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Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

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Life is chaotic. Butwe can choose to live it differently.  It doesn’t alwaysfeel like it, but we do have thefreedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so thatour path better aligns with our values and passions. The popular blogger and founder of the internationallyrecognized Simple Mom onlinecommunity tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest t Life is chaotic. Butwe can choose to live it differently.  It doesn’t alwaysfeel like it, but we do have thefreedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so thatour path better aligns with our values and passions. The popular blogger and founder of the internationallyrecognized Simple Mom onlinecommunity tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply,fully, and intentionally. Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from ahillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to asmall town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertimedilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions viaplane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike. Entertaining and compelling—but never shrill or dogmatic—Notes from a Blue Bike invites you toclimb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your familyneeds, and make some important choices. It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your lifeaccording to who you really aresimply takes a little intention. It’s never too late.


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Life is chaotic. Butwe can choose to live it differently.  It doesn’t alwaysfeel like it, but we do have thefreedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so thatour path better aligns with our values and passions. The popular blogger and founder of the internationallyrecognized Simple Mom onlinecommunity tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest t Life is chaotic. Butwe can choose to live it differently.  It doesn’t alwaysfeel like it, but we do have thefreedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so thatour path better aligns with our values and passions. The popular blogger and founder of the internationallyrecognized Simple Mom onlinecommunity tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply,fully, and intentionally. Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from ahillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to asmall town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertimedilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions viaplane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike. Entertaining and compelling—but never shrill or dogmatic—Notes from a Blue Bike invites you toclimb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your familyneeds, and make some important choices. It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your lifeaccording to who you really aresimply takes a little intention. It’s never too late.

30 review for Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angelyn Vaughan

