Friday, November 27, 2015

Wyoming Rugged & GIVEAWAY!!

It never fails, anytime I feel like I'm in a reading rut, my go-to genre is always a romance. I can whip through a romance novel like it's nobody's business and that always gives me a good jump start to get the reading bug again. While in my last rut, this was the book I chose.

Wyoming Rugged - Diana Palmer

Billionaire oilman Blair Coleman has always taken care of his business. After having been used and cast aside by a woman he thought he loved, his personal life is far from his first priority. He knows only one has ever truly cared for him—but the irresistible blonde beauty is the daughter of his best friend. 
Niki Ashton has seen her father's friend wounded and she's seen him fight. Blair is the strongest—and most stubborn—man she's ever known. That very heart and passion makes him the man of her dreams, but whenever they've been in danger of getting close, Blair has always pushed her away. 
It takes a possible tragedy to strip away all of Blair's misgivings. Now it's all or nothing: marriage, baby, family, forever. But will the choice be too much for Niki…or too late?
Right away, I will tell you that while this is #5 in the series, you would never know it. This is 100% a stand alone book, so that's really nice. Also, Diana Palmer is a new to me author and I would read her again, which tells you what I think about the book.

So let's get the things that annoyed me out of the way now. First up, Niki.... sigh. Niki is like, she's naive but she's worse than naive. She's the phase before naive, she's practically puritanical. If you had locked a woman away in a dungeon with zero social contact and let her loose in a bar, that's the only way you could replicate her naivete. She has zero idea what flirting is, has zero idea what physical attraction feels like, and honestly, she's basically childlike in a way. Then Blair is a bit of a moron who spends the entire book focusing on the 16 year age gap, as if that's even an issue nowadays. Aside from that, my biggest complaint is that a solid 30 pages towards the end of the book? Could be taken out. At least. It's rehashing of them rehashing, or the first time they rehashed EVERYTHING. Honestly, it's either take that 30 pages out or get rid of the entire first part of the book and give us just the 30 pages. I found myself skipping entire pages because I had already read this stuff three, sometimes four times earlier in the book, already. Instead of all of that (without giving the conclusion of the book away) I would have liked to seen more of their ending. I feel like SO MUCH TIME was put into rehashing everything we've read that the ending was rushed and that does a disservice to the book, I think.

BUT. With that, it's a solid little romance. If you're looking for seedy love scenes and graphic detail, you will NOT get it in this book. If you are that person who likes to read a love story without all of the detail in love scenes, this is absolutely the book for you. It's an incredibly quick read (around 295 pages) and it's available as a mass paperback in December 2015, but you can pre-order it on Amazon right now. If you think this is for you, I encourage you to check out Diana's website and her Facebook page to see what you can get of hers right now.

Overall? I enjoyed it. Sure, the 30 page thing was annoying, but if I imagine the book without that, I really liked it. It's a good romance, a fast read, it kept me wanting to find out what happens with Niki's health and if Blair gets his head out of his ass.

Lucky for you..... I have one copy to giveaway (US/Canada)! To win a copy you must...

  • Leave me a comment- what are you reading now or next? 
  • Make sure you EMAIL is in your comment so I can contact you if you win! 
That's all, lambs! Have a ton of fun shopping this Black Friday. Think of me as I'm cleaning up the aftermath at Target today. Just know I'm exhausted and wish I was reading. 

In the News: lumps, crime, bad babysitters.

Hello, lambs! Right now you are either in the hoards at stores shopping for the best deals for the best holiday of the year, or you're boycotting the whole thing because you're secretly a Grinch.

Either way, love ya.

Anyhoodles, here is the In the News recap this week!

1. HGTV host has cancer, detected by viewer. I kind of hate the show Flip or Flop because I feel like the guy is a stressed out asshole always on the brink of financial ruin and the wife is a materialistic bitch. I mean, maybe just on the show but ugh, no thanks. BUT! A viewer, who is a registered nurse, noticed Tarek had a lump and turns out- he totally has thyroid cancer. He's much better now after having surgery but man, how lucky was he that this nurse took the time to find an email for his production company!

2. Jim Bob is just.. no. Don't do anything he says. First of all, if you want to have 20 kids then right on, do exactly what he says. I don't care who you are, if you have 20 children, some of them are bound to be a bad egg. This family... they need to go away. Stop trying to convince the rest of us you're wholesome and a good example. You let your daughters be molested, you never helped your son, and you make it sound like we're supposed to forgive him and move on because you're daughters have. Which, shame on you. Go away.

3. It's getting real in Minneapolis. So here's the short version. Black kid was shot by police officers during an arrest. Apparently, the kid was involved in an assault (bad), and then while first responders where giving first aid to the victim, he was interfering, then there was a scuffle and he ends up dead. Now people are in an uproar and instead of an investigation to happen in a calm and thorough manner, people are losing their shit and throwing rocks, bricks, etc at police and then wonder why they got pepper sprayed. Now, I feel really sad anytime anyone is hurt or shot. I do. I will forever say that if you do not want to go to jail or worse, stop breaking the god damn law. Now, should the officer shoot at his head? Probably not. I mean, you couldn't shoot his arm or something? But then, maybe that was the intent and he moved and it hit his head. I don't know but what I do know is that I'm sick and tired of people assaulting police officers because they think they are all bad. If you would just follow the fucking law, you'll be alright.

4. Two year old found alive, babysitter arrested. This right here is why I don't have babysitters. I have never left my kids alone with someone other than a family member or a really close friend with children. You just don't know and honestly, me having a good time somewhere is never going to be worth it. But this little girl was abducted in the early morning, by her babysitter, and later found naked on the side of the road with her head shaved. Now, obviously something happened between the time she was abducted and then when she winds up naked and bald. So freaking bizarre.

OK, lambs. If you're reading this, think of me. I'm working retail and I'm maybe dead on the floor from a stampede. If you never see another post from me again, you'll know how I went out.

If Only In My Dreams

If you know me at all, you know that Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday of all time. It's my favorite time of year, and one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season? Read holiday season themed romances.

