Monday, October 31, 2011

Picture of Lies

HA! I bet you thought this was going to be about me ranting about a picture... of lies. Well, it's not. Maybe another day? No, this post is about a pretty cool book that kept me intrigued to the very end.

Picture of Lies- C.C. Harrison
Picture of Lies (Five Star Mystery Series)
Investigative journalist Keegan Thomas is living a nightmare of guilt and grief since her little girl Daisy was kidnapped practically in front of her eyes. When the police investigation dead ended, she turned her grief to anger and buried herself in her work. The result was an award winning series of articles on unsolved child abductions. Her entire life became shaped by a continual search for missing children, her own included. On what is supposed to be a working vacation, Keegan travels to Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation seeking the whereabouts of people in an old photograph found in her grandfather’s belongings after his death. Her assignment? Write an upbeat human interest where-are-they-now feature story for Arizona OffBeat Magazine. But the Indians do not welcome this prying stranger carrying a picture of their old ones, some of them dead. Archaeologist Dante Covelli, a walking wounded with secrets in his past, helps her navigate the mysterious ways of the Navajo, and eventually Keegan is told one of the children in the photograph was kidnapped by missionaries and taken to boarding school. What follows is a web of deception that stretches back fifty years, and the truth Keegan learns about her own family is the most shocking betrayal of all. Nothing can prepare her for the danger she encounters when she becomes the target of a powerful senator who will do anything to stop her from telling what she knows about the PICTURE OF LIES.

Here's what I tell you: it's a great mystery book that goes fast, keeps you on your toes and doesn't bore. There are no unnecessary details to bog you down but you get a really good background on everyone and the author keeps you moving. I did NOT see the ending coming as I didn't think.. well I can't tell you without ruining it, but someone close to Keegan is involved. I definitely did not suspect that. I also loved how at the end when you think things are wrapping up, the author punches you again and throws a curve ball. I really appreciated that because otherwise it just felt too neat of an ending. I also like that there was a bit of a love story... even if it didn't end the way I wanted it to. If there was anything about the book that bummed me out or disappointed me, it was that.

I will say I like how it is set up for sequels because Keegan's character is interesting and I would read more. The other thing was that her story with the kidnapped child reminded me of Linda Howard's Cry No More which is a fantastic book as well, so I wondered if the author had read that at all because it was reminiscent of that for me, at least Keegan's character.

So if you are looking for a short read that is good and keeps you reading- definitely check out this book! I also encourage you to see what other bloggers are saying!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holy Ghost Girl- GIVEAWAY

If you are looking for an absolutely fascinating book for yourself or maybe as a gift- look no further.

Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson
Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir
A compassionate, humorous story of faith, betrayal, and coming of age on the evangelical sawdust trail. She was just three years old when her mother signed on as the organist of tent revivalist David Terrell, and before long, Donna Johnson was part of the hugely popular evangelical preacher's inner circle. At seventeen, she left the ministry for good, with a trove of stranger-than-fiction memories. A homecoming like no other, Holy Ghost Girl brings to life miracles, exorcisms, and faceoffs with the Ku Klux Klan. And that's just what went on under the tent. As Terrell became known worldwide during the 1960s and '70s, the caravan of broken-down cars and trucks that made up his ministry evolved into fleets of Mercedes and airplanes. The glories of the Word mixed with betrayals of the flesh and Donna's mother bore Terrell's children in one of the several secret households he maintained. Thousands of followers, dubbed "Terrellites" by the press, left their homes to await the end of the world in cultlike communities. Jesus didn't show, but the IRS did, and the prophet/healer went to prison. Recounted with deadpan observations and surreal detail, Holy Ghost Girl bypasses easy judgment to articulate a rich world in which the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence. We have all seen those revivals on TV. You see the passionate preacher and see the fanatics that come to the tent in the hopes that Jesus will touch them and they will receive a miracle. Some just come to see if a miracle happens to someone else. Irregardless, it's hard not to get wrapped up into this when you have an enigmatic person basically screaming at you to confess your sins and get yourself right with God. Even the harshest critic wouldn't leave such a thing without feeling something.