    Two stars is generous. First, the good: I enjoyed Tsh's style of writing. It's warm and personal without being dumbed down. The chapters felt like blog posts, but I kind of liked that. I liked the way she enumerated and categorized the things that were really important to her and her family. I think most of us have a person or culture that we'd like to emulate at least a little, but few of us actually evaluate what we would need to change to accomplish that and whether it's worth the cost. While I w Two stars is generous. First, the good: I enjoyed Tsh's style of writing. It's warm and personal without being dumbed down. The chapters felt like blog posts, but I kind of liked that. I liked the way she enumerated and categorized the things that were really important to her and her family. I think most of us have a person or culture that we'd like to emulate at least a little, but few of us actually evaluate what we would need to change to accomplish that and whether it's worth the cost. While I wouldn't place them all on the same plane, I share all of Tsh's values to some degree. I liked her initial desire to examine if we place too much of an emphasis on productivity vs. experience. Now, the bad: Snobbery and shame. Tsh says that her choices are just for her family, but proceeds to diss food bought in a normal grocery store, the public school system, and basically anyone who enjoys the typical American lifestyle without feeling guilty about it. The undertone of guilt was what bothered me the most. Apparently I don't have to give up my whole lifestyle, but I should at least feel guilty about it sometimes? Many of her ideas are impractical, or even irresponsible. Taking your children out of school any time the mood strikes? Sorry, but that's a terrible precedent to set for someone who might have to actually work at a desk job (gasp!) some day. Speaking of which, who says that everyone who has a job in a cubicle or with a rigid schedule is unhappy? Somehow she wants to teach her children that they're responsible for where their food comes from and whether people in other countries have good living conditions, but they're not responsible to be present for a math test, work meeting, or church service. I don't get it. She also didn't mention until the end of the book that they can only afford to buy Fair Trade food and travel willy nilly after paying off their debt and saving with Dave Ramsey's plan. I totally agree with her about financial responsibility, and it really bothered me that she didn't address this in the chapters about food and travel. Her ideals are only attainable if you have some disposable income, which she seems to think is only a question of making the right priorities, regardless of your circumstances. I'm a dietitian, so I won't enumerate everything that bothered me about the food section, except that she used Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver (fellow writers, not nutrition professionals) as her oft-quoted sources, and that she used very negative language about foods that almost everyone enjoys. I have a degree in nutrition and I really don't know how she could have a definition for "the food (we) were created to eat." This book was less overtly Christian than I was expecting, and that's okay. But it bothered me that she's obviously writing to a Christian audience (she references a couple Bible verses and occasionally uses God as a reason to mimic her choices), but serving/obeying/worshiping God is only an occasional byproduct of her "intentional" values. For the Christian, constructing life values is all about bringing glory to Christ. And simplicity is not the gospel. Scripture informs but doesn't clearly dictate our decisions on things like educating our children, entertaining ourselves, and choosing a workplace. We are commanded to travel or at least ensure that the gospel travels for the sake of Jesus' name among all nations - not so that we feel a little bit cooler than our all-American neighbors. Of course we can and should evaluate what would make us happy, but believing that this can give our lives meaning is essentially heresy. Lacking the intent to bring glory to Christ, choosing these "intentional" values is really no more admirable than chasing after beauty, acclaim, or possessions. It's just more counter-cultural.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I was really excited to get an advance copy of Notes From A Blue Bike to review. I care deeply about these topics on organization and intentional living and from the start I was excited to hear what this writer had to say. Unfortunately, while it’s a nice read, I didn't feel like there was a lot of information shared that I didn't already know, apart from the author’s personal life experiences. But if I ever had something published I wouldn't want someone to chuck a flame-thrower at my work and I was really excited to get an advance copy of Notes From A Blue Bike to review. I care deeply about these topics on organization and intentional living and from the start I was excited to hear what this writer had to say. Unfortunately, while it’s a nice read, I didn't feel like there was a lot of information shared that I didn't already know, apart from the author’s personal life experiences. But if I ever had something published I wouldn't want someone to chuck a flame-thrower at my work and walk away, I'd want to know what I got right first. I'm not familiar with the author, so I'm sure I'm not one of the hundreds of people from her blog who will write a glowing review just because she wrote something. The tone of the book vacillates between thoughtful journaling and being a bit of a snob. Not being a regular reader of Oxenreider’s blog I'm sure I'm missing some context for her perspective and experience. In the middle of some of these “notes” I began to wonder if these were just recycled blog posts that were tossed together under thematic banners, but I digress… We’ll start with the positive: It’s a readable, accessible book. People who write blogs and then become book-writers don't often lose any of their blogger voice. That can work for the reader when there’s a how-to element to the book. If it sounds like a friend sharing, or instructing then it’s much more likely you’ll stay attached to the text and maybe even adopt some of the recommendations. There were drawbacks to her tone at time, but more about that later, I'm staying positive. Another positive is that there are actually good recommendations for categorizing your goals (hers were Food, Work, Education, Travel and Entertainment). I think trying to tackle something as large as all of the loose ends of your life would be overly labor-intensive. Big picture first, then nitty gritty details. The big areas of our life would be Finances, Health, Education and Outreach. I think we can pretty much file all of our day to day cares, hopes, goals, and work under those. So, readers can find their own big topics and start brainstorming what they care about and how they want to live. I also appreciated the trial and error honesty in the Education section. Trying something new with conviction is good. Just as good is to know when to stop. The room to fail is an important thing in families and children need to know that even with big decisions there is room to switch gears most of the time. There are also a fair amount of suggestions to consider for your food journey (we'd already explored options, so it wasn't a revelation to me to look at local delivery or farmer's market options, but it might be for someone else just starting this journey). Finally, I love the idea of topics like this being a conversation, whether with your spouse, children or friends, these things are great to talk through so you’re not working in a silo. You're going to find successes and failures in others’ experiences and that can be really helpful when you're not trying to waste time re-inventing the wheel. It’s also nice, as things fall into place and as you feel more intentional about your life, to be able to help others get there, too. No one has to sign off on what your family is intentional about, except your family, so discussion is great, but commitment is a different thing. Good to keep that in mind if this becomes a round table discussion with friends. I felt myself being judge-y about some of Oxenreider's choices, but since I don't have to make the commitment myself, I shouldn't care. Admittedly, I didn't read every discussion question, but the one’s I did read were good. So, here are my reservations about this particular book: If you're a Tsh devotee you may just want to skip to the last paragraph to avoid getting royally ticked off over any criticism of this work at all. Tone: When you're trying to share your experiences and what you've learned there’s a fine line between sharing and snobbery, between recommendations and accusation. Overlooking how many times she mentioned she was an "expat", I was completely with her in the Food section, our family having asked and answered many of the same questions of food source, quality and cooking ourselves. But I had to bristle at remarking about the “insipid grocery store eggs”. Grocery stores all over the US sell organic, free-range eggs from chickens that are treated well, live locally and are not injected with hormones. I didn't want to over-react, but man, she sounded like a jerk there. Yep, not everyone can raise chickens or hit the farmer’s market, but responsible eggs can be found at the grocery store, too. There were several other examples of where she slipped over into being way too opinionated about what was “right”, since I don't think she meant “just for her family”. It’s just a rude way to deliver a message. The complication of the memoir-ish tone is that it wasn't just “here’s what we did”, she instructs as well, which means you have to be more thoughtful about who is receiving that instruction. Maybe she assumes everyone who picks up her book is just like her, but I would have been more cautious about my adjectives. Celebrity and Autonomy: In my favorite section on Education she felt the need to mention her readership in her decision-making, and place herself in a position of notoriety or celebrity: being on the fence of the homeschoolers and traditional education folks. I think it’s a ridiculous thing to call out even if it felt like a true part of her life. It’s not relatable, so I think it should have been omitted for the sake of all of us who were in that car with her, crying as moms over the things we want, but cannot make happen… then she has to squawk about her readership? You lost me. Finally, where the heck is the bike? I think it’s a little strange to use a bike as your banner to readers: eco-friendly, healthy, local and then spend 99% of the book on planes, in cars and not on the bike. As far as I could tell the bike was bookending the whole thing, but not much else. For all of the analyzing Oxenreider does, she doesn't document one minute of scrutinizing whether the money spent on travel to visit her “Compassion” child in another country would have been better off given directly to the family whose circumstances were so dire. Was it worth the pollution and gas too? Such is the position of people who love to travel: I love the earth, I’m eco-friendly, I care about where I buy my eggs, but don’t think about the gazillion gallons of gas I consume going to the Philippines or to Australia for a week. Anyway, if you can get past the issues on tone, you're half-way there. There is good stuff here to consider and talk about. Even starting the conversation is intentional, so you'd be on the right track. I'd read this book lightly and then dig in with folks you know and trust and look at changes that you want to make. It's worth the time too, if you're a Christian, to go through scripture with other Christians to consider whether they way you want to live aligns with serving others the way Jesus calls us to.

