Friday, March 30, 2012

How To Eat A Cupcake

Well folks, I am behind on life due to the plague of death, round two. Even though I am no longer housed in the bathroom for a variety of fun, I still feel like I am swallowing glass. Which you know, is awesome. But I am trying to catch up on life so here we go.

How To Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donahue

Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clairs’ housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.
A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death, and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia’s engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens up old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything.
You know I love me a good chick lit book, but I've grown frustrated with most of what I have read recently. Every story sounds like another book I have read. I feel like this is like a few books but we changed up the setting and put some cupcakes in it. 
Part of what made this just a mediocre book for me is that it never hooked me, drew me in to keep reading. I could predict everything that happened, the fights/arguments between Annie and Julia, and the ending. And it's so frustrating because I felt like the author wanted to have this fun book that would be a fun book club read or something to share among friends and this just doesn't get there. The characters are predictable and... stereotypical? Annie is the low income Hispanic person who holds a grudge against the world and then there's Julia, privileged, wealthy white girl. You know what happens, you know why they had their big rift and you know how it ends. 
Overall, if you really love chick lit and that's really the only genre that gets you reading- pick this one up, you won't be disappointed. On the other hand, if you read to get a new story, or to experience something, wait for my next review. 
Meg will be joining Book Club Girl on April 24 at 7pm Eastern Standard Time so if you like hearing from authors, please check this out here. And of course, see Meg's website!
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beans, Spit, and the Road.

Ah.. the third day of Chicago. Equally as gorgeous in weather which was too bad because it was of course, freezing as fucking hell at home. The good thing about it being so obscenely wonderful in Chicago was that it really felt like a vacation because it was such a change from home. But you want to see pictures!

On Sunday we walked from our hotel down to Millennium Park where daffodils and tulips were in bloom, and that was amazing. This is the outdoor amphitheatre and it's a piece of art itself. The arches are like sound barriers so surrounding buildings aren't bombarded with noise.
 And of course, we saw Cloud Gate otherwise known as The Bean.
 I had to take the obligatory dork in the bean picture.
 The bean from the other side is just pretty because you get the gorgeous skyline reflected into it.
 The group of us being equally dorky and waving at ourselves in the Bean.
 The park also has these two huge glass tiled columns. According to our trolley tour guide, over 100 Chicago residents agreed to have their faces used on the columns. Their faces fade in/out and they are expressive- the smile, blink, and pucker their lips into a kiss. When they pucker their lips, the fountain turns on and water shoots out of their mouth as if they are spitting on you. It's kind of disgusting but fun at the same time.
After we got our caffeine fix we were able to check out of the hotel and get on the road. What a long fucking drive. It was long on the way there but the anticipation of a fun weekend makes it go by faster. We left Chicago right around 11am and I found myself having to stop several times along the way to wake myself up. I did get to stop at a Cracker Barrel and buy 8 more sugar suckers and you know I've eaten every one of them already. We stopped in Wisconsin Dells to do a little outlet shopping and I got my kids some outfits for summer at cheap prices so that was kind of great. By the time we got to Amy's apartment it was about 10:30 pm and we still had about two hours to drive to get us home.

I sat on my own bed in my own house at 12:34 am and I fell asleep with my clothes, shoes, jacket and keys in hand only to be promptly woken up at 5am by two overly eager kids. I was exhausted. I had work that day and I won't complain too much because Emily had to be there at 8 and I had to be in by 10. But still, I bet she wasn't up at 5am!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Green with envy.

OK, so I fell off the planet for a few more days. Spank me. In reality, I have a lot going on in my own little world and so I am having to carve out time for other things just to keep it all moving. With that, blogging may be sporadic but no less sassy. With that said, let's talk about Chicago, day two.

Right away when we came out of our hotel we saw a religious crazy. You know I love me some religious crazies because they are a good time and it makes me feel more secure in my own mental issues. The last St. Patrick's Day I was at in Chicago we had Scientologists with scary masks on, and so I was glad that Chicago didn't let me down this time.
 And the river was GREEN. Like bright ass green. Fun fact- the chemical they use to dye the river green is actually orange and it was only by accident that the river turned green. It was originally used so they could see if the water was leaking into surrounding infrastructure but since it's green- why not party? Also cool is that the tradition of dying the river is passed down through a Chicago family through multiple generations. I thought that was kind of awesome.
 So one of the first things we did was purchase our tickets for the 5:30 pm water taxi because Emily wanted to do it and I had never done it. The bonus is that it was fairly cheap at $29 a person because it was great. More on that in a bit. Then after buying those tickets we walked down to the Water Tower Place and bought our tickets for the trolley. Keep in mind at this point it's almost lunch time and nobody has eaten. This tour is typically two hours long if you don't hop on/off anywhere and it's a pretty substantial loop that you go on. The plan was to get to Navy Pier, get off and have lunch, look around and then get back onto the trolley.
 This didn't happen because guess what? There are a lot of fucking people in Chicago walking around half drunk on St. Patrick's Day.
 Three hours later, we get to Navy Pier. But not before I had to hold in vomit from having ridiculously low blood sugar, a migraine coming on and basically breaking out in cold sweat because I felt like I was either going to puke all over the trolley or pass out.
 (side note: tell me this isn't post card worthy??? I took that myself!)

