Friday, June 29, 2012

Reading List, July 2012

"I cannot live without books." -Thomas Jefferson

I believe that our 3rd president said it best. Books have power over us-we can got to them for sympathy, or for a laugh. They can influence, encourage, and inspire us. Many times, they can even affect our emotions. 

Since I, and I believe many others, 'cannot live without books', I have decided to put together this monthly post. By the first of each month, I will publish a list of five books (or book series) that I have read and enjoyed. Maybe this will inspire to find a new book you like, if you're ever in a rut about what to read. 

So here we have it: our July 2012 Reading List. Summer reading is fantastic in that you can read whatever you want; no deadlines, no questions. In honor of that thought, I've included several light-hearted reads, as well as several more on the adventurous side. Enjoy!!!

1. The Cherry Ames Series by Helen Wells and Julie Tatham Set in the 40's and 50's, Cherry Ames is a spunky, kind hearted nurse. Similar to Nancy Drew, Cherry takes on a new nursing job in each of the 27 books, and is usually caught up in some sort of mystery. I love these books! They are filled with patriotism (perfect for July, right?), nursing pride, friendship, and romance. Originally publsihed by Grosset &Dunlap in the years 1943-1964, they've been out of print for a long time and may prove hard to find. Several Inter Library Loans may be required! I was lucky enough to get almost all the books given to me by my brother's friend's mother; I had never heard of them before but was so happy with them! Lately, many are trying to bring Cherry back for a new generation, and Springer Publishing company has published the first four! They are Student Nurse, Senior Nurse, Army Nurse and Chief Nurse. I have read only the first five, Student Nurse through Flight Nurse. In addition to the 27 books, in the height of her popularity, Cherry Ame's Book of Firstaid and Home Nursing was also published, as well as a Cherry Ames Nursing Game. A British publsiher even produced the yearly Cherry Ames Girl's Annuals, released in the years 1958-1964. Book summaries, author information, and tons more can be found at here Overall, The Cherry Ames Series is an easy, quick read that's sure to put a smile on your face. In my opinion, every girl has her own Nancy Drew....some go with Trixie Belden, others go for The Bobsy Twins....Cherry Ames is mine; maybe it will be yours!

2. Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery Although lesser-known than Lucy Maud Mongomery's Anne of Green Gables, this trilogy is still a great example of her unique writing style. Similar to Anne of Green Gables, the series depicts every day experiences in the life of Emily Starr, an orphan and aspiring writer sent to live with her two aunts and cousin at their farm, New Moon. L.M. Montgomery modeled Emily's character after herself, and many of Emily's experiences actually happened to Montgomery. Originally published in 1923 by Frederick A. Stokes, the series consists of Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest. The series was also adapted into a television series in 1998 by Salter Street Films for CBC. An animated, 27-episode Japanese series was also released in 2007, entitled Kaze no Shoujo Emily (Emily, The Wind Girl), produced by NHK and Tokyo Movie Shinsha. I have not seen either of those, so I can't say how they compare to the books. I read the entire trilogy three several years ago after being introduced to them by my grandmother, and absolutely loved them. I'm considering re-reading them soon, and I still talk about my favorite parts in them. And, random fact: my favorite boy name is Perry, because of one of the wonderful characters that Emily is friends with! More information on Lucy Maud Montgomery and her books can be found here

3. Boston Jane series by Jennifer L. Holm It's funny-my favorite books that I've ever read, I've just picked randomly up at the library, never having heard of them before. That's how I found Boston Jane. It quickly became one of my all-time favorite book series. I love it when a book makes you feel something, and this one absolutely did. I'd stay up late at night, reading, and each page would make me sit up and laugh hysterically, bite my nails, or sit there, helpless, sobbing! The first book, An Adventure,  is about Jane Peck, a student at Miss Helplewhite's Young Lady's Academy, who moves out west to marry the beau of her youth. Things quickly start off on a bad foot, however, and Jane is left to herself to fend for herself. Book 2, Wilderness Days, is more of a mystery, with a scary twist that left me up at night. By far, my favorite one of the three. In it, Jane has to deal with another woman, and friends that seam to not value her. Book 3, The Claim, wraps things up, with plenty of drama in between, including locking horns with her old enemy, Sally Biddle. Throughout all three books, the reader is treated to twists, mishaps, joy and sadness. I sat there, cried, gushed, and read the last paragraph over and over again when I finished the series. Memorable characters, like Jehu Schudder and Mr. Swan, and the friendly tribe of Chinook Indians, provide for a story that won't easily be forgotten. You can find more information of Jennifer L. Holm, Boston Jane, and her other books here

4. Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith The 4th of July being right around the corner, I thought that I'd add another patriotic read. Rilfles for Watie, written by Harold Keith in 1957, is the story of 16 year-old Jefferson Davis Bussey. As the Civil War brakes out across America, Bussey joins the Union army. As the war rages on, however, he finds himself spying across Confederate lines. Keith raises several issues in this book, including how Bussey makes friends on both sides of the war, and the difficult decisions he faces about which side to help. The book has many memorable characters, including real-life historical figures, and Lucy Washbourne, one of the main female characters of the book. Harold Keith interviewed many Civil War veterans during his life, making the experiences and insights of Bussey as a Civil War soldier very accurate. Another interesting fact about the book was that it mainly takes place to the west of the Mississippi; a setting not often seen in historical fictions. Rifles for Watie was given several awards, including the Newberry Medal in 1958, the 1964 Lewis Carol Shelf Award, and being named one of the Notable Children's Books of 1957. I read this several years ago when I studied the Civil War, and I still smile at my favorite parts.

5. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle It just can't be summer without a good mystery. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writings about his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, were originally published in many periodicals and magazines. Since then, Holmes has become the inspiration for many other detective stories. Dr. Watson, the constant sidekick, also inspired the idea of a loyal, but less brilliant, friend to accompany the hero on their adventures. Doyle wrote fifty-six short stories and four novels about Holmes, most written from the viewpoint of Watson. Though originally published separately, they short stories have been gathered into five collections. They are The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes (Including His Last Bow), and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. The four novels are A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear. My favorite short stories, which I highly suggest, are A Study in Pink, A Scandal in Bohemia, and The Electric Blue Dress. Sherlock Holmes holds the Guinness Book of World Records title to be the most portrayed character, with over 75 actors playing him in 211 films. Holmes was first seen on screen in the year 1900, in Sherlock Holmes Baffled. My favorite TV Holmes  are Sherlock Holmes, staring Jeremy Brett for Grenada Television. Brett was with played the part for four series, and also portrayed Holmes on stage. He was hands-down the most accurate actor, and did much research so that he could be the best at the role. I also really enjoyed BBC's Sherlock, first aired in 2010. Starring Bennedict Cumberbatch, this new series takes place on the streets of modern day London, but stills holds true to the original feel of the books. 

I hope that you have enjoyed the post! I will continue with another five books in August. In the meantime, enjoy your summer reading!!! If you know of any books that you think should be included in the list, please list them in the comments below. I will gladly look them up and consider them for future 'Reading List' posts. 

Thanks for reading!

A Fresh Start, Part 2: Rooms

Welcome back! Today's post is the second in our 'A Fresh Start' series. The series will focus on organizing, decorating, and sorting your room and things, thus creating a fresh atmosphere for your summer days. If you missed our first post, 'A Fresh Start, Part One: Studies', simply scroll down or find it at the right. 

Now, we will be looking at decorating hints, fresh ideas, and cleaning tips to revamp your entire room.

General Cleaning: First off, please realize that a room cannot be successfully decorated unless it is neat. You should 'purge' your room several times a year, getting rid of unwanted books, clothing, knick knacks, etc. I like to clean my room out once at Christmas and once in the spring. At least once a year, you should also pull out all the furniture and thoroughly vacuum, dust, and launder quilts and curtains. Summer is a great time to do this because you can often find some uninterrupted time to get the work done.

Moving Furniture: The easiest (and least expensive) way to change up your room is to simply move the furniture. A great time to do this is during your thorough cleaning routine. Experiment, and feel free to do something a little different. Whatever works for you.

Color Scheme/Theme: If you really want a room overhaul, choose a specific color scheme or theme and re-decorate your room to fit your vision. Think out of the box; and remember that it doesn't have to match perfectly to be the perfect room. Focus on matching one thing: style, color, or print. If you're going for a beach room, things should be tropical themed. If you want your room to be green and blue, don't focus on matching patterns, but try and get all complimentary colors. If you want a polka dot room, use a lot of dots in a bunch of different colors. Although many modern decorators frown on wallpaper as a thing of the past, please consider it. Wallpaper comes in many different prints, and can really transform a space and add a sophisticated feel to the room. Keep in mind, however, that a new theme can be captured without new paint and furniture. By simply getting new curtains, bed clothes, and accessories, you can easily create a new feel without the price tag.

