Thursday, June 30, 2011

Folly Beach

Just an example of how rock star I am? I read this book over two days while walking my daughter to summer school, while taking Jackson to the park, while doing laundry and during commercial breaks of Mob Wives.

Folly Beach- Dorothea Benton Frank
Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale (Lowcountry Tales)

A woman returns to the past to find her future in this enchanting new tale of loss, acceptance, family, and love. With its sandy beaches and bohemian charms, surfers and suits alike consider Folly Beach to be one of South Carolina’s most historic and romantic spots. It is also the land of Cate Cooper’s childhood, the place where all the ghosts of her past roam freely. Cate never thought she’d wind up in this tiny cottage named the Porgy House on this breathtakingly lovely strip of coast. But circumstances have changed, thanks to her newly dead husband whose financial—and emotional—bull and mendacity have left Cate homeless, broke, and unmoored.


Yet Folly Beach holds more than just memories. Once upon a time another woman found unexpected bliss and comfort within its welcoming arms. An artist, writer, and colleague of the revered George Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward enjoyed the greatest moments of her life at Folly with her beloved husband, DuBose. And though the Heywards are long gone, their passion and spirit lingers in every mango sunset and gentle ocean breeze. And for Cate, Folly, too, holds the promise of unexpected fulfillment when she is forced to look at her life and the zany characters that are her family anew. To her surprise, she will discover that you can go home again. Folly Beach doesn’t just hold the girl she once was . . . it also holds the promise of the woman she’s always wanted—and is finally ready—to become.

Let me tell you right off that I loved this book. Dorothea Benton Frank has such a great wit and sense of humor and it completely comes across through her writing. I love how this book reads as if you were having a phone conversation with your best friend. The also interesting thing is that it's two stories in one, specifically, it's a play within a story. Which I didn't think I would care for but actually enjoyed it a lot.

The *best* part of this book is seriously, the aftermath of Cate's husband's suicide. Seriously- you could just imagine one really bad thing after another coming down and you want to feel bad but find yourself laughing. Mostly because it's all so very bad and most people would be at a loss for what to do, but Cate is spunky and just gets on with it. Which I can relate to because I've had a really bad summer with my husband where literally, one thing after another, kept coming at me and I just kept going. You don't have a choice when others depend on  you.

I have lots of comments on this book I really want to share.. but it would kill the story for you I think. But I do suggest this as a good read because the writing is superb, the play within a story is different but interesting, and overall- it's a good lesson in life. Oh! I will say- the play within a story? Well I liked it because she completely changes her writing voice. You wouldn't get that it was written by the same person and I was really impressed with her ability to change like that.

So- as usual, don't take just my word. Check out what other bloggers had to say about it HERE, see her webpage, or her Facebook page!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Conversations I never thought I'd have.

The thing about having kids is you find yourself saying things (over and over and over) that you would never think you'd catch yourself saying. Such as:

1. I can't tell you how many times a day I say, "Jackson, tuck your pee pee" so he doesn't spray the entire bathroom in urine.

2. How many times a day do I ask the status on everyone's poop? Several.

3. If I'm lucky, everyone will poop but I have to be enthusiastic when they show me. I've refused to do the potty dance because I'm a terrible mother and that's what terrible mother's do. They don't do the potty dance. Instead, I've settled for, "Wow, Olivia! Good job! That's a big one!" as I grab the special spoon to break it up so it doesn't clog the toilet. Again.

4. If I'm not lucky, I have to have the "farting is a clue" conversation with both kids.

5. Today I reminded Matt that Jackson wants a dog. He told me today, "All I want is my own doggie. A real one. That licks." See? The boy just wants to be licked. Matt could easily make his dreams come true by getting Jackson a dog. A cute, fluffy one would also be ideal for Olivia. And me. But mostly Jackson. So after Matt telling me no (again), I told him I'm going to tell Jackson he can't get a doggy because daddy is mean and lazy. Matt thinks I'll only scar Jackson. I strive to be the favorite in every situation.

6. I had to yell at Batman because he's not only eating Q-tips again, but he's moved to chewing plastic bags to shreds. So my neighbor heard me say, "God dammit, Batman! Q tips are not food!". She was totally justified when she stared at my window like a crazy person lives here.

7. Also today I had a conversation with Olivia on how if you don't eat your meal you get no snacks. I'm sorry, but I don't feel bad for someone who refuses to eat her lunch then is begging for snacks an hour later. Sorry. This mama? Doesn't care. Sadly, I realize this only makes me sound exactly like my mom. Which is good and bad.

8. This afternoon I had to explain to Jackson why it's not OK to show people your pee pee. Even if you are proud of it. In addition, how it's not OK to play/tug on it even if it feels good on the couch. I keep telling him he needs to go to his room and I get no backup from Matt. Please tell me it's OK for me to tell him he has to do that in his room?!

9. Or why it's not OK to put sand down your pants even if it makes your butt feel weird.

10. This week I'm also battling with Matt on why he won't just fix something in the house. Instead, he just complains about having to do half ass fixes. I feel like, as adults, there is no reason we should be having the same conversation over and over again. If I have to explain to him why it'd be beneficial to fix the fucking laundry sink one more time, I will likely lose it. Today as I'm unplugging the sink and swearing, I saw red mist in my eyes. It was probably good he wasn't home because I am at my end.

I don't know what it is lately but I catch myself right after I say something and think, dammit. I'm such a grown up with kids. And that's scary. But truly, when I add up the times I talk about human excrement and how we keep certain body parts covered up, it's sad. This is my life, folks. This is it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's talk about what drives Sara.... bananas.

First off, I don't like the word "bananas" but I find myself saying it a lot. I don't know why, I just am. It's weird.

Anyways. So I don't know if it's because I've boycotted my anti depressant medication (actually, first I was too broke to get it and then that just morphed into being too lazy to go to the drug store and get it... so I'm going without. Matt's thrilled.) or if I'm maybe just getting cranky with age but living with other people is getting to me. Specifically, Matt.

I know one of the tough things about a marriage is not killing each other over time. It will never be all awesome and wonderful and I believe that anyone who told me it would be is not only a liar, but they are probably so far gone there is no hope. Matt and I have lived together for nine years, married for seven of those. And I have to be honest, none of his things bothered me before but they are now. No, scratch that. Some of them bothered me, we've talked about, I felt like we came to an agreement yet nothing changes. Let's go through some examples.

