Three Must Read Memoirs

This is a post I originally shared at The Nectar Collective. Today I’m linking it up to Book Chat over at the Tangerine.

Today, I’m super excited to share with y’all some of my favorite nonfiction books. Now, don’t get scared! These aren’t textbooks you struggled through in school or anything of the sort. These are just memoirs, biographies and stories. I like reading nonfiction because true books remind me of reading blogs. I get a little peek into someone’s life that is way different from mine and sometimes that can really be entertaining or thought-provoking. Most nonfiction books that I like fall into three categories: slightly nerdy, moving or funny. Today I’m going to introduce you to one of each.

The Slightly Nerdy: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks was a poor black woman in the South in the mid-1900s when she developed cancer and underwent treatment at John Hopkins Medical Center. She passed away but unknown to her–or her struggling family–her cells were being grown and sold around the world. The book follows the family more than the science aspect as Skloot introduces us to Henrietta’s family and their lives. This true story touches on themes of crime and racism as Henrietta’s daughter comes to terms with deceit and injustice since Henrietta’s cells change the world but her own daughter can’t even afford healthcare.

Quote: “She’s the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty. If our mother is so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?” –Deborah, Henrietta’s daughter

Why You’ll Love It: It’s just enough science that you feel like you’re learning a little, but enough crime and drama that you won’t want to put it down. Rebecca Skloot makes her characters so real that you’ll really feel like you know them by the end of the book.

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The Moving Memoir: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Called a “fiercely candid memoir,” Beautiful Boy traces Sheff’s journey dealing with his son Nic’s transformation from a joyful, athletic, good-natured, and kind Honors Student to an out-of-control delinquent addicted to crystal meth.

Quote: “I’m not sure if I know any ‘functional’ families, if functional means a family without difficult times and members who don’t have a full range of problems.”

Why You’ll Love It: This book is sad, but I also couldn’t stop reading. He balances out the heart-breaking moments with stories that make you love Nic. In the first few pages, Sheff shows you just how great his son is and how he was devastated by addiction. I will never read this book again but I truly believe everyone should read it. Definite trigger warning though, if you couldn’t gather that.

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The Witty Tale: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

If you like humor, you have got to read David Sedaris’ books (I’ve heard Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls is hilarious as well). In this book, Sedaris tells a series of short stories from his life on all sorts of topics ranging from bull fights and learning French to family bands. It will make you laugh all along the way.

Quote: “I find it ridiculous to assign a gender to an inanimate object incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself. Why refer to lady crack pipe or good sir dishrag when these things could never live up to all that their sex implied?” –On Learning French.

Why You’ll Love It: It’s hilarious. What more reason do you need? Plus every chapter’s a different story so you can flip open to a random chapter, read for fifteen minutes, get yourself a good laugh and be on your merry way. If you can, find the audiobook at your library–it’s hilarious in his voice!

What about you? Have you read any of these books? Do you like reading memoirs?

If you follow me on WordPress, then you need to go over to the new site and follow it or you’ll miss out on your daily dose of me! If you follow on Bloglovin’ you’re good to go!

how to refrain from verbally stabbing customer service reps.

First things first: My blog has moved! I am now at callmesassafras.com. You can head over there or follow me on bloglovin’ here. I’ll post on both locations for a little while but make sure you change your feeds or bookmarks so you don’t lose your daily dose of my awkward self! 

Can I just preface this by saying that on a scale of 1 to 10, my BS tolerance is like a negative twelve? Like no patience.

So I’ve been working on switching over to self-hosted wordpress and I’d been working on it all day yesterday and things were looking pretty good. And then my blog crashed. Everywhere I would click, there was some sort of error. No worries, I told my little brain monster who was ready to pitch a fit, you can just talk to customer service. But oh. my. goodness. I just couldn’t take it. After talking to the lady for almost two hours, it was 2:30 am and I was about to verbally stab someone stat

But apparently it’s bad to verbally stab someone, so I went through my list of how to stay call me when the BS levels are tipping the scale. To avoid any one else getting verbally stabbed, I’m sharing them with you.

Take ten deep breaths. Cliche, I know. But for a good reason. It really does calm you down. Plus if you can have a little fun and pretend to be Darth Vader, you might get a little giggle out of yourself because you’re just that funny. And if you giggle, then you’re a little less likely to verbally stab someone.

Think happy thoughts. Like puppies and dramatic llamas. And remember, it could be worse. At least you’re not a customer service rep. (And if you are, I’m so sorry.)

