A Critique: Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin – Yawn

I was less than impressed with Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have ever picked it up if it hadn’t been lent to me by a neighbour. Alas, I finish what I start.

Rubin describes herself as a non-fiction writer. True, but her writing leads the reader to believe she’s aiming more for the self-help style. Rubin herself denies this genre in the book though. If it weren’t for her precise mention of this, I would have remained convinced that Happier at Home was indeed a rough attempt at the self-help genre.

For me, it was:

  • at best – entertaining for a chapter or two
  • at worst – infuriating and frustrating
  • most commonly – a complete yawn

Still, I’d rate it 2 stars, out of 5. Why? Because when you’re finally following one of Rubin’s thoughts, she yanks you out of your focus to tell you about yet another quote. She herself says near the end of the book that she’s obsessed with quotes. My thought: Captain Obvious, sweetheart. Every reader who has made it this far through your book KNOWS you’re obsessed with quotes. They’re a powerful tool when used appropriately, but overuse is distracting, detracts from your overarching goals, and becomes a complete nuisance.

I wanted to like this book. Truly.

At its heart, Happier at Home exemplifies Rubin’s respectable goal to study and experiment with increasing one’s happiness. She chooses a theme on which to focus for each of nine months. Themes include: possessions, marriage, parenthood, interior design, time, body, family, neighbourhood, and now.

The writing is brave, without a doubt. Rubin puts her heart on her sleeve and shares her trials, tribulations, and goals with the reader. I found her writing that centred on relationships and choosing how to think about happiness more worthwhile than the rest, but that comparison doesn’t mean much in this instance because the writing was so completely wishy-washy and self-centred.

I would absolutely not recommend this book. I rate it 2 stars, rather than 1, because Rubin does have a voice, personality and way with her words, but it honestly felt like a memoir of too-often whinging.

To learn more about Gretchen Rubin and her work, visit her website.

Rating: 2 of 5 stars


In some regards, America infuriates me. More than that, western style media has a lot of explaining to do.

When even the slim, healthy, strong women lack the confidence they deserve to feel, I move to detest our media. Even those who found their own drum to walk to – even these men and women are part of the equation.

A friend and I were out swimsuit shopping Friday afternoon and found ourselves both contemplative and furious with the state of self-esteem of the youngest generation.

I look at my nieces and nephew with hope and love that they know they can choose their emotions and opinions. They can decide whose company to place themselves in. They can read and listen and learn and love the world if they so choose. As an aunt, I plan to do all I can to show them these things. And to make sure they never doubt the love I have for them and the beauty they exude.

We owe this to our children.


My first serious foray into Photoshop and Lightroom after years with Mac’s photo editing software. Take a peak at the first grouping if you so choose.
Quite pleased with where I am.  🙂


The Hunter

Here’s another vineyard in the Hunter Valley. This is one of the many tables with an incredible view at Robyn Drayton’s Vineyard. Her vineyard also functions as a cafe. According to Robyn, who led us through quite a fun wine tasting, she’s one of the view successful female vineyard owners in the Hunter. I bought a bottle of her chardonnay, Sweet Caress. It’s beautiful. Trut me.

Perfectly, beautifully mine

It’s been a very long, tiring, at times frustrating and upsetting day despite the amount of good, valuable work I finished. The day, the bit of it I saw outside, was beautiful. I’m so glad I made time for a walk. Those 3o minutes away from it all were perfectly, beautifully mine.

This is the golden hour in Newtown.

Business hours, burgers, and bush fires

13 November

Today I’m thankful that my job is just a job. I’m incredibly fortunate that I love what I do. Some days are terrible. I know there will always be some terrible days. I’m glad though that I can leave my work at work. The 9-5 day isn’t for everyone and it may not always be for me either, but now, today, I’m glad that I can leave my work life there at 5pm until I’m ready to meet it again the next morning.

14 November

Tonight I went to a lovely wine tasting with two of my very best friends, then met our fellas at an awesome burger joint later that night. The wine was nice, but the burgers. Oh man. Tonight I’m thankful for beautiful beef.

15 November

It’s been raining, no, not constantly, but it feels like it, for days. And days and days. God knows we need it because of the horrible bush fires we keep having, but I really wouldn’t mind more than an hour or two of sunshine! And for that, I’m so thankful for my warm, safe home. Even more so having watching the news of those struggling with the aftermath of Haiyan in the Philippines. There are lots of organisations sending support. It’s not too late to help. Medecins sans Frontieres is just one of the charities helping. Please, give, if you can.

