Friday, May 29, 2015

Some Finished Quilts

Just because these pics are sitting in a folder waiting for me to do...something...with them, here you go.  My latest three quilts.

Up first is the teeny tiny quilt I made to donate.  It wasn't supposed to be teeny tiny. But you know how it goes.  Math.  Ugh.

I got found some of this Beach Retreat fabric at but they don't have it anymore and besides that, I'm boycotting them anyway.  They have OUT OF NOWHERE started charging MORE for half yards. Like, if a yard is ten bucks, it used to be a half yard was five bucks.  Makes sense, right? Now it's all random and expensive, like 7.99 or some bullshit like that.  GIVE ME A BREAK, ASSHOLES.

Anyway, I washed and dried it and then tore it up into ten inch squares. Oh, I got a few yards of kona white too. Then I starched the hell out of it with this.  I use half starch, half water, then just pour it in a tupperware and shove all the squares in there and let them get completely saturated, then pull them out and iron them.  You're supposed to 'press' them, but I hate doing that so I just iron. Then I use this tutorial to make my half square triangles.

So basically, I do the exact opposite of what proper quilters are supposed to do: I iron instead of press and I cheat my way thru the HST and either do or don't do them on the bias. Since I don't understand what that means, it doesn't bother me at all and I can't see ever making them any other way.

Then I iron those suckers open and use these grids to arrange them how I want and chain piece until I've got all my rows. Well, for this one I did columns, but that doesn't really make a difference.

Now, typically, I either stitch in the ditch around the colored parts, or I'd stitch 1/4in on either side of the seams to follow a chevron for each row. But since this was so tiny, I decided to try my hand at straight line quilting and used this (sort of) tutorial to tape out a cross hatch pattern.

I say sort of, because there's not much to it: you put tape where you want your lines to be, then you sew along it.  Then take the tape off and flip it to go the other way to get the cross part.  Viola. 

I was absolutely OBSESSED with the cross hatch.  Poor Angela, I must have sent her four hundred pics. I can hear her telling her husband can you believe this bullshit? It's quilt lines, it's not brain surgery.  Why am I friends with her?
But whatever it's awesome.

 Lessons learned from this one: I don't like traditional fabric for the back, and I don't like batting.  I usually use minky for the backs and a flannel sheet for the batting, but I wanted this one to be more 'traditional' since it was a donation, but I hated it.  I washed and dried that sucker five times, and it stayed stiff and uncuddly.  So there you go.

Next, Big Bertha.

I've already talked about this one a little bit, but if you're curious I used this Birch Farm collection and just ordered a million layer cakes.  Then the second half is Kona Snow and it was a PERFECT match. Then it's the same story: starch, iron, iron some more, iron some more, trim trim trim.  Oh yeah, I use this method to trim my HST before I open them up and iron them flat.

Use my grids to lay everything out how I want it (this one I had to do in two parts bc my board isn't that big) then chain piece for hours and hours and hours until I have my rows.
Then baste it and tape off a cross hatch and get to quilting.  When I say that this took me FOREVER to quilt, I am not exaggerating in the least.  I watched so much Supernatural, I'm pretty sure I could run the entire show. If I knew how to operate a camera and stuff.

Fight it into the world's tiniest washer and dryer, then take four million pictures of it and cry when you stick it in the mail.  I know I didn't pay for it, but it's so gorgeous and I want it.  There, I said it.  It should be mine.

Lessons learned from this one: I don't want to make them this big anymore.  This one in particular I loved making, because I love Serena, and I really super love her mom. So honestly, as lame as it sounds, each stitch (each hour up on hour upon HOUR that I poured into this) brought me a bit of happiness.  Fuck I'm lame.  But it did. But the idea of doing it again? Not so much.

And finally, one of my favorite quilts I've ever done.

I started with seven yards from Katarina Roccella's REcollection for Art Gallery Fabrics and tore them down into 5.5in squares.  I didn't so much follow a tutorial for this, I just laid them out in plusses and hoped for the best.  (I did have one major fuck up, so be warned if you're doing this style.  I have no idea how, but one of my yellow plusses is not a plus.  Angry face emoji.)

I didn't starch this one since I wasn't doing anything with bias edges and I just didn't feel like it.  Sorry Megan. 

Then more of the same- chain piece to rows, attach rows till you have a quilt top, baste, then quilt.

