Book Review: Giving Away the Farm

giving away the farm

In Giving Away the Farm: How Kindness, Critters and Yarn Knit a Community Together, Cindy Telisak talks about how she started a small farm in Texas, not far from the suburbs of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Her story is filled with love and told in an honest and down to Earth nature. She talks about what she’s experienced as she’s learned about starting a small farm, and becoming an even craftier individual. She shares personal experiences like the time she broke her ankle, or her first sheep purchase.  Other experiences include growing a knitting group and how compassion, empathy and friendliness helped knit a group of people together. (Pun intended!) I loved the last chapter about how an unwelcome stray dog wiggled his way into Cindy’s heart, appointing himself a farm guardian while asking for not much of anything in return.

This book is proof that Cindy has left a mark on her local community, changing many people’s lives for the better and she illustrates that anyone can do so, with just a little help from some friends. Cindy also provides advice, should you choose to want to grow your own community like she has. Included in this advice is how she has developed yearly events.These yearly events include “farm camp” for children and events that support local business owners. I think that with a small amount of research done via the Internet, and this book, an individual could quickly come up with some craft making related activities to start a group or meeting for people.

Best of all, Cindy’s stories renew your faith in humanity. She tells about people who are compassionate, free of judgement, and sharing. She reminds us that we can find such people in our own neighborhood or general community. It’s also worth nothing that her book, since it’s about experiences, has a lot of pictures. The pictures bring a warm loving feeling to the experience that is reading her book.

If the book isn’t enough for you, check out Jacob Reward’s Farm own site or Facebook page. The Little Red Barn knitting group is even on meetup.

Books read in 2014

I didn’t read quite as much as I would have liked because illness, surgery, migraines, and sickness were still big issues. However, I read more in 2014 than I did in 2013.


The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles book 1) by Patrick Rothfuss

Legion by: Brandon Sanderson

Perfect Shadow: A Night Angel Novella by: Brent Weeks

The Emperor’s Soul by: Brandon Sanderson

Magician: Apprentice by: Raymond Feist

Game of Cages: A Twenty Palaces Novel by: Harry Connolly

Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest by: A. Lee Martinez

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by: Seth Grahame-Smith

How to talk to girls at parties – short story by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman: Volume 8 – Worlds’ End by: Neil Gaiman

Hammered, The Iron Druid Chronicles – by Kevin Hearne

Tricked, The Iron Druid Chronicles – by Kevin Hearne (book 4)

Multiple Sclerosis for Dummies (2nd edition)

Steelheart (Reckoners Tale) – by Brandon Sanderson

Mitosis (Reckoners Tale) – by Brandon Sanderson

The Black Prism – by Brent Weeks

Skin Game: Dresden Files – by Jim Butcher

Burning Alive: The Sentinel Wars – by Shannon K. Butcher

Trapped: The Iron Druid Chronicles – by Kevin Hearne (book 5)

Poison Fruit: Agent of Hel – by: Jacqueline Carey

Spirituality Reading List

For lack of a better way to describe it – I’m looking at organizing the spirituality books I’ve got sitting around planning to read and or that I started reading but want to finish. A great deal of these were free in ebook form. The ones not specified as ipad or kindle are in hard copy. There’s a lot more here than I realized. Some of the books on Buddhism are intended for different types of audiences – I think – and going to have some of the same information. I need to figure out how to organize this and probably drop some of the books on Buddhism. Italics mark books I remember having started to read and being intrigued by…. I wonder if I should start everything fresh and new and make notes in a notebook as I go?

Baha’i Faith

  1. Baha’u’llah and the New Era: An Introduction to the Baha’i Faith
  2. An Introduction the the Baha’i Faith (ipad)
  3. The Baha’i Faith: Emerging Global Religion (ipad)
  4. Baha’i Social and Economic Development (ipad)
  5. Prayers and Meditations (ipad)
  6. The Baha’i Faith: A guide for the Perplexed (sample on kindle)


  1. Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice (ipad)
  2. The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason (kindle)
  3. How to Practice: The way to a Meaningful Life (kindle)
  4. Buddhism and Buddhist Teachings (kindle)
  5. Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom Volume 1 Sutra (ipad AND kindle)
  6. Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom Volume 2 Tantra (ipad)
  7. Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom Volume 3 Prayers for Daily Practice (ipad)
  8. Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experience
  9. The Four Noble Truths (kindle)
  10. Nightly Wisdom: Buddhist Inspirations for Sleeping, Dreaming, and Waking up
  11. The Best Buddhist Writings (2006)
  12. Discovering Kwan Yin, Buddhist Goddess of Compassion


  1. The Tao of Pooh
  2. The Te of Piglet


  1. Zen and The Art of Knitting; Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity
  2. Meditation for Dummies – mini edition (kindle)
  3. 30 Days of Meditation: Fun Meditation Techniques for Beginners (kindle)
  4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (sample on kindle)
  5. Everyday Zen (Plus) (sample on kindle)

Reading Progress

Books either read or finally finished since the start of 2014. My original goal was two books a month.

