7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 128)

May 27, 2011 | 80 comments

— 1 —

Can anyone recommend a good book light? This is a more important question than it might seem at first glance, since book light issues have started to take over my evenings. I have this little ritual where I turn on my main book light, act surprised when it goes out, get up and curse at the cord while digging around behind my bedside table to try to fix it, give up and resort to my backup light, and spend my reading time grumbling about how the hue of this one hurts my eyes. I think my husband is probably ready for me to find a book light that I’m really happy with.

My main one is an Itty Bitty Book Light that plugs into the wall. I really love the quality of light: It’s bright and has the homey color of a living room lamp. The problem is that I often have issues with the power going out. My backup one is a battery-powered Mighty Bright. It has great brightness and is much more portable than my plugin one; the only downside is that it has that harsh hue of fluorescent lights.

Anyone know of a better book light than these two?

— 2 —

I keep wanting to participate in Ann Voskamp‘s lovely 1, 000 Gifts meme that she hosts on Twitter, but I think I should wait until I get some new reading material. I’ve been into adventure/survival books like Skeletons in the Zahara and Over the Edge of the World lately, which has impacted what I feel grateful for. I thought it might be startling to the online gratitude community if I started posting updates like:

Thankful that I’m not drinking camel urine. #1000gifts

Feeling blessed not to be enslaved by a violent nomadic desert tribe. #1000gifts

Joyful that my snack today was not a raw skinned rat. #1000gifts

Umm, yeah. I’m going to read a biography of John Adams next. Maybe I should wait until I’m on to that one.

— 3 —

I have found yet another awesome use for Evernote: Capturing family stories. I’ve created an Evernote notebook called Family Stories, and when the kids do something cute or funny, I create a new note and write it down. (If I don’t happen to have the program open, I can email it to my Evernote account and have it automatically added). Using the tags feature, I tag it with the name of every kid involved in the story (this is where it gets cool).

So now if I want to create, say, a little “Our Stories from 2011” family booklet, all I have to do is open the notebook and sort by date. Or, let’s say one day I want to create a special booklet for each child containing only stories that involve him or her: I just open the notebook, click on the tag with that child’s name, and — voila! — I see only the notes for that child. It’s astounding to me that such a useful program could be free.

Related: Michael Hyatt just put up a great “getting started with Evernote” post.

— 4 —

In a flash of parenting genius, I went ahead and told my kids about the most fun game in the world: Mop Skating! Yes, you know the classic game that ALL children LOVE to play (cough-cough), where you take two damp rags with a little soap on them, put them under your feet, and “skate” around the kitchen floor. I came up with this idea the other day when a moment of epic exhaustion coincided with the realization that my kitchen floor was starting to look like a truck stop bathroom. The kids slid around the floor on their rags for about 30 minutes while I put my feet up and watched. By the time they were tired of it, the floor was spotless!

— 5 —

What is P90X, and why is everyone I know doing it? My friends keep getting all thin and buff and raving about this program, but so far all I can tell is that it’s a workout DVD. With as much as everyone freaks out about it and as effective as it seems to be, I guess I thought there was some secret component to it, like the package comes with a bubbling super-potion that gives you the metabolism of a hummingbird or something.

If it’s just another exercise program, I think I might start a competing program called J90X. Here’s the business model: You give me $100, and I send you a sheet of paper telling you to work out really hard for an hour and a half every day. Pretty compelling, right? If it would be a deal killer without a DVD, I guess I could create one. I’d walk into a fancy studio filled with state-of-the-art equipment, get some high-energy music pumping, and then sit down and have a glass of wine while I point to various pieces of workout equipment and tell you to go use them. Stay tuned for the opportunity to pre-order this exciting new program!

— 6 —

Important public service announcement: You can have a right-click mouse with a Mac. I’m still getting emails about that from my post from last Friday, so I wanted to publicly acknowledge my awareness of this fact. Also, if you have a blog and want to get a lot of traffic, comments and emails in response to a post, bring up either Mac computers or Trucknutz.

