Five for Friday.

December 8, 2017

Morning, everyone! Let’s launch right into it, shall we?

1. The elephant in the room: I know I haven’t been posting lately. I’ve struggled with depression on and off throughout my life and because of some serious (but not permanent, please Universe) financial difficulties, it’s been hanging around again. When I get deep into the weeds like this, I really can’t write. Especially when I’m asked to create engaging, witty, and entertaining content before coffee. Right? Gawd! No wonder I’ve been without words for so long! But there it is. I promise I’m fighting the good fight and I’ll be back again. I haven’t hung up my sign for good.

2. It snowed last night in Austin and San Antonio. Those who I’m friends with on Facebook know I’ve been excitedly posting about the snowflakes/sleet/wintry mix promises our fickle weathermen have been promising all week. And then taking back because they’re GIANT LIARS!!! Instead, our snow went south and how unfair is that?! I’ve been asking my friend who travels back and forth to a weekend place atop a mountain in Colorado to make a snowman for me, even if it’s a tiny 4″ snowman because they’ve only gotten a dusting. My friend refuses. I. WANT. SNOW. !!!

3. Gracie-girl decided to reclaim her closet and I have a hallway full o’ stuff for me to re-home this weekend. Can you hear my underenthusement? (Is that a word?) It’s not an unreasonable request. The girls shared a room growing up. When Jeff and the Xman moved in, it made more sense for the Xman to share a room with Bee, on the two nights every fourteen days when they’d both be home, and let the girls have their own spaces the rest of the time. Otherwise it would be the girls sharing space all the time, and an empty room for 12 days out of every 14. The Xman was far, far too badly behaved to make that a craft room/Xman’s room to reclaim some functionality. And so we moved Gracie into my craft room. I hastily moved some things so Gracie could hang up her clothes. But I left all the photo albums, scrapbooks, folding chairs, wire shelving unit, and piles and piles of stuff we needed to store and had no other room for. Last weekend Gracie decided she wanted to make it a small office, so she cleared everything out (except the folding chairs – they had to stay) and piled it all in the hallway. I suppose I should, you know, move it. I guess.

4. Bee has been running an underground Slime Business at her school. For the past four months. Yes, this will be a separate blog post. No, I didn’t find out because she went to jail. TL;DR – I need suggestions for an Etsy store name for her to transition into life on the up-and-up.

5. I had a rather successful book haul at the library yesterday! Nine novels, one autobiography. I chose one that someone recently RAVED about on Twitter, but hell if I can remember who it was (and they aren’t ‘fessing up…). The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I grabbed it, thinking it would either go up in flames (and then I could greedily move on to the next book-victim in my pool of contenders….) or I’d fall in gloriously and have all evening to hoover it up. I didn’t have all evening, but I did start thinking it might be one of my Best of 2017; it’s too early for me to say for sure, I’m only about a quarter-way in, but I did volunteer to take shifts covering the receptionist’s breaks today because they let you read up there. I can’t wait to tell you how the rest of my curiosity voyage goes!

And there you have it. A genuine blog post. I hope to have some more for you very soon!

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Five for Friday.

November 3, 2017

My daughter is relentless. Apparently, someone misses my blog posts. Apparently, someone wanted me to write a Five for Friday post today. Apparently, someone inherited her mama’s patience because a draft of an all-Gracie Five for Friday came floating across my texts no long after the demand request for a post did.

The problem is that I have two daughters. So. I edited the draft a little.

1 I might not have been writing for my blog much lately, but I have certainly been writing! I’ve been writing book reviews for a freelance gig, and a bunch of journaling for therapy, and then I cranked out a tight-deadline article about my favorite books set in the lovely city of Detroit. There is nothing I love as much as when the creative juices are flowing when you need them to!

2 Speaking of Detroit, OHMYGOSH I want to visit! Enough that I would even get on an airplane, even after a day spent thinking about how much I hate flying. That is how enraptured I am right now! Want to do a little reading? Pick up Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House or Charlie LeDuff’s non-fic Detroit: An American Autopsy. Both reads will stay on your mind for a goodish while.

