Elizabeth Warren - A Fighting Chance (Review)


I debated (ha, get it?) whether or not I wanted to do a review of this book. I don't think it is any surprise that I am as blue as a person can get when it comes to politics, but I wasn't sure I wanted to write a review that would be like standing with a bull horn in terms of letting my politics be known. In the end, I obviously decided to hell with any concern I had...I welcome any civil discussion in the comments...just remember that key word: CIVIL!!

First off I have to say that I was surprised when I saw this book prominently displayed at my local library. I live in a very, very conservative town and I often joke that our house is where they contain all the liberals. So seeing a book like this displayed caught me off guard and I of course, picked it up right away!

In A Fighting Chance, Warren gives a linear telling of both her personal life, as well as how she came to be a senior senator for Massachusetts. I have watched Warren on television for years now and remember watching her senate race against Scott Brown with my fingers crossed. Thankfully, she won and we have watched her go on to create even more noise in the United States Senate.

Before reading her book, I know that I liked Elizabeth Warren, but that was based on the small bits and pieces I knew from her political career. I really knew little about her personally so I picked up this book partially because I liked Warren, but also because I wanted to learn more about her. I honestly, didn't know what to expect from her book and this might actually be the first book I have read by a politician so I was feeling a mix of intrigue and hesitancy going in. I remember my grandfather used to love reading political biographies so I figured there had to be something there to like (I think I can say with great certainty that my grandfather would have loved Warren as well)!

Reading about Warren's life was fascinating. I find that I often enjoy biographical books and hers was no exception. From early on in her life, she often challenged the normative expectations laid out in front of her and I appreciated that. While she struggled with balancing what was expected from her as a woman and from her family, she never gave up on her dreams and found ways to trudge on with her own personal goals, even when doing so made her feel guilty.

"The women's movement was exploding around the country, but not in our quiet New Jersey suburb and certainly not in our little family. I wanted to be a good wife and mother, but I wanted to do something more. I felt deeply ashamed that I didn't want to stay full-time with my cheerful, adorable daughter." 

She grappled with being pulled in different directions and went on to be quite successful as a professor, and then working in Washington as a loud advocate for the American consumer in many ways. I enjoyed how Warren tackled the stigma associated to such challenges as bankruptcy, as she took on adversaries like big banks. She understands that not all individuals who find themselves in dire straights financially, are bad people and steered away from the victim blaming that often occurs.

I loved how her book was balanced with stories from her personal life and of her career - both of which were filled with many challenges and triumphs. Oh, and she's a dog person - so that absolutely won some points! ;) I think her book can easily be labeled as inspiring and it only furthered my support for Warren.

I also enjoyed reading about her campaign for senate and found that she made some points that could be incredibly applicable now, in this current political climate. She touches on the sexism that is still alive and well within our society, particularly within politics. During a conversation with Mandy Grunwald, Grunwald makes the comment that,

"It happens with every woman. People have to talk about how she looks before they can talk about what she says." 

This bit made me think about the endless line of comments that are made regarding Hillary Clinton. We comment on her hair, or on what she is wearing... (I'm guilty of doing so...), often before we look at her credibility on any other scale. Her campaign has even utilized this by making campaign merchandise that gives a nod to her infamous pant suits.

Warren also made some important remarks in terms of the idea that people need to band together. Throughout her campaign, the idea of working together was ever present but it seems that this idea really told hold even more after she spoke at the 2012 Democratic Convention.

"When we fight, we can win. And when we get really fired up and fight shoulder to shoulder, we can do some pretty amazing things." 

Given our current political climate, I feel like this is a very important idea to try and take hold of. I also am aware that it can be a difficult message to appreciate. With so much tension within parties, it can be difficult for some to understand the power, and the importance of coming together. I hope that we see a shift, and that people start to band together - I won't doubt that Warren will help us to achieve that.

Overall I can easily say that I enjoyed reading A Fighting Chance and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who might have the slightest bit of interest in learning more about her.