Oh shut up, it's not as cheesy as it sounds! Typically they are short novellas, perfect for a night curled up in my chair, under my favorite blanket, with my cinnamon scented candles burning and at least one pet at my feet. It's that or watch another thrilling episode of Star Trek with Matt.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what I'll pick.

So if you're in the mood for a similar evening, I've got a great book selection for you!

If Only In My Dreams - Mariah Stewart

New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart’s timeless, charming holiday novella, originally featured in the popular yuletide anthology Upon a Midnight Clear, now available as a standalone at a great price!

A lively family reunion on a Montana ranch brings on a flurry of memories for a beautiful young writer—and a winter storm that rekindles an old flame—in this “warmly magical” (Library Journal) feel-good holiday gem!

Reluctantly retired baseball player Cale comes back to Montana after an injury ends his career. Suddenly single, with two twin five year old boys, Cale struggles with his uncertain future but tries coming back home to see if that helps, despite the memory of his first love, Quinn. 

Quinn, a children's author and illustrator, takes a break from the big city to come home for Christmas, despite the lingering sadness of the love of her life, Cale, seemingly breaking her heart by leaving without her. 

After a trip to her grandmother's long abandoned cabin to lay a holiday wreath, following family tradition, Quinn finds herself stuck on the mountain in snow storm. In an effort to seek shelter, she tries to get home but is distracted by the ghost of her grandmother Elizabeth who leads her to the cabin of Cale's relatives. Assuming his sister Valerie is the one occupying the cabin, she's surprised to find it quiet, but warm. She soon realizes Valerie isn't there at all, but in fact, Cale and his boys are there. Cue increase in snow storm intensity and a couple of awkward days and the revelation of what really happened on that fateful day so many years ago that broke both of their hearts. 

It's a fast read, it's a really adorable story and I'm going to say it- it opens the door for other novellas, consider Quinn has several single siblings and there is a little teaser in there with Cale's sister, Valerie. I would totally love to see more of these stories with this family! Mariah Stewart is a really solid romance writer and she's perfect if you are that person not into the S&M fantasies that are increasingly popular or a lot of descriptive sex scenes. Lots is left up of the imagination but you don't feel like you've missed anything at all. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a light and fun holiday read. 

It's officially available on November 30, 2015 but you can pre-order it now (ebook only) on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, or Simon & Schuster directly. If you want to learn more about Mariah and her other books, visit her website or follow her on Facebook

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Owlcrate: Myths & Legends

Hello! So today we're going to talk about what is... my third Owlcrate box? I'm pretty sure it's my third. The theme for this month was "Myths & Legends" and somehow I had missed that announcement in all of their posts on Instagram and Facebook.

But what is super cool is they now have a referral program, so once three people join Owlcrate with my referral link (THIS ONE RIGHT HERE) I can get a free box. So if you were ever on the fence about this, totally do it now. ALSO, if you join now, use the code NEWMEMBER and you get 10% off your first box. Totally cool promotion for you to see if you love it and you're helping me out at the same time. The theme for December is "Get Inspired", so that sounds pretty darn exciting.

*fist bump, lambs*

So let's talk about the nightmare it was to get my box this time. It comes 3 day priority mail, so that's pretty amazing, once you get your tracking information, your box comes quick! Unless you have a moron mail carrier like I do, who delivers your package to the wrong place. The tracking told me it was delivered. It most certainly wasn't. I call, they have no idea where it is. Turns out, he delivered it to the college campus dorms over two miles away. The address is no way similar. Who even knows what he was drinking in the morning. But finally! I got my box.

 Hello, you beautiful box of happy.
We got Richelle Mead's new book Soundless and while Richelle's other books are so great and every other book I have ever gotten from Owlcrate has been absolutely amazing.. I'm a little worried. Right away anything with Chinese lore usually bores the hell out of me, but I'm going to give it a try because I am a fan of the author.
Also in our box was a really gorgeous castle locket from The Geeky Cauldron- it's a pretty stunning piece, actually. We got a bracelet from The Colorful Geek, which I don't have pictured because I threw it away, it was one of those rubber ones everyone uses to fundraise for a cause and I don't like them. We also got a mermaid pocket mirror from My Clockwork Castle. The large box is fairytale tea from Adagio Teas. Now, I can't stand tea. I don't drink tea (or coffee) so this is going in someone's Christmas bag of goodies for me. We also got coupon codes for The Geeky Cauldron and The Colorful Geek, which is kind of nice because I know a few people who would like a few things on each website for the holidays.

Overall, not my most favorite box but I'm certainly in the minority because others are raving about it. I will tell you that my other boxes have been AMAZING and Owlcrate is still my favorite box for value and what you get for that price ($29.99 plus shipping). You can gift a box as well, if you have a reader friend that would love this kind of thing, and in the words of Eddie Griswold (if you don't know who that is, you are dead to me), "That's the gift that keeps on giving, Clark!".

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas Wish List

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Christmas. I take a lot of joy buying gifts for people and often spend way more than I should. This year I've pre-planned what I'm doing for everyone so hopefully I don't get carried away. But every year I do my Christmas wish list in the hopes that I get some of these things.


1. Chameleon Art Pens
Chameleon Alcohol Color Tone Marker Set of 22 - Deluxe Kit
I have so many stamp sets that require me to color something in and then I don't use them because I'm terrible with shading and it never comes out like I see tutorials doing it so I get frustrated. I have watched the videos on these pens hundreds of times and I really think these are fool proof. I want them so badly!

2. Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit

Do you know how many gifts I could make with this?! A TON. I've wanted this for awhile and I'm confident that after a few changes in my craft room I'd have room for it. And then I could load up my Etsy shop with lots of cute things!

3. Anything from Sassy Lemonade, but especially these whale earrings.
I am in love with the shop Sassy Lemonade on Etsy. I wanted to buy it all but I have zero funds. Just kidding, a few friends might get an item from here because I love Etsy and I try to buy as much as I can from various shops and support local.


