Tuesday, May 31, 2011


 So on the very last day of my vacation with my friend Amy we hit up Winona. Now, I've only been to Winona briefly for work and never really left my hotel, so I hadn't really seen much of it. But it's a beautiful college town and I'd like to go back and do more of the touristy things sometime. So here are some pics of the area:

 Pretty, huh? I had a good time. The drive home was long. Like... mega long. I know Amy was tired driving from Milwaukee to Rochester and I know I was tired driving from Rochester back to my home, which was another four hours away. I ended up stopping in Hinckley (as usual) to pee and get muffins (and some caffeine) and I ended up getting home shortly after 8pm. It was a long day. I feel asleep half on my bed with my jacket still on while Matt was telling me how the kids were while I was gone. Yikes. :)

So what else.. oh, Olivia graduated 4K. I have pictures and a post coming on that. I've gotten on the couponing bandwagon and am getting so fucking pissed off trying to make a coupon binder. Nothing is really what I want and the fact I'll have to buy stuff online pisses me off. You've failed me, Office Max. FAIL. But this weekend I spent cutting coupons.
 That's only what I got out of newspapers... I have a whole other stack of computer printed ones. Matt says I've gone to the dark side. Maybe I have. But honestly? I'm ok with that. We need to save money on our month to month expenses and if this helps then I'm on board.

Then I spent a good portion of my holiday weekend crafting and putting things in my shop. Which, by the way, I have a lot of new stuff. Not only do I still sell my card sets, but I've decided to sell single cards and duos. It makes sense. Sometimes I only have the supplies to make one or two and so we'll see how that goes. But here is one set I really like, Because Nice Matters:
 And then Flamingo Kisses:
I have a couple of custom orders I'm making sample proofs for so I'm excited about that. I'm hoping I can get a few more sales so I can buy the counter top for my laundry sink. According to Matt we have everything else we need. If you care anything at all about my sanity, you'll buy some stuff. :) BECAUSE I'll take pictures of the mess and trauma that will be the laundry sink project. Oh yes. It will be worth it, babes.

In the meantime I have a ton of book reviews in the works. With some real life stuff thrown in there. And oh yeah- I'm taking a stained glass class starting tomorrow. And we'll talk about the 30/30 list and my alternate items. Oh yes. Lots of stuff is happening and being worked on.

But in the meantime...... don't forget to send me your Dear Sara questions by Thursday evening peeps. Email me at: sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com and I shall be your bitch. (At least for Friday questions.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Assholes, Idiots, a loser Barnes & Noble employee and Jen Lancaster.

So, the whole point of our trip to Milwaukee was to go to the Jen Lancaster book signing. Two things: 1. I've never been to a book signing, so I figured it'd be fun to say I've experienced it, 2. I am a huge Jen Lancaster fan. I think I was one of the first people reading her books and have stuck with her through all the highs (Such a Pretty Fat) and the lows (Pretty in Plaid) and just think she is awesome. I think I like her so much because she reminds me a lot of me. I say stupid stuff, I pose dumb things on poor Matt (surely we all remember the cat raping incident?), and I like to spy on people.

We went to the book signing after our lunch at Frank's Diner. The signing started at 7 and it was in this huge Barnes & Noble inside of an even bigger mall. The guy at the customer service told us "if you want a seat, get here no later than 5. And buy your book before." So like good little citizens we are, we bought our books at 3:15, strolled around the mall to get me some caffeine and sat our asses down in seats at 3:30.

We sat there by ourselves until 6. Then people started milling in, but we had the best seats. We were second row, in front of Jen. So in hindsight, even though my ass hurt a lot afterwards, I'm glad we got good seats. But let's talk a minute about the people around us. First off, I will say the majority of people were really nice. Some talked to us, people were polite and asked if we had seats saved, we had a hearing impaired woman next to us with a nice interpreter, and so for the most part- people were nice.

My biggest pet peeve is with people who are late. I hate, hate, HATE late people. If you are late, please don't even fucking show up. I hate you that much. You aren't funny, you aren't cute, and if you look around- you are getting death glares. So when like 50 people showed up right at 7 and proceeded to stand along the bookshelves (meant to be a little pathway in case of a fucking fire so the rest of us could get out), I feel stabby. What also pisses me off is when people don't know when the fuck to shut up when someone is talking. When you have, let's say, Jen's ASSISTANT in front of the group giving you instructions on how to open your book for signing, shut the fuck up so we can get this done in an orderly fashion. So Amy and I ended up showing most of everyone around us what to do because they are stupid. And not to be rude- but even the deaf person paid attention and was following instructions.

