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BBC: ‘Educated’.

Friday is here! I’m back in Austin after my Bucket List trip to Denver – don’t worry, I’ve got a post coming soon of everything I did, travel tips, and what to pack, on the way! I went to Gaby Dalkin’s Cookbook signing last night, and today’s Friday, so I feel like I’m still high on life, and I’m not mad about it!

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club strays a little bit from the usual, so let’s get into it! It’s “Educated” by Tara Westover. Here is the official description from Amazon.com: Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

…Intense, right? One thing this book doesn’t mention is the influence of religion, and Tara’s family was mormon. She states right in the beginning of the book that it’s not to be taken an opinion on the Mormon faith, but you’ll probably develop one as you read it.

I can stand in this wind, because I’m not trying to stand in it. The wind is just wind. You could withstand these gusts on the ground, so you can withstand them in the air. There is no difference. Except the difference you make in your head.

Even after marinating on this book for a few days, I am still in awe of how successful Tara became all on her own – not having had any sort of formal education and then kicking ass in the Ivy Leagues? Wow.

I know I have talked a little bit on here about modern medicine – and about the confusion and struggles my family had when we found out that my dad wasn’t receiving medical care of any kind before he had surgery. So, parts of this book hit home – the sheer fact of simply ignoring major signs and symptoms of illness, and just using energy and essential oils to cure anything. It’s… a different thought process, that’s for sure (and I’m not saying it’s a bad one).

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’m recommending it to anyone who loves memoirs/true stories, and/or if you love reading about alternative living and religious cultures.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep saying it: follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see more in-depth chats and thoughts on books from the book club – I’ve been known to provide real-time thoughts and reveal my book stacks #BookNerd

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure” by Amy Kaufman.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week for a Denver trip recap!

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Survival Guide: Meeting the parents.

Dont "Fock" it up!

Dont “Fock” it up!

It’s been a really long time since I’ve met someone’s parents, but it’s always something I’ve considered myself good at. Why? Mainly because I’m an only-child (I’m not spoiled, swear) and growing up, I spent more time talking to adults than kids my own age. Plus, I love hearing stories — and parents are full of them.

The last time I met “the parents” was actually around this time of year — two years ago. It was Easter Sunday, and my then-boyfriend and I met his mom and dad at church. Of course, I was nervous, but more about going to church than actually meeting his parents. Nonetheless, it went well and his parents actually ended up meeting my mom a month later.

But enough about him… and them. I really got to thinking about “meeting the parents” last week as I watched The Bachelor (don’t judge). It was the “hometown dates” episode where the bachelor visits the four remaining girls in their hometowns and meets their families.

What’s always annoyed me about this part of the show (among other things), is that a majority of the families aren’t divorced — which is impressively awesome — but it seems unreal. Secondly, their homes are usually massive and gorgeous…anyone else wondering if it’s staged?

If I were on the show, there’d be no point in visiting my hometown because no one in my family even lives there — and my parents are divorced, and in fact live hours apart from each other.

The fact is, that is the person you’re dating is at all close to their family, then you’re eventually going to meet them. For me, I am close to my mom and it is important for her to meet someone I’m seeing. But we live 15 hours away from each other. So in our case, meeting the parents is a little less traditional.

So, when it comes down to it, how do you survive meeting the parents? I’ve got you covered:

  1. Get the details. Where are you meeting them? What are they like? What do they know about you?
  2. Dress appropriately. A lot of this will depend on where you’re meeting them. But in any case, wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Per usual, vote for dressing up rather than dressing down.
  3. Bring it. If it seems appropriate, bring something — perhaps a bottle of wine (if they drink), baked goods (try these white chocolate macadamia cookies), or even flowers.
  4. Turn on the charm. Don’t go overboard, after all, you want them to like you for YOU. But present the best version of yourself there is. Make a good impression!
  5. Seal the deal. Don’t forget to tell them “thank you” and that it was nice meeting them. Hopefully it won’t be the last time you get in with the family!

What are your tips and experiences meeting the parents? Share them in the comments. And hey, I just joined Instagram, so follow me @OrangeJulius7