As if I wasn't going to include books on my list. Here are the ones I've been itching for:

But obviously a Barnes & Noble gift card would be amazing as well.

5. Dracula Scarf.
6. Supernatural Shirt
I'm a size large. I need this in my life.

7. A gift card so I can shop and buy a ton of Stampin' Up stuff! I love all of their stamps, inks, tools, and paper. I'm a junkie. I was sober for a long time but I've basically fallen off the wagon.

8. I want Matt to make me this desk for my office so I can get rid of the desk I hate. But I'd like three shelves because I don't want you to see my feet. That's totally storage space possibility!
oh, no-- this one is EVEN BETTER

9. Shoe Cabinet (that could easily double as better storage at the top of our stairs instead of the dresser that is falling apart up there now. JUST SAYING.) 
 10. Scarf organizer. Nothing fancy, something like this would be perfect!
 11. Victoria's Secret Gift Card.
Let's face it, I'm down to three pairs of underwear (that fit) because the mother effing dog EATS THEM ALL. Also, my boobs are larger than I would like and have not gone back down to normal size since having Penelope and also, the bras I have that do fit are so stretched out it seems a wasted effort. 

I don't have any of the seasons on disc, I've just been watching them through Netflix, but I'm not done! I'm working my way through season 8, and I believe season 11 is happening right now on real TV. But I don't need the box (obviously, I just like the picture), but I would like this. 

Um, I think that's it. HA! But honestly, I love gifts that people find and are like, "Oh, this is SO SARA" because that means you thought of me while you were out and about, and that's perfect. But I know Matt is looking at this, and I've included buy links on almost everything (if it's in color, it's a link) so there is zero excuse for you to say you have no idea where to find it. Love you. Smooches. 

What's on YOUR wish list this year?! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Winners and Monday thoughts.

Oh, did you think I forgot to announce the winners of my two recent book giveaways? Well I kind of did. I did the drawing with Olivia, totally forgot to upload the pictures until I was doing it tonight so I could post about my Owlcrate box for you on Wednesday and whoops.. there they were.

Bottom line- I'm a total deadbeat.

The winner for the Life and Other Near Death Experiences book is Shann Eva! We also have a winner for the children's book Crow Made a New Friend and that is Traveler!

Congratulations! Woo hoo!

Here are some other thoughts I'm having this morning:

  • I hate to complain about the weather because we had a 60 degree day in the middle of November in northern Wisconsin. That is completely unheard of, it should be really cold and snowy. So far, no snow. But this week it's been cold and I'm not happy about hauling a baby around in the winter. I forgot how totally crappy that is. 
  • I got a new job! I'll be working seasonally at Target and would you believe my first day is tomorrow, but my first day cashiering is Thanksgiving night? I will have exactly zero training on the register but what could possibly go wrong, right?! 
  • This Saturday my kids' school is having a Barnes & Noble book fair to help support literacy and technology for all students. It would be so great if you considered supporting it, even online! If you purchase things online from November 28 - December 2, use Book Fair ID# 11756277 at the checkout and we'll get 10% of your sale for our students! It's easily my most favorite fundraiser because I'd rather buy books, games, and fun stuff versus wrapping paper at an obscene price! I already have cute gift items waiting in my cart for Saturday! 
  • Did you know I kind of hate Thanksgiving? I feel like it's a stupid holiday and I just feel angry by the time it's over. I cook all freaking day, eat food I'm sick of looking at, and then clean up. This year I get to work and I'm kind of excited. I totally am all about Black Friday. I have always met the BEST people out shopping and have fun. I've never experienced awful (except that one time at Walmart but that's kind of the norm at Walmart no matter what day it is) and it totally gets me in the mood for my favorite holiday- Christmas
Ok lambs, that's it for today. Come back tomorrow where I share my Christmas wish list with you. Wednesday I'll show you what I got in my OwlCrate "Myths & Legends" box. Thursday is Thanksgiving and I'll post what I'm thankful for, and we'll round the week out with In The News. Have a great week! 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Lit Cube: Immortal Kiss box

Here's what's funny. So after last month's box, the Supernatural themed one, I really thought I should just cancel this and call it good because the book was terrible in every box so far and ugh. The swag wasn't making up for the shit books, you know? But time got away and before I knew it, I had missed the first of the month deadline and my account was charged and this box was coming. 

So my super awesome mail day happened last week, two packages in a day! I think my mail man is getting real sick of my shit and packages. He used to be nice and put my stuff in my back porch on rainy days but now he just leaves them on the step like sad little orphans.
Anyways, the box is pretty solid this time! I felt immediately guilty wanting to break up. We got a 5x7 Dracula-Inspired Watercolor Print ($6.99 value), which is stunning. It's totally getting framed for my office. We got a lip balm and mirror set ($9.99 value), which I would not pay $9.99 for. Not  a damn chance. But the lip balm came from an Etsy shop that is kind of amazing - Lippincott Soap Co.  If you are looking for unique stocking stuffer ideas, she has a ton of really fun things in there for an affordable cost. Various bookmarks and a pen meant to look like a syringe.
The book we got this month was Elise Walters' Tentyrian Legacy.  I'm worried, the reviews are really mixed so if this sucks just as bad as the last, I'm going to say goodbye to this box. We also got a really kick ass journal from Whit and Ware ($9.99 value) that you can't buy anywhere else, it was made exclusively for Lit-Cube. But the line on the front of the journal reads, "Only Dracula can truly love you forever" and man... I absolutely love that line .So the journal is maybe my second favorite thing.
My first favorite thing absolutely HAS to be the most kick-ass, holiday skulls infinity scarf ($9.99 value). I don't know where it came from, but I am in love with it. It is easily the best thing in this box and if every box came with something this fabulous, I would probably never quit it. 

So we're on the fence. The box for December is "You're a Mean One, Grinch" and that can go so horribly wrong and I'm really nervous I'm going to get a box of useless shit I'll mostly throw out. So we'll see. If that box sucks, I'm for sure out. We are going to for sure break up. I mean it this time. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

In the News: The Wiggles, Housewives, and pigs.

