What are some fictional books that feature realistic and healthy couples?

By on Sep 19th
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Thanks to danielle for uploading this photo to our Offbeat Home Flickr pool

What are some fictional books to read about happy marriages? Stories that are fun and good to read, and also feature realistic and healthy couples.

The only one i can think of is The Time Traveler's Wife, which is slightly weird in the beginning.

-Artemis

We've talked about reading non-fiction books about marriage, and we've talked about reading non-religious books about marriage, so now let's talk about reading fiction books about marriage!

Here are some suggestions before I open it up to the Homies…

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How my armpits inspired me to make conscious choices

Guestpost by Roxie Hunt on Sep 18th

pitsperation

I haven't shaved or waxed my armpits in five years. And, until recently, I hadn't given it all that much conscious thought, beyond the dull general awareness that I feel about my pit hair when I'm in certain settings.

Today I'm going to talk about armpit hair, and plunge into the realm of conscious choices.

Make conscious choices

I initially stopped shaving because I was going through a break-up. I was bouncing back from a momentary "losing my faith" moment, that quickly resulted in a strong reaffirmation of my faith in life, and love, and all of that.

During this reaffirmation time, I came to understand that I would be fine on my own. Better than fine. I would be great. But, in the process of establishing a new identity as a 25-year-old single woman and mother, some old habits that no longer served had to be replaced with better ones.

I started reading again and listening to music that I liked. I learned how to cook for real. And bake. And garden. I saved up my money and got breast reduction surgery. I bought a Volkswagon van with my tax return, painted pin-stripes on it, and dreamed of taking to the open road with my daughter.

I started noticing my choices, large and small. Turns out, a young woman's life is filled with choices. All day long we're excercising our choice muscles. Am I going to get out of bed right now? I can probably stay here another minute or so. Am I going to wear shoes or my usual sandals? What about breakfast? Should I wash this sink full of dishes now, or maybe just wait til they wash themselves later? Should I check Instagram? Again? Really? Should I let my daughter dress herself in paper bags with holes in them because she REALLY REALLY wants to?

I started to take the time to make more conscious choices. I tried not to make choices based on habit or common opinion or What I Think My Mother Would Do or what would Madonna Would Have Done In Her Like a Prayer Days. And it took mental monkey wrangling.

I had to think quick to stay on top of it. I had to meditate and get exercise to help tame the mental monkey. I felt sharper and I felt better. I learned how to take deep breaths. I started listening to my intuition and trusting my gut. And I was amazed to notice how many choices I had been making ignoring my gut and avoiding the choices that were mine to make.

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Road tripping through South America with a newborn

By on Sep 18th
38 (10)

Entre Lagos sunset

Travelers: Simone, Arvind, and our kid
Type: Road tripping in South America
Budget: Spendy ($5000-$10,000)

Where did you go? Having a four-month maternity leave sounded great, but staying at home all that time was wearing me down. I am a serious travel bug/wanderlust case and by the time our child turned one month old, I was starting to get restless. So when my husband decided to quit his job a month later I told him: "If you are quitting, we are traveling!"

Five days after his last work day we were on a plane to Chile, planning on road tripping for the next 40 days through that country and Argentina. Why there? Basically the countries have reasonable infrastructure and the landscape is amazing, so why not?

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Making refrigerator jam at home the easy way

Guestpost by Whitney on Sep 17th

pear and apple refrigerator jam

Jam is an integral part of many breakfast and lunch routines in Norway. I enjoy jam as much as the next person and find a deep sense of accomplishment in making my own from time to time. Most jam recipes call for lengthy canning routines and commercially-produced pectin. But I've developed an easier and simpler recipe for making jam.

My method combines apples, herbs, or other flavor-enhancing goodies, with the fruit of my choice, and 20-30 minutes of patience.

For this recipe, I've combined pears, apples and vanilla with a touch of honey for even more flavor…

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WTF is renters insurance really, and do I need it?

By on Sep 17th
I live in an apartment, but it doesn't explicitly require renters insurance. I've been renting my own places for four years now, and have gone without it. It seemed like a good thing to have, but not something to prioritize as a working (sometimes struggling) artist.

That said, I have a more stable income these days, and an apartment full of camera gear, and my partner's extensive video game collection. We live in a neighborhood that's been making headlines lately for a rash of daytime robberies, so it's been on my mind a lot lately.

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Growing up and letting go of obsolete relationship dynamics

Guestpost by Pemcat on Sep 16th

Just like you should reassess the division of labor in your house, so too should you reassess the dynamics of your relationships.

Although we are actually very similar, growing up I tended to define my sister and myself by our differences…

My sister is amazing with people, confident and outgoing and extraordinarily empathetic. She was always surrounded by a group of friends in every situation. She could start up a conversation with a stranger on the bus and be their best friend by the next stop. It was a strength that someone who was very awkward with her peers, and just a little shy, couldn't help but admire.

And me? Well, I was the best at logistics. I always had two sets of lunch money in case my sister forgot hers (which was often useful), and contingency plans for every situation. I could usually negotiate compromises between the members of my family when people wanted different outcomes that left everyone feeling their goals had been met. I think I'm right in saying that over the years it was a skill that has been greatly appreciated.

People looked to me to make decisions, and I acted in the best interests of the group. I felt appreciated and loved. Leading the family team was my thing. It was the thing that made it okay that I wasn't the best socially and didn't fit in at school.

As we grew up and left home, the relationship dynamic stayed the same. Whenever we were together, I was still in charge, the quiet but confident director of the group.

Then, last year, we had a family crisis. We all travelled back to where my parents live, and because of where I was coming from, I was one of the last to arrive. I got there expecting disorganized chaos, but that wasn't what I found.

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How do you support small businesses when your budget is even smaller?

By on Sep 15th
I have a bit of a conundrum. I work at a small museum, in a tiny historic town, surrounded by privately owned small businesses. This is a dream come true for me; I enjoy using my lunch break to pop in to shops and say hello to the owners who are becoming friends and I truly believe in helping my small, local businesses as much as I can.

The kicker is, I also have a small budget.

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