3 Is everyone caught up on Stranger Things 2?! Because I don’t know how much longer I can contain my gushing! (And a few critiques.) I will say this, though: I impressed even myself when a certain person read a few lines out loud and I immediately recognized it as Anne of Green Gables. It wasn’t even an obvious section – it was when Anne marvels that her parents had noble professions, and perfectly lovely names, and how she was left an orphan in spite of all the wonderfulness. Two, maybe three lines. It was a small piece of an understated scene, taking up maybe 10 seconds of our time. Most of which I spent freaking out over my own awesomeness. Just call me 012. Heh.

4 If you’re wondering why there wasn’t a Halloween post, it’s because for the first time, we didn’t go trick-or-treating. Gracie decided she was going to stay home and hand out candy. Bee decided, at first, that she wanted to walk around. But I wasn’t crazy about leaving Gracie home alone with the candy (or the crazies), and walking Bee around by myself wasn’t that appealing. So I bribed my daughter with candy. Oh yes I did – if she stayed home, I told her that she and her sister could have all the leftover candy. And then I got All The Feels because we weren’t trick-or-treating. Yes, I do know I’m crazy.

5 And although I’m tempted to post my Five without mentioning a single thing Gracie drafted, because I’m mean and twisted and my sense of humor is beyond warped, I can’t really do that to her. So I’ll mention one thing. Drumroll, please! Gracie made All-City Band! I am sooooo proud of her! Tryouts might have been mandatory for eighth-graders, but participants include high schoolers and students of all abilities. Gracie must be be pretty good at this whole drumming thing! (Congrats, kiddo!)

Now. With that, may I please go back to looking at puppies, Gracie-girl? Or are you going to draft an article for me to post tomorrow, too? You are SO demanding! Ha!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

I blinked, so naturally it’s November already.

November 1, 2017

It’s November, and you know what that means?! Yeah, it does! – leftover Halloween candy, soup for dinner, and non-fiction reads!

I didn’t do so well keeping up with my scary reads. I read a lot of steamy romances and books I’d already read before this past month. <shoulder shrug> I can try to follow a theme, but I always end up going where I want to. I’m sure it’s not frustrating at all.

Still, the past few days I’ve almost picked up quite a few non-fic books only to put them back. I saved them for binging during #NonFicNov, which just shows how much I was desperately looking forward to this month’s theme. It’s time to chow down!

As far as the menu, I don’t think I have much of a plan. Find the non-fic books on my To Read list and then read them. I’m not waiting to see which might be better or cheaper or freeer – I’m just getting the book and going. Or, at least, that’s the plan right now.

Who else is joining me fir a little #nonficnov?! What titles are you especially looking forward to?

Fixing my very long day.

October 18, 2017

It’s been a long, crazy week at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed. The kind of long, crazy week that makes you get into someone else’s car at the end of the day, thinking it was yours – but that’s a story for another time.

Tonight, I did a little thing on a whim.

I did this:

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The picture’s kinda dark, and I was trying to be all funky (and make the mess seem, I dunno, cooler) by tilting everything, but that picture there on the wall? That is the kind of crazy thing I did to cheer myself up. I rather like it.

I got the picture for Christmas two years ago. If you can’t quite make it out, it’s a silhouette of Roland from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower standing in front of his Dark Tower, holding a rose. I paid gobs of money to have it professionally framed…and then let it sit on my floor collecting dust. It’s what I do. But when Kim was here in August, we did this thing where we rearranged my room rather dramatically, and the desk I stole back from Gracie really makes the end of my bedroom look so bookish and there was just the right amount of room for Roland to go over my chair, right there next to the door. Don’t you think?

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this works.

I’ve tried this before. Two weeks ago I slapped on some Command hangers, pulled out my handy little level, and secured the picture to the wall. Or…I thought I secured it. Two hours later, I was screaming, popping out of bed, and pretty sure someone was trying to murder me. Thank god my light was still on and I was reading. Otherwise….yeah, let’s not go there.