Despite what it looks like, I promise I don't quilt in a dark room.  I usually have the curtains closed because I don't want a glare when I'm watching Supernatural (because priorities) but it certainly isn't DARK.  Weird.

I'm getting better at binding, but it's still a work in progress.  Like, a lot.  I use this method but basically, here's the gist: You make your binding, then sew it to the FRONT of the quilt. Then you wrap it around and pin it to the back (I iron it first to make it easier to pin) then you stitch in the ditch ON THE FRONT and if you've done everything properly, you catch the edge of the binding on the back., leaving you with one perfect line of stitches, on the back only.  Nice clean bunch of nothing on the front.
But if you're me, your stitches only catch half the time and then you have to go over it again from the back, leaving the front pocked with horribly ugly lines of stitches dispersed  randomly along the binding.  Win some, lose some. 

Hopefully, if you're lucky, you're making this one for the most amazing friend ever and she won't mind if it's a little wonky.  PS I used this Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Grid in Curry for the binding and my plan is to only use this (in other colors) for the rest of my life.  I LOVE it.

Lessons learned from this quilt: I don't know how I'm going to survive when Megan leaves.  And even though crosshatch quilting is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I can, in fact, quilt other ways too.  This one I just did 1/4in on either side of every seam.  Easy peasy.

There you go.

Anyone interested in a quilt? You know I always need more practice ;) But seriously, I'm not doing big ones anymore.  I just can't.

Linking up with Sew Can She for Show Off Saturday!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Reports: The Farm and The Girl on the Train

So, remember how much I loved the Silo Saga, by Hugh Howey?  Well, the reason I picked up the first one is because I saw an ad for it, sort of like a billboard, but in the tube station. So when I saw one for The Farm, I snapped a pic of it to remember to read it, but it wasn't until I saw a preview for Child 44 (because I love all caps LOVE Tom Hardy) that I remembered I wanted to check it out.  In case anyone is ever wondering how I choose books...completely at random and based on movie previews for OTHER books.  Weirdo.

Anyway, The Farm by Tom Rob Smith was a winner for me, I loved it.  After I read it, here's what I had to say: I dunno, I just really liked it! It wasn't extremely well written, in fact I sort of hated the mom's narration parts, and it wasn't a mind blowing plot, but I couldn't put it down! Just a super fun read. Well, as fun as it could be, considering the horrific subject matter...

I don't often read crime drama (unless you consider Jack Reacher crime drama...) but I think this was pretty standard crime drama fodder.  It was fast paced, it kept my interest, I figured out the plot ahead of time but that didn't really spoil the experience for me, I was completely satisfied with the ending...just an all around fun time.  Which is odd because... the subject matter gets sort of dark.  But hey, it is what it is, I had fun reading this book.

Now Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins? PASS.

Big. Fat. Pass.

Anyone who says it was better than Gone Girl? Stop being her friend.  You don't need that in your life right now.  Here's my quick and dirty review right after I finished: Huh. I keep trying to think of something polite or positive or constructive to say but... all I am is underwhelmed. People liked this better than Gone Girl? Why? I'm not being sassy, I'm curious. I loved Rachel but I don't think Tom was well written. And Anna was fabulously nasty. I'm still confused though- was Megan sleeping with the shrink or not? Ugh. I'd have to say three stars. Not even three and a half. Sorry lady.

Then I went back and changed it to two stars, and honestly, if I wanted to bother, I'd go change it to one.  Just no. I did NOT like this book at all. And I feel like the end was a total cop out, sort of like the end of the first season of Broadchurch.  Like, the surprise wasn't well laid out and just so well written that you don't guess at it, it's just totally made up and not plausible at all. 

Now, for a more in depth look at The Farm, from the back of the book: If  you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes. 

Your mother...she's not well, his father tells him. She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things. She's had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital. 

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow.
Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother's unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.

It was just a good story, I don't know what else to say. Again, I sort of found the mother's narration jarring, and much more than half the book is told by her.  She's sort of rehearsed what she wants to say, so it's very robotic and almost emotionless? I don't know.  I can see why Smith wanted to go that route, it just didn't work perfectly with me.