Oh lambs. TGIF, homies. I cannot say TGIF enough.

Let's do the news:

1. The Wiggles doing show for adult fans. If you don't know who The Wiggles are, you are probably not a parent or you are too young. But I can tell you right now, not only do I know who The Wiggles are, but I've seen them live TWICE and I can sing and do all of the dance moves. I have been known to break out into song (and sometimes dance) to "Hot Potato" and "Fruit Salad" but I also love "Rock A Bye Your Bear" and "The Monkey Dance". Penelope has no idea what's in store for her when she's old enough to appreciate my moves. But let's face it, The Wiggles have gotten old and the fad had kind of gone away. The original Wiggles aren't even together, only Anthony (the blue one) is in it and the last I saw there was some chick in place of the yellow Wiggle. Which, whatever. Greg is the original (who left because he had some health condition that made him randomly pass out), and then it was Sam and I quite liked Sam but Murray (the red one) always freaked me out and I read a story where Jeff (the purple one) was actually using drugs that made him sleepy so they incorporated the whole "Wake up, Jeff" theme because of it. Anyways. It's embarrassing that I know the gossip on the Wiggles. What's notable here is that they are doing a reunion show for adults only. Like, are there actual adults who would lose their shit to see the originals live, without their kids in tow? I mean, I know when we saw them, women threw their panties on stage of a children's concert. I'm not even kidding. I want to be joking on that but I am not and both Matt and I were totally appalled. Like, who does that?! So yes. 2016: the year of The Wiggles.

2. Josh Duggar continues to be a douchebag. So he apparently assaulted a porn star in his off time. So gross.

3. Have you seen the Guide to a 1950's Housewife? I've seen it on my Facebook feed quite a bit this week and would you be surprised to know I do almost all of these? Numbers 3, 15, and 16.. not so much. Not usually number 4 either. But for the most part, in my own way, all of the others actually happen. It wasn't always that way, though. We hit a really rough patch about seven years ago and went to marriage counseling for years and as much as it kills me, being a little bit submissive actually works. I'm not talking Candice Cameron submissive, but a little bit. It's like a weird, psychological warfare, really. That and it makes me feel productive and on top of things, so I go with it.

4. Jared Fogle is a disgusting pig. First there were the audio tapes played on Dr. Phil. Which, let's be honest, were so disturbing most of us had to turn it off. When he started talking about having sex with a 10-12 year old girl and just having the time of his life, I immediately thought of my 10 year old daughter and almost barfed. What a sick fucking bastard. So then it makes you think, surely this has to be a psychological defect, right? RIGHT? Don't even get me started on his lawyer saying he had a "mild case" of pedophilia. I think anytime you fantasize about children in a sexual way, you've gone beyond mild case. There is no such thing as a mild case. You're ether a disgusting pervert or you're not. Then he played down the fact of their ages, like 16 and 17 aren't so bad. Um, yes. We have age of consent for a reason- children at ages 16 and 17 don't fully understand what they are consenting to. His poor wife and children. Seriously. She's divorcing him but I'll tell you what, if Matt was in prison, there isn't a chance in hell I would take my children to a prison to visit him. They can write but I wouldn't subject my children to that.

5. Home abortions on the rise in Texas. I've said it before, I wouldn't get an abortion myself, but I think we need to have a safe resource for women who, for whatever reason, feel like that's their only option. It's not on us to talk them into it or out of it, and we need to mind our own business. And because Texas wants to be all up in your uterus, there are lots of women taking unhealthy, unsafe, scary measures to give themselves abortions. The entire purpose of Roe vs. Wade was to give women the safe alternative so they don't find themselves taking weird "herbs" from Mexico and hoping for the best. Unreal.

So that's it. That's what I've got from the news. I'll be back  next week with more news, more book reviews, and maybe tomorrow I'll have a crafty post up. We'll just have to see.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Being a parent changes your philosophy on life.

It's true. I can remember being a college student, all educated and righteous, and being full of opinion on how to make our country great. How to solve problems in the world. It seemed all pretty cut and dry and I didn't understand why things were so awful.

Then 9/11 happened and what I saw in the aftermath actually scared me. People clung to their religion and people wanted to go fight in a war and take down the people who were clinging to their own religion and doing what they thought their higher power lead them to do.

What I really took away from it was that religion really only works on a personal level and when you take it to a large scale, people die and people become hateful.

Then I had children. And it really scared me to see how hateful people were and how, just based on a religion a person practices, they were put into this terrorist category. It reminded me of Nazi Germany persecuting Jews and I wondered why nobody else was seeing this? We always say we would never allow that kind of thing to happen again because the things people of the Jewish faith suffered because of their beliefs was so horrific we couldn't imagine it.

But.. here we are. It's 2015. There is no doubt ISIS is a really terrible group. I think they are a product of lots of things, probably extreme religion and not really fitting into mainstream Muslim communities is one of them. They've certainly taken their cause global and appear to not give two damns about anyone.

Then Paris happened. What happened in Paris is absolutely tragic. It is, there is no doubt about that, anytime innocent civilians are murdered while trying to live life to the fullest for the sake of religion is absolutely heinous and should not be condoned. It's not acceptable behavior in any sense. But what is driving me insane is the amount of hate I see on Facebook, on news coverage comment threads, on individual websites and blogs.

If you at all consider yourself Christian, or follow the faith of any higher power, how dare you. You are an absolute embarrassment to your higher power. If you follow a faith that tells you the priority is to save your own ass, you have poor reading comprehension skills and you are a hateful person. If you can look at any of the faces of these refugees fleeing from war torn, violence ridden, unsafe and unstable countries and tell them to go back because your life and safety is more important than theirs?

I'd have to say that would be a guaranteed ticket to Hell, if you consider yourself a devout member of any religion.

Because no religion I have ever studied tells you that you are more important than your fellow man. That your safety is paramount to someone else's suffering.