  1. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  2. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles book 1) by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. Legion by: Brandon Sanderson
  4. Perfect Shadow: A Night Angel Novella by: Brent Weeks
  5. The Emperor’s Soul by: Brandon Sanderson
  6. Magician: Apprentice by: Raymond Feist
  7. Game of Cages: A Twenty Palaces Novel by: Harry Connolly


Owning books, having a house

Conversation with husband after seeing a picture of a great home library on twitter:

Me: … the next house we have should have a room for a library, then the living room would have space for living room stuff.

Him: *makes face looking at the 6ftish tall book shelves flanking the flat screen*

Him: what I’m hearing is twice the space for the books. Have all the books!

Me: *laughs* no, wait. I was thinking…. Then I’d have to go in the room to see the books, otherwise I wouldn’t see the books everyday!

Him: we married well didn’t we.

Me: *laughing* yes!

From NPR: “Your Picks: Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books”

Since I typed this out I just used last name of author for ease of searching… I think I’ll see about turning this into a reading list. There are some books I’m not sure if I’ll bother with…but they can just go to the bottom of the list.

Italics – read, somewhat recently or can otherwise remember part of story/plot

Underline – read, should reread, been long time, OR started reading haven’t finished (for series, means at least first book read)

Bold – already on “the list” to read, own

1. The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Adams

3. Ender’s Game By Card

4. The Dune Chronicles (series) By Herbert

5. A Song of Ice and Fire Series By Martin

6. 1984 By Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451 By Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy by Asimov

9. Brave New World By Huxley

10. American Gods by Gaiman (for the anniversary edition)

11. The Princess Bride by Goldman

12. The Wheel of Time series by Jordan (and Sanderson)

13. Animal Farm by Orwell

14. Neuromancer by Gibson

15. Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons

16. I, Robot by Asimov

17. Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut

20. Frankenstein by Shelley

21. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Dick

22. The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series by King

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Clarke

25. The Stand by King

26. Snow Crash by Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series by Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange by Burgess

31. Starship Troopers by Heinlein

32. Watership Down by Adams

33. Dragonflight by McCaffrey

34. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein

35. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Miller Jr

36. The Time Machine by Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Verne

38. Flowers for Algernon by Keyes

39. The War of the Worlds by Wells

40. The Amber Chronicles by Zelazny

41. The Belgariad by Eddings

42. The Mists of Avalon by Zimmer-Bradley

43. Mistborn Trilogy by Sanderson

44. Ringworld by Niven

45. The Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin

46. The Silmarillion by Tolkien

47. The Once and Future King by White

48. Neverwhere by Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End by Clarke

50. Contact by Sagan

51. The Hyperion Cantos (series) by Simmons

52. Stardust by Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon by Stephenson

54. World War Z by Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn by Beagle

56. The Forever War by Haldeman

57. Small Gods by Pratchett

58. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever by Donaldson

59. The Volkosigan Saga (series) by Bujold

60. Going Postal by Pratchett

61. The Mote in God’s Eye by Niven and Pournelle

62. The Sword of Truth Series by Goodkind

63. The Road by McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Clarke

65. I Am Legend by Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga (series) by Feist

67. The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Brooks

68. The Conan the Barbarian Series by Howard and Schultz

69. The Farseer Trilogy by Hobb

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenegger

71. The Way of Kings by Sanderson

72. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Verne

73. The Legend of Drizzt Series by Salvatore (

74. Old Man’s War by Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age by Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama by Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series by Carey

78. The Dispossessed by Le Guin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Bradbury

80. Wicked by Maguire

81. The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series by Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair by Fforde

83. The Culture Series by Banks

84. The Crystal Cave by Stewart

85. Anathem by Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series by Butcher

87. The Book of the New Sun by Wolfe

88. Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy by Zahn

89. The Outlander Series by Gabaldon

90. The Elric Saga by Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man by Bradbury

92. Sunshine by McKinley

93. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves of Steel by Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy by Robinson

96. Lucifer’s Hammer by Niven and Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book by Willis

98. Perdido Street Station by Mieville

99. The Xanth Series by Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

Book to read

(that I own on kindle now, ONLY)

1. Anansi Boys

2. Social Capital

3. Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or a Leader?

4. Allergy Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies

5. Our Bodies, Ourselves

6. Enchanting a Disenchanted World

7. Game Addiction: The Experience and the Effects

8. Others like: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Jungle Book

9. and then still other books that were free and fiction (so possibly crappy?)


*numbers 2, 3, 5 were bought because of school but never finished (not textbooks exactly)

New Releases and reading

I loved Trudi Canavan’s new book which I didn’t even know was coming out. I’ve been slowly reading Jacqueline Carey’s new book.

I’m practically counting the days till Brandon Sanderson’s probably awesome book comes out.