Anyways. We get to Navy Pier and almost immediately, the smell of warm garbage (it was in the mid 80's and gorgeous outside) and fast food made my mouth feel tingly. We all had to pee by this point so we get into the bathroom and I puke. Obviously. Afterwards, I felt confident I could eat something. So I get into line with the girls to get food and just as I'm getting to the register, my mouth feels tingly again. You know that feeling- your mouth gets warm and tingly and saliva pools in there, yeah. So I ask Amy to get me a Pepsi and I run like a ninja to the bathroom. The line was ENORMOUS and no way was I going to make it. So I do what anyone would do.

I go to the men's room and puke in a urinal.

Thankfully, there were no guys in there and even if there were I don't know that I'd care because we had an emergency situation and I didn't want to puke in the family pavilion with the little girls who were doing Irish dances or whatever performing right there.

Afterwards, I was not eating lunch. I got my Garrett's popcorn (which was as delicious as the trolley person said it would be) and drank my Pepsi. After about an hour I started to feel OK, so we got on the trolley and headed back to the water taxi place.
 We snapped a picture before we got on the taxi.
 And I took some more of the river as the sun was almost ready to go down.
 And then we got on our little water taxi. Which was amazing and maybe the most relaxing thing we did. It was so nice to be on a boat, with cool people, learning about this awesome city, waving to the locals and having them wave back, and watch the sun set over Lake Michigan. Like, can you really end a great day any better?
Emily and I were boat buddies and if it were not for her suggestion, we would not have been on that awesome water taxi!

After the water taxi we went to the Cheesecake Factory to get some food. Um, WORST SERVICE EVER. I've eaten at that location before and it was delicious, but this time it was bad. The food was bad, we had three different employees wait on us (kind of), we were there for what seemed like forever but was just under two hours because that's apparently how incompetent they were, and then Amy and Tammy got yelled at for having to pee because they were trying to close the bathroom down 45 minutes before the place closes. Um, rude. And THEN, the waitress (the last one we had) got kind attitude when we asked for her to split the bill up. Bitch, we're each paying with cards, don't give me an attitude. I was also pissy about my drink having no ice. Like, who gets fountain soda with no ice? The ice makes the drink. Everybody knows that. Assholes.

Anyways. It was a long walk back to the hotel, I was exhausted and knew I would have to be up early on Sunday so we can make the horrifically long drive back. I ended up getting no sleep at all either night, but overall it was worth it. Tomorrow I'll show you my Sunday pictures and wrap up my Chicago posts. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mice, Moose, Yogi and Pizza. All related, I swear.

Yes! The moment you've been waiting for--- posts about my trip to Chicago. I have to break this up into a couple of posts because I have a lot of pictures to share and stories to tell. So let's start with Friday- day one.

We left Superior at like 6am (me, Tammy and Emily) and drove to Bloomington to pick up Amy. Then we headed towards Chicago and the weather was perfect. I'm talking mid 70's in MARCH. The drive was fairly uneventful until our lunch stop in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. There, you will find probably the most hick version of a Perkins restaurant ever. Outside you see the cheese store and creepy sign:
 A random orange moose. Not to mention the other moose who is missing half of his horn thingies.
 A large deer statue humping a faux log.
We had what I thought was the worst restaurant service (which was later trumped by the Cheesecake Factory, but more on that tomorrow) because our waitress was, I'm pretty sure at least, mentally handicapped. Which, good for Perkins. Really, good for them. But this girl was clearly not meant to be a waitress. Not only did our food take forever to get there, but lots of stuff was screwed up. Not to mention she never did help the table of four old people next to us the entire time we were there. The hostess and then the manager kind of half assed it for them. But the best part of this Perkins was their used book shelf you could buy books from. Now, if it wouldn't have been so blatantly rude of me to take pictures of these books I would have. The books all ranged from either super crazy religious, instructional manuals on how to be a good homemaker and other random shit, to the obscenely racist title called, Who'll Vote For Lincoln? with an African American boy on the cover. Um, yeah. Welcome to back country America, folks. Considering we're well above the Mason Dixon line, I was a bit surprised to see this.

Then a little further down the road we stopped at a Road Ranger gas station. Mostly because anything called Road Ranger instantly sounds like a fun time compared to BP. Not so fun? The $4.19/gallon of gas. Seriously, rape me with the pump shall we? Anyways. While pumping gas, we all laughed when Yogi rolled in.
 Because you just don't see that every day. FYI though? Even though Road Ranger has 64 ounce fountain soda for $.49- DON'T DO IT. It tastes like shit. Total shit. With bubbles. Kind of. Just pass it up.

Once we got to Chicago and settled into our hotel, we decided that we would take a quick walk around the area since it was still 79 degrees out at 6:30 at night, and we were on the search for Chicago pizza. We went to Giordano's because it was close and I had never eaten there before so I figured I'd try something new. (I know, I shock even myself sometimes.)
 The pizza was really good but the appetizers were kind of a joke. I should have taken pictures. So, skip the appetizers and hold out for the pizza. We got the classic stuffed crust pizza which was so damn good.
 Tammy and me kind of matchy matchy.
 Amy and Emily!
After pizza we decided to call it an early night because the next day was the big St. Patrick's Day celebration and the river was going to be green and we wanted to be super well rested and energized! I was exhausted from being up so early to get us to Chicago and so I really had hoped that I'd get all of this sleep. That did not happen.

