Thursday, January 27, 2011

One step away from hypothermia.

Well folks, 2011 is continuing to be a horrible year. 2011 is nothing if not consistent and last night it proved that YET AGAIN it has something against me.

Let me set the scene for you. It's approximately 8pm.. the kids are in bed (Jackson is sleeping, Olivia is not), Matt and I are on the couch. I feel chilly so I put a sweatshirt on top of my long sleeved, double layer shirt and put my slippers in addition to my thick socks. Matt puts more clothes on, and we conserve body heat on the couch with two blankets. At about 8:45, Matt asks, "Is it just me or is it cold in here?" as we both sit there shivering like fashionable homeless people. I agree so I toddle off to the thermostat. I don't go over there enough to see what the temp was, but I say, "it's set for 70". Matt replies with, "There is not a fucking chance it's 70 in here."

So I go back over to actually see what the temp is. Well... it was 53 degrees. Awesome. While shivering on the couch we hear the furnace turn on and it's just a noise you hear in the background and don't give it much thought. Unless you're freezing and hear the noise.

So Matt goes to investigate. It seems our furnace, an approximately 7 year old generic piece of shit meant for southern states and not the rigorous use of northern states, decides it's kind of over working. Like, it just feels like it needs a break. So it just refuses to blow. (Which I can understand. I'm not a fan of blowing either but sometimes you just have to take one for the team, ya know?) The furnace knows to turn on, the flame ignites... but then nothing starts blowing.

So there's Matt, sitting next to the litter box on a little kid's step stool in the cubby of our laundry room trying to read the furnace manual and figure out what the eff is going on. Or not going on as it were.

He is like 60% sure it's the flame sensor. The thing that tells the furnace "Hey- I've got a flame- blow me". The 40% chance we're REALLY hoping it's not is that the entire thing is malfunctioned. Like...requiring a new one. A new furnace is a couple thousand dollars. To install said furnace puts us up around $3,500. If we're lucky. BUT the kicker... is the venting.

You see.. when we bought the house Matt thought the vents looked whack. What you don't see in this picture that is to the left, is that the vents are a giant mash up. So, whoever installed it (probably the dickweasel who had the house before us) just put it in, half assed the vents, and called it a day. Which explains why the kids' bedrooms have no heat (seriously- they have NONE. I have to heat their rooms up with a space heater and then turn it off at bedtime), why the bathroom has heat and is hotter than the 3rd ring of Hell, and why there are heat vents under windows in our living room. Oh, and one in the middle of the floor in the kitchen. Basically- it was done all wrong.... which is why we're always cold anyways.

AND... it's why we can't get on what is called "secure heat" here. You see, secure heat is a fun feature that you pay like $20 a month for on your utility bill. So let's say, oh.. that your furnace decides to stop working.. you call and they come to fix it. For free. That's right- it's like furnace insurance. But to get on that, your furnace and venting needs to be code. Which ours isn't. And we just don't have that kind of money laying around.

Matt tinkered with it enough to get it to kick on, but he's very adamant that it's a temporary fix and that if we make it another month like that it'll be a miracle.

So. Let's cross our fingers, toes, and dick/balls and hope it's the flame sensor. Which we have to order because tee-dah... nobody carries that part around here. And let's hope that Mr. Furnace can work a little bit until NEXT Friday. Otherwise we might all die of hypothermia.

So yeah. But fun fact- it's really bizarre to wake up seeing your breath. In your bedroom. It's like camping..but indoors. It's kind of weird.

Anyways. So that's my plight this coming weekend.

Tomorrow is my Dear Sara post... and I need a few more questions. So email them to: sarastrand9438(AT)hotmail(DOT)com.

Also, starting Monday I'm starting a weight loss challenge. So eat like a fat whore this weekend bitches because I want you to get on board with this shiz. The hope is that I shame you enough to not want to be a fat ass. Sound good? No? Good. It's not supposed to be fun. Losing weight is not fun. I don't care what Jillian Michaels tells you- you are not going to like it and you will feel like dying and eating a bunch of Taco Bell. Even if they are using faux-cow meat. Whatever. So just get on board. Details coming Monday. :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drinking Closer to Home

If the title doesn't pull at you, there is something wrong with you.

Drinking Closer to Home: A Novel (P.S.)
There is nothing like ten days with one's family to stir up childhood memories. When Anna, Portia, and Emery's mother Louise, suffers a massive heart attack, the three grown children return to Santa Barbara as they wait for Louise to either recover or die.

