source: Moyan Brenn
I read a quite a lot of forgettable novels in 2016.
They consisted mostly of mysteries, thrillers and spy novels. These books tend to have both interchangeable titles and plot lines. However, I do find them gripping, which is what I usually look for in a book.
Somewhere in the mix, though, I did manage to read a couple of exceptional books this year. These books contained standout plots, memorable characters and interesting dialogue. A few even had an important message to deliver.
Here is a list of my favorite books of the year.
The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”
You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.
Folks living in wealthier countries often believe that owning a car is essential to a comfortable way of life. We, in less civilized parts of the world, know that that’s just not true. Yes, you need transportation. No, owning a car is not necessary.
How We Live Without A Car
1. Walking. We live live close to schools, shopping and work, so a car is largely unnecessary. Instead, we walk to most places. Groceries are bought home in a shopping cart we bought for that purpose.
Actionable Idea: Next time you move, consider finding a place convenient to where you do most of your errands.
2. Bicycle. My husband has been nagging me about purchasing a bike for years. The only reason I don’t agree is that our neighborhood is known for its poor drivers. If you live in a less accident prone area, why not give it a try?
Actionable Idea: Consider purchasing a bike. Besides saving money, they are a terrific form of exercise.
3. Buses. Usually, when I need to travel further than 1/2 mile, I go by bus. For about $1.00 US, I can get virtually anywhere. Many buses even have storage spaces for purchases. Most have child safety straps.
Actionable Idea: Plan your next errand day on the bus. Be sure to inquire ahead of time about schedules and location of bus stops.
4. Cab. Once in a blue moon, I take a cab. Most often it’s when I’m sick, going to someplace new, or the weather is unbearable. I figured out that even if I take 60 cabs a month (I don’t) it would still be cheaper than owning a car.
Actionable Idea: Try out the cab service are in your neighborhood. Determine the cost and reliability.
5. Train. For city-to-city travel I take the train. It’s convenient and extremely comfortable. I love having access to a bathroom and a food station.
Actionable Idea: Locate a schedule and map of nearby trains. Try the train out on a non-urgent trip.
6. Motorcycle. We have never owned a motorcycle, and I hope we never will. But for braver souls than I, a motorcycle makes cheap and convenient transportation for longer distances.
Actionable Idea: Look into the cost of motorcycle lessons, purchasing a motorcycle and insurance.
7. Ride Sharing. My husband’s boss gives him a ride to work most days. My husband has tried repeatedly to pay him, but he refuses money. Instead, he just asks that my husband engage him in conversation, rather than reading a book or using his laptop.
Actionable Idea: Ask a co-worker if he or she who would be willing to trade rides for gas money.
8. Mooching Favors. My brother-in-law’s sister used to always do her shopping on the same day as her car-owning parents. Her parents enjoyed the company and she got a ride back and forth to the store.
Actionable Idea: Speak to friends, relatives and neighbors. Offer to barter gas money, help carrying groceries, or help putting them away in exchange for a ride.
9. Renting A Car. Occasionally a friend of mine rents a car. They’ve used a rental car for vacations, moving and major shopping sprees. Rental cars seem to work well for them.
Actionable Idea: Find out how much car rentals are in your neighborhood. Make sure to ask if the price includes insurance and gas. Also find out when the car needs to be picked up and returned. Be cautious to avoid being ripped off.
10. Google Lists. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone, but in a close-knit neighborhood, with active email lists, rides can frequently be found via the internet. I’ve never done this myself, but I know plenty of people who have. To be safe, only go with someone you already know or a friend of a friend.
Actionable Idea: Sign up for a local email list where subscribers can offer or request rides.
If anyone knows of another car-free methods of transportation, please send me an email or a comment. I’d love to hear about it.
source: Quinn Dombrowski
I use a lot of garlic. My favorite recipe calls for an entire head of garlic per person.
Therefore, when I came across an easy way to peel garlic I was thrilled.
The tip came from the book Brilliant by David Joachim. According to Brilliant, all you need to do is microwave one head of garlic for 60 seconds at the highest setting. The skins will practically come off by themselves.
I have tried this method many times since reading this wonderful tip and it really does work. However, the tip also works (at least in my microwave) if you only heat the garlic for 30 or 40 seconds. I prefer this adjustment, as the garlic doesn’t come out as “cooked” and still works very well for sauteing.
Try both times and see which works best for you.
This is the time of the year that everyone is looking for ways to make extra money. Between unpaid credit card bills from Black Friday and overly generous seasonal gift giving, a lot of us are scrambling for extra cash.
If you already have a full-time job or have small children at home, the best way to earn money may be to start your own mini business. You can set your own hours, choose your own pay and do the kind of work you enjoy.