Part two tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Priest and the Peaches

A few posts about Chicago are coming, but I am a wee bit behind in life having been gone for three entire days, so in the meantime, you get a book review!

The Priest and the Peaches by Larry Peterson

Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s.Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral. They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 

What immediately drew me to this story was the fact that it's about kids who are having to grow up quickly and basically navigate through adulthood on a fast track. The Peach children immediately feel like real characters and within the first ten pages you are rooting for them and want them to do well.

Though some parts of the story I feel probably could have been taken out, I really enjoyed this book and sailed through it fairly quickly. The Peach family kind of reminds me of my mom and her brothers- who though they weren't dealing with the death of both parents, really had to band together as a family out of necessity. The daughter, Joanie, definitely reminds me of my mom having to care for her brothers and basically run a household long before she really knows how to. I immediately felt bad for the younger brothers and could really sympathize with the fact that they have lost both parents while they are so young and how the uncertainty of what to do or what was going to happen would be terrifying.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it if you are looking for an endearing but quick read. The story really only goes through the first days of them losing their father (the mother died previously) but it's a lot of story in such a short span. And you are left wishing you could do more for the fictional family and hope for the best for them.

This review was done for Tribute Books, and I suggest you check them out if you are looking for some new reading material. You can also check them out their Facebook or Twitter. Larry also has a blog, Facebook and Twitter that you can check out too. Fun fact about Larry- he apparently lives in Pinellas Park, Florida just a little ways from where I grew up and lived for a few years.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please use these links:

So that's it! I really love supporting authors who aren't heavily advertised and really support themselves through home grown efforts, so please give these writers the support as well!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Losing Clementine

By the time you read this, your Lambwhore Leader will be well on my way to Chicago for my 30th Birthday Bash Weekend. You know I'll bring you loads of pictures, but you'll have to be patient until probably Monday. I come back on Sunday but I have no idea when and I'll probably be too busy squeezing the guts out of my kids to post.

You'll survive. But in case you don't, you should read this book. This weekend.

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream

In thirty days Clementine Pritchard will be finished with her last painting and her life. World-renowned artist and sharp-tongued wit Clementine Pritchard has decided that she’s done. After flushing away a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions, she gives herself thirty days to tie up loose ends—finish one last painting, make nice with her ex-husband, and find a home for her cat. Clementine plans to spend the month she has left in a swirl of art-world parties, manic work sessions, and outrageous acts—but what she doesn’t expect is to uncover secrets surrounding the tragedy that befell her mother and sister. In an ending no one sees coming, will we lose Clementine or will we find her? 

I absolutely loved this book. I have a thing about suicide novels because I guess it's such a polarizing topic and I suppose it depends on which side of it you're on whether you'll like it or not. Though it's fiction, I would believe that a good portion of suicidal people are as methodical in planning their death as Clementine was.

I loved Clementine's character and though she's flawed, I think that I would probably think just like her. Perhaps that's why I was so drawn in by this book. I think that given the same set of circumstances as Clementine I would almost certainly see suicide as an option. Clementine suffers from a multitude of mental health issues which may or may not be genetic given the unfortunate and untimely deaths of her mother and sister, and after trying every available option she realizes that nothing makes her feel better. It's all shades of gray, deciding what side effects are worth dealing with and weighing whether it's better to feel in bad in different ways than be perceived as crazy.

Of course, you don't see the ending coming. And I'm not going to lie- I cried when she gave away her cat, Chuckles. I totally cried because it's like you're mourning the death of something already and then it made me even more sad for Clementine. But I do like the ending and I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I really loved this book and of course, I recommend you read it as well. AND, I want you to check out her website, Facebook, and Twitter because Ashley seems like a funny and great person so she'll keep you entertained. And, if you like interviews, Book Girl Club is interviewing Ashley April 10 at 8pm EST.

Read on party lambs!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Come and Find Me

Some of you asked if I ever read mystery/thrillers and I do. It just seems not very often, though. BUT, here is one that I recently finished.

Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron

Reformed hacker Diana Highsmith hasn’t left her house in over a year . . .
. . . not since she watched the man she loved fall to his death in the Swiss mountains. Now a grief-stricken recluse, she runs a thriving Internet security company from her home—meeting with clients in OtherWorld, an online virtual reality platform where she lives as her avatar, Nadia. The only two people Diana has seen live in the past twelve months are her sister, Ashley, and her UPS delivery guy.
But when Ashley vanishes, Diana is forced to do the unthinkable: to brave both the outside and her own personal demons to find her missing sister. As one shaky step leads to another, Diana finds that the trail she is following is fraught with peril for her and her sister both—as she uncovers a frightening web of deceit and betrayal that stretches from the virtual world into real life.

OK, so let me start by saying I literally just watched a show about people who participate in version 2.0 or "other reality" lives. Basically, it's like that game Sims, but the characters are "real" and people fall in love and basically let this take over their real life. Freaks and weirdos, peeps. So then I started reading this book and was immediately annoyed because people who fall into that probably need professional mental help. 