16 November

Today I’m wonderfully thankful for my sister and how close we are. It wasn’t always that way. As soon as we were living 12 hours apart, we realised how much we needed each other. I think it’s that way for a lot of siblings. Once you finish high school, move away from your home town and don’t have them next to you, things are different. No matter how much we talk or skype, which is fairly often, I miss her everyday. 

 30 Days of Thankful? Read on. It’s good for you :)

30 days of thankful

1 November

Tonight I’m thankful for starting November surrounded by some of my very best friends. Pizza and movies — a simple night made perfect by closeness, friendship, and understanding.

2 November

Thankful for my partner in crime who loves me for all of my qualities–lovely, annoying, and quirky. Thanks for the sparkling clean house I came home to today.

3 November

Thankful for my immediate and my second family. I would be in a much worse place without you all.

4 November

Thankful for the freedom to bitch and vent when I’ve had a trying day. Thankful for the friend who listened. And, thankful for good rum.

5 November

Thankful for my weekly chats with my mother and sister overseas. Despite the time difference and the obvious miles, you’re still with me all the time.

6 November

Thankful to have grown up in the state that was the first to legalise same-sex marriage in the US. Today Illinois followed suit. It’s about damn time that the rest of the country wakes the hell up. All love is equal. And it’s worth noting that I’m glad to have grown up in a community where it was acceptable to question the way things were done and change them if you could.

7 November

Thankful for having one of my very best friends living here in Sydney with me. It blows my mind that we’ve known each other for seven years already and that we’ve lived in both Columbus and overseas together. What a wonderful sister.

8 November 

Thankful for a workplace that sponsors me to be live in Australia. I love traveling and they’re a huge reason that I’m not “traveling” but really living here. It’s a beautiful thing.

*Curious about 30 Days of Thankful? Read on. It’s good for you 🙂

Sing You Home

I finished this week a book that’s going to stay with me. I wouldn’t say I read obsessively, but I read a lot. Usually about a book a week. This particular week began with Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home, saw a bit of Ian Vasquez’s Mr. Hooligan and is currently finishing with N. H. Kleinbaum’s Dead Poets Society.

The particular one I had to take more time to reflect on is Sing You Home. As someone who tries to read a bit from every genre, I can appreciate a wide variety of styles. It was the story and characters here, above all, that truly touched me though.

Picoult takes her time telling Zoe’s story. It’s a long book, maybe 400 some odd pages, but every page was worth my time. I can’t always say that about an author. I digress… Zoe walks across the pages of the first few chapters as a struggling wife, struggling to have a baby with her husband of ten or so years. After too many miscarriages, still births and heartaches, Zoe’s husband throws in the towel on their marriage. They’re no longer seeing eye to eye and things are falling apart, as often happens when a family loses a child. This is a pivotal moment for Zoe. Divorce is. She’s lost her son and her husband in one fell swoop and somewhere along the while, nearly loses herself.

The next section of the story reveals Zoe’s re-discovery of her values and dreams. She doesn’t need a husband to have a baby. All she needs is a loving home to raise a child within. Along the way, she meets someone new, as happens in so many Picoult novels, but this time it’s different. Zoe finds herself falling for an old acquaintance who has become her confidant when Zoe was at her lowest. They  fall for one another and the story takes another powerful turn because Zoe finds herself in a woman’s arms, Vanessa’s, for the first time in her life. And, for the first time, she really finds herself.

The last section of the novel describes just how hard a woman born to be a mother will fight for her child. During Zoe’s first marriage, she and her husband had a few embryos frozen so that they could continue to try to have children. It hadn’t worked…. for them.  Vanessa could carry her baby though. The overarching conflict arises here when the fertility clinic reminds Zoe that they’ll need her ex-husband, a born-again Catholic, to sign off on the embryo being used. What could be a simple, giving moment turns into a lawsuit broadcast nation-wide with everyone involved biting their nails.

A page turner, for sure, but more than that, Sing You Home, forces the reader to evaluate for him or herself the value of equality, of love, of gender and of sexuality. What truly puts the concepts in perspective is Picoult’s choice to rotate the narrator of each chapter so the reader is able to recognise various individuals’ point of view.

Learn more about the book on Picoult’s website.

And for good merit, as this is my photography blog, here’s a real gem for you to enjoy–an image filled with love and beautiful boys.