So! Tonight when I decided at far-too-late-o’clock that a second attempt was necessary, I attached 152 more Command strips (2 probably wasn’t enough before, even if they were huge and extra duty)(yeah, I hear the jokes; shut up), dragged out my level, and tried again.

Have I mentioned how much I like my picture? Up on the wall? It’s like that is a fancy new thing I’ve started – hanging pictures on walls. I’ll try not to go too crazy – I only have 12 more Command strips anyway. And oh, I can only think what kind of blog hits I’ll get off that search term.

Meanwhile, I have a pretty new picture and I took control of the end of my day. Good-o.

 

No mac & cheese for you!

October 11, 2017

This is why I’m not adventurous. I have been doing so well lately though; I summoned the courage to apply for a writing gig at Book Riot – and was asked to become a contributing writer. (Something I am still squeeing over!) That helped give me the courage to apply to a few other jobs I’d previously thought about, but thought more of as “reach” opportunities. I haven’t heard back, but that’s not keeping me down. A publishing company has reached out and asked me to write reviews for them, which…I can’t even begin to describe the rush that gave me! Several exclamation points worth.

All of that is to say, I wanted macaroni and cheese for dinner, but didn’t have the smoked cheese on hand I’d need to make the homemade kind. That was no problem – or at least not that big of one – because I had the “good” kind of boxed mac&cheese: Cracker Barrel. Still, boxed is boxed. Because I’m chock full of confidence from all these crazy ego-boosters lately, I had the courage to try a food hack I’d heard was simply amazing. And that’s when the wheels came off the wagon. Because: my life, really.

I searched sites for what this mysterious ingredient was that I remembered reading in some Buzzfeed article (or somewhere like that), and happened upon some food hacks site that offered up the answer: mustard. No wonder I had been intrigued. The problem is that my trusted Buzzfeed author (I wish I could remember both who to credit and to blame for my predicament) swore by the funky-sounding change and bet that you would never go back once you tried it.

So I figured out how much prepared mustard I should use since I didn’t lack the foresight to buy dry mustard for any odd, late night kitchen cravings I might one day have, and got to work. I tell ya – I was feeling so good, so sure of my outcome, that I even used the lifehack where you put your collander inside the pan and drain the macaroni through it backwards. (Spoiler alert: that part worked!)

I added the cheese pouch and stirred away, getting a nice creamy, cheesy finish in no time. Then…readers, I wavered. I very nearly didn’t go through with it. I had taken a bite and it tasted delicious to me, so was I really going to chance ruin this tasty, tasty dinner…?

I was.

But rather than add 1 Tablespoon of prepared mustard, as called, I just sprinkled some straight from the bottle over the top of the pan, then stirred it in, vigorously. I didn’t want to accidentally bite into a pocket of just mustard. Blech.

I took a bite and…well, it was interesting. I could taste the mustard, but I thought that might be because I was thinking about it. I took another few bites, thinking I could at least eat what I’d made, even if I already knew I wouldn’t be making it again. The mustard taste was a little too strong. And that’s with hardly any in it! I carried my mug of milk and my bowl into my bedroom to finish the project I was working on and…yeah, I couldn’t even make myself sit down. With every spoonful of mac-mixture I ate, the more I knew I couldn’t keep eating. This just wasn’t for me.

SadKatie was Sad that she had ruined an entire box of “good” mac&cheese that she could have eaten for dinner. But then she realized that she had been adventurous, tried something new, done something fun instead of sitting on her kiester, gotten a bloggy story out of it, and cleaned the kitchen while she waited for her dinner.

Then, Readers, I fixed it with a pan of steak fries for dinner, so ha ha on YOU, mac&cheese!

MacAndCheese

Quick, cozy check-in.

October 10, 2017

I’ve been away. But this morning the temps were in the upper 50s when we woke up and today might only hit 70, and you guys – this counts as Fall down here in hell Tejas!