That being said, I devoured it.  I was invested in ALL the characters, I thought they were all gorgeously written, three dimensional, very real.  Very believable.  Nothing that happened came out of left field, nothing defied belief, and I thought the ending was just about perfect.  All in all, just a great read.  I'll definitely be reading more Tom Rob Smith, even if he doesn't get anymore tube station billboard ads ;)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hipster Projects for my Hipster Mason Jars

Not only are these Hipster Projects for Hipster Mason Jars, they're all alliterations!! That's gotta mean something, right? Body Butter, Sugar Scrub, and Coffee Creamer.  I'm sort of freaking out over here.  I need more alliterative projects in my life.

First, my favorite: Coffee Creamer.

It's no secret that I love coffee creamer.  Case in point:

So it's not like I'm against chemicals in my coffee or fake dairy or anything like that.  HOWEVER comma, apparently the British do not share my affinity for almost-white-coffee because they don't use creamer.  Or even cream.  Just milk.  So I get a hundred little cannisters of coffeemate sugar free vanilla powder whenever we go to base.  Fine and dandy.

Another HOWEVER comma, you can't dissolve vanilla coffeemate powder in iced coffee.  I've tried. And I can't bulk stock the liquid version because we only have two fridges.  Hence, having to make my own.  Necessity really IS the mother of invention.  Or rather, necessity is the mother of going on pinterest and copying someone else's invention.  But that doesn't sound as poetic.

I started here, on one of my favorite blogs (she's so fabulous, search thru till you find her new haircut.  SO RAD, I'm so jealous bc I could never pull it off.) where she mentioned that she uses this recipe for her own creamer (they live in Africa and I guess coffeemate might be hard to come by there too?) and she loves it. But you know me and my love for chemicals, so I wanted a fake sugar substitute version bc while I don't mind the five hundred grams of fat in condensed milk (fat is back in, didn't you know? It keeps you full!) I don't like to drink entire cups of sugar bc it gives me a terrible tummy ache.  SOOOO I followed to this recipe where you make your own condensed milk with chemicals instead of sugar.  The end.

I didn't actually taste the homemade condensed milk bc I mixed it all together at once, but I'm drinking a cup of iced coffee right now and it's fab, so I'm good to go.

I did it like this, if you're interested.

Into your trusty blender (I have a vitamix because I am a total badass, but I'm sure this would work in a run of the mill walmart blender bc there's nothing thick or heavy in it) dump these things:

-3/4 cup boiling water (I guestimated this into my kettle then just dumped it as soon as it started to boil)

-1 cup of Stevia (or the generic stevia type stuff)

-6 tablespoons of butter (here's the fat.  It'll keep you full though!! It's good! Fat is back!)

-2 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder (I found mine in the baking aisle here, but I don't know where it would be in the real world. I was actually surprised to find it here at all.)

-2 cups of milk (Ours is 'semi skimmed, which I think is probably two percent)

-some vanilla extract

-some Torani sugar free vanilla

Blend until it's the consistency you want, then pour into your mason jars.  Be careful bc it's hot bc you used boiling water you dummy.

The first four ingredients are for the 'homemade sweetened condensed milk' recipe, then the milk and vanilla are from the 'homemade creamer' part. I just didn't see the point in doing it separately, so I did it together.  I'm wild like that. 

And ps, for my iced coffee, I dump six scoops of grounds into a french press, add water, leave it to sit for twelve hours (give or take) overnight, press it, then pour it into yet another mason jar and stick it in the fridge.  Presto, iced coffee for two days, maybe three.

Next up, the Sugar Scrub. I cannot even put into words how amazing I find this.

For some reason, my crazy manifests in my skin. The more depressed I get, the more I LITERALLY want to claw my skin off.  The more anxious I get, the more often my skin LITERALLY feels like it's crawling, like things are actually CRAWLING, not on top of my skin, but JUST below it.  Ugh.  It's awful, and I'll scratch enough to draw blood if I'm not under control. Which is doubly gross because I also bite my fingernails, and you know they say a human mouth is grosser than a dogs?!?

Anyway.  Using this scrub feels like rubbing my arms and legs with sandpaper, and I mean that in the best possible way.  Maybe if you're not crazy, tone down the sugar? I love it as gritty as I can get it without it just being a jar of sugar. I feel like it's a safe (and extremely effective) way to get that release I get from digging my fingernails into my skin, without drawing blood, or even hurting myself at all.  Actually, my skin feels AMAZING, the coconut oil sticks to it and sinks in, and it just smells amazing.  Sigh.  I try to only use it three times a week, but if I'm honest, if I have a crap day, I jump in the shower as soon as the kids are in bed to sandpaper my skin.