— 7 —

The weather is so crazy this year! So many cities are getting pummeled by severe weather, while we in central Texas are stuck in a drought — we’ve only received five inches of rainfall total in 2011. It’s better than severe weather (we once had 20 tornadoes hit this area in one day), but we could really use some precipitation. For everyone’s sake, I’m hoping the weather across the U.S. returns to normal soon.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a joyful and safe weekend!


Below is a linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.


  1. Molly

    I’m with you on the hopes for the weather, not just for safety, but because it’s getting in the way of my normal life!

  2. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    The mop skating is excellent! And I’m sure you’ll enjoy the John Adams biography. His impression of his smallpox innoculation is fascinating! [/disease nerd]

  3. nancy

    Thanks to you, I’ve gotten hooked on Evernote, and have dragged my husband into the pool also. Your ideal of family stories is brilliant! Much better than writing on little pieces of paper and scattering them everywhere, which may or may not have been my system.

    This week I’m back in the 7 Quick Takes swing of things, with images of the Resurrection of Christ. Luckily the Easter season is good and long!

  4. Erin

    No 3 is brilliant!!!
    Off to create a new page, already have a couple of funny stories from this week.

    Love no 4 too, brilliant! just read to my teen boys, reminds them of Pippi Longstocking.

  5. Katy

    Definitely agree about the weather. I am very grateful that my area has not been struck with severe weather but it has not been above 50 here for more than a handful of days. I want spring!

  6. Claire

    Hooray for mop skating!

    And apparently we’re taking all the rain up here in Seattle. We’ve had the rainiest spring in decades, I think (and it rains a lot here anyway, so that’s saying something). Every day that I wake up to more gray skies and rain I have to remind myself, it could be worse. At least we aren’t going to run out of water… But I also hope for a return to more normal weather and have been keeping the people hit by tornados and floods in my prayers.

  7. Christina

    I recently began reading Ann Voskamp’s book, and I think I might partake in her 1,000 Gifts endeavor, as well. It’s been a while since I’ve read a faith-based book that is so… emotional and convicting. Love it!

    I’ll bet your kids won’t mind trying mop skating if you have them watch Pippi Longstocking beforehand! If you’ve never seen it, here’s a clip of the kids during Scrubbing Day. 😉 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7BXkNt_eLA

  8. Charlotte

    I loved the John Adams biography, but I’m afraid you’ll end up writing “grateful I’m not receiving an 18th century smallpox inoculation” or “grateful I’m not trying to convince the Dutch to lend my government a fortune while suffering from malaria.”

    I will be introducing my kids to mop skating in the very near future.

  9. Leila

    Evernote? Whoa! I needed that! I have scraps of paper all over the place! Thank you again for changing my life. 🙂

  10. Amy F

    I love Evernote, though I usually just use it for recipes.

  11. Kendra

    We’re having a rain apocalypse here, so I get what you mean with the weather. All of the crazy tornadoes have really hit us here too….so strange!

  12. Sarah Valente

    Ahahahaha! That’s all I’ve got, but this post really made me smile:)

  13. Ciska @ This Journey of my Life

    As kids, my mother told us to mop skate too, usually during the summer holidays. I remember it to be a lot of fun, especially when it’s too hot to play outside. It was ideal to cool off and still be very active.

  14. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin

    Wait, what? You have previously mentioned using Linux Mint on your desktop, and loving it. There’s even a new release — Linux Mint 11 “Katya,” with all sorts of improvements, to try. And for some strange reason, you feel compelled to spend money on a Mac lappy when you could just revitalize the one you have with a new OS that you’re already familiar with and enjoy using.

    Seriously. Download the latest iso, boot your lappy from it, and see if it works. Total cost < $40, IF you have to buy a thumb drive to boot from, instead of being able to boot from an optical disk.

  15. Elisa | blissfulE

    I don’t know if it will work for regular books, but you might want to look at the Verso Arc Light. I don’t have one, but I have been researching them for my Sony reader and currently this is top of my list. It’s rechargeable via USB. Lightwedge has some other options, too.

  16. GeekLady

    I was going to say something about that right click last week, but decided the rest of the Internet had it covered.

