Thanks for checking out the Scrimp or Splurge Bookshelf. This is where I’ll share the books I’ve been reading, particularly those I believe can help readers live the good life for less in Victoria, British Columbia, and beyond. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too. Recommend helpful titles by sending a message through the Contact Me page.
I have chosen to showcase the following books because I believe Scrimp or Splurge readers may find value in them. If you click on a blue book title and link to Amazon.ca (the Canadian site), I will receive small commission if you choose to purchase that book. Be assured, this has no affect whatsoever on which books are included in the SOS Bookshelf and my reviews are, as always, my honest opinions.
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It is not too strong a statement to say that every southern Vancouver Island resident could take better advantage of their fabulous seaside surroundings with a copy of both Secret Beaches of Greater Victoria and Secret Beaches of Vancouver Island. Theo Dombrowski’s new guidebooks, published by Victoria’s Heritage House, are such a good idea, you wonder why no-one has thought of it before.
What active resident or Victoria visitor wouldn’t like to discover hidden strands along Vancouver Island’s southern shoreline?
My litmus test for the Greater Victoria guide was to see whether the author had pinpointed any of my favourite neighbourhood seaside spots in Esquimalt. Full marks for Dombrowski’s research—he found them all! What’s more, his descriptions have the insider knowledge of a local, when actually he lives up-Island in Nanoose Bay. Very impressive detail.
If you’re wondering, as I was initially, how much any writer can say about one beach spot versus another, the answer is: PLENTY! For every entry, Dombrowski provides practical and descriptive information on:
- Location, signs, and parking
- Path to the site
- Beach characteristics
- Suitability for children
- Suitability for groups
- Winds, sun and shade
Small, helpful maps accompany many of the entries. Most visitors will require an additional detailed map to hone in on many of the small beaches, simply because they are so hidden in residential neighbourhoods.
Perhaps the best feature of these excellent guidebooks is the “Best Bets” section in back. In the Greater Victoria book, the author classifies the 92 beaches according to which best meet the following needs:
- Launching kayaks or canoes
- Bringing small children
- Bringing adventurous children
- Long beach walks or jogs
- Kite flying or Frisbee throwing
- Bringing groups
- Afternoon sunbathing
- Protection from northwest winds
- Protection from southeast winds
- Off-leash dog walking
- Foul-weather car picnicking
- Combining with forest walking
- Fishing from the rocks
- For a variety of shore types
- A wedding or family photo shoot
- A high-point view
- Those who have walking difficulties
- Viewing sunsets
A final tip-of-the-hat to author Theo Dombrowski, whose photographs and lovely watercolour beach paintings illustrate the guidebooks. The retired teacher is donating his proceeds from the sales of both books to the Georgia Strait Alliance, a local environmental group, and to Doctors Without Borders. That is reason enough to buy your copies today.
My wonderfully supportive friend Jane just sent me a copy of Slow Love by mail, as a surprise gift.
The book’s subtitle, “How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness,” hints at author Dominique Browning’s personal transformation. This is a subject of great interest to me now, having just leapt off a 15-year-long career path onto Robert Frost’s proverbial “road less travelled.”
What’s more, the “job” referred to in the book’s title was that of Editor-in-Chief for Conde Nast’s House & Garden magazine. Ah, now here is a woman who can truly relate to the particular joys and challenges of the profession I, too, have left behind.
I’m eager to delve into the book, and suspect I will take away as many insights from it as I did from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, the first book I read after I packed up my old office and started anew. It was Rubin’s book that inspired me to start this blog.
I owe a big “thank you” to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Her book exploded onto the bestseller lists right about the time I walked away from a 15-year editorial career at British Columbia Magazine. Did I want to be happier: lord, yes! Did Rubin help me to do it? Yes, again.
Not everything in this book was relevant to me, and it’s important, I think, to take that approach to any book about personal development. Take what works for you, leave what doesn’t. Unless you and the author were born as conjoined twins, you’re going to have some differences, right?
Where Rubin and I converged was her methodical (some might say “anal”) approach to researching happiness, and to setting measureable goals for tracking her own progress up or down the happiness index. (If you like graphs and flip charts, you’ll love Rubin.) I found her frank self-awareness funny and refreshing, particularly when she failed in a particular happiness endeavour—experiences that fuelled her understanding of happiness as much as her successes did.