But the kicker was this woman.
Not only does she come late, but along with everyone else who was late, she didn't have her book purchased. So instead of going to the table by the door with a TON of books available for purchase, she decides to just take one off the wall that's behind Jen. Totally fucks up the whole wall. Now, the person in front of us was so annoyed by this woman that she took a book from the bottom to fill in the hole at the top. So it was like this when Jen came:
It just irks me. And the woman in the hat genuinely couldn't figure out why the 40 of us sitting in seats and following directions would be irritated. I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope her tires were flat when she went outside. It's just people like that who irritate me. Why do you have to be so rude? How are you that stupid? How can you not understand why approximately 40 people are giving you death stare?? The lady next to me (wearing a ridiculous fur jacket) said she felt like slapping her. Now, I didn't quite feel like slapping but I appreciated the fact it wasn't just me. Anyways.

So Jen came. And her husband Fletch (who initially got more applause than Jen). I've seen Fletch on her blog so I knew what he looked like, but he is exactly how I pictured his personality to be.

Jen read from her new book which is a novel instead of a memoir. I've not gotten to read the book yet but it's in my pile. It sounds hilarious.
This was Fletch's face when someone asked him a question about what Jen's like to live with. And I think he went on about how she's always nagging him and I thought his face was hilarious and priceless.
Had I really thought about it, I would have thought of some questions? I feel like I kind of know her already by reading all of the books and reading her blog frequently, so I didn't know what to ask. BUT Amy and I both made her laugh. One woman asked if Jen is looking to get more cats, and she replied with something like, eventually maybe? This woman was saying Jen could have her cat, and I'm like, "It's actually out in her car" and not only did everyone else laugh, but Jen did too. I'm just happy I didn't pee myself at that point?

 After the Q&A was the book signing part. That's when the loser Barnes & Noble employee comes in. She tells the crowd (keep in mind, the people sitting have been there since a little before 6 and we've been there since 3:30) that the "easiest" way for her to do this is to let the people standing (the super late and rude assholes) go first (Sara feels stabby) and then work our way from the back to the front. (Sara feels homicidal). Guess what that means, folks? That means Amy and I sat there until almost 10pm. The fucking mall and store were closing by the time we got to leave. Literally, I think we were the second to the last out.
But we got our books signed by Jen and Fletch. I have a terrible picture because despite the assistant saying she could work a camera, she doesn't know what "zoom" means. So yeah. Sad day. But.. we got it done. We did what we wanted on this trip so it was worth it. She's as funny in person as she is in her books. It makes me feel like that could be me eventually. And you people would come and wait hours for me, right?? :)

So tomorrow... I tell you about the last day of my trip. Which is a place called Bubs, Garvin Heights and the longest drive home ever.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Milwaukee or Bust.

I've been away for the best possible reason. I had a mini vacay with no husbands, no kids, no neurotic cats, spending money I don't have, and loving every second of it. Today while doing bills I almost regret buying the most comfortable pair of pants I've quite possibly have ever owned even if they do look weird on the bottom but then again... I pretty much don't. You're just gonna have to wait student loan payment!

Anyways. ;)

I took a fabulous trip with my friend Amy to Milwaukee for the purpose of attending the book signing for Jen Lancaster's new book If You Were Here. I am a huge fan of hers and would like to be her BFF. (Jen, I'm prepared to try making friendship bracelets. I wasn't good in my younger year, but dammit-- I'll give it another whirl for you.) BUT we did lots of fun stuff along the way.

It started with me leaving my house at 4:45 am so I could get to Amy in time for us to leave and get to Milwaukee around supper time.
 We stopped at a McDonald's (in Rochester, I think?) and it was ghetto. So ghetto it had a blue toilet.
The drive to Milwaukee was really long. I was so fucking tired because I got *maybe* 4.5 hours of sleep before. But Amy and I had talked about a ton of stuff so it felt like it went by rather quickly. We stopped in Wisconsin Dells for some outlet shopping. I ended up getting the kids some toys at the Disney Store but Amy.... well she caved and bought a pair of Crocs. She tried to convince me but the flats felt like suction cups on my feet and I just didn't know if I could do it. But she did and she loves them. When the rubber meets the road, baby.

