Monday, February 8, 2016

100 Books 2016: January Reads

This year I set a goal to read 100 books. I didn't quite make it last year, but I'm off to a good start in January! I finished 8 books last month, and I'm on my 3rd for February so far. I'm going to try and do a little round up every month of what I read and what I liked. If you use good reads, add me as a friend! I love seeing what other people are reading, and find lots of stuff for my "Want to Read" list that way!

1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy //  It is well documented that I love supernatural fiction. This book is a wonderful werewolf book that treats the infection like a disease that turns into a civil rights issue. In the future people infected are required to take a drug that keeps them from changing with the full moon. There is a war brewing, and you see it from a few different sides. I really loved it, a werewolf tale told in a new way. Looking it back up on good reads, I think I added this to my list because Stephen King highly recommended it. I wish he was still using his good reads account!

2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan Beautifully written, this book deals with selkie folklore or women called forth from the sea, their seal skins hidden so they can't return to the ocean. I was familiar with this idea, because as a child I loved the movie "The Secret of the Roan Inish" and more recently, the gorgeous film "The Song of the Sea" but maybe it isn't lore that everyone is familiar with. The story is told from many different points of view, one voice per chapter, and I don't think any of the narrators repeat. It makes for a great read where you are constantly learning different facets of the story, and changing ideas you might have held before. I also felt betrayed by characters I loved more than once, like shockingly betrayed. The first few chapters are a little confusing, but just because it takes a little bit to put all the pieces together. It is worth it. I wish the cover didn't look like so much of a romance novel, because there is definitely no romance in this book.


3. Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia Travis is a sleep talker, and at one point he was having night terrors and sleep walking pretty often. Thankfully we figured out what was going on (eating weird stuff too late usually) so it stopped. But during that time, I saw the movie Mike Birbiglia made about this book and it FREAKED me out. He is a sleepwalker who has done things like jumped out of a second story hotel room while asleep. Holy moly! This book is like a series of essays, and doesn't deal just with the sleepwalking. I found it engaging and funny, and I like Birbiglia's voice.

4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed I saw a list of Emma Watson Approved Reading and added most of them to my too read list. She loved Cheryl Strayed so I gave Wild a shot first. I had seen the movie and liked it, and the book was a great read. It alternates between hiking the Pacific Coast Trail being the best thing you could ever do, and the worst thing you could ever do. I loved her writing style, the way she worked in memories of her past with her experiences on the trail. A really wonderful book, and I think the film did a great job bringing it to life. I added the rest of her books to my to-read list after this.

5. Among Others by Jo Walton My friend Brittany recommended this to me, and we have very similar taste in books so I checked it out right away.  I read a review that said this story starts after the climax, and the protagonist has to live with the consequences, and I think that sums it up really well. Mori is a twin, who is now living with a disability and without her twin sister. She loves reading, especially science fiction, and she has been sent off to a boarding school by a father she hardly knows, after escaping her mother who is an unstable, power hungry witch. I love the way that the book is set in the 1970's, and in a pretty normal world situation. The magic in it fits into the world perfectly and not many people know about it. The narrator Mori feels really different to me from other characters I loved it because she isn't super into the magic she can do, seems to see it more as a fact of life she must deal with. The book is less to do with magic, and more to do with her learning how to cope with having her life change so suddenly and violently. I found her really likable and look forward to more from the author!

6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love From Someone Who's Been There by Cheryl Strayed This is a collection of advice columns that Cheryl Strayed wrote under the pseudonym "Dear Sugar." This book has the same beautiful language as wild, and I loved her advice. It often started with an anecdote about her own life, included some tough love for her readers, and was all around a good read. If she was still doing the column, I would be a regular reader for sure.

7. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira Another Emma Watson recommendation! This book reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (an all time favorite) probably because it is written in letters from one narrator, Laurel. She gets an assignment in school to write a letter to someone who is dead. She picks Kurt Cobain, because her sister loved him, and you quickly learn that her older sister died in the past year. You get little hints about what happened but don't get the full picture until late in the book. Laurel writes letters to many different dead people, for all kinds of reasons, using it as a way to work through the trauma of her sister's death, the aftermath, and her own issues growing up and starting high school. The voice felt authentically teenage to me, and I fell in love with Laurel as the book went on. 

