty good.

We ordered Chinese food in from a place called Ping Pong Cafe. A little cheesy, but their sweet and sour shrimp is very good. Delivery is a little slow, but it was Friday night. Definitely very affordable and you get a decent bang for your buck.

It was a little more exciting than usual, as another hotel guest (a preteen boy that was there as part of a basketball trip and probably lacking proper supervision) managed to burn something in their microwave and set off the fire alarm. No harm done, just a bit of loud excitement.
It was exciting enough for the fire department to get called.

Before seeing Wicked on Saturday, we ate at The Mellow Mushroom. I know it's a chain, but since I've never been to one it was all new to me. I tried their Bayou pizza, which had shrimp, sausage and blue cheese. It was really good, but needed just a little more spice to put it into the "great" category. My notoriously picky husband (although he's getting better) tried a calzone for the first time and like it well enough that we're going to try to make our own for "New Food Friday." 

We then went and saw Wicked, which needs it's own post (and there will be a post) just to tell how awesome it was. It was at the Durham Performing Arts Center, which is a truly awesome place. I highly recommend it for other shows. The seats are comfortable, and if you sit in the front row of the balcony, the seats are reasonable priced and still manage to accommodate my husband's 6'3" frame. 

For dinner we ended up going to a place called Firebirds for dinner. The food was really good (we just had burgers, which is what we order most frequently; we're something of connoisseurs), and the service was fabulous. I had had an unfortunate run in with the hotel shampoo, which contained avocados and was breaking out in hives. Not only did the manager track down some Benedryl for me, but she also came to our table personally to ensure I didn't need any additional accommodations to enjoy my meal. Our server was polite, courteous and attentive throughout and we had a lovely time. 

We did miss a few of our favorites on this trip, however. Pizza Inn, although it is a chain, is still has some of the best pizza out there. If you're feeling adventurous, go and order a beef and green olive pizza. You will not be sorry. I also recommend taking a trip to the Raleigh State Fairgrounds if any of the equine events catch your fancy. It's a great place to watch a variety of different horse events. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

48 Days of Feminism: A Subtle Way to Support Victims of Violence

If you're a regular reader, then you know earlier this week I published a post about my sister being assaulted by a classmate. When I hear about all the other horrible things that other women have been through, I almost feel guilty. When compared with broken bones, repeated sexual assaults, and women living their lives in an endless cycle of violence, her story seems like small potatoes. Yet I know how hard it was for her, even with all the support. However, she has told me that the support she got made it easier.

The statistics are against us. Here are some statistics from safehorizons.org:

  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence sometime in her lifetime. 
  • More than 4 million women will experience either physical or sexual assault at the hands of their partner. 
  • Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk.
  • Most incidents are NEVER reported. 
There was very little I could do for my sister when she was dealing with the aftermath of her attack. She was more than 5,000 miles away in Poland. She wasn't set to be home for another two months. I couldn't hop a plane, at least not practically, since I had limited funds, no passport and a job. And there was only so much I could post online since it was an ongoing hearing process. Daily Facebook messages were an option, but they didn't feel like enough.

When this happened, Ally was 48 days from coming home. So every day I would post the count, and a girl power quote. I never tagged her and kept it very vague. But she knew to look for it, and I'd like to believe it helped her.

What if every woman in her situation or a similar situation got that level of support. Whether it was how long her assailant went to trial or until she could stop being near him or come home, what if every day until she felt safe, her friends and family sent her a tiny dose of empowerment? Would more incidents get reported? Would more women have the courage to leave their situations and stand up to their abusers? I don't know for sure, but would it hurt anything to try? I challenge you. If you know someone currently facing violence or dealing with the aftermath, you can do something.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Debt Free Bucket List

Currently my husband andI are following Dave Ramsey's plan to live a debt free life. It's going pretty well, and I highly recommend his book "Total Money Makeover." Last year we paid down a little over $20,000 last year alone. I'm not saying it was easy. We've given up a lot, but on the other hand, it's made our marriage better, reduced one significant area of my anxiety and I feel like we get to do more things without feeling guilty about it. For example, we have $40 allotted for entertainment every month. I almost feel like we have to spend it, and we almost allays use it for date nights, or things to do together at home.

There are times when I get frustrated, however, one of Dave Ramsey's quotes is "Do today what others won't, so tomorrow you can live the way other's can't." So on the days when I feel like I've given up all my financial flexibility and just want to scream, I make a list in my head of all the things Brad and I will  do once we don't have the debt monkey on our backs.