Do something else. I picked up my gratitude journal and straight up stared at it for a minute like I am freaking not grateful right now. But then I remembered that I am, and I felt better.

And can I just say heaps of thanks to Jason at PassionfruitAds? I know you all know this but he’s literally the best thing to hit the internet. ever. He helped me not hurt any poor customer service reps.

Just remember, anger is like drinking poison and wanting your enemy to die. Or some dark metaphor like that. I think Oprah said that.

Anyways, no stabbing today, verbally or otherwise.

Over and out.

Allie

 

 

Win a blog design package + an ad space!

Hello my lovelies! As you can see, there have been big changes going on here! I’ve started doing a little design for blogs and already have two clients! How exciting is that? As a last hurrah before school starts, I’m throwing a giveaway!

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Here’s what one lucky winner will receive:

A blog redesign package including

+a header

+social media buttons (up to six) OR category buttons (like my pink ones)

+an ad button (size of your choosing)

+”THE SHRIMP” size ad space for a month, here on Call Me Sassafras, all usual perks included.

Enter now–it’s only open until Saturday at midnight EST! You can enter by tweeting about the giveaway, following me on various social networks or commenting! Do that here: Enter the giveaway!

I’ll email the winner by midday Saturday to talk details! Enter away!

 

Weekly Wishes #10 (+sponsor love)

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Hey all. It’s Monday, you know what that means! Today, I’m linking up with The Nectar Collective for Weekly Wishes. The Weekly Wishes is where we all can share our posts about goals, challenges, and wishes for the week!

Last week, I wished for a few things and they weren’t very successful. My Bloglovin’ feed is still overpowering me! But at least I haven’t let it grow anymore. And I did complete the biggest wish of all–to get home safely. I spent last night with H and we had a blast just hanging out, eating pancakes, ice cream and black cherry soda (balanced diet, am I right?). So I totally don’t even care about my other goals; all that matters is that I’m finally home.

A week from today, school starts again! In honor of this wondrous (jokes) occasion, I’m offering a SURPRISE SALE–30% off all ad spaces from today until next Monday, August 19, 2013 when I start school. See all of your options on my sponsor page and make sure to mention this sale when you contact me!

But on a slightly less happy note, I don’t have much time before school craziness starts. In other words, I gotta get my shiz together. For those of you who don’t know, I just drove home to NC from Michigan over the weekend, where I’ve been living for two months. So I have a lot of schoolwork left to do and unpacking and cleaning and I need to work on finding a job! And to add to it, my body’s on a crazy sleep schedule because I used to get off work at one. In a week, I’ll be getting up at 6ish for school, so something’s gotta change. Basically, I got lots to do.

In more simple terms, here are my wishes:

  • Get my body on a good sleep schedule. Specifically, lights out by ten thirty, out of bed by eight. I can do this!!
  • Do some major cleaning! Pick up or clean for 30 minutes every single day–if possible, right when I get out of bed. My desk drawers are stuffed and I’ve got books all over my room that need to be picked up (figures).
  • Write out a full posting schedule for my first week of school. 
  • Look for a job. I’d ideally like a job in tutoring, but I’ll see what I can scrape up–wish me luck!

Now head on over to The Nectar Collective and join the Weekly Wish link up.

Today, I’ve also got a super exciting opportunity to introduce a lady who’s been chilling out on my sidebar recently. Crystal writes over at The Happy Type about positivity and things that inspire her. In her own words, The Happy Type is “a place for women to grow”. Let’s chat with this stellar female!

crystal of the happy type

Crystal, I want to introduce you by talking about some of your favorite things–give us a book recommendation to start us off! 

In high school a teacher made me read Catch-22 and I was so mad because a wartime story, UGHHH! BUT it turned into my all time favorite book because of the amazing story line Joseph Heller’s writing is simply sensational. Even if you don’t like wartime fiction Catch-22 is such an engaging story that you’ll find yourself immersed in it in no time!

I’ve never read that, but I’ll definitely be adding it to my list! What about your favorite band or song?

Journey / “Don’t Stop Believin'”!

If you could visit or live in one place, anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Prague. END OF STORY.

Ooh, Prague sounds super! 

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Her fave posts: Protecting Your Joy / Being Happy Where You Are (Literally)

My fave posts of hers: If Home Is Where The Heart Is, Then What About When Your Heart Is Missing? / Four Seasons Smoothie (yum!)