Garden Party (garden update)

Happy first day of summer!!! There's been a lot going on in the garden since the last time I did an update! Things are blooming and growing more and more every day!

We've got plenty of annuals planted around the house. My favorites are the hanging baskets that we picked up from a little local place that is just starting out. They're huge and were SUPER affordable!

Since taking these photos a few weeks ago, things have seriously blossomed! The hostas have all grown nearly double their size, the chives are blooming, the bachelor's buttons and daisies are blooming... I think that this year is going to be a really good year for the garden. Things seem to just be off to a good start!

We put up a piece of fence for the berry bushes to amble across and the veggie garden is looking fairly decent. Right now I've got two kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, peas, beans, nasturtiums, garlic chives, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, radishes, eggplant .. and I think that's it??

It seems like this year a lot of plants finally woke up. This climbing rose is doing magical things and when I counted last, had FIFTEEN blooms on it! Compared to previous years, that is amazing. I love how it looks against the Bachelor's Buttons as well, and can't wait for the gladiolus in the back to perk up and give more dimension. We also put up a new hook with a third hummingbird feeder and I love watching the hummingbirds from inside. I keep meaning to take my camera to the front window to watch them!

This clematis was picked up last year and looks like he was hear for far longer. I love how well he has taken to this tree!

I'm just loving how well everything is looking so far this year and I cannot wait to see how things progress!! If you garden, I'd love to know what you're growing this year, or what's shining in your garden - it seems to be a good year! 



Etsy Wishlist

I'm sure that this is clear from some of my past posts, but in case it isn't: I love shopping. I wish I didn't, but it true that I do. Some of my favorite shopping though, is often what I call treasure hunting. I love going to antique stores, thrift shops, flea markets, farmers markets, etc. You never know what you mind find in these types of venues which makes the shopping more like an adventure. You can do this online too and I frequently do, through Ebay and my favorite; Etsy.

Etsy is nothing new, and most people have probably bought something from the site at some point over the years. You might even be a seller yourself (if you are - please share your shop in the comments!!). What I love about Etsy is that you can shop from small, local artisans on a global scale, all on one site. There are so many shops that it can often get overwhelming the hunt is what makes Etsy so great sometimes. Given my love for the site, I figured I would put together a wishlist of some items that I am currently lusting over!

1. This stained glass panel from Creative Glass n Crafts is gorgeous!! I have always wanted a stained glass panel, and I just LOVE the colors in this one! It's got a classic style and is beautifully done. LOVE! 

2. I love this Rhino drawing from Tall Girl Arts. Rhinos are my favorite animals (behind my labs of course!) and I just love this print. It's colorful and intricate and would look great framed on a wall. I just need to find the space! 

3. When I took my dog Nessie for obedience classes, it was suggested that I purchase a martingale collar. I did and it really made a big difference! I started walking one of our other dogs, Jewel with Nessie's collar recently and it helps so much. I'm not sure what it is exactly about the style but they're SO MUCH better than traditional collars. What I don't understand is why stores don't stock these collars!! I have yet to see one in a pet store! I've been looking to get another one so Jewel has her own and this chrysanthemum one is amazing! I absolutely love chrysanthemums (When I was really little, I felt proud that I could spell the word. Nerdy? Indeed.) and the detail on this collar is astounding. Also, can we talk about how great the same of this shop is? The Hound Haberdashery? Awesome. They have plenty of other absolutely gorgeous collars to choose from and I strongly suggest trying out a martingale collar if you haven't before!  

4. I'm a huge plant nerd and the consequence of that is often that space is in high demand. I have been wanted to get some more hanging planters but there aren't many (if any) stores around me locally that seem to cater to house plants enough, or at all. Etsy totally saves the day though and this hanging planter from Function Pottery is right up my alley!  

5. This set from Right Soap intrigues me because I'm always trying to find a way to be more eco friendly, and I like their hand knit scrubbies! You can choose from a multitude of colors but I'm really attracted to this deep gray.  