Anna can't stop thinking about sex with strangers, though in junior high she was terrifyingly certain that her free-loving parents had syphilis. Portia's beach-bunny teen years feel far away as she struggles with an unfaithful husband who has left her feeling boneless and unsure. And though Emery's greatest childhood fear was that The Law would catch up with their parents for any one of the numerous transgressions, now his only worry is that he won't be able to create his own family, a newer, better version that will trump the chaos that ruled his childhood.

But time together also brings to the surface that sometimes painful, often heartbreaking secrets that will shake the foundations of everything the siblings know about themselves and their family-secrets that may, perhaps, change the way they view the past as well as the future.

Before I get into the review, I will tell you- I loved this book. I loved it because I could relate to it. I think most people would agree that most families are quirky and weird and no family is like the other. My family is just me, my brother, my mom, and my step dad. And I remember growing up knowing my parents were not like the other parents and I remembered thinking how weird they were. My parent's didn't volunteer, they didn't cart me and my friends around wherever we wanted to go, they treated us like mini adults in a sense but laid down the law. We didn't have the deep family discussions- you only came to them if you had a problem and if it wasn't major you figured it out on your own. My brother and I are similar but way different. I'm very nose-in-a-book and studious, sarcastic and giving. He's very athletic, funny, and kind hearted. We get along great and I go to my brother when I have a problem before I go to my mom sometimes. We were raised with the mentality that no matter what- love your sibling because someday it'll be all we have.

So I related to this book in that sense, but also the sense that eventually- your parents will pass away. With my dad's heart attack this year it drove that point home to us- either one of them could go any day. And it brings up childhood memories and you think about the things you'd miss when they leave.

The parents in this book remind me of my own in a way and I loved it. Some of the things they say are things my mom and dad would say. The conversations the siblings had are conversations like I've had with my own brother. It felt like this is the story of what would happen if one of my parents were maybe dying in a hospital.

I loved how you got a glimpse into the childhood of each child and then their present day life. I loved how the author tied it all together before she presented the "secrets" part of it and how it would maybe shape the future of the family. I can't tell you how I felt about the ending without giving it away but when I read it I thought, "yeah... I kind of knew it'd end like this" because in retrospect- the book is written after the ending event. So it makes sense on how it was written now that I know how it ended. That means nothing to you but it's a thought I had afterwards.

What I also admired about this book is how it really drives home the point that so often people say their childhood is the excuse for why they do things, often destructive things, as an adult. And really? It's not an excuse. As an adult you learn how to look at something and say, "Well- that's how they did it, that's how they thought.. but I can and will do better." Just because your parents think a certain way, or do something a certain way, it doesn't mean it's the right way. And as adults you have to figure that out and how to rise above it- how to be a better person.

I highly recommend this book for anybody who's facing the reality that eventually.. your parents will pass away. Anyone who has had a hard time at reconciling their childhood and just saying, "It's ok. No matter what it was... it's in the past and it doesn't shape who I am today." It's a good book and there were parts where I really laughed out loud and some parts that reminded me of a favorite childhood memory of my own. Definitely recommend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Under the Mercy Trees

I'm going to be honest- I forgot I had wanted to review this book. When I got it in the mail I couldn't remember what it was about and I had to look it up.

Thirty years ago, Martin Owenby came to New York City with dreams of becoming a writer. Now his existence revolves around cheap Scotch and weekend flings with equally damaged men. When he learns that his older brother, Leon, has gone missing, he must return to the Owenby farm in Solace Fork, North Carolina, to assist in the search. But that means facing a past filled with regrets, the family that never understood him, the girl whose heart he broke, and the best friend who has faithfully kept the home fires burning. As the mystery surrounding Leon’s disappearance deepens, so too does the weight of decades-long unresolved differences and unspoken feelings—forcing Martin to deal with the hardest lessons about home, duty, and love.

And when you first start reading it... it's slow. It really is a slow read. But when I finished it, I was glad I did because all of these characters pull at you. Not just Martin and Liza (the girl who loved him), but all of the Owenby family. They are all screwed up in their own right but each one has a story. This is one of the rare books that completes the story of all of the character. Oftentimes when you have a book that each chapter focuses on a different character's point of view, somebody's story gets lost in the shuffle and it doesn't quite finish how it should. This one pulls it off beautifully.