  3. 5 out of 5

    icarranna

    I would have given this book 2.5 stars if Goodreads allowed halfsies, but I couldn't quite bring myself to give it 3, even though I like Tsh Oxenreider and I have liked other things that she has written (including her two previous books). I have been a fan of her blog for a long time, and definitely appreciated that this was NOT a rehashing of her blog (I hate that about bloggers-turned-authors). Rather it was a memoir and commentary of sorts. What was unfortunate about this book was the subtitle I would have given this book 2.5 stars if Goodreads allowed halfsies, but I couldn't quite bring myself to give it 3, even though I like Tsh Oxenreider and I have liked other things that she has written (including her two previous books). I have been a fan of her blog for a long time, and definitely appreciated that this was NOT a rehashing of her blog (I hate that about bloggers-turned-authors). Rather it was a memoir and commentary of sorts. What was unfortunate about this book was the subtitle "The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World." Because the memoir part was anything BUT that. She describes living overseas and the experiences there and the contrast to American culture. Get that. But then her descriptions of their life are go-go-go as she and her husband juggle the blog as their primary source of income and three small children. It was almost TOO real, as it whisked me away from the "simple living" essence of her blog to a working mom, just like all of us. And maybe that is really their life, but then it makes her blog feel less authentic (whereas before I had ALWAYS read it as very authentic compared to others and thought that she had truly mastered the art of living simply). I was hoping to glean suggestions or insights on living intentionally, because I have always found her writing very inspiring, but instead I found myself reading a book about a woman spinning her wheels like the rest of us - except that she has the freedom and flexibility of self-employment that so many people do not have. It did remind me that as of late I have found her blog to be more "commercial" - which has happened to many blogs I read. Over the years, as they grow and become real money-makers, some of the blogs I've liked the best have lost that voice and quality which made them unique in the first place. Which is too bad, because I do like Tsh's writing. At one point, she was a person I though I'd like to sit down and have a cup of coffee with. Now after reading this, I'm not so sure.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cal