This book is a really incredible memoir into the life of a traveling tent revival told through the eyes of a young child. The things she sees, her experiences growing up, and the abandonment she experiences when her mother is basically the preacher's piece on the side. I really enjoyed this book because not only could I believe that this is what it's really like for these people, but specifically in these times. It begins in 1960 and continues over two decades and to be quite honest- for me it read as a first hand witnesses account into the decent of a mad man. I have always viewed this preachers as crazy people who just believe so much into what they are preaching because they have no other option. You know when a person lies over and over again, they begin to believe it? That's basically how I viewed Brother Terrell, a crazy, selfish, narcissistic conman. I was so intrigued after finishing this book that I obviously had to Google search him and wow. He's still at it. Even after prison, he is still out there collecting money from people who think Jesus is going to bless them.

So really hearing how people are so willing to give up what very little they have to hopefully get a miracle or spread the word of Jesus is kind of sad to me. But maybe that's because I don't really understand any of it myself. But the other sad tale is that Donna and her brother Gary really had a tough childhood. They were essentially shuffled around to different homes and sustained quite a bit of child abuse and neglect at the hands of these caretakers. And as a parent... I can't imagine just leaving my kids with strangers really and just hoping for the best. So it's kind of a tragic story to me but the most astounding part?

Is the end. I really did not expect the author's reaction years later when she comes face to face with Brother Terrell. I wonder (and hope) she has had some kind of closure in her own life because I didn't feel like the book really expressed that. As a reader, I ended the book feeling angry and sad for her and her brother because they are just innocent victims caught in a man's whirlwind.

So overall- GREAT book. It was so fascinating even for a person like me who doesn't really read anything religion based because I don't understand it. I would highly recommend this for anyone because if nothing else, it provides a really interesting insight into tent revivals, the human spirit, and American history too. Of course you can check out other reviews of this book HERE too.

One of YOU can win the book too! The giveaway will end on Monday, October 31!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Th1rteen R3asons Why

I'm going to break my rule of doing two book reviews in one night because this one? Is a must read. I don't care if you never read another book again, read this one. I don't care if you don't like to read at all, read this one. If you have a child, you need to read this book. If you have been touched by the loss of someone who has committed suicide, you need to read this book. If you have treated someone badly, not apologized for something you thought maybe you should have handled differently, or you think your actions (however meaningless to you) don't effect others, you need to read this book. I am not kidding when I tell you this will change your perspective in life.

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why
When Clay Jenson plays the cassette tapes he received in a mysterious package, he's surprised to hear the voice of dead classmate Hannah Baker. He's one of 13 people who receive Hannah's story, which details the circumstances that led to her suicide. Clay spends the rest of the day and long into the night listening to Hannah's voice and going to the locations she wants him to visit. The text alternates, sometimes quickly, between Hannah's voice (italicized) and Clay's thoughts as he listens to her words, which illuminate betrayals and secrets that demonstrate the consequences of even small actions. Hannah, herself, is not free from guilt, her own inaction having played a part in an accidental auto death and a rape. The message about how we treat one another, although sometimes heavy, makes for compelling reading. Give this to fans of Gail Giles psychological thrillers.

I don't want to give away all of the reasons why this book has made such an impact in my life but I will tell you that since finishing it about a week ago I have not been able to stop thinking about it. As the above paragraph says, this book is basically the self given eulogy of a teenage girl who commits suicide. The thirteen people who receive these tapes all played a part in her ultimate decision to end her life. She not only talks about her own experiences and failures, but she talks about how others failed her.

The sad and very tragic reality is that there are so many kids going through the exact same things. What starts off as her first kiss which then snowballs into the boy saying they did much more and you know how that ball will roll, you see the actions of other students and how she internalizes them. You can read this book and put these character's names and faces to real people you know with no trouble at all and maybe that's what is so disturbing.