Meet up with Crystal: Bloglovin’ / Facebook / Twitter

What were your wishes this week? Don’t forget about the sponsor sale–30% off until next Monday!

Allie’s not here right now, but you can leave a message after the beep.

Howdy. So as you’re reading this, I’m in the car with my family, on the way back to North Carolina. I’ll have been in the car for about ten hours, aka I’m planning how to kill each and every one of my family members. But on a positive note, I’ve got a guest post going on today over at Kayli Wanders talking about how my stupid frustrating old iPhone teaches me how to be more patient!

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Go check it out and give Kayli some lovin’!

 

Reasons why I suck at blogging + 3 ladies who don’t

Honest to blog…

Here in the blogging world, it’s easy to feel like I don’t measure up because I’m not just like other bloggers. It’s a weird comparison–blogging is all about being yourself, but there’s a big pressure to be just like bigger, more popular blogs. It is tough sometimes, but I’ve learned that it’s good to blog about things that are different than other people. I may have less readers but those readers know they can’t find a blog just like mine anywhere else. And yes, this is more than slightly tongue-in-cheek.

So here are four reasons why I suck at blogging, followed by a few ladies who don’t suck at blogging. 

1. I don’t make DIYs all the time. If you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I made one diy, once–envelopes made out of magazine pages. That took about ten minutes. I don’t sew my own clothes, much less publish pictures and patterns for them. And I don’t make all the decorations for my house out of mason jars, god forbid.

Anne makes, well, everything. Especially this finger-knit love pillow.

2. I don’t take beautiful pictures of my food. Come to think of it, no food that I make ever looks beautiful. Let’s just say that I’ve lit toast on fire before and put silverware in the microwave more times than I care to admit.

Amanda K by the Bay makes ice cream, every Sunday. Most recently, Kahlua Chocolate Chunk with Caramel Swirls!

3. I don’t take pictures of my outfits. It’s not that I don’t dress cute, I just can’t figure out how to (a) take pictures of myself using just an iPhone or (b) not be awkward in pictures. (Side note: I really would like to start posting pictures, because you know, I have great style and all. Anyone have advice for doing it on an iPhone/without a photographer?)

Jessica at Jeans and a Teacup, looking adorbs, as always.

Peachy

4. Also, I don’t even have a camera (other than my iPhone), so I can’t post pretty pictures of every single thing I do. I use stock pictures or things from Pinterest, but they’re rarely my own. (This is the one exception when I took pictures.)  For any of you bloggers who also are not too camera-handy, here’s a great source for pretty stock pictures! Also, Flickr’s creative commons are great too.

What makes you different than other bloggers–why do you “suck” at typical blogging? Any tips for me to on reason number 3? 

Gatsby dinner party recap, part un

Monday night, my friends and I threw a big Gatsby/Roaring 20s themed dinner party. We had a blast! We girls shopped all day and then cooked dinner–even in our fancy dresses! Actually not that fancy, most of them are from Goodwill. Figures.

We mostly stuck to food that was significant to the novel–Daisy’s Mint Juleps, mashed potatoes + string beans, lemon cake. But the boys wanted steak, so we also had kebabs.

We set up in the lower level of my backyard. Later we realized we set up under our satellite dish. Classy, right?

Then we ate!

We danced to some 1920’s swing…

We played croquet….

We attempted to play badminton…

We took lots of pictures (more to come)…

(Excuse my friend’s face on the far left…)

When I woke up Monday, it said 40% chance of rain from 3pm till midnight. We also had an extremely limited budget. But thankfully, neither of those ended up being a problem! We used as much stuff as we could find in our own houses (or in those of the old ladies we know) to save money and ended up spending less that $50 on food! Most of our dresses are from Goodwill and accessories were ours or our grandmothers. It didn’t rain, other than a brief smattering before dinner. Overall, it was a smashing success!

Have you ever hosting a dinner party? What are your tips to make a party a success?

Catching My Eye 10.

Would you make me very very happy and take my survey? I promise, it’s super short, 9 questions. And most of the questions are multiple choice, a few you have to fill in a word. I will love you forever! 

Today has been so long guys. Now that I’m done nannying (summer job), I have like zero motivation to get up in the mornings. Today I didn’t get up until 10:45–how pathetic is that? Getting up late just makes me feel miserable all day. And then we had work acquaintances come by for the afternoon and I get really anxious and grumpy when I have to socialize with strangers for that long so I retreated to my bedroom for a nap until work. So it’s been a bit of a blah day.  I have officially uploaded my Gatsby dinner party pictures though! So I super double cross-my-heart promise they’ll be up tomorrow!

