Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You know that feeling...

... where you look at objects on your desk and wonder how effective they would be to carve out a chunk of your brain? Or when you really look at the wall and think maybe if you hit your head hard enough on it that maybe it'll relieve some of the pain from a migraine?

No?

Lucky bitches.

Because I suffer from migraines and have since I was around 12 or so, and it really sucks. If you have never had a true migraine you can't ever know how incredibly horrible it is. I am also one of the lucky few who don't even know what a regular headache feels like because I never get them... it's all or nothing up in here and it's really kind of disgusting.

Currently I feel like I am possibly high on Maxalt, the only pain relieving drug I have found, so at least I can see (partially) out of my left eye again but I feel fuzzy from the inside. Feeling fuzzy on the inside isn't as bad as it sounds- I feel like a human pillow pet at this point and that's not so bad.

I have tried vitamins, and they haven't worked. I have tried a few daily preventative medications that haven't worked and the only one left is one that can cause organ failure and/or schizophrenia and quite honestly, when I'm on a multiple day migraine bender like now schizophrenia doesn't seem so bad. I've had all kinds of scans on my head because I am convinced my brain is growing a secret tumor and it'll just show up one day. I have regulated my diet, I monitor my caffeine intake, I have a specific amount of water I know I need to have in a day otherwise I get an instant migraine. And I have to be precise because too much water will give me an instant migraine. I can't even take any kind of Advil or Tylenol regular stuff for anything anymore because I'm somehow resistant to it. I also can't take most pain medication because since having Jackson... I'm resistant to those as well. Which also makes for fun times should I need a medical procedure or even a filling on a tooth because guess what doesn't work? That would be Novocaine, peeps. I'm kind of hard core at this point and I don't like it at all. So I'm sitting here with my horribly expensive Maxalt knowing I can't take another one (technically) for 17.75 hours because you aren't supposed to take more than one in a 24 hour period.... but my head is pounding again and now I feel like I'm going to puke.

Looks like another restless night in the Strand household.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Watershed Year

In time for the holidays... a book review!

A Watershed Year by Susan Schoenberger
A Watershed Year: A Novel
Months after the funeral of her best friend Harlan, Lucy McVie continues to be haunted by what was left unsaid between them when she receives the first of Harlan’s emails, arranged to be sent after his death. So begins Lucy’s watershed year — a year in which she travels to Russia to adopt a young boy and starts a new relationship that takes her by surprise, all the while learning about how Harlan truly felt when he was alive.


Before I get into my review I will tell you that I liked the book. Is this a book I would grab off my shelf and re-read? Probably not, but mostly because I feel like I understood all aspects of the book enough that re-reading it wouldn't help me understand anything any better.

I kind of loved Harlan's character and wished he had more time in the book. I realized he dies almost right away and that is what kicks off the rest of the novel, but I felt like he could have been used more, if that makes sense. I also really respected his outlook on life and impending death. Sure, he could have continued with treatment but only to gain what, another couple of years? Are you really going to accomplish everything in those couple of years? Is it fair to just prolong the process of death for those around you and even yourself? I don't know and perhaps I would feel differently if it were me in those shoes. But his outlook on life and death was refreshing and real to me.

Lucy kind of annoyed me though. I'm kind of a hard ass when it comes to things and I have very little time for the people who feel like their world is over when someone dies. I get she was in love with Harlan but come ON. Get a grip on life you Debbie Downer. That's pretty much what I would say to Lucy if she were a real person. But then she goes through the process of adopting a little boy from Russia for what I feel to be wholly selfish reasons and that irked me too. Yay for adopting a little boy but is it fair to the boy if he's going to a home with someone who decided on a whim to adopt him? Kind of seems terrible to me.

But one line in the book I absolutely loved because it really is true: "It was more like resolve, a determination to go through the motions of parenthood until, on day, she would stop remembering what it was like to be a nonparent and embrace what parenting seemed to be: experimental treatment that might or might not work, the results too far in the future to know." How perfect is that? That is probably the best description of parenting I have ever heard. You just do what you think is right and hope that it works and your kid doesn't grow up to be a serial killer. I figure if you can keep your child out of jail you've done something right at least.

So overall, it was a good book. You can tell some logical thought was put into the process because the plot moved along at just the right speed, all of the necessary road bumps you expect are there, and yet you are left satisfied at the end. It would make a really great gift for the reader on your list.

You know I don't ask you just to rely on what I say, so please check out the other tour stops for this novel!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hot Bitch Monday Weigh In and the State of My Girl Parts

Today I had my super fun annual appointment at the OB/GYN. But the great thing about that is that I got to be weighed in and the magic number is....

163.3

The medical assistant wouldn't let me take a picture of it so that was lame. But I was pretty damn happy with that. Because my scale at home keep saying 164 pounds, but I always assume it's kind of off, and in this case it is but in a good way. :)

My issue is snacking. Like I am a for real snack-a-holic and I need to get myself in check. I also don't snack on things that I should like fruits and veggies so my challenge is to find things that aren't fruits and veggies that are still good for me, or at least not horrible. Any ideas?
**

But let's talk about my appointment. I think I mentioned how last year they were obviously trying to conserve and you didn't even get the paper sheet to cover up with. So you were basically naked from the waist down just letting it all hang out. This year? They must have gotten a ton of complaints because I got the paper sheet. Except it was micro size so it only covered my vagina, but left my ass out. Honestly- I don't know what it matters, they see your vagina anyways.

It also made me realize how absurd it all really is. Nowhere else are you half naked talking about the state of your vagina and answering questions about your natural lubrication, your birth control and if you have any vaginal discomfort. It's all kind of weird and I pretty much started laughing. I am sure the nurse practitioner thought I was nuts or something.

So hopefully everything checks out with mini Sara. I am kind of nervous though because I have to call and schedule an ultrasound on mah boobies. They hurt... a LOT, but they are also more lumpy than they were. On the plus side, the NP assures me that breast cancer doesn't hurt but still. It's weird. Because they hurt enough to be the equivalent to when your milk dries up. Which, if you've never experienced that, it's kind of fucking horrible. So think happy things.

So I need you to give me snack ideas. You don't want a fat lambwhore leader, bitches.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winners and Crazy.

I have to announce the winners of two book giveaways before I forget about you all completely. Sorry I'm running behind... but more on that in a bit.

Hometown Girl book winner is.... #1 Margaret!

People Tell Me Things winner is.... #2 MomTaxiJulie!

Congrats, ladies! I will contact you to get your info.
**

In other news... life is kind of crazy. First up was Black Friday. Bitches- I did AWESOME on Black Friday and I waited until 2am to go out. Which worked our perfectly because I hit up Kohl's, JCPenney, Younkers, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, Old Navy, and Barnes and Noble all by 7 am. I came home, took a three hour nap, got up to get my kids ready for a movie date with my grandparents, and then I went to Target and out to lunch with Matt. After dropping him off so there would be someone here when the kids came home, I went to Walmart. I kind of rocked it. Especially when I have added up all of my receipts for Black Friday and the week leading up to it? I've only spent $271 and some change. Um, I'm pretty much done homies. DONE.

Then I am like 99% sure I am going to be the new PTO president for my daughter's school. Which is totally fine and I'm so freakishly organized that I think it'll be OK. But for the last week I have a constant to-do list running in my head of questions I need to ask, things to get done, people to contact, etc that it's kind of overwhelming. I also need to start writing it all down in the same place not on post it notes. I kind of hate post it notes for this reason... even if they do make a pretty rainbow around my desk.