  1. Build a house. Which, yes, will put us back into debt, but at that point it will be the ONLY debt we have, allowing us to pay it off in less than 15 years. 
  2. Have children. We keep getting told we'll change our minds on this one, and I'm not saying that it's completely impossible. But when we consider how much more we'll be able to give our kids if we don't have debt, it's a lot easier.
  3. Travel internationally. We've been able to budget for a few smaller getaways, but once we pay off debt, we want to go more places. 
  4. A new horse for me. I miss showing horses more than anything else. If we're debt free, I should be able to compete again. 
  5. Pursue being self employed. I'm working on it on a smaller level right now, through my craft business and my blog, but I would like to be able to chase this dream on a more intense level. 
  6. Have more parties and get togethers with friends. What's the point of having a lot if you can't share it. 
  7. Cook more often with high quality ingredients. I am A Farmer's Granddaughter, and we do fairly well, particularly in the summer, when we get tons of produce for free. However, once we're debt free, we can increase our grocery budget and buy better ingredients. 
  8. Take classes. There are so many more things that both of us want to learn. 
  9. Either build a state of the art home gym, or invest in a very good gym membership. 
  10. Build Brad a workshop where his imagination and capable hands can create. 
  11. Invest in a variety of crafting tools for myself. 
  12. Build our dream barn. 
  13. Work to turn our farm into a teaching facility, where we can use agriculture and animals to teach about farming and about life skills. 
  14. Invest in some rental properties that we can use as a secondary source of income. 
  15. Purchase our dream vehicles, gently used and paid for with cash. 
  16. Buy a new horse trailer.
  17. Give people the perfect gifts, regardless of cost. Again, what is the point of having a lot if you don't share it?
  18. Support a wide variety of charities we believe in. 
  19. Turn our backyard into a true paradise.
  20. Leave good servers the kind of tip where they take a picture and post it on Facebook. This is where we both started. We'd like to pay it forward.
I highly recommend everyone try this plan. You can't lose much, and what you gain is worth far more than money. 

The First Few Books of the New Year: A Brief Overview

I started this mission to read 100 books this year, and I think I'm doing pretty well so far. Two down and two in progress, thanks, in part to audiobooks. I even found a new app, called Hoopla, that allows you to borrow audiobooks from your local library for free and download them to your phone. So far they have 10 of the books on my list. Money saved and easier reading gained. Sweet! Here's what I've read or am in the process of reading so far:

  1. Pride and Prejudice. I'd never read this before, and I really am yet to meet any literature from this era I'm a huge fan of. But I listened to it on audiobook, and while it wasn't my favorite thing in the world, it certainly had a few points of interest and humor. I'm glad to have experienced it, but I don't think it's going to make the top 10 list for books I read in 2015. 
  2. The Dark Side of Disney. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. It was essentially a guidebook for getting deals that, while not illegal, were somewhat questionable. There were some bits about seeing parts of Disney that are generally off limits to tourists, as well as the mention of drugs and which rides you should try high. On the whole it was kind of trashy and I wasn't impressed, although it does have me wanting to plan a Disney vacation. 
  3. The Secret History of Wonder Woman. This has been my favorite so far. It give the history of Wonder Woman's creator, his connection to the feminist movement, and the unique lifestyle he lived behind closed doors. Well written and thorough, this helps me appreciate my favorite super hero on an even deeper level. 
  4. Black Beauty. I think the last time I read this was in middle school. Reading it as an adult, I appreciate even more that Sewell was attempting to give animals a voice and encourage their fair treatment. 
So, 4 (sort of) down, 96 to go. I think I can, I think I can...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Open Letter to My Sister's Attacker

While faint, the bruise is not the point. No one should place their hands on another person in violence. 

Last fall, my sister, Ally, was enrolled in a study abroad program in Poland through Syracuse University, where she will be graduating from this spring. This should have been a once in a lifetime experience. It should have been the time of her life. It should have been joyous and fun. It wasn't.

About two months into the program, she was approached by the director, who essentially told her, "your classmates don't like you." I don't really think this is an appropriate thing to discuss with a student. I wouldn't even approach my first graders in this way, but my opinion on this part of the story isn't really the point. The classmates in question were a group of girls who rather than explore the country they were in, stayed up all night gossiping, partying, etc. and then made a mad dash to complete their school work by the deadline. My sister preferred to get her work done early on, and then to explore the city they were staying in. As a result, she had chosen not to engage with these young ladies on a social level. Instead, Ally preferred to spend her time with one of the young men in the program, Jake, whom she would study with, cook with and explore the city with. 

Although Ally did not agree with the director having approached her, she decided that she would make an effort to better connect with all of the members in her program. A few days later, she went on a pub crawl with the other members of her program, in an effort to form a more positive with them. Over the course of this evening, one of the other young men in the program hit on her, attempted to kiss her, and demanded she buy him cigarettes in exchange for him leaving her alone. He had been drinking heavily. Eventually, he did leave her alone, but only because he had turned his attention to another young lady who was, as my sister described her, "so drunk I wasn't sure she spoke English." Ally and Jake intervened, as the classmate was attempting to persuade her to leave the club with him, a situation that neither of them felt was safe.

Ally and Jake resumed dancing. Jake was facing Ally and did not see their classmate as he approached them, reached over Jake's shoulder and punched my sister in the face. My sister, who weighs 85 lbs soaking wet was sucker punched in the face by a man weighing over 200 lbs. I have a few things I would like to say to him. 
Beautiful free spirit Ally.