Now that we have some basics covered, let's talk about the specific areas of your bedroom. For best results, each area should have in it all items needed for a specific activity.

Beds: Since the bed is often the focal point of the room, it can contribute a lot to the overall color scheme. For a fresh look, outfit your bed in crisp summer sheets, either white or patterned to compliment your color scheme. Add a lightweight summer quilt that also matches. Top it off with unique pillows: specialty fabrics, herbal, and shaped pillows are all good choices. For extra fun, try putting an extra quilt or afghan at the foot of your bed. It's practical, but also provides a contrast. 

Bedside Tables: I believe the bedside table to be essential. They provide excellent storage for jewelry, lotion, and other basics, and can also hold books and lamps. Try adding special touches to yours by using unique handles or knobs, a fun lampshade, or an antique clock. A doily or small patterned cloth can also accent the table, and add a cozy feel to the room.

Desks: During the summer, desks can often take a turn to the creative side rather than being purely functional. Once the books are put away, consider keeping journals, sketching supplies, or anything else you can think of handy. Have fun, and focus on outfitting your desk for your favorite pastime rather than making space for studying. 

Dresser: Go through your clothes once the weather takes a turn for the better. Give away clothes that are too small, or that you no longer want. Winter clothing saved for next year should be neatly folded and stored in either an extra drawer, under-the-bed tub, or on the top shelf of your closet. Fold the rest of your clothes and organize them in the drawers. The top of your dresser can be used for hair brushes/combs, a mirror, jewelry, or anything else that you use often. It could also be a great place for storing figurines, framed photos, etc. 

Windows: Windows can become an inspirational part of a room if they are properly decorated. A curtain or valence can change the feel of the room, and also tie in other pieces. Some people have different curtains for the change of season; if you do this, stick to lace, crisp cotton, organza or other sheer materials. They will create a breezy feel, and make your room feel light and cool. Although there are many pretty curtains available, making them yourself can often be cheaper. This is especially true if you find fabric at a discount store: curtains don't require the same level of quality that clothing does. A windowsill can also serve a decorating purpose; considering adding flowers, figurine, or other trinkets to add depth and interest.

Bookshelf/Reading Nook: Nothing says summer to me for than care-free reading. A filled bookshelf can be very attractive in a room, and also make the room unique to you when it's filled with your personal favorites. A reading nook is another great idea. I recently picked up an old arm chair for $2 at a yard sale. It has scuff marks around the legs and the fabric is rather on the ugly side, but it fits in my room perfectly and is very comfortable. Eventually, I will reupholster it and it will be good as new. A cozy place to sit, other than a bed or desk chair, can be much more comfortable and encourage you to catch up on that required reading. :)

Now that we have discussed the different areas of a room, let's move on to some basic accents that can really add personal style. 

Flowers: Flowers, no matter how small, instantly add a classic, friendly feel to any room. We will discuss more about flowers in an upcoming post.

Toys: A favorite stuffed animal can bring back adorable memories; a chest filled with old toys just gives the room a juvenile feeling. If you are in high school, you probably don't use them much, anyway. If you are at all like me, however, getting rid of old toys is easier said than done. Go through everything, and sort out what you can part with. Since I have many younger cousins who enjoy playing with some of my things, I kept out what they enjoy using and put it out of sight in a single drawer. After that, the rest can easily be stored downstairs in the basement, until my sentimental reasons eventually ware off. If you're on the cuff about getting rid of things, try giving away some things to a little friend, or even donating stuffed animals to a local nursing home. Then, at least, they will be cherished and used. 

Pictures/Wall Hangings: These add great interest to a room. Put up pictures of  friends and family, prints of favorite paintings, and posters of a college or place you'd love to attend/live. More on wall hangings and their impact on us in an upcoming post. 

Figurines: Fragile figurines should be kept in safe places where there is little risk of them being broken, but where they can still be appreciated. Shelves, small curio cabinets, etc. provide the perfect venue for this. Please display them: oftentimes they showcase memories, triumphs, your personal style, or are treasured gifts.