I started on my Christmas cards and yikes. I just have more and more every year and I think next year? Some people are getting CUT. Can I just say that I feel like you are kind of obligated to send a card to family? I mean, if you are the person who never sends any out, ever.... then OK. You get a pass. But for me I feel like I'm guilted into sending a card to Matt's cousins and stuff every year. We never talk to them, they never talk to us, we (and I mean all of the family that lives this far north) are always kind of out casted and for the last few years? We don't get a card back. So I feel like saving myself the stamp and skipping them. Is that wrong? Would I be breaking a social etiquette rule? What do you all do for cards?

OK- so I will be back with my regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. I had something better planned for today but not going to lie- the Basketball Wives reruns have held me captive. Again. I can't get enough of crazy rich people. I just can't.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving.

I have a confession:

I kind of hate Thanksgiving.

I know. I KNOW. I could practically hear the audible gasps from you all. But let me be clear- it's not because I am not a thankful person or that I don't feel like giving thanks. Because I feel like I give thanks every day for what I have, the people in my life, and the things that make my life as great as it is.

I just am not the type of person who enjoys eating for fun. I also don't like all of the pressure there is to cook some awesome meal everyone walks away raving about. And I don't like doing 27 loads of dishes in one day. It's kind of not awesome. And it makes me less thankful by the number of people in my life because that many people really just result in 27 loads of dishes.

So this year? My family and I are going out. We're going to a mediocre restaurant, we are going to tip well, we will come home and eat dessert, and I will have no dishes because you know my ass bought disposable plates and forks. It might go down as the best Thanksgiving ever.

But before I go and leave you to your own dishes I will leave you with the list of things I am thankful for.

1. My kids. Olivia and Jackson are probably the two best kids in the whole wide world. I am the luckiest person to be able to be their mommy and they make me so happy. Even when they are crabby, or leave messes, or pee their pants, or smear boogers on the couch that I have to scrub off, they make me happy. Just thinking about watching them grow up makes my heart so full of pride because they are so incredible.
 2. My husband. Even though he won't let me get a goat, pony, donkey, or llama- he is still pretty awesome. We can be a really great team when we need to and he is the best dad. I could not have picked a better father for my children, hands down. We also make cute babies (see above). He understands me and he never questions me when I say I need to go out of town for a day or two. He supports me in everything I do, even if it does seem kind of crazy. He works incredibly long hours so we can have such a great life. And I am so proud of us for working through tough times.
3. My parents. I have some of the greatest parents ever. I really do. Sure, we may fight now and again but at the end of the day- I would do anything for them and I know they would for me as well. I am so lucky to have such an amazing mom because she watches my kids while I work and I don't have to worry about their well being. I know my mom would do anything for those kids and that peace of mind is so nice. And my step dad works his ass off to provide for the family and puts himself last all of the time so everyone else can have what they need and want. They have been the best role models for me and I'm grateful.

4. My job. I have a really fantastic job. Where else can you be around books, and education, and new people, and great co-workers and read when it's slow? No where. I am so glad I quit my other job and found this one because it has been such a great experience. I love everyone I work with and I really enjoy going to work every day. I look forward to every single day.

5. My friends. I know I've mentioned I have some great friends. But I really do. I have some of the best group of friends and sometimes when I am with them I just feel happy because I even know them. I love the fact that no matter how much time goes by, all of my friends are still as awesome as ever. I look forward to every time we hang out because I know I will feel recharged and my face will hurt from laughing.

6. My brother. He gets his own category because he is that awesome. I love my little brudder so much and I am so thankful we are as close as we are. He is an amazing uncle and I am so lucky to have a great guy to hang with my kids.

7. Stumpy and Batman. Because even though they eat the toilet paper and drink out of the toilet, and kill all of my plants and scratch the back door, and kick their litter all over the floor and leave tufts of fur all over everything- I love those little bastards.

8. My house. I love my house and that I even have a house. Even though the laundry sink still clogs and overflows, it's freezing in here in the winter, and it is costing us more and more money to maintain every year, I'm happy I have a house. So many people don't and we are fortunate to have it.

I have a lot more to be thankful for, and nobody wants to read the rest of the list. But I do. I am very grateful for all of those people in my life that are positive and awesome. And even the people who are petty, childish and losers for life, because they make me love the positive and awesome people even more. And honestly? I love all of my blog followers, the bloggers I follow, and the really genuinely great people I know through all of this. Because you guys are just really great and I appreciate the time you take to read this blog, to comment, to email me, to send me really great texts and FB messages--- it makes my life that much happier.

So whether you are at home cleaning 27 loads of dishes, being an unhelpful asshole on the couch while someone else does the dishes, or you are say "fuck it all" and going out- I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. I hope you can find the things that make your life worth living and find some joy out of them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Breaking Dawn- midnight movie, bare feet, cup frenzy, and condom head.

Maybe you didn't know this about me, but I'm a Twi-hard. I am and I am not ashamed of it. I have been counting down to Breaking Dawn since Eclipse came out and it definitely did not disappoint. Was Kristen Stewart amazing? No, but she never is and you just expect that her happy, sad, and constipated face all look the same. Was Robert dreamy? Of course. Is this the movie where Jacob reveals himself to be a pedophile that can lick his own ass (in theory)? Why yes. Yes, it is.

First off, we got to the theatre at 4:30 like crazy people and proceeded to make friends with the first two girls in line. The strategy here is that they open the first (and largest) theatre at 10 for seating, and if you are in the front you can go sit down in actual chairs, get your pick of seats, and get ramped up to sit for another two hours... just in a different location. But while waiting the just under six hours to do that, we admired the artwork.
 We got into a cup frenzy when we realized for the low price of $6.95, you can get a large soda in a collectible Twilight cup. So I went up and got one. And got a fucking Jacob cup. I hate Jacob. I can't be attracted to someone who, hypothetically, could lick his own ass. So then I decided to make Kate go up and get me an Edward cup. Unfortunately, the theatre people are pretty hard core and would not let you pick... and you guessed it, she comes back with a fucking Bella cup. I don't think KStew has any kind of discernible talent, so I don't want that. I decided at almost 10 that I would suck it up and try for a third time (just tally up what I've spent so far). I got another Jacob cup while my friend Tammy behind me? Got Edward. Not cool, man. Not cool.

But I decided it was either not meant to be or I could hope someone throws theirs away and I would dumpster dive. Don't question my love for Edward or even for Robert Pattinson, because RPatz was my date.
 I even had my "I love Vampires" shirt on. And blood red nails. I thought I grabbed my red lipstick but I apparently didn't.

The other bonus to sitting in a crowded room for two hours is that you notice the people around you. OH! Before I talk about that- let's talk about personal hygiene. The people behind us in the lobby (group of 6 or so) smelled horrible. So horrible that when it was close to 10 and we really had to squeeze in, I could barely breathe. It wasn't just me, Tammy and Lisa also had a hard time breathing while Kate and Angie were OK, but they were dealing with a woman who came drunk. I know. Class it up, right? But here's the thing- daily showering is kind of awesome. Not just for your own cleanliness, but because nobody wants to smell your stank ass. Seriously. Combine that with them chain smoking the entire time? The fact my lungs are still inflated is kind of a miracle.

Anyways.

So once we got in, we noticed some fun people around us. There was of course, your expected teenage couple on a date too nervous to make up but being over the top touchy feely it makes you want to barf. I can say 100% that I was not like the couple in front of us. I think I told Ang that this is how that show Teen Mom came about. That right there.