To My Sister's Attacker, 

I have written this letter hundreds of times in my head to you. In that letter I have raged at you, threatened you, wished you ill and called you every name I can think of. But there is a problem with such a letter written with the level of fury I have felt. You put enough hate into the world the night you chose to use your fists to solve a problem with my sister, and even more of it into the world by degrading her throughout the hearing process. If I curse at you, insult you or promise you bodily harm, I am only perpetuating that cycle. Instead, I would like to do something completely different. I would like to apologize to you and express to you my deepest sympathies for various disadvantages you have clearly had over the course of your life. 

I would first like to apologize for the fact that I do not know what to call you. Your name would be most desirable, but as you would probably see it as a violation to your privacy in some way and attempt to bring legal action against me, I have discarded this as an option. I would call you one of the many names I have in my head, but it seems that the strongest insults would come at the expense of further degrading women. With regard to the former, I could argue that you do not deserve privacy, particularly after you showed such a blatant disregard for my sister's after you assaulted her. It would inevitably fall on deaf ears. With regard to the latter, while it could be argued that these words only insult women when used in certain contexts, I refuse to take that chance. I also refuse to add more negativity to the world in this manner. I suppose I could call you "The Man Who Attacked My Sister," and I have already referred to you as a young man, however it is for want of a better word. I am sorry to say, I cannot call you a man sincerely. Doing so would group you into a category where I also place my father, my uncles, my grandfathers and my husband, none of whom have ever had the need to place their hands on a woman in an aggressive manner. Therefore, I beg your forgiveness for depersonalizing you and calling you only "My Sister's Attacker." 

Secondly, I would like to express my sorrow for you that you have come to understand in your lifetime that causing pain to others is a way to get what you want. How tragic that somewhere along your life path it was shown to you that violence toward others is a way to get them to do as you would wish. It saddens me for you, that this will most likely limit your opportunities for real friendship, as you will never know if someone is spending time with you and agreeing with you out of genuine desire, or out of fear. Knowing you are unlikely to have a healthy relationship based on love and mutual respect for another makes me feel your circumstances are truly grim.

Additionally, I would like to convey my sadness for you that you clearly do not have the level of love and support from your family and friends that has been a lifelong presence in the lives of my sister and myself. Within 72 hours of my parents finding out about the fist you so aggressively placed in my sister's face, we had friends and family around the US and the world quietly but actively showing her love via Facebook, e-mails, phone calls, blog posts, etc. While I am certainly not saying that you should have received that level of support for your actions, I am saying that were the situation reversed, I highly doubt you would have had nearly as many people cheering you on. How miserable for you. 
With our mother in Europe.

On a similar note, I also would like to indicate my pity for you not having life teachers, that is to say educators, parents, grandparents, family, caregivers, etc., that taught you to have personal values such as taking responsibility for your actions. While I could be extremely vexed by the middle fingers you chose to allow fly from the nest of your hands following your assault, or the complete denial of the situation later on, I choose instead to feel sorry for you. As Leon Brown said, "You must take responsibility for your own choices and actions, for you learn nothing until you take ownership of your life." When viewed from this respect, it seems that you, in fact, are the one who lacks power.  

Next, I would like to express to you my deepest sympathies that alcohol is such a necessary part of your social life. However, before I go further I do feel the need to clarify that I have nothing against the consumption of alcohol. My family drinks wine with dinner nearly every night, and we enjoy going to tastings and experimenting with making mixed drinks as well. That being said, based on anecdotal evidence from my sister, it appears that using it to excess is one of the few ways you feel you can enjoy yourself. I do hope that your current probationary status you were given through Syracuse as a result of your violent actions when intoxicated allows you the opportunity to explore other interests that do not come at the expense of good judgment and liver health. 

The last two things I would like to convey my condolences to you over, are perhaps the ones that cause me to feel the most grief for you. The first is that I am truly sorry you will never know the real Ally. You will never be acquainted with the strong woman who comes home and volunteers in my Special Education classroom, and who my students always want to come back. You will never know the girl who brings me my favorite pastry just because. You will never know the person who takes our grandmother to lunch every time she is in town. Who can debate the merits of both a scholarly article and of Harry Potter. Who stopped by my house to play with my dogs and did my dishes while she was there. You will never know her. You tried to destroy her beauty with the bruise you left. Her beauty is far more than skin deep, and your hands can never change that. I pity you, that you are so unwise. 

I also would like to express my concern that you are so clueless as to what you have unleashed on the world. Did you consider, for a second, that the determined woman you assaulted is pre law? That she is also a brilliant writer and extremely well spoken? That she comes from a family full of feminists? Ally had originally spoken about going into corporate law. Now she is talking about working for a nonprofit to help women in abusive situations. Your decision to be violent may well make the world a much unkinder place for those who do not treat women with kindness and respect. In other words, those who solve problems with their fists are about to live a much harder life. 

I'm sorry your life is about to get harder, but I cannot help but smile and tell you from the bottom of my heart, "Thank you for making the world a better place for women." I also would like to tell you, I forgive you, if not for your sake, then for myself. If I hold on to the anger I feel for you, I am limiting the love I can feel for so many other wonderful people. 