I found that this book was slow to get going and at one point I really wanted to give up. Eventually I started getting into it once her sister goes missing and she ventures out of her house. I absolutely loved how Hallie twisted the plot at the very end because I can say I absolutely did not see it coming. I had a suspicion about one character, but the other? Did not see it. Not at all. Except now when I think back about certain parts of the book I probably should have seen it- but that's OK. I will say that my heart kind of broke for Diana. And when you read the book you'll know why- it's definitely not the ending I wanted for her so much, but I think that maybe if this were a real life person, she'd recapture some of her life back. 

Hallie is on Facebook and has a website too! I also suggest you check out what other bloggers said about this book as well

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why I have to clear out some peeps.

It has come to my attention that it's time to clear out some people from my Facebook and blog roll. Every time it comes around to elections I think I need to delete people. This year is obviously no different with a pretty contentious Presidential race coming up, not to mention all of the state seats that are up for change doesn't help either. But here's where we get real, peeps.

I'm a Democrat. Love it, hate it, I don't give a shit. I believe that you should have to work hard for what you have, and help those who are less fortunate. I don't believe in handouts for people who are too lazy to help themselves or even the ones who are smart enough to outsmart the system. There is nothing that grinds my gears than seeing someone use their food stamps but then get into a Hummer. Honestly- it makes me want to slash their tires.

I am so frustrated with all of the coverage about these stupid Republican primaries. It's not that I vote solely Democratic, I'm open to new ideas and new opinions because if someone has a really great idea- let's hear it. What I have a problem with is people trying to run a country based out of a book that could very well be fiction. I know a lot of people believe in God and read the Bible and try to live their lives based on the word. While I don't fully understand that, I respect that every person has a right to their beliefs. And good for you because we all need something to cling to in bad times. But not everybody in this country believes in Christianity and so it isn't fair to govern their lives by something they don't believe in. Imagine the uproar if the majority of the country was... Atheist and they tried to remove every church. It'd be a damn riot out in the streets.

Then when you have people trying to take away women's rights? Don't get me started. No middle age church going man has any right to tell me whether or not I can take birth control. My favorite thing is when people try to limit abortion rights. Can I be frank? It's not a decision I would chose for myself, but I don't think it's right to make that choice for everyone. I can see both the pro and cons of abortion rights, but I don't feel like we as a society should be making the ultimate decision either way. Instead, let's educate women about their options, try to help guide them along the way and be supportive instead of judgmental?

Let's move to education. How, by any standards, does it make sense to EVER cut funding to education? It doesn't. If we ever want to move forward as a country we need to make children and education an absolute priority. Teacher salaries should be dependent on how well they teach. If you aren't a very good teacher and you have lots of kids not passing or grasping basic concepts- maybe this isn't the career for you. Instead of putting so much money into bullshit things such as out of sight salaries for Congressmen and women, how about we put some of that into the education of our country's youth?

Speaking of salaries? Why is it that if you serve in the Senate or House, you continue to get a salary long after you are gone? What the hell bullshit is that? How much money would we save annually if we stopped doing that?

I just lose respect for people who speak on things and have never experienced what it's like to live off of Ritz crackers for a week. Or worry that you can't buy formula for your baby. If you have never struggled to pay your basic living expenses from week to week then you have no right to tell me how to be more frugal and listen to politicians who are millionaires.

If you are a millionaire? I'm happy for you. Really, that must just be super fabulous and awesome. I bet you even have a pony. But I invite you to live a week in a regular person's life for a month and see what it's like to grocery shop crossing your fingers your debit card isn't denied.

Do I think Obama is the best thing ever? No. But I also think he doesn't get a fair chance. Does he have the best ideas ever? No. But let's compromise and work together. We expect children to work together on the playground or in the sandbox, yet we as adults aren't able to model that behavior. Doesn't that seem a bit strange? So how about when the leading party or the President brings an idea of action to the table, instead of jumping on it and going on FoxNews about how it's shit, how about you say, "Golly gee- I don't know if xyz will work, but what if we add this to it?" COMPROMISE. I think neither party wants to really compromise because what would we talk about on the news? How boring it would be.

So... goodbye crazy Bible banging preacher people. I can't do it. I ignore what I can but when some of you are just down right disrespectful and lump all us Democrats into the freebie gathering, hand out activists? It just makes you look ignorant. Open your eyes to those who are less fortunate. If you have the wealth, share it. Because really- doesn't Jesus encourage you to help your neighbor and be kind to others?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

First half of epic birthdayness. It involves a goat.

Yeah, I'm making up words such as "birthdayness" because I can do that. But let's talk about me! And my birthday! It was wonderful and awesome and fun and most importantly- the best yet. Part of me is kind of sad because it can't be this great every year, but this year it was great and I have a fantastic life.