Crazy man, it makes life so interesting, doesn't it?

You can google it, but it's pretty basic: spoon some coconut oil into your mason jar and melt it (I used the microwave, but Pinterest seems to be having a love affair with double boilers?). Then add your essential oils. I used ten drops each of lavender and lemon in my last jar. Then start scooping in some regular sugar and stir it up, keep adding sugar until it gets to how you want it.  Stick it in your shower and pray your son doesn't knock the glass jar off the shelf when he's in there playing Spiderman Gets Wet.

And last, the Body Butter.

I gotta say, I'm not the hugest fan.  My go-to lotion is this aveeno itch relief and this hippie coconut oil shit ain't got NOTHING on that. I like the way it feels going on, but it only lasts about three hours.  Then my skin is sort of dry.  It doesn't have that special something that the Aveeno has (cough chemicals cough) that sort of makes a barrier layer on my skin. I don't know.  Should I try coco butter instead of shea? Should I be adding something else?

I do like to put this on at night, I'll give it that.  It just doesn't cut it as my regular, daily lotion.

So, there you go.  I haven't decided if it's more that I want to become a hippie mama, or that I'm cheap and sick of paying shipping for my fave products, but I'm leaning towards the latter.  Next up, I'm trying to find a foot cream and a hard lotion bar to toss in my knitting bag.  Wish me luck!!


I said WISH it!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday

April/May 2004

Lookit those babies.  BABIES!!!

We were so happy. Obviously.  Look at those stupid smiles!! Man Nick looks young.

We'd just closed on our first house, we were having our first meal in it together.  Pizza, ordered in. But we had a fire going in the fireplace- OUR FIREPLACE.  I was just about to graduate from college, Nick was living in Charleston and finishing some sub school or other, and really, we just had it all going for us.  The house was old and gorgeous, built in 1912, great neighborhood with sidewalks (this was important to me for some unknown reason). The owners took our first offer (bc we were suckers and didn't know that we should have offered less) and Nick already had plans for the remodeling we (okay he) were going to do.

I woke up in this house and drove to my first day at the Naval Hospital (ward 4F, post surgical.)  I drove home to this house and cried the first time a doctor yelled at me (Dr Platz, he yelled at me a lot more after that. I hope he gets a flat tire every time it rains.) I filled out the applications to finally change my name from the computer in that house.  We celebrated our third anniversary, had our first proper Christmas together in that house.

I took my first pregnancy test in that house.  Not really, I did a blood draw at work and suckered an intern into letting me order myself a test under his name.  But I drove home the next morning to that house to tell Nick that Ava was coming.  I mowed my first lawn at that house after Nick left for his first full deployment.  I got massive in that house, and loved every single minute of my first pregnancy. I welcomed my husband back to that house, woke up at one in the morning one night because it was time.

I brought Ava home to that house.  She learned to walk there.  (MUCH LATER) I drove from that house to my first day on a new floor, the oncology floor.  I drove home to that house and cried after each death, but that house is where I realized my calling: I could help people at the end of their lives. I had something to offer.  I got pregnant again in that house, said goodbye to Nick again, welcomed him home again, woke up in the middle of the night again in labor.  Brought home Scott. He learned to walk there.

Drove to work on the labor deck, my last assignment in the Navy, from that house. Drove home and cried the day I delivered an 18 weeker, cried because it was so awful, but also because even though I wasn't doing what I thought I wanted to do (end of life care in a cancer setting) I'd still been able to help that mama when she needed me.  It's different, but it's the same.

Got out of the Navy. Got pregnant again, brought home another baby. Finished the remodel. Put the house on the market.  MY HOUSE.  My home. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving it.  How would Warren learn to walk if we left the house where his brother and sister had learned? How could we add our (much wanted) fourth baby if we couldn't bring her home to the house where we'd brought everyone else? How could I ever learn every nook and cranny of another house, a house that I'd never EVER love as much as I loved the Connecticut Avenue house?!?!

I'd grown up in the military, I'd never before been attached to a house.  In fact, I've never lived anywhere as long as I lived on Connecticut Avenue.  Five years.  I guess that's not true, I must have been in Biloxi for six years. But still.

Five years.  That was my home.  I still get stabby when I think of the girl who bought it changing things.  Did she repaint my gorgeous beige walls? Probably.  No one likes beige anymore.