I know quite a few people (including myself) who have made money working from home. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
A neighbor used to make money each year by delivering the new Yellow Pages to our area. She had a big van and a good back but it was still a lot of hard work.
My mother sold rubber stamps and Spanish videos at the flea market (what a combination!). She ordered the products wholesale and rented a booth in a popular indoor flea market. She made about $1000.00 profit in good months. Warning: Don’t just jump into a flea market business without a lot of research. This business is a lot harder to pull off than it sounds.
A friend of mine has done daycare in her house for many years. She always has to be home and her house needs to be constantly spotless but she actually makes very good money.
Another neighbor made good money running a long distance van service. He advertised in the community newspaper for customers who needed to go from Baltimore to New York or Baltimore to New Jersey. My neighbor also did airport runs. He charged a flat rate, irregardless of the number of people traveling.
My mom ran a notary service from her house. She made only a few dollars per notary and had the aggravation of strangers coming to her home at all hours. She hardly made any money but she did for many years. Update: Several people are now offering mobile notary services (for a high price) and this may be a more profitable endeavor.
I use self-employed plumbers, electricians, handymen, movers and cleaning help. My father-in-law uses self-employed painters, carpenters and caterers. I assume each of these contractors makes a decent living.
My husband worked for a man who sold t-shirts, undershirts, underpants and socks at flea markets. The man would buy “imperfect” merchandise very cheap and sell them for a small mark-up. In order to earn a reasonable living, instead of just selling at one flea market, he hired enough teens so that he could sell at several.
I tutored Russian and Israeli immigrants in English. I found some students through my part-time ESL job and others through advertising in the community newspaper. I was able to do the work without knowing either Hebrew or Russian, as the lessons were all given in English. I will probably write a longer post about this later.
My niece runs a nursery school from her home. She has a degree in early childhood education and teaches the class in Hebrew. She has six to eight children each year and provides a complete preschool curriculum.
My daughter’s 20 year old friend made $10.00 dollars an hour babysitting. Babysitting doesn’t seem like a very grown up way to make money, but it is actually quite profitable.
I used to send my son to a man who specialized in teaching religious studies to homeschooled boys. The man charge several hundred dollars a month and taught the boys in groups of eight. The classes lasted three hours daily and took place in his dining room. He taught a group of younger boys in the morning and a group of older boys in the afternoon. If you have a important skill to pass on, teaching homeschool classes may be the way to go for you.
My husband and I had a business called Baltimore Computer Repair. My husband made house calls to sick computers at night, after his day job was through. He found his customers through advertising in our daily newspaper. My son, who is A+ certified, now does this same work in Israel.
The husband of a friend makes money at home doing telephone soliciting for charities. He works his own hours and is on commission.
My husband made close to $1000.00 a month on weekends by doing computer programming for businesses. He got the first job, writing an inventory program, for a distant friend who owns a pizza shop. The pizza shop owner recommended him to a man who owned three grocery stores, who recommended him to a print shop owner, etc.
When I was a teen, I made a small amount of money doing grocery shopping for senior citizens. I advertised in the community paper and got plenty of calls. I charged a $5.00 minimum or $.15 per item. Nowadays, I would have to charge a lot more to make this worthwhile, probably $.30 per item.
I see plenty of boys (and men) making money shoveling snow, mowing lawn or raking leaves. As a matter of fact, I’ve paid for these services plenty of times myself.
My mother sold Avon for many years. Unlike lots of other direct sales programs, you do actually make money from Avon. Mary Kay and Tupperware also make a profit for their salespeople. I have friends who sold both, quite successfully.
I had a very successful business selling hats and modest skirts from my basement. I sold to a specialty crown (religious women and cancer patients). I sewed the hats myself and outsourced the simple skirts to neighbors. Besides selling from home, I had several retail distributors.
In the past, I have made money from this blog. Right now this blog is making less than $100 a month, but several years ago it was doing slightly better. The money comes from Google Adsense and is deposited in my bank account each month.
Now for a couple of businesses that don’t work (at least for me)!
I used to have my own flea market business, selling kitchenware, novelties and kid’s toys. I ordered products wholesale through the Thomas Register and through flea market merchandise catalogues. I also bought merchandise locally at wholesale stores. I lost a ton of money on this project and to this day I don’t know why.
I had a business where I tried to outsource computer techs to busy companies who needed help with their overflow. Another big failure. The cause of this flop was easy to understand after just a few weeks. The smaller companies didn’t have any overflow work to offer us and large companies wanted an established business to work with.