So I've been getting cards and presents in the mail for three days, but the first one I got was from Kim and she got me a goat. The fact he isn't real isn't great, but at least I have a goat. I feel like maybe I should just start getting goats and sheep for my desk. But nonetheless, I love how she supports my obsessions, because now my desk is going to look amazing.
On Friday Matt gave me his present even though my birthday was Saturday. Between him and the kids they can't keep nothing a secret. The best part was that earlier, Jackson flat out said, "Daddy got you a present. And you can wear it on your finger!" God damn adorable. It's actually two rings and I can only wear one at a time because my fingers are weird and buying me rings is a bit difficult. But it's OK because I don't like being flashy as it is. Plus, I like to wear cocktail rings and that can be a bit much with this too. But it is super sparkly, just like I like 'em. 
Sterling Silver 3.29-ct. T.W. DiamonLuxe Ring Set
 Then my mom got me a new pair of Converse shoes. Um, *adore*. I have decided that I am meant to wear Converse every day, so I need every color and style. These are just the best shoes and I don't care how old I get, I'm going to be rocking these. And my black and white plaid VANS too.
 On Friday I splurged and got my hair highlighted, thinned out and my eyebrows waxed. Do I look tired? I pretty much was exhausted. But it looks a little brighter in person, my room has weird lighting.
 Friday night I went out to dinner with my family, which included my parents and brother, to Texas Roadhouse. I pretty much ate like a pig and was full for hours, but you know I don't care. My parents were super awesome and took the kids for an overnight. But instead of going on a hot date, we came home and watched episodes of An Idiot Abroad on DVR and went to bed early. Matt even let me sleep in on Saturday and went to work.

At noon, he came home and then him and I went to lunch and to the mall for a few hours. It was kind of nice to spend time with just him. When we came back home, I had more mail! This time it came from southern cutie Dianne.
 I basically SQUEALED when I saw that she got me the best Cracker Barrel has to offer. Sugar suckers (and I hate literally just eaten my last one), moon pies (they make minis?!), and a googoo cluster. AND she made me two hair clips, and a ghetto birthday card on a Cracker Barrel bag. It was pretty damn epic and wonderful and I have already hidden my treats because Matt was trying to eye them up. Um, I don't think so, buddy.

Saturday night we went to my mom's for dinner and had birthday cake! One of my all time favorite cakes is from Coldstone Creamery and it's called "Cheesecake Named Desire". If you have never had this, get it. Every calorie and gram of fat is worth it, I promise.
 After we got the kids home and settled I was kind of exhausted. I had a really busy couple of days and I just wanted some sleep. So, as I'm sitting on the couch I'm basically dozing off. And then I get a text from my good friend Emily. She asks me if the birthday fairy had come. Weird, because I had been texting her in the morning so at first I thought she texted the wrong person. Then she tells me to go look on my door step. Cautiously, I open my door to see a little bag sitting on my front step.

I obviously run back in like the five year old I really am and dump it all out:
 First up, Emily is kind of awesome who secretly knows me really well and I'm thrilled to call her my friend because she is awesome. She got me a book, a cd of songs from the 80's, a McDonald's gift card, COUPONS, a bunch of candy, and a ton of quotes about aging. Seriously- best confetti idea EVER.
I had such a good time ready through them all and seriously- best way to end my actual birthday.

But the party isn't over, oh no, bitches. Me, Emily, Amy and Tammy are hitting the road Friday morning and are Chicago bound! We're going to party like we're Irish in a city with a green river, and we are going to be dorky tourists on a trolley, we are going to eat more carbs in one weekend than most people do in a week, and we are going to have a fabulous time! I am so excited for this girls weekend that I don't know how I will ever get through the week! I'll probably be grinning ear to ear all week thinking about the fun weekend coming up.

And to everyone who sent me Facebook messages, posts, emails, and cards? THANK YOU. You all rock and make my life that much more awesome. If I could give you sloppy kisses and big hugs I would. You all make my birthday that much better each and every year and I don't know what I'd do without all of you. Cheers!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eleven Things.

Veronica tagged me in this fun post awhile ago and I have been meaning to do it, but since I'm here and it's time to blog.. let's do it. :)

The Rules: 
1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them that you've tagged them.

Eleven Random Ass Things About Me:
Since my birthday is on Saturday, I felt it only fitting that I give you a picture of me from a previous birthday. This is actually from my brother's first birthday, so I'm three here. Obviously full of spunk and cuteness, which has stuck with me to this day.

1. I like my foods full of chemicals and by-products. Don't tell me to watch Food, Inc unless you want me to die. I don't like knowing my hamburger came from a real cow, eggs are baby chickens that just didn't make it, chicken boobs are from real chickens, etc. I have vegan wannabe mentality but I love me some chicken. Just as long as I don't think about the fact it came from an animal happy on a farm. I don't like fruits and vegetables either. No, I don't know how I'm not dead or really malnourished either.

2. Olivia was the first baby I have ever held or taken care of. Talk about trial by fire. I literally had NO baby experience when I had her and so I'm pretty sure that is maybe one of the triggers of my post-partum depression- it's kind of a lot to be given even though you know it's coming for quite some time.

3. I don't like vibrators that are pointy on the end. I'm not sure why they even make those because who really wants to feel like they are being stabbed from the inside?

4. I'm afraid of the dark. Even in my own house. Even if I'm with people. I have a legit fear and feel like maybe in a past life something traumatic happened to me in the dark? Because ever since I have been way little I've been worried about being kidnapped, raped, murdered, etc in the dark. I can't even take my garbage out at night, run out to my car for something, etc. It's annoying and nothing I have done has helped, it only seems to make it worse.

5. I secretly love dirty romance novels. The dirtier, the better. I usually keep those behind all of my other books so people don't think I'm some freak. Which, words out I suppose.

6. Every time I use a cup, I have to blow into it before filling it. It doesn't matter if I'm out in public or not, I have to do it.