I haven’t really dug into Naamah’s Curse yet because I’m trying to finish The Great Hunt. I’m also like halfway through Reloville which is an attempt to read more books about American culture.


Going to attempt to read more books relating to American culture… since that’s my main interest… and I’m burned on reading about social policy ’cause of school.

In an attempt to do so, I picked up: Rumspringa: To Be or Not to be Amish when bookstoring recently because I realized that’s one thing I’d like to know more about.

Banned books

Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008

Out of 513 challenges as reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
  3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
  7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
  9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
    Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

from here.

I like how Scary Stories still makes the list. Curious about some of these though. Do I add any to my reading list?

Learning my MacBook Pro

I bought this book from Amazon. Biggest problem being that I’ve been a Windows user for years and need to know how different types of software translate between platforms. For example, I’ll be looking into more blogging software specific to the Mac platform, or I’ll continue to use Windows Live Writer and just use it in a VM of Windows. (I do recommend Windows Live Writer.) I’ve installed Blogo I think it’s called on the laptop, small amount of time to set up and the only problem is I’m unable to actually publish from the software, it will do drafts, not published posts to wordpress. You have to purchase Blogo but it does have a 21 day demo/trail period.

I’m also in the process of learning Notebook 3.0 which might be nicer than Microsoft Office OneNote for note taking. I don’t know yet. The learning curve on Notebook 3.0 seems a little steeper than one note. I’ve also looked into EverNote which is “free” in that you have to pay for a higher limit to your monthly usage. I’m using EverNote for info I want access to from either desktop, laptop, or iPhone. (Yes, EverNote has a free iPhone app.) I don’t think EverNote will work for school though. Especially when you start adding in the size of pictures/etc.

So far, the touchpad is awesome. I like how easily the laptop can be sleep’ed. It’s somewhat annoying to not have a hibernate option but that’s not a big deal. The build/form of the laptop is quite nice. It’s thinner, it’s balanced. Even holding the laptop with hand I’m not worried I might drop it. The screen is quite lovely.

Things I need to do:

1. find IM software I like or just get used to Adium

2. settle on blogging software and see if I like it more than LiveWriter

3. run through the tutorial/user guide on Notebook 3.0

4. Set up Spaces more/better for usage at school. The native multi-desktop support is lovely. Especially for a laptop.

5. Make sure I know how to properly uninstall apps on the laptop.

6. See what my options are with my Canon Rebel digital camera and the laptop.

7. Probably other things I can’t think of right now.

Summer reading!

mmmm. semester break. more time for reading books I want to read! (the reading list has been updated twice this month already!)

I started Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson last night. I’m on page 20, it’s hooked me already. Planning to read more today. (I want to reread Elantris – his stand alone novel – but it seems a crime to reread a book when I have so many others to read.)

The back of the book blurb starts out like many other fantasy novels do.. blah blah blah. hero. blah blah. And then quickly deviates. Hero failed… Intriguing.

I’m itching for the new EE Knight book and the new Jacqueline Carey book… they both come out this summer.

Vampire Earth

Someone needs to turn Vampire Earth into a sci fi series so that it gets some more publicity like Dresden Files.

And dammit I still need to read some Dresden Files.

Going here will explain what I’m talking about.

Still waiting, patiently, for the next Vampire Earth book to come out. I’m looking forward to this summer not for the break from school but for the book I WANT TO READ!!!

Currently on my “reading this” pile:

In no particular order:

Amusing Ourselves to Death by: Neil Postman

The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America’s Politics and Culture by: Brink Lindsey

ORCS by: Stan Nicholls (technically an omnibus of his ORCS trilogy)

The Economics of Public Issues (Fifteenth Edition) by: R. L. Miller, D. K. Benjamin, D. C. North

Decision at Doona by: Anne McCaffrey (going to finish this tonight, it’s short)

Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe by: Graham Allison (reading for school, but I’m actually reading it and finding it interesting so I include it here)

To be continued when I finish something above:

The Sociological Imagination by: C. Wright Mills

Dragon Champion (Book 1 of The Age of Fire) by: E. E. Knight

And books just recently purchased that I’ve been looking forward to having and reading:

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by: Clay Shirky

Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System by: Douglas S. Massey

There’s a reason why I didn’t make it a numbered list.

Fall With Honor by EE Knight

So, finished it. It’s the latest book (seventh) in the Vampire Earth series by EE Knight. Finally! Why must it be so damn hard (near impossible) to read fun stuff while in mid-semester? Anyways. I enjoyed this. There might have been more internal dialogue type stuff and there should have been more of Smoke. That’s not to say more internal type stuff was bad. But, dammit! The ending that wasn’t an ending…. arg! It makes me wonder why this book was so short. And makes me wonder what the hell is going to happen in the next book.

The next book cannot come out soon enough! (And part of me wonders if this is part of his evil little plan to get more people to buy the next book in hardback! :p) It’s called Winter Duty. Well ok… the title gives me ideas even.

Also, I swear EE Knight plays scrabble. Swear it!