February + Giveaway = Love

This is a special day. A special, special day.

For one thing, it is no longer January.

For another thing, it’s February. Which, in a wacky twist of fate, comes after January.

It is the first day of Black History month.

It is the day that Mary Shelley died.

It is the day that MY DAD was born! And Clark Gable. My Dad grew a moustache once and I thought he looked like Clark Gable. I have no pictures for evidence at the moment, but I’ll get right on it.

On this day in 1861, Texas seceded from the United States. Abraham Lincoln said “over my dead body!” or something like that.

On this day in 2004, Janet Jackson bared her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show. Abraham Lincoln could not be reached for comment.

February is a short month. The shortest month of the year. Did you know that the ancient Romans gave us our calendar? And that, at first, it only had ten months? And that the last month was December, and it lasted for all of Winter? Because the Romans considered Winter to be a “monthless” season?

I would also add that it is a cheerless, bitter season of creeping, quiet desperation, but I can’t verify if the Romans would have gone that far. Probably not, considering that they had the Mediterranean.

This is also my 535th post. Five Hundred and Thirty-Five. Heavens to murgatroid. That’s a lot of drivel.

I wasn’t paying ANY attention when my 500th post went by. I’m not sure which one it was. I could count backwards, but that would require, well, counting backwards, so let’s just pretend that 535 is the REAL number to get jazzed about, mkay?

Not that, so far, I have said ANYTHING that would cause you to get jazzed IN THE SLIGHTEST MODICUM. But let me change all of that right now.

Because right now, without further ado, I give you this:

P1010065 (2)

Are you not tantalized? Hypnotized? Mesmerized by the beautiful brown shades and the silky ribbon? I know I was. My heart went pitty-pat when it came in the mail from My Beloved. Then I started to open it.

P1010066 (2)

Oh my.

P1010071 (2)

Oh my stars.

P1010073 (2)

Oh my stars and garters.

P1010074 (2)

Oh my stars and garters and lacy unmentionables.

P1010078 (2)

And then I ate one. And it was like death, but in a good way! (name that movie, just for fun?)

SALTED CARAMELS, my friends. Almost paradise. We’re knockin’ on Heaven’s door. Almost paradise. How could we ask for more?

Name that movie, too. Just for fun.

As beautiful as these beautiful beauties are, I have to confess: they tasted even better. If your most decadent experience with caramel has been a casual Twix bar here and there, let me assure you that YOU HAVE NO IDEA of what caramel was meant to be. These will ruin you for anything else. RUIN YOU.

Now, I am prepared to give away a box of these precious lovelies to one of you. AND, just because I know not everyone’s taste buds run as adventurous as some, I will let you choose whether you want salted or unsalted, milk or dark chocolate.

Or if you’ve never tasted the wonder that is a salted caramel and you think you might be ready to adjust your worldview a hair, you can get a mixture! Just calm down, put your head between your legs, breathe into a paper bag, and let me know in the comments.

That’s it! Just leave me a comment and you’ll go into the hat. Rather, your name will go into the hat.

Fran’s Chocolates, you don’t know me from a hole in your head, but I must tell you, you changed my life. Or at least my salivary glands. Thank you.

(giveaway will end on February 7th at the stroke of midnight…chocolates should arrive by Valentine’s Day, barring acts of God)

A Poem, a Winner, and a Thank You

Submitted for your amusement…a poem by my eldest, whose baby is non-stop movement and exploration:

 

adventures in babydom

Mommy peacefully sitting, knitting. Blissfully unaware. 

Baby playing quietly, happily. Without a care. 

Mommy looks down

At Baby’s concentrated frown

Smiles tenderly. 

Hears a small *crunch*

Baby thinks “lunch!”

Until Mommy shrieks impressively.

A scuffle ensues

Mommy won’t lose

As Baby tries to hide his prize.

But junebug legs

And junebug head

Cannot escape her horrified eyes.

 

Now Baby cries.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The winner of the “Be Mine” letters is Kris, comment number 11! Congratulations, Kris. Also, a huge thank you to all who entered and said such encouraging things…may you all have a blessed Sunday!