But what I really appreciated about this book is that not only does it talk about the students (and in one instance, staff) who did terrible things to this poor girl for the sake of being cruel for fun, but I think it highlights an even larger problem that "society" overlooks- the bystanders. Especially in the news as of late we are hearing of bullying at its worst and while it's easy to target a bully and say- he's a bad kid or target a victim and say- you shouldn't be like that and you won't get picked on, what about the kids who just stand there and watch it happen? I can't remember what show it was on but a commentator mentioned that when people, but mostly parents, say, "What is wrong with society?" in relation to bullying- you should be looking at your own kid. Maybe you're lucky and your kid isn't being picked on or isn't the bully- but they probably know someone in either or both roles and yet they do nothing to stop it. What's wrong with them?

We are living in a generation that has the potential to do such extraordinary things that others will study in history books in the future but we won't get there when you have people treating each other like they do. There is really something wrong when two people can't get married when they are in love based on their genders being the same. The sheer ridiculousness of that astounds me. The fact that people feel like they should be able to control that kind of thing boggles my mind. The fact that you have kids bullying kids based on their economic standing in the community. Really- the kid dresses badly because he's poor not because he has nothing worthwhile to offer someone. Yet we teach our children that these kinds of biases are OK.

Something else that just pulled at my heart as a parent is how Hannah talks about how her parents had no clue that she was feeling this way because they were dealing with their own financial crisis and stress. How many of us stay up at night worrying about our bills, how we'll make ends meet, things that are coming up, etc? Of those people, how many of you have really been able to sit down with your kid and talk to them about their life. Can anyone really say who their child's friends are, who they don't get along with, why, who they sit with at lunch, what their insecurities are, etc? Very few. I would bet my next paycheck that very few of you can really do that with your child. In the book Hannah talks about one of her classes had bags with student's names on them and fellow students can put positive comments in them anonymously and how she looked forward to them. Those end up being her last lifeline to feeling good about herself but then another student ruins even that for her.

This book challenges you and how you deal with others. You might think the revengeful or "I'll teach her" moment is not a big deal, but you don't know how many more of those are happening to a person at that same time. It might be your one act that tips them over the edge. It makes you ask yourself is it worth it? Is it worth ignoring a friend over a miscommunication? Over something you could be completely wrong about because you made an assumption and never asked for yourself.

I think this book should absolutely be required reading for parents, for teenagers, for teachers, for those who help any of these people day to day. It is so tragic and your heart will break because you know you know someone like this.


I can't even lie to you and tell you I volunteered to review this book because it sounded amazing. I did it solely for the title because honestly? I think I just learned a new swear.

So for that reason alone, buy this book.

Fathermucker by Greg Olear
Fathermucker: A Novel
A day in the life of a dad on the brink: Josh Lansky—second-rate screenwriter, fledgling freelancer, and stay-at-home dad of two preschoolers—has held everything together while his wife is away on business . . . until this morning’s playdate, when he finds out through the mommy grapevine that she might be having an affair. What Josh needs is a break. He’s not going to get one.

My initial reaction to the first couple of pages is that this felt very much like Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. The writer's voice was the first hint of it but also the whole angle of it coming from a dad's perspective. But this book went in a different direction of its own so that I do appreciate.

Things I loved about this book was the honesty. You really felt you were in the room with him watching Max & Ruby (and for people who don't have kids- that is probably one of the shows easily in the top ten of annoying children's programming that will make you feel like you have sufficiently flushed your college education down the toilet in favor of watching a pair of bunnies, who apparently are sibling orphans, fight over stupid things. Max is probably autistic and Ruby is over bearing and controlling) and feeling just the absolute drain on him as a person.

I also love the insight of the mommy cliques because any mother out there knows they are alive and real and really? You can't explain the dynamic, you just have to be there to witness it. So bravo for Greg for talking about the mommy cliques and what the point of a play date really is.

The story line of him being a stay at home dad with the worries of his wife possibly cheating on him is relatable. He's at home, she's on business, he's stressed out with the kids all the while he's playing these scenarios through his head and you know that if you've been in that situation- you've done the same thing. So I really enjoyed reading those scenarios because it's scary how relatable they are.