So I was cozying up to my blanket this morning, snuggling down deep and seriously glaring at my alarm clock because it was a giant. liar. Then I made out with my corduroy pants because I’ve missed them this summer. I put on a long sleeve shirt and yelled at the girls to do the same – or at least grab a sweater – and off into the cool air we went. I know I say jammin’ in the car is always better when it’s warm outside, but we (er, um, I) didn’t have any problems singing along this morning!

So, yes, I’m still alive. We were sweltering under the heat we’ve been having, but I’m hoping this cold front will kick-start my writing. Er, well, I should say my blogging. I’ve been writing up a storm for other writing gigs I’ve gotten lately and that experience has been incredible. It jumpstarted my mood and really helped pull off the gauzy layers of my depression. I don’t know where I summoned the courage to reach for the opportunities, but I’m glad I did. I wish I could do that for all of my friends in similar situations.

For now, I’ll take it. Cool temps for a day, maybe two. Writing away for someone, even if it isn’t here. (Sorry, all.) Reading fanatically, like someone’s going to tell me I can’t anymore. It’s a pretty good place to be, and I’m thankful in the moment each and every hour.

Happy Tuesday, guys. I hope your day is as much of a gift for you as mine is.

30 Days of #Readathon: Best.

October 1, 2017

It’s Sunday night, and you know what’s a good way to put off going to work tomorrow? Talking about the Readathon! As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night, Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – you do you! The how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because BOOKS!

There are 20 days left before our #Readathon kicks off, which means today’s theme is “Best.” Best what? I decided to re-post a picture from October 2014, one of the best Readathon hauls I ever prepped. I borrowed nearly thirty books from the library, just to be sure I had what I needed when the mood struck. (And, yes, I read or perused most of them!)

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It also counts as one of the craziest prepper moments, too! Ha!

What are some of the best moments from your Readathon-er past? Have you ever done anything totally off-the-charts insane?

30 Days of #Readathon: Places.

September 28, 2017

It’s a rainy Thursday, a small cold front is blowing through, and it feels like Piglet and Pooh and their Blustery Day are about the float past me…even though, to be honest, it’s not even all that windy outside. It’s more of a mood. And that mood is screaming at me to call in and stay home so I can cuddle up with a stack of books!

It doesn’t help that today marks 23 Days Left(!) in our 30-day countdown to Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon extravaganza(!!), and Day 23 is all about places. So when I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. and my body was All Done with The Sleeping, I pulled up the countdown, checked today’s theme – for those wee small hours of the morning when my heart wants to sleep but my body does not, they seem to be the only minutes I can steal for plotting blog posts and thinking of such things – and I started thinking of all the fun times the girls and I have had blocking pictures and participating in readathons. Then the rain started beating down even harder, and I swear to god I got my lazybones out of bed only because I had two small humans who had school. Uh…not sure if that’s parenting for the win or a solid loss, you guys.

These are some of the places my mind wandered to while I was lying in my bed, so cozily Not Sleeping this morning…

Barnes-and-Noble-Reading

Bookstores. I always pick up a book and read the first few pages in the store, just to see if I’ll be hooked by the voice. Sometimes the plot can be a bit of a slow boil, sometimes characters won’t show up for awhile, but the voice is my favorite part of the Holy Trifecta, and that I can usually tell right away. Not every book with a catchy voice will keep my attention, but a book that doesn’t have it in those first few pages never will. I might learn to appreciate the book – but, dudes, that’s what libraries are for! (One of many, MANY things they’re for – don’t hate.) The girls and I will also wander out to our local Barnes and Noble during the afternoons of long readathons for a change of pace and to keep ourselves engaged. And maybe for some caffeine and a bakery treat if mama’s feeling pretty flush!

BookNook

The Book Nook. The girls created their own little book nook behind the chaise lounge in the living room. Gracie-girl hasn’t been back there in awhile (don’t even get me started on the hundreds of little ways TeenGracie is leaving KidGracie behind!), but Bee will still bring her graphic novels, or fashion books, or her laptop back there (with as many snacks as she can get away with, usually). It’s not fancy – just a bunch of oversize pillows, an outlet that’s unsightly for pictures but perfect for charging e-readers, and sometimes a blanket or two. Just a girl, her books, and a few comfort items. But it’s enough to make my heart happy whenever I catch sight of her back there in her reading cocoon!