    …sorry I can’t think of anything more intelligent to say, it’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m sleepy.

  17. Robin

    I got a Lightwedge for my mom a couple of years ago, and it was one of the few presents I’ve gotten her that was in the “win” column. I got it from Timberdoodle, because I love their catalog.

  18. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    I love the idea of mop skating, I think I will be trying that with my 3 and 6 year old today!

  19. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    Mop skating, as I look at my kitchen floor I think I will try this sport today with my 3 and 6 year old!

  20. suburbancorrespondent

    I have bought more booklights than anyone else on Earth, and none of them work right! Even if the lighting is right, it is still a pain trying to keep them positioned so that the light shines on the page and the lamp doesn’t slide around. The littler ones with the watch-size batteries go dead quickly; and when I tried replacing the battery, it didn’t work. I thought I had the lighting issue solved by reading books on my IPod Touch; but the glare from the backlit screen bothers my eyes and keeps me from getting sleepy. I am back to reading (and falling asleep) with the bedroom lamp on, while my long-suffering husband is forced to snooze with the covers pulled up over his head.

    This is obviously a subject near and dear to my heart.

    • Christina

      Yeah, we could start a support group! I finally gave up on book lights and just stick with a small flashlight. Seriously, the last quality book light I had came in my Goosebumps fan club kit, way back in fifth grade. It was just a standard clips-to-back-of-book-with-a-crane-neck book light. That sucker lasted me for years!

  21. Allie

    I love Evernote, but I suspect it’s something I’ll never fully be able to appreciate until I have some mobile computing device…

  22. Michelle

    I love #3….I have got to get on Evernote…I’ve looked at it when you’ve linked to it, but haven’t had time to do much with it…yet.

    P90X…I love your idea of J90X! That’s so funny! P90X only seems to work if you can turn your house into a gym!! LOL

    Funny note about mentioning Mac in your posts. We love our Mac and all our Mac stuff….you are so funny.

    Have a great day.

  23. Wendy

    Booklight=Nook light. the Barns and Noble light is wonderfully bright, it is LED light, watch battery. Hubby has had it since Sept ’10 with no battery change yet. It has a long flex neck to get over those large tomes, bright light circle that covers the whole page, and is very lightweight. Strong enough clamp to hold to big books and light enough for those sprightly little paperbacks.

    Loved mop skating as a kid!!!!

    Am looking into evernote!

    Already doing the 1000. It is easy and painless. Started with a composition book and have moved on to something a little more pretty. It is good to start as just when I think I am being whinny something else happens that makes me sound very ungrateful.

  24. Laura

    Thanks for hosting, Jen. Yes, our weather in the upper Midwest is crazy. We keep alternating between our heat and our air conditioning! 53 yesterday, 90 predicted on Monday, but thankfully no tornadoes thus far. God Bless.

  25. Natalie

    Love the mop skating idea – my house is going to be so clean next week when I let the kids try it!

  26. Louise

    J90X! That really made me chortle! I love your sense of humor!
    I am captivated by your mop skating idea. My little one is just about to start walking, so we’re not quite ready for it, but I’ve filed it away for later.
    I hope you get some rain!

  27. Love2learn Mom

    I LOVE my Lightwedge. It’s a book-sized sheet of glass (you can get a paperback size or a hardback size – I have a larger one) which is illuminated by a light from one side. Because the glass sort of magnifies the light, it takes very little in the way of batteries. I’ve had mine for two years and only had to change the batteries twice. AND it takes AAA batteries, which are inexpensive and easy to find. Also, it lights up the page well, but doesn’t light up the whole room, and so my husband isn’t bothered by it when he’s trying to sleep.

    I got mine at Barnes and Noble, but they’re available all over. Good luck!

  28. Kathleen@so much to say

    I asked in my post today what to do with kids over the summer. I think #4 just gave me a really good idea! LOL

  29. Lori

    You are a genius. I am in awe of the mop game and exercise program! Also love that you are saving what your kids say. Great idea! Have a great weekend!