What I didn't like? Tangents. I have an irritation with meaningless tangents in general but more so when I'm reading. If it isn't coming to a point or bringing something to the story, they need to go. So while I enjoyed the story, it'd be a 3 out of 5 stars if this was a movie. But if you know a stay at home dad this book is EXCELLENT because he could absolutely relate to it.

I want you to check out what other bloggers had to say about this story (HERE). If you want to be a Greg groupie, check out his Facebook, Twitter, blog and website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weight Loss Monday: Harvest Run 5K

I have been fairly slacker on the exercise but I made up for it by running in another 5K on Saturday, specifically the Harvest Run 5K that benefits the local NICU in one of the hospitals in Duluth. Super great cause and it was pretty much the prettiest 5K route to run. Hands down.

The race this year had all of us meet up at the Fitgers Brewery Complex in downtown Duluth (a must see stop if you're in the area) and we boarded a train that took us about 18 minutes away near the new Duluth East High School. Our families got to ride the train too, but obviously only runners and walkers got off.

 And it was a totally gorgeous and perfect fall day in Duluth. It was chilly (in the 50's) but thankfully there was no wind.
 Emily and I pre-race.
 And of course I dragged my kids and husband out of bed so they could come watch me. But they both were happy to ride the train.
 So once Emily and I got off of the train we had to walk to the start line. This race was much more organized than the race at the zoo and we felt super official. Mostly because we got our pin on numbers again but this time? We got fun chips to attach to our shoes to capture our time! Like legit racers.

Anyways. So I have to say I started out strong. I felt really good and despite forgetting my iPod (again) I was cruising along. Emily and I were keeping a good pace together and I wasn't feeling cramped or sore anywhere. Then we get to the one mile mark and it's a bit of a hill and a turn around so we decided to walk the corner and then take off again. Yeah. That's when the side cramp started. So we both walk it off and start up. I'm keeping a pretty steady walk/run pace until the two mile mark when BAM. My right knee completely pops out of it's socket and then almost immediately back in. At this point I figure we must be close to a water station so I decided to keep going. No. The two mile mark was at the Rose Garden and there were plenty of cowbells jingling but no water station. None. So I keep going thinking maybe there is another one just ahead.

I would be wrong yet again and my knee is really hurting. At this point I'm trying to think of my options but truly I have none other than to finish. I could have just walked it and finished but I was really pumped at the two mile mark when they shouted our times so far because I thought I had a decent chance of beating my first 5K time which was 47 minutes. I really felt like I was just going to do it.

So I started a light jog and when I say that I started crying at the .4 mark? I am not even kidding. I had one guy on the side ask if I was OK because I have tears coming down my face and I must have visibly looked like I was hurting and so when I reply "no", I get a "OK! Keep going!" Um, what the fuck? Are you kidding me? At that point I wanted to say screw it, but then I see Matt and my kids and of course my kids start freaking out because they see me. They both start clapping and screaming "Go, Mommy, Go" and so I came across that finish line.
 I had no idea what my time was but Emily was just ahead of me (there was a woman between us) and she was confident that we did better. I pretty much collapsed on a rock and just caught my breath because I was tired, I hurt, and I had to pee. And I was thirsty because hey- they had no water table at all during the race. So after I got my bearings about me I went and looked at the race postings on the wall and my time?
I beat my time by almost six full minutes with a bum knee. Pretty effing awesome and I will take that! But what's pretty cool is that I see that I am about a 13 minute mile and I was kind of happy to at least know that for future.

So that my friends? Concludes my second 5K. Obviously I wish I had gotten under 40 minutes because that was my goal, but I am happy I still beat my time. I am not happy that I obviously hurt myself. My knee is better than it was but my growing concern is my right hip. Which pretty much hurts a lot right now. So I am going to call and make an appointment to find out what the deal is since that is something I've dealt with for awhile and I don't think it's good. So.. happy thoughts there.