    I listened to the audio book and I could not wait for it to be over. It really does sound quite pretentious, and is coming from the perspective of someone who is trying really hard but still doesn't seem to quite "get it"... living simply isn't something you can make as a conscious choice or it will always be a struggle to maintain it. Living simply is a result of certain convictions that are independent. For example, if one becomes convicted of fighting for environment or for animal rights, one I listened to the audio book and I could not wait for it to be over. It really does sound quite pretentious, and is coming from the perspective of someone who is trying really hard but still doesn't seem to quite "get it"... living simply isn't something you can make as a conscious choice or it will always be a struggle to maintain it. Living simply is a result of certain convictions that are independent. For example, if one becomes convicted of fighting for environment or for animal rights, one becomes vegan, being vegan leads to this "slow food" philosophy naturally due to the limited availability of restaurants and processed foods. Doing ones own cooking becomes the norm. And being vegan and environmentally conscious also slashes out a lot of other behaviors she is trying to remove from her life. But you must be convicted of something in your heart, something outside of yourself, not just "I want to be happier, i want to live simply". More like "Animals deserve not to suffer for my taste" and "The earth deserves to be cared for". When you are convicted about something, something with a clear morality, changing your life is easy and it doesn't feel like an act. And it certainly does not matter what the rest of "normal people" are doing, because you are doing something which matters a good deal to you. And I know she talks in the book about having convictions about the environment and human rights, but it seems like a bit of lip service. It feels more like these "convictions" are a result of the desire to live simply, not the other way around as it should be. Like these "convictions" are fashionable accessories. Also the chapter on eggs made me want to puke, especially when she talked about mail ordering chicks (what land of milk and honey does she think mail order chicks come from? And beyond that, who thinks its a good idea to put live animals in the mail?). This sort of obliviousness and self sabotage is exactly why her approach feels fakey to me. I'm really glad it's over ugh. Also as someone else said, where was the blue bike. The title seems kind of gimmicky.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Meh. It was ok. I like the author's writing style, albeit condescending at times. It was an easy read while watching the Olympics. I enjoyed her personal stories, but they are just that - personal stories. The quick sum of goal for "living intentionally in a chaotic world" is to move away from what she deems the "chaotic world" of the USA. She speaks glowingly of living overseas - as if the main difficulties are language and making new friends. I know people who live overseas, and it is most def Meh. It was ok. I like the author's writing style, albeit condescending at times. It was an easy read while watching the Olympics. I enjoyed her personal stories, but they are just that - personal stories. The quick sum of goal for "living intentionally in a chaotic world" is to move away from what she deems the "chaotic world" of the USA. She speaks glowingly of living overseas - as if the main difficulties are language and making new friends. I know people who live overseas, and it is most definitely not full or rainbows and unicorns as the author depicts. Her advice is not "for the masses." She managed to create a blog that supports her family. That is not an easy feat, and I give her credit for that. However, it is unattainable for most families. Most families rely on employment in the 9-5 corporate world for support and can't just quit and start a home business allowing world travel. She gives four or five examples of families that did this and then jumps to the conclusion that it is possible for everyone. She demands that every family travel overseas at least once. While this is a great dream, it is really just not possible for everyone. She really just glosses over the topics she addresses such as schooling and food, spending most of her time talking about travel which is clearly her "thing." To me, she did not give much thought, for example, to schooling other than what her family had time and patience for. The homeschooling v. public schooling issue goes far beyond disagreements with her 5 year old...and it's really not good advice to homeschool one year and public the next and back and forth. One statement that was quite bothersome was that women (mothers in particular) should put their own needs above the needs of her children and family. I get that women need to set aside time to take care of themselves, but it is quite ridiculous and selfish to state that a women needs to prioritize her needs over the needs of her family. I gave the book 3 stars because I did enjoy her writing style and personal stories. I still do not understand the title because the "blue bike" was only mentioned at the beginning and in the epilogue. It is catchy, I guess, and I do have a blue bike so the title made me want to ride it more often.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    Each of the forty eight chapters in this book read a bit like a mini version of itself, if that's even possible. It's almost as though each chapter was a summary of the book's intention, albeit from a slightly different angle each time. There is a lot of repetition, and it's hard to find the thread that ties each chapter together. It seems more like the book is intended as a collection of similar essays, and less like each chapter is meant to be a sequential part of a chronological whole. "Notes Each of the forty eight chapters in this book read a bit like a mini version of itself, if that's even possible. It's almost as though each chapter was a summary of the book's intention, albeit from a slightly different angle each time. There is a lot of repetition, and it's hard to find the thread that ties each chapter together. It seems more like the book is intended as a collection of similar essays, and less like each chapter is meant to be a sequential part of a chronological whole. "Notes From a Blue Bike" begins with a "part memoir, part how-to" vibe, but the memoirs never quite get off the ground. She mentions (many times, in many chapters) the many countries she and her expat family has lived, and the various roles and jobs they've taken on -- but she speaks of these experiences in a very general, big picture way before changing the subject again. Ironically, as this is a book about living simply amidst chaos, the book often feels rushed, like she didn't have time to expound on any one situation. Because of this, the personal aspects of the book are lacking; it never delves deep enough for it to feel like an actual memoir. This is frustrating because over and over Tsh brings the reader so close to her personal life -- right to the edge where you can almost see in -- but each time she pulls the focus away from herself and, without warning, changes the voice into a more reserved, almost third-party direction (this is where the how-to aspect of the book comes in). Sadly, because of the abrupt change of voice, the how-to segments feel almost like a recital or a research paper. The topics -- and even the content -- have so much potential. Tsh is clearly a fascinating person with many unique life and travel experiences to share. I just wish some of the repetition had been edited out, and the book had taken a more chronological and personal approach.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I just finished this book and I feel motivated to think through my life and discover where and how my family can live more intentionally. This is why I read the book, after all, and that goal was accomplished. Well done, Tsh. I think it is important to note that the title of the book is the "art" of living simply, not the science. Just as Picasso is not better or worse than Monet or Michaelangelo, only different; there are also many ways a family can live intentionally and each one will look very I just finished this book and I feel motivated to think through my life and discover where and how my family can live more intentionally. This is why I read the book, after all, and that goal was accomplished. Well done, Tsh. I think it is important to note that the title of the book is the "art" of living simply, not the science. Just as Picasso is not better or worse than Monet or Michaelangelo, only different; there are also many ways a family can live intentionally and each one will look very different to the other. At times, Tsh is fantastic at making this point, other times she is not. This is where I struggled with this book. She almost lost me at the beginning on the subject of food. The tone was preachy and far from just a memoir. I have had the same issue with her podcast and her blog regarding the topic of food, however, so I know our passions just don't align in this regard. As the work section progressed, she came across more open minded about different options and lifestyles and by the time she admitted defeat in homeschooling she had me hooked. Not because I would want anyone to feel defeated, but because she was honest about how ideals and reality don't always line up. The book improves as it progresses and by the end I was enlightened, motivated, and moved to action. My only other caveat is that this is not, in my opinion, a book that preaches simplicity, but rather, suggests how to better orchestrate one's own chaos. If one is looking for a prescriptive book on living more simply, I do not believe this would be the right choice.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I got this as a 99 cent Kindle daily deal because some of my favorite bloggers recommended it and I enjoy The Art of Simple well enough. I like the idea of living with intention. My crunchy predilections aspire to slow food cooking and homeschooling and debt-free living. But I only wish I could be this earnest. I say this as a deracinated millenial, but It was the intentional deracination that rubbed me the wrong way and struck me as actually increasing chaos. I know Tsh's family discovered inte I got this as a 99 cent Kindle daily deal because some of my favorite bloggers recommended it and I enjoy The Art of Simple well enough. I like the idea of living with intention. My crunchy predilections aspire to slow food cooking and homeschooling and debt-free living. But I only wish I could be this earnest. I say this as a deracinated millenial, but It was the intentional deracination that rubbed me the wrong way and struck me as actually increasing chaos. I know Tsh's family discovered intentional living as expats but her recommendation to cultivate limitless flexibility seems to undermine her desire to live intentionally in community. I'm also glad she addressed the money question and she addressed it well. Living intentionally also means budgeting intentionally to allow her family to take these far-flung trips which gave a little more credence to the "anyone can travel" attitude of the book. Anyway, I probably had too many thoughts on this since I read most of it during middle of the night nursing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Mechinus

    I have not read her blog, The Art of Simple- but from her book I learned to simply embrace the last minute flight cancellation that has you taking a redeye flight across the country with your children so that you won't be too late to catch your cruise out of Manhattan. She also offers suggestions to simplify your family's week vacation in Paris- find an apartment on Craig's list, much "simpler" than staying in a hotel. Also save visiting the romantic sites for your next trip there alone with you I have not read her blog, The Art of Simple- but from her book I learned to simply embrace the last minute flight cancellation that has you taking a redeye flight across the country with your children so that you won't be too late to catch your cruise out of Manhattan. She also offers suggestions to simplify your family's week vacation in Paris- find an apartment on Craig's list, much "simpler" than staying in a hotel. Also save visiting the romantic sites for your next trip there alone with your husband. This book was not at all what I expected.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Beautiful, real, and inspiring I loved that Tsh was humble and real, while still inspiring to live their best life. She used her own life experiences, but didn't make me feel like I needed to have the same life experiences to have an intentional and simpler, slower, more meaningful life. Beautiful, real, and inspiring I loved that Tsh was humble and real, while still inspiring to live their best life. She used her own life experiences, but didn't make me feel like I needed to have the same life experiences to have an intentional and simpler, slower, more meaningful life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Bourie