But then I think, over half of the people I've seen on my Facebook feed comment that we need to close borders, and think of OUR jobs, and our safety are not parents. Perhaps my 20 year old self would have said the same things. But I am a parent now. I know how lucky I am to tuck my children into safe, warm beds each and every night. We have plentiful food, we have a mansion compared to most of the eastern world, we have clothes and luxury items. Our basic necessities are luxury items that some people can't even fathom having easy access to.

We have all of those things, and I can't pretend to know what their life is like.

I cannot imagine laying my children to bed under a make shift shelter and hoping we aren't murdered in our sleep. I can't imagine placing my baby in a boat and hoping for the best for her because there isn't room for me to go as well. I can't imagine what it's like to live with bombs and gun fire 24/7 around me. I can't imagine being separated from my husband and never knowing what happened to him. I can't imagine what it's like to live every single day in constant fear and just trying to get to the next one. I have no idea what it's like to die for my children.

So nobody, absolutely nobody, in this country has a thing to say about what these refugees should be doing. Where they should go. Maybe you should ask yourself what can you do for these people? What can you give up to help someone?

Yes, I understand the argument we should take care of ours here first. I get that, I agree. But instead of saying what the government should do- what are YOU doing? When was the last time you opened your home to someone in need? When was the last time you tried to actively help a homeless person? Do you regularly volunteer? Do you provide meals on the weekends to homeless people in your community? If you answer no to any of that, then maybe the problem isn't with the government, maybe it's you.

Let us just also look at statistics, because math is a pretty great thing that you can't really dispute. The overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks and bad, tragic things that happen aren't committed by refugees. They are committed by people who live in that area. They are recruited by these extremist groups because they are handy. They are already living in a target area, they are in need of a sense of belonging somewhere and just like sex offenders, these extremist groups groom these people. So maybe take a look around you, the next nut job might be your neighbor. They are often living in these areas, can assimilate to the community, often are unassuming, quiet, reserved. To say that the middle eastern guy on your plane scares you is just as bad as saying the black guy that walked into the store looks like he might rob the place.

It's the same thing.

It scares me to think there are children learning to hate others based on what they believe in or what they look like, based on their parent's fear. It's OK to be scared. It's not OK to let that fear drive your hate. It's not OK to let that fear override your compassion for another human being. If you lose your compassion, you lose the essence of being a human and you become no better than the people who blow themselves up to hurt people in the name of their higher power.

I could go on for days about how my heart hurts for these people and how disappointed I am in my fellow Americans. I could, but I won't. All I know is that my job, as a parent, is to show my kids what it means to be American. We help out, even when it feels like we can't. We give what we got to someone who has none. That we love people for who they are, not because their faith is different than ours or because someone who looks like them did a bad thing. We can't let hate and fear win.

Love and light, friends.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Year's Wish

I'm kind of feeling the whole Christmas spirit a little earlier this year, and that's OK. I always like reading holiday themed books and novellas are the BEST because it's perfect for all of you who want to read but don't have the time to bite into a full size novel. You get all of that in just a few pages and it's a good way to wind down an evening. I finished this one in under an hour, so it's perfect for your busy schedule!

The New Year's Wish - Dani Lyn Alexander
Typing out memos is anything but torturous when your boss is this hot! Dani-Lyn Alexander’s irresistible new yuletide romance is a lighthearted office romp that will make you long for the company holiday party.

Olivia Calloway isn’t cut out for the nine-to-five life. She’s a born entrepreneur. She just has to figure out her soul’s true calling—and she’s given herself until the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve to do it. With her trust fund dwindling and only two and a half months to go, she takes an assistant position at prestigious law firm Harris & Harris. The problem is, Olivia’s a terrible employee—incessantly late, forgetful, and clumsy. Not that her gorgeous new boss Garrett Emerson seems to mind. Beautiful, charming Olivia has been on his mind ever since she ran into him, literally, sprinting to the interview. But Olivia’s first big assignment—to plan an elaborate last minute New Year’s Eve party for the entire company—could make or break her job entirely. With Ms. Harris herself demanding perfection, a jealous office rival rooting for Olivia to lose, and even Garrett dreading the affair, can Olivia finally prove herself—or will an unforeseen complication send her back to the drawing board? All she wants for the holidays is to be her own boss—and to ignite the flirtatious sparks between her and Garrett…so she can file their relationship under love.

So let's start by saying that Dani Lyn Alexander is a new to me author and I absolutely loved it. She's definitely one I will add to my Want to Read lists because she crafts a story well and I really enjoyed this novella. 

We have Olivia, who is pretty much a hot mess in most aspects of her life. She's chronically late, she has started several business, all of which fail because she's just not equipped. She doesn't really know what she wants to do in life but she knows she has to pay the bills so she applies for a receptionist position at Harris & Harris. Unfortunately, nothing goes her way and she winds up almost two hours late, covered in coffee and in no shape to conduct an interview but she does anyway because at this point, what does she have to lose? 

Cue Garrett, who she narrowly avoids spilling coffee on. Now, this could have gone all dominant boss a la Fifty Shades but it doesn't. It stays sweet and they find love. Honestly, I don't know what was more fun, the romance or reading how Olivia botches one thing after another. Garrett is reluctant to find love again after his ex wife seriously burned him and Olivia also burned by her fiance of three years, it's basically a perfect match. You have to love how hard Olivia tries, even if she does manage to screw something up. 

I definitely recommend this if you are in the mood for a light romance, and a fast read with a holiday theme to it. It's actually on pre-order right now and available on November 30, but it's only $.99! That's a total  bargain! You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Simon & Schuster. In the meantime, hop over to Dani Lyn Alexander's website to catch up with her and maybe find another couple of books to read until The New Year's Wish is available! 

Be sure to follow me on Bloglovin' so you don't miss another book review or real life shenanigans post! 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend

I am so annoyed with myself that it's taken me this long to get this review up for you. It's such a great book and I hate that I haven't given it the love it deserves. Add this to your shopping list for the growing bookworm in your life, probably ages 8 -12, I'd say.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend (a memoir by Jacques Papier) - Michelle Cuevas
Nobody likes Jacques Papier besides his sister; when he comes across a cowgirl at the park and she informs him that he's an imaginary friend, just like her, Jacques’s world is forever changed.