This concludes our 'Rooms' post. Please keep a lookout for the next in our 'A Fresh Start' series; 'Dress', where we will discuss style, thrifty shopping, outfit ideas, alterations, and more! As always, thanks for reading! 

Please leave a comment below. What are some of your favorite decorating ideas? Is there anything we missed that you'd like us to discuss? Got a summery room? Send us a picture and maybe we'll use it in an upcoming post:; please put 'Rooms' in the subject line. 

Once again, thanks for reading!

Several of the  photos above came from Key Interiors by Shinay

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Fresh Start, Part 1: Studies

Summer officially started yesterday, and here in New Hampshire, we were greeted by a heat wave. Many people use summer as a time to catch up on everything they wanted to do, but couldn't, over the last winter. It provides a break; a way to escape from the monotony of our working or school life and try new things. To ensure the most fun. however, a fresh, clean atmosphere must be provided.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce that Young Yankee Lady will be publishing a series of 'A Fresh Start' posts. They will focus on organizing clutter that may have built up over the last several months, and creating a neat, carefree atmosphere for your summer plans. These will, hopefully, give you a boost to create a memorable and productive summer. I will be posting at least one part each week, so check back often to see what's new!

As spring approaches, I usually find myself working hard to finish my school studies, make last minute arrangements, and attend a wave of extra-curricular activities. Through the chaos, not everything gets put away, many piles of forms, notes, and such pile up, and my stacks of school books quickly topple and cover my floor. If this happens to you, too, please read on to find what you can do to tame the mess and create a fresh atmosphere for your summer plans.

Once school finishes, rather than rejoice in your freedom and run for the beach, please take the time to organize your papers and books. If things are put away correctly now, your back to school preparations will be considerably easier, giving you time for end of summer outings.

Textbooks/Lit Reading: Sort. Try and sell the ones you do not wish to keep. If you are home-schooled, check with your parents. They may wish to re-use them with a younger sibling. Put the ones you choose to save away with the rest of your past-school work. Stack Neatly.

Notes: Sort. You will most likely want some of them. Separate them by subject, and organize them in chronological order. It will be easier to find what you're looking for in the future. You can choose to either keep them with other work in that subject area, or keep all notes together in a single folder.

Handouts/Classwork: Sort. Some may be handy. Others, such as those explaining a homework assignment, probably won't be. Organize them by subject and/or date, and toss or recycle what you no longer want.

Essays, etc.: Keep. They probably require more work than most other assignments. Organize by subject, and keep neat. Note: If you keep a master copy on paper, there may not be  a need to keep one saved on your computer, unless you see yourself needing to print another copy.

Study Guides: It's up  to you. If you will be taking more classes in the same subject area, you may want to keep them to brush up on the information before school begins again. Otherwise, they may not be necessary. 

Tests: Keep for studying purposes, and also as a record of your grade.

Art: Keep what you like, toss what you don't. If you are taking a class, you may want to keep most of it so you can show your progress and create a full collection.

Schedules, letters, passes, and other paper: Keep what means something to you. If you want to be able to look back and see everything you read, keep your lit syllabus. If you want to remember those in your class, keep the student list. Try to condense it to save space, as, from a practical standpoint, these often aren't as 'important' as your actual school work. Toss or recycle what  you do not want.

 Basic Supplies: Pencils, pens, sticky notes, etc., can easily be stored in your desk for summer use. If you have more than you need, fill a pencil pouch with the extra and store with your past books. Simply take out again in August.

Making a portfolio: Many home-schooled students put together a portfolio of the past school year. Although the laws in each state differ, this is mainly to present to an evaluator, to show progress over the past year. Even if you are not home-schooled, however, a portfolio can be great idea. Simply buy a binder with large rings. Create dividers to separate subjects. Include samples of notes, classwork, study guides, and tests. Remember to include a section for art/music, and another on extracurricular activities. That is where you can put score sheets from competitions, lists of hobbies, and samples of some of your favorite activities, such as a recipe you created or a movie you filmed with friends. Just have fun with it! A portfolio provides a great book that is easy to store, and fun to look back on. 

I hope this has inspired you to organize your school items, so you can move on to other projects. Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment below. Was this article helpful? What are some easy storage ideas? Sorting tips? Any ideas to help make it less of a job at the end of the year? Young Yankee Lady can't wait to hear from you! Check back soon for Part 2.