Monday, October 31, 2011

Picture of Lies

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Bitch Monday & Ring Winner

HAPPY HALLOWEEN MO'FOS!

Yeah, I decided to take the kids trick or treating instead of being the person handing out candy. Thank god it wasn't freezing, but I got a solid hour of walking in so win.

The winner of the Iced Spike Ring is..... (according to random.org)

#6- Imacliche

Congrats, bitchlet- I will contact your about your mailing info. Woot.
**

Let's talk weight loss. I know- it's getting annoying, right? I totally agree. But I feel like I have a been in such a damn rut and you know what got me out of it? Remembering that I turn 30 in March and part of my 30/30 list is to wear a bikini. Um, for the sake of humanity I need you to get on my ass about exercising otherwise you'll hear reports of a beached whale in northern Wisconsin.

The quick and dirty is that nobody is interested in seeing what I'm currently offering.

So I really looked at my calendar to see what is going to be possible as far as realistic exercise. Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays are going to be run days. You know what else? I think I need to do this in the morning. First fucking thing. I went for a three mile walk/run on Sunday in the morning and felt great the rest of the day. I felt wide awake, I was more aware of the shit I was trying to eat and generally felt more productive. Obviously- this could be a good thing.

I also want to continue with my zumba on Tuesdays. Right now it's kind of crazy but I'm going to make it work and I'm going to just go. I do enjoy it and felt like it was a good workout so it'll be a good thing to throw into my week.

You know what else I want to do? Kick boxing. Doesn't that sound fun? Matt is kind of worried he'll be used as practice but I can only see this as a win during our laundry sink arguments. Right?? It's kind of genius. So I called one place and they want $100 a month. Bwahahahaha... yeah fucking right. So my mission is to keep calling around to see what I can find that isn't going to cost a boob.

So what are you doing? Have you tried kick boxing? Was it great or not?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

KY Intimacy Experiment Week Six: Getting Back In Touch

For those of you newbies playing catch up with us, enter at these back links for more chances to win your VERY own KY Intimacy Experiment set.


Week One- Love Nest
Week Two- It's Not Just About Sex
Week Three- Everything Old is New Again
Week Four- Outside the Comfort Zone
Week Five: Fun and Games

I am going to be honest- I really struggled this week. I should tell you now that when it comes to physical touch, Matt and I are polar opposites. He likes to be touchy feely, kissy/huggy, and I like my three foot bubble. It's not that I don't like to be kissed or hugged, it's just that he always tries to do it when I'm folding laundry, cooking, or doing physical activity. It's annoying to me to stop what I'm doing, give a hug, and go back. That makes me sound terrible, I know. So when I say I struggled, I did.

This week we had to work on staying connected outside of the bedroom. The workbook mentions that many women (and men) complain that their partners only touch them when they want sex and that's true for us. I don't miss it, but I know that it's important to Matt.

Our day exercise was to try to do ten touches but make them a mix of nice and naughty throughout the course of the day. I think Monday-Wednesday I only did 3 and Matt completely fulfilled his obligation and called me on it. Thursday-Saturday I stepped up my game but only making it to ten touches on Saturday. It's hard, yo. Some examples that you could try hugging (but it had to be the 30 second hug that is ridiculously awkward for me), holding hands, cuddling, etc. Part of my struggle is that it's just really awkward and uncomfortable to be really affectionate when our kids are right there. I just think that kids shouldn't see their parents making out and stuff, but maybe that makes me kind of prudish.

The night exercise was an erotic massage. I am absolutely all for this and I do a damn good massage. Matt sucks at massage and always has. I really thought he would struggle through this but he did a pretty good job. Usually it's a lot of start and stop with his massages because he's distracted by TV or something, but this time I made sure we had nothing else going on except me so that was great. I know that most of our problems lay with us being so exhausted at the end of the day that thinking about sex is kind of the last thing on our minds. We decided we were going to try to do an erotic massage a few times a week instead because it loosened us both up, it felt great, and it leads to sex. The win is that we both want a massage and we both get one and we both end up happy later on. Who knew something so simple would be so effective?

Our challenge this coming week? Sometimes a Fantasy... stay tuned!
**
OK- so every Sunday night I will post about the KY Intimacy Experiment and offer you chances to win your own kit. At the end of the experiment I will put all of your entries from every single post into a bucket to win. So you are going to have a lot of chances to win... I highly encourage you to enter and spread the word. Here are your chances (and you MUST be a follower through GFC, and you MUST leave me your email address so if you win I can contact you!):


1. Comment on this post- how many touches do you think you and your partner do in a day?
2. Share this on Twitter (leave separate comment)
3. Share this on Facebook (leave separate comment)
4. "Like" CouplesPlace on Facebook (leave separate comment)
5. Blog about this! Mention my blog series (and link back to this post)! (leave separate comment)

Domestic Bitch Whenever I Feel Like It.

Yeah, I know. I'm late with this, but better late than never, right? I have lots of fun stuff to share with you and have been pretty effing productive this week.

As a reminder though, I have two giveaways ending soon so check those out if you haven't yet. First is the Iced Spike Ring giveaway and then the book Holy Ghost Girl. Get on it folks. Now on with the post!

Projects
Yeah, it's plural, bitch. I've been so productive this week. First up, I cleaned out all of Olivia's closet. This is HUGE because not only is it a big closet, it becomes the catch all for everything. Literally, you could no longer see the floor and it was waist high with toys, too small clothes, blankets, etc. I didn't take a picture because I was that ashamed of it. But never fear- with the kids gone all day yesterday at my inlaws I cleaned it out. It's a whole new place. I divided all of the toys nobody plays with into a sell and a donate pile, went through every piece of bedding in this house, put all of the game pieces back in their correct boxes and produced two bags of garbage out of there. Of course the kids were in panic mode thinking I got rid of the stuff they still play with but were thrilled when they realized they could find everything again. Mom WIN.