What I loved about it is that it's really relevant to today even though the story is back a few years and it all starts in the late 50's/early 60's. Think of where our country was on topics such as adultery, homosexuality, and family duty. It's a completely different scenario today... but not really. Martin's story as a young boy discovering he isn't like other boys and although he loves Liza... it's not the same way that she loves him. She plans a future with him and he feels terrible, but he knows he would be breaking her heart no matter what. So his life goes into a tailspin. Which makes me think of all of the kids who are killing themselves by being taunted based on their sexuality, they could be Martin. Martin could be them. You root for Martin through the whole book because you know he has the potential- he just has to be shown that it's ok to be a failure in some rights. It's not the end of the world and life will move on.

The story also touches on mental illness as we perceive it. One of Martin's sisters sees ghosts and she talks to them, sometimes she forgets others can hear her. Everyone of course assumes she's crazy but it's tragic. She suffers tremendous loss in her life with the loss of her children so to speak, and it makes you think of all the people we automatically label as crazy.

Overall, I loved the book. I liked how it tied social issues in with real people and it was believable. I liked how the author shows you the same issues but in two different time periods and you see how time has really changed not just people but the issues themselves. You root for these characters and the ending was something that I never saw coming. Usually I can figure out the ending of the "who done it" but wow- that was not what I was expecting at all. And the ending, tragic as it is, feels like the way it should have ended. It feels like all of the characters are then able to move on past early traumas and into their futures. Which isn't giving you any information about the story really- you'll have to read it to understand it. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I? Was a busy beaver.

*And that title is true for not only what I'm going to post but stuff I won't post about. ;)

If you haven't entered my GIVEAWAY, then you are kind of sucking right now. And I'm not talking about sucking candy, I'm talking sucking sweaty man balls. Just sayin.

Anyhoodles. So this weekend I was busy. Like busier than I thought I was going to be. So let's run it down so you can marvel at my awesome.

Friday. Well, I had like one million and three errands to run, so in the end I'm glad I didn't work. Extra hours would be good, but these were all things I hadn't gotten to during the week. Anyways. So, because Olivia has school during the middle of all my running around, I had her go to my mom's for lunch and she was thrilled. She told me later she was glad to have alone time with Grandma. So while I felt bad ditching her and taking Jackson... I'm glad she had fun. So I ran all of my errands and then had lunch with my bestie, Lisa. Who's going on Roadtrip 2012 with me and other friends of mine. Anyways. So we usually don't exchange Xmas gifts, but she got me this Retro Mama desk calendar. HILARIOUS. She's one of those people that just get me. Anyways- one of the calendars said:

"If you so much as flinch for a nano-second when doling out discipline, you can kiss your Imperial Rule goodbye."

Um.. how very true. So the rest of the calendar looks hilarious. AND I ordered a stamp set for DIRT CHEAP online that I thought would make a cute set of cards for her.. my favorite little cat hoarder to be friend. :) Anyways.

So after lunch Jackson and I went to toddler school. And he was SO effing excited. I'm kind of "meh" on it because I'm not like the moms in there, and since the parents separate for parenting class type stuff I kind of just go with the flow. And I left there thinking that if Jackson didn't love it so much I wouldn't go back. But more on that a different day.

Oh- and I'll post about the potty training sitch with Jackson tomorrow, so part of my story from Friday is going on there. Trust me- hilarity ensues.

Anyways. So after toddler class we picked up Olivia and I started cleaning my house. You know when you work all week and all of a sudden the filth hits you? That's where I was at. So Friday before dinner I'm cleaning the bathroom and decided the mop didn't do a good enough job and I scrubbed the bathroom floor with my hands and sponge/towel combo. Needless to say my back hurt the rest of the night.

But then I got my crafty on. Like MAY-JAH. I got 8 scrapbook pages done and two cards sets. Here's one variety set: (and it's in my shop already)

 And the other from that night I'm using as my own stash.

On Saturday, Matt & the kids went out to his parents and they took Batman & Stumpy. A vet was holding a outreach clinic so we brought them there for their booster shots to save us an office visit charge. Which GREAT because the shots were still $52 total. Um, yeah. There goes some of the window money I set aside. FML. But it had to get done and we saved ourselves another $50 at least in what would have been an office visit PLUS the gas to drive to Ashland, over an hour away. Yes, our new vet is in Ashland because the one in Superior are being motherfucking whores and I hate them. Anyways.