After that we made it to our hotel which was really nice. It offered free drinks and free pizza. When we checked in the nice girl at the desk (who clearly wanted to be our BFF) told us the third floor was haunted. Coincidentally, we were staying on the third floor. We went up to our room and the window looked out to the pool area. And then I saw it.

A gang (does 3 make a gang? Let's pretend it does) of lesbians. This trip took a sudden turn for glorious. Not only was there one girl who kept hitting her head (seriously- I couldn't get a good picture of her doing it but it was weird), but there was one in particular who was special. I'll apologize now that I didn't get a picture of her ass, I believe I was blinded when I saw it. BUT I did get a picture of her hiking up her boxer shorts. (Yes- you'll all appreciate my super awesome zoom because these were taken from a third floor window, while we kind of hid behind some blinds)
 And her practicing the Rump Shaker with her girlfriend.
 From afar we only suspected they were lesbians. Fortunately, on the way down to get our free pizza we shared the elevator with them. How Amy and I didn't bust out laughing, I don't know.

The next day our mission was clear: shopping so Amy could get her J.Crew & NorthFace fix, eating at Frank's Diner, and the Jen Lancaster book signing.

We shopped. Amy got a lot of cute stuff, I got a pair of pants that are amazing and weird at the same time, and I got a brown cardigan for my Vegas trip. It's super thin and light so I can wear it over my strapless dresses if I get chilly. Which I might not, but it'll go in my purse perfectly. See? I have some smarts. We got some other random stuff too but we had to hustle it to Franks before one... because after that they don't serve anyone anymore.

Amy found this place that she wanted to go to badly. Seriously, anything I write can't do it enough justice, but you can watch the clip of their diner here and it's a totally accurate description of our visit there.
 After seeing the place in action, I already want to go back. And I'm going to get the most massive pancake I have ever seen. But Amy and I ordered burgers because it was lunch time for us. Now, while I ordered a regular burger with fries (and pickle.. obviously)...
 Amy ordered a HUGE burger unknowingly. But hers had bacon and bleu cheese in the middle. She said it was really good. AND she got home made tater tots. Seriously. They looked good. So our food was amazing and we were so full. We also got a kick out of sitting right behind the grill at the bar. We got to see how they made everything and it was fun.
 And then we got our picture outside of the place.
Now... tomorrow I'll tell you about the rest of trip. Mostly because I'm tired and Blogger won't let me upload any more pictures and I have a bunch more for you.

Yeah... Dear Sara is postponed. Suck it. ;) (Not really- I'm on my period and that would be gross.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Milwaukee.. part one

I won't give you too much for the night because I'm off to get my free soda/beer/mixers/wine and pizza at the hotel we're at. Serious. Not only that but according to the lovely the woman at the front desk, who appears to have all her faculties about her, the floor Amy and I are staying on is haunted. SO... we might have our own version of Paranormal Activity here. So yeah. Stay tuned.

But the drive was super good and despite leaving my house at like 4:30 a.m. I'm not so tired. I was really tired once I got to Amy's house but now I've rallied. The drive from her house to Milwaukee was completely full of construction... so that kind of sucked? We also missed the entrance to the hotel because the road right in front is totally tore up. So we basically drove through a giant hole to get into the parking lot. BUT... it's a nice place.

We also stopped at an outlet mall and I got a few things for the kids and I didn't get anything for me. BUT... I might tomorrow. We'll see. ;)

Tomorrow's agenda is shopping in the morning then heading over to some mall for a Jen Lancaster book signing which I am super excited about. So far we've had a good time and I'm already relaxed from a really stressful couple of weeks. I completely needed this break.

But in the meantime lovewhores...... send me your questions for Dear Sara this Friday! ;) I might also have my May Giveaway Box of Awesome to announce??? Email me at sarastrand9438 (at) hotmail (dot) com with your questions baby oats.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another concert in the books.