My other project was to make the Halloween treat bags for Olivia's class. She has 26 (yes, you read that right- 26 kids) in her class so this ended up being a bigger project than I an anticipated. But I did just treat bags with mini bags of popcorn, a pencil, a kaleidoscope, some candy and some erasers tied together with a ribbon and a cute monster tag. Olivia signed her name on the back of all of the tags like a trooper. So yay.. I get to carry these babies to school for her tomorrow.
 Recipe:
I actually made two recipes this week that were both really good. The first was a new recipe for a pot roast that I obviously found on Pinterest. It was pretty damn easy too- just mix one packet of Italian dressing seasoning, one packet of Ranch dressing seasoning, and one packet of brown gravy with one cup of water. Pour that into your Crock Pot, put your roast in and done. So easy but it smelled heavenly and tasted even better. I added some onions, potatoes and carrots to it so I wouldn't have to deal with anything later on and it was delicious.

The other recipe I made was Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes from the blog Glorious Treats. I took her advice and topped them with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and that was to die for. I may or may not have eaten all of the extra frosting and counted it as my milk serving for the day. But the recipe is SUPER easy.

In one bowl whisk 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp all spice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg. In another bowl mix 1 cup of canned pumpkin, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Your bowls should look like this:
 Then add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined. Stir in chopped pecans (optional- I didn't stir mine in. Instead, I used them to top my cupcakes later.).

Bake in a preheated 35o degree oven for 22-24 minutes.
 I don't care for pumpkin but Matt assures me they were fantastic as did Jackson's toddler class. It was our turn to bring snack so this was it and I came home with none. It only makes 12 cupcakes if you fill the cups about half full.

Another thing I've been working on is holiday stuff for my Etsy shop. I have some glitter ornaments made but not yet listed and I have another set of cards made but not yet listed, and another set of cards in the works. I have some cute stuff churning in my head so it's just a matter of getting it done. But this set WAS listed and you can buy them HERE.
What have YOU been doing this week?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Iced Spike Ring GIVEAWAY

So one of my super most favorite handmade jewelry chicks EVER is Deanna Burasco. I have quite a few pieces of hers and I am a huge fan. She is ubber talented, super cool, and she asked me if I was interested in hosting a giveaway for one of her pieces.

Which, obviously, I would do because she is THAT great.

She has her own online store but she is now featured in actual retail stores and I see her on Facebook showing her stuff all over and being featured all over and I'm super excited for her. Because she's obviously going to be famous and you're going to want to have one of her original pieces.

Like the Iced Spike Ring, which she is giving away to one of you!


How stinking amazing is this?? I will tell you that she mailed me the ring so I could mail it out to the giveaway winner and I kind of got jealous because it's pretty cool. All of her pieces are made of really unique materials (like resin) so that automatically makes it a conversation piece because it's different. I have a couple of her rings, but my favorite is my Ocean View Resin Ring. Every time I wear it I get asked about it. It's comfortable to wear, it's funky, and it goes with pretty much every summer outfit I have.


If you know someone on your holiday shopping list who loves jewelry, definitely give this shop a look! Also, she has select items on sale for 40% on Fridays- so while you are sitting at work procrastinating from actually working, check out her shop to see what you can grab up at great prices!

But I know you want to win the Iced Spike Ring. It is really pretty awesome but only one of you can win. (Sadsies.) I will open this to international lambwhores because I'm mailing it so I'm awesome like that. To win....

MANDATORY
(leave comment with email address)
*You must be a follower of my blog via GFC
*Visit Deanna's shop and tell me what you loved from there

EXTRA ENTRIES
(leave a comment with each extra entry with email address)
*"Like" Deanna Burasco Designs on FB (she'll announce her Friday sale items on there)
*Share this giveaway on FB
*Tweet this giveaway
*Blog about this giveaway

This giveaway will end on OCTOBER 30 and I will announce the winner on Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Holy Ghost Girl- GIVEAWAY

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

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



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

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

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

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

One of YOU can win the book too! The giveaway will end on Monday, October 31!
MANDATORY
*Be a follower of my blog via GFC and leave a comment on this post (with your email!)

EXTRA ENTRIES (leave a comment for each one)
*Share this on Facebook (send me link)
*Tweet the giveaway (send me link)
*Blog about this giveaway (send me link)

Adult life lesson number one- frugality.

One of the reasons I hate being an adult is that I have to be responsible. Not just responsible as in don't break the law, but having to pay your own bills and be responsible for what you need.

And every fall I am reminded at how much I hate this. I really wish I had someone that could pay my bills for me or when things get hard I can just have them bail me out. I look at some people I know who still rely on their damn parents for stupid stuff and I think it's a shame because those people are learning nothing. And I'm kind of bitter because I feel like everything I have it's because we've struggled for it. Which is a good thing.

Right now our house is currently a whopping 58 degrees. I am refusing to turn my gas heat on because I know I can't afford a high utility bill. I'm trying to hold out until at least November 1 which, thank god, is next week. This means that we are freezing. Like, legit freezing. This evening we sat as a family on the couch (four people and two cats) huddled in sweatpants, sweatshirts, our bath robes and shared a blanket. Why? Because it is that cold in our house and knowing that we can't afford a huge utility bill, we're conserving. Conserving sucks, folks.