8. Troublemaker by Leah Remini I'm super interested in extremist religions so I was excited to read Remini's tell all about Scientology. I read another Scientology memoir last year, Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, which I highly recommend if you are interested in Scientology. Hill grows up in the church, in a Sea Org family so it gives you lots of information on the inner workings. Leah Remini's story is more from a family that joins when the kids are teenagers, and the experience she had as a celebrity in Scientology. I found it completely fascinating, and do think it is really brave of her to come out like this against a religion that is famous for destroying the lives and careers of people that leave the church, and forcing families to stop communicating with members that leave. Also, who doesn't love to read real celebrity behinds the scene stuff? 

Are you reading anything really good right now? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Photo an Hour: Porter's Transport Day!

7am: Our foster pug Porter was adopted last week, and his new home is in Maryland. We volunteered to take the first four and a half hour leg of his transport to Kingsport, Tn. Honestly, I wish we could have driven him the whole way! We got up at 7 am on Sunday morning, and had a special cinnamon roll breakfast.
8 am: Kiss Phyllis and Priscilla goodbye and hit the road. It is weird being back to just two pugs after having Porter for about 7 weeks.
9 am: On the road. Podcast listening (The Read).
10 am: Porter started off in the back in his crate. I knew he had a big day ahead and thought maybe he would get some sleep in there. No way! He was up watching us the whole time. It wasn't long until he was in my lap in the front seat.
11 am: Pit stop somewhere in East Tennessee.
12 am: We were meeting the people taking him on to Wytheville, Va at about 12:30 so I was starting to feel very sentimental. I cuddled him close for the last little bit we had. I'm really going to miss Mr. Porter. He is a very special pug and his new family is so lucky to have him.
We're back on the foster list. We might not get another pug for a while, you never know!
1 pm: Heading back home. There were definitely a few minutes of tears, but I'm so happy that Porter got a great home. Fostering is hard for me because I always get attached, but I think it is so important. It makes it so rescue's can take in more animals in need, and it is fun to have a temporary new dog. I'm happy we are able to do it.
2pm: We decided to stop at The Tomato Head in Knoxville on the way back as a special treat.We split a vegan pizza and a Kepner melt, which is the best sandwich in Tennessee! And that pizza! Every time we get it we always question whether it is the vegan one, because the soy cheese is so good! Mmm, I wish they would open one in Nashville.

3 pm: Sadly, they were out of the amazing vegan lemon cookies. Actually, they had two but a guy in front of us in line bought them! No! So we went to Whole Foods and I got this cute cupcake! Sadly, it didn't taste that great.
4 pm: Back on the road. I was getting real bored of being in the car. 8 hours in one day!  I played the game I'm currently really into, Juice Jam! The graphics are so cute, and it doesn't tempt me to spend real money, haha! I also LOVE that Japanese stray cat game, Neko Atsume.
5 pm: Still on the road. Listening to the Moth by this time. Maybe I should have picked a different day to do this kind of post....
6pm: For the last hour of our drive we switched to my world famous musical playlist. Travis and I both love singing along with the big solos. For some reason this time it was mostly playing Dreamgirls and Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny on shuffle. Not that I'm complaining!
We got back in town just in time to watch Grease! Live with our friends Kimmie and Ryan. I got distracted by the show starting.
Did you watch it? I thought it was pretty good! Especially the way they were able to film the big scenes at the dance and the school carnival live, and the cute dude who played Doody. My main complaint is was that the guy playing Danny. He didn't seem like a bad boy at all! Too twerpy.