I made handmade gifts and jewelry to sell at flea markets. After a month of Sundays I finally sold one pair of earring. The cause of this disaster was simply a lack of thinking on my part. I didn’t realize that people go to flea markets to get great deals…not art jewelry at medium to high prices. I really had no excuse for this stupidity because I already had flea market experience.
I once tried selling greeting card ideas to the companies listed in the back of Writer’s Digest. Yes, people said it took years to break into the greeting card market, but I didn’t believe it. I sent out hundred of greeting card ideas and not one of them sold. I guess sometimes you need to listen to advise.
If you have a successful business, please let me know about it in a comment.
source: Pascal Maramis
My hobby is used book collecting and this has been a massive book buying year for me. It’s amazing that I’ve bought so many, because I live in a non-English speaking country.
For anyone else living overseas, here’s where I find used books.
- http://www.betterworldbooks.com – Better World Books offers free shipping to a lot of countries. The prices on new books are very high however, so I only use them for used books that are on sale. In addition, the books can take several months to arrive, depending on your location.
- http://www.bookdepository.com – Book Depository also offers free international shipping and the prices for new books are highish, but reasonable. Faster shipping than Better World Books, but can still take over a month or more.
- Libraries – We have several English libraries scattered throughout the country. The library closest to me has an ongoing book sale and two yearly sales. Prices are about $1 per book and they have a good selection.
- Private book sales – I belong to many mailing lists and I constantly look for books being given away or sold cheap in English speaking neighborhoods.
- Yard Sales – Yard sales are a good place to find used books if you live in an English speaking neighborhood. Besides individual sales, a local English speaking organization also has a yearly yard sale for books.
- Used Book Stores – There are several English used book stores here and though the prices aren’t rock bottom, I frequently trade in books I’ve gotten for free (see Number 4 above).
- Freecycle – Most countries have at least one freecycle or ReUseIt. I don’t use them often but they do occasionally have English books.
- Second Hand Stores – Most countries have an equivalent to Goodwill and the ones in English speaking neighborhoods obviously have English books.
- Friends – My friends all know I collect books, so when they have something to get rid of, I’m usually the first person they think of.
- Trips To US – Whenever I, my friends or relatives go to the US, I always have at least one book brought back.
As you can see, purchasing used books overseas can be a little time consuming. However, I find the hunt enjoyable. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt.
Here is what I amassed this year.
The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook
Joy of Cooking 1975
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking
The American Century Cookbook
The Essential New York Times Cookbook
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook: 1,039 Recipes
The New Basics Cookbook
The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes
Silver Palate Cookbook
The Best of Gourmet: The World at Your Table
The Bon Appetit Cookbook
The New York Times International Cookbook
Entertaining by Martha Stewart
Julia Child & More Company
The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book
Martha Stewart Living: Annual Recipes
60 Minute Gourmet
The New York Times International Cookbook
Fannie Farmer Cookbook
New York Times Heritage Cookbook: Over 2,000 Recipes
Sunset Recipe Annual by Sunset Books
In the Jewish Tradition
Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics
The Flavor Of Jerusalem
Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Greene, Gloria Kaufer
New Jewish Cuisine
Seasoned with Love: Culinary Treasures from the Breman
Not Chopped Liver
New Kosher Cuisine for All Seasons
Jewish Holiday Treats
Shabbat Shalom: Recipes and Menus for the Sabbath
Quick and Kosher
From Our Table To Yours
A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking
Enlightened Kosher Cooking
Jewish Holiday Style
Rika Breuer Teacher’s Seminary Cookbook
The Passover Gourmet
The Low-Fat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook
For The Love Of Cooking
America Cooks Kosher
Jewish Vegetarian Cooking
Sephardic Cooking: 600 Recipes Created in Exotic Sephardic Kitchens
Levana Cooks Dairy-Free!
Jewish Cooking Secrets from Here and Far
Vegetable Love by Kafka, Barbara
Moosewood Restaurant New Classics: 350 Recipes for Favorites
The Uncheese Cookbook by Stepaniak, Joanne
Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Greens Restaurant
Vegetables by Peterson, James
15-Minute Vegetarian Recipes: 200 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Recipes
Raw Food Made Easy: For 1 or 2 People
Eastern Vegetarian Cooking by Jaffrey, Madhur
Indian Vegetarian Cooking
The Bold Vegetarian Chef: Adventures in Flavor
Vegetarian Express: Easy, Tasty, and Healthy Menus in 28 Minutes
Vegetarian Dishes from Across the Middle East
Appetite For Reduction
Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
Jean Hewitt’s International Meatless Cookbook
Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe
The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
The Vegetarian Lunchbasket: Over 225 Easy, Low-Fat Recipes
Recipes From An Ecological Kitchen
The cooking of India by Rama Rau, Santha
Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook
Cooking of Provincial France by Fisher, M. F. K.