Oops

What with all the doggy-related trauma going on here, I clean forgot to pick a winner of the little conch-girl I talked about in my Beach Party post!

 

Without further ado, I declare (or rather, random.org declares)

 

Commenter #29, Glenda, the winnah! 

 

Congratulations, Glenda! I’ll get that to you asap!

 

For anyone wondering, Mini is feeling much better today. She is still blind as a bat, but instead of cowering in her crate, she came out on her own today and has been cautiously investigating the house, bumping into walls and people but for the most part maintaining her terrier-tail-wagging cheerful attitude. Anyone have any suggestions for helping a newly-blind dog cope with the world?

You Know I’m There

I recently discovered Gina’s blog, The Shabby Chic Cottage, and it’s quickly become one of my favorites for eye-candy of the makeover/decorating/garage sale-ing/dumpster-diving ilk.

 

(I love the word ilk. It doesn’t even sound real.)

 

Anyway, Gina said she was having a BEACH PARTY on the 26th, and so of course I wrote it right on my calendar so that I would be sure to be there with bells on. Yes, I write bloggy things on my calendar. I have become one of those bloggers.

 

 

The idea behind the Beach Party is simply to bid adieu to the summer with some of our favorite beachy crafts or decorating ideas or whathaveyou, so I thought I’d show off my little entryway display. I have a shelf right inside the front door that I like to gussy up in a seasonal manner, and of course for summer that means the beach. IS there anything else??

 

 

The shadowbox is an old typesetters drawer that I’ve had since I was a little girl. It used to hold my thimble collection (yes. I had a thimble collection. that seems very odd to me now…) but I repurposed it with some beachy scrapbook paper and glued on some of my shell collection.

 

 

I especially like this guy: a piece of bleached coral from the Caymans.

 

 

The strange blue thinggummies are old electrical insulators from power poles. I bought them at a garage sale for $0.50 each because I *loved* their colors. Aren’t they amazing? I love that even utilitarian items used to be so pretty back before plastic took over the world.

 

The necklace wrapped around one of the insulators is, of course, compliments of my fabulously talented SIL, who creates these gems because, well, she simply can’t NOT be creating something. And the key/heart combo (heart from my BFF in the big fat world) is a nod to the whole “key to my heart” theme.

 

 

This little girl here is one of my favorite gifts ever. Her designation is “Thinking of you…keeping you close in my thoughts” and she was given to me in the wake of one of the miscarriages that has rocked my little world. She makes my heart sigh.

 

 

And just because I’m especially fond of her, and especially wistful about leaving this sadly beach-less summer, I thought I’d give one of these sweet conch-listening girlies to one of you. Just leave me a comment with your contact info and you’ll be entered. If you’re a first-timer, thanks for stopping by!

 

(Be sure to check out all the links to more beachy heaven over at Gina’s place…)

Seriously. It’s hard to get published?*

Every time I receive CBD’s catalog of the newest Christian fiction offerings, I find myself giggling. Setting aside, for the moment, the very fine argument that the moment “Christian” fiction became its own genre it also nestled down inside a slick and silky coffin and began driving in the nails, I submit that for every one quality “Christian” novelist there are at least 100 high-school-creative-writing-teacher’s-pets churning out books that get published simply by virtue of the fact that they are bereft of anything objectionable, and contain at least one scene of someone getting baptized.

 

However, I do have one thing to say in their favor: their summaries in the CBD catalog are delightful targets for mirthful ridicule.

 

Don’t believe me? Here, I’ll prove it. I’ll write several blurbs for novels that exist solely in the dark recesses of my twisted mind, along with copying an equal amount of completely real  blurbs from completely real novels. Can you tell the difference?

 

Ready? Here goes.

 

The Scent of Jasmine

 

Retired Private Investigator Flax Cracker thought he’d left business behind him when he won the lottery and moved to Honolulu. But things aren’t all peaches and cream in the land of aloha. When his sweet and unassuming neighbor, Honey Sunshine, is accused of murdering her 3-star General of a husband, he finds himself caught up in a desperate race to clear her name. But will his heart be the second casualty in this thrilling murder mystery?