The best of the interwebs:

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♥The fact that this place (Lake Lucerne, Switzerland) is actually a real place. Gahhh I wanna go there.

The first quote I fell in love with as a youngster. Thank you, sweet home Alabama.

♥Old but oh-so-cute. –Sweet Home Alabama

♥Anabela from Fieldguided makes friendship bracelets in the color palettes of favorite photos. Who even thinks of that?? Anyways, they’re super cool.

♥Make an iPhone tripod out of a toy dinosaur. Um yes please?? Can someone please get crafty and make this for me?

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♥This amazing portfolio of photos by Kevin Russ.

♥This year I hosted a Great Gatsby themed dinner party. Next year, I’m planning on hosting a shark week premiere party! Here are 31 Must-Haves and tips to make it epic.

♥Want to travel for free? Think about a volunteer tour.

♥Maybe someday iPhones will have autogrammar in addition to autocorrect.

♥You might have missed: July in Favorites The Good and Bad of Living in Alaska [guest post] ♥ How a History Major Became a Biology Rockstar [guest post] Sponsor CMS in August.

What have you been loving this week? Which of these links did you think was the coolest?

How a History Major Became a Biology Rockstar! [guest post]

Hello everyone! So today is my first ever guest post in the entire universe, how awesome is that? I was pretty indecisive when I thought about what to write for Allie and all of you wonderful readers, but I FINALLY decided! Today we are going to chat about:

The Life of a Cell and How it Paid my Bills

Like all good stories this one hails back to my undergraduate days when I was working my way through my bachelors degree and living off of top ramen. Yummy! ;) I was in my Sophomore year at the community college I was attending and had some grand plans to transfer to a 4- year university within the year, but in order to do so I had to knock out some science courses.

Boy, was I NERVOUS! I was a history major and so anything math or science related tended to give me hives, but I knew it would be better to attempt the class where I was rather than at a larger school.  So like any good student I enrolled in Biology 101 and waited for the fallout, except that there wasn’t any.

Not a one.

Somehow, something clicked in my brain, and biology and I got along famously! So much so that I even contemplated switching my major to biology, because no matter what I was absolutely fascinated with everything I learned. I knew something was up when I got my hands on a copy of The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, because let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down! The Lives of a Cell is a collection of 29 essays written by Lewis Thomas and from the first of it I was hooked. Reading Lewis’ thoughts on the mitochondria, or a how a cell comprised of “ecosystems more complex than Jamaica Bay”(Lewis, 4) was like magic to me.

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My bio-love was the real deal, yo.

Fast-forward a year and I’m at a big’ Ol University by the name of Kansas State University (I love you, Bill Snyder) and I have bills to pay. Going to school out-of-state is always pricey EVEN with an academic scholarship, which I had. I was working at a grocery store and trying to snag another job when the opportunity to work as a peer tutor AND learning assistant for the university came up. Biology, it seemed was a subject that many people had trouble with, so I grabbed both opportunities and never looked back.

Five days a week I moved between working for the athletic department and the university teaching biology to anyone who needed the help. To say that I enjoyed my time as a biology tutor is an understatement because I freaking LOVED it. Biology explains how things live and why things are how they are. I love understanding the world and what makes it work so naturally biology excites me. For a little over 2 years I tutored biology and I was definitely in demand for my skills by students/faculty who even requested me by name.

I had become a biology rock star!

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Me trying to bear hug a massive redwood during a camping trip in the Redwoods National Forest.

A passionate teacher is an effective teacher and teaching biology even strengthened my ability to teach history. So thank you, Biology, for feeding me, paying the light bill, and putting gas in my car. Oh, you little powerhouse mitochondria and semi-permeable cell walls, I could go on forever about how cool you are or how important you are for life. I really wouldn’t have been able to make ends meet or get my degree without my teaching gigs and I’ll be forever grateful for what my knowledge of biology afforded me both physically and mentally.

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At my graduation with my then-fiancée, now husband. Thanks, biology!

 

Was there ever a subject that totally pumped you up and made you ready to take on the world? Were you ever able to use the knowledge you gained in the classroom to better your life outside of it? I know that when I make use of my classroom education I always feel like the school loans are totally worth it, don’t you?

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Wow, thanks for sharing that Crystal! Isn’t she great, guys? Catch up with her more here: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Bloglovin’