    I did ask the seller at the farmer's market where the eggs came from. That's a start. I did ask the seller at the farmer's market where the eggs came from. That's a start.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sunflower

    Sharing her personal experiences from living in Turkey to moving back to the states, "Notes from a Blue Bike" is a personal journey of Tsh Oxenreider, in living an intentional life while living on a minimalist lifestyle that the author attempts to create in a way that does not interfere with the actual experience of life itself.i While filled with insightful look at her own personal journeys, "Notes fro a Blue Bike" and comparing the cultural differences she experienced with life in Turkey where Sharing her personal experiences from living in Turkey to moving back to the states, "Notes from a Blue Bike" is a personal journey of Tsh Oxenreider, in living an intentional life while living on a minimalist lifestyle that the author attempts to create in a way that does not interfere with the actual experience of life itself.i While filled with insightful look at her own personal journeys, "Notes fro a Blue Bike" and comparing the cultural differences she experienced with life in Turkey where the lifestyle is definitely worlds apart from that of the States, the book felt more like a personal journal than a book that the everyday woman, living in a chaotic world would be able to connect. There are some redeeming qualities throughout the book that with discernment, one can find practical applications to ones life, but at the same time, it was difficult to really find practical tips that for many, may find themselves unable to have the same resources. Some had to do with the short chapters and the jumping not just geographically, but memory wise that happens through out the book that reads almost in a forced hand that for someone who maybe more familiar with her style, would easily grab on, but for the new reader, it seemed difficult at times to actually find the books focus. The book does offer some food for thought though there is a definite vast difference in cultural experiences that for the average person may have some difficulty in understanding how to apply to a "regular" life.....The premise is good, but unfortunately this is one of the rare cases where in the attempt to share ways to be more intentionally, that for the target audience....the connection isn't there. If you're already a fan of the author and familiar with the writing, this is a good personal journal to read, but unfortunately when it comes to insights to living intentionally, although well intention, not practical for many.

  13. 5 out of 5

    JoMama

    Like so many others have said, I wanted to love this book. After reading a quote from it, I ordered it and could barely wait for it to get here. By the time I was 1/4 of the way through I was annoyed. I kept plugging on. Half way, I was super annoyed. I should have stopped there, but made a decision to finish hoping for something redeeming. I finished the book disappointed. There is an underlying elitist tone here, and I felt if I heard the word expat again, I may scream. She truly seems unhappy Like so many others have said, I wanted to love this book. After reading a quote from it, I ordered it and could barely wait for it to get here. By the time I was 1/4 of the way through I was annoyed. I kept plugging on. Half way, I was super annoyed. I should have stopped there, but made a decision to finish hoping for something redeeming. I finished the book disappointed. There is an underlying elitist tone here, and I felt if I heard the word expat again, I may scream. She truly seems unhappy with America as a whole and paints it with a broad brush. The byline is "the art of living intentionally in a chaotic world". I left with nothing to do just that. In fact, it seems that Tsh is in the same boat as most of us, as she seems to live in a chaotic world, yet trying to live intentionally, but struggling with it and in the end still not being any closer to the goal. The chapters were random, and I would be anxious to get some wisdom, and the chapter would end with so many loose ends I would feel confused. Overall, Tsh seems contradictory in her life, not being able to settle or find peace with what she wants. She talks about the joys of homeschooling, but then goes on for 4 chapters after defending putting her daughter back in school. It just seemed all over the place. She is a great writer, and her writing is visual. I did enjoy that part, but the rest was so disjointed, I felt 2 stars was generous. I think I am just so disappointed in the time I took to read it and really come away with nothing. :( The book Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, though decades old, still answers the question for me on how to live simply. I don't know why I go looking for something else.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristyn

    Another part-memoir, part-X type book. While I enjoy this genre, I'm often left feeling like the book was not enough of either. This book was no different; not enough how-to or depth, but also not enough details on the memoir side. I enjoyed this book overall, but it didn't amount to enough. The chapters were so short that it seemed she hadn't quite gotten to the revelation or the depth before another chapter began. While I liked the glimpse of her life and how her family operates, most of these Another part-memoir, part-X type book. While I enjoy this genre, I'm often left feeling like the book was not enough of either. This book was no different; not enough how-to or depth, but also not enough details on the memoir side. I enjoyed this book overall, but it didn't amount to enough. The chapters were so short that it seemed she hadn't quite gotten to the revelation or the depth before another chapter began. While I liked the glimpse of her life and how her family operates, most of these topics felt old and regurgitated. I think a big chunk of her audience is already familiar with the basics of living simply, eating whole foods, alternative education, etc., and is probably looking for more than a few tidy quotes and memoirish vignettes. Sad to say, there's nothing really new to her ideas as she presents them here. I happened upon Ms. Oxenreider's first book at the library a few years ago, and only then found her blog. I think those looking for concrete steps at organization and living simply would appreciate that book. This book is more of a relaxed, sipping-coffee-on-the-couch, low expectations kind of book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel A. Dawson

    This book was on my Amazon wish list for well over a year, and I would move it in and out of my cart, always interested in reading it but never feeling quite motivated enough to pull the trigger. The new year was the push I needed to go ahead and buy it, and from the first few pages, I knew why. I needed to read this book in this season of my life, when my plate is full and my heart feels pulled in a million different directions and everything within me is craving stillness and silence and selah This book was on my Amazon wish list for well over a year, and I would move it in and out of my cart, always interested in reading it but never feeling quite motivated enough to pull the trigger. The new year was the push I needed to go ahead and buy it, and from the first few pages, I knew why. I needed to read this book in this season of my life, when my plate is full and my heart feels pulled in a million different directions and everything within me is craving stillness and silence and selah. This book was like a drink of cool water-- refreshing and encouraging and such a sweet, necessary reminder to slow down enough to live the life I know my soul and mind and heart and body need. It's heartfelt advice woven throughout snippets and stories of Tsh's own life with her family, and it inspired me to immediately make positive life changes...so good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    MacKenzie