7. I always put my left shoe on first and take it off first. I read a book in 8th grade about superstition and how that alone brings you good luck through the day. Obviously that's not true otherwise I would have never had a bad day since then, but I can't even fathom putting my right shoe on first or taking it off first- I would feel wrong all day.

8. I have a hard time delegating anything because nobody can do it as good as I can. Even though that isn't true, it's one of my worst traits.

9. I only really like pretzel rods, and I suck/lick all of the salt off first, then eat the stick. Yet I'm anti-blow jobs. Explain that, Freud.

10. When I was little, I would pretend to have Olympics in the shower. I would totally toss the wash cloth back and forth to see how long I could go before dropping it. I have no idea why, but I think I should maybe have had some more hobbies. My poor parents probably had horrible water bills. Sorry.

11. I am afraid to walk into a room and make friends, introduce myself, join conversations, etc but I have no problem speaking in front of large groups. I don't get it.

Questions from Veronica:
1. What is the best vacation you have ever taken? Vegas! I think that's because it was Matt and I, we got to do a lot of really fun things, and it was so nice to pay for a vacation with cash instead of on credit card. Best feeling ever. 
2. What foods do you hate? Anything healthy pretty much. 
3. Are you a type A person or a type B person? Type A to the max! 
4. What was your biggest accomplishment of 2011? Of all of the things I did over the year and the cool adventures I went on- I think my biggest accomplishment was learning to appreciate what I have, be happy with what I have and where I am and know that it's OK. 
5. What's your favorite dessert? A Cheesecake Named Desire cake from Coldstone Creamery. 
6. What's your favorite thing on TV right now? An Idiot Abroad. I wish Karl Pilkington was my real friend. 
7. What's one thing you wish you did more often? Vacation. I wish I had more time and money to do fun things and show my kids cool stuff. 
8. What's one thing you wish you did less often? I wish I stopped over-extending myself. I love everything I do, I just wish I could do less of some of it sometimes. 
9. What's the best gift you ever received? This is hard, because I've gotten a lot of really great gifts. I have two that I can't narrow down: 1. The ring I got for my 16th birthday. I know it cost my parents a lot of money at the time and they didn't always have extra money sitting around. I still have it and love it. 2. My mom made me a scrapbook of Olivia's first year comprised of pictures she took while watching her while I was at work. I really struggled with missing things and I got this for Christmas one year and it's still something I love. 
10. Are you a spender or a saver? I'm a spender... but I'm trying to reform into a saver. I hate it. 
11. What is your most shameful indulgence? Music. I buy a lot of music when I can and it sucks because I think paying $10+ for an album is BULLSHIT. Especially now that pretty much everything is going to digital- where is the god damn expense in that? I have nothing to show for it that I can hold in my hands. So yeah, I still do it because I'm obsessive and compulsive about music, yet I feel angry at the same time. 

My Questions:
1. Have you ever tried to write with your toes? 
2. What is your worst and least endearing habit? 
3. If you had the opportunity to go back and change one thing in your past, what is it and why? 
4. What was your first car?
5. What is your favorite album and why?
6. What is your favorite book and why?
7. If you could vacation anywhere in the continental United States- where would you go? 
8. If you could buy a farm animal- which one would you chose?
9. What is your biggest fear? 
10. What is your least favorite childhood memory? 
11. What is one thing you would like to learn how to do in your lifetime? 

Amy, Emily, Iffy, and Stacia

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How I plan to celebrate, because you're going to wish you were my friend in real life.

One of my most favorite mini road trips is to Chicago. I have been there three times before and I have had an amazing time every time and I love the city. I love the hustle and bustle, I love the crowds, I love the energy of being around so many people and I love the old-ness of it. The city itself has such a personality that if you've never been there you absolutely should.

My favorite trip to the city was my first one, which happened to be the weekend of St. Patrick's Day. If you don't know, the city dyes the river green. Like, BRIGHT green, and I got to see it that one time and we ended up rushing through before we had to go home. I'm not Irish and I've never really cared about St. Patrick's Day but from that year on I've just loved it and every year I wish I could go back.

So this year? I'm going back. My friends Amy, Emily and Tammy are coming with me for a girls weekend in Chicago from March 16-18. I am SO excited and I can't even really tell you how excited I am but I basically feel like I am going to burst with excitement! The plan is to leave really early on Friday, pick up Amy, and then we'll head to Chicago. It's about nine hours of driving time from my town to Amy and then to Chicago, so we'll be kind of pooped out? So Friday night is going to be us eating at an authentic pizzeria and maybe walking a bit in the Chicago evening.

Then Saturday? We get to see the river! The best part of this is that our hotel is actually right on the river, so though they don't dye it until 10:45 a.m., we'll be able to see it all day and into the night. Which I'm excited about! We'll walk around and do all kinds of touristy things in the downtown area but what I'm super excited about? The trolley ride! We are going to go on a trolley ride that last like almost three hours through the entire downtown area and we can hop on/off when we want to and just learn about the city and how it came to be. I am hoping to get some great pictures too.

Then we come home on Sunday, but I think it'll be a great weekend. I am so excited to spend my birthday with my friends and have a good time. But don't think my family is left out! I get to celebrate on Friday with my parents, brother, husband and kids at dinner. I'm super excited about that because I don't think we've ever done that? Then, my parents are taking the kids overnight on Friday so Matt and I can have a little date night and I'm hoping to convince him to see a movie with me. :) He has to work on Saturday, my actual birthday, so I think I might go and find a cute outfit for my Chicago trip as my birthday present to myself. Then, I get to have dinner at my parents house and there is rumor of a cake. Which, you all know I love me some baked goods, so I am going to do my duty and eat an honorable amount of it.