  30. Maria

    linked earlier … now back to comment.

    i have decided a couple years ago that exercise dvd’s are not for me. i’d rather go for a walk, or a hike, or a long bike ride. then, i lift weights on my own.

    and you’re not going to believe this … but my book light is a christmas window light (you know, the ones that look like candles) which i leave plugged in on my dresser. it creates a nice, soft glow which doesn’t disturb my husband. of course, if the power goes out …

    have a blessed weekend!

  31. Lorelei

    Hahaha P90X! It’s a great workout series IF you have 60-90 to 120 minutes extra a day to devote to working out AND you can avoid throwing a brick at the tv- the host is obnoxious! I’m pretty sure it’s meant for people with no kids and no life! I’ve heard good things about a workout series called “Mama wants her body back”. It has 20-30 minute workouts, a block of time I can manage!

  32. Rochelle

    LOL @ J90X that’s really funny!!! Forget P90X though … you haven’t worked out unless you’ve done Insanity. Plus Tony will only get on your nerves. 😀

  33. Sarah at SmallWorld

    Oh, totally excited about Evernote! I am going to check that out right away. Wish I’d known about it all along!

  34. Erika Evans

    1. Thank you again for the inital Evernote shoutout. It has changed my life!

    2. I’m also in Texas, down in Corpus Christi. We caught the edge of the same thunderstorm that soaked San Antonio last week, so the local cotton & sorghum fields got a good 2 inches of rain, but other than that we’ve had not a drop for months. Praying for rain, preferably for rain that was headed to places that can’t take any more!

  35. Jenna

    Mop Skating? You are a regular Huck Finn. I love it!


  36. -dweej HouseUnseen

    I am preordering my J90X RIGHT NOW! You didn’t know it was on Amazon already. Well…SURPRISE!

  37. Amber

    Yeah, I prefer eating cookies to P90X. Perhaps I could join your new business venture??

  38. Emily

    I do not like the weather lately. Also, P90x I have heard is awesome and actually works… a couple of my friends have tried it. Mop skating sounds like fun! I might have to try it out sometime since I’m actually living where there is floors to be cleaned 😀

  39. Colleen @ inadequate disciple

    On the book light, I am happy for you that you are actually still reading in bed given you are in 3rd trimester and many women are lucky to get their day clothes off before cashing in their chips for the day. Hope that means you are getting a nap sometime during the day.

  40. Kris, in New England

    My brother and his family live in Joplin, MO. Thankfully they are safe. The devastation starts just 3 miles from their home. I also have friends in Alabama and Oklahoma – all safe thank goodness. Still, the stuff going on in the midwest is biblical for those poor people. Even here in New England it’s been beyond strange. Two solid weeks of rain with temps barely reaching 60. Now, today – 90. Go figure.

  41. Mama Bean

    Mop skating reminded me of when I worked at SBUX – after mopping we would put a microfiber cloth under each foot and skate around to dry the floor. It was the funnest part of closing the store at the end of the day. Thanks for the trip down memory lane – I’ll have to try it with my kiddles

  42. Angie

    I’d be happy to give you some of our rain as the constant gloom is bumming me out.

  43. Steph

    Ok so I’ve now heard about this evernote thing from you about 50 gazillion times, I think I will actually read that post about getting started. Because it seems I’m missing out on something epic.

    J90x is genius. Go for it!

  44. Jeanne G.

    Mop-skating… I’ll have to remember that for when I have kids.
    I wish I had thought of J90X. It makes so much sense. LOL

  45. Christy

    P90X is a workout system and one of my coworkers does it. She looks amazing, but…it’s not for me, lol. I’d rather not eat than do an exercise video, haha. But it does get all sorts of crazy results, that’s for sure.

  46. Kara

    LOL on your Mac/right clicking post. People are very gung ho about their Macs. Myself included. But I still haven’t gotten used to the different way to click. *shrug* I do love it though.

    I am totally going to have to try the mop skating thing. That’s awesome!

  47. Hungry Soul

    Thanks for the Evenote tip — will definitely check that out!