The Woman Lucky Enough to Call Ally "My Sister" 

My maid of honor, on my wedding day and every day. 

A few closing thoughts: For those that will undoubtedly say, "it doesn't look like a big bruise," or "you can barely see it" or "the guy was drunk, cut him a break," you are supporting rape culture, abuse of women and a world where these things are acceptable. Violence against anyone, male or female, is not okay. No more toleration, no more free passes. Fists do not solve problems, they cause them. At one time Jesse Matthews, the man currently on trial for the rape and murder of Hannah Graham and my former classmate, Morgan Harrington, along with having numerous other charges against him, started out with a series of smaller charges, including assaults at parties in college. It is time to stop taking these things lightly. 

My sister is back at SU, and will graduate in the spring. She found the courage to stay in Poland, press charges despite the harassment of several of the other women in their program and the complete lack of support from its director, and finish the semester with an A/B average. However, despite her strength, there are days where she still struggles. It was hard for her to come forward, and even harder for her to follow through, but she did it so that she might inspire others to have courage. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

27 Things Teachers Love/Can't Live Without

Teachers are a unique breed. We love our students as our own, during the year we can work as many as 16 hours a day, and while we're supposed to come off as calm and confident to our students and their parents, we're no different than anyone else and can freak out with the best of them. There are some things, however, that most of us can't get through a day without.

  1. Coffee. We work crazy long hours, we have to be at work at the crack of dawn, and then there's the ever frigid bus duty (which I by some miracle managed to escape this year). Coffee will equate you with a deity. 
  2. Chocolate. Have you ever met a teacher that doesn't love the stuff?
  3. Pinterest. We plan from it, we use it to get bulletin board ideas and if you can find a group with more cooking and crafting pins I'll be shocked. 
  4. Mini fridges. Our classrooms are sort of like college dorms. When we end up working late nights (which is all the time) these fridges are what sustain us. 
  5. Tervis cups, water bottles, etc. Hydration is a major issue for teachers. These cups are cute, come with a million and one themes and are virtually indestructible. In other words, every teacher needs quite a few. 
  6. Our teacher IDs. There are numerous places that give teachers discounts simply for flashing our school IDs. I keep mine with me full time. Here's a list of companies that give teacher discounts.
  7. Thirty-one. Their bags are cute and durable. Plus as a direct sales company it's something we can do on the side for extra cash. Most schools have at least one teacher rep. 
  8. Children's books. My collection is larger than most kids'. 
  9. People who don't make stupid comments. The most offensive "but you get 3 months/2 weeks/a whole week off at summer/Christmas/Easter." Do the math. It doesn't balance out. 
  10. Anchor charts. I swear there is an anchor chart for everything. 
  11. Cute things done with food. If we can teach a lesson and give kids a snack, we will. Although this is becoming less and less common, as regulations on what we can and can't give kids to eat.
  12. Etsy. One of a kind stuff is the bomb. 
  13. The ridiculous things that come out of our students mouths that split our sides because we're trying so hard not to laugh. I keep a notebook. 
  14. Youtube. I remember filmstrips when I was in kindergarten. Now there's a whole shmorgousboard of history lessons, math songs and brain breaks. Youtube saves lives, or at least scalps from grey hair. 
  15. Adorable classroom decorations. Yes, we know that having a cute classroom does not guarantee us an easy year, but we can still dream, right? 
  16. Microwave popcorn. Most of us would starve to seat without it. 
  17. Polka dots. Every teacher I know owns SOMETHING with polka dots. 
  18. Free stuff. We're broke and we always need more classroom supplies. Free stuff as a teacher= BEST THING EVER!
  19. Our pets. Sure, we love our students, and we even love our own kids if we have them, but other than my veterinarian friends, I don't know another set of people that adores or takes care of their animals as much or as well. 
  20. Reasons to celebrate. We're a goofy set, we dress up on a regular Tuesday because our administrator's declare it "Tacky Tuesday," and there is no one else who has such an appreciation for holiday themed snacks. Our job can be frustrating, tedious and thankless. Reasons to celebrate make it a little easier. 
  21. Puns. Walk into any elementary ed teacher's classroom and you'll find at least one proudly on display. It could be a candy list of the rules, or a sub folder with a submarine on the front, but you will see one. And don't get me started on all the punny teacher gifts there are out there. 
  22. Teachers Pay Teachers. This is an excellent resource and way to make a little cash on the side. Use it to find worksheets, handouts and full lessons. 
  23. Sharpies. If I ever invest in the stock market, this is what I'm buying. I use these things like they're going out of style. 
  24. Alcohol. Let's be honest, the job is stressful and a little booze (in moderation) helps us to unwind. 
  25. Clorox wipes. Basically the same as sharpies, just cleaner. 
  26. Clever ways to organize. Bonus points if its cute. 
  27. Anything that's customized. Maybe it's because so much of our stuff tends to get donated to class use. It's nice to have a few, "this is mine and you can't have it," things.
So if you're going to show your favorite teacher some love, keep these things in mind. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

10 Fashion Trends That I Don't Understand to the Point of Being Annoyed

I love fashion, but there are some really popular looks I just don't understand. I either find them to be impractical, unattractive, or just plain confusing. Here's a list of what I find to be the top 10 most confusing fashion trends.