I am saying goodbye to my 20's and hello to my 30's in the best way possible. And I am even more grateful to have friends who were willing to shell out money for a girls weekend to help me celebrate! I have, hands down, some of the best friends around.

Between a Rock and a Hot Place

Oh praise baby jeebus- a book every woman should absolutely read. I'm not kidding- if you have a vagina, you need to get your ass to a book store and buy this book. Don't borrow it from the library, buy this book. It will become your Bible as you age and you will be scared out of your pants but you will be grateful for knowing what is going to happen to you.

Between A Rock And A Hot Place: Why Fifty Is The New Fifty- Tracey Jackson

As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Tracey Jackson found herself bombarded by a catchphrase on everyone’s lips: “Fifty is the new thirty.” With a comedy writer’s training and a screenwriter’s eye for detail, Jackson skewers that particular myth with a hilarious, bare-knuckled, and ultimately practical appraisal of what middle age really means today. Jackson not only faces the elephant in the room, she puts it under a (very large) microscope, confronting the truth about death, work, and sex in what the French call the “third age.”

God damn I have never laughed so hard while being in absolute fear of what was to come. Normally people don't laugh when you read about how your body will turn into a horrible, angsty place but you absolutely will in this book. 

I remember being a teenager and my mom would wonder when she would go through menopause- all of her friends were doing it, her mom was dead so she had no idea when she did it or what it was like, and no doctor can really tell you. And I remember the exact day when my mom was telling me about hot flashes and I thought, "yeah, OK- turn on a fan." And then I remember the day where I was shopping with my mom in a freezing store and looking at her going through a hot flash thinking that she was going to internally combust because she looked like at any moment, things would align just right and she'd explode right in front of me. 

And I was horrified

Since then, I'm scared out of my pants to go through menopause. Then I read this book and everything I've heard from my own mom and witnessed in women around me is confirmed to all be true and I'm just as scared now. But at least I don't feel like the only one that will have to suffer as those who've paved the way did. I loved the chapter about kids growing up and moving away being the biggest pink slip of all, which I guess I never thought of it that way but it's true. When your kids grow up and just suddenly leave, you are essentially fired with no severance package, aren't you? 

The entire book talks about different phases of womanhood between menopause, sex with your spouse, your career, motherhood, etc in such a frank and funny way that you can't help but speed through it. This book shall become me go-to reference manual for all things related to my vagina and birthday. I cannot recommend this book highly enough- it's the funniest take on aging that I have ever read. 

Please see what other bloggers are saying HERE. Otherwise, stalk Tracey on her website, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dirty 30.

Bitches- my birthday is on Saturday. I am turning 30. I'm going to be a super bad ass 30 year old, FYI. But every year I always get asked what I want. Matt asks me every year but to be honest, he hasn't gotten me a gift since my 20th birthday and I've been dropping obvious hints at what I would like. But dammit- I feel like being a share bear, so here is what I would like as I enter a new decade:

I am a self professed jewelry slut, but I don't really get any. And I am a pretty low maintenance chick and to be frank- I don't even care if it's real. Seriously, as long as it's pretty and sparkly, I'm good. So when I was at Kohl's I saw this ring and *love*. I saw a few others that I'd be just as happy with too, but here's an example.
Sterling Silver 2 1/2 -ct. T.W. DiamonLuxe Three-Stone Ring

I love my pink Converse shoes but I saw these... and SWOON. I'm a polka dot whore and I must have these. I also want a pair of sparkly ones and green ones. But the polka dot ones are at the top of my list.

I also really want this book. I keep putting it on my book list and then I forget about it until I'm broke and then really want it. I sometimes hug it in Barnes and Noble and I'm pretty sure that same woman who is always at the Customer Service desk thinks I'm special needs. I'm sure of it.
A Discovery of Witches

I really want a Zumba DVD. I was bummed out at that Target didn't have anything, so I think I have to shop online? I saw one on Amazon that came with a bunch of DVD's and stick thingies but it's like $85. Yikes.
Zumba Beginners DVD
I also need a new curling iron- mine is dead and gone.

I am a huge fan of Ricky Gervais and have recently found the awesomeness of An Idiot Abroad, Season 2 and I must have season one. And two. But let's start with one.

And I still don't have a copy of one of my favorite movies:
Product Details

And last, but certainly never least:

Only a cold hearted loser wouldn't want a cute baby goat.

Oh! But then I also saw one of these on Craigslist,

and I'm like HELL YES. It's an Angora Rabbit, lambwhores!! Tell me you don't want to just pick it up and squeeze it?

But honestly? I just want some birthday wishes. I always look forward to my birthday and no matter what happens I always have a good one. But I can't wait to tell you how I am going to celebrate! SQUEE! But that's coming tomorrow.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Killing it at the dinner table.