Then there was the woman with an unfortunately small hat for her head... and it made her head look like a ribbed for her pleasure condom.
 Or the person who thinks it's OK to stick her BARE FEET on some one's head rest. No, it's not ok. First off, it's November and it was damn cold that day- you have no business wearing no socks you freak. Second off, nobody wants your feet grazing their hair. What if you have a fungus? Now the person in front of them has foot fungus in their hair.
Anyways. I had other pictures but they were blurry and you can't really tell what they are meant to be. But the movie was good. It was pretty much what I expected it to be. The only thing I kind of didn't like was the birthing scene- first off, kind of gross and gory for PG 13? I covered my eyes and almost threw up once. I also love it how Edward is all holding the baby as Bella is dying and I'm all, "DUDE! Put the baby down!" and that is so typical guy. A woman pops a baby out and the dad is all, "Wow-- this is awesome" as the mom is all writhing in pain or dealing with a placenta, or having to get a shot in her va-jay-jay for stitches and just you know- completely oblivious. So rude. Anyways. I was also really wanting more sex scene. It better be more graphic in the deleted scenes on the DVD otherwise I'll be stabby. Fucking teenagers ruin everything.

But overall? It was a good time with some great friends. I'm already excited for the final installation of the series... and you know I'll be there at midnight. Or more realistically, at dinner time.

And for those of you who want to know.. did I ever get an Edward cup? Yes. Yes, I did. Because you know my stealthy ninja ways totally grabbed the cup from the schmoopy couple in front of me when it became clear they had more pressing issues to deal with than the cup. Then I also grabbed another one that someone foolishly left behind. So now I have two. And a Jacob cup. I gave my other Jacob cup to Angie because she loves him and I won't fault her for that because she's young and will see the light some day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Domestic Bitch Saturday: Nachos and Glitter.

Let's give me a round of applause for not only doing this post this week (despite my insane schedule and to-do list) but also because I actually got it to you on a Saturday. That hasn't happened in awhile but I'm super mom today so I figured I'd get it out.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of nachos. And not that shit you get at the Breaking Dawn midnight showing with stale chips and cold cheese. No, I like my nachos fresh out of the oven but I also don't like a lot of stuff. I usually order nachos with everything on the side, except the cheese and chicken. Because you know I always get the shredded chicken if it's an option. So I decided that I was just going to go ahead and make me some nachos the other night. And I proceeded to eat almost the entire pan but I had to hurry because Matt was eating the other half and it was a race to see who got more. Sadly, I lost but I ate enough to feel sickeningly full.

 God damn were those good. I did get crazy and layer my chips with chicken, SALSA, and cheese. Yes- I ate salsa. I didn't totally love salsa, but I didn't gag and I'm marking it as a win in the "Sara's is a ridiculously picky eater" category.

I also have been making glitter ornaments. I made some last year using ink and white glitter and those are gorgeous. (And some are on sale right here) But while perusing Pinterest a few months ago I found a pin where the woman made them using floor cleaner and glitter, and you know I was on it.

Well, not super on it since it took me a few months to do it. But I did it.
 The key here (apparently) is to get the Pledge with that little "FUTURE" logo on it. I will tell you that it is sticky as hell and I think that's why it works. So when you accidentally get it on the outside of your clear glass bulb- wipe it off. Otherwise it looks smudgy. So you need that, some glitter (I am using the Martha Stewart stuff because it comes in colors like Limeade and Blueberry Slush and I like things with fun names), and clear bulbs (I used glass ones only so far).

Basically you pour some cleaner in your bulb, turn your bulb so it coats the entire inside, pour out excess. Dump in a shit ton of glitter, turn bulb so it coats inside, dump out excess. Save the glitter you dump out so you can put it back into the glitter container.
I got both of these sets done in maybe ten minutes. It goes really quick and they turn out awesome. I am obviously going to the store to get more bulbs because now I'm out of control.

I also made one set of cards for my Etsy shop. More Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday cards are coming, but the magical time fairy is slow on getting to me. But these are super cute thank you cards. I made some extra for myself, but you can buy these HERE.
But I figured I would ask- what else would be cool to feature in my shop? Are there a certain kind of cards you think I should carry, what do you think I should learn how to make? If you have ideas, I am certainly open for suggestions.

Also in the next few weeks I am going to feature super easy things even you, the crafty challenged, can make for the holidays. I've made a few but they aren't totally finished so I figured I would feature one each week, and this week was the glitter ornaments. You can totally bang out a ton of those (and clean your floors, you dirty lambwhores) in very little time and give them to people at work and look like you spent a ton of time. And then everyone will be like, "Wow, those are so awesome" and you can be like, "Yah- I know. My lambwhore leader showed me the way". It's a win-win for us all.

OK- so stay tuned for next week's Domestic Bitch adventures!

Friday, November 18, 2011

KY Intimacy Experiment Week Seven- Sometimes a Fantasy

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 AgainWeek Four- Outside the Comfort Zone
Week Five: Fun and Games
Week Six: Getting Back In Touch

If you are a prude you will struggle with this week- just warning you. Our day exercise consisted of thinking back to your most erotically memorable experience(s). I love how the book differentiated between erotically memorable versus sexually memorable because sometimes a fantasy has nothing to do with the sex per say, but more everything leading up to or sometimes afterwards. And then share this with your partner. I have to confess that I really don't have fantasies. I feel like I'm pretty vocal about what I want or don't want, so I can't say I have ever really had a fantasy. Instead I described things I've visualized as a result of a book which Matt thought was hysterical and said maybe he should read more.

Also being honest, I was kind of scared to hear what Matt would share because Matt is kind of a freak. And sometimes his freakness scares me because it's so far out of what I would consider "normal" so I often have to have time to digest what we talked about. Which was the case with this exercise.

We also ended up sharing about experiences that we thought or hoped would be different and just weren't or how we've changed even since being married. I would say that we have both changed sexually since being married and talked about how it's been kind of hard to change together to keep it interesting instead of isolating.

Our evening exercise was basically trying to incorporate elements from fantasies into our sex life, whether we actually have sex or not. It was kind of awkward. Mostly because I think a lot of that is kind of silly and stupid and have a hard time getting into things like this, so I pretty much struggled. I had a hard time telling if Matt was genuinely into it or was really just as awkward but trying hard not to be. I don't know. I think we need more work here.

Next week's challenge is In Good Taste. We have to cook together and I already have high anxiety about sharing kitchen duties.
**
OK- so every week 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- have you shared your fantasies with your partner and do you know theirs?
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)

Good luck my loves!

Hometown Girl and GIVEAWAY

I know most of you want a play by play of my midnight shenanigans at the Breaking Dawn premier last night. I know you do, but it will have to wait my lambwhores. Mostly because I have to get this review out tonight and I'm also tired. Because I am apparently challenged when it comes to scheduling things so not only did I get home at 3 am last night but I was up at 6 (which is not glorious because I didn't fall asleep until 4:30) and was at work by 8. I am dragging ass so I really hope this book review reads as clearly as it sounds in my head.

Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart
Hometown Girl: The Chesapeake Diaries
Life was always just about perfect for Brooke Madison Bowers. She was the prettiest, most popular girl in small-town St. Dennis, Maryland, a prom queen, local pageant star, and the pride and joy of her loving parents. She even married the man of her dreams. But the promise of happily ever after fell to pieces when her husband was killed while serving in Iraq. Brokenhearted and longing for the solace of better days, she returns to the idyllic world of St. Dennis, and the familiar comfort of the family farm. Surrounded by her loving family and friends, she’s determined to build a new life, complete with her own cupcake bakery. She’s equally determined never to fall in love again.