The bitter pill is that even when we do turn the heat on we are still going to be freezing because *hey!* we have very little insulation in this house. Not only can we not afford to replace what is in our crawlspace, but we need to insulate the exterior of our crawlspace which is a lot of digging but also a lot of money. We could never get all of the money we needed this summer to do it. The plan is next summer, but you know how that goes. So again this winter, it will be frigid in my house.

On top of that I need a new computer. So if I just disappear from here for awhile, it's not because I'm boycotting blogging but rather the fact that my computer is nine years old and ready to die. The fact this bitch is even letting me do this right now is kind of awesome. Go, computer, go.

Then I realized I have Christmas coming up and that automatically stresses me out. I have things I'm committed to going to now and I need money for it. I have so many things on my list that require money and to be honest- I'm starting to freak out. I'm trying to just keep calm and focus on what I know I can do now but it's hard. Does this ever get easier?

So in the meantime, I'm going to keep clipping my damn coupons, wear the pants that are practically falling off my damn ass, and hope to god I can find kid snowpants at a second hand store soon because I know I can't pay $30 a pair for each kid. I'm just waiting for a break. A calm to come over me so I can feel less stressed out. I'm starting to wonder if all of my effort and hard work and stressing out to make things better for everyone around me is even worth it sometimes. I can't even get upset anymore when things come at me because I'm too damn tired to notice most days.

So with that- I am going to work on some giveaway things for a blog hop and hopefully garner some sales in my Etsy shop.  I am able to work a few more hours at work so that will hopefully help out. I'm trying to focus on the fun things I have coming up because I so badly need a night away from all of it. And this weekend Matt and I are kid free so I hope we can just sleep in and be complete bums with our phone disconnected. Seriously. We both need a break. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winners and Nature.

Let's announce some winners. Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know I said I would do it via vlog. The truth here is that Mr. Computer is approaching is 9th birthday very soon. The age of nine in computer world is pretty much the same as "could die any day" in human terms. This bitch is barely hanging on and I feel bad for it. I do. But only when it doesn't interfere with what I'm doing. If it just wants to rattle and sound like it's going to die when I'm done using it, then that's fine.

We have a conditional kind of love, we do.

But that means that I need to magically find money to get a new computer. Matt is trying hard to talk me into a laptop but I will not go that way until I am fully convinced that it can handle ALL of my music and photos. Folks- it's a lot. It'd have to be a mother fucking beast to do that with a reasonable price tag.

Enough about that- let's talk winners. I used Random.org because I'm lazy.

The Handmade With Love set of bows winner: #1 Vadajane
You Are Not So Smart book winner: #17 Veronica Marcetti Dimick

So if you are a winner contact me with your address at sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com so I can get your free stuff out to you.
****
On Friday Olivia got to go on her first field trip and she was so excited. I obviously chaperoned because I didn't think many parents would and while there were a few, I thought there would be more? It just seems like not as many parents work full time at her school? I don't know. I know I volunteered and we were going to the Hartley Nature Center which I had never been to. The kids got to ride the bus (Olivia was PUMPED because we live close to school so I drive her or we walk) and so they could have just driven around and she would have been thrilled.

The cool thing about chaperoning is you get to see your kids in their element and how they are with friends. Her friends are super adorable and all of them were just the sweetest things. I started out with a group of Olivia and two of her friends, but once it became clear that creepy dad was only into hanging with his son, I got another girl added to my group. More on him in a bit, though.

So on the "hike" we learned all about animal tracks and traces. And yes, the kids learned that we don't say poop, we call it scat. Obviously this means Olivia has started saying, "MOM! I scatted!" every time she poops. (Which she normally announces anyways and offers to show it to you.) They also learned about animals having a call and that's how other animals find each other. So Olivia had to pair off with a friend and they decided on a "sound". They picked "GRRRR" and then one kid had to hide, the other got blind folded. The blind folded one had to follow the sound of their animal partner and the noise.
It was so god damn funny to hear her friend "grrring" and Olivia wandering around. Seriously. I almost peed laughing. Then we got to touch animal stuff.
 Olivia thought the deer leg (seen below) was cool. Even though I thought it was gross.
Overall the field trip was awesome. She has a lot of friends, she is super well behaved, she is just a fun little kid in a group of her peers. I was having a proud mommy moment watching her interact with everyone.

But let's talk about creepy dad. He's a parent that was in her nature group and he was creepy. First off, he was all over his son. I'm all for being affectionate, but really. I felt uncomfortable with the amount of affection happening. If that were Matt I would absolutely tell him to back off. Not only because it's embarrassing to the poor kid but because there is just a level that's not OK at certain ages. Then, creepy dad kept walking super close behind me. Like, uncomfortable close. I turned around and bam! There he is. At one point he came up to me and while leaning totally into me where our sides were in full contact whispers, "I like your boots". Seriously. I was so skeeved out that had I not been in front of kids this would have been a moment to school a guy on ok behavior. Not to mention he's taking pictures. Behind me. And his kid was nowhere near me. I was so grossed out that after the trip I bolted to my vehicle. Of course, when we picked our kids up later he was at the school standing right there and it's like, great. Thankfully, I had Jackson with me so him and I chatted so I could avoid creepy dad but there he was- totally staring at me. Seriously. Even thinking about it now freaks me out.

So there's that update. I have a super cool jewelry giveaway happening tomorrow so you HAVE to come back for that one. Trust me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I swear I'm not eating cupcakes.