I can't remember if I ever told you all I was going to the Death Cab for Cutie concert last night? I know some Facebook people knew and then others I told in passing.. but yeah. I went. It was amazing. None of the plans before hand worked out so it was all winging it. And did you know you can't sell a "will call" ticket to scalpers on the street? Yeah. I figured you couldn't but now I know for sure.

Now, while we saw Akon and Usher get out of their buses across the street at the Target Center... Chris Walla from Death Cab walked right past us. He was carrying food right past everyone in line and only me and this completely drunk guy next to us recognized him. So that was kind of cool.

The opening band was The Lonely Forest. Honestly- I can't say I had ever heard them before but I really liked what I did hear. Chris Walla produced their new album, Arrows, and you can hear some Death Cab for Cutie influence, but they certainly have their own sound. The singer is kind of nutty? And I mean that in a really good, socially awkward, hipster kind of way. The only thing that was kind of distracting is that he sticks his tongue out a LOT when he performs. But I liked them enough to put that album on my iTunes buy list. So we'll see.
 You'll notice we were super closet to the stage. Usually at First Avenue I stand right behind the sound board. Usually you don't have a million people touching you, you can sometimes see the set list, and you're directly in front of the stage so you can get good pictures. This time since we ended up being like fourth in line we decided to sit on the ledge really close to the stage. So I got great pictures.
 I also underestimated how painful sitting on a concrete ledge for four hours would be. Needless to say, my ass, hips, and knees were in a lot of pain by the time we hobbled out of there. But it was totally worth it because I got to see everything perfectly and it was a great concert.

Admittedly, I'm a late comer to the Death Cab for Cutie fan train, so I don't know all of the lyrics to all of their songs. Thankfully, they played all of my favorites (with the exception of "Summer Skin") and even the ones I didn't know totally were still great to hear.
 Probably one of the best moments of the concert was Ben Gibbards solo acoustic version of "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" which ended up being a crowd sing-a-long that at times drowned out Ben's voice.
 Another moment that I will admit to having a total geek moment was when they played, what is most likely my favorite song ever, "What Sarah Said". That, too, became a total crowd sing-a-long and I can't even tell you how amazing that was for me.
Several times during the concert the band stopped to say how impressed they were with the crowd, how amazing the venue is (if you are ever in Minneapolis/St. Paul I highly recommend seeing something at First Avenue), and how overall it was one of their favorite performances. Which.. was pretty cool to hear, but it was true. The crowd was really excited for them to play and that's always a great experience for everyone there.

What was also nice was that First Avenue *finally* has air conditioning. Seriously. It's about time. But even with the air conditioning it was obviously warm on the stage because Ben Gibbard started out with black jeans and ended the show with his pants looking like shiny leather. Also you'd see just massive amounts of sweat fly off his head when he was jamming out. But it's that kind of thing where they play through it that kind of make the concert for me. They played pretty much every hit and all of my favorites off the albums I have, plus a bunch of new ones of the album that comes out in eight days. And to be honest? I listened to the new single the other day and I was just "meh" by it but it's really great live. As is the other stuff so I'm going to still say I'm excited for this album to come out.

So. Tomorrow is weight loss check in. Stay tuned for that. Tuesday-Thursday I'm in Milwaukee for a book signing with Amy so I don't know if I'll have posts for you or not. So don't panic if you don't see anything. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Island of Lost Girls

Oh... this is a good book and you should just get it now before reading my review. ;)

Island of Lost Girls- by Jennifer McMahon
Island of Lost Girls: A Novel
While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as somone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda joins the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

Now, I've reviewed another book by this author and I was blown away. I will say that this book captured me right away and I really like how this author creates a story line and builds characters. I may not always like the character (and truth be told I felt like punching Rhonda for being a whining baby about everything and is just too "woe is me" for me to like her.) but I like the role they play in the story.

I felt this book really captured the fascination of child abductions and it made you feel not only like this was a real story but also that you were involved. I mean, how many of you would do anything but stare at a person dressed up like a rabbit taking a kid out of a car? Honestly? I think we'd all be so dumbfounded we'd just stare. And it's true- how many kids go missing in the light of day with people around? It happens. But what I really liked is that this book had a good mystery to it and I did NOT see the ending coming. Not at all. Usually I have a hunch but this time I was totally blown away.