Those five years in that house were the best five years of my life UP TO THAT POINT. And the six months we spent in Connecticut were the best six months of my life UP TO THAT POINT.  Wonder of all wonders, Warren learned how to walk there.  Turns out, the Connecticut Avenue house wasn't magic.

It was us.  WE were the magic ingredient.

This London house will be the closet we've come to spending five years anywhere, and we'll most likely leave at the three and a half year mark. But I don't care anymore.  I've never been attached to a house like Connecticut Avenue, and whether that's good or bad, I don't really know.  It's probably not good OR bad, it just is.

And to wrap up this rambling nonsense, my favorite quote about our badass future.

Linkin up with Mama Kat (as always) using prompt numero uno, "choose a photo from a previous May and write a poem or blog post about it."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Around Here...

...loving this quote.

...soaking up what feels like endless sunshine at the park after school. Remind me of this come November please.

...planning fun things to do when my parents come for the first week of June.  The kids will be in school, but we might take a few days to play hooky.

...taking this class and having a blast. I was going to try to get it all done quickly, but I'm REALLY loving it, and thinking I'm gonna need a hobby next autumn, so now I'm taking it slowly, trying to savor it.  I hate to be all omg this class is so eye opening and life changing but.... this class is sort of eye opening and if not life changing, at least life...altering? Life adding? Life affirming even? I highly recommend it to anyone. Where else can you admit how big a role Friends and coffee play in your life?!?!

...can't stop crafting. I don't even get it.  It's not like I'm selling any shit or anything. Quilting isn't exactly an inexpensive hobby, and I'm quickly learning that knitting might actually be MORE expensive.  But there's just something about it.  Nick is restoring a thirty year old Land Rover and sometimes it drives me batshit how much time he spends out there working on it- but it's THE SAME DAMN THING. There's just something about taking something in your hands and making it into something else, something better- it just feels good.  Really good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Reports: Revival, Mime Order, and Saint Odd

I really liked how I did it last time, so I'll do it again: quick and dirty first, then a more in depth review, mostly for my own records.  Man, I love reading. (Edit: I'm only gonna go in depth on Mime Order because it was the only good one in this bunch.)

-Mime Order, by Samantha Shannon: Well I tore thru the five hundred pages in three days. And I loved it. Does this mean I'm one of those people who likes fantasy? Is this even actually fantasy?  I think I liked this more than Bone Season...but I can't actually remember most of Bone Season. So who knows. I had to take to the Google to refresh myself on the first book- who was who and what had actually...happened? Can't wait for the next one!

Bottom Line:  Winner, and part of a series, so you sort of have to read it, if you want to read the series.  I would NOT read this one without reading Bone Season.

-Revival, by Stephen King: (** spoiler alert ** )

Just...NO. Big fat no. Of course the writing was brilliant. It's my beloved SK, it was perfect. And the story was even really good. Until the end. How dumb?!?! Why so stupid? Such a cop out! Lisey's Story, It- they were terrifying bc he HINTED at the world beyond ours. But describing it? RIDICULOUS. I actually laughed out loud while I read it. Oh my word. Just so silly. But whoa, Jamie's channeling Eddie Dean a little bit here right?!?!

Bottom Line: Honestly, I'd skip it.  He's such a genius and there's SO MANY other books you could read instead.  (New to SK? Start with Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Then message me and I'll give you a twenty page list of what to read next.) I guess if you really want to, you could pick it up, but seriously, it was laughable.  I actually laughed at how ridiculous it was. Sorry SK. This was a total dud. 

-Saint Odd by Dean Koontz: Meh. Glad it's finally over. Seeing how many flowery words and commas you can cram into a sentence isn't a talent worth exploring, Dean. (Apparently the name of the day is Dean? PS I'm back on the Supernatural.  Ugh. And of course, I'm a Dean Girl.  Actually, I'm a Castiel Girl, but between Sam and Dean, I finally decided on Dean. That's how boring this book was, I have to distract myself while even WRITING about it.)

Bottom Line: You don't actually have to read this because the entire series lets you know exactly how it's gonna go down.  I want to know more about Annamaria and her baby, but not enough to pick up another Koontz book.  I think we're finally thru.  Too many commas, man.  Too. Many. Commas.