For Jesse Enright, life has been a challenge. A fourth-generation attorney, he’s spent his life fighting to escape the shadow of his irresponsible father. Now he’s moved to St. Dennis to run the family law practice, and he’s ready to find the right girl, get married, and settle down. But his carefully laid plans go out the window when he meets Brooke and finds himself caught between the unbreakable law of attraction and Brooke’s resolve to go her way alone—despite the undeniable feelings Jesse stirs in her. But just like catching lightning in a bottle, is it possible to fall head-over-heels, heart-and-soul in love all over again?

You should know going into this that this is the fourth book in The Chesapeake Diaries series because I did not. I thought it was kind of weird that some previous story lines were mentioned or hinted at but didn't realize this was part of a series until the end. And then I felt cheated because now I wish I had read the first three books first because when all of the previous characters are mentioned I feel like I maybe would have enjoyed them more had I known more of their back story.

But with that aside I will say this was a fast and easy read. Will it keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense or romance? Hardly. Is it a run and entertaining read? Sure. I do enjoy reading a romance novel that isn't about lust and sex every now and I really think Mariah Stewart nailed this relationship as a practical, real life scenario. You know you have friends like this, you feel like you live in the town, and you don't find yourself saying, "Right- that would never happen in real life!" which I can appreciate. I understand fiction is supposed to enlighten your imagination but sometimes for books to be enjoyable (especially in a contemporary romance genre) you want things to feel realistic and they did in this book.

I'm a big fan of reading other reviews before you commit to a book, so check out what others have to say HERE. Also check out Mariah's website to find information about upcoming books! 

One lucky reader (US/Canada only) is also going to win a copy of their own as well. Drawing entries are easy as usual...

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)

The drawing for this will take place on Wednesday, November 23 so hurry and enter! Also check the side bar to your left for other giveaways that are still current.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rochester Girls Weekend

So this weekend I spent with some of my favorite friends on a girls weekend in Rochester, Minnesota. I've been there once to basically connect with Amy before our Milwaukee trip but basically didn't know anything about the area other than that's where Mayo Clinic is.

Our main adjective was to celebrate Amy's birthday but we figured we would throw in a touristy trolley ride and a comedy show in the mix. Basically- it was a jam packed but very fun weekend.

Me, Tammy and Emily left way early on Saturday morning so that we would have a really full day in Rochester considering that is about a four hour drive from us. We obviously stopped in Hinckley for drinks and snacks, but on our way out we saw this beast:
I am very sad I did not get a picture of the rapist van with a tricycle strapped to the top for you though because that really was a special sight.

Then obviously we had to stop to pee. Mostly Tammy because the one thing about her that I love and it cracks me up, is that she must have the world's smallest bladder. She did really great though, so I think our mini road trips together are conditioning her bladder. Anyways. We stopped in Cannon Falls but the first thing we saw was this grocery store. So we pull over and start walking through the store. Obviously, we couldn't find the restroom so we asked and was told to go through double doors that looked like the back room. And it actually was. But the bathroom smelled SO bad. Pretty much the equivalent to a dirty adult diaper. Times ten. It was also pretty filthy, but they have these dispensers:
 Conveniently, they were all empty and looked like they have been for quite some time. So here's where the bathroom was- this is just one side view because employees came and I felt like a spy.
 Once we got to Rochester we headed over to a hotel to get onto the trolley that does a tour of the city and talks about the history of Mayo Clinic. For $15 it was a damn good deal because I learned a lot of stuff. Most of which I'm not going to tell you about for the sake of time, but if you are in Rochester you should do that tour. Plus our trolley had a bell. It was kind of bad ass.

For dinner we met up with a couple of Amy's local friends at McGoon's, which is next door to the Goonies comedy club. The food was hella expensive for what it was and wasn't that great BUT... our server? Her name is J-Wow. She was absolutely terrible and I know we all left a shitty tip. Try to come back at least once to refill drinks. Especially when you only have 3 tables. Get your shit together honey.
 So here is a picture of me and the girls. I look kind of tall here but I wasn't wearing heels. So that was weird.
 Since we had time to kill we decided to head for drinks at O'Dooley's which is basically up the street. Very cool restaurant/bar that feels very "city" to me. The only down side was the hostesses. There were three of them, all very wonky looking. By that I mean they are size 0, fake baked tan, giant boobs and the most unfortunate hair extensions. See the blondie below.
 She was the better of the three. I think they are waiting for employment at Hooters or something. But O'Dooley's was fun and we got to meet more of Amy's friends that live there, both of which were named Amy. Which kind of was nice because then you don't have that awkward moment where you forget someones name. But they were really great and I enjoyed talking with them over drinks. The down side to O'Dooley's was that my one Pepsi? Was $6.50. Um, what the fuck? The nice thing about Duluth/Superior is that if you say you are the designated driver, your soda is free. Apparently not the case in Rochester, so bring cash, DD's.
After O'Dooley's we headed to another bar I can't remember the name of for a quick drink before heading back to Goonie's for the late night comedy show.

The comedy show? God I hope Amy got the opening woman on film because she was really horrible. She was an older woman- easily 60's, possibly even in her 70's who at one point lamented about Spanx. Then, just when you think that was done, she start pulling a pair of Spanx out of her pants and you are promptly grossed out. Honestly, I didn't think either of the two comedians after her were funny either. There were people laughing but I think this is one of those things that is awesome when you're drunk? I don't know. The downside of being that person that doesn't drink is that I don't always think things are as funny as my friends who have a beer or two do. But I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone and having the side convo's, because those alone were hysterical.

After the comedy we parted ways with everyone and got Amy home and headed to our hotel. The next day Emily, Tammy and I ended up going to IKEA and the Mall of America, but Amy had to pack for her big move to the Cities. But the highlight of that? Is that I found my sweater for the Ugly Sweater Christmas Party we're having in December. Oh, yes. We're doing it and we've got some kind of awesome plans in place. I just need to get more people on board because I think the more people we have dressed in hideous attire, the more fun it will be.

But it was a long weekend in a good way. You know it was successful when you can say, "God- is tomorrow Monday" because it feels like Friday was forever ago. We got home kind of late on Sunday but it was totally worth it. I am completely thankful that I have such great friends I love spending time with, and thankful for such an awesome husband who tells me to go do something fun. I don't think I could have gotten a better combination.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Airborne Toxic Event and the beginning of birthday extravaganza weekend.

Good lord, I have a LOT of stuff to update you on, but let's start with last Thursday. Mostly because I can't really remember anything previous to that because my brain is currently *full* and I need to get some of this stuff out of it.

So on Thursday I drove down to the Twin Cities to meet up with my very good friend Amy. It was her actual birthday and we were going to go shopping at Mall of America, have some lunch and then head over to the Airborne Toxic Event concert at First Avenue. But before I get to that? I am giving a HUGE shout out to my little anonymous reader Meryl who insisted I listen to ATE because she was certain that I would love them. She obviously knows me better than my husband because she was totally right, so if she had never emailed me I would never know about them and I would not have had such a great night. So thanks, Meryl!

First up, let's talk lunch. We ate at Cadillac Ranch in the Mall of America which I think is kind of new? It was really good and Amy can vouch for the fact that they don't skimp on liquor in their Long Island Teas.
 Birthday girl got free dessert. As much as I wanted to hi-jack that plate of awesome, I didn't.

Then we shopped. And took pictures in ugly fucking hats courtesy of H&M. I don't know what it is, but I think getting my picture in ugly hats is fun. AND, the bonus is that I found a faux dead fox scarf which sadly, is not fully highlighted here.
Then off to the concert we went. We were first in line at First Avenue and we pretty much froze our ass off for 90 minutes. But it was OK because we made friends with a sixty-something guy next to us who was telling us he goes to about 75 concerts a year and when he retires in a year, he hopes that he can do many more. Pretty much my hero because that's how I want to be when I'm old- a cool concert goer to the end, babes.