Thank GOD I have my Internet back! I've been missing in action since Thursday because we were moving furniture from our bedroom and living room into the dining room and kitchen Thursday night. Then Friday we were getting our new carpet installed and then Friday night and Saturday moving furniture back and throwing stuff out that we don't want or need anymore, and donating a bunch too. Today was the first day to be kind of back to normal though I have none of my decor or photos up yet. But never fear lambwhores- a post with the new and improved rooms is coming!

But today I'm going to get back into my menu planning and grocery shopping sharing for you. I haven't stopped doing it, but I'm getting better at finding deals and knowing when to stock up on something with low prices. It's taken me a few months to figure out how the stores around me cycle through their sales and I finally feel like it paid off. Today I went shopping and spent $48.33 on two weeks of groceries.


So here is my menu for this week:

Chicken Stew
Taco Casserole
Sandwiches, Soup, and Salad
Chicken Parmesan
Cheeseburger Pasta (I'll share this recipe with you on Saturday)
Lasagna Rolls
Burgers and Fries
Fish Sticks & Macaroni
Skillet Chicken & side dish
Chicken Nuggets and Tater Tots
Hot dogs and Bow Tie Pasta/Veggie Medley

OK, now to be honest, two days in my 14 day span are going out for my birthday (Friday) and then dinner at my mom's (Saturday). Not every meal is going to be the most amazing thing ever, but it is stuff I have on hand already that I'm going to use to cut down on my grocery bill. I try to buy the least amount of groceries in the first half of the month because we are really broke the first half- all of our big bills are due by the 10th. The second half of the month is when I buy more items to stock up on like meat, side dishes, things I can freeze, etc.

I also make a little more of each meal so that Matt has food for his lunches throughout the week. Another tip is to buy something if it is a DEEP discount even if you don't need it right now. Last week one grocery store had 12 oz bagged cereals on sale for $.88. Now, I'm pretty well stocked up on cereal because I wait until it's a good deal on sale and then use my coupons that I find online or in the Sunday paper, but when it goes for $.88? Come on, now- that's a good deal and just as good as something in a box. I obviously got four bags because we eat cereal every day and it won't go to waste.

Almost every day for breakfast we have cereal like I mentioned but then one other thing. It might be waffles, it might be yogurt, it might be toast, English muffin, or bagels- it's whatever I could find at the best price that week. Olivia typically has a sandwich for her lunch, a side and a dessert. She's been having a lot of pudding because it keeps going on sale for $1 or sometimes even $.88 for a four pack, and to me, that's a deal. I know I could make my own pudding for cheaper, but I don't have the small containers and I like the convenience of the little cups. Sue me.

I'm lucky to have a grocery store in Duluth, Cub Foods, that often has amazing deals on meat. They rotate between buy one/get one for chicken breasts and pork chops (last week was pork chops, so I bet next week is chicken) so I get one deal and I make Matt go through another line for another deal. To walk out paying maybe $15 for four packs of chicken? Worth it. This week if you bought a three pound chub of ground beef, you got a free 16 ounce loaf of french bread, a free 12 oz bag of salad and a free box of pasta. Um, amazing deal. I didn't need ground beef, but I cut it into three one pound sections and froze them because that'll be a good thing for when I'm broke next month, and this month I am using the bread and salad for my soup/sandwich/salad night. SCORE. Another great deal is milk- it's 2/$6 at Cub this week and you can freeze milk, homies. And I'm almost done with my green peppers- this summer they were having amazing sales on green peppers, so I kept buying them and I chopped some and sliced some, put them in freezer bags and use over the winter. The bonus to that is that they have a more potent pepper flavor when you freeze them, so a little goes a long way in your dishes. I also got three packs of Danimals drink and yogurt things 3/$6 and then I had $1.50 in coupons for those, so even better deal. I also shop at two grocery stores- Cub Foods in Duluth and Super One in Superior. It's very rare that I get everything I need at one stores, but this week I was able to do it.

Another good thing I do is now that I have my menu planned out for the next two weeks, I am now starting to look at the coupons that I'm getting online or what I can find in the paper (get the paper TODAY because the first Sunday paper of the month has the P&G Brand Saver- great coupons for products not food related) and do my menu based on that. If I get lazy and don't do my menu planning until the day I shop, I can get it done in 30 minutes and that means clipping my coupons, too.

Basically, the secret is looking for good deals. If you see chicken buy one/get one on sale and it wasn't on your list? GET IT, it's not like you're never going to have chicken again. The other bonus to buying things when they are on sale to stock up is that you might get lazy and not want to grocery shop on your normal day, you will likely have enough stuff in your cupboards to bang out another couple of meals in a pinch. And buy store brand when possible. I know store brand macaroni tastes like shit, so don't buy that. But try out other stuff- tomato sauces and paste taste the same and are $.30 less. It doesn't sound like much but it does add up. Same thing with coupons- people scoff when I'm clutching my cents on a dollar coupon, but every little bit adds up and I'll take it.

My grocery bill today totaled $62.07, I saved $10.59 from advertised savings out of their ad and their coupons and $3.15 with my manufacturer coupons, bringing it down to $48.33. That even included two cases (24packs) of soda because we haven't had it in awhile, so those together were $14.

So the bottom line? You can do it. You have to actually look at the ads each week and you'll start seeing what's on sale. If roast beef is not on sale? Do not buy it. Only buy stuff when it is on sale, and if you can find a matching coupon? Even better.

Have questions? Let me know! You can either leave a comment on this post or send me an email at sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com!