1. His laundry. Folks- I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how angry I am about his laundry. We have two laundry baskets in our house. One is upstairs in the closet NEXT to the bathroom. The other is right next to HIS dresser. It's next to his dresser (despite it being an eyesore and a constant reminder of more housework I need to do) because we agreed that if it was there he'd have no excuse. I also accept laundry to be left in the laundry sink since sometimes he's filthy and just undresses by the back door. Seriously. Call before coming over, people. Anyways. Every single mother fucking day, there is laundry on the bathroom floor, all over our bedroom floor and sometimes, he just leaves it on the laundry room floor. Seriously? How fucking HARD IS IT to just put it in a laundry receptacle? Huh? How hard? So I've taken to no longer picking it up. If it's not in the hamper, it's not getting washed. Do you think Matt cares he's going to work with filthy clothes? No. But it still makes me stabby.

2. His lunchbox. Every single fucking day (that he remembers to pack his own lunch like a big boy and bring it to work) he comes home and leave the fucking thing on the counter. No. I am not a maid. I will not empty out your dirty containers and put your stuff away. No. I'm not doing it. You know why? Because he leaves it RIGHT ABOVE the lower cupboard it goes in. He can't even go two inches further and put the damn thing away.

3. Jokes. I hate jokes. I really, really, really hate jokes. I hate when someone's like, "Oh- here's a good one for ya" because at that very moment I want to stab that person. I have told Matt this easily 7201 times yet he continues to come home with stupid fucking jokes that are never funny then gets mad at me because I don't think they're funny. They aren't. They suck and I'm stabby.

4. Wanting to have sex when I'm drop dead tired. He always, ALWAYS initiates when he knows I'm so effing tired that I can't say no. Which is kind of lame. Because then I can't even enjoy it. So the other night I was like, "Matt- I'm so tired. Seriously. I can't even think right now I'm that tired." His response? "It's OK- you'll fall asleep eventually." Whatta guy. I have a real gentleman, ladies. But on the other hand I'm like, go for it, because I'm too tired to care.

5. He is NOTORIOUS for eating the last of whatever I buy for myself. So, I only like the sour cream & onion Pringles but buy him multiple cans of his favorites, yet he opens and finishes my can first. Or if I buy my favorite ice cream, he will always eat most of the container and then save me literally, a 1/2 cup. What kind of shit is that? I have NEVER  infringed on his snacks. Or desserts. Or anything that I know he would really enjoy eating. Nope.

6. He won't let me get a goat. Or a sheep. I don't think I have to explain how upsetting this is.

7. I also can't get a functioning laundry sink despite him yelling at me for doing laundry which clogs up the existing laundry sink resulting in both of us yelling and scooping out shit from the drain. We do it every three loads, people. Every three loads for SIX YEARS. Trust me when I say I am on the edge of finding the DIY instructions and starting it on my own.

8. When I am cleaning the house like a maniac, I really get pissed off when I get a "Hey- keep up the good work" or an "Atta girl!" from him. Seriously, asshole? I'm about to shove this mop up your asshole and let's see if I can still get an atta girl. If I'm busting my ass, I just don't think it's a lot to ask for someone to you know, do something.

9. For example, if you see I've been cleaning the floors on my knees to make sure I get even streaks (because I'm OCD and I can't help it) please don't walk on the floors until they are dry. Please don't traipse through my kitchen with your muddy shoes covered in grass clippings. I cannot and will not be held accountable for my actions.

10. I also hate when I'm told we're out of something, and it's so very clearly right there where it belongs. Where it has been for the last six years.
**

So, for those of you who have been married for awhile (or at least living with your partner for awhile) what do they do that drives you nuts? Do you think you do anything that drives them nuts in return? (For Matt, I would say my constant OCD cleaning drives him insane. Or having to have things put away precisely.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weightloss Check In Monday: New Goal/Announcement/Delusion. Pick one or all three.

I know I have been a craptastic weightloss leader but damn you all- this bitch is back and I have a new goal. But before I give you the vlog announcement of that...

... I will tell you about what I have coming up in just a little over a month. It would be my very first 5K! That's right. I'm still committed to my 30/30 list and despite not knowing how I'm going to train for it in such a short time period and how I'm going to manage it in my schedule, I am running a 5K in early August.

I'm kind of scared. I am feeling like I might not be able to do it, but I'm going to fill out my registration form and just do it already. So that means that as of yesterday, I've started my 3 mile walk/run up again. Yesterday I only walked it because quite frankly, I was too scared to try running. I don't know why, but I figured maybe my first time out again I'd just walk it. So I did and I was kind of exhausted. My legs are still sore today but I wasn't just leisurely walking, I was speed walking so I feel like I did a good job.

But that 5K? Is nothing compared to my new goal:

Friday, June 24, 2011

You Are Not Your Brain (and GIVEAWAY)

The title of this book kind of reminds me of that movie "Dinner For Schmucks" where it was mind power versus brain power. I don't know.. maybe that's just me.

You Are Not Your Brain- Jeffrey Schwartz, M.d and Rebecca Gladding, M.D.
You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life
Two neuroscience experts explain how their 4-Step Method can help break destructive thoughts and actions and change bad habits for good.



A leading neuroplasticity researcher and the coauthor of the groundbreaking books Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain, Jeffrey M. Schwartz has spent his career studying the structure and neuronal firing patterns of the human brain. He pioneered the first mindfulness-based treatment program for people suffering from OCD, teaching patients how to achieve long-term relief from their compulsions.

I will tell you that the reason I picked this book to review is because I have a very unhealthy way of thinking when it comes to diet and exercise. I am extremely good at talking myself out of good behaviors and convincing myself that the bad behaviors are not only more fun and awesome, but will be better for me later on. Despite the fact thunder thighs are not my friend.

Basically everything in the book comes down to four steps:


Step 1: Relabel: Identify your deceptive brain messages and the uncomfortable sensations; call them what they really are.

Step 2: Reframe: Change your perception of the importance of the deceptive brain messages; say why these thoughts, urges, and impulses keep bothering you: they are false brain messages.

Step 3: Refocus: Direct your attention toward an activity or mental process that is wholesome and productive -- even while the deceptive brain messages are still bothering you.

Step 4: Revalue: Clearly see the thoughts, images, and impulses for what they are -- simply sensations caused by deceptive brain messages that aren't true and have little to no value.

Without going into a whole lot of detail about it (which is all explained really well and there are worksheets in the book for you to work through on your own) I will say I found them very helpful. At first the book started slow with me with a lot of precursor explainations that I didn't find relevant to me, but once it started talking about these four steps I was really interested. One of my favorite parts of this book is when it talks about biology is not your destiny. I find that people are so quick to rely on their biology to dictate their life versus trying to change themselves for the better. It's harder to change yourself but it's more rewarding.