Even though I'm not exercising a ton, the goal is to actually do that. This week. Eventually. But I swearsies that despite my made cupcake making skillz that have gotten out of control, I haven't eaten any of them. None. I haven't even licked my frosting bowl. Or beaters. Nothing. I am making everyone else around me tell me if it's good or not, what I should adjust, etc. Matt says by Christmas he'll be diabetic from the sugar over load, but hey- we have insurance.

In the meantime, I will tell you that I weighed myself after my shower (so obviously I'm heavier considering my hair is heavy when wet) and it said 163. Which is pretty much holding steady. Not bad considering I have not been as fanatic with exercising as I should. But guess what? I am going to sign up for the Jingle Bell Run in Duluth. It's a 5K on December 3 and holy shit I'm probably going to freeze. Think of me.

Also? I can't zumba for a couple of weeks. I am genuinely bummed out about this, because I was actually loving my zumba class. Life is just hectic and I almost started hyperventilating over pumpkin cupcakes this evening. Mostly because for a good minute I couldn't remember how to turn my hand mixer on. Even though my finger was on the switch.

*fail*

So I am going to get back onto my running routine starting Wednesday. I might even go tomorrow if Matt can get off of work and I can run and be back before it gets dark. The downside to running outside now is that it gets dark early. Now, normally I would just fuckmill the bitch, but I think running three miles outside is much harder than on the fuckmill. Even though my fuckmill hates me and we aren't even on a frenemy basis right now. Plus, if I am going to run a 5K in cold temps, I better get my lungs used to it. Because even during my last 5K and we had temperatures in the 40's and 50's, it's much different. My chest almost hurt just sucking in all of that air.

Plus? Can we be honest? When I saw pictures of me running... holy shit. I know I've lost a lot of weight and have really done a great job getting fit and looking better. But some of those pictures are bad and I honestly said to Matt, "Is that really what I look like? From the side? Seriously- is that what I look like all of the time??" He obviously didn't respond because he wasn't sure how he was supposed to, but wow. It really took me back but reminded me I need to get back on track. So I am.
**

I know I have a giveaway (or maybe two) that have ended. I promise I will draw names tomorrow via vlog and it will be wonderful and awesome. Till then, bitches.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Domestic Bitch Saturday- that time my cake class paid off.

I know I promised you the deets on how to make an ice cream cake that is cheaper and more awesome than Dairy Queen. But I will have you know that my springform pan? M.I.A. That bitch is missing in action and the hunt will continue because you know as soon as I buy a $12.99 pan, it will miraculously show up. You don't *need* a springform pan, but because I don't like change when I know something works (at least in this case) you need to wait.

I know. I'm sad too for that means I also, will be without an ice cream cake.

But instead! Yes, instead... I experimented with box cake mixes. I decided that trying to make a homemade recipe is just too time consuming and quite frankly- I think that Pillsbury makes a damn fine box mix. Again- why change what works? Except when it doesn't. Because as much as I love me some box cake mix because it's like $1 and it comes in a wide variety of flavors and even my gas station down the street carries it, that shit is crumbly. Maybe not super crumbly, but it doesn't hold shape well. When you cut it, crumbs. If you get a little too zealous with trimming the top of your cake, crumbs.

I'm not a fan of crumbs.

So in my intense internet research that spanned over 15 minutes and five message boards- I decided I was going to try adding another egg to the mix. Everyone says add an egg. They also say to add a dry pudding mix but I figured fuck that, I'm not going to the store for a box of that. I'm just adding an egg.

So this cupcake? Is my project and my recipe. Basically, add an extra egg. It's amazing, it's delicious, it's perfect. I obviously paired it with my buttercream frosting and put some chocolate on top. Oh, I put some shaved chocolate on top. Because I'm awesome like that. They are so good. If I come back to you on Monday complaining of my fat girl thighs? These will be why. So my cake class is paying off because I'm experimenting and having fun. Yum.

My other project was pulling all of my printed or tabbed in magazine recipes into one binder. Um, it's like angels sing when I go to the cookbook corner in my kitchen. Seriously. How did I wait so long to do that? Stupid. It's so easy and it is a thousand times nicer. Guess what else I did? I made a school binder for Olivia's school stuff. Between her homework, school notes, and PTO I decided I had to get organized otherwise my ass would be handed to me by Mr. Stress. So yeah. I made it.

See folks? I get maybe an hour of spare time a week and I got all of that done. What did YOU do this week??

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dear Sara. (Later than usual, but still the mediocre quality you come to love)

I have just a couple of questions for you tonight. I am utterly exhausted... but I'm getting through my email inbox, have a few calls to make and I need to clean my kitchen. I let Matt be Mr. Mom last night for dinner/bedtime because of my cake class... and yeah. He didn't do dishes and left stuff sitting in bowls. *gag* Normally I can't sleep with my kitchen like that, but I feel like I'm on empty for days so I fell asleep in my outfit from yesterday. Yikes.