6. I've been wanted to properly mark some of my plants and these plant markers from From Artisan Hands, combine function with aesthetics.  You can pick what plants you want labels for which makes them even better! 

7. I'm honestly not that big into jewelry, but I really love this necklace from Freshy Fig. It's dainty, which is what I generally strive for and I love the style of the abalone. 

I'd love to know what you've been loving on Etsy lately, so please leave some links in the comments!! Oh and if you didn't know, I also have an Etsy shop, where I sell vintage finds, and possibly in the future: some handmade wares! Right now you can get 10% off by using the code GRAD16! Check it out and stay tuned!!


Our Shared Shelf Book Club + Persepolis Review

A few months ago I saw through twitter that Emma Watson had started a book club through Good Reads. Given that I live to read, use Good Reads, and am quite a fan of Ms. Watson (who isn't?), I signed up immediately!

Our Shared Shelf is a Feminist book club so the books focus on feminism and equality for the most part. Due to a taxing school semester, June has been the first month that I've been able to properly participate. For the month of June, the book Emma selected is Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.


According to Good Reads: 

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Persepolis is presented in two parts and I selected the complete version (which is the one I link to!). It's the first time that I have read a graphic novel in a really, really long time - say, high school? I wasn't sure what I would think about the format now, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it! So much so that I'd like to read some more graphic novels. Reading Persepolis was more than just another book, the presentation made it more into an experience. The only negative was that I struggled with deciding to power through or to try and savor the experience. I loved the book so much that I had a difficult time putting it down!

Marjane tells her life story with humor and honesty. There are stories of hurt, fear, war, love, disobedience, activism....her life and experiences are a melting pot of raw emotions and its difficult to read about them without having some emotions yourself.

Persepolis is a book that I suggest everyone to read. Even if you are not an avid reader, this is a book which you can get through. I think we could all learn from reading Persepolis and as I hope you will pick up this book if you haven't read it, I don't want to get into the book too much and take away from the experience of reading it. I will however, share a few of my favorite bits below:

"In life you'll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that its because they're stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance... always keep your dignity and be true to yourself" 

"When we are afraid, we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. Our fear paralyzes us. Besides, fear has always been the driving force behind all dictators' repression." 

There is still plenty of time to grab a copy of Persepolis and join in on the Our Shared Shelf book club if you're interested! This is the first time I've been part of a book club and doing so virtually is a lot of fun! You can always join for the July book as well! 



Rainy Day activity: Adult Coloring Boooks

When I was little, I loved to draw, color, and play with art supplies. I can't honestly say that I believe I was any good, but it was fun to get lost doodling surrounded by the smell of Crayola and paper (I like weird smells...). I grew up demanding Crayola and was a bit of a snob when it came to art supplies (You couldn't get me to use a Rose Art crayon...blegh!). Unfortunately I cannot say that I draw much anymore, but with the craze surrounding adult coloring books, I've picked up a few books and have rekindled my love for coloring.

What I love about coloring is that you can totally get lost in it! It doesn't require an extreme amount of focus or talent even (woo for me!). You can just pick some colors and go to town.  There aren't any rules re: color or medium and it's more about the process rather than the end result.

Right now I have two coloring books, one is an animal focused one and the other is Harry Potter themed. There are thousands of different coloring books out there and you're sure to find one that suits your tastes!

Coloring goes beyond just being enjoyable and can actually feel quite therapeutic. It's nice to just step away from technology, and life in general for a little bit and get lost in something that lets you shut out the world. It can be stress-relieving and recently, I found it was perfect for filling in some time on a rainy day I had planned to spend out in the garden.

Another bonus is that coloring can actually be a pretty frugal activity. Coloring books (adult and otherwise) are everywhere now and you can pick up a book and some drawing supplies (I use Prismacolor pencils that I got for a steal on Amazon!) for pretty cheap!

I'd love to know what some of your favorite coloring books are, and also what you like to draw with! I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to art & office supplies, so this is right up my alley! ;)

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