The other part of the book I found really helpful is the discussion of positive versus destructive anxiety. I am a high anxiety person and I often have to talk myself into things I know I'll enjoy because my brain is constantly telling me negatives. It's a problem to say the least. But I really felt like I had a better grip as to why I have that inner struggle so often.

Overall, I found this book to be extremely helpful. If you are at all interested in learning about the brain, how to make changes in your life or both- this book is for you.

AND... maybe you could win it. That's right- I'm giving away ONE copy of this book to one of my readers (US/Canada only... sorry). All you have to do is leave a comment with your email address and I'll draw a winner on Monday!

If you want to hear what other tour stops had to say, go HERE.

South of Superior

Unknowingly, when I picked this book to review I didn't even think about the setting of the story. And how completely cool it was that my Michigan trip was in the same area. So add that to another reason I loved this book. And I have to say it- I kind of love the cover of this book.

South of Superior - Ellen Airgood
South of Superior
When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she isn’t prepared for how much her life will change.



Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It’s a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she’s learned in a lifetime.

I have to say right off the bat, this author did an amazing job at pegging people's personalities. Not just those who are from a large city (which is easy) but those who are from smaller towns and rural communities. Not every author can really get them all to be so different and accurate to what real life is like so for that reason alone, this is a fascinating read.

But the story is just really great. I really liked Madeline's character because she's very much like someone I know and love because of her really irritating quality of seeing everything in one perspective. She wants to hold a grudge against her grandfather, who in her eyes, abandoned her when she was a child. What she doesn't know or see is that he had a lot of other commitments and challenges that took precedent over a child who would likely have a better life somewhere else. So in his eyes, he made the right decision even if he doubted himself. To Madeline though, it was an unforgivable act. I think lots of people are like that though, aren't they? They don't always take in all of the different reasoning's a person did what they did, they only look at how it affected them.

What I also really liked was how this author really showed the importance of community. I think, especially now, we've moved far away from the mentality that we're a community and we help each other out, regardless of how someone got to be less fortunate. Whether they are just down on their luck or a town drunk, they still need to eat and feel a sense of belonging. And think about your own life- when was the last time you brought a dinner to a neighbor just because? Probably never. Why not? Because they would be suspicious and think you've lost it? That's sad. It's sad that society has moved from that when it really seems we'd all be better off to go backwards in some sense.

So I have to say- I really enjoyed this book. A lot. It was really a good story that made me think about changing a few things in my own life and just being more selfless towards others. I like to think I am already but there is always room for improvement. I might not have a lot but I have more than some and I could (and should) be doing more for others. So I'm making it a priority. But nonetheless, I highly recommend this book and I don't think you'll regret it.

Check out what other tour stops had to say HERE, check out the author's webpage (which is pretty interesting) HERE, and her Facebook HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners (via Vlog!), and my 94 cents.

You know you've been anxiously awaiting the return of me... via vlog. And I've got it here for you. Press play to see if YOU won a free book.



And then I have to just say it because I'm kind of sick of hearing about it. So, we all know Ryan Dunn died earlier this week in a pretty horrific car accident. It's sad and when I first heard I was bummed. And then to see the wreckage photos it's like, man alive- I can't image what that would have been like in the last seconds of life. But as more details come out, I'm kind of feeling good riddance. Which is TERRIBLE to say. I know it. I have absolutely no respect for people who are going to get behind the wheel after having drinking a good part of the night and deciding to take not only their life in their hands, but everyone elses too. I have no respect for them. It's one thing that he killed himself in an act that is completely stupid and completely preventable, but the fact he's destroyed another family is reprehensible. I'm sorry, it is.

Today I see he has lots of other traffic violations including a previous DUI. Really? I know that taking a person's license away isn't going to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car but there has to be a better way to prevent reckless driving by drunks.

Is it really that hard to call a cab? To call a friend? Do you not know anybody who's sober that could come get you? And maybe that's a sign you should get your life together if you have no sober friends. Or if you can't afford a cab. And what gives you the right to make the decision that it's OK to put everyone else at risk for your good time? I wonder if his loss would still be mourned if he killed a family on their way home from vacation instead of another drunken friend?

AND... if you want a Dear Sara post this week- send me your questions! sarastrand9438(at)hotmail.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reminders and Hoarders.

Before I talk about tonight's post I want to remind you that it's the LAST day for you to enter to win a free book HERE and HERE. There aren't many entries so you still have a chance to win something. Even if you don't read- it's one Christmas gift off your list. You can thank me later.

So we know I'm on the couponing bandwagon. And I would by lying if I said I didn't want to have 8 foot high shelves full of stuff. Because I do. I love opening new packages and I like feeling like I could get some new toothpaste whenever I want to. Not that I would waste, but just knowing that I could waste is kind of an awesome feeling. So let's take a gander at my stockpiles which are spread through the house because my husband is slow on getting my shelving up. Considering it's taken 6 years of begging and I still don't have a functioning laundry sink, I have a feeling I'll be sleeping with cereal under my bed in no time.

First up, let's check out my upstairs linen closet. These boxes are full of toothpaste/toothbrushes, first aid, over the counter medicines and miscellaneous odds & ends.
 Then this is my box of travel size things and deodorants.
 I would also be lying if I told you that I didn't just open this drawer because it makes me happy. It's got 8 bottles of shampoo and conditioner (each) two bottles of lotion, two tubs of wet wipes, sunscreen, two bottles of body mist, 2 double sized bonus packs of deodorant, 2 packages of acne cream, more bandaids, Aunt Flo supplies and bug spray. All for almost nothing.
 AND now I have to use some of the space in my ghetto back porch because I? Have a lot of laundry detergent. And bathroom cleaning supplies. But as far as I'm concerned, a bathroom can't be too clean. I'm a fanatic about clean bathrooms.
 My cereal stash, I don't think I paid more than .75 for each box.
 And I'm set on baking supplies, canned cat food, popcorn and other randoms.
 And my food cupboard. It's a wee bit crammed and I'm kind of wondering where I'm going to put my groceries from this week? Because this is my only food cupboard. Matt needs to get my shelving up.
OH! And my freezer! We have a small chest freezer which is like... my new BFF? I'm slowly filling it to the brim. And you'll be happy to know that I bought strawberries when they were buy one/get one and I froze half of them -- which are in the container on the bottom.
But I am now tinkering with the idea of freezer cooking. If you aren't familiar, it's basically where you make a lot of meals all at once and freeze them. Essentially, it's one afternoon of cooking 30 dinners so that all you have to do is reheat the food and you're done. I'm thinking I will start seeing what works and what doesn't because this might be handy for when Olivia is in school full time this fall and I'll be doing more running around and helping her with homework and such. I'm kind of worried I'm going to get burned out so I need to find some ways to cut more corners.