The story has so many twists and turns, as well as flashes back to childhood and then you realize that really- it's like three stories into one. I didn't even see where it was all going until I got to the end. The author keeps you on the edge of your seat and you think she can't possibly wrap it up- but then... bam. She not only wrapped it up, but it's logical and a great ending. You don't feel cheated.

So yes. Buy this book. I'm already reading another of hers and I'm excited about it. These are GREAT summer reads. Don't take my word for it, check out the other book reviews here or visit Jennifer's website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm a good mom. I should have gotten it on tape. My bad.

So this last Sunday was Mother's Day and it was a pretty good day overall. Although I don't drink, staying out until after bar close on Saturday made me feel hung over. Which wasn't good because I was still exhausted from Friday night's festivities. Matt usually never does anything for me on Mother's Day so I sent him out to his parent's house to spend the day with his mom, and he brought the kids with. (They were excited since one of my in-law's whore cats had kittens again.) I had brunch with Amy, brought my brother food that probably made his hangover worse while he was at work, and then hung out with my mom.

BUT Matt did get my flowers. And this was what they looked like for the first 30 minutes. Then the cats ate them.
 But the best part of my Mother's Day was having Matt tell me that I was a good mom. He did say he knows this for a fact now because after being with them Friday night and most of Saturday on his own, he knows he is not cut out for stay-at-home-Dad duties. He also said he now realizes how much work I actually do. AND that he will gladly work obscene amounts of over time at work. :)

This is a complete win for me.

Because even though I go out and am able to hang out with my friends a lot, I am with the kids a LOT more than Matt. To his credit, Matt usually works 4 am until 4 pm Monday-Friday, then works almost every Saturday (it's rare that he's off on a Saturday) and every other Sunday. For him to have almost 80 hours in a week isn't unusual. And some days he doesn't take a lunch or break at work, goes in at 3, sometimes stays later, sometimes works really late on a Saturday, etc but he really, REALLY likes his job. I don't worry that he'll work himself into the ground because he gets excited to go to work. And honestly? We all benefit from not just his paychecks (which allow us to not have credit card debt.. FINALLY) but him being happy when he comes home.

With that being said, that means I deal with about 80% of the kid duties. All of the tantrums, the fighting, the throwing, the hitting, the spilling of drinks on everything, coloring on walls, coloring on my couch, picking up the toys, laundry, cleaning, etc. Almost all of it is mine, all mine. And honestly? Some days I feel like a machine. And some days I just look at them and their cuteness and it's OK.
 Like when I ask Jackson if he was eating the dirt again and he says no. But it's clear he did because he has dirt all around his mouth.
 Or when they want to play together and fight over someone's toy. This is Jackson's map toy he got from my parents for his birthday. My dad is an over the road truck driver and is gone a lot, but they talk to him every day on the phone and he always tells them where he is. And that's cool because then we pull out the map and I can show the kids where Grandpa is. The best is when Jackson talks into the map and says "Hi Hampa!!" thinking my dad can hear him. Or when he tells me Grandpa is in Massacheez-its.
 Oh. Or when Olivia tells Jackson to put marker on his face. Then they both tell me they weren't doing that.
Or when I look at Olivia and wonder where all of the last five years has gone. She's starting Kindergarten in the fall and today at school they were practicing their songs for preschool graduation. I'm not going to lie- I teared up.

So despite the fact that some days I struggle, some days I feel like driving away as fast and as far as possible, some days I cry because I'm so frustrated and I have no fucking clue as to what I'm doing and some days I get so pissed off at Matt for YET AGAIN trashing the house right after I spent my entire Saturday cleaning it.... I figure there is nothing else in my life that will have any tangible reward like being a mom. Someday I'll watch my kids grow up and have careers and families of their own. And someday I hope my kids look back and think I did a good job. But I don't know. Because honestly I have not a damn clue what I'm doing and I feel grossly unprepared. I never put thought into how hard raising a human being is.

To all of my friends with babies on the way and the ones in the trenches of motherhood now? You have not one thing to complain about. The work you are doing is easy ass compared to toddler hood and beyond. Try explaining to a kid why they can't do something without using the "just because" line. I mean, really think about that kind of stuff. I have no idea why we can't wear underwear on our head. I have no good reason. And I'm not going to lie- I am terrified of Olivia entering school all day. It's like she isn't really mine anymore, you know? She'll be influenced by other kids and she'll experience things without me. All I can do now is hope that my nagging is helping her make good choices. Ugh.