I have to tell you I absolutely loved this book from the cover to the end. Honestly, it was a little sad to me because I kind of loved Jacques and I felt bad for him the entire way through. The book is written as his memoir and he details his every day adventures. His parents don't like him, everyone at school ignores him (even when he knows the answer in class), he never gets picked (at all) for anything, the bus driver even leaves him. The only person who likes him is his sister Fleur. Imagine his surprise when he overhears their parents talking about Fleur's imaginary friend! He feels a little hurt and annoyed that Fleur never even introduced him to her imaginary friend and he isn't sure why. Imagine his surprise when he realizes HE is the imaginary friend! His whole life was a lie, so he convinces Fleur to set him free. He wants to go out into the world and find himself, so to speak. 

Hilariously, he embarks on an adventure and finds himself "assigned" to new children. Which, while funny and adorable, Jacques struggles to find out who he really is, beyond the life of an imaginary friend. 

I can't tell you the end but I totally cried!! It reminds me a bit of The Giving Tree, which if you know me at all, you know I hate that book. That poor tree just gave and gave to the selfish boy (then man) until it had nothing left to give and the man discovers none of it was worth it. But what I loved is at the end, Jacques returns to Fleur, and his new friend, who he finds is achingly familiar and when you realize who it is- BRING ON THE MASSIVE BOX OF TISSUES. Not the $1.25 boxes from Target, but the BIG classroom size ones you get at Sam's Club, because that's how many you need. Get the ones with the lotion because you will have snot and just all of the feels. I don't think kids will have that reaction but I know adults will because we all remember what it's like to leave a childhood prized thing and then years later reconnect with it. It's a special connection that doesn't go away with time. To put it another way, you remember in the movie Toy Story where Andy grows up and his toys feels sad because he doesn't need them anymore? That's what this is. GUT PUNCH. (Which you know that's why I never saw those movies in the theater because I didn't want to full on ugly cry in front of a bunch of kids because I am a mature adult who should be able to handle this.) 

Seriously. Get this book, read it for yourself, and you'll enjoy it. Confessions of an Imaginary Friend is available through Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon. Michelle has other books out as well, be sure to swing over to her website to get those titles, too! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Losing your identity and sanity

It's no secret that marriage and parenthood are hard even under the best circumstances. I've never pretended that I had it all together or that things were easy, but I do try to put on the happy face because that's what we're expected to do. No newlywed or soon to be parent wants to hear that things are going to get tough. And, at some point, we kind of forget about all of the hard days later on down the road but it doesn't mean those hard days don't exist.

They very much do.

Right now I'm struggling and it's hard to really put into words what's bothering me. Currently, I am doing the stay at home mom thing. I won't lie and tell you it's grand because most days I would very much disagree. I love my time with Penelope but I find myself getting dumber every day. I'm getting angry when there's no reason to be angry. I'm frustrated and tired.

Matt is also working a ridiculous amount of hours at work. On one hand, it's nice because the extra money is always needed and especially heading into the holiday season and winter months, it gets tough. On the other, it really sucks because I don't get a break. He's worked almost 31 days in a row and while I appreciate that means he hasn't gotten a break either, I'm about ready to lose my mind. My argument is at least he gets to leave the house. I'm stuck here. I can't afford to go anywhere or do anything, I'm literally stuck in this house with three kids who demand every ounce of energy I've got.

And it's not that I hate it. It's just that I'm tired.

I haven't slept well in months. My back is killing me because Penelope is damn near twenty pounds. I'm constantly freezing because I'm trying to not turn the heat on too much and hopefully that'll save some money. I often forget to eat or don't end up having time to eat. I'm overwhelmed with PTO stuff. Just when I think things are in a groove, I get parents emailing me telling me what a crap job I'm doing. I think people are annoyed with me when I can't just get up and run an errand, but don't realize that I've got a VERY small window each day that I can run errands that are in between Penelope's nap time so it really limits what I can do and where I can go.

I've tried telling Matt I need help and I feel like I'm slowly going insane. He did a load of laundry and then went to work. I'm not ashamed to tell you I cried in the bathroom while Penelope cried in her crib and Olivia and Jackson argued over who gets to use the Kinetic Sand castle shaper first. And I'm just feeling like I am barely treading water. I'm starting to just not give a damn about anything.

Sunday was especially bad and I'm not too ashamed to say I spent what little I had on my credit card to get Santa pictures of the kids, get their Christmas concert outfits and a top to wear for our family pictures coming up. Which is absurd because to think Matt will even get off of work in time to go is nuts. I'm at the point where it feels like he'd give his left arm for his job and the rest of us can just suck it. This is the downside of being that dedicated employee, you get treated like shit but he apparently likes it. He doesn't even see that people say no because they know he'll pick up the slack.

I can't even fault him for that because honestly, that's what it feels like with some of the things I'm involved with. I don't know what it's like to have actual time for myself anymore. I love when people say, "Oh, I can't help out because my kids have *insert activity* tonight and I've got to sit there." Oh, nice. I don't know what that's like. I have to drop my kids off and hope someone can get them in case I can't get there on time to pick them up. I'm expected to just make time and rearrange my schedule because you know, it's just my life, no biggie. It makes me feel resentful and used, honestly.

But through it all, I feel like I'm slowly going back to that place I was at in 2008 where I had no idea who I was anymore. I gave and gave until I had nothing left and I was in, probably the worst depression valley I have ever been in. And I can't even get on medication to fix it because let's be honest, I can take all of the pills in the world but if things in my environment don't change, nothing gets better. It's hard to just get out of bed anymore.

I mean, it's just the American Dream, right? Welcome to marriage and motherhood, I guess.

Battle of the Books: Ramona Quimby, Age 8

I am almost embarrassed to admit how incredibly slow I am at working through my Battle of the Books list. Being sick really threw me for a loop, but we're back at it. It's pretty bad when my 10 year old has read more than I have!

