Monday, December 30, 2013

On My Nightstand: 2013

Remember last year's post about the books I read? Well I've kept track, and in the interest of giving (You know the line. Repeat after me: I'm a giver!) and making sure that you have some good pages to turn, I'm sharing the books that kept me from doing laundry occupied my time and shared space on my nightstand this year.

I'll list them by month, then title and author. I'll give you a little blurb on those that are my particular favorites.


Help, Thanks, Wow--Anne Lamott

One Thousand Gifts--Ann Voskamp
      Dreamy writing, wonderful message.

The Sense of an Ending--Julian Barnes


The Silver Linings Playbook--Matthew Quick
     The movie was good, the book was better.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?--Maria Semple
      Any main character that hates all Canadians piques my interest. (Not that I have anything against Canadians. I just found that very funny.)

Argo--Antonio Mendez

The Girls from Ames--Jeffrey Zaslow
     If you've maintained friendships with girls who "knew you when" you'll enjoy this book.


Fall of Giants: The Century Trilogy--Ken Follett

Winter of the World--Ken Follett

Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen
     A particular favorite that I revisit every few years.


80 Days--Matthew Goodman
     The true story of the widely known Nellie Bly, the unknown Elizbeth Bisland and their quest to see who could travel around the world in 80 days first. Exciting, interesting, and true!

Calling Invisible Women--Jeanne Ray

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed--Glennon Doyle Melton
     Melton's book is at turns thoughtful and humorous. Her ideas that we are more alike than different and that Love Wins are ideas I can get behind.

A Red Herring without Mustard--Alan Bradley
     If you haven't read any of Bradley's books starring precocious 11 year old Flavia de Luce, you are missing out. Flavia is fascinated with chemistry, bicycles and death and is hell bent to solve the mysteries that seem to find their way into her life. Entertaining and then some.


Flight Behavior--Barbara Kingsolver
    I have yet to read one of Kingsolver's books that leaves me flat. She is a wonderful writer with well developed characters and interesting plots.

The Interestings--Meg Wolitzer

I Am Half Sick of Shadows--Alan Bradley
     More Flavia!!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk--Ben Fountain


Wave--Sonali Deraniyagala
     The harrowing story of how the author survived the 2004 tsunami while her family (parents, husband, and two sons) perished. Horrifying, beautiful, and compelling.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again--David Foster Wallace

The Happiness Project--Gretchen Rubin

The Lion is In--Delia Ephron

How to be Good--Nick Hornby

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime--Mark Haddon (another re-read)

The Handmaid's Tale--Margaret Atwood

The Chaperone--Laura Moriarty
     A fictionalized account of actress Louise Brooks and her chaperone on a trip to New York City in the summer of 1922. A page-turner that left me wanting to read more by the author.


Me Before You--Jojo Mayes

Tell the Wolves I'm Home--Carol Rifka Brunt
    Set in the 80's when AIDS was a terrifying and stigmatizing scourge about which little was known. A wonderfully wrought story of sisters, family, and love.

What Alice Forgot--Liane Moriarty (not to be confused with Laura Moriarty, above)
    A story of love, indifference, anger, forgiveness, and amnesia.

The Art of Fielding--Chad Harbach
   Love and baseball. Lots and lots of baseball.

The Cukoo's Calling--Robert Gilbraith (who is really J.K. Rowling)


The Hypnotist's Love Story--Liane Moriarty

The Silent Wife--A.S.A. Harrison

The Moonflower Vine--
   An old-time novel--the author's only book. Well developed characters with good story lines. This is a re-read for me.


Black Water Rising--Attica Locke

Red Sparrow--Jason Matthews

Eleanor and Park--Rainbow Rowell
     Don't let the author's name put you off. This was one of my favorite books of the year. Set in the 80's, I related to so much of this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the writing, the flow of this book. It left me wrecked to read anything else for quite a while afterwards.

The Great Gatsby--F. Scott Fitzgerald
     A re-read. Yep. It still holds up even all these years after reading it my Junior year in English class.

Attachments--Rainbow Rowell

The Husband's Secret--Liane Moriarty


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats--Jan-Philipp Sendker


I somehow did not manage to read a single thing during the whole month of November. I dunno. Maybe I read cereal boxes.