Up first, crop tops. Okay, I get it, they're cute and if paired well can make you look taller, but let's get real. I am an average woman, and as such, I have an average woman's stomach. That is to say pale, not as flat as I would like, and generally not appropriate for public display. If you're skinny enough to pull one off, go for it. In general, they flatter few and make you look like a tween trying to be sexy, which is by far one of the least attractive things I can think of.

Second on the list, booties. Seriously, what idiot came up with these? They can't keep your feet warm, they don't look comfortable, and seem a little too similar to their infant counterpart. What the heck would you even wear them with? It seems like they also have a little too much potential to cut your legs up into oddly proportioned chunks. 

Third, a problem I have had for years. I hate 3/4 length sleeves. Be long sleeve or be short sleeve but commit dammit. Every time I wear one of these shirts I end up rolling up the sleeves to avoid pulling them down all day. 

Next on the list, boots without heels. Blame 20 years of horseback riding, but boots need to have heels, that way your foot won't slide through the stirrup. It irritates me even more if the top of the toe is soft, thus giving you no protection from being stepped on. Otherwise, what is the point in wearing them? Yes, I know not every boot is designed with horses in mind, but consider this. Boots with heels give you a better tush. Boots with hard tops last longer, and if you happen to have a tendency to get stepped on protect your feet. Plus the boots designed with horses in mind last longer, in general, than those that are not. 

Up next on my list, disproportionate layering. On top she's dressed in not one but two long sleeve tops, which is suited to a crisp fall to cold winter day. On the bottom she's got on shorts, which I only wear in months that have fewer that 4 letters in the name, or start with the letter A. Please explain to me a type of weather in which this outfit would be comfortable?

Continuing on my fashion rant: belts with no function. I can of see where it gives you more of a waist, but this doesn't apply to everyone. Personally, I find belts on the whole to be uncomfortable, cumbersome and just plain irritating. So, why wear on if you don't have to? 

That whole rant about 3/4 length tops. I have the same feelings about capris. Wear pants, wear shorts, do not wear their bastard love child. 

Next up, strangely placed sequins. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the stuff. You can't show Western Pleasure if you have anything against sequins. But sequins on just the shoulders, or used to make elbow pads. Where is the logic in that. 

Giant bows across the bosom of clothing. While some might argue that these, ahem, ladies are a gift in many respects, that doesn't mean you need to turn them into a present to be unwrapped. 

Last on my list, what is the deal with rompers? I thought they were on the way out and then, bam, my Pinterest feed is crawling with them. Why would a grown woman want to dress like an overgrown toddler? 

Is there anything out there you can't stand that either is or was in fashion? 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

If This Whole Teaching Thing Doesn't Pan Out…Other Things I'd Like to Be When I Grow Up

Photo from: http://media-cache-ec4.pinimg.com/originals/49/ac/4f/49ac4fe7e39c6740233f81bf44525811.jpg. 

A common problem among many of the adults I know with ADHD is that we don't have the answer to a question we've been asked since childhood. What do you want to be when you grow up? Stephen Tonti summed it up well in his TED Talks Presentation, when he describes the many hats he has worn in his lifetime, which include, but are not limited to: actor, director, scuba diver, physicist and stopwatch repair man. He then goes on to say that it's not that people with ADHD lack focus, it's just that many of us have such wide interests it's hard for us to focus on one singular thing we want to do. I am by no means an exception to this rule. Here are some of the other things I still want to be when I grow up:

  1. A New York Times Bestselling Author
  2. A famous blogger (though I think I'll pass on Perez Hilton's lifestyle)
  3. A full time Etsy artist
  4. A chef
  5. A veterinary technician
  6. A boarding barn manager
  7. An extension agent
  8. A riding instructor
  9. A horse show judge
  10. A dog walker
  11. A camp director
  12. The person who comes up with the names of makeup
  13. A dog groomer
  14. An interior designer (though I might need to learn to paint) 
  15. A horse show groom
  16. A photographer
  17. A dog trainer
  18. A personal shopper
  19. A massage therapist (for people or animals)
  20. A personal trainer
  21. A gardener
  22. A farmer
  23. A baker
  24. A party planner
  25.  A youth programs coordinator (like at a state park or within a bigger association)
  26. A wedding planner
  27. The person who gets to put together the I Spy photos.
  28. Life coach
  29. A direct sales rep
  30. Hippotherapist (a therapist that uses horses in their practice to treat physical and emotional issues)
  31. Saddle fitter
  32. Seamstress (although my sewing skills would need some major improvement)
  33. Motivational speaker
 Does anyone else out there feel like they still don't know what they want to be?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

20 Things You Didn't Know About The Farmer's Granddaughter

No big intro tonight, just the facts.