But my next 5K is (hopefully) the Gobble Gallop in Duluth on Thanksgiving or maybe even the Jingle Bell run which is the Saturday after that in Duluth too. We'll see. I'd like to do both, but it might only be one because I have to pay to run.. and funds are kind of tight right now. And? My knee and hip might dictate what I end up doing. So I'm going to take it easy this week which means no zumba, no running. I'll get back onto my schedule next week and hopefully not look like a Weeble when I walk.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Are Not So Smart (GIVEAWAY)

Are you a nerd? Do you like knowing lots of information that is maybe useless to other people? Do you like to feel super dumb and confused after reading a book?

Then this book is absolutely for you. Hands down.

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise. You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you’re as deluded as the rest of us. But that’s OK- delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It’s like a psychology class, with all the boring parts taken out, and with no homework. Based on the popular blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart collects more than 46 of the lies we tell ourselves everyday, including:

•Dunbar’s Number – Humans evolved to live in bands of roughly 150 individuals, the brain cannot handle more than that number. If you have more than 150 Facebook friends, they are surely not all real friends.
•Hindsight bias – When we learn something new, we reassure ourselves that we knew it all along.
•Confirmation bias – Our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions.
•Brand loyalty – We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it.

Packed with interesting sidebars and quick guides on cognition and common fallacies, You Are Not So Smart is a fascinating synthesis of cutting-edge psychology research to turn our minds inside out.

I will tell you that I finished this book in four days. DAYS, people because I have discovered that I am quite possibly, the dumbest person on Earth. Not only were so many of these chapters completely over my head, but the ones that weren't I just could not really grasp. And I found myself insisting I didn't do any of these things, which apparently means I do do them yet my brain is trying to trick me into think I'm smart because it doesn't want to not smart. Do you get that? I think I'm stupid. Or maybe I'm really super smart but my brain is telling me I'm stupid so the world doesn't know that I'm really super smart.

I have no idea what to think.

But it was an absolutely fascinating read because in the 48 chapters, it will take down every belief you have and make you wonder why you have it. Why you really have it. I learned a lot about the brain for one thing. I learned about all kinds of bizarre experiments done on the brain and absolutely fascinating results of them. And not going to lie- but the whole time I'm reading this book I am thinking of an episode of The Ricky Gervais Show where Ricky is asking Karl if he controls his brain or his brain is controlling him. The episode is hilarious but now after this book I feel like I sound like Karl trying to rationalize any of it.

This book is a really interesting read and pretty much any nerdy/geeky/info-maniac person would really enjoy it. Matt said it would make for good bathroom reading since the chapters are short. And the fact that Matt even picked up the book, let alone read a few chapters, is HUGE. Absolutely HUGE because Matt doesn't read. He doesn't read my notes, my texts, instructions, nothing- but he read about half of this book. While using the bathroom. So David McRaney? Congratulations on that accomplishment alone! But this would be an interesting study for a psychology student because a lot of the information provided would be a gold mine for papers.

I am actually the first person on this tour (view schedule here) but I encourage you to check back to see what the other readers are saying. In the meantime, check out David's blog, which was actually a pretty entertaining way to kill an hour.

The best part? I have a copy of the book to giveaway to one of my US/Canada readers! Here's what you need to do to win it!

*Be a follower of my blog via GFC and leave a comment on this post (with your email!)

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little Goblins Ten (GIVEAWAY)

Oh man am I excited to review a children's book for you. Mostly because I love children's books sometimes more than my own kids do and this one is perfect for Halloween!

Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane
Little Goblins Ten
First off, have you ever read the children's book Over the Meadow? Because this follows that basically. According to Amazon this is geared towards 4-8 year olds but honestly my 3 year old loved it because it's a counting book and he's big into learning how to count right now.

Some of the creatures in the book are goblins, monsters, ghosts, dragons, etc and while some kids might be scared of it, it's presented in a very non scary way. My daughter Olivia, age 6, is scared of everything. She has nightmares and has a very active imagination so when I paged through the book first I was kind of worried if we'd be set for another stretch of sleepless nights. But no, I read the story and at first she was scared and I was able to steer her from the scary aspect of monsters and ghosts by saying, "Look Olivia! They love their mommy too." and turn it into a "they are different from us but that's OK" conversation. So that was actually kind of a great side benefit. The story is definitely a fun read and offers lots of opportunities to have your kids count the creatures, find things in the pictures, etc.