Double Down: Game Change 2012--Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

Hyperbole and a Half--Allie Brosh
     Blogger Allie Brosh has put much of her blog in book form. Her blog, which is half writing, half cartoon, and all fabulous is made up of the stories that make up her life. In the book she talks of her dogs (her dog Simple Dog and my Dumb Dog simply HAVE to be related), a psychotic goose, being the god of cake, and her personality (trust me, funnier than it sounds.) She also describes her descent into, slog through, and slow climb out of debilitating depression in a way that should be required reading. (trust me, this is, somehow, in some ways, also funnier than it sounds) I read this book in about a day. Fast, funny, and terrifyingly relatable.

One Summer: America 1927--Bill Bryson
     I love Bill Bryson. If he wrote a story about phone books, I would read it. I am only half-way through this book, and I'm amazed at the many important things that happened in the very busy summer of 1927.

2013 wins over 2012 by almost 10 books read. (42 1/2 to 33) Yowza! It's a wonder I got any laundry done at all this year.  (Said the woman writing this in her pajamas. ;)  ) In 2014, I'm just planning on foregoing laundry and having my family wear togas and go commando so that I can READ ALL THE BOOKS!

If you read something wonderful and feel you have to tell someone or you may burst want to share it, please share in the comments section. I'm always looking for the next book for my nightstand.

Thanks for stopping by to read my ramblings this year. May you have a blessed 2014!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Think I Have Developed TLDBCSD

That would be The Little Drummer Boy Challenge Stress Disorder. What is The Little Drummer Boy Challenge? Essentially it is a game where in the player does his best to avoid hearing the (dreaded) Christmas song between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. If you hear it, you are dead. Out. Done for. Now, you can't be tricked into hearing it (as my beloved keeps wanting to do to me) and it doesn't count if someone who knows you are playing sings it to you or otherwise sets you up, but all other instances count. This has led to some rather ridiculous behavior on my part.

Er, more ridiculous than usual, anyway.

On Saturday, my beloved and I were returning cable boxes belonging to a certain company that I shall not name, but will tell you rhymes with Hay Schmee & Schmee. (Huzzah for faster internet and the ability for all of us to operate devices in the house without feeling like we want to murder someone!) As we were waiting in the UPS store, I could hear the dulcet crooning of Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song and I began to get antsy. I could feel my heart begin to race and I looked at my beloved and told him that if Nat started wrapping up the tune before we were done, he was on his own, because I would be exiting the store. (I also made him go in before me to make sure it was safe to enter.) As we finished, Nat was finishing too and I pretty much ran out of the store in an "every man for himself" manner. Yeah, I love my husband, but I am not responsible for his meandering ways and if he gets himself knocked off, that's his problem. (TRUE LOVE!)

Last week, I was in a large discount store. I had been in there for nearly an hour and just KNEW that I was pushing fate. The Drummer could come for me at any moment. I was standing in line at the checkout behind an older couple. They were a little slow moving, which usually is no problem, but this time was causing my palms to sweat. I was polite, but was ever so slowly inching my cart forward as they took their time putting on coats and gloves and carefully rearranged the bags in their cart. (Even now I'm breaking into a bit of a cold sweat thinking about it.) As I pulled forward, ready and eager to pay and beat a hasty retreat, the cashier smiled at me and said with a big grin that showed she was blissfully unaware of The Boy and his bent on destruction, 'Just a sec, gotta change the receipt tape!" I shifted back and forth on my feet, I cleared my throat. 'Sure! No problem!' I lied. I was listening to the current carol wind down and was certain that the sound of pah-rum-pum-pum-pumming would be coming for me. As the cashier got the tape in and proceeded to ring up my purchases, the audio loop changed to an in-store ad for something and I started to breathe faster. When the commercial was done, the cashier was still ringing things up and happily chatting to me. I had no idea what she was saying, for I was nodding and uh-huh-ing absently while listening for the dreaded drums. And suddenly, my friends--IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!! The next song was no carol. Instead, my ears were treated to the sweet, sweet sound of Blondie singing "Call Me." I very nearly broke down and wept. I kept willing the cashier to move quickly on my purchases, because I still had to exit the store. Blondie was well into the second verse by the time my packages were bagged. I lobbed a hasty "thank you!" over my shoulder and veritably SPRINTED for the exit. I made it to my van, sweating, breathing heavily, and only able to whisper a hoarse "thanks!" to the Muzak Gods who intervened on my behalf.