Okay, back to Mime Order.  From the back of the book: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

See what I mean? You have to read (and remember) Bone Season first. I kept having to go to the wiki page because I couldn't even remember who was who. That being said, I still have a massive crush on Warden. I think she made waaaay too many grammatical errors (AGAIN!!!) considering how many people are paid to catch and fix that shit. Her writing truly fascinates me though, I have no idea how she does it. All this history and back story and I'm assuming (oh God I'm hoping) she has a plan set out already for where we're going...I literally cannot WAIT for the next one.  It's sort of hard to talk about this unless you've read it, or at least read Bone Season, so I guess I'll just wrap it up with: this book was fab and I think you should read it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

2015 in Scrapbook Pages (Vol 2)

I'm not as on top of my 2015 as I planned on, but I'm more on top of it than I've ever been before, so suck it.

I feel like Daisy and Warren feature the most on almost every page,  but they're the ones who will let me take a picture!! Ava and Scott hate me so whatever.

Anyway.  Megan and I went on what I think might have been our last date, to see The Ruling Class at Trafalgar.  Double sob. I heart James MacAvoy so much. The sun peeked out a few days, but it was still cold.  Lame.  And I've already started crying about the fact that Daisy June will be in full time school next year.  Triple sob.  But also fist pump HORRAY FOR THE BRITISH SCHOOL SYSTEM.

In more Junebug news, she goes to birthday parties now.  It's so adorable, all those little kids.  Kids are so dumb.  You know how I hate to have things happening outside the house, I have a one birthday party a weekend rule, and I don't like to do two weekends in a row, but now that Daisy is getting in on the action, it's getting harder and harder to say no.  Ugh.

That weirdly yellow restaurant shot is from one Friday when Megan and I went to The Breakfast Club for brunch. We stood outside in line with a bunch of hipsters for FORTY FIVE MINUTES, but I gotta say, it was totally worth it.  Plus, I had my book, so the wait was actually fun.

 Each of the kids had a show these past few weeks.  What can I say about kids doing performances? Ugh, but also cute.  Also look how tall that girl is!!!

Over Easter weekend, Andrea and her husband and baby (who is eight...) came to visit.  Nick has known Andrea since he was eight.  Isn't that wild? Non military kids are so funny, knowing people from childhood.  My little sister graduated high school with kids she went to kindergarten with!!! That's crazy to me.

Anyway, I digress.  We went to London together, they went to London without us, we arranged a union of our families when Ava is old enough, and Andrea let me talk her into coming to see Letters Live.

Yall.  She didn't know who Benedict Cumberbatch was.  More horrifying? She didn't know who Ellie Miller or Anna Bates were!!! I educated her.  You're welcome Andrea.

Also while they were here, my baby turned eight.  Eight years old.  I don't want to talk about it.  We had dinner at Rainforest Cafe and we made sure (at least half a dozen times, seriously) that he was okay with them singing Happy Birthday.  He said it was fine, and he really seemed to enjoy the spotlight.  Needless to say, I would DIE if anyone ever did that to me.  I have a song for each of my kids (not sure how that got started) and his is My Wish and I didn't take very many pics, so I stuck that in on the page. It's funny bc none of the kids know that I have these songs for them.  Perhaps I should tell them? Or at least make sure they know the music? Ava's is Child of Mine by Carol King, Warren's is the Baby Mine song from Beaches (I suppose it's also from Dumbo, but Beaches man, remember that movie?) and Junebug's is Forever Young by the luscious Bobbie Dylan.  Ten thousand points if you can name that quote.

Anyway.  That's all I got.  Engelbrecht out.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ramblin' (Wo)Man

My  baby is gone.
Her stupid school has a stupid Year Four Residential Trip every year. So my baby left Wednesday morning to spend THREE ENTIRE DAYS and two nights away from me.

Her mama.  The woman who carried her inside my own body- she left me to go hang out with her friends and teachers.
Stupid England with their stupid Residential Trips.  Have you ever heard of anything so stupid in your entire life?!?!

She has been away from me before. I used to work nights, but Nick was there.  And for the brief few months when he was gone AND I worked nights, she went to sleep at the home of our beloved Fern.
Vacay in the OBX, Aug or Sept 2006

Then there were the six nights I spent in the hospital delivering her siblings, but Nick went home to check on her, and she came to the hospital to see me, and my mom was there once and Michelle was there once and the last time Laura watched her and Nick went home at night anyway.