I love photo an hour posts and I'm going to try to do several this year. Here's to more blogging in 2016!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Life Lately

The winter here finally got cold so I've been spending lots of time hanging with the dogs, watching tv. Last weekend Travis and I pulled out the sofa bed and spent a few days lounging around watching old favorites. It was so perfect. I'm tempted to pull the bed out again today! (Another snow day!)
I have kind of figured out work things for now. You might remember that I left my job at Whole Foods in September unexpectedly and wasn't sure what I wanted to do next. For now I am kind of piecing it together and working for myself most, which I love! I am doing product demos for several natural industry companies, doing shipt (on demand grocery delivery) and last week I got hired two days a week at a local vegan meal delivery service, My Veggie Chef. It is definitely an adjustment and a little scary to be out here without company health insurance and benefits, but for now it is working for me. I am much happier to have a break from the high stress I was under in the old job.
The most exciting news as of late? Crystal and I bought plane tickets and passes to go to Drag Con in LA in May! Ahhhhh!! We're gonna meet RuPaul! We talked about it casually, then realized that both of us being able to go might not come around again. She is self employed too. So we took the plunge! We are flying in a few days before, and staying a day after so we can hang with some friends and go to Little Japan and just have a great time in general. I'm already saving all I can for the trip. Outfit planning starts, NOW!
In other exciting news, we got a kitty shelf! We have talked about it for years, I'm not sure why we waited so long. The cats love it! They seem to be taking turns on it. Scampi lays on it all day, then Scout and Murray take turns once the sun goes down. 
Travis has hooked me up in the bath bomb department for the winter. Ahhhhh so lovely. The new intergalactic bomb from Lush is current favorite. He got me this "Happy Bathday" tin and stocks it back up when I'm running low. What a man.
I FINALLY picked out a photo and Crystal made me the most perfect wallet ever! The outside (and inside) are so glittery! I absolutely love it. You should check out her shop, Olivia Frankenstein. She can custom make you a wallet with almost anything on it!
Porter has now been with us for five weeks. Like I mentioned yesterday, they have a good lead on a family for him in Maryland. He is our fourth foster dog (though we hadn't fostered since 2010) and the best. Even if he REALLY doesn't want to go out in the snow.

That is pretty much all that has been going on lately.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snow Day!

I have lived in Tennessee all of my life, and am used to our mild winters. Every once in a while we'll get an inch of snow, the whole town will close down, and it will melt by noon. Today we got a real snow day! Last I checked (several hours ago) we have 5.5 inches in our yard. My best friend Crystal told me they measured 8 at her house, just a little north. The last time I saw this much snow was back in 2009 when we lived in that cold antebellum manor house in Columbia.
The weathermen were warning us about it, but it wasn't supposed to hit until Friday afternoon. Travis even went into work early because they were trying to beat the storm. But by the time he got to work at 6 am the snow was already accumulating, and as of 9 pm, it still hasn't stopped! Thankfully his company sent everyone home, and after an hour and a half of route changing, dodging out of control cars, and stopping for tamale supplies he was back home with me.
Our little cottage, so cute in the snow. 
Our backyard about 9 this morning. It snowed for nearly 12 more hours!
The dogs are NOT into it! Thankfully we have a thick cedar tree that has less snow under it, or we might have a potty strike on our hands! The second time I took her out Priscilla just stared at me like "Why am I out here again???"
Snow selfies are a must. I loved looking at all the snow photos on my instagram feed today.
I thought Porter would like it, but he RAN back inside as soon as his business was done. He spent the rest of the day curled up as close to me as possible. I actually talked to someone tonight who will probably end up adopting him! I'm happy for him (and the family!) but I will miss this little boo.
After I took the dogs out I wandered around the yard taking photos while waiting for Travis to pull up. I was a little worried because it had been a while since he told me he was on his way home, but I didn't want to call and distract him since the roads were so bad. Basically it rained all night and washed the salt away, then all the water froze under the snow!
I forget about my heart railing. It is so cute!
Once Travis got home he made us a pancake breakfast and told me tales of all the wrecks he saw! 
He told me that the little market down the street was opened, so we walked down there to get a few necessities: avocados, onions, oreos, and sweet tea. And yes, he is in SHORTS. Travis pretty much refuses to wear pants. He is one of THOSE people.
Yeah! Avocados were what we really needed because Travis decided to use part of his day off to make us tamales! They were REALLY good! I'm so glad he finally tried making them, because it wasn't as hard as we thought. They just take a while. We froze most of the batch, but I doubt they will last long. 
Back down our snowy street. I was surprised how few people were out! Usually Nashville ignores the mayor's pleas for everyone to stay off the roads!
We wanted to build a snowman but it was too powdery and wouldn't stick together much. So we made teeny snowmen! Here is the artist at work. He cracked me up putting his on the mailbox.
I tried to make mine cute and put a gravel mouth on it, but he turned out kind of terrifying! 
Travis found a "scarf" for his. 
We came inside, and spent the rest of the day snacking and watching movies on the couch. What a day!
I'm going to go check right now to see how deep the snow is. Stand by!.......7 inches! I can't believe it! The high tomorrow is 30 so it will probably stick around until Sunday. I'm pretty content to be snowed in for a little while longer. We have plenty of movies and tamales and maybe I can finish my 2015 photobook. It would only be better if we lived closer to Crystal and Marc. I wish we could go sledding with them tomorrow!
If you are up North and rolling your eyes at me, please forgive the enthusiasm. We are not used to this much beautiful snow! It kinda feels like another reality!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Childhood Crushes vs. Adult Crushes

