The Lawn Mower Judge Wins First Place!

As you know, I spend a lot of my time reading, both print and online material. What you might not know about me yet is that I am also an avid gardener and also spend a lot of time working outside in both my yard and my garden. The smells of spring and the feeling of the fresh, cool dirt is intoxicating to me and I can hardly wait to be able to start working outside!

Like most self-ascribed nerds, I very rarely do anything without consulting a variety of different sources to make sure I am doing it right. For example, when I first purchased this bit of land and wanted to turn it from a weed-infested pasture into a lovely lawn, I read book after book after online article to get as much information as possible before starting such a massive project.

The best book I found by far (and the only one I actually purchased, as I usually just use my library card!) was one called Scotts Lawns: Your Guide to a Beautiful Yard. I found it on Amazon for a great price, and let me tell you, it was worth every penny I spent on it. I still consult it regularly for all of my general lawn care questions. Really, I can’t recommend it enough.

Once I got my lawn established, I noticed that my old lawnmower just wasn’t doing a very good job anymore. It could be because I inherited it from my parents and remember mowing our lawn with it when I was a child! Really, it is that old. I have babied it and change the oil and spark plugs every year, but it just doesn’t work as efficiently as I would like it to.

This year, it looks like I am in the market for a new lawnmower. I started researching the different options last fall, thinking it would be a simple matter of walking into a garden store and picking up the first model I liked. Not so, my friends, not so. Do you have any idea how many different models of lawn mowers there are out there? I didn’t either.

Enter my new favorite website, www.lawnmowerjudge.com. I ran across this particular one just like I run across most of the new blogs I read-by conducting a search, clicking on a particular article and following links. Which is really just a better way of saying I stumbled across it by accident!

At any rate, this particular site has it all. There are reviews of every possible type of lawn mower, from the old-style push mowers to the cream-of-the-crop riding lawnmowers (which can also plow snow, move dirt, and maybe even make your coffee!). This in itself is so useful that I would like this website just for the reviews alone.

However, the Lawnmower Judge site also offers tools that will help you make a decision about what type of lawnmower will best suit your specific needs. For example, the author offers a list of questions to ask yourself before buying a mower, some of which may have never occurred to you ask, like:

  • Do you hate the smell of gas? An electric mower might be right for you!
  • How do you feel about power cords? Consider a battery mower!
  • Is your lawn small enough that a reel-type push mower would work?
  • How much effort do you want to have to put into mowing?

Once you have decided what type of mower you want, there are reviews of many different models within each category. This is very useful for someone like me who relies on a lot of information before making a decision!

I haven’t yet decide which lawnmower I am going to buy. I haven’t finished reading all of the reviews yet! However, now that I have access to this website, I know it is going to play a huge part in my final decision!

Under the flashlight: reading like a child

I am extremely grateful that I’ve had more free time than usual lately, because it gave me the chance of reading a lot, which, as you know, is so much harder when you have your work, house and family to think about all day.

I had a bit of a nostalgic moment in which I remembered how reading was light when I was a child. I really loved it – well, I obviously still do – and I literally spent hours past my bedtime reading under the covers with my flashlight on.

I’m pretty sure my parents knew about it, I probably wasn’t that subtle at all, and I usually spent half of the next day yawning, but they never stopped me. There was something truly magical in staying up late to see how the current book ended.

I have felt the need to recreate that feeling, lately. You know, I could just keep the lights on and read comfortably at two a.m., but where’s the fun in that? I was doing what I love best, book shopping, and I found something in my local bookshop that made my eyes light with joy.

And that’s how I ended up with a reading headlight that is now sitting on my bedside table. It’s actually pretty awesome, and quite a long way from the weak flashlight I used when I was nine years old. First of all, it’s LED-driven, which means that it’s virtually infinite and much brighter than a normal one. What’s even better, you have your hands free and turning pages is much easier.

At the bookshop there were even some reading glasses with a flashlight incorporated – but they didn’t appeal that much to me, to be honest.

Still, now I am spending most nights in my bed, under the covers, feeling like a child again, and it’s very nice.

Since I was thinking about my childhood and being all nostalgic (and I had spent most of my book-dedicated budget for the month already), I went through my library and chose some of my favourite books from when I was little.

I started reading some of them again and I found amazing how you can read the same pages in a completely different way if you are a few years older. For example, I found philosophic and religious references, unexpected quotes, hidden meanings. I believe these types of books are the best – the ones built on many levels, that are as enjoyable at nine years old as they are at thirty, because you find different meanings in them.

Would you like to know some titles? I reread “Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates” by Mary Maped Dodge, “Little Women” by Louise May Alcott, and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S.Lewis.

Now I’m starting “The Prince and the Pauper” by Mark Twain all over again… let me tell you: this is something everyone should do every once in a while. Take the dust off those old volumes and read them again. You’ll find out that the story may be the same, but the meaning behind it will be so much greater than you remember.

You might also find some of those boring books your high-school teacher forced you to read when you were a teenager beautiful!

How I Became Happier In Just a Week

Happy

Those of you following along with my blog will be happy to hear that I actually passed my nursing examination (no that’s not why I became happier within a week)! The amount of studying I put into the exam ended up being overkill, but I’d always rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.

The most excited part of passing the exam was that I was able to start reading a new book which I’ve been meaning to read for a while now, “Authentic Happiness,” written by Martin E.P. Seligman. Now I actually have a huge lists of books that I want to read saved on my GoodReads account, but this one was actually referred to me by one of my college professors  about a year ago and I loved the concept of it.  Continue reading

Home Improvement: For Dummies (Like Me!)

As many of my readers know, I review (almost) every book that I read. Many of these books are not stories of fiction or fantasy, but rather are literature that helps me improve various aspects of my life. Well over the winter holidays my parents talked me into doing a little bit of renovation on the home that I own. They sat me down with a spreadsheet and a calculator and helped me see how much equity I could gain in my home just by making a few minor changes.

Knowing that I’ve never been very handy around the home, they also provided me with a copy of “Home Improvement For Dummies” written by Gene & Katie Hamilton. While I have heard some negative things in the past from fellow readers about the  ”For Dummies” series, I’ve always had really good experiences with these books. This time around was no different.

Anyone who has read one of these books knows that this isn’t something you can just read in one sitting. They can get a little “intense.” While I do highly recommend this book to others (as it helped me out quite a bit), I will add a disclaimer that only those seriously looking to do some type of home renovation in the near future will be motivated enough to get through it.

Now the format for this read is the same as many of those in it’s genre. There is an introduction about home improvement and then basically each chapter is dedicated to different types of areas in your home that you can improve (e.g. kitchen, bathroom, family room, etc). Now I won’t go into details about each chapter, but I did actually read them all even though I was only planning on making a few changes. I felt as though each chapter was pretty much the same, just with different instructions and ideas. None of them were riveting or exciting, but each did a very good job at giving an overview of the options available for each area and some really good ideas that I would have never thought of on my own. The authors did a great job of keeping the subject matter simple enough for even a beginner like me to understand (which I why I love these types of books).

One example of how I benefited from this book was an idea I was given while reading the chapter on kitchen remodeling. I learned that cabinets are one of the easiest things to change out, and can increase the value of your home by a significant degree.  In fact, I actually followed through and just by installing brand new cabinets for a little over a grand, I was able to raise the value of my home by about $5,000 – $10,000!

If you own your own home and are either looking to put on the market in the near future, or are just wanting to maintain a nice living environment, you should pick up this book. It will give you a bunch of different options that are available for you to improve the monetary and aesthetic value of your home for quite a bit less money than you would expect!