That evening, it was a simple yawn that kept me from being slain along with my son. We had been watching the SNL holiday show, giggling as Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg gave inappropriate gifts in a box, when suddenly I yawned. Not a dainty yawn, but a great big, gaping, canyon of a yawn. It was then that I decided that I should hit the hay. I bid my boy goodnight, went upstairs, performed my evening ablutions, and crawled into bed, exhausted from the trauma of earlier in the day. I wasn't in bed long when I heard an unearthly wail from downstairs. My son came up and told me that The Boy had just slain him via Will Ferrell as Robert Goulet. (Every year, this skit kills thousands who don't mute or leave in time. The humanity!) You know how experts are always saying that we should listen to our bodies? I BELIEVE. That yawn saved me.

It's just a minefield out there, friends! I've taken to going to the grocery with headphones on. Yes, I've become one of those people! I make my non-playing/slain family members enter buildings before me. I've always liked shopping online because I can shop in my pajamas. Now, I know we've all seen those girls who are out in public with their hair piled on top of their heads, no make up on, and in pajamas. I'm pretty sure my own daughter has done this. And they can get away with it. They look cute, even. But y'all. I'm 45 years old. NO ONE wants to see me sans makeup, in my pajamas with a messy bun. (My beloved sees my this way last thing at night, first thing in the morning. LUCKY.) So really, shopping online is serving both myself AND mankind. (You are welcome. I am a giver. Again. So. Generous.) I've done most of my shopping online this season to avoid The Boy. I changed the presets on my radio. I have a Drummer Boy Free playlist of Christmas songs on Spotify. I gave my 9 year old daughter the third degree regarding her choir concert, making sure that no drumming of any kind would be taking place. I may or may not have told her that if The Boy was making an appearance, I would be in the bathroom for that performance. Fortunately for all of us, her concert was percussion free.

I'm jittery every time I go out. It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Part of me wants to just jump in front of the Drummer Boy train to get it over with already. But the competitor in me just will not give up. Last year, I went down early thanks (NO THANKS AT ALL) to the unholy pairing of The Boy and Bob Seeger. I refuse to be slain in such an inhumane way this year.

So if you need me, I'll be here. In front of my computer, trolling Amazon, wearing my pajamas and blissfully Drummer Boy Free.

Be safe out there, y'all. He's just waiting to do you in.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Skating Into Christmas

Hello! I'm back after a respite. Is a six week gap in posts a respite? Whatever. Potato, potahto. Things have happened. There were holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. There was football. There was much sickness. And frankly, there wasn't much I felt like blogging. To tell the truth, I'm still not all that motivated to do much of anything. But, since usually this time of year I post a few crafty ideas, I figured that I could keep with tradition and post the ONE crafty thing I've done in--oh, ages. YOU'RE WELCOME. I keep telling you all that I'm a giver. Ahem.


I made these:

Please do not pay attention to my dirty door. Especially now that I've called your attention to it. 
 I could not be happier with how they turned out or with how simple they were to make. I bought a pair of used skates, painted them gray, used a round stenciling sponge to make the polka dots, painted glitter paint on the blades, wove ribbon through the lacing holes and stuffed them with greenery. Oh! And the fur trim? Socks I found at WalMart! Did I go back and buy several more pairs of those socks so that I can someday make more skates? Yes. Yes I did. So now, should Sockpocalypse ever happen, I am more than ready.

I know this could be done even more quickly with vinyl polka dots--especially if you have a Silhouette or Cricut machine. Shoot, I almost did it myself with a hole punch and some contact paper, but decided that I liked the gray. The vinyl option would be great if you wanted to be able to change things up since the paint is permanent.

The moral of the story is…

Well there is no moral since this is a craft post.

Wait. Yes there is. Stock up on socks.

Nope. Definitely not a moral.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.