    I wish I could give half-stars- I would give this a three and a half. And how do you REALLY quantify stars anyhow?! I'm in a travel memoir phase and especially liked her chapters on life in Turkey. The overall ideas of the book, however, were encouraging and gave me lots of food for thought. I'm just coming off a busy season and it was nice to think about slowing life. I screen-captured lots of quotes in this book and appreciate how well-read Tsh comes across. She is cultured, by golly! Also, be I wish I could give half-stars- I would give this a three and a half. And how do you REALLY quantify stars anyhow?! I'm in a travel memoir phase and especially liked her chapters on life in Turkey. The overall ideas of the book, however, were encouraging and gave me lots of food for thought. I'm just coming off a busy season and it was nice to think about slowing life. I screen-captured lots of quotes in this book and appreciate how well-read Tsh comes across. She is cultured, by golly! Also, because I've so dutifully listened to her podcast it was fun to hear her voice playing in my head as I read! I look forward to her next book about their family's world-wide adventure!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Sometimes a book comes along and it just feels good to read starting on the first page. Tsh Oxenreider writes as though she is talking to you over tea or coffee. She explains the hows and whys she and her husband are living their life intentionally. I loved it when I thought "we do that too!". Oh, how I would have loved Tsh and other authors like her when I was a young mother. I am looking forward to her newest bookAt Home in the World. Sometimes a book comes along and it just feels good to read starting on the first page. Tsh Oxenreider writes as though she is talking to you over tea or coffee. She explains the hows and whys she and her husband are living their life intentionally. I loved it when I thought "we do that too!". Oh, how I would have loved Tsh and other authors like her when I was a young mother. I am looking forward to her newest bookAt Home in the World.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    As someone who lived overseas and moved back to Oregon, this book really connected with me. I could identify with something from every chapter, sometimes very deeply. I also found myself on the same page with many of Tsh's own values and things her family strives for in how they live their lives. This book moved me and helped me find some healing in my own emotions, with our move back home. As someone who lived overseas and moved back to Oregon, this book really connected with me. I could identify with something from every chapter, sometimes very deeply. I also found myself on the same page with many of Tsh's own values and things her family strives for in how they live their lives. This book moved me and helped me find some healing in my own emotions, with our move back home.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Troye Stadler

    If I were in the position to write a book right now, it would be a combination of this one and Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I feel so burdened by the glorification of busy that I see going on around me- especially in suburbia- and these two books speak to those issues.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Larson

    Author sounded a bit too young to have enough credibility.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leah Mortenson

    Got a little less than halfway through this book and had to abandon it. A little too "holier than thou" for me! Got a little less than halfway through this book and had to abandon it. A little too "holier than thou" for me!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amygk

    I kept thinking of the band girl in American Pie, only this author seemed to keep saying "This one time when I lived in Turkey..." I kept thinking of the band girl in American Pie, only this author seemed to keep saying "This one time when I lived in Turkey..."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Moore

    LOVED it. And I wasn't expecting to. Normally I read slowly through creative essays but I couldn't put this book down. The short chapters and beautiful writing made it an easy & delightful read! LOVED it. And I wasn't expecting to. Normally I read slowly through creative essays but I couldn't put this book down. The short chapters and beautiful writing made it an easy & delightful read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Living simply sounds wonderful. Living with intention sounds even better. Tsh compiles a lot of her great thoughts and ideas into an accessible book about living with intention and making decisions that are best for one’s family, even if they aren’t the culturally easy ones. Organizing around the topics of food, work, travel, education, and entertainment made her various ideas on the subject seem really cohesive and I found myself wanting to know more about those subjects. Overall, I liked this Living simply sounds wonderful. Living with intention sounds even better. Tsh compiles a lot of her great thoughts and ideas into an accessible book about living with intention and making decisions that are best for one’s family, even if they aren’t the culturally easy ones. Organizing around the topics of food, work, travel, education, and entertainment made her various ideas on the subject seem really cohesive and I found myself wanting to know more about those subjects. Overall, I liked this book and I have been struggling with making sure I give it a fair assessment. So below is my attempt to be balanced about it. “Notes from a Blue Bike” is the latest in a line of “blog to book” books I have read recently….I think I’ve read 6ish in this calendar year alone. Blog to Book is the new memoir. I think it is a fun genre—as it makes me feel like I’m sitting down with a girlfriend talking. Chances are this girlfriend tends to be witty, honest and wise. Tsh was no exception. At times, I thought she came across as a bit self-righteous and definitive about her ways of doing things. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she never claimed to be an expert on anything other than what works for her family. And she exudes confidence in her decision. And I think that is refreshing. In addition to the blog to book works I’ve read, I frequent the blogs of those authors as well as many other blogs and find a trend of “who can admit they are more messed up” a little bit insincere. It seems like a lot of the mommy bloggers in particular strive to come up with increasingly witty ways to showcase how they are not perfect parents. While I appreciate the honesty, this confessional and at times irreverent style of writing sometimes causes me to question the sincerity of the writer. I think some of them may be trying too hard to be imperfect. So instead of striving for perfectionism (a problem all its own), many are working really hard to be otherwise and aren’t comfortable with being themselves with is likely a little bit of both. So while my first instinct in thinking Tsh being a bit self-congratulatory was tempered when I reflected on her fellow bloggers. She seems refreshingly authentic. Tsh seems comfortable in her own skin and doesn’t wear her imperfections as a badge of honor. Rather, she knows what they are, gives herself some grace and moves on without drawing disproportional attention to them. That to me is powerful and matter of fact confidence. While I appreciated her honestly, I did find a few elements almost, missing, or non-applicable to me. When thinking of living with intention, especially the idea of a family mission statement, it seemed like a strong statement of faith was missing. I was surprised that a chapter wasn’t devoted to it. There was a slight undertone about faith throughout the book, but nothing overt which left me feeling like the book wasn’t quite finished. Furthermore, much of her thoughts on how her family lives can be applied only to an extent to me—based on who my children are. Tsh never claims to be all things to all people, but I can’t help when reading her book to think that her children are quite different from mine. But if I remember her core lesson-to figure out what works for me family—maybe I can think creatively. All told, I enjoyed this book and took away some ideas I’d like to try. Although, I’m still not sure the title fit well with the overall message of the book. She wanted to tie it in at the end, but it seemed forced and I would have liked to see the theme of the title infused throughout. But, I imagine that the next time I hop on my blue bike (a pure coincidence…but mine is a mountain bike), I’ll think of how I can live with more intention—and that I should ride to the library and check out some fiction to give my brain a break from blog to book overload!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Callie Glorioso-Mays