If you follow my good friend Kimmie over at That Girl in the Wheelchair (and honestly if you don't, get on it!. I love her blog almost as much as I love her actual presence.) you saw her recent post on her childhood crushes vs. her adult crushes. It all started with a hashtag on instagram that did not go as viral as we had hoped! We talked a LOT of about crushes and I promised to make this post. It only took me about 20 days! Ha! Silly because my list was very easy. I am a woman of many crushes and my list came to me very quickly. This might be the most self indulgent post on a pretty self indulgent blog, so I hope you enjoy it!

First lets take a look at the dudes (and others) that made my heart beat faster from elementary to middle school:
1. Indiana Jones // We had a VHS copy of the Last Crusade that I wore out in middle school! There was something about that archeologist with a fear of snakes and a super cute teacher nerd look. I liked Raiders of the Lost Ark too of course (though I always closed my eyes before the Nazi's eyeballs melted, gross!). Hot nerds have always been my thing.
2. Brian Littrell // I was SO into the Backstreet Boys. My room was completely covered in posters and when my dad took me to the Millennium tour when I was in 8th grade I cried and screamed so hard I lost my voice for two days. Brian was my favorite I think because he was "the funny one." And I still maintain he has the voice of an angel. I might have locked myself in the bathroom once because my mom said he had a big nose. Teenage hormones are a trip.
3. Seymour Krelborn // My family loved Little Shop of Horrors and my grandparents took me to see many productions around Middle Tennessee. Seymour is probably my original nerd crush, and I always loved whoever played him. He is the perfect weird underdog who gets swept up in a murderous killing spree, egged on by a plant from outer space, while maintaining his love for sweet by trashy Audrey. Their duet, "Suddenly Seymour" is one of my favorite things of ALL TIME, and I have the title tattooed on me.
4. Raphael // I used to wish on green skittles that the "cool but rude" Raphael would come to life and be my boyfriend. Is that weird?
5. The Beast // I can't be the only one who was disappointed when he turned into a man.
6. Hawkeye // In middle school along with the Backstreet Boys, I was weirdly OBSESSED with M*A*S*H. How many 7th graders do you know with the sheet music to "Suicide is Painless" framed on their wall? Hawkeye was my favorite, he was so funny and weird and such a lady's man. BJ Honeycut gets an honorable mention, he was pretty babely as well.
7. Burt from Mary Poppins // This was my brother's favorite movie and I always thought Burt was so cute and cool! We also watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a lot, and I loved his vest outfit for "The Ole Bamboo" routine.
8. Lenny from That Thing You Do! // I watched this movie SO MUCH and it made me love Steve Zahn forever. Following my pattern, I liked him because he was the funniest. That movie is still a favorite, and Lenny can still get it.
9. Ace Ventura // He was funny and had tons of pets, what is not to love?  
10. Jack Skellington // Believe me, I kept my animated crushes at 3, but I could have put more. Jack was just so cool and sensitive! My mom actually hid my copy of the Nightmare Before Christmas because I wanted to watch it every day.
11. Han Solo // What woman doesn't love Han Solo? He is handsome, heroic, and kind of a jerk. And that vest! He is still a favorite now.
12. Johnathan Taylor Thomas // If you are my age you probably had a crush on JTT. From his turn as Randy on Home Improvement, to my personal favorite, the jerky kid in Man of the House with Chevy Chase, he was a preteen dreamboat for sure. Looking back over my list, he might be the only age appropriate crush I had.