1. At least 2 nights (in a ROW) this week I've had dreams about my ex, my last boyfriend before my husband?  Dreams about hanging out with him, getting back together with him, etc.  Which, totally normal, I know, but in these dreams I'm always SO HAPPY to be with him, and one morning I was even disappointed when I woke up!  Which of course makes me feel like TOTAL CRAP, because my husband is wonderful to me and we're happy.  But my ex, well, he was The Big One as far as loves of your life goes, and when we broke up it did a number on me........I don't know, but BLEH.  Of course, when I was with my ex it was also an all-around different period of my life;  mid-twenties, drinking, shows, general frivolity.  And things are obviously very very different now, and sometimes I miss those days, like, a lot.  So I'm thinking/hoping that maybe he's just SYMBOLIC of that whole phase of my life, which I admittedly miss at times?  And not symbolic of, you know, HIMSELF.  Either way, I still feel like the worst wife ever. Um, don't. Don't feel bad because this is something all women (and I'm sure men too) experience after marriage. Here's the problem- once you get married it's hard to feel like it's still exciting and awesome because quite frankly- you don't have to really try, right? You've already got the top prize, marriage, so what more could you win? The other kicker is that once you get married, you feel the weight of responsibility more and that sucks. Responsibility sucks and it's a hard pill to swallow when you know you can't just blow everything you have in your bank account for a fun party outfit. But here's what I have learned:
  • You have to still be true to you and know who you are. Find a hobby, do something that is for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Spend time with your husband doing things that you both really like. I think Matt and I really failed at that when we got married and it takes a toll on a marriage.
  • This is just a phase. If your ex was really "The One" you never would have broken up and you would have been able to work through whatever you had going on and you'd still be together.
  • It's OK to harbor feelings of whatever towards an ex. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad wife. Maybe really target what the specific thing about that person is making you feel that way and see if it is true for your spouse.
It really is just a phase and it might be due to stress or just things you have going on right now. But the tide will turn as it always does.

2. Have you ever had to deal with a bully? If so, what did you do or at least, how did you let it not bother you? Yes I have, both as a kid and as an adult. When I was a kid it was obviously much harder to deal with only because I was a kid and wasn't very self confident and so I let it beat me down. I pretty much just took it and figured eventually- I'd graduate and be able to give those kids the finger as I left the building for the last time. But as an adult I found it to be much easier. I don't know what it is about magically becoming an "adult" but I really came into my own. I felt much more sure of myself and have gotten more so as the years go by. I'm a much different girl at 29 than I was at even 21. Way different. Light years. I do believe in being upfront with people and if I have a problem with them, I will let you know. If I have a question, I will ask it. I don't like to fight with people and I try to resolve conflict as soon as possible and that has helped. Plus, at this point I don't really care what people think of me because I know who I am.

3. I am a senior in high school and my best friend from like third grade isn't talking to me. I have no idea why and I can't get her to text me, call me, nothing. And now she moved tables at lunch and I am pretty much ignored. Any advice on fixing this? Um, no. I say no because I'm dealing with a similar situation with someone I considered a friend who's basically ignoring me. But here's what I feel at this point: if you have made every possible attempt to reach out and made it clear that you would like to fix whatever it is and that person doesn't respond? They are not worth your time. They are not mature enough to talk something out or even tell you what you did and that's ridiculous. Just wait until you hit college- it gets worse. I really didn't think I'd have to deal with this at my age but I am and that's just sad. So if you have made the attempt to reach out to her and you get nothing, I am really sorry but that might be all you can do. But if you have been friends for so long, can you maybe talk to her mom or dad? I guess that depends on how well you know them too, but it might be worth a shot.
****

OK. If you have a question for me (about you, about me, about anything in between) send me an email at: sarastrand9438 (at) hotmail (dot) com and make sure you put "Dear Sara" in the subject line. It makes it easier for me to pick it out on Fridays.

Have a fantastic week- come back tomorrow for Domestic Bitch Saturday, yo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wanna feel super stupid?

Forget "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader". Just forget it. Instead, let's play "Can You Do Kindergarten Homework". It sounds easy.

First, think back to your days in Kindergarten. What did you do? You took a nap. Maybe you were only there half day. For sure you colored. Maybe you played blocks. If you were lucky maybe you got to see a girl's underpants on the playground.

Erase all of that and let's talk about Kindergarten now. The shit is hardcore, folks. We have things like "alphafriends" and "math mountains" and shockingly, homework. Oh, you heard me. We have homework. Now, I didn't mind the homework because over the course of the week Olivia got a packet of worksheets and it was easy stuff. Circling the like pictures representing a number, dot to dot things, practicing writing her numbers, etc. That kind of thing is up my alley and more my speed.

Today though, she came with a "Math Resource Folder" and not gonna lie- I kind of panicked. I've mentioned this before but my math skills are not awesome. I can't do math in my head at all practically and the fact I can balance a checkbook is a minor miracle. I was more of a English/grammar/spelling girl myself, with a sprinkle of science and history. My brother got all of the math smarts in our family and that was fine. Until now.

Inside of the folder are "homework guides" which tell me nothing, a brochure about the math curriculum that they are using and this worksheet packet that I stared at with a "what the fuck" face because I am confused. Really? Is this how they are teaching kids to add now?? Here are some examples of the "guides" that are supposed to help me help Olivia with her upcoming homework. And the terminology they are using.
 All of the arrows, boxes and triangles remind me of Geometry. Which everyone knows I passed with a D+. The fact that my parents praised my first (and only) D+ tells you how terrible in math I really am.
 uh....
OK. So I'm kind of scared. Even Matt, who likes numbers and things, was wondering what the frack this all is. I hope we don't ruin our kid during Kindergarten. That would be kind of bad.

In other news, Olivia is a student council representative. Um, what? They have that for Kindergarten? She pretty much thinks she's hot shit at this point and told me she has to go to meetings and stuff, but said it in a way like, "Oh- I just can't be bothered to fit yet another thing on my schedule." It was kind of adorable and hilarious at the same time.
So I am pretty stinking proud of my little peanut. She is doing so much better in Kindergarten than I thought she would. I knew she was smart and would do her work, follow directions, etc but I thought maybe she'd have a tough time making friends.

Which brings us to Girl Scouts. I really want to get her into something fun where she's going to learn something and maybe have some positive experiences outside of school. We got a flyer about Girl Scouts a few weeks ago and for $12 I figured hey- we can afford that.