If you want to follow along, check out my Battle of the Books post and read with us! If you happen to be homeschooling a fourth or fifth grader, it's a fun little reading activity to do with them as well.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Beverly Cleary
Mr. Quimby's going to college, Mrs. Quimby's going to work. Now that Ramona is eight, she can go to a new school with a new teacher and ride the bus all by herself. But after school she has to stay with Grandmother Kemp and be nice to that bratty little Willa Jean until Beezus (who's tempermental enough to ruin anyone's day)comes to take her home. Life isn't as easy for Ramona as it used to be. All the Quimbys have to adjust, and Ramona gets her chance to prove that she's "big enough for her family to depend on."

When I was little, I really connected with Ramona because I kind of understood her. I wanted to do this perfectly, just like she did. Unlike her, I was the oldest and my brother was two years younger than me, but I really understood Ramona's role in the family. My mom was a single mom for years and then she met my step dad but even still, we weren't well off and my mom worked a lot. In order for her to work that much, it was understood that we really had to be good for our uncles (who babysat us) and we were expected to take care of things because my mom didn't have time to do them. A lot of sacrifices were made with the understanding that that was just how it was going to be. It's not fun, but there wasn't another choice. 

In this book Ramona has had to move to a new school (totally could relate, I had gone to six different schools from Kindergarten through graduation) and she struggles with fitting in at school and then having to deal with an annoying toddler after school. She really dislikes going to Grandmother Kemp's house after school, but as she's reminded time and time again, she just has to be good and get along with Willa Jean because her parents need her to continue going there so they can work and go to school. The family struggles financially, and Ramona worries if she's doing good enough so she doesn't add stress to her parents. She silently struggles with a mean boy at school and worries her teacher thinks she's a nuisance. It's everything an eight year old struggles with as they learn how to get about in the world.

I loved it as a kid, and I loved it again as an adult. Even though, as an adult, I find Ramona to be kind of annoying. She's a watered down version of modern day Junie B. Jones (which I cannot stand, there- I said it). The book itself was a fast read (for me) and it comes in at just under 200 pages. It's a great chapter book for kids third-fifth grade ideally, maybe even a few advanced second graders. The concepts are easy to follow and the story structure itself is easy to read. Honestly, every eight year old girl should get this for her birthday. It's like a rite of passage, really. 

The next book I'm reading for Battle is The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which I said I would read before this but Olivia borrowed this from the public library and I had to get it back by Saturday. I remember reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond in fourth grade, so we'll see how much of the story I remember! Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin' if you want to stay current with my Battle of the Books journey, as well as my other book reviews! 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Crafty Saturday: Christmas edition

Hello, lambs!

I've been super busy cranking out Christmas cards for my Etsy shop and I have even more in the works right now! Here are some of my listings from this week:

I've had this stamp set for awhile and I always forget to use it.  The set is from Stampin' Up and called "It's Snow Time", and comes with 12 stamps. Very versatile, I plan on using this for a few more cards. I know I used this stamp combo a few years ago for our family cards but had sparkly brads to go in the snowballs. What a complete pain in the rear that was. And it ended up costing extra to mail, so probably not going that route again!

I actually got this stamp in my stocking one year, it's just a random single stamp but it's easily one of my favorites. I had a few red gems laying around so I thought I'd add it to the card for a little extra. AND I finally found my blender pens, so I've been playing with those, and shaded his little scarf in with them. I forgot how much I love my little blender pens. The reindeer itself is heat embossed so he has a little shine to him.

I forgot I had made these this summer after I found a bunch of pieces I had cut out last year and ran out of time to make them! But again, a stamp set from Stampin' Up, but this time the middle snowflake has a little gem in the middle.

Another set I had basically cut and stamped, but I just hadn't assembled. I wish I had more of that ribbon but alas, that's it. I can't even find it at Michaels or Hobby Lobby, so maybe it's vintage now. HA!

Easily my favorite reindeer stamp. If I had a pet reindeer, I would bet he'd frequently have things tangled in his antlers. But this is actually blank on the inside, so they would work perfectly for thank you cards (because you need to send thank you's for Christmas gifts and for being invited to holiday parties, don't be rude) but you can also use them as emergency Christmas cards. We all send our cards out, then get one from a random person and think- maybe I should send them a card... This set is perfect for that. Also, if you have work exchanges or Secret Santa gatherings, this would be a cute little set to include with your gift! 

Remember to follow me on Bloglovin, Pin/Tweet/Share! As an added thank you, use the code "SARASBLOG" in my Etsy shop for an extra 10% off your order! If you live in Superior, WI, you can use code "FREESHIPSUPERIOR" and I will hand deliver your items and save you the shipping cost. My shop now accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, along with PayPal. Lots of different options for your convenience! 

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Friday, November 13, 2015

In the News: Jems aren't as bright as diamonds, cup shenanigans, and more!

You guys! Are you loving the new look of the blog? I have to confess I am still in love with it and I cannot get over the fact I installed this bad chick by myself.

I mean, golf claps all around, right?

Anyways. Let's talk about the news:

1. Jem sucked ass. I'll be the first to tell you I was excited about this movie. I watched the cartoon as a kid, I had Jem underwear, I wanted star earrings and big hair, and a boyfriend named Rio. But let's be honest, the trailer for that movie was AWFUL. I thought it was a spoof at first then it was clear that it was actually the real deal. Sad stuff. The movie studio pulled it from all theaters after two weeks, and I hope the actors in this have a plan b for their careers because after this, I doubt we'll see any of them again.

2. Trump wants you to boycott. The Starbucks cup hoopla is absolutely bonkers. I'm not even sure if this is a real outrage of if this is Starbucks' way of getting PR, because I don't know anyone who is actually offended by the red cup. I mean, red is a Christmas color. If your Christmas is ruined, or even pissed on a little bit, but the design of a disposable cup, I feel like it's safe to say you probably don't know the actual meaning of Christmas so maybe stop assuming Jesus is upset in any way. If you're going to boycott, that's fine, but I ask that you take the $5+ you were going to spend on a ridiculous beverage and maybe buy a meal for a homeless person or do some kind of actual charity and see if that Christmas spirit does anything for you.