  48. Ashley

    I don’t really get what the appeal of P90X is, to me it’s just common sense. I guess people just like being told what to do. Plus, I find the guy to be annoying. Some people love him, but I guess I’m not one of them. But to answer your question…it’s a series of dvds with 12 exercises that you can do at home with a pull-up bar, resistance bands, and dumbbells. It comes with a nutrition plan and workout schedule.

  49. Susan Cook

    I second the vote for the Barnes and Noble bendy booklights. My daughters got them from Father Christmas this year, and love them – good strong light for something so small, and very handy for travelling.

  50. Amy B

    If it’s not the P90X, then its the 30 Day Shred. Which I have tried, and only made it to about day 13. *wop wop*

  51. Kimberlie

    We shelled out the bucks for P90X because my brother is a real fan. Yes, well my husband and I are quite, um, portly. We did one video, decided we weren’t in shape enough to start it, and it’s sat in the box ever since. We’ve been doing Biggest Loser workouts since the people look a little more like us. However, at some point we plan to use it though I can not ever imagine myself doing pull-ups on that crazy chin-up bar we bought.

  52. Angela

    My brother has done P90X and is now in the best shape of his life! He looks great and it is both exercise as well as diet change.

  53. Sandy C.

    Thinking of mop skating, I went one step further in my mind. A few years ago I spent lots of time on couponing forums where women bragged about the hundreds of household items and groceries they’d purchased for pennies thanks to coupons and rebates. One fun topic was alternate uses for things in abundance. Someone suggested mop skating with sanitary napkins! I couldn’t help but imagine your children skating around the kitchen with those on their feet.

  54. Katie @ Wellness Mama

    Love the mop idea! Never been a fan of PX90 myself…. for one, I don’t have 90 minutes (with almost four kids… yeah righ!) and at least in my experience, the same can be accomplished in much less time with Tabata sprints and kettlebells… I’d definitely buy a workout DVD from you though 🙂

    We got hit with some of the severe weather… just got power back, and now we have to chop up half of our tress that fell in the backyard. Praise God though, no one was hurt and the house was spared! The weather hit at about 11 pm with branches coming down everywhere and the power out… my “braxton hicks” contractions started getting a lot closer together (I’m only 35 weeks!) but thankfully slowed back down!

    Have a great weekend!

  55. Emily D.

    Which John Adams bio? THE John Adams one, the David McCullough? I read that one summer, too. It was so good. Watch the HBO series when you’re done!

  56. Rachael

    We are most definitely going to have to take up mop skating. My kitchen floor doesn’t even know what a mop is! 🙂

  57. Sally Thomas

    Yeah, that right-click thing . . . was all I had to say, too.

    I need a good book light, too. My current one gives me eyestrain, even as I sleep.

  58. Sally Thomas

    And man, do we need some mop-skating around here. Not to mention some vacuum-cleaner waltzing.

    Speaking of which, in answer to the question on everyone’s mind: no, a ShopVac to clean a kid’s room is not overkill.

  59. JoAnna

    I need to try that “skating game” with my kids!

  60. whimsy

    Overheard, while the kids were mopping our kitchen floor:

    “Let’s pretend we’ve been kidnapped by an evil pirate and made his slaves!”


  61. Rebecca @ The Road Home

    Love the Mop Skating! Wonder if I can convince my dogs to do it? ha!

  62. Liesl

    Now that you have discovered that the right click does exist on a mac, I have three words for you.


    Really. I used to be you – PC all the way, lovin’ that right click, etc. And then I made the switch and I will never go back. I looooove my mac!

  63. juliet

    Lightwedge rocks.

  64. Julie

    OH my gosh – #5 almost made me wet my pants laughing.

    Sit in the corner with your wine, and point to the equipment we should use. LOVE IT!! I forwarded this to everyone I know!

    So THAT’S the secret!!! Who knew?? I’d rather sit in the corner with the wine, but I’m not the business genius that you are!!

    Blessings! xo J

  65. Gloria

    Book light — I’ve been using these: http://www.fostergrant.com/FG_LightSpecs.htm. I recently *slightly* need reading glasses, and these are amazing to enable you to read in a totally dark room! Very comfortable, too. They might have a very weak pair if you don’t need reading glasses!