But I'm basically becoming a clean food hoarder.

Speaking of hoarders- folks.... did you SEE last night's episode? The woman with all of the dolls? She kept laughing hysterically and I was kind of scared of her. But she had a mentally handicapped son who was even telling her that she has a problem. Now, if you have a mentally handicapped person telling you there is something wrong with you, that's kind of significant. She even had a "doll hospital" and would fix dolls and amputate and yeah. It was just too much.

The other woman featured basically shit her pants and left the poop pads everywhere. I couldn't even watch it because I was just that horrified. Honestly. Where the fuck are these people's family? I'm telling you, if I came to visit my mom and she had piles of crap everywhere and started peeing in bottles? Shit would be getting real. Like, nursing home real. There comes a point where a family person has to intervene for the welfare of someone else. Good lord. I can't even believe you see families bitching over who gets the house or whatever while ma is sitting in filth. Because at the end of the day? Who CARES who gets the house? It isn't habitable, it'd have to be bull dozed anyway. Good lord. People are really terrible sometimes. You don't become a hoarder over night, it's a build up over time and for these people to not step in before? Not ok. Truly. And it's just sad really.

Before I end tonight...
1. Enter the giveaways.
2. Are you a couponer? How are you storing your things?
3. What are your thoughts on hoarding?

Monday, June 20, 2011

WeightLoss Checkin Monday.. omg... die.

I knew getting back into my weight loss routine after weeks of complete slackerness was going to suck. I knew it. I think that's why I kept putting it off time and time again.

But this week I really took stock in what I liked about working out and honestly- knowing that kicking my own ass was getting me into shape and frankly, looking better than I had in years, was a good thing. Then I noticed that the hunk of fat that hung off the side of my thighs was gone... really made me think about how nice it was to be losing hunks of fat in the first place. And after a lot of trying to talk myself out of it, I got back on the fuckmill....

... and cried for mercy after a half mile like the little bitch I am. That fuckmill gave me the equivalent of the middle finger, people.

I even thought that by jamming to Elton John's Greatest Hits would get me going. Lord knows I perform better when I'm singing to myself much too loudly. But no, it did nothing.

So even though the fuckmill hates me once again and a half mile made me want to die, I still managed to do 100 steps on my stair stepper which is making my thighs cry. Then I got back on my exercise ball and did 50 crunches and now it hurts to say.

But you know what? I can do this. I know I can. I did it before and by fucking god- I'm going to rock it out again peeps.

Please know I sang this loudly while trying not to die on the fuckmill.

Anthropology of an American Girl and GIVEAWAY

Time for another book review and I'm going to be straight up honest. This book isn't for everyone. Clocking in at 597 pages it isn't for the faint of heart and probably not a person with dyslexia either.

Anthropology of an American Girl- Hilary Thayer Hamann
Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel
This ambitious work explores the sexual and intellectual awakening of a young American woman struggling to remain true to herself as she encounters love, passion, and death amid the challenges and heartbreaks of growing up. Newly edited and revised, Hilary Thayer Hamann’s Anthropology of an American Girl is an extraordinary piece of writing, original in its vision and thrilling in its execution.



Self-published in 2003, the book touched a nerve among readers, who identified with the sexual and intellectual awakening of its heroine, a young woman on the brink of adulthood. A moving depiction of the transformative power of first love, Hamann’s first novel follows Eveline Auerbach from her high school years in East Hampton, New York, in the 1970s through her early adulthood in the moneyed, high-pressured Manhattan of the 1980s.


Centering on Evie’s fragile relationship with her family and her thwarted love affair with Harrison Rourke, a professional boxer, the novel is both a love story and an exploration of the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world. As Evie surrenders to the dazzling emotional highs of love and the crippling loneliness of heartbreak, she strives to reconcile her identity with the constraints that all relationships—whether those familial or romantic, uplifting to the spirit or quietly detrimental—inherently place on us. Though she stumbles and strains against social conventions, Evie remains a strong yet sensitive observer of the world around her, often finding beauty and meaning in unexpected places.

OK. I'm nothing if not 100% honest with my readers about everything I write about and my book reviews are no different. I did not finish this book. For me to say that is a huge deal because I finished two books I absolutely hated, including Wuthering Heights and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. But the difference with those books were that I really felt like it'd come around and I'd eventually get it. I didn't, but throughout both books I really felt like it'd come around.

And I've really thought about what it was about this book that couldn't draw me in. And you know what it was? The overuse of adjectives. Basically the entire writing style. For this being a debut novel it's really heavy. I found myself having re-read passages because I might just be stupid, but I didn't get it. The entire story is meant to be written from the point of view of a woman who is recalling her first love and the ones that came after yet... reading this I'm thinking, "I know high school wasn't like this and I didn't speak like this at all." It never felt authentic and it never felt like something that would logically be happening. Here's an example:

"Jack's body had not yet moved. He was like a jetty rock, obstinate and motionless against the savage force of the sea. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do or say so I waited, passing time by thinking of things I knew. I knew that he loved me desperately, never more so than at that moment. I knew that he was ready, aroused for once by the honorableness of his emotions, and yet the anger that moved him had no means of expression. How betrayed he must have felt by his belligerent pacifism, by the ambivalence he'd constantly displayed. He was thinking that the attack had not been arbitrary, that it had happened to me for a reason. He was thinking the reason was him."

Ok. Now, what did that even mean?? Because I'm not sure. Part of me is sad that I'll never know what happened between Jack and Evie but on the other hand, who cares? After getting half way through the book I can't even tell you what it was even really about, what the story was. There was nothing in any of the pages I read that made me want to turn another page and keep going. For me, reading is an escape and it should be fun. I don't like having to think a whole lot about what I'm reading to process it. I like being able to relate to a book within my own life or back story and even though I've been a teenage girl working through the weird phases and first loves and all of that... I could not relate. In the end, I feel like the author has tried too hard to write a book that would be a classic, or something that would end up on a must read list somewhere.

See what other bloggers had to say about this book HERE and check out the book page HERE. Now, although this wasn't the kind of book meant for me, it might be for you. And I am never one to discourage a person from reading a book. I really think that someone with an interest in literature, writing, or books around this theme would really enjoy it. Of all of the reviews I've read it seems pretty divided as far as you really like it or you don't. But I say try it.  