And now, my current crushes as a 30 year old woman. As a lifelong pop culture obsessor I never outgrew my crush phase. Don't worry, Travis is amused by it and sometimes indulges me. Once he gave me a tiny framed photo of Milo Ventimiglia as a gift. Milo didn't make the list because I pretty much lost interest in him after Gilmore Girls, but here are the dreamy dudes that did:
1. Jemaine Clement // King of all crushes, Jemaine has been my number one since I first saw him in Flight of the Conchords back in 2007. He is funny and cute and sweet and reminds me of Travis. I went to find a video to link and fell into a Jemaine youtube hole for over an hour. There are so many good choices, but I guess "Bret, You've Got It Going On" is one of my favorite moments. I love that he is in movies regularly now, and I can't wait for the Conchords to tour the US again! Remember when I met him and looked crazy in my photo back in 2009? I hope that can happen again, but I can look less deranged, ha!
2. Sutan Amrull // Also known as Raja on Rupaul's Drag Race. I love his personality and interesting style and his new gray hair. I'm always down for a creative drag queen who looks cute as a boy.
3. Fred Armisen // I'm a sucker for a funny dude with glasses. I love it when he plays himself on Portlandia, especially when he is rude. I guess he has taken over where Raphael left off.
4. Joseph Gordon Levitt // Looks great in a suit, and super charming.
5. Pearl // Another Drag Race dude. If you watched season 7, you fell in love with boy Pearl. So adorable, so sweet. We met Pearl at Play and she complimented me on my cute husband, hah!
6. Chris Pratt // I love him as chubby Andy Dwyer, I love him as Star Lord. I love him training dinos. I just love him.
7. Zachary Quinto // Zachary should really be #2 but I didn't want too many ties in a row. I fell for ZQ when I saw him as Spock, and have kept an eye out for him every since. I especially like him in interviews, and I've watched this one (filmed in a dog park) probably 20 times! He has rescue dogs and a big vocabulary and those handsome caterpillar eyebrows. I can't wait for Star Trek: Beyond this summer, even if he seems to be wearing a terrible wig in it. Remember that time I got Travis to dress as Spock? Hubba, hubba!
8. Taika Waititi // Taika came to my attention because he cowrote/directed What We Do In the Shadows this year with Jemaine. He is a cutie in his own right, and I especially love him as Viago in that movie. I love watching/listening to interviews with him and Jemaine because they seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company and work well together. There is also that irresistible Kiwi accent.
9. Andre 3000 // Andre Benjamin has been on my list since high school. He is just so hot and creative and kind of a weirdo. All things I like in a crush.
10. Jason Schwartzman // I don't know much about Mr. Schwartzman, but I love it whenever he shows up in a movie. I think I fell for him mostly from him roles in Wes Anderson movies.
11. Tom Hardy // There is just something about him, especially all the photos you can find online of him cuddling dogs. Even when he is playing a terrible villain, or has a crazy look for a movie, I'm into it.
12. Chris Pine // Mr. Pine is almost TOO handsome. Of course I was introduced to him with Star Trek, but I'll give anything he is in a chance. I have seen a few terrible movies just to get a glimpse of those baby blues. He was the best part in Into the Woods, and I'm looking forward to that movie coming out soon where he plays a ship captain? Or something? All I know is he has a cute period haircut. I can't wait for Trek this summer, and the inevitable press tour. He and Zachary Quinto being interviewed together are PERFECT.

There you have it! Do I have a type? Funny guys, glasses, sideburns, cute suits...I'm into all of that.

Did you have any weird crushes when you were a kid? Do you have any now? Did you read this whole post? Are you obsessed with Jemaine's pillowy lips too? I need to know!