But while they were gone I had to go to the craft store to get stuff to finish a custom frame order for someone and I found this bird stamp in the $1 bin. So I made a set of 6 cards. It'll be in my shop... either later tonight or tomorrow.
 AND while they were gone I cleaned the house. I also want it noted that I changed the dirt holding bag thingie on the vacuum cleaner by myself and without mess. I know. It's the first time EVER and I was so proud. I didn't even have Stumpy and Batman to brag too. But it was very exhilarating to suck up more stuff knowing that the bag isn't on the verge of exploding. UNTIL I sucked up something weird and broke the belt. Whoops. But I can't do that and so Matt assures me he'll get to it. Right. I totally believe him, too.

BUT I also swept/mopped my other floors with a vengeance. It's ridiculous how accomplished I feel cleaning floors. I also did SEVEN loads of laundry. My basket still isn't empty. BUT on the other hand, I have clean socks and underwear. Win.

Then today we ran around and I returned some things I decided I didn't need (mostly because I just shelled out $52 for the cats to get injections in their ass and hi- we need bread & milk), and I had to use part of our Menards gift card to get batteries so I can take pictures of stuff for Etsy and put it up. Kind of sad, eh?

But then while I was cooking the bestest sloppy joes EVER, I made this set:
 which will be in the shop soon. Oh, and Olivia helped me make these:
Jackson... well he's sick. He was Mr. Grumpy Pants at lunch and just about lost it when I asked him to put his jacket on. I put him down for a nap and he woke up with a fever. Swell. Then all afternoon he laid on Matt on the couch watching stupid shows and I cooked. Well, after dinner I got him in his jammies and gave him some Tylenol and started reading one of his favorite stories and he fell asleep. Poor guy. He rarely gets sick so this is going to suck. I'm hoping it doesn't turn into puke because at 2 1/2 he has never puked. And if you don't know about the dramatics of toddler puke... it's not pretty. Everybody is crying, gagging, and alternately screaming. It's just gross.

Anyways. So I was productive. I'm glad I got stuff to put in my shop, got my house cleaned, and laundry done. It'll be nice to wear clean pants again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thanks + More Crafty - More Snow = Less Ghetto?

To get you started this evening (I swear on my right boob that I have funny in this post) I am posting a vlog. You can see me stumble through a terrible thank you to some of my readers. I suck at that but I figured THAT would be better than me doing my regular "thanks- you are cool". So.. ok. And I didn't preview it because you people freaked me about telling me I sound weird. Now I'm all self conscious when I say "about" and such. One time I actually said "a boot" and now I'm getting teased. Whatever. So I refuse to see what I look like. HA!

(Edit to add: Forgive the static. I decided to listen to it and guess what? THIS IS PROOF I'M NOT CRAZY, Matt!! It does make a static noise! Any techie people?? Help me prove my husband I'm not a retard.)

So I haven't had a chance to show you what is in my shop. And my "link" button isn't working so you're gonna have to just go to (which links.. WTF blogger? WTF?) and check them out. But I have an entire greeting card set (more coming soon):
 And cutie Valentine's cards. I have a few different ones and I made myself an extra set of these.
OK. So we are all familiar with the ghetto state of my van window, right? If not, you need to click on that link and be ashamed of yourself for not knowing what's going on. Anyways. So right now the only thing keeping my van from being robbed of it's seats and random shit in there is a huge sheet of plastic and some duck tape. Well, I'll tell you one thing- neither of these things will keep you warm but they WILL give you the experience of scraping the inside of all your windows so you can see out them. And I've also discovered that I think I have freakishly small arms because folks? I'm struggling. I got my boob stuck in my steering wheel today and it hurts. I'd show you a picture of the huge red mark that is still there but I think that's porn and my blog will get flagged or something. Anyways.

So today it snowed and shit and I didn't think anything of it. Until I went outside to find that some of the tape is not longer sticking so I had a snow drift. IN MY VAN. Guess how awesome it is to shovel out the interior of a vehicle? Um, it's not. Seriously pissed me off. So I put even more duck tape on it and I hope to god that it not only stays sticked to the van door part but that if it does fall off... my seats are still in there. I heard that some people will steal your seats and stuff. I don't know if that's true but sad day because I don't know if I have a clause for that in my insurance.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow morning brings me. :/

But I will tell you one thing- I will never have this problem again. Granted, if we're being honest my window will probably get shot out again. BUT I told Matt we are going to have a special account with my deductibles sitting in it. But until then.... I'm without a window and $125 short. Oh payday.. where art thou??

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Books. It's what's for dinner.