In fact, I would like one of you to read it and tell me what you thought about it. The publisher is offering one of my readers their very own copy of this book (US/Canada only, no PO boxes). All you have to do is leave me a comment with your email address and I will draw a winner on Wednesday, so enter now!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thanks.

So it's Father's Day and it dawned on me that maybe I should tell you about why my step dad and my husband are awesome. Because I don't talk about either of them much so it'll give you a chance to get to know them.

My real dad is a complete dead beat alcoholic that was never around when I grew up. Instead, my mom married my step dad and he took over the role as our dad in every way possible and did a fabulous job. He works as a over the road truck driver so that meant he was gone for long stretches of time (like months) just so that we could have the things we had when we were growing up. I know my mom had to work extra hard when he was gone but in the end, I think my brother and I were better for it.
 But even with dad being gone so much, he never missed one important event. He drove all day/night so he could come to my college graduation. He even sucked it up and wore a tux for my wedding AND walked me down the aisle, even though he hates having any attention drawn to himself. He taught me to never accept anything less than the best from any friend or boyfriend. He helped my self esteem by encouraging me all along the way even when it was clear I was failing at something. He made me be knowledgeable about boys... and parts... and stuff by making me listen to Loveline with Dr. Drew. I know that no matter what I can call him to talk or ask advice and I know whatever my decision he'll support me and never tell me I'm making a mistake even when it's clear I probably am going to fall flat on my ass and then whine that I made the wrong choice. So thanks, Dad. For always being there for me, for encouraging me all of the time, for telling me I was pretty when I felt the opposite, for accepting the choices I've made even though you maybe disagree, for taking my brother and I on like your very own. People looking in would never know you're not our biological dad and I don't either. You are amazing and I'm so glad my kids have you as a Grandpa.

And Matt. Damn. You know, I can say a lot of not great thing about my relationship with Matt and we may argue a lot. We might not be the ideal couple. And he might drive me just as nuts as I drive him. But one thing that can will always be said- Matt is a fabulous father. I know that if nothing else in my life, I made the right decision having children with Matt. There is not another guy on this planet that is as good of a dad as Matt is. And in all of the hard times we've had and all of the times I wanted to hate him, I just couldn't because he's just a good person at heart and nobody can say he isn't good to his kids and to me.

When I had Olivia I had really terrible post partum depression. I didn't know what was wrong with me for a year, Matt didn't know and looking back I see how helpless he must have felt, and he was nothing but supportive. After a few weeks he told me he'd be doing all of the feedings during the night because he thought maybe the lack of sleep was getting to me. He was dead tired every single morning, but he still got up and went to work for 9 hours a day.

He cleans up all of the disgusting messes. Whether it be kid or cat related, I know I can call Matt and he will always come home to do the job while I laugh, take pictures, and gag.

He's so selfless with the kids. When Olivia was 16 months old she was hospitalized with stomach flu and dehydration for three days. Meanwhile, Matt had the stomach flu and was throwing up all over the place but there he was, with Olivia and me.
When I was pregnant with both kids Matt would always run and get me whatever I was craving, no matter the time of night or how far he'd have to drive. He still does it whenever I ask. (Seriously- ask any of my friends, they all love this about Matt too because they get their cravings fulfilled too!) When I was pregnant with Jackson we hit the worst part of our marriage and it was almost over. While I was angry and hurt, there was Matt, being a supportive husband to a very pregnant wife.

And the best part? Matt still did all night feedings with Jackson even though I was perfectly OK to do them this time around.
Matt let me quit my full time, great paying job so I could stay at home/work part time and not go crazy. In order to support this, he works about 60-70 hours every week and never complains. He never asks for anything so when he does I always make sure to make it happen for him because he most definitely deserves it. He's the best dad these kids could ever have and I hope that someday when they look back on their childhood they realize that. So thank you, Matt. You gave me the two best things I have in my life and you help me more than you ever should every day.

The Seven Year Bitch. (... and there is a GIVEAWAY!)

Oh man. I can't even tell you how much I relate to this book and I have an entire post coming about it... very soon. But in the mean time, if you are married, divorced, or think you ever want to be married... this book is for you. Man or woman it does not matter because I think we can all relate to it.

The Seven Year Bitch - Jennifer Belle

What’s a fabulously fun New York City girl to do when she finds herself in a matrimonial rut — disillusioned, sex life with her husband on the wane, and quickly turning into a big-time nag? No, she hasn’t gotten the seven-year itch — taking care of the kids and her husband and rarely feeling that her needs come first has turned her into a seven-year bitch. That’s New York author Jennifer Belle’s deliciously provocative phrase for the boredom, anger, and hurt that can creep into even the best of marriages — and affect even the calmest of wives. In The Seven Year Bitch, Belle delivers a dead-on, raw, and hilarious account of motherhood and marriage, and discovers that the life you have is exactly the one you wanted.

If you are married and have not quite made the seven year mark I will tell you it's real and it's scary. A good friend of mine told me once that if you can weather the seven year itch you can take on the world. Maybe not the case with me since Matt and I aren't the best team ever, but I do feel like we've hit a milestone of sorts and already being a few days beyond our seven year wedding anniversary... it feels different.

What I absolutely loved about this book is that I could absolutely relate. Isolde is a busy mom and you can tell she loves her husband and her son. A lot. But she also knows that part of her is missing and maybe it's the new found stay at home mom status (been there) or maybe it's the lack of intimacy (done that) or the uncertainty of wanting to have more kids (still working on it) that makes her so relate able. Everything in this book is like talking to your girlfriend about your marriage. It feels like a letter you get in the mail from your best friend who's living it and you find yourself nodding your head in agreement.

"...frankly sex seemed just a little bit pointless. Now that I knew what it was like to make love and get a baby in the end, doing it just for the sake of doing it sometimes didn't seem worth giving up the sleep for.."

Jennifer Belle so completely hit the nail of marriage on the head because this entire book is so completely accurate to what married life is really like that it could be a memoir. For so many women, in particular, marriage and a family IS what they had always wanted.. and once you achieve that there is this overwhelming "and now what?" feeling that comes over you. And nobody tells you about that. Like so many things in life people tell you that it's going to be great and fun and wonderful and it just isn't. And this book highlights the ups and downs of what a real marriage is like.

The only part of the story that I didn't like what the entire nanny storyline. Her nanny has a hard time getting pregnant so Isolde forks over thousands of dollars to help her get pregnant through various methods. In the end I felt like the nanny basically used Isolde because it constantly felt like there was some ulterior motive happening with the nanny. In fact, that entire character and story line could be removed and this book would be even better.