Anyways. So it was a good Mother's Day for me. I hung out with my mom and that's fun. My brother and I bought her tickets to see Sheryl Crow (post on that tomorrow) and a pedicure (which I get to get one too.. woo hoo!). Oh, and my already eaten flowers. They were lovely.

So before I sign off.... if you want a Dear Sara post this Friday you need to send me questions ASAP to sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com. They can be of anything- questions about me, your problems answered by me, or if you want my opinion on something. Anything, something. Funny or serious. Giddy up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Friends, Dirty Bowling, and Dive Bars

Oh lordy Lucy... it was a GREAT weekend. I could go for days about how much fun I had, but let's do a quickie recap for you!

So a few weeks ago my friend Amy said she wanted to come up for another weekend of fun and crazy times and hopefully recapture the awesome that was my birthday party. And as much fun as my birthday was... I had more fun this weekend. Maybe it was because everyone already knew each other this time or maybe it was because Colorado Bulldog drinks were on special, I don't know, but it was a great Saturday.

First up, Amy came and we shopped. Then I took her quickly around Canal Park because it was freezing and windy so we didn't get to go into all of the little shops. But we met up with my friend Emily for dinner at Grandma's Sports Garden and we had a super newbie waitress. We all had a good supper and then we were going to meet Tammy, my brother Travis and his friend Phil at this super dive bowling alley by my house. Emily even brought her husband Corey which was super fun to hang out with him too.

Can I just tell you, like really emphasize, that the bowling alley by my house is so much more ghetto that I ever remembered? First off the bathroom smells like cloves, cinnamon and piss. Then all of the available balls to use were really dirty. For example, I put my fingers in one and it was sticky. Gross. I had to settle on a six pound bright orange thing with tiny holes because everything else would have taken me with it down the lane. Then the floor was REALLY slippery. I told Amy if I don't face plant in the lane I'll consider it a win. The other awesome? Is that nobody really knows what they bowled because the score keeping was wrong. It said people got a spare when pins were still up. Balls got stuck, I think Emily had to reset it every time it was her turn. The place was gross.
 But for a moment, let's just marvel at how effing skinny I look here. Yes. Amazing.

After bowling we decided to head to Keyport so we can enjoy the lameness of this bar and admire the terrible karaoke singers. It far exceeded all expectations. Everybody, (except Emily and Corey who made it an early night) made it to the bar and we were eventually joined by my friend Jessica and her friend Jessie, who I didn't know but she is awesome sauce. She's my kind of peep.
 This is Amy and I early in the night I think.
 Then this is me and Amy (and Phil's hat) a little later. Probably my fav picture of the night?

What's awesome is that I have a really awesome brother. And his BFF/co-worker/room mate Phil is equally cool. And they are both effing hilarious. They also are total gentlemen because this is the second time they've paid to get my friends drunk. I mean, really.
 Here's a list of things that happened during the night: Travis burned himself on a cigar and Amy threw ice at him, Travis and Phil stayed out much too late and drank too much seeing how Travis had to work at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Phil got some kissing action by someone (names never to be mentioned...), a bachelorette party came to the bar and we all merged into one giant group which ended with a major sing a long of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" with all of us dancing, a new drink was discovered (Colorado Bulldog) courtesy of Jessie, and a biker wannabe from across the bar winked at me. Overall, the night was win. Not to mention the hilarious conversation and us singing along with whoever was singing karaoke. This time we came very close to convincing the boys to sing for us. Next time for sure.
 Jessica, Travis and me at the end of the night, right before bar close.
 I don't care what anyone says- I freaking love this picture. This looks like everyone was having an awesome time and we were. Amy, Tammy and Phil. I see a party bus in our future?
Oh man- I loved this one too. :) Jessie, Travis and Jessica. Jessie is trying to soothe Travis's cigar burn on his hand and Jessica is making her shocked face.