  66. Roxy

    Long time, first time.

    Apparently that’s radio talk for “long time listener, first time caller,” or so my husband says.

    Except I guess for me it would be long time reader, first time linker.

  67. Greg

    My wife and I have both concluded that the headlamps used by bikers and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts make for the best book lamps. It keeps you hands free, you don’t have to constantly worry about getting a book light to stay on a page, or to not impede efficient page turning. Yes, we both look a bit like nerds lying in bed together with our headlamps. It does, however, give as a good laugh as we move to our evening prayers.

    A sample of the types of headlights that can be used as great book lights can be found on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Energizer-Finder-Headlamp-Batteries-Included/dp/B002MFK7H2/ref=pd_sxp_grid_pt_1_2/183-4430416-8773611.

  68. Cottage By The Sea

    I use a spelunking light to read in bed at night. It doesn’t bother my husband, is continuously bright, and the light shines exactly at whatever I’m looking at.

  69. Ruth

    I’m going to have to look into evernote, although I thought it was for smart phones? I’m totally in the dark ages, phone wise.

    I like the idea of mop-skating, although they actually make slippers that work as dust-mops!


    maybe something to get your kids for Christmas, so that they can help you out in the kitchen when you need to sweep, too?

  70. abby

    Thank you so much for your writing! I’ve just recently discovered your blog and have recommended it to friends. I love the Evernote tip, and I referenced your post to tease my P90Xing husband a little. I love the booklight I use…it’s a miniHUGlight http://www.mylight.com/minihuglight-p-220.html?zenid=a69baf46b91706736123dcb1ac73d04a. The best part is that it doesn’t need to attach to the book or my head, and my daughters love to use it as a desklamp/flashlight/nightlight on trips. Hope it helps!

  71. Jenny E.

    My teen daughters and I love the Lightwedge book light. It uses AA batteries (small one uses AAA) and they last forever! We’ve had them for several years now and they are still working great. I’d recommend sticking with the original size as the paperback one is too small for a lot of books.

    Also, it looks like the company now offers a rechargeable lightwedge and various lights to use with e-readers. We’ve been very happy with ours so I would bet their e-reader lights and clip-ons are good as well.



  72. Mandi

    Are you reading John Adams by McCullough? It’s great (though really long!). I bawled my eyes out in the end when John and Abigail died (well, of course he died or else he’d be about 300 right now – it’s the pregnancy hormones that did it for me). Enjoy!

  73. Amanda

    There were 8 of us kids growing up, so I know all about the mop skating…although it was usually an afterthought on our part of being told to scrub the floor…not a game my mom invented to make cleaning fun. For that, we played, “The Clean-Up Game”- where she would write down every single thing she could think of like “dust living room lamps and tables” and “vacuum dining room”, cut them out one by one, and throw them in a bucket for each of us to choose our fate. When we were done w/ our task, we would come back for another until the bucket was empty. WOO-Hoo!

    P90x is brutal. Of course it works! If I had the motivation to pick up my weights for an hour and a half each day and do lunges squats and sit ups, I’d be buff, too. The program gave my dad a hernea. He looked good, though, which is what counts.

  74. Douglas

    Here’s an article on P90X

    It’s basically a home exercise DVD. If you stick to their program, it really works. The guy in the videos is a pretty good motivational speaker (at least for guys wanting to get ripped). It is way cheaper than going to the gymn, and the results are just as good. To do everything, you need a pull-up bar in the home and a couple dumb-bells. Those can be purchased pretty inexpensively as well. I thought it was a pretty balanced program for a home exercise video, though I prefer running myself.

  75. Beth Stevenson

    Love the Mop Skating! Mop skating reminded me of when I worked at SBUX – after mopping we would put a microfiber cloth under each foot and skate around to dry the floor. Enjoy!

  76. Lynne Howard

    Started with a composition book and have moved on to something a little more pretty. I bawled my eyes out in the end when John and Abigail died (well, of course he died or else he’d be about 300 right now – it’s the pregnancy hormones that did it for me).

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