The first band to come on stage were the Drowning Men, which I had never heard of but was pleasantly surprised. I actually really liked their set and kind of loved the fact that they had what I believed to be dueling organs/pianos/something with keys. It was kind of amazing. I was really sad that there were less than 100 people there to see them play because they were actually really great.
 After the Drowning Men played we had two fucking LOSERS come right next to us. Like, literally RIGHT NEXT to us. Amy and I were first, so we stood close to the stage on this ledge. The glory of the ledge is that you can sit and/or stand. We were alternating between the two because I know my back, legs, and feet will kill me if I stand through an entire concert. But these people chose to sit RIGHT NEXT to us. Notice the lack of people, and then notice the girl (sitting next to/behind Amy) and her boyfriend, who chose to stand although there was the entire rest of the ledge.
 They remained like this through the next band but right before ATE? The guy says to us, "Are you guys sitting or standing?" Amy looks at me, but we both replied "both", because she was sitting at the time, I was standing but kind of kneeling on the ledge because my hip felt like it was literally going to give out. Here's the convo from there on out:
Guy: Oh no, it's one or the other.
Me: Um, no it's not. We've been here since 4 so that's what we're doing.
Guy: It doesn't matter, it's one or the other.
(Now, for a standing room only event because there are no chairs, it's just common sense that you get their early to get prime viewing of the stage. Which is what we had.)
Me: No, we're going to do both.
*At this point we start ignoring them because honestly, this guy can fuck a duck for all I care.*
Girl: You know what? You are a bunch of bitches.
Me: I know and that's OK.

That kind of ended it right there, but honestly- NEVER in all of my years of going to a show at this venue have I ever had a problem with people. Never. I've been that person who got there too late for the ledge and while it sucks... you deal with it. You don't coerce others off the ledge. Anyways. Eventually I looked over and the guy was sitting so I don't know what the fracking deal was. You can't take up more than your own ass width of ledge. It's just a rule. ANYWAYS.

The second band was Mona. They were kind of great as well and after the set the singer walked by me and patted my back. I would have totally let him slap my ass for the record. They were that good. The only irritating thing is that I kind of hate when singers get cocky on stage? Towards the end of their set he kind of got the "We're so anti-establishment and badass" attitude and yeah. I can do without that.
 OH! And there was a girl in her mid 20's that came with her parents! They were very obviously her chaperone's and kept eagle eyes on her. The parents were obviously not in their element. OH! And it should be noted that there were a lot of older people at the show. Weird.
 Then Airborne Toxic Event came on and though I loved Mikel Jollett before, I pretty much love him more now. He's just so cute and his voice is fantastic and he's like a butch hipster. I pretty much love it.
 They played every single awesome song which means almost everything off of their two albums which was amazing. Definite highlights were the crowd sing a longs to "Sometime Around Midnight" and "All I Ever Wanted".
It was a pretty kick ass concert and I am very glad I got to go. If you don't know this band you should definitely check them out- they put on a pretty amazing live show.

On my drive home I was exhausted. I haven't been that exhausted driving home in awhile and I was really looking forward to my stop in Hinckley. I stopped at Tobies to pee and then I got some donuts for Matt and the kids. Then my next tradition is to stop at Hardees to get a Big Roast Beef sandwich and large Coke. Not because I love the food but because it makes me physically ill but that's what keeps me awake for the second half of my drive. That section of my drive is particularly awful because there literally is nothing on the highway, it's pitch dark and I have to be alert enough to watch for deer and other woodland creatures with insomnia.

But guess what? Fucking Hardees was CLOSED. Their entire store was dark, drive through turned off yet the "Drive Through 24 Hours!" sign was lit. The level of anger and feelings of disappointment was pretty high. So I had to go to McDonald's which I can't stand anyways. I hate McDonald's. Have you noticed you don't really have to chew their hamburgers anymore? At least the Quarter Pounders? Because it pretty much dissolves in your mouth and that's disgusting. I only took one bite and realized it had the consistency of styrofoam and my fries were cold and wiggly. I don't like wiggly fries. McDonald's FAIL.

I think I climbed into bed around 1am? I had to work right away the next morning which was kind of rough. Then I was off to Rochester for the weekend. More on that tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Puzzle Winner & Hot Bitch Monday

Jesus. I basically feel like I have had my ass dragged backwards through some bushes. I have been extremely busy, I have lots going on, lots of stuff to tell you about, lots of things I'm working on for the blog, and yeah. Life is busy. So busy that I? Forgot to draw a winner for the Kid Puzzle giveaway. WHOOPS.

According to Random.org the winner is...

#11 Kathryn!

I will email you to get your information, but congratulations! Thank you for playing along everyone!
***

Hot Bitch Monday is back and it's sad. And optimistic. Mostly because I did force myself to run on the fuckmill for 30 minutes which was as horrible as I expected it to be. I also did a lot of walking this weekend and on Thursday so exercise actually happened. I have really done well curbing that amount of food I'm taking in, just not necessarily what I'm eating. I want to get better at that, I really do, but really. I have been so busy that the thought of sitting down to eat something versus grabbing a donut seems like a complete time waster. Is anyone else feeling that way or am I just at the height of lazy at this point?

I also think I am going to sign up for the Gobble Gallop 5K happening in Duluth on Thanksgiving morning. I was going to do it but my friend Emily is going home that day, so then I decided not to. But now I'm thinking I should just throw caution and common sense to the wind and do it. Even though I am running a 5K the following weekend in Duluth. So.. that seems a bit crazy pants, but who knows... maybe it'll be awesome and fun. And I won't die, throw out my knee or get frost bite. I don't want to be greedy and hope for all three (secretly I am) but the chances are high one of the three will happen. I'm a realist, after all.

People Tell Me Things (GIVEAWAY)

The first thing anybody should know about me is that people like me. People tell me things that I really should not know. Not just friends, even though I don't think that is so strange... you expect friends to tell you really random and bizarre things. It's one of the perks of having friends, knowing that you aren't the only crazy person like yourself out there. But absolute strangers will come up to me to tell me about all kinds of things in their lives. Every single day of my life I am told things that I not only don't want to know, but things that I absolutely should never know about a person. Ever. I don't even care WHO you are, there are things that nobody should know about you. But I know them, and that makes me feel dirty some times.

So.. it's book time.

People Tell Me Things by David Finkle
People Tell Me Things
In PEOPLE TELL ME THINGS all of the stories feature the narrator who is the friend, lover, confidante, good listener, etc. In his position he is often asked to lunch where he learns about the exploits of friends like Peter in the title story PEOPLE TELL ME THINGS. Peter has been cheating on his wife and has been caught because a woman (he was not sleeping with) lost her earring in his pants. And Bonnie, Peter’s wife, who discovered the earring, knew the real story of how it happened, but took the opportunity to leave him anyway.



When people aren’t availing themselves of their confidante’s empathy and discretion, he talks about some of his desires. He wants to be represented as a character in a novel in HEY, THAT’S ME UP THERE ON THE PRINTED PAGE!. An affair with a married man ironically is the action that gets him there. In MEMORIAL he reads about Noah Goodman’s death in the obituaries. He and Goodman were lovers for a considerable period of time. The nature of their relationship, how they parted, and the memorial service at his passing is a bitter-sweet ending to the collection.


Finkle’s characters and their relationships are at once messy and glorious. And the magic of Manhattan shines through–where everyday people mix with the famous and the infamous, sometimes for just a moment, with an impact that lasts a lifetime.