Cooking of Japan (Foods of the World) by Steinberg, Rafael
Cooking of Italy by Root, Waverley
Latin American Cooking by Leonard, Jonathan N.
Cooking of the Caribbean Islands (Foods of the World) by Wolfe, Linda
Cooking of China by Hahn, Emily
Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook
Weight Watchers Versatile Vegetarian by Weight Watchers Editors
Weight Watchers Make It in Minutes: Recipes in 15, 20, and 30 Minutes
Light & Tasty Annual Recipes 2004 (Taste of Home)
Taste of Home’s Light & Tasty Annual Recipes 2003
American Heart Association Meals in Minutes Cookbook
The New American Heart Association Cookbook
Real Fast Food: 350 Recipes Ready-To-Eat in 30 Minutes
Pilaf, Risotto, and Other Ways with Rice
The Dumpling Cookbook
Stuffings: 45 International Recipes
50 Best Stuffings and Dressings
Blue Ribbon Winners: America’s Best State Fair Recipes
Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook
Six Ingredients or Less
Ice Pops by Shelly Kaldunski
Favorite Restaurant Recipes by Bon Appetit
How to Cook Without a Book
Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic & Cool Treats
Southern Heritage Breads Cookbook
The New Woman’s Day Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Every Occasion
Family Circle All-Time Favorite Recipes
Muffins by Alston, Elizabeth
American Cooking : The Eastern Heartland
Candy by Time-Life Books
Junior League Centennial Cookbook
Forum Feasts: The Classic Community Cookbook by Forum School
American Cooking (Foods of the World)
The Best American Recipes
The Best American Recipes 1999
Making Memory Books by Hand
More Making Books by Hand
Home, Paper, Scissors: Decorative Paper Accessories
1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse
Encyclopedia of Origami and Papercraft
Realistic Collage Step by Step
Paper Sculpt Sensation
Paper: Making, Decorating, Designing
Making Books by Hand: A Step-By-Step Guide
Cardboard Folk Instruments to Make and Play
Eco Craft: Recycle, Recraft, Restyle
The Penny-Pinching Hedonist
America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
The New Food Lover’s Tiptionary
It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff
Penny Pincher’s Almanac: 1,552 Surprising Ideas
Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House
The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest
Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America’s Greatest Inventor
Your Creative Brain
Make the Most of Your Mind by Buzan, Tony
A Sheep Falls Out of the Tree
The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
One Minute for Yourself by Johnson, Spencer
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in
The Mindfulness Solution
Your Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It
Get out of Your Own Way
Psychology and the Challenges of Life: Adjustment and Growth
Eat That Frog
Psychology Applied to Modern Life
Happier at Home
What You Can Change and What You Can’t
Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being
Better Than Before
Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
The 9th Wife by Amy Stolls
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Norton Anthology of Short Stories
Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness
Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life
My Fair Lazy
The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life
Too many to mention
The Dangerous Book For Boys
Bonjour, Babar!: The Six Unabridged Classics by the Creator of Babar
A Treasury of Children’s Literature
Pinkalicious: The Princess of Pink Treasury
Activity Books/Writing Prompts
Art Before Breakfast
Everything That Can Happen in a Day by Horvitz, David
The Anti Journal
Nat Geo Action Journal: Talk Like a Pirate, Analyze Your Dreams
The Pointless Book
This Book Will Change Your Life Again!
Tag This!: A Doodle Book by Price Stern Sloan Publishing
This Book Will Change Your Life
Take Ten for Writers: 1000 Writing Exercises to Build Momentum
The Write-Brain Workbook
Best Food Writing 2005
You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls
The Novel Cure
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Read For Your Life
The Geography of Bliss
Nickel and Dimed
source: Kris Donaldson
I eat this yummy salad all the time. It takes about a minute to make and tastes delicious. In addition, since I’m a vegetarian, I can always use the extra protein. By the way, you can cucumber and diced tomato if you want, but it’s totally unnecessary.
creamy garlic dressing
Place the greens in a plate. Add a scoop of cottage cheese. Dallop with a generous amount of garlic dressing.
Serve immediately so the lettuce doesn’t wilt.
This recipe is a convenience food version of a soup I found online. The original dish had over 20 different ingredients, but the use of taco seasoning and a few other simplifications has produced a much easier to make meal.
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons onion soup mix
3 cups water
1 cup mild salsa
2 can black beans, drained
spicy tortilla chips
Fry onion in oil till golden. Stir in all other ingredients except chips. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add additional water if needed.
Garnish with chips immediately before serving.
Optional: Shredded cheese and sour cream also can be used as garnishes.