  1. I absolutely despise bananas and onions. I also don't eat raw tomatoes, cooked carrots or cabbage in any form. 
  2. I try to avoid passing judgement too quickly, since one of my biggest flaws is being overly critical of others, but this can mean I take forever to make my mind up about someone. On the other hand, my closest friends are people I have liked almost immediately. 
  3. I always seem to stumble across popular books and TV shows months and sometimes even years behind others. The plus side of this is that I can indulge in a new found love (such as my recent discovery, Sex and the City) wholeheartedly and to its fullest extent. 
  4. This is actually my fourth attempt at blogging, but I'm determined to make this one stick. 
  5. I was three classes short of having a second major in Animal Science in college, but I couldn't pass nutrition. 
  6. I've had the same pen pal for almost ten years, a middle aged woman who owned my horse, Libby, before I did. We refuse to communicate in any manner other than written letters. 
  7. While I could pass a camp swim test, I would probably drown if my aquatic skills were truly put to the test. 
  8. I have not, in five years, gone to bed with everything crossed off my to do list and I probably never will again. 
  9. I love all forms of puzzles, which I think I get from my grandfather. I love crosswords, Suduko and jigsaw puzzles, as well as logic problems.
  10. I loved English best in school, but I think I'm actually a better math teacher than I am a reading teacher. 
  11. I have my bellybutton pierced, which for some reasons shocks people. 
  12. I have a major weakness for white cheddar popcorn. 
  13. I love the idea of an exercise program, but have a hard time sticking to a single one. I tried P90X and within 3 weeks was so ready to strangle Tony Horton I had to stop. 
  14. My current dream vacation is an overnight train ride to New Orleans and a week of immersing myself in their history, culture and cuisine with my husband. 
  15. My father and I have a very close and unique relationship that stems from 8+ hour trips to horse shows around the country, 80s and 90s rock and both having ADHD. 
  16. I love reading books in almost every genre, but I am definitely a (not so) closeted sci-fi nerd. 
  17. I have never worn contacts and I probably never will, because I actually think glasses are way more attractive. 
  18. I have truly bizarre food allergies. Normal people are allergic to nuts or milk or wheat. I'm allergic to blackberries, avocado, kiwi and eggplant. 
  19. I think abortion, pot and prostitution should be legal. However, on a personal level, I want no part in any of those things. 
  20. My gym playlist is some of the trashiest, distasteful, most horrible music you can imagine, and I love it. 

10 Looks I Wish I Could Pull Off (and may try to if I ever become self employed)

Sorry, but I'm not always up for posting things that are deep in thought. This is particularly true of the first day back to work after Christmas break at the same time of the full moon, although it was, admittedly, not nearly as bad as it could have been. I love fashion, but there are some looks I am either not skinny enough or brave enough to wear, or I simply have no practical way to incorporate them into my wardrobe. That doesn't stop me from adoring them or dreaming though. Here are 10 looks I wish I could pull off. And who knows, I'm working hard to lose the weight and may well become self employed or maybe one day I'll just get brave. Motivation anyone?

Super dramatic makeup.

The geeky gorgeousness that is this swimsuit.

Hipster fashion. 

Crazy leggings. 

Steampunk fashion in any and all forms. 

This amazing 1950s inspired dress. 

I love medieval costumes, but as there is no Lord of the Rings party in my future, no luck.

Bold as anything red hair. 

Rib tattoos are totally amazing, and I love the tree thing. Maybe when I have a six pack? 

Maybe I'll just hitch a ride in a Delorean back to 1920? 

What is your inner fashionista? 

Friday, January 2, 2015

100 Books to Read this Year

Photo from: http://weheartit.com/entry/24368146.
Over the last few years, I haven't gotten to read nearly as much as I would like. Darn you college and graduate school for sucking away my desire to read for fun. But for the first time in 19 years (yeesh I feel old), I have no school to go back to (other than my job, I am a teacher) after my Christmas break. Therefore, I think this is the year that I should embark on the journey to read 100 books. Audiobooks I listen to can also count, which is good, because I spend approximately 1 hour in my car commuting 5 days a week, and really, what else am I going to do with my time? I also found a reading challenge on Pinterest to help me ensure I'm diversifying my selections and getting the full benefits of my literary pursuits. These books are indicated with a PC:

  1. Currently, I'm in the middle of "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore. Even though I started this in 2014, I figure it still counts. 
  2. I've already ordered "Eat, Pray, Love" as my second book. My husband finally got his on Kindle for Christmas, which means I can finally get mine back from him. 
  3. I want to read a book about blogging in order to make my blog more efficient. Recommendations for this one are more than welcome. 
  4. "No Matter the Wreckage," which is a book of poetry by my favorite spoken word poet, Sarah Kay. 
  5. PC: A book with more than 500 pages. I'm going to try to read "The Time Traveler's Wife." I've heard good things about it, and time travel intrigues me.
  6. "Bitches on a Budget," which is a financial book geared specifically toward women. I think it may help us as we journey toward being debt free. 
  7. PC: A classic romance. I'm going to go for Pride and Prejudice. It's one of those books where I can't help but wonder how I got to (almost) 25 and still haven't read it. 
  8. "The Hobbit." I think I need to try listening to Tolkien instead of reading him. Maybe then I will have better luck with theses. As it happens I have tried twice to read this and failed all three. 
  9. PC: A book that has been turned into a movie. I want to read "Wild" which is the true story of a woman who starts on a crazy hiking expedition solo after personal tragedy. Then I can go see how Reese Witherspoon does playing it out on the big screen.
  10. "Labor Day" which was also made into a movie in 2014 is one of the ones I am dying to read. 
  11. PC: A book that comes out this year. I'm looking forward to reading "I'll Have What She's Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting." This nonfiction book details the strange eating habits of the fit and famous. I think it will be a good reminder of why normal people simply don't look like celebrities, and that it's okay to be average. 
  12. "The Monuments Men" is another book that was made into a movie, but it sounds like a good read that would refresh my history knowledge. 
  13. "168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think." I'm one of those people who always tries to do way to much. Who knows, maybe reading this will give me super human productivity. 
  14. "The Fault in Our Stars." This was made popular by the 2014 movie, but I actually had it on my to read list before then, so I should probably get a jump on it.
  15. "The Freedom Writer's Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them." I'll read this when I need to be reminded of why I became a teacher. And I will need that reminder. 
  16. "Pride Over Pity." This one is by Teen Mom, Kailyn Lowry. I know that many view this show as trashy, but at its core, the intentions are good, and these young women are brave for sharing their stories. 
  17. "Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra Orthodox Girlhood." I have a certain level of fascination with super strict religions. This feeds into my curiosity.
  18. PC: A Book With a Number in the Title. I'm going to read "5 Acres and a Dream."
  19. "The Great Gatsby." This is another one of those books where I have to ask how I got to 25 and haven't read it. 
  20. "Moving Violations: Wheelchairs, War Zones and Declarations of Independence." One of my former professors told me that this is a must read for SPED teachers. Okay, I'll give it a shot. 
  21. "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption." I promise I did not look up books made into movies in 2014 to add to this list. This is happening completely by accident. 
  22. "Never Too Late." Written by one of the more controversial Teen Moms, Amber Portwood, I'm sort of morbidly curious what this crazy woman has to share with the world. 
  23. PC: A book by someone under the age of 30. I'm going to read "Bulletproof."
  24. "Bittersweet Blessings." Written by another Teen Mom, Ashley Salazar, who made the terrifying choice to give her daughter up for adoption. 
  25. Barnheart. Another farm lit book. 
  26. PC: A book with nonhuman characters. I actually think I'm going to reread "Black Beauty." Most see it as a children's story, but it was actually one of the first pieces of animal rights literature written. The last time I read it I was 13 and couldn't really appreciate it. 
  27. "Horse Heaven" is another book with nonhuman characters that explores the racing world through equine eyes. 
  28. "Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son." Oh the joys and confusion of parenthood, or so they tell me.
  29. PC, A funny book: Rurally Screwed.
  30. "Working it Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and Hope." Biggest Loser contestant Abby Rike recounts the tragic deaths of her husband and two children in a car accident, and her fight to find happiness is the aftermath. 
  31. "The Dark Side of Disney." As someone who loves all things Disney, I am intrigued. 
  32. PC: A book by a female author. Another, "how have I never read this?" book. "Gone With the Wind." 
  33. "The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love." This sounds vaguely familiar. 
  34. PC: A mystery/thriller book. I'm planning to read, "The Lost Symbol." This came out when I was a sophomore in college, which was my craziest year. Needless to say I never got around to reading it. 
  35. "Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales of an Allergic Life." This also sounds somewhat familiar, although my allergies are not generally life threatening. 
  36. "The Feast Nearby," which is another garden lit book. 
  37. "The Casual Vacancy" is also on my to read list. 
  38. Growing a Farmer. You guessed it, another farm lit book.
  39. PC: A book with a one word title. I'm going to try the "Matched" series, since it keeps coming up on my recommendations after I finish books on my Kindle. 
  40. Gaining Ground, which is another farming book. 
  41. PC: A book of short stories. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" is a book of short and humorous essays, detailing the various parts of the author's life. 
  42. Growing Into a Farm.
  43. Home Grown Honeybees