But I did leave her once, or rather, her daddy took her away from me, for a weekend in Florida when I was massively pregnant with Scott and couldn't get time off of work.
Hunter, Ava, Hayden, and Grandma Jean, Dec 2006

And I left her properly, twice, a weekend in Paris with my mother two years ago...

 ...and a weekend in Copenhagen with the girls last autumn.  But Nick was obviously home with her.

The girl has never been away from both of us and I feel like I'm going to die.

I don't care that she's nine. I don't care that everyone else is doing it, I don't care if she's having fun. I don't care. I want my baby back.  She's MINE. She belongs with me.

Also, Gramma Terri, if you're reading this, I'm still mad that you didn't come get me at Tyndall.  But I am glad you made me stay at Auburn.

PS: That pic isn't at Tyndall.  You can tell because I'm not sobbing.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's the week before, because the day we got out, I let Angela cut my hair.  Wanna know how we did it? She ran her hands thru it, and whatever peeked out over her fingers, she cut off.  Teenagers are so good at making decisions.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Reports: Queen of the Tearling and Near Enemy

First, let's do a quick and dirty review slash recommendation.  Twitterature. Do ya'll follow Modern Mrs. Darcy? LOL. She hasn't done one in a while but the word twitterature has stuck in my head.

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I thought it was fabulous and I can't figure out where all the one star reviews are coming from. I don't read 'fantasy' (although obviously I read Game of Thrones)- I picked this up because Hermione. And the post apocalyptic aspect, you know I'm a sucker for those. So maybe it's not good fantasy and that's what everyone hates? I only docked a star for the 'magic saves the day at the last minute with no real explanation' aspect bc I hate that and feel like it's lazy writing. Other than that, I thought it was well written, well thought out, highly entertaining, a fun was just good! This was just a good book. It makes me so sad to see so many people hated it!!

So basically, YES PLEASE.

Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh. Another winner! I just love it when books are good.  I gave this one five stars on Goodreads and my review was short and sweet (bc it's hard to say anything unless you've read the first one): So rad. Different from the first, but also so much the same. I just loved it. LOVED. Whatever this style is called, I dig it. Five stars, easily.

Now for a huge-ass long review that probably no one cares about but I just can't quit you, Book Reviews.  Nor do I want to.

*Someone asked me why my book covers are different than the norm. It's because I'm over in London and the covers here are different, and I get almost all of my books from the library, so when I read them, I'm actually looking at the covers for however many days it takes. And I'm old and forgetful and I don't want to post the American cover and then be like what the fuck is that, I never read that book! So I hunt down pics of the actual version of the books I read. I just found out, though, that the American Martian cover is way cooler, so that sort of sucks.*

From the back of the book: Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.
It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.
But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.
Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.
Combining thrilling adventure and action, dark magic, mystery and romance, The Queen of the Tearling is the debut of a born storyteller blessed with a startling imagination.

As I said, I really enjoyed this one. I certainly wouldn't call Kelsea 'unruly' and she wasn't quite as developed as a character as I'd want. I loved her foster parents, I hope the next one goes into them a lot more, but who knows. I thought it was more than a believable stretch the way Kelsea went from literally only having EVER interacted with two people IN HER ENTIRE LIFE, to being 'one of the guys' with her guard.  Maybe it's just me, but I feel like joining society would be a little bumpier than that. 

But the main reason I picked this one up, besides Nikki telling me to, is because it's gonna be a movie with Hermione and even though Noah was basically the most awful movie I've ever seen, I still have faith in her.  Noah was a pass, hopefully she redeems herself.  Although Beauty and the Beast? C'mon Granger.  

From the back of the book: New York is toxic—decimated by a dirty bomb years ago.  The limnosphere is a virtual safe haven—if you’re rich enough to buy in.  Spademan is a hit man—box-cutter at the ready.
His latest job is to snuff out Lesser, a lowlife lurking around other people’s fantasies.  As Spademan is about to close the deal, Lesser comes back from the limn with a wild claim: terrorists are planning to attack New York. Again. This time from the inside out.
Man, this was another wild ride.  This, and Shovel Ready, are a very specific kind of book, you have to know what you're getting into before you start. They're very violent, very graphic. VERY GOOD. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone I meet, but if I know you and I think you could handle it, it's just so awesome. I did find this one slightly confusing because I guess I don't remember some of the details of Shovel Ready, but still. Ya'll, it's so good!!!

*Linking up again with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop with #3*