    Tsh Oxenreider is the founder of TheArtofSimple.net, a website inspiring people to live simply. Her latest book is Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. In this book, Tsh shares about the journey her family has taken to duplicate the slower lifestyle they enjoyed overseas as they have transitioned back to the States. The book is divided into seven sections. With an introduction and a conclusion as bookends, Tsh writes about the five areas in which they have c Tsh Oxenreider is the founder of TheArtofSimple.net, a website inspiring people to live simply. Her latest book is Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. In this book, Tsh shares about the journey her family has taken to duplicate the slower lifestyle they enjoyed overseas as they have transitioned back to the States. The book is divided into seven sections. With an introduction and a conclusion as bookends, Tsh writes about the five areas in which they have chosen to be intentional: food, work, education, travel, and entertainment. Notes from a Blue Bike is a collection of essays with tips for simple living sprinkled throughout, instead of a "how-to" book. I hadn't heard of Tsh before this book or seen her website, so this was truly my first introduction to her writing. And I loved the book! I loved the essay format and hearing how their family decided upon these intentional steps and reading how it actually worked within the family. I appreciated all the sections (really!), but, at this point in life, the work and education sections held the most meaning to me. In the work section, Tsh talks about managing a business from her home with her husband. She writes about finding time to write in the midst of being a busy mom with little ones at home. It was a message I needed to hear: that it's okay for me to take time to do something I love. She writes of slowing down and setting limits, but also of valuing your work and treating it like it is "worthy of my dedication, practice, focus, and excellence. (Because it is)." I was interested to hear how she and her husband manage the business together, but I also appreciated that she included examples of many other families with different work schedules who have made adjustments in order to find what works for them. In other words, Tsh isn't expecting that what works for her family is what will work best for mine. I also appreciated the chapter on education as Tsh shares their journey to find the right fit educationally for each child, each year. After swearing that she would never homeschool her children, Tsh spends a year homeschooling and falls in love with parts of it. But later they decide that the best decision for their family is to send their children to public school. She writes about the value of exposing your children to books and of giving them room to be creative. Other reviewers have mentioned that Tsh's life doesn't seem simple and I understand where they are coming from. Her life certainly isn't straightforward - she's lived all over, she works strange hours, and her children have had multiple schooling options within a few years. Her life is complicated. But I believe she wants to live a full life and is choosing to do so as simply as possible. If you're looking for a practical, step-by-step guide to simple living, you will probably be disappointed. Notes from a Blue Bike is balanced, which is what I like about it. The main message is to find what is important to you and then adjust your life to reflect that. Tsh doesn't write expecting that every reader will move to a farm and live off the land. She writes for ordinary people and ordinary families looking to make small changes. And I like that because I am an ordinary person with an ordinary family. **I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela Holland

    I kept seeing this book on the internet but never really looked to see what it was about, in fact I kind of kept ignoring everywhere I saw it. Well one day it caught my attention again and without knowing what it was about I decided to check it out and read it. When I got it I thought oh this sounds interesting. I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting on my husband and dove right in, it grabbed me from page one and I did not want to put it down. Now I started looking more at the cover and t I kept seeing this book on the internet but never really looked to see what it was about, in fact I kind of kept ignoring everywhere I saw it. Well one day it caught my attention again and without knowing what it was about I decided to check it out and read it. When I got it I thought oh this sounds interesting. I was sitting in the doctor's office waiting on my husband and dove right in, it grabbed me from page one and I did not want to put it down. Now I started looking more at the cover and the praise for the book and realized that Hey I follow this blog, no wonder I kept seeing so much about the book - duh. Well let me tell you the blog it theartofsimple.net and I encourage you to check it out. To me Tsh and her husband are an inspiration, I applaud them for the way they live. I really enjoyed reading about the travels the family has done and would love it if I could read even more about their time in Turkey. Tsh gives some very good examples on ways to live simply and really makes you stop and think about the things you do in your own life. She also has included some questions at the end of the book to make you think a little more. Another thing that I like about Tsh is that she admits sometimes she makes mistakes and has to change things as she goes - liking deciding where her children are schooled (home vs public vs private). I encourage everyone to pick up this book and give it a whirl as I do not think you will be disappointed. I will even tell you that this is one of the best books I have read all year. Tsh has written a couple of other books as well that I plan to check out.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Linnae