  44. "Graduates in Wonderland: The International Adventure of Two (Almost) Adults." I love Alice in Wonderland, and the "Almost" part of this title intrigues me. 
  45. PC: A book set in another country. "Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story," sounds like it would fit the bill and be a fun read. 
  46. "Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection." This sounds like a good reality check that I may need at some point. 
  47. PC: Mud Season 
  48. Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling and Reconnecting with the Natural World. 
  49. PC: A popular author's first book. "The Sisters" was recommended to me in a magazine, so I'm going to give it a whirl. 
  50. "Farms With a Future." I want my farm to have a future so this seems like a good read. 
  51. PC: A book by an author you love that you haven't read yet/ A Graphic Novel. I'm a huge Jodi Piccoult fan, so for this one I want to read a book she wrote while stepping out of her comfort zone, "Wonder Woman: Love and Murder."This is the only book I'm going to let cover 2 of the Pinterest Challenge Books. 
  52. Homespun Mom Comes Unraveled. 
  53. PC: A book that has won a pulitzer prize. "A Thousand Acres," is about a farm. Sounds good to me. 
  54. "Gunner: Hurricane Horses" This book is about the true stories of horses that survived major storms, such as Katrina. 
  55. PC: A book based on a true story. "A Chinese Cinderella," is the story of a young girl growing up in the 1940s in China. 
  56. Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys. 
  57. PC: A book recommended to you by a friend. I'm going to read "Growing Up Duggar." That family is strange and morbidly fascinating. 
  58. "The Longest Ride." My inner horse girl needs to read more equine lit, and for those of you that think this isn't a genre, you clearly don't know any horse women. 
  59. PC: A book at the bottom of your to read list. I'm not a British Lit fan, but I'm going to talk myself into reading "Sense and Sensibility." 
  60. "Dark Places" which is by the Gillian Flynn, who also wrote "Gone Girl"
  61. "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" was recommended to me by two people.
  62. "Sharp Objects," also by Gillian Flynn. 
  63. PC: A book your mom loves. She's also into Jodi Piccoult, so I'm going to read her newest, "Leaving Time" for this one. 
  64. "On Sidesaddles to Heaven," has horses and sidesaddle riding, which I'm obsessed with. Sounds ideal. 
  65. PC: A book that scares you. The Bible seems terrifying enough, actually. 
  66. A Book of Bees
  67. PC: A book more than 100 years old. "Anne of Green Gables" seems like a fun option here. 
  68. "Sisterhood Everlasting" which is a part of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series that I loved in high school. 
  69. PC: A book you picked based on the cover. "The Book of Unknown Americans" looks interesting. Literally.
  70. I am Malala
  71. PC: A book you were supposed to read in school, but never did. I'm not saying I did a good job, but I actually read everything I was supposed to. However, no class I was in ever read "The Grapes of Wrath." 
  72. How to Make Money Homesteading
  73. PC: A memoir. Cold Antler Farm. 
  74. PC: A book you can read in a day. I found this one on a Buzzfeed list, and the title alone made me giggle, "Who Will Run the Frog Hospital."
  75. PC: A book with antonyms in the title. "Cold Tea on a Hot Day" fits the bill.
  76. PC: A book that came out the year you were born. I'm going to reread "Jurassic Park."
  77. PC: A book with bad reviews. "Leaves of Grass" was trashed by some critics when originally released. 
  78. PC: A trilogy. I supposed I will attempt to tackle "Lord of the Rings Again." 
  79. PC: A book from your childhood. I am so reading "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle." 
  80. PC: A book with a love triangle. "The Infernal Devices" series apparently has this theme. 
  81. PC: A book set in the future. I saw "The Maze Runner" a few weeks ago and hated it with a passion, but it made me want to read the book. 
  82. PC: A book set in high school. "The Rules" is a dystopian fiction book that has caught my attention. 
  83. PC: A book with a color in the title. I loved the movie "The Green Mile," and I bet that the book is even better. 
  84. PC: A book that made you cry. I adore the book "The Horse Whisperer," but it is one heck of a tear jerker. 
  85. PC: A book with magic. "The Night Circus" is another book that keeps coming up on my recommended reads. 
  86. One Woman Farm. 
  87. PC: A book by an author you've never read before. I remember that one of my elementary school teacher's favorite books was "The Secret Life of Bees," and I've never read any of these before. 
  88. PC: A book you own but have never read. There's a copy of "Riders" by Jilly Cooper sitting on my shelf that I have yet to crack.
  89. PC: A book set in your home town. "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University," has me interested simply because Liberty University is such a huge subject of controversy in Lynchburg. 
  90. Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs
  91. PC: A book that was not originally in English. "Inkheart" was originally written in German and then translated. 
  92. PC: A book set during Christmas time. I feel like it's a little early to look for these, but it is a yearlong list. Holidays On Ice.
  93. PC: An author with your same initials. H.G. Wells wrote "War of the Worlds" so let's go with that one. 
  94. PC: A play. I'm going to finally get around to reading "Taming of the Shrew." 
  95. PC: A banned book. Somehow I've never managed to pick up "Catcher in the Rye" so I should probably change that. I also can't help but quoting Skeeter Feelin from the help when she says "If the state of Mississippi banned them, they must be good."
  96. PC: A book based on a TV show. I'm looking forward to picking up "Coffee at Luke's" which is about my favorite show, "Gilmore Girls."
  97. PC: A book you started but never finished. I guess I need to try again on "Good Omens." Brad will be pleased as this is one of his favorites. 
  98. "Chickens for Dummies"
Now, off to pick up my book!