So at bar close I gave Amy a ride back to her hotel and Tammy a ride to her house, but on the way... we went past a gay bar called The Flame. (You'll remember I've actually been to The Flame before.) But there was a party bus outside and I drove around the block to get a picture of the back:

Now, in case you can't read it, it says "Quit Beeping My Beav Yo!" Yeah- that needs to be a PSA somewhere. It just does. Apparently, someone named Sam was celebrating his/her 23rd bday (as appropriately written on a side window). Have I ever mentioned how trashy Superior really is? And if you are looking for dive bars we really are the mecca? Whatever this city is doing to increase tourism I really feel they need to start going towards promoting our dive bars. Truly. It's an untapped market.

It was a late night but it was so totally worth it. I always have friends who are different from each other but so far they have all gotten along really well when we come together. And then to see people friending each other on Facebook is so awesome. I don't want to take credit for it because they are all awesome and anyone would be lucky to call them a friend, but I'm glad I brought this group together. And we are going to plan a get together but this time in Amy's area.

Not to mention that the more I hang out with Amy the more I adore her. She is so fun, I always have great conversation with her, and I feel like we've known each other forever. What I also love is that her and my friend Tammy have totally hit it off. And I think that's cool because Tammy is one of my besties for life. She and I are like exact copies of the other. I also love that my friends are pretty much down for anything and I don't have to worry about any kind of drama getting into the mix. They are just down to earth and fun. And I think I mentioned it, but Jess and I? Like wow. We were friends from third grade and then I moved away in 7th grade, and to get together now? You would never have known we've ever been apart. It's awesome.

I also should mention I love my brother bunches and his friend Phil is like my second brother. Who totally reminds me of Dexter (the show) and I don't care what anyone says. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Ninth Wife

No, this is not a post about me being Matt's ninth wife or anything. But it IS about a book that is absolutely awesome and I really loved. And I'll tell you why. But first...

The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls
The Ninth Wife: A Novel
Bess Gray is the thirty-five year old folklorist and amateur martial artist living in Washington, DC. Just as she's about to give up all hope of marriage, she meets Rory, a charming Irish musician, and they fall in love. But Rory is a man with a secret, which he confesses to Bess when he asks for her hand: He's been married eight times before. Shocked, Bess embarks on a quest she feels she must undertake before she can give him an answer. With her bickering grandparents (married sixty-five years), her gay neighbor (himself a mystery), a shar-pei named Stella, and a mannequin named Peace, Bess sets out on a cross-country journey-unbeknownst to Rory- to seek out and question the wives who came before. What she discovers about her own past is far more than she bargained for.

So, I was kind of leery. I mean, I was secretly worried this would be some kind of Jodi-Picoult-make-me-want-to-kill-myself-with-sadness type of story but no. It wasn't that at all. It was a really honest story about being a 35 year old woman, with people making assumptions as to why she isn't married with kids, and then her struggle with it. She envies the long marriage of her grandparents, even though they fight constantly, because she feels like they must obviously still love each other. And in the middle of her questioning her life as it is, she meets Rory who she falls for quickly. He's a bit of a mystery and he obviously has an extensive history with women.

What makes this book interesting is that the chapters alternate between Bess's story and Rory recounting each wife and the reason why he got married/divorced. And it's pretty evident that he literally, had good reasons and intentions behind every marriage and that the divorces didn't happen for conventional reasons. They are all very logical explanations and it makes you question the importance of previous marriages/divorces with potential mates.

I really loved Rory's character. If he were a real person and I was a single lady he'd be the type that I would automatically be attracted to and he seems like a person you'd like. Bess was a little hard to like for me. Not just her, but women like her who have to question and over analyze every thing. Sometimes things shouldn't be analyzed, I think, because they may not even be related but they only look like it.

The beautiful thing about this story is that it really makes you think about marriage as a whole and why they don't work. I have another post for another day, but I think that people have too high of expectations for marriages. I believe people expect their spouse to be their world, their rock, the one to make them happy, etc and if any one of these doesn't quite click- they throw the towel in and move on. And no person can be THAT responsible for someone else. Matt is just a small snippet in my world. My world will still revolve, albeit differently, if he weren't here for whatever reason. It took me a few years to realize he can't make me happy, I have to be happy first and then he just enhances it. People rely too much on other people to bring importance and meaning to their lives and I don't know if that is necessarily healthy.