Here's what I absolutely loved about the book: I think I would fit in with David and his friends. A lot of them reminded me of people I knew in my own life and I absolutely loved that. I often find myself being that person in the middle of things and hearing every side and then having to keep it all straight in my head. I would by lying if I said I didn't write things down just so I could keep it all straight. It's a precarious position to be in sometimes.

What I didn't love... is that while I understand that each story is meant to have a different narrator, it never really felt like it. And then when I really think about the title of the book, I really feel like I would have enjoyed it more had it all been the same narrator- it would have seemed even more incredible that one person is being told all of this. Does that make sense? The disadvantage by having different narrators is that it comes off feeling more, "so what- everybody has at least one story, but who has that many stories?"

I will tell you that it is a fast read with chapters being relatively short. This would be a great book to through in your purse or murse (I know there has to be at least one man reading this post carrying a purse) to read a quick chapter. I will agree that it's insightful and funny as well. The other added bonus is being able to read these things as an unbiased account of something and be able to see how ridiculous people are sometimes.

You know I would never ask you to rely on just my review, so I encourage you to see what others are saying, HERE. One lucky reader will also be able to win their own copy (US/Canada only, please). To win...

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)

This giveaway will end on Monday, November 21.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to one of my most favorite people AND a coming soon!

I have to just say it....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMY!!!!

We are going to have fun this weekend during girl's weekend where Tammy, Emily and I are driving to hang out with Amy for her birthday. A trolley, some comedy, some food, some drinks, lots will happen and I'm super excited. Look for that post sometime next week.

But today? I am driving down to the Mall of America to meet with Amy, have some lunch, do some shopping and OH YEAH, go to the Airborne Toxic Event concert today. WOO HOO. I am super excited about it and it feels like a fun weekend kick off basically. I hope, hope, hope they play this song tonight.



And I have to just mention this because if there was ever a person I am so thankful for having, it's Amy. She is the best friend and she is so kind and you know how I know this? Because on her birthday week, this is what I got in the mail:


Cake decorating goodies. Seriously, Amy? I love you to bits. :) I had a shit day yesterday and to come home to find this completely made my day and made me love you even more. So happy birthday, friend! We're going to have fun tonight and this weekend.

And for the rest of you? Havea great day/night. Email me questions for Dear Sara tomorrow to sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com and you know I charged my camera battery fully this time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Questionable Bar, Manchester Orchestra, Friends, and Swingers.

If you need any more proof that just being with me can bring the crazies, look no further than my last Saturday night.

Let me set you up. First off, Manchester Orchestra is easily in my top five favorite bands yet I hadn't seen them in concert yet. On Facebook they made the announcement that the tour they were embarking on was going to be it for at least two years.. maybe longer so I knew that come hell or high water I was going to a show. Fortunately, they were going to be in Minneapolis on Saturday but at some bar I didn't know in South Minneapolis (which immediately waves some red flags), but tickets were only about $20. So I get my friend Tammy and sister in law Kate to come.

We basically left later than ideal because people had stuff going on, but assuming we didn't get lost, we would get there about 30 minutes before the doors opened. But guess what happened?

Maggie, the turning out to be unreliable GPS, got us fucking lost. First off, there is a difference in Cedar Avenue and Cedar Avenue South. Mostly because Cedar Avenue will tell you that you have arrived as you are crossing what I think was the Mississippi River. Cedar Avenue South takes you into what I think is maybe a college neighborhood (think bars, apartment buildings, random weird stores that aren't open after 5). So we ended up being 16 miles out of our way, and get there in time to see that the "free parking" consists of four spaces on either side of the building. Awesome. Obviously everything within reasonable distance is full so we end up parking behind a Taco Bell, on a residential street with an embankment ideal for homeless people, a closed bus shelter, and oh yeah- there are no street lights. This is totally a safe parking spot. But we did it because it was a quicker walk to the venue.

Which was questionable too. It is next door to a bar/restaurant called The Joint and that is primarily a biker hangout. Not going to lie, there were some pretty sketch people just hanging out. Thankfully we didn't have to wait outside for too long, but Kate was complimented on her green hair by a drunk guy!

 I also want to say it because it's true... the Cabooze? Is a TERRIBLE venue for a concert. As Andy Hull (singer of Manchester Orchestra) said, "There is no way to flip this tetris setup to make it right" because it's true. I would say about half of us were standing to the side of the stage because there isn't much room in front of the stage. If I had mad Paint skillz I'd draw you a picture but just go with it. So that really sucked. I secured a spot next to the bar, right where the bartenders come in/out with cases. Which means my right arm, back, and ass kept getting slammed with cases of beer. Unfortunate because there literally was nowhere else for me to go- I was kind of stuck in that one spot.

The first band to come on was The Deerhunter, who I had never heard of, but were really good. They sound a LOT like Manchester Orchestra and at first I thought it was them. I know- what was I thinking. But they were good enough that I'm downloading some of their stuff this week because I enjoyed them.
 After they played this lovely hipster couple next to us started chatting with me saying that band was really good, etc. They mention they don't really know Manchester Orchestra but bought tickets because their favorite band was an opening act. Enter White Denim.

White Denim sucks so much ass I was yawning. YAWNING during a club concert. They blatantly rip off guitar riffs from classic rock hits, kind of make it their own or at least try to, and then mumble stuff into the microphone. They could be described as hipsters who hate life? I have one picture of them but deleted it because they sucked. But holy god- this couple? Went CRAZY for them. The woman was all jamming out to herself and almost ramming into Tammy. It was quite a sight on its own.

So after White Denim, hipster couple leaves. Enter.... middle aged married couple of swingers. Oh, you read that right. Tammy and I met Tom and Karen. (I want it noted that Kate ditched us for a seat on the floor because her foot hurt and she was tired. So Tammy and I are on our own here). They both appear kind of tipsy if not the beginning stages of drunk which is fine. They order some drinks, ask us what we're drinking and we say we aren't because we have a long drive home. So then we start talking about where we're from, etc. Out of nowhere Tom hugs me and says, "If it doesn't work out with your husband I will take you. My wife could use a friend." Um, weird. But I brush this off as a drunk person rambling about shit that makes no sense. I get this all of the time being the sober person in a group.

Manchester Orchestra comes on and starts the show with "April Fool" and I basically lose my shit because I love them and Andy Hull. I don't like beards so much, but I would make an exception for Andy. And Robert Pattinson.
 They played almost every one of my favorite songs, but I had to call me good blog buddy Matt when they played "Shake It Out". Mostly because it's a great song, but also because Matt is the one who introduced me to Manchester Orchestra after I heard him play that song on his radio station when he was in college. So from that one song, I became a HUGE fan of the band.
They played for quite a while and they were great.

But about a few songs in I look at Tammy who tells me that the woman? Is feeling up her boob. Which is funny because at this point, the guy? Is grinding on my right leg. And I'm laughing hysterically because you know this is what I do in stressful situations only amplified by my exhaustion and low blood sugar. So I kind of move more into the bar area thinking he'd get the hint but no. That does not work.

Almost towards the end of the set, Tom grabs my waist to let me know that him and Karen were leaving. I said "Oh, that's good" and he replies with, "Do you want to come with us? We've got a place nearby and we can have fun." Um, no. NO, you crazy ass swinger-probable-serial-killer. NO. So they leave, Tammy and I breathe a huge sigh of relief so we can enjoy the last few songs.