Dinand

The stacks. A few trips ago, my sisters and I took the girls to Holy Cross, my alma mater. There are so many gorgeous libraries on campus, but my heart belongs to Dinand. There are secret stairs, lots of couches and comfy chairs, creaky spots in the floors, that book smell sent straight from heaven, and so. many. stacks. It is unpossible to not feel perfectly happy when reading in such a place! I only get to visit now – and not even every trip home – but it’s a place I used to spend many Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons, even if I didn’t have to study. Why waste library time studying when you could spend it reading?!

Reading-in-bed

In bed. My comfy, comfy bed. Mmm…. Because I’ve been waking so early, I’ve been drifting off most nights after I’ve only squeezed in a few pages worth of reading time, but this is still the place I love to read most! All my life I’ve been a bed reader – hiding in our rooms away from the noisy house, flopped across the bed diagonally, not even under the covers. And reading at bedtime was always, always, always the best way to get sleepy and signal that another day was done. Right now I’m daydreaming about a Jetsons-like device that could magically calculate how many pages I’ve read in bed over the course of my lifetime. I’m pretty hearts-in-eyes-swoony over the number I imagine would show up!

Those are just a few of the places I love to read. I couldn’t find the one of me reading on the couch, or out on the patio (reading in the sunshine=sweetness; falling asleep and getting sunburned=AGAIN, KATIE?!), or a bathtub filled with scalding hot water and a nice topper of bubbles or a bath bomb. Oh, or that one great picture I have of me in my car on my lunch break, with the windows down, the sunshine streaming in, my feet up on the dash and a book in my hands. That’s a great picture.

But honestly the thing that makes them great is the book in my hands. That’s all I really need to carve out a “place”!

 

30 Days of #Readathon: Drinks.

September 27, 2017

It’s been a whirlwind kind of week, and I feel like I forgot to tumble out of the floo about six stops ago, but here I am and here we go!

As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night (ha! like we need motivation!), Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – hey, who wants to teach me how to Instagram? The point is, the how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because you’re wickedly, wonderful insane, just like the way we like!

Today’s topic is drinks. Had I pre-planned a little, I could have gotten a little sloshy last night. In the name of blogging, of course. Alas.

Instead, when I popped my eyes open, wide-awake at 5 a.m. this morning, I used the time to – well, first check the theme and then to plan my attack. I decided to go with my bookish mugs. Look – all patiently waiting to be filled with The Coffees so I can maybe stay awake later.

BookMugs

A few of my favorites are missing – my orange Penguin Pride and Prejudice; my Mischief Managed; my I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie mug… But these are still all of my favorites, too. Who can resist Bartleby? I know I would prefer not to. (Sorry. See earlier comment about waking up at 5 a.m. I can’t help myself.) And the Harvard Bookstore mug that warns I am hot and literate? Literal fire.

So! Now it’s your turn! Go forth and show me your frothy bookish drinks. Oof, I did not mean that to sound nearly as dirty as it did…

Quote of the Day.

September 26, 2017

Yesterday was my Uncle Teddy’s birthday. And four years is a crazy long time, but not so long that I didn’t have myself a good cry last night.

So of course, the girls were in rare form.

Setting the scene: Gracie walks in on me texting my cousin, and crying.
Gracie: Aw! What’s wrong??!
Me: It’s Uncle Teddy’s birthday.
Gracie: I know! I should not get in the shower [like I had been yelling at her to do], and make you cinnamon rolls and cheer you up instead!
Me: Um…no.

Setting the scene, Part II: Bee walks in on me crying, after I’ve shuttled her sister into the other room.
Bee: What’s wrong, Mum?
Me: It’s Uncle Teddy’s birthday, and I’m texting Uncle Kene.
Bee: You should tell him to go to Crazy Uncle Mike’s house and play with the cup holders that light up. Those are cool.

Like my cousin said – those two might be a leetle bit related to us!