So Monday was the "informational meeting" which was hands down, the most disorganized thing I have ever been to. Ever. It was basically a parent free for all with "leaders" who can't answer any of your questions and they tell you up front they have no troop for you but hey- wanna be the leader? So I left there feeling like maybe I'll get suckered into being a troop leader? We'll see in a few days when they contact parents. It's not that I don't want to be a leader, it's just that I don't have a lot of time. I'm already pretty strapped for time as it is and I feel like maybe I'm taking on too much. But if no other parent steps up we have two choices: go to the generic troop that meets in a not so great part of town and those kids would eat mine alive or she is a "juliette" which basically means she is her own troop. Which I think is ridiculous because it seems like it defeats the point of Girl Scouts? I don't know. But I do know I am not going to worry about it until I hear back.

In the meantime, I am going over the papers I got myself off of the table and um, $50 for a vest and her book? Shit. I think this is going to end up being more expensive than I thought. I haven't even told Matt about that.

So. That's what is new in my world as a parent of a school age child. I have to be honest- I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I am a pretty organized and with it mom regularly and if I'm feeling this way I can't help but feel other parents are too and maybe more. Matt flat out told me he can't handle coming home from work and doing homework with her, he just can't. My typical days is drop Olivia at school, drop Jack at my mom's, go to work, pick up Jack, pick up Olivia, run errands, go home, cook, help with homework while cooking, cleaning, go through school folder, answer emails/phone calls/texts, eat dinner with family, do bath time, do bed time, read stories, laundry, cleaning, etc. Seriously. Everything that happens after I get home is generally a three hour window of time and I'm losing it. Tomorrow's schedule??

7 am: Wake up
8 am: Have myself and both kids ready and eating breakfast
8:15am: Start putting shoes, jackets, etc on.
8:40: Olivia at school
8:45: Jackson at Grandma's
9-1: work
1:15: meeting with PTO president
2:45 pick up Olivia from school
3:30 dentist appointment in town about 30 minutes away (Olivia)
4: my dentist appointment
4:45: hopefully be home by now
5: do school folder, make icing for cake class, pack supplies
5:30: make sure I have supper done for Matt & kids, leave for cake class
8:30: come home from cake class, clean my stuff and kitchen
8:45-??: laundry, return emails/calls/texts, blog post, sort out mail, get Olivia's lunch ready, get school clothes ready for Friday's field trip, etc.

That is ONE DAY folks and pretty much every day of my life is like this.

*sigh*

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Th1rteen R3asons Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fathermucker.

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

So for that reason alone, buy this book.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weight Loss Monday: Harvest Run 5K

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Are Not So Smart (GIVEAWAY)

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

Then this book is absolutely for you. Hands down.

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

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


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


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

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

I have no idea what to think.

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRA ENTRIES (leave a comment for each one)
*Share this on Facebook (send me link)
*Tweet the giveaway (send me link)
*Blog about this giveaway (send me link)

KY Intimacy Experiment Week Five- Fun and Games

For those of you newbies playing catch up with us, enter at these back links for more chances to win your VERY own KY Intimacy Experiment set.

Week One- Love Nest
Week Two- It's Not Just About Sex
Week Three- Everything Old is New Again
Week Four- Outside the Comfort Zone

Can we be honest? Matt and I didn't really play along with this week. Not because we're lazy or because we didn't have time.... it's just not us. I get that part of this experiment is meant to bring you outside of our comfort zones, but we are kind of an offbeat couple in the sense that we don't like to do a lot together.

Which sounds terrible. I know. But let me talk about the exercises and explain.

The whole mind set behind this week's challenge is to beat boredom. The book says that boredom outside the bedroom may translate to boredom inside it, too. And I totally agree. Our problem is lack of funds, lack of babysitters, lack of time really to do anything. Matt works long hours and I have the kids outside of my four or five hour work days. So in the evening, we get maybe two hours together as a family before the kids go to bed for the night, and we have dinner in that time span. So for us- taking the time to find a sitter (which we don't have one outside of our parents and that isn't always feasible during the week) and then go out and do something? Let's just say Matt and I look forward to cuddling on the couch together and doing nothing. Even if it means sitting in absolute silence? It is awesome because we rarely get to do it. And I mean, we rarely get to do it.

Our other road block is that we are very different. We could not be more opposite when it comes to things we like to do. Matt's fun times involve Xbox, Antiques Roadshow and sleep. My fun times involve hilarious times with friends, concerts and community ed classes. He doesn't enjoy going out for the sake of going out whereas I do. I prefer to be out and about and he really dreads it. The fact we go out to lunch on the weekends as a family and do some errands is a big deal. So getting Matt to go out to a fun thing to learn something? He would not be game. It's just not his thing.

So instead of doing the assigned day exercise (which was to choose an activity that you've never done together before), we decided to do what we used to do when we were broke college students dating. (Which hilariously- is not far from what we can afford now!) We sat on our bed together talking, had some ice cream, watched funny stuff on the internet and did the whole massage thing. Can I just say- it felt weird? It's such a simple and meaningless thing, but neither one of us could remember the last time we had done that together. And that really put into perspective how much more work we have to go before we are back on track again.

The night exercise involved a poker game.. kind of like a strip poker but with kisses, etc. Um, let's just say we skipped the card game. But it was really fun and it really did feel like we were in college again. And it was so weird to lay next to Matt and think- wow. We've been together almost ten years and though we are both completely different people- I still feel the same way. And it really made me feel like we could really be one of those long haul couples.