I do recommend this book because it was a quick read, I think you'll relate to it and honestly? It was entertaining. What more could you want?
And... it's your lucky day because I have TWO copies of this book to giveaway (only US/Canada peeps... sorry!). If you want this book you need to:

1. Be a follower of this blog- you know you want to be a lambwhore.
2. Leave me a comment (with your email address).

The winners will be announced on Wednesday, June 23.

In the meantime, check out what other bloggers had to say HERE, Jennifer's website HERE, or Jennifer's Facebook HERE.

The Art of Saying Goodbye

I'm not really one for novels that tell you about the power of friendship, mostly because I think it's corny and the public library is full of these already. I was excited about the book but once I got it, I'm going to be honest, I was wondering what the frack I was thinking. But luckily, it was a good book so I'm happy to tell you about it.

The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache
The Art of Saying Goodbye: A Novel
She was the thread that wove their tapestry together.



With a group of women as diverse as the ladies from Brightwood Trace, you might not think them to be close. There’s Julianne, a nurse with an unsettling psychic ability that allows her to literally feel what her patients feel, Andrea, a strong fortress sheltering a faltering core, Ginger, a mother torn between being a stay-at-home mom or following her career aspirations, and Iona, the oldest, whose feisty, no-nonsense attitude disarms even toughest of the tough. Not exactly the ingredients for the most cohesive cocktail . . . Until you add Paisely, the liveliest and friendliest of the clan, who breathed life into them all. But when their glowing leader falls ill with cancer, it’s up to these women to do what Paisely has done for them since the beginning: lift her up. Overcoming and accepting the inevitability of loss, the women draw closer than ever; finding together the strength to embrace and cherish their lives with acceptance, gratitude and most importantly, love. Finally living with the vigor that Paisely has shown them from the start, they are able to see their lives in a new light, while learning to say goodbye to the brightest star they’ve ever known. Over the course of just three months, these four women will undergo a magnificent transformation that leaves nobody unchanged.


I will start by telling you that this is another one of those books where the readers voice changes between characters. Each woman is friens with Paisley is different ways and not necessarily with each other. Some characters I felt were stronger than others and some are the kind that you just get annoyed with because you know someone like them in real life. Mostly, they are the kind of people who aren't able to move on in a positive direction from anything. Everything in their life after a particular event somehow reflects that event and not in a great way. Does that make sense?

But what I really liked about this book versus other books where a character has cancer... is that it's clear she's going to die. You know that almost completely from the beginning. So it's refreshing that you don't have to go through tedious storyline about treatments and if they will pull through. No. She's going to die and it's like the beginning of a grieving process for everyone. I will say that this book really reminded me of Friday Night Knitting Club so if you didn't like that book you probably aren't going to enjoy this one. I also appreciated that this book kind of centered on the fact that people are essentially scared of death. They don't know what to say, they don't know what they should do, and they fear for themselves. As if your dying friend is going to rub off on you and bring you to an early demise. I think that's just human nature but I liked how even in the face of death Paisley knows this and it seems like she accepts it, despite all she has done for others. And it makes you ask yourself... what would you do if you were the friend? Or what if you were Paisley?

Check out what other tour hosts had to say about this book HERE, check out Ellyn's website for more information about this book and her other novels HERE, or you can check out her Facebook page HERE.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Oh Dear Sara..

I almost didn't do a post tonight because I am on a cleaning and organizing rampage but alas... here I am, taking a break from that to give you something tonight.

1. What do you do when you despise your significant other's friends? Oh man. You are walking a fine line. As of right now Matt has no friends because he's moved into a more anti social way of life, but back in the day... he had a group of friends. Most of them were losers and have no intention of changing despite the fact they are no longer 20 somethings. I didn't like them but I think part of the test any guy gives a chick is how she can handle his friends. I'm a firm believer that each person should have their own group of friends, and then the couple has couple friends. If it's not a huge problem with your spouse, just tell him that you want him to go have fun without you. Matt had his time with his guy friends and it was fine. But there will always be times when you will have to hang out with them too and just be easy about it. Sure, they probably are ignorant idiots who are forever drunk but who cares? I don't drink but I don't mind hanging out with my friends who are drinking. Plus, if any of them get rowdy or really annoying, you can always leave.

2. The other week, a friend totally ditched out on me. She has been a particularly bad friend and I'm in general just tired of her shit. I'm willing to be nice and pretend nothing happened though to maintain a peace in the world. I mean, we're not really friends. More like email friends, but we do know each other in person. I haven't heard from her since The Event and am wondering What the Fuck. I don't know what to do. Do I scrap the "friendship"? or do I just go on and pretend nothing happened? If the friend gave you ample notice and had a good reason- it's not worth scraping a friendship over. Things come up and it's OK. But if it was last minute and she literally left you hanging then absolutely not OK. Not only would I scrap that friendship (since it sounds like it isn't a 50/50 friendship anyways) but I would let her know that it's over and why. I'm in a similar situation myself so I can relate. But I'm a big believer that if someone did something to either hurt your feelings or make you angry, then they should absolutely be told. It maybe won't save that friendship, but maybe it'll help them in another friendship later on.

3. My daughter wants to start gauging her ears since all of her friends are and I'm really torn. I say no but she's laying the guilt on thick. What should I do? Stand your ground, mama! It hasn't been that long since I've been a teenager and I know the pressures there are to be a cool kid. I get it. But honest to shit- gauging your ears looks dumb as hell. They might not get it now, but eventually they will have to get a job and nobody is going to hire them for a serious job with gigantic holes in their head. Until they are 18 you are in charge of what happens to them and I say stand your ground. She'll look ridiculous someday in a nursing home. All the residents will be throwing peas at her head like she's some kind of carnival game.

4. My friend from college is getting married this wknd and I was unable to go to get time off to go. I've made several attempts to say sorry and to even just say hi, what's up. She hasn't responded to any of it. I'm kinda mad at this point. You can invite me to your wedding after us not talking for nearly 2 years? And when I contact you, you won't respond? It takes 30 seconds to type "hey, got your msgs, sorry you can't come, let's catch up sometime!" So she can't be that busy. What would you do? Gut instinct: tell her you think this is shitty and rude. Honestly. The more I think about it the more ridiculous it is and the more "gift grabber" it seems. I would absolutely send her a note saying that you're really upset about how the friendship has gone south and that you were really hoping that you'd get the chance to catch up, but obviously this isn't a mutual feeling. Honestly- it's kind of tacky to invite people and not exchange pleasantries if they can't come. I mean, Hostess 101. The people who couldn't come to my wedding at least got an email from me (but most got a handwritten note) saying, "I'm so sorry we'll miss you on our day- let's get together soon!" and we did get together with just about everyone within driving distance.