    3.5 stars: Gave me a lot to think about. Having lived overseas and travelled extensively, Tsh offers insight into how an American family can slow down and live more simply. She makes the point that our society here in America is productivity based, rather than relationship based. So we tend to place much higher value on "getting things done" than on getting to know people or caring for them. We go at race pace until we're exhausted, without stepping back to figure out what is really most important 3.5 stars: Gave me a lot to think about. Having lived overseas and travelled extensively, Tsh offers insight into how an American family can slow down and live more simply. She makes the point that our society here in America is productivity based, rather than relationship based. So we tend to place much higher value on "getting things done" than on getting to know people or caring for them. We go at race pace until we're exhausted, without stepping back to figure out what is really most important to us as individuals or families. We use up resources--our own and the world's--at an alarming rate, with hardly a look around to see how everyone else is faring. She has put a lot of thought into what is most important for her family, and how best to go about incorporating these values into everyday life. Things like making organic food from scratch, taking their young children with them on trips abroad, creating a healthy balance between work and leisure time, being open to change when it comes to how best to education each child each year, and mindfully choosing what they would be entertained by (rather than just turning on the TV afterschool every day.)  * * * * * I went into this one thinking I would agree on nearly every point. While there was a lot I took away from it, I found myself pushing back on some things, which surprised me.  If you want the full rundown, I suggest you click over to my blog! It was long. :) www.ofbooksandblooms.com

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I love days off of life so I can read! My wonderful friends and mentors Steve and Darlene offered their house to me and my kids for a few days (we swapped states this weekend) and Darlene left me a little pile of books that she thought I would like. Selected from her vast collection (which I love to peruse) just for me! I love her. This is one she chose and it sucked me in immediately. I am on the bandwagon! I want a simpler life. I want to feed my family whole food, have a farm, spend more time I love days off of life so I can read! My wonderful friends and mentors Steve and Darlene offered their house to me and my kids for a few days (we swapped states this weekend) and Darlene left me a little pile of books that she thought I would like. Selected from her vast collection (which I love to peruse) just for me! I love her. This is one she chose and it sucked me in immediately. I am on the bandwagon! I want a simpler life. I want to feed my family whole food, have a farm, spend more time together, explore more, unplug, homeschool, travel, ride my bike everywhere . . . Slow Down. BUT- Reading this book left me feeling overwhelmed and defeated by all it would take to achieve these things. This ideal life that promises simplicity seems really complicated to obtain! Maybe it's more a reflection of my own feelings about where I'm not living my ideal life, but her tone comes off as condescending - like she has it figured out and I should too. At the very least I know the discomfort I feel in reading this book is a prompting to change. A prompting to get out my own journal and write and reflect again. It's been too long. My favorite part: She referenced a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson called Do Schools Kill Creativity? I listened to it while making Kraft Mac N Cheese for my kids' lunch. (Definitely against the ideal!!) It is excellent!! - the talk, not the Kraft.

  29. 4 out of 5

    LibraryLaur

    I'm a casual, occasional reader of Oxenreider's blog, and the subtitle of this book was what really drew me, since I'm trying to live more "intentionally" this year, whatever that means. And there's the rub -- it may mean a million different things to a million different people, and I found it very hard to relate to Oxenreider's lifestyle, with all of her international travel with children and online ordering from farmers' markets. I appreciated what she was trying to do in encouraging and inspi I'm a casual, occasional reader of Oxenreider's blog, and the subtitle of this book was what really drew me, since I'm trying to live more "intentionally" this year, whatever that means. And there's the rub -- it may mean a million different things to a million different people, and I found it very hard to relate to Oxenreider's lifestyle, with all of her international travel with children and online ordering from farmers' markets. I appreciated what she was trying to do in encouraging and inspiring her readers to make choices congruent with their values, but unfortunately I felt like her tone came off as a little bit superior, and many of the choices she and her family made seem completely out of my family's financial reach. (She did address the issue of finances in an afterword, and I think if that had been addressed in the forward, I would have found her advice to be a lot more relatable.) Overall, the book did offer some food for thought and might be a worthwhile read for others. *Thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced e-copy for review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Brown

    I'm so disappointed in this book. I love Tsh Oxenreider - At Home in the World has been one of my favorite new releases of 2017 and I am an avid listener of her podcast - but this book was so difficult to get through. While there were a few nuggets of knowledge, I found Tsh to sound extraordinarily condescending and ungrateful. In spite of her travels, she seems to maintain a holier-than-thou persona in this book (two specific parts that irked me, of many: her negative reference to a night eatin I'm so disappointed in this book. I love Tsh Oxenreider - At Home in the World has been one of my favorite new releases of 2017 and I am an avid listener of her podcast - but this book was so difficult to get through. While there were a few nuggets of knowledge, I found Tsh to sound extraordinarily condescending and ungrateful. In spite of her travels, she seems to maintain a holier-than-thou persona in this book (two specific parts that irked me, of many: her negative reference to a night eating pizza and watching Friends - hello, delicious evening, and who are you to judge? - and her declaration that leaving one's home country is nonnegotiable. While I agree that international travel is life-changing, the air of condescension when she wrote this sentence was so palpable and irritating). Anyway, I certainly do not recommend this book. I had her first book on my list but I probably won't read that now. Maybe something shifted in her 'round the world trip, causing At Home in the World to be an infinitely better book.

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