The best part? The next morning Matt (before getting out of bed for work) said he really liked the night before because it made him feel like we used to.

So that my friends? Is all the justification I need to be OK in saying we were rebels and skipped our assigned duties this week. But next week's assignment involves an erotic massage so you know I'll be totally by the book on it!
***
OK- so every Sunday night I will post about the KY Intimacy Experiment and offer you chances to win your own kit. At the end of the experiment I will put all of your entries from every single post into a bucket to win. So you are going to have a lot of chances to win... I highly encourage you to enter and spread the word. Here are your chances (and you MUST be a follower through GFC, and you MUST leave me your email address so if you win I can contact you!):


1. Comment on this post- what is something fun you would like to try with your partner that you haven't done before... as in a fun date idea. :)
2. Share this on Twitter (leave separate comment)
3. Share this on Facebook (leave separate comment)
4. "Like" CouplesPlace on Facebook (leave separate comment)
5. Blog about this! Mention my blog series (and link back to this post)! (leave separate comment)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dear Sara: the sore and tired episode.

Before I get into Dear Sara, I want to give you my very sad ass excuse for a vlog.... but it announces the winners of the two book giveaways I had going on, Bonding Over Beauty and Little Goblins Ten.

Let's say "huzzah" to the winnners!



Now, like I said in my vlog- I am so sorry if you've emailed me a question for Dear Sara. I promise you they are there and I will get to them. My email is seriously backed up and out of control and they are buried. I do have one question that came through and it's towards the top so I'll answer that one so you have at least some kind of post tonight.

1. What do you do when your spouse is being ill-tempered/short fused? We're dealing with a lot of stress and he's just been itching to just be in a bad mood with me lately. He's actively choosing to be pissed off. He even gets irritated that I'm a generally optimistic person. I swear it's the whole misery loves company mindset.



For example, tonight we drove by his office to pick up a headset he's letting me borrow for a job. I tell him very calmly "Um I don't think this one is the right one." and he instantly goes to a defensive place and says "WHAT Do you mean it's not the right one?"


I calmly told him to check his tone, and speak to me calmly. Then I explained that I told him I needed (X) and he said he had (X), but we'd try to make it work. He then gets up in a huff and starts stalking around the office to another room, going through stuff. just generally being unpleasant. When he comes back to the office, I tell him we should just get home because I have to be up at 5 am. Lately, it just seems like nothing I say or do is good enough or okay. I get that our financial situation sucks but it's getting better, his parents separated and got back together last week, plus he's stretched thin with work and school. Most of the last part is his own fault. He's shoving his bad attitude to everyone at work and is just letting it all seep over to school. I get that I'm his wife and I catch a good portion of his attitude. I normally just take it b/c honestly, he isn't like this often. He truly is the best husband 99% of the time. I'm just to the point of pulling my hair out or hurting his feelings. Which I don't want to do. It's just bound to happen. any words of wisdom are welcomed.

Well since you know that this is mostly just stress getting to him, you've got it easy. First off, you need to sit him down with no interruptions. No TV, no pets, no phones, nothing. Just sit him down and say, "I see that you have been incredibly harried and stressed lately. I know I'm the closest to you so it's easy to take it out on me because I'm here, but it's starting to make me feel helpless. What can I do to lessen the load for you?" And just let him talk. He's a guy and he might not feel like he can just come to you and ask you to do something, but if you offer or come up with ideas, then maybe that will help.

But I agree with you- it very much sounds like a "misery loves company" mindset and do not let that get you down. Please don't let anyone bring you down. And if in your conversation you feel like it's going nowhere- feel free to throw the smack down and just say, "I get that you are stressed and that things are hard right now. I'm right there with you. But at some point, we have to work together to turn this around. And when you feel like doing that, let me know." And let him stew. I have to take this tactic with Matt a lot because he is very stubborn. Eventually (sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 2 days) Matt comes to me and apologizes and we figure out a plan. And then he feels better. I don't know why after almost ten years together he can't just jump on board with my ideas, but there you go. That's best to use as a last ditch tactic, though. :)
***

So like I said in my vlog, I have no Domestic Bitch Saturday post for you. I have things I'm going to comment on later this week, but expect a good post next wee. Wanna learn how to make an ice cream cake like at Dairy Queen? Well this bitch can do it (thank you, almost two years of employment at DQ) and I'm going to show you how.

But for next week... if you have a question for me (about me, about you, about a situation... whatever)- send it to me! sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com and please put "Dear Sara" in the subject line so I can find it fast. Thanks lovely lambwhores!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Um, I'm lame.

I was going to do a vlog for you, do a Dear Sara AND draw some winners. But if we're being honest, I got excited over doorbuster sales at JC Penney, I had a coupon, and I need some new clothes that fit and don't show my boobs all of the time.

So I ditched you for shopping.

But I got a blazer for $20 and then spent another $20 in Old Navy on two tshirts and a sports bra. Which is handy because tomorrow? I have a 5K and frankly- I needed a new running bra.

What does this mean to you?

It means I will do a post race vlog for you tomorrow to talk about the race and draw some winners. I might even throw some Dear Sara questions up in the bitch to spoil you. So I'm off to bed to get some rest before my 5:30 a.m. wake up so I can get everyone read and out the door by 6:30 homieoats. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Queen of the Button Flowers.

So... I signed up for the second session of cake decorating classes. I may not be super awesome at it, but it IS a super fun class to be taking. And this session is all about decorative flowers and I looked through the book and was so excited. And then I bought my kit for this session and got even MORE excited because now we get to use fun tool thingie do-da's. It's going to be super great.