5. What's in your cd player/ipod/musical player right now? I'm really into Kanye West's song "Monster" but in my CD player is a mix of Panic! At the Disco (Vices and Virtues), All Time Low (Dirty Work), Death Cab for Cutie (Transatlanticism) and Fleetwood Mac (The Dance). I'm kind of all over the place.

6. What book are you reading? I've got a HUGE stack and lots of reviews coming up but I'm in the middle of "Long Journey Home" and "You Are Not Your Brain". One's good so far... one not so much. Stay tuned.

7. What are your summer must haves? Books, sunscreen, bright nail polish for my toes and flip flops. Sadly, hardly any of these are being used since it's freezing.

8. If there was one thing you wish you could do better... what would it be? Honestly? I wish I knew how to do my own hair. I suck at doing hair. I really do. I have never been good at it, my hair never looks nice and I basically half ass it every single day. So I wish I could do better.

9. I really like this guy and really want to blog about him because he makes me giddy, but you see, he was sorta meant to be set up with someone else. And here I am and just swoop in and steal him away. He wasn't interested in the other girl anyways and we've really gotten to know each other and I really like him. The thing is- she reads my blog. She doesn't know he and I have kept in touch since the night we met. She added him to facebook as well and has even tried chatting him up- which just confuses him and he asks me what she wants to talk to him about. So is there any Girl Code here? Do I not write about him? He knows I blog btw, but doesn't know the link. I feel like if I wrote about him, it would hurt her feelings to know that he and I are kinda hitting it off. What do I do Wise One? Honestly... I say Girl Code doesn't apply and here's why. There is a certain time span in which both the guy and the girl have to act on said hook up attempt by third party. If the guy isn't interested but the girl really is (before you start chatting him up) then Girl Code would apply. But it sounds like she wasn't interested initially either and so Girl Code no longer applies. If you plan on blogging about him I assume you wouldn't necessarily be mentioning names or specifics? If that's the case I'd play coy if she asks you more details by saying, "I don't really want to jinx it because nothing is really official or anything" and a girlfriend should respect that. But in the event she does find out, her attempts to woo him came after yours. So I think you're in the clear.

10. My pool has mold. I'm thinking about hiring a pool boy. What should I name him? You should name him Dusty. And then have this song playing when he comes over. Mostly because it sounds like a sad stripper song.


11. If you were to go back to college, what would go for? I would either like to get a degree in English or I would go to school to become a geologist. I have an inner science nerd and I can't help it. I would have gone for either one of those originally but I didn't have anybody around me telling me I could do it. And at the time I wasn't really outspoken or assertive enough to do anything different. But at least I know for when my kids are going to school to just encourage them regardless. I might give an opinion, but ultimately I would support whatever career path they chose.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vampires, Birds or Mosquitos? Hard to tell.

So tonight is all about Tahquamenon Falls and how we almost died of blood loss. 'Tis true friends.

On Friday evening we ended up driving to the lower Tahquamenon Falls because there is some driving distance between lower/upper and yeah. It just made sense. It was kind of drizzling but not bad and I told the group that if it was raining, I was OK with running to get my picture and running back to the vehicle. I wasn't about to make people get pneumonia and shit.

So while the rain wasn't an issue the mother effer mosquitoes were. Seriously. They were after us. Mostly Jon though. But they were sucking us dry, they were big enough that you could see the stripes on their ass and they made whizzing noises by your ear.  Seriously. They were out of control.

 Lower Falls... pretty, huh? You'll notice Matt and I here are hoods up. We snapped and we hustled. Those mosquitoes were no joke folks.
 On Saturday we woke up to pouring rain and even colder temperatures. BUT we braved it. This time we all remembered to bring our bug spray. And we all suckered up and bought ponchos which looked exactly like white Hefty bags, yall. So here's the upper falls:
 Matt and I modeling the Spring 2011 Hefty collection. I sprayed us down, then the freaking bags down with bug spray. I also inhaled/ate some bug spray. I don't suggest it... it tastes terrible.
 Some super nice hard core hiker guys (who didn't have ponchos on) took out group picture. You'll notice that Jennifer and I had our hands into our sweatshirts.
 It was also fun because there was a sign that said "94 Steps to Brink". Um, no joke yo. Again, it was only 94 steps one way and by the time I got back to the top I felt like I did enough stairs for awhile. But it was worth it.
These falls are absolutely beautiful. I have such a love of waterfalls. Some day I'd like to swim under one. That seams like that would be kind of awesome, right?
So I've crossed yet another thing off my 30/30 list. Woo! I am really glad that I drove the distance to see these because they were beautiful. Plus I would really like to take up hiking with legit gear and stuff. It would have been fun to go into the woods but yeah. We weren't prepared for the bug overload.

Tomorrow is Dear Sara-- send your questions to: sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com bitches! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boats and Bears

So here's part two of my Michigan trip from last weekend.

Saturday we headed out to the falls again (that will be it's own post) and then afterwards we went to Whitefish Point, which ended up being the same thing as the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum because the road ended there. But the museum sounded cool because one thing the Great Lakes are known for is the unpredictable weather, which makes guiding a boat through there fairly treacherous.

The place had so much to really take in but I can say I learned a lot. One cool thing was in one of the boat houses they had a Coast Guard boat that they would paddle out into the lake to help stranded ship men. The boat was gorgeous, but trying to put into perspective how difficult it would be to get that boat out there in inclement weather was kind of awesome. Then if they couldn't get out to sea, they had this thing they'd pull/push on the beach as close as they could. Then they'd use a canon ball to shoot out this wooden paddle with instructions (one side in English, one in French) on how to secure the rope to yourself so they could pull you in. It was pretty amazing.

Anyways. We convinced the boys to pay an extra $4 per person so we could climb up into this lighthouse and see the view. I feel like it was worth it just for the work out factor. The lady told us it was 54 steps. First off, it was 57 steps, only after the 20 to to get up to the base of the lighthouse. Also? That didn't count having to come back down. Also? It didn't take into consideration how incredibly narrow and steep these stairs were. Going up was only mildly awkward because your face was directly behind some one's ass. Mine was behind Matt which wasn't a super thing because he was having some issues from  his BK Angry Burger the day before. Have I mentioned this is only stale air in there? Well the view at the top was gorgeous. Tight fit but it was really pretty.

Coming back down was a different story. You can kind of see how steep the stairs are in this picture. But they are steep. I can't mention this enough. The stairs are obviously a spiral stair case, so you have to go backwards for awhile and then turn yourself around. Plus, it was raining so the stairs were slippery. So I pretty much felt like I was going to slip and fall the entire time.