I totally loved the story and the illustrations are so great. The other cool thing is that Pamela Jane has another story out that I really want to get for my kids and it's called A Vampire Is Coming To Dinner.
A Vampire Is Coming to Dinner!: 10 Rules to Follow
Here's the synopsis: Read along as the narrator of this story comes up with some practical rules for dealing with a vampire. But rules are meant to be broken, aren't they? From feeding the vampire garlic to filling the house with mirrors, the narrator is doing just that! With ten full-page gatefolds and a pop at the end of the book, kids will love seeing which rules are being followed and which aren't! If you're expecting a vampire (invited or not) this is your chance to get ready for a night of pranks and surprises. It is best to be prepared. "...a ghoulishly good time."— Publishers Weekly

Honestly? I think this would be a really fun book for the kids, so maybe this will be a little treat I pull out for them at Halloween.
I encourage you to check out Pamela Jane's website too! She is also a frequent contributor to Women's Memoirs and is the creator of Austencats- a website for Janeites and cat lovers.
Would you like to win your own copy of Little Goblins Ten? All you have to do is be a follower via GFC and leave me a comment on this post. I will announce a winner on Friday!

Bonding Over Beauty (GIVEAWAY)

It's time for another book review and this one is a giveaway!

Bonding Over Beauty- Erika Katz
Bonding over Beauty: A Mother-Daughter Beauty Guide to Foster Self-esteem, Confidence, and Trust
Makeup, skin care, shaving, hair color, periods--the tween years are full of landmines for moms.

As the mom of a tween girl, you know what's coming: puberty. As your daughter enters the teen years and exerts her independence, will you suddenly seem out of touch? Will she turn to her friends for advice before coming to you?

The tween years present a golden opportunity for you to start a dialogue and gain your daughter's confidence--to talk to her about the things she cares about and show her they are equally important to you too. How you deal with the sticky ''grown-up'' issues early on will determine the nature of your relationship with your daughter for years to come.

No mom wants to hear, ''Mom, you just don't get me, and you have no idea what I'm going through!'' followed by a door slam. Erika's comprehensive beauty guide on hair, skin, makeup, hair removal, puberty, and more will help you open the doors of communication and give you great bonding activities for you to do with your daughter.

With Bonding over Beauty, you'll have the knowledge and tools to create bonds that will last a lifetime.

I will say I was super excited to review this book obviously because I'm a mother of a six year old daughter who is now in school. It's only been a month or so since school started and I've already been asked questions about makeup, and she is already very particular on how she wants to look when she gets to school. While I cringe at some of the things she wants to wear, I am trying my best to let her develop her own style and sense of being. But it's really hard. And I am finding that while I can tell her about makeup and hair and all of these things.... I would much rather be doing it with her so we establish our own mom/daughter time. I really hope that in a few years she'll use that time to talk to me about things that are bothering her or ask me questions.. instead of asking her friends.

This book is excellent for that. Not only does it give really good information about hair and skin care, but it gives you things that you can be doing with your daughter. How to take a talk about hair and turn it into a bonding time for you and your daughter. My first reaction to reading the book was that I was annoyed it was all about beauty. I try to raise my daughter that while it's great to be pretty, it's better to be smart and have confidence in your own abilities. But the more I thought about each chapter and how I would realistically use it, I thought of some ways to make it work for my daughter as well.

In fact, Olivia and I have gone on some mommy/daughter "dates" and we bought her some new hair accessories after she said she would really like to wear fun barrettes and flowers in her hair. We've always painted our nails together but this past weekend we tried the face mask recipe in the book and she thought that was hilarious and fun. But during that time we were able to talk about the kids in her class and some of her friends. I feel like I have a better talk with her when it's just me and her and we're doing things her brother and dad don't get to do.