Rubin brings together what she’s learned about happiness from a broad range of sources, including current scientific research, popular culture, and classic texts from Aristotle to Thoreau, and conveys her findings in a very user-friendly, non-academic fashion. She avoids overloading the reader by embedding nuggets of wisdom throughout the book, injecting choice thoughts as they relate to her ongoing personal happiness project.
The book’s structure builds an effective momentum, devoting a chapter to each of Rubin’s self-assigned monthly happiness exercises—from “boost energy” to “pursue a passion”—and concludes with her overall assessment of her year-long project. One of my favourite sections, in the October chapter, is Rubin’s exploration of “True Rules.” These, she explains, are our core beliefs, the inner working principles that reflect our true priorities. They are not necessarily beliefs that serve us well. The author advocates becoming more aware of your own True Rules so that you may substitute more happiness-inducing beliefs for those that are holding you back. Consider whether you share any of the following True Rules, and whether they help or hinder your own pursuit of happiness.
- Change is good.
- Buy anything you want at the grocery store; cooking is always cheaper than eating out.
- Things have a way of turning out for the best.
- I’m always in a hurry.
- If something good happens to someone else, it’s less likely to happen to me.
- Do what you have to do first, what you want to do second.
- Laughter adds years to your life.
- I always get stuck in the slowest grocery line.
- Comfortable beats fashionable. Comfortable and fashionable? BUY IT.
- A smile can makes someone’s day.
The first five examples come from Rubin’s book; the last five are revelations of my own. And, seriously now, I can’t *always* choose the worst grocery line, right? So why put myself in that negative frame of mind every time I approach the checkout?
I took away some great insights from The Happiness Project. I’ve noted a few books Rubin studied that I now want to read, including the novel Saturday by Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan. I decided to try her idea of a “one-sentence journal” for capturing small daily happy moments. That lasted all of four days before I forgot all about it. I have embraced her motto to “be Gretchen” (in my case, “be Anita”), to resist the urge to act contrary to my innate self because of how others might approve or disapprove of me.
In one very significant way, The Happiness Project changed my life. It inspired me to start this blog. Rubin describes her decision to launch a blog about The Happiness Project, and how the challenge of learning the new technology resulted in increased happiness from the sense of accomplishment. The light bulb went on. I had been yearning for an outlet for my writing, and dearly missed the regular research, editing, photo selection, and page design work from my former magazine job. Publishing my own blog would give me all that, and more. And with that, ScrimporSplurge.ca was born.
The Happiness Project (reviewed here) inspired me to start my own blog. ProBlogger gave me the tools to launch ScrimporSplurge.ca, and the belief that I might even make some income from the site. A six-figure income? Hahaha! Ahem, no. But maybe, eventually, enough to pay the monthly cost of web hosting and annual domain name registration.
Despite the title, this book is not a get-rich-quick treatise. It is a friendly, frank, and realistic guide for the aspiring blog writer. Authors Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett held my hand as I took all first tentative steps, choosing my subject niche, deciding on and registering my domain name, helping me pick between WordPress.com (easier, but more limited) and WordPress.org (hard, but much more flexible), locating the right WordPress theme for my needs, and getting everything uploaded through my new FTP site.
My copy of ProBlogger is aflutter with yellow sticky tabs, noting particular bits of strategic genius, recommended tools, and online reference material I’m positive will make my blog better and better. I expect to be returning to this book regularly in the months to come.
As I work through the early stages of developing the Scrimp or Splurge blog, every day on the computer is a high-performance calisthenics routine for my brain. I’m relatively new to the WordPress blog platform, and I’m not afraid to join the league of Dummies to get the help I need.
I haven’t dipped into this book as much as I’d expected I would. That’s largely due to the incredible amount of online help available to WordPress users. There are very deep resources in the WordPress.org support forums, with plenty of how-to self-help videos and generally abundant information for newbies like me.
That’s not to say that WordPress for Dummies won’t yet come to my rescue. I’ll update this post as I continue my journey into the technological netherworld of the blog.