I have been reading like a crazy lady and now that I have a nook..... any hopes my family had that I'd be hanging out with them more.. those are pretty much gone. Luckily I can play Barbies and read at the same time. It's kind of hard to play Batman and Superhero and read unless I can convince Jackson to make Batman a werewolf or vampire. So far.. that hasn't happened.

But here's what I have finished up bitches:

Lament (book one) and Ballad (book two) - Maggie Stiefvater
Ballad: A Gathering of FaerieLament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

I have said it before and I will say it again- Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favorite writers. These were her first two books (before Shiver, Linger, and soon to be released Forever) and reading these after Shiver and Linger only make it more obvious that she is a fantastic writer getting better with each book.

I will say of the two... I loved Lament and was kind of so-so with Ballad. They were similar... but vastly different at the same time. Both books have a weak main character (meaning that they aren't very confident, aren't really a heroine, etc) and a very strong personality counter-part trying to woo them into the world of Faerie. While I was disappointed in Lament's ending... it wasn't what I wanted... I was surprised with Ballad's ending. And after I read it I decided it was what I did want but didn't know it. Does that make sense? Probably not. :) But both books are really fast reads and for being Young Adult novels, they keep an adult entertained.

Scar Tissue- Anthony Kiedis
Scar Tissue

This book was actually given to me by one of my favorite people, Mr. O, (who is having a great 2010 music countdown of singles and albums so you should check that out) and he's not a big reader. When I got the book my first impression was "holy shit- this is long for an autobiography for someone who isn't dead yet" because this baby checks in at 465 pages. I mean, dang.

And I'm not an ubber Red Hot Chili Peppers fan like a lot of people are. I appreciate their music, I'd like to see them live, but I'm not a die hard. But I do know the basic background of how the band got started and how they have evolved mostly from the repeat episodes of Behind the Music on VH1. And I knew Anthony was a recovering addict of many things.

So overall... I would give this book... 3 out of 5 stars. Which... I want to originally give it 2 but then I feel like 2 is harsh, so I'm going with 3. And I say this for a few reasons and I think these are all based on me being picky as shit about books lately. When I finished the book I wondered (out loud at approximately 2 am and only Stumpy seemed to care) was, why write the book when you are no where near recovered? Where the books ends he's just coming off a binger. And I think that's stupid. I mean.. if you're going to write a book about addiction and recovery, at least do it when you've been sober for awhile, not just a matter of weeks. I also found myself getting so fucking frustrated because he'd be doing so well and bam! Off the wagon for literally no reason. I honestly felt like bitch slapping him myself. I felt like he didn't really want to get sober and stay that way if he kept throwing himself into the positions where he knew he'd relapse. I mean, it's one thing to think you'd be able to handle it, it's totally another when he's blatantly like, "I knew I couldn't be around her but I didn't care". Um, yeah. No sympathy homie.

I also wondered if he ever really resolved clear issues with his father and if he was ever really able to recognize that his father put him on this path. And I found it endearing to me how his mother just kept trying and it was obvious she was above her head on his addiction but she tried and she seemed supportive.

Probably the most interesting part of the book was reading about the band and how it all centered around addiction. Oh! And I was kind of put off at how very little was said about Hillel Slovak's death. Anthony went into exquisite detail on their friendship but then it was just like, "And then Hillel died.. and we had to get a new member." Really? I don't know if it was because he wasn't able to discuss it for whatever reason- but it came off as cold. It's like he went into detail about how stupid and mundane things played a role in his addiction but he doesn't really talk about Hillel and his death and the role that played into future decisions. It felt like a loose end for me.

So. That's that. BUT I will say that if you are a fan of memoirs, if you like RHCP, if you like Anthony, if you like books about addiction/recovery, or want to learn an insane amount of information about drugs- this book is for you!

I have two reviews for TLC Book Tours coming up in January for you, Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton, and Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau. I'm kind of excited to review these for you because I think a bunch of you will like at least one, maybe both. And right now I'm really struggling on reading A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. A friend told me it was great and I'm almost half way through it and I'm kind of frustrated. But I feel like everything is going to start moving pretty quickly in the book so we'll see. Maybe it won't bomb on me.

And beyond that.. oh man. I have two books I'm jazzed about. One is Waiter Rant which I *think* is a true story, and the other is Driving With Dead People which I know is a true story. I paid next to nothing with them on Barnes & Noble clearance (they are still in there- get them and we'll read together) so even if they aren't great that's ok. But both sound good just by the title. :)

Ok. So tomorrow I'll be back with a rant. You wouldn't have me any other way.

But I ask you- what have you read lately that sucked chunks and what rocked your balls?