I also have to say that while reading this book my first thought is that this would be an excellent book to give to a dad who is raising a daughter without a mom in the picture. Think about it- did your dad know how to tell you which makeup to buy? How to moisturize your skin? When to shave? No. I know for a fact mine didn't! But this would be a really great resource for him for when his daughter does ask those questions or has some interest in doing these things. It would help him realize that it's totally normal!

So... who wants a copy? I have one copy to giveaway to one of my fabulous readers and all you have to do is comment! Leave me a comment letting me know you would like to win (and be sure to include your email if it's not listed in your profile). You have to be a follower through Google Friend Connect as well! The winner will be announced on Friday!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Domestic Bitch-- cake class graduate?

Oh yes. I have TWO weeks of cake decorating class to catch you up on and I hope you have a firm hold on your panties so I don't blow them off with my awesome.

First up was last week. We had to bring six cupcakes to decorate and then we were going to practice a shit ton of flowers, shells and leaves. These star flowers are ridiculously easy and I kind of rocked the twisty thing...whatever that is supposed to be.
 We then moved onto the pom pom flowers. Which I fucking hate and I will never do them in real life. Ever. You know why? Because they are hard and they hate me.
 I was super excited to do a shaggy mum because I was kind of feeling confident in my badassness at that point. Obviously you'll notice that was short lived because this mum is kind of dead.
 I didn't take pictures of my shells (which were HORRIBLE. I can't even speak to the awfulness that was my shell border) or my leaves (which I absolutely rocked and I am confident I can decorate a cake fully in leaves and it would be amazing). But then I decorated my cupcakes. And played with some other tips I had. And dammit if I didn't try another shaggy mum but that looked terrible too.
 Then this week it was our last week of the first session and we were supposed to decorate a full cake. Folks- I stayed up much later than I should have on Wednesday baking my cake and frosting it. But let me tell you- that for a girl who couldn't get her cakes out of the mother fucking pans to save her life four weeks ago? These bitches popped right out and were perfect. So if nothing else, I've spent $140 (course fee and stuff) to learn how to do that. Well worth it. But then my other issue? Frosting a cake so I don't get the crumbs everywhere. I am terrible at this but I was DETERMINED not to show up to class like an idiot holding a crumb covered cake. I was not going to be that girl. So I made myself my buttercream frosting (and I ate all of the extra. Which was probably the equivalent of three meals in fat/calorie content). But then I went onto YouTube and watched 15 videos on how to not kill your cake. Then I found this video:

It's changed my life. I cannot speak highly enough of the offset spatula. My undying love for the offset spatula can't be matched. It just can't. So after doing the "crumb layer" (look! I'm using lingo) and popping it into the fridge for 30 minutes, I frosted that cake. And woke Matt up to take my picture at approximately 11pm at night. He wasn't as impressed as he should have been.
So then this week was our last class. We were going to learn... ribbon roses and writing on cakes. Folks? I was the ribbon rose QUEEN in class. Not only did I have an awesome base for my rose but I owned those ribbon rose thingies. And? I was able to get them off my flower nail onto my cake without disaster. 
 I also can write on a cake like a pro. I had absolutely no problems doing that. So then I started decorating my cake.
 Emily and I graduated! Here is us with our finished cakes AND our certificates. You'll notice my cake caddy on the chair behind me. Um, yeah. We bought a caddy. But now I wish I had the super duper deluxe caddy like the lady behind me had. *sigh* But my caddy is still kind of kick ass, so there.
I am signed up for the next session which is mostly doing different flowers and we start next Thursday. I am totally loving these classes. I love that I have Emily who likes to take things like this just for fun because I would do it on my own, but having someone there I know to joke around with makes it 100 times more fun.

I will post about my other projects I've been doing... another day. I'm kind of tired folks. I took both kids to Boo at the Zoo today (which was a madhouse with hundreds of people and that is not an exaggeration) all by myself. Have you ever taken a six and three year old to a place giving out candy with hundreds of people swarming around all by yourself? No? Well let me just enlighten you- it's really difficult and exhausting. But I got a few cute pictures and I'll share those soon with yall.