Here's what I will tell you that was amazing about this concert:
  • Even in between sets the bar just plays music. Well you know you have a kick ass crowd when we all start singing along to the Black Keys' "Howlin For You".
  • Almost every guy had a beard and wore flannel. Some women appeared to have beards as well.
  • The band is immensely talented anyways, but when Andy Hull sang all alone with no back up instruments or vocals? Wow. Talk about a concert moment. Not a sound in that entire bar except for his voice gave me goosebumps.
  • I was so happy they made the song "Virgin" sound as creepy in person as it does on the album.
  • Same with "Simple Math"- it oozes sex (to me) on the album and it was even better in person.
  • The crowd ate up "I Can Barely Breathe" and you can hear that HERE. Someone at the show taped it and put it on YouTube. :)
  • We also sang word for word to "The Only One".
Overall it was a great show, a great night with some of my favorite people. It really was a good show but it would have been epic if it were at say... First Avenue.

And the walk to car? Uneventful. I almost made the decision to pee in someone's front yard because I had to go THAT BAD but I didn't. We ended up finding a gas station outside of the cities and I peed a lot, only after landing on the seat (lost my footing on the wet floor) only to realize the seat? Was wet. Public bathroom fail.

It was a super late night and I crawled into bed at exactly 2:35 am. Yikes.

I get to do it again on Thursday, though! I am going to be meeting my friend Amy for lunch, shopping, and the Airborne Toxic Event concert.. only to drive home. I am going to be so exhausted. Really tired. I just need to keep myself awake for the ride home. Then this weekend is girls weekend/Amy's birthday extravaganza/shopping trip, but Tammy and Emily are coming with me. It's going to be great... just wait for the pictures!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hot Bitch Monday.. back at it.

Before I get into tonight's post, here are some cool things you need to know about:

1. A nail polish swap organized by Tara and Celia. They are awesome and your toes need help.

2. Cathy from Antsy Pants is having a Movember fundraiser. Do it, because you might win something awesome from me.

3.Ornament Swap time!
***

OK, so now for this week of Hot Bitchness, I am struggling. I only ran once last week and that sucks. Because I do want to do more. I have these little cravings, if you will, to exercise and move because I know that I feel better once I do move. My problem is that I am back on birth control. Long story short and no it doesn't involve me trying to get pregnant at all- that ship has very much sailed, but I wasn't on it for almost four years and now I have decided to just get on it since we can't afford Matt's vasectomy, etc. Because I know you all care to know this.

But being on the pill again brings me back to my college years and you know... the subsequent weight gain. As far as I am concerned the Pill is the devil that makes you think it's completely OK to eat pizza rolls, Cheez Its and candy with a side of french fries all day long. I swear I have food coma some days because I'm eating and like an hour later I'm all, "Oh shit... I feel sick" and realize HEY! I just ate a bunch of shit so no wonder why I feel like my intestines are revolting and I may be hugging a toilet later. Because my stomach? Cannot take that stuff like it could when I was say... 18. It just doesn't work anymore.

So obviously my problem is my challenge is going to be to maintain my big assness from getting out of hand. And it already is. I know I must have gained in the last week or two and I'm just not looking because if I don't know for sure... it's not really a problem. (You'll notice I have the "ignorance is bliss" mentality for most of life.)

I also looked into kickboxing classes and I found a reasonable price for a local place, but they also offer lots of other classes. In the evening. For cheap. I think this is my thing. Now my thing is... do I wait until after the holidays to join and get a friend to do it with me, or do I suck it up and go now all alone? I'm going to be honest- I hate doing things like this on my own and find it hard to be accountable to myself so I feel like going alone might set me up for failure? I don't know. I just know I kind of really want to do it, I just don't want to look like a friendless asshole while doing it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Domestic Bitch Saturday? Pasta, Cakes, and Cards.

I had every intention of giving you a post yesterday but I ran out of time before having to drive to Minneapolis for the Manchester Orchestra concert... which was great. It was really great and I'll post about that sometime this coming week. And tell you about the swingers.

So with that tease, let's talk about Domestic Bitch Saturday stuff. I was ubber productive this week despite battling migraines pretty much every day. I'm so over having migraines and pretty sure I probably have a brain tumor just waiting to be a tumor. I just know it. Mark my words.

ANYWAYS.

I pretty much conquered my version of Chicken Parmesan. I've been kind of messing around with sauces and stuff and I found a ghetto easy version and at this point- it tastes good, it's cheap, it's easy- why try harder to improve it? So here you go.

Sara's Super Easy Ghetto Chicken Parmesan
(serves a normal family with normal serving sizes of 4, or two fat asses)

1- package of chicken boobs, cooked and cubed. Season these mo'fo's.
1- jar of Prego Meat sauce (it's the only kind I like, but use what you want)
1- 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1- 6 oz can of tomato paste
1- box of Rotini
2- cups of mozzarella
2- handfuls of parmesan cheese

Cook your chicken boobs thoroughly. When those are done, stir the tomato sauce and tomato paste together with the chicken, then add the spaghetti sauce. Decide you want to add parmesan cheese and accidentally throw in two handfuls. Stir until you think you haven't screwed it up. Cook your noodles half way, drain. Mix your chicken & sauce with your noodles. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish, top with mozzarella. Bake at 350 until it's all warm and bubbly- usually 30 minutes. Or longer depending on how shitty your oven is.
 And it was as delicious as it looked. Now I'm hungry again. Dammit.

This week also marked my last class of the second session of cake decorating- which meant that I was learning basket weave, reverse shell borders, rope border and we also did some daisies because we had some extra time.

Let's just put this out there: I kind of love basket weave and I am awesome at it.
 It just takes up a LOT of frosting. I mean... you use a LOT. I cannot emphasize how much frosting you actually use because it is a LOT. It also makes your cake ridiculously heavy.
 By the time I finished my basket weave, my frosting was warm and unhappy, so my rope border wasn't working. But it tasted damn good. Then of all of my royal icing flowers from previous weeks, these three roses were what I had left and could get off the parchment paper without breaking. I'm apparently kind of rough with them for no reason. But it worked anyways and miraculously I was able to get my rope border frosting the exact same color. Minor miracle.

Then I've been busy making cards for my Etsy shop. I have quite a few holiday cards in there right now (some even on super clearance!) and I've gotten a few ornaments in there so far. But let's see what's new:

Merry & Bright Snowman cards (these actually were our family cards from last year and I had a few left over!)
 My Spunky Rudolph Gift Tag Set
 The Spunky Rudolph Holiday Cards with matching envelopes..
 Birthday Poppy card set..
Folks those flowers and leaves were a pain in my rear to cut. I was hoping to do more, but I got this set of six done and then two cards for my stash, so yeah. My hands hurt and I think age is setting in or something.

Just for my super awesome readers, if you use the code "SARASBLOG" in my Etsy shop, you'll receive 10% off your order.... including clearance items.

I have more crafty stuff I'm working on this week and I'm going to try this Chicken Nacho Bake this week too... hopefully that tastes as good as the picture looks. I am in need of some recipe ideas, so if you have a good recipe that is cheap and easy- email me at sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Sara. Oh, it's still going.

I'm such a slacker and I know it. It's certainly not because I'm lazy but more because I feel overwhelmed with life. But I have great things going on so I really can't complain. It's pretty much all happy problems at this point. You know things are good when I don't even yell at Matt about the laundry sink when it overflowed twice this week.

But let's get some Dear Sara questions out of the way and call it tonight's post.