So. I can't tell you what happens in the end because it would ruin the journey for you through the book, but I do encourage you to read it. Especially if you are dating because I think it would encourage you to look at divorce in a (potential) partner a bit differently. And for people who are married (happy or not) it's interesting because I know I looked at things in my own marriage a little differently.. maybe you will too.

Other bloggers are reviewing this book so head over to HERE to get some links to compare reviews. And Amy Stolls will be talking about her book with Book Club Girl on Tuesday, June 7 and you can listen to that HERE.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

An evening with Sara, her mom, and Elton John.

I have had an AMAZING weekend and I can't wait to tell you all about Saturday night, but first I have to tell you about Friday night. Specifically... the Elton John concert.

Now, I'll tell you I'm not the hugest Elton fan. I'm not. I think I only own one cd and yay. To my credit, I was born in 1982 and so yeah. I think that makes it OK. But I did grow up listen to classic rock stations and I do have some favorite songs, two of which are Tiny Dancer and Rocket Man. I can't help myself.

A few months ago we heard that Elton John was coming to Duluth, MN... which population is barely 90,000, if that. I got my butt on the computer at EXACTLY 10:00 am to get tickets for my mom and I and almost choked at the $90+fees per person price... and eventually justified it as OK because he's a legend. And legends don't always come to (practically) your back door and so you should go if you can. It's like an educational experience and yay for lifetime learning.

(Disclaimer: I have three snippets of video that I really, REALLY want to show you, but each one says it's like an hour to upload?? Yeah, WTF? Sorry) But I DO have pictures for you!

When we got our tickets, it said "Behind Stage: OBSTRUCTED or LIMITED view" and I'm like... aw shit. That blows. Well, as you can see our seats were amazing. This is using minimal zoom.
And this is the first zoom setting. Seriously. We saw the backs of the musician's heads but who cares because we could see Elton perfectly.
What I was impressed with was how great he was. Time has been good to him because his voice is still amazing and the entire time I was freaking out because I was seeing a for real legend in concert.
And he is a fantastic showman. I mean, he is the real deal when it comes to a concert. He talks to the crowd, he gets up after every song and waves to everyone, he signed autographs for everyone in the front row (seriously- name a modern band that does that. Nobody does.), and he played everything he knew people wanted to hear. AND he played some songs off his new album which is did with Leon Russell called "The Union" and it was great. The new stuff is really bluesy rock and I really liked it.
The other interesting thing? One of his backup singers, Rose Stone, is one of the founding members of Sly & the Family Stone. It was such a good show. It really was and I am so glad I went. I even got what is going to be one of my fav concert shirts ever. It's basically a cream color tee with a vintage Elton picture on the front. Like, ubber vintage. It's awesome. I'll take a picture after I wash it.

Oh- and my obligatory concert pic:
The other fun thing about concerts are the drunks. Luckily, we sat next to pretty decent people. My mom was deaf from the lady screaming totally into her ear, but on my side I had a husband/wife duo and they were great. I chatted with them quite a bit. And she had an iPhone looking up the lyrics. Which I thought was weird.

But these two drunkies (front row) were obnoxious. I don't mind if people drink at concerts, but don't you want to remember it? Seriously? You are paying a LOT of money to see this show.. you'd think you'd want to remember it. I was waiting for one of them to fall over the edge but sadly.. that didn't happen. They DID serenade each other during "Candle in the Wind" though. The best part is knowing that these people likely got into a car and got on the road.
OH. And then there was yellow shirt guy in the first few rows in front of the stage. From a distance, I'd say late 50's maybe? Seemingly alone at the concert, unless the people around him pretended not to know him. But he was THE most enthusiastic concert goer of the evening. He was doing air guitar, jumping enthusiastically, clapping like a mad man, standing on his seat, you name it and this guy was doing it. I really wish there was some kind of recognition he could get for being THAT into a show. Sadly, a blog mention is basically it.
So overall... it was great. I felt like I was at a really big sing-a-long and it was so much fun. I sang to "Tiny Dancer" so well the lady next to me said she was impressed I nailed all the lyrics. Psht lady-- "Tiny Dancer" is my JAM. And he ended the show with an encore performance of "Your Song"... aw... it was so good.

And then it took us 45 minutes to get out of the 2nd level of a multi level parking ramp. Hey Duluth! Your new arena/parking? FAIL. *MAYBE* you should have more than one exit open. Just sayin.