3. Just trying to eat some damn pancakes. I think what scares me the most about sinkholes is that you never know when they'll open up or where, and there isn't a damn thing you can really do about any of it. Like the poor bastards, trying to eat some pancakes at IHop, who saw the entire parking lot go into a hole. They aren't calling it a sinkhole technically but shut up, it's a sinkhole. It's a giant friggin' hole in the damn ground. I keep watching the video of a tow truck trying to get a car that was on the edge and they totally dropped it into the hole. I keep thinking the owner of that car was probably right there and losing his shit screaming, "You had one job!!".

4. Cancer sucks hard. I keep thinking about the country singer who is in her last days of cervical cancer. There was a post this week about how she's now entered hospice and they are managing her pain through medication but most notably- she's saying goodbye to her one year old daughter. I look at Penelope and think, how in the hell is this woman doing this? I know you do it because you have no other choice but how do you give a little person every bit of love you have and hope it lasts their lifetime? That they always know your last thoughts were of them and their future? It breaks my heart. The recordable books were so smart, I bet their little girl will cherish those.

And in other, not national news, but things that are irritating me:

1. Stop it with the passive aggressive crap. Seriously. I have had a couple of people friend me on Facebook, then unfriend me, then apparently block me, then try to re-friend me again. No thanks, psycho. First off, I really try to tell people why I unfriend them. Sometimes I don't need to because it's a bit obvious. Other times I'll say, "Hey- I'm unfriending you on FB because while you're a cool person, some of the things you post on there are offensive and I don't want to see it on my feed every time I go on there." I mean, just like in real life, you would tell a person why you're breaking up with them, right? I have zero time for people who are going to be passive aggressive. If you have a problem with me, you let me know and we'll hash it out like adults. But be prepared to get it back when I tell you what I really think of your twelve year old behavior.

2. I've decided any chick who flat out tells you she doesn't have very many girl friends because they are drama is waving a red flag in front of your face. If a girl cannot keep friends, it's probably them that's the drama and you should just back away slowly.

3. Why can nobody navigate the zipper merge method on the on/off ramps of a highway?! WHY? It's such an easy concept and honestly, I beg you to get off the road if you can't do it. Seriously.

4. If you are driving a rusted out 1996 Dodge Neon with 3 donut tires, and none of your car doors are the same color as the body of the car, you need to peel the "Fear This" sticker off of your windshield.

Ok, everyone! That's it for this week. Come back tomorrow and I'll show you a few new things I've got for my Etsy shop. Otherwise, otherwise I'll be back on Monday! Happy weekend, lambs!

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Owl Crate Spooky Box!

Of all of the book subscription boxes I'm in on (three, no shame lambs, no shame), this is maybe my favorite?

The theme for October was "Spooky" and it had all kinds of fun things!

First and foremost, we got A Madness So Discreet  by Mindy McGinnis. My inner nerd loves that the books come wrapped in plastic. I don't know why I love that, but I do. The book is getting amazing reviews and I had been eyeing it up so I'm happy to have gotten it. The quick and dirty is that it's about insane asylums. Along with it, we got a letter from the author about the book and a mini poster.

Also, we got some sugar skull erasers, not sure what I'm doing with those but they look pretty. The only weird "why do I want this" item was scented beads with a vampire scent. It's from Adventure Scents and I'm not a fan of scenty things gifted to me because I'm pretty sensitive and weird things will trigger a migraine so these are going to someone else.

We also got an Edgar Allen Poe canvas bag. I'm actually going to use this in my purse to hold all of the chapsticks I feel I need. (Seriously, I probably have 12 in there right now).

Overall? Very cool little box. I'm so excited about the book- watch for a review on that one eventually!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

After Alice

Honestly, sometimes when I read a book I feel so dumb that I wonder how I ever passed high school English classes. Then I thank god I never went to a four year college because it's books like this that make me think I wouldn't have done so hot.

After Alice - Gregory Maguire
From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis's Carroll's beloved classic

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice's disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll's enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice's mentioned briefly in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself. 

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next isAfter Alice.

Anyone who knows me at all knows I love a good re-telling of a classic story. Secondly, you would know that I never read the book Wicked and I saw 30 minutes of the play someone had recorded and I thought it was lame sauce so I didn't finish it. 

I know- it's practically a sin to admit that, but here I am, subjecting myself to the "what's wrong with you" comments. It's fine, I've practically heard them all by now. 

But when I saw this come up for review I immediately jumped on it because I absolutely loved Alice in Wonderland and everything about it. When I was little I had always kind of hoped maybe I would fall in a hole in a tree and go on an adventure but we didn't really have big trees where I lived, we had sewers and that didn't hold the same charm, you know? 

This isn't a re-telling really, it's more of a second story within a story. Something happening at the same time as the main story. We have Alice's friend Ada, who essentially follows Alice after she goes missing. Cue her own adventure "after Alice". The premise of this is perfect, it has the opportunity to be just as grand but in a more modern, more humorous kind of way. The only problem with this is that it falls so short of it because every sentence is filled with the worst words the author could have chosen to use. I have two friends who were reading this with me and I'll be honest, I was afraid to even tell them that I didn't get what the hell I was reading most of the time because I was sick of using the thesaurus app on my phone to look words up. Thankfully, one of them mentioned it first and suddenly I didn't feel like a 14 year old in a college literature class trying to follow along to The Odyssey. I wanted this to be light and fun but instead it was a little darker, and it required you to really think about what was happening and overall it had a somber feel to it. I really struggled to finish this and that was so disappointing for me. If you are a big Lewis Carroll fan and are looking for the next generation, keep looking- you won't find it in this book. If you are a big Gregory Maguire fan and really loved the book Wicked, you are going to absolute enjoy this with everything in you because it's so very similar. I don't think it's going to win any Lewis Carroll fans over but it's a steady followup to Wicked in style and writing. 

Follow Gregory Maguire on his website, and you can find After Alice available on Amazon
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