1. I saw on your Facebook you have had some bad restaurant experiences (are you blogging about these ever???) and I'm wondering if you complain or let it go? It depends. Really. I probably won't blog about either since I kind of forgot about it and blech- it's more fun to write about something when I'm heated and I'm not anymore. But in one case I think the problems stemmed from the fact it was a Friday night, extremely busy, and you have mostly immature college students working. Not every college student with a job falls into this category but I'm going to go ahead and lump a lot of them in there. So all of that aside? It probably would have been better had I gone an hour earlier. The second experience was straight up bad. The waitress was horrible, the food was horrible, the customer service was horrible, there was not one positive thing about the entire two hour experience. So in that case? I paid my bill, told the hostess it was terrible (and why) when she asked, and I wrote a letter. I included all of the pertinent information, a copy of my receipt validating the time I was there, etc. I firmly believe that if you have bad service anywhere and it was fully preventable, you need to speak up. I don't care if I get a free meal out of it or not (which I didn't), I think they should know so that they can do better. Alternately, I think if you experience really great service? You need to mention it too. People always jump the gun to fire off a nasty gram email but it's rare that an employer (or employee) gets a "you did a great job and really made my day" comment. Positive comments go further than negative, but negatives are good learning experiences.

2. What kind of sports bra do you use? I read about all of your running and you have complained about your boobs-- so I'm curious if you found one that works? YES! Did I not blog this? I didn't? Good lord. OK. So chunky girls with boobage UNITE. Old Navy has the *best* running bra that isn't expensive. It's the Go Active Running Bra and I'm not kidding you- you put that on and you feel like you are strapped into a harness. When I ran my last 5K my boobs did not move at all. Nothing. No moving at all. I cannot stress that they didn't move in any direction. At all. Really. Nothing at all. Hopefully all of my repetitiveness emphasizes that my boobs did not move. The best part? The bra is normally like $20 but on sale it's $9. I know. I may or may not have sung a song in the Old Navy dressing room. It is amazing. But I will tell you definitely try them on. Because I'm a 36D boob and I bought a large. I could not breathe in a medium and an XL fit, but there was some wiggle. Oh! And you don't get uni-boob from it. I know. It's kind of amazing.

3. You haven't done a "In the News" post in awhile...... so what do you think about Judge Adams? Fair or no? OK, so I only saw this briefly when my mom insisted I see it. It was on some morning show. But in the few seconds I saw (because I know I could never watch the full thing which is like seven minutes or something), I can tell you two things: there is a line between discipline and abuse. I am not against spanking but it has to be justified and what you see on that tape is not justified and it is not spanking. Also at some point let's be honest- you need to find other tactics of discipline. Number two? That mother? Is a phony. I don't care who you are, how abused you are by your spouse, whatever- if someone is beating your child like that, a normal parent who gives a damn would step in and take the beating and spare their child. No responsible mother would not only allow that to happen but then to tell her daughter to "take it like a woman". My two cents? I think she got wind that the daughter had it on a tape and came up with this "I was brainwashed" bull shit so that she wouldn't be in trouble with the law like her ex potentially is. If I were that girl I'd tell both of my parents to kiss the fuck off and let them both go to jail. I would never in a million years let anyone, let alone my husband, beat my child in that way. Even if they burned the damn house down, there is never a time to justify that kind of abuse. It's absolutely sickening that there are people out there like that. So I hope that girl wisens up because her mother is just as guilty as the father.

4. With the holidays coming up, do you think it's mandatory to do neighbor gifts? My husband and I just bought our house a few months ago and the neighbors have been really friendly and a couple have brought us plants or cookies for welcome gifts. Do you think I'm obligated to give a Christmas gift? Yikes. OK, I kind of feel like you should and here's why: it's just a nice thing to do. Obviously you live somewhere that sounds non-ghetto and that your neighbors give a damn who they live next to. They also took the time to get you a plant or bake you cookies (or dump store bought ones into a Tupperware- it still counts), so it would be a kind gesture. (I hope you gave them a thank you note, if you didn't I hope lightning strikes you down.) But with that I will tell you to keep it simple and inexpensive. The hands down easiest gift to do are things like gifts-in-a-jar. Find a cookie recipe that you like, and put the dry ingredients into a glass jar, print the recipe out and tie it to the jar. First off, it's cheap because you are only supplying dry ingredients. Second, it's home made and you jump up in brownie points instantly. Third, you can always get crazy and tie on a cookie cutter to make it fancy. Plus? You can whip out a bunch of these in no time. So I say yes. Because if nothing else? You've done something nice and maybe you'll make their day- and isn't that the great thing about Christmas? You thought of someone else and did something nice. Everybody likes that.
**

OK, so as usual..... if you have any questions for me, about me, about you, or a situation a "friend of a friend" is having- send me an email at sarastrand9438(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kid Puzzles Review and GIVEAWAY

One of the best activities that keep my kids busy for long periods are puzzles. Both kids have loved puzzles from an early age and now that Olivia is six she's already doing 200 piece puzzles, but Jackson is still loving the board puzzles. When I was offered the opportunity to review handmade board puzzles for Kid Puzzles, I was thrilled because I knew if any kids would love them, it would be mine.

But let me tell you about the company first because they are pretty unique in what they offer. Kid Puzzles are custom-made, high quality puzzles made with premium grade, maple-faced laminate. Designed to last for generations, Kid Puzzles’ non-toxic creations are a perfect gift for that special child in your life – whether your own son/daughter or grandchild, niece, nephew or family friend. Varieties include personalized wood name puzzles, child’s puzzle stools, 3D multi-layer puzzles, etc. They also are really affordable and the least expensive puzzle is around $17.

What really impressed me though? Was how I received the puzzle. It came wrapped in a great padded envelope so the puzzle wouldn't be damaged, a business card, a $4 off coupon for my next name puzzle, a little note from the company owners thanking your for your purchase, and then the best? A postcard that gives you instructions for puzzle care and (wait for it).... instructions on what to do if you lose a piece. They will replace any piece for $4.

If you are a parent of a toddler (or a very high energy little boy named Jackson), you will appreciate this. How many times have you hunted for that one last puzzle piece? And then never found it and the puzzle isn't as fun to the kid anymore? Lots. Seriously, lots. I'm currently on the hunt for pieces to three puzzles and I'm starting to think maybe someone ate the piece. But Kid Puzzles will replace your piece and that is amazing.



Here is a picture of the puzzle we received and all of the extra things I told you about. We received the Dragon Fly puzzle and it was adorable.
Here is a close up of the note. Call me old fashioned, but this is kind of awesome and I really appreciate that. You know my love of a note.
But here are my kids playing with the puzzle. Wood puzzles are hands down their favorite and I think it's because it's just easier for their little fingers to maneuver.
Jackson was obviously very serious about the dragon's belly.
And they played with this puzzle for almost an hour. And it's sitting on our coffee table because they are seeing how fast they can put it together without help.

Each puzzle is specifically handmade for the order and they are made with eco friendly materials. Marvin cuts the wood pieces and Margaret hand pants them. The puzzles are also lead free, which is a HUGE thing to watch for in children's items. You know what else I love? That they have puzzle stools. These are great for other uses too, but they fit the puzzles so you can sit your little one on the couch and put the stool on their lap, they can play on the floor with it too.

Also? They have personalized puzzles, which is what they are really known for. Raise your hand if you know a kid with a wonky name that you can't find personalized stuff for? Yeah, we all know at least one of those poor kids. But these puzzles can be customized so it'll be the spelling of their name and then it makes for a cool decoration too in their room.

Are you loving these as much as I am? Do you want one for your very own? Well one lucky reader will win a $69 credit toward any of their products, which will cover any of their single layer puzzles and shipping within the U.S. If the winner would prefer a more elaborate puzzle, the credit can be applied so they just have to pay the extra amount. How do you win this?

MANDATORY
Be a follower of my blog via GFC & leave a comment telling me what you would get

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This giveaway will end on Thursday, November 10, 2011!