 But here's us at the top. And there's a big raindrop on the lens.. oh well.
 Also you could tour the Lightkeeper's House which they've restored and the entire place was full of antiques and information. It was also full of completely creepy wax people. Seriously. I can't stress how creepy and life like they were. But in the kitchen Jennifer wanted me to give Grandma some love. Which I could do as soon as the old people (who smelled like they shit their pants, I'm not even kidding) left. So over the barrier I went, quick boob grab (it was firm) and back out I went.
Then we went into the shipwreck artifact building. SUPER interesting. They had information and recovered artifacts from several Great Lakes shipwrecks and really- it was so interesting to hear how some ships went down. A lot of boats run into each other apparently.
 Isn't this gorgeous? It's a light that would go inside of a lighthouse. It's pretty stunning in person. And huge.
 After the museum Jennifer and I talked the guys into taking us to the Oswalds Bear Ranch. Basically we wanted to have our picture taken with baby bears like in the brochure. So we drive (really far out of our way- so thanks for being a trooper, Jon!) and end up there by mid afternoon. We find out it costs $15 per vehicle, so no big. Then we see this sign:
 So again, Jon being awesome forks over $5. And I make a new friend.
 Matt kept telling us that they were going to smell and be rough and no. He's a fucking liar. They smelled like mud but hello- they have a mud bottom home. But they weren't rough, they were kind of soft. So then he backtracks and says it's adult bears. Yeah. Well, that's yet to be determined. But this bear was super friendly and he likes suckers and Fruit Loops. Seriously. He could absolutely live with me and fit in with my kids.

The fun part was when we got there, the guy who apparently runs the place was going to just let Jennifer and I in. Well out of NOWHERE this punk asshole kid comes up and is like "Five bucks and a camera". Like a god damn Bear Nazi. Seriously. But whatever. We were already in so we were doing it.

Afterwards we walked around to see the adult bears (male and females were separated). This was me feeding a yearling some flowers. They like eating flowers too. They also have large tongues.
 Then Matt posed for a picture with Jennifer. I couldn't get anything out of him yet he will do it for her. Nice.
Overall... it was a fun day. I was pretty tired by the time we got back for sure. :)

Tomorrow... I'm going to post about the waterfalls for you. Then Friday will be Dear Sara (send questions to sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com!!), and then Saturday I'm going to do my final post on Michigan. Next week though.. we're talking about the contest that will be happening and we're going to talk about marriage. Because I got a bit of a post request I guess I could call it? So stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Open road, boats, bad food = Day One, Michigan

Most of you who pay attention to my blog entries know that this previous weekend Matt and I went to Michigan as a 7 year anniversary/meet blogger friend/cross some shit off of Sara's 30/30 list. And some of you might ask, "Hey Sar- is Matt sick of your list?" Why, yes. Yes he is.

But he troops through it because I'm large and in charge. Well, I think we're probably the same weight, he's taller, but I do dictate what we do. Mostly because if it were up to him, we'd never leave the couch because we'd be watching a continuous loop of Antiques Roadshow. So you can see what my role in this family is.

Anyways. So for the last year or so I've been making friends with Jennifer from Just Hides The Dishes In The Dryer and one day.. we decided to meet up. Having gone on a few blogger meetups before I felt OK with meeting someone. Even though I'd be staying in the same hotel with them in the middle of nowhere. I felt pretty OK that her and her husband wouldn't kidnap me and sacrifice my body. Mostly because we were staying in Paradise, Michigan and who wants to fuck up a town like that when their name is Paradise? Anyways.

So on Friday morning Matt and I left Superior at like 4:30 in the morning. I'm not even kidding. I didn't fall asleep until after midnight because I was busy getting stuff done so we could just get up and go. Our first destination was actually Sault Ste. Marie where we would all meet up and then get on a boat tour of the Soo Locks. If you don't know what the Soo Locks are (which is OK because Jennifer and I still don't really get it), they are pretty much like gates between the different Great Lakes. This one is specifically the gate between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The "locks" is like a tunnel in which incoming/outgoing boats sit in while they raise or lower the water to match whatever water level the lake they are trying to enter into. The cool thing about this is that we would actually be entering into Canada once we went through the locks so officially--- "travel internationally" is off my list. I was completely in Canada. Canadians waved at me- it's official.

Anyways. So here is Matt and I on the boat:
 This is the world's largest horizontal hydro plant? I believe that's what they said. But it was built by Italians who were first to develop the area. What we liked about the building is that Italians are apparently really great at masonry, and so all along this massive building are lighthouses made of brick. It was really a pretty building.
Here is me and Matt in Canada. I swear that is a Canadian flag in the background. Despite the fact it was windy, it refused to cooperate.

 Jennifer and I before entering into the locks. She is as awesome and fun and spunky as she is on her blog. I had no doubt we'd get along but I was pleasantly surprised. I told Matt at the end of the trip it felt like her and Jon were old friends. I love these people.
 OK, so here is the lock. Well, the Canada entry one. Notice how low the water is right now? And you see the line on the red gates towards the top? That's how high the water has to be in order for us to get into Lake Superior.
Consequently, when we came back into the locks, they had to drain the water back to this level so we could get into Lake Michigan. It's about a 15 minute process each way and it's kind of a cool thing to be on the boat while the water goes up and down.

After our Soo Lock tour, we headed back to Paradise to check into our hotel. Across the parking lot of our hotel was the Red Flannel Saloon or some shit. Um, this place is kind of hick? I mean, it's pretty... well let's just say the health department probably didn't get to those parts much and the owners really like baskets. Like, baskets were everywhere. The service was spotty, the food wasn't great, but the best part?

Your drink came in a mason jar. Honestly- I thought this was just a southern thing? And while I've drank out of a mason jar before it was just bizarre to be doing so in the U.P. of Michigan. Can I also say that our food was really expensive? My burger tasted weird, I highly doubt that was cow I was eating.

After paying for our food we headed up to the lower Tahquamenon Falls. Which is the "see a new waterfall" portion of my 30/30 list. I'll do an entire post on just the falls because I have too many pictures of it and I think you'll like my little post of that. ;)

But tomorrow.. I'll tell you about the rest of our trip. AND... stay tuned because I have a contest in the works. It's going to be gloriously disgusting yet awesome. And so me.

In the mean time, send me your questions for Dear Sara Friday to sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com. Remember, no questions = no post. Get them to me by Thursday evening to be included.

And as a final note, check out my blog post for The Note Project HERE. I hope you like that, I'm excited as hell to be included in it, and I hope you participate in your own note of appreciation.