Monday, January 18, 2016

52 Lists: 2016 Goals!

It isn't too late to make some goals for the year right? I've had this list since the first, I just have been too distracted with things like watching tv with the dogs, and going out TOO much. That photo is from Bowie Night at the Stone Fox last Friday. I went with Ryan, Travis and Jamie.
Last year my only goal was to learn to do eyeliner and wear it, and I did it!
I think new year's goals are really fun to make as long as you make them about something fun, not about something you hate about yourself, or something that makes you feel guilty. I haven't had a big list in years, but here are some of the things I want to do in 2016:

1. Post more on my blog // Last year I posted less than I have since I started blogging back in 2001. One of my favorite things to do is look back through my blog and see what I was doing and thinking at different times. Even if it is embarrassing! So this year I'm going to make time to post more. I think part of the reason I did less last year was people don't interact on blogs as much anymore.  I'm as guilty of anyone as reading but not leaving a comment, so I'm going to try to do that more too on the blogs I read, and on instagrams I love.

2. Go on an overnight hike with Travis //  Travis loves the outdoors and usually goes on an overnight hike or two with friends every year. It isn't really my thing, but I've commited to doing it with him at least once this year. I've told him to plan one that isn't TOO challenging, and we'll probably take a few friends. I am making some little walking goals to get ready, and plan to walk a mile or 2 a day. I'm excited and scared to do this!

3. Make at least 2 photo books // I take lots of photos, and though I put them on the blog, I don't do much else with them. I want to put them into photobooks using blurb, and print them. My goal is to do at least 2 this year. I'm already half through a book about 2015, so I might even make a few more! We'll see. I don't want all my photos to just sit on hard drives forever.

4. Read 100 books // This is my usual book goal. I only made it to 80 last year, but I'm going for 100 again this year. I'm on my 6th right now.

5. File quarterly taxes //  This is kind of boring...but I want to write it down! I am doing lots of independent contractor type stuff right now, and I think it will be a good idea for me to do my taxes quarterly, we'll see if it is too complicated since we usually file jointly. I'm going to talk to a tax professional about it.

6. Make some stuff // Going with the theme of making goals that don't make me feel guilty, I'm keeping this vague. I love it when I make time to do something creative, so I would like to do some of that this year. Not sure how this will play out, but I have lots of ideas.

7. Hang out a lot // Not going to a regular job makes it easy to hibernate and not make plans. I want to keep seeing all my friends that I love and not just hole up in my house. We're doing really well at this so far!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

National Dress Your Pet Day!

Did you guys know it was National Dress Your Pet Day today? I didn't either, but it was on the Pugs and Kisses calendar that my best friend Crystal bought me for Christmas. I'm so glad I procrastinated on putting it up until today or I might have missed the holiday! That is one that my household definitely observes! I couldn't resist dusting off the old pug wardrobe chest.
Wait, are you thinking....who is that HUGE pug next to the dainty Phyllis and Priscilla?
Meet Porter! We are fostering him for Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue! We've had him since a little before Christmas and he is the best. Seriously, if it were at all feasible we would keep him. He is so well behaved and sweet! He can hold a sombrero on his head for a full minute! If you are in the market for a middle aged (he is seven!) pug baby, you should check out the rescue. They cover a huge area! Though I will seriously be sad when he gets adopted.
He is so big, he wouldn't fit in any of the clothes we have. I think the skeleton suit still looked pretty good. Look at Priscilla, gazing at him (well she is probably gazing at Travis.) My two don't play, but I have caught all three of these guys napping in a line.
This dress KILLS me. I think it is the cutest one we own. 
The old girls are doing ok. Phyllis has definitely slowed down since her illness in the fall, and Priscilla has taken many tumbles since her ear drum ruptured. I have to be careful leaving her on the couch or bed, and she half fell down the two steps taking these photos. Travis caught her thankfully. They have definitely been showing their age. For now we are spending a lot of time with these two sleeping either in our laps or at our feet. That is fine with me though.
Porter! I'm so happy to have a chance to care for you boy. I hope your forever family isn't ready for you QUITE yet.
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