Mostly this class we learned about gum paste (which smells kind of bad?) and colored it with our gel color stuff. Then we made pansies.
 You can't tell super well but this is a bright pink/orange pansy. And the edges are ruffled. I kind of suck at pansies. And yes- I realize the middle looks like a penis as Matt so nicely pointed out.

But then we got to use flower presses, which are seriously my new favorite thing. So I made a series of button flowers.
Guess who is going to go onto eBay to find more of these? Or just splurge at Michaels? This chick. I kind of love presses. So right now these are sitting on my counter drying. I feel like I need to make some cupcakes to use them on.

So next week we learn more flat flowers and my homework is to master royal icing. Not gonna lie, I'm kind of nervous. So this weekend will involve me trying to make it and getting it down perfect before class.

I'm tired. I'm going to bed. BUT I wanted you to see my progress tonight.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Boo at the Zoo- Use the buddy system.

Halloween isn't one of my most anticipated holidays of the year. I think the only one that I look forward to is Christmas only because that gives me permission to decorate the house in a gross amount of decor that is only acceptable then. Halloween is just meh for me. But I celebrate it by spending a disgusting amount of money on costumes that these kids only wear for a short time and hoards of candy. I buy it early to get a good selection and of course I rip the bag open because I have absolutely no self control, and then eat it all. Then I have to go back the night before and get the shit that nobody wants and I get mad when I have left over candy because *dammit* I have to eat it. I can't just throw perfectly gross candy away. No. I have to eat it because you aren't supposed to waste food when you have starving people in Africa. (Even though I don't feel sorry for them because they could be killing animals and shit but no. They wait for good Americans to donate money. Lazy bastards.)

Anyways. Where were we?

Oh. So I get the kids their costumes and every single fucking year they agree to something. They freaking pick the damn thing out and every single fucking year, they complain when they have to wear it. Every year, peeps. This year I was on a budget. Mama ain't spending more than $20 on a god damn costume, and even that was pushing it. Jackson absolutely HAD to be Thomas the Train. Nothing else would do, not even the super cute robot costume for $10 online with free shipping. NOOOO... he wanted to be Thomas. Olivia wanted to be a witch that looked more stripper than witch and I said no, so we settled on her being a sailor girl, which she loved when she realized it would mean she would get to wear the hat and some new tights.

(Side note: We live in northern Wisconsin and it is typically in the 50's on Halloween at best. It's freezing, folks. Why haven't costume makers done anything about it? Why are they giving us skimpy outfits for fucking toddlers when they know those kids will freeze to death. The fun of Halloween is significantly dampened when nobody sees your costume under winter clothing.)

Anyways. Fast forward to Saturday. Boo at the Zoo- the one Halloween even we have done every single year with our kids. It's fun, it's trick or treating, it's seeing animals, it means free kids meal coupons at some restaurants, it's another excuse to use expensive costumes. It's a win all around. This year I would have to go it alone since Matt hates people and decided he was going to work. I figured I got this shit handled because my kids are awesome! My kids can follow directions! All will be awesome.

It started in the morning and we get the costumes on. Jackson declares several times during his 30 minute temper tantrum that he hates his costume, he looks stupid and he feels stupid. Olivia is not happy that she can't wear any more makeup than she is. I loaded her up yet she isn't happy. She's also mad she has to wear her white dress shoes that have hearts on them instead of the blue flats the girl in the picture wore and asked me several times why we can't stop and get her new shoes. The morning unhappiness is evident in the picture I tried to snap.

 Don't they look absolutely thrilled.

So we get into the van and get to the zoo. Once we got there and Jackson realized that every other kid had to dress up he felt kind of better. But once someone said, "Look! It's Thomas the Train!" he looked at me with such hate. He was really not happy.

But we get into the zoo and walk around. What I didn't fully take in was how hard it is to get a three year old to hold your hand constantly for two hours. I'm one of those paranoid parents that fears someone will snatch my kids. I am apparently the only one with that fear as every other parent let their kid run buck wild around the zoo while they chatted on their phones.
 We came across the hay ride and Olivia really wanted to go on it. Jackson.. not so much. I had to give him a candy ultimatum to get on the god damn hay ride or else. Thankfully, he got on the hay ride so I wouldn't have to go crazy mom on him at the zoo.
 The not so fun thing about the hay ride is that I had to basically hold both kids on the trailer since we were at the very front and it tipped down and we were going downhill for awhile. So my leg muscles got a bit of a work out. At one point we rode past the wolves and a bunch of kids started howling like a wolf... but one kid next to us started barking. Jackson, in a splendid mood, snaps at him, "It's not a DOG!" and I could just tell he wanted to add "you stupid idiot" on the end of that but didn't. Jackson takes after his father's anti social tendencies.
After walking around the zoo for two hours we decided to call it quit. Both kids were hungry, tired, and we were getting warm since it hit 85 degrees out of nowhere. We were kind of over dressed but hey- you can never tell with Halloween here. But we left, got some lunch, took off the costumes and chilled out at home the rest of the afternoon. 

Matt seemed pretty damn impressed that I took both kids by myself. Only a parent rock star can do that and come home with both kids. I will say though, we only had a couple of challenging moments in the zoo and I was braced for more. I definitely felt high anxiety keeping track of both kids when it was so crowded. I'm just really hyper vigilante about that kind of thing and it irritates me when other parents take safety for granted and just assume their kid will be fine. I also get annoyed when you have parents texting or talking to people on their phones. Put that shit away- you're supposed to be hanging out with your kids.

Anyways. I did it. But you better believe Matt is on his own for trick or treating.