 

Okay, okay, so that was a gimme. I was just dying to use those names. The following will be more of a challenge, I promise. No fair googling titles to see if they exist!!

 

1. Hourglass

 

The sleepy little town of Moss Point, Mississippi, is shaken out of its slumber when a mysterious stranger arrives with the apparent ability to stop, and even reverse, time!  The tight-lipped and brooding Mr. Adrian offers the struggling townspeople economic stability if they choose to accept his offer of help, but is he the angel he appears to be…or something far more sinister?

 

2. A Widow’s Hope

 

A tender love story set in the rolling green fields of Ohio Amish country! When newly widowed Hannah relocates from Pennsylvania to Ohio with her sheep, she’d determined that her new life won’t include romance…until she meets widower Seth Miller. Is the gentle farmer drawn to Hannah–or to her productive flock?

 

3. Sweet Charity

 

An undisciplined two year old named Charity has Shauna Alexander seriously questioning her calling as a child care provider. Pastor Kent Chapman’s heart is still raw from losing his wife. He knows he spoils his daughter, but he can’t help but see his wife in her. During a computer repair mix-up, Kent finds himself attracted to Shauna, but when their worlds collide over the rebellious toddler’s behavior, both must work toward reconciliation. Will the Lord cause Kent to choose between his daughter and his heart?

 

4. Blue Skye

 

Skye Cerule finds herself sinking into an unshakeable depression after the death of her twin sister. When she resorts to an overdose of sleeping pills one dark night, she awakens to find herself in the care of Dr. Darrin Angelus at the local mental hospital. Through the good doctor’s compassionate therapy, Skye begins to feel stable enough to be released. However, when her sister begins to visit her in the dead of night with strange warnings about Skye’s future, she begins to question what is real and what isn’t. Will she ever find peace?

 

5. Pasadena Promises

 

Love blooms like a rose from the thorns of war for three strong-willed women. Rebecca, a widow, reaches out to battle-scarred Courtney. Will Jack ever see Daisy as the compassionate woman she has become—not the little girl he once knew? And Claire struggles to understand Daniel’s reluctance to enlist after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

 

6. Spurred by Love

 

Hotheaded cowboy Flint Colton has been breaking mustangs since he was kneehigh to a prairie dog. But when fiery Stella Dawson shows up to offer a newfangled method for gentling wild horses, sparks fly between the two! When Flint’s prize stallion escapes into the Texas hill country with Stella’s favorite filly, they are forced to work together to bring their horses home. Will they find more than just the runaways during their time beneath the endless prairie sky?

 

Okay, time’s up. Which are fake, and which are tripe real? Leave me a comment listing the THREE FAKES and I’ll reveal the truth Saturday, along with a fun prize for the winner (picked from all the correct entrants).

 

*alternate title: Sour Grapes Make Great Whine

Lucky Duck, take two…

So I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to pick a winner for EPFYCDBAS today!

 

Forgive me; I’ve been just a tad distracted.

 

Actually, I was born that way. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is an unauthorized biography, if you must know.

 

At any rate, the number that Random.org spat (spat, I tell you! spat!) at me was #21, Pamelotta! Congratulations, Pam! I know you’ll love the book thoroughly, whether it’s a gift or for yourself.

 

Thanks to everybody who participated in my giveaways, and have a lovely Sunday (what’s left of it)!

Lucky Ducks

Just a quick note to say that the winner of TSWGTRALF is commenter number 48, Marie! Thanks to everybody for playing…

 

Daughter Connie is celebrating her 15th birthday today; she is the antithesis of the average fifteen year old and thusly is quite the delight. I remember 15 as an intensely awkward stage, but it doesn’t seem to bother her in the least. Her entire wish list was composed of lengthy novels and webkinz. Easy to please? Just a bit.

 

Here’s a picture of me at 15:

 

 

Could someone please explain to me why I felt compelled to augment my eyebrows so heavily? My only explanation is that I have suffered from brow-envy most of my life, so when I discovered eyebrow pencil I obviously followed the more-is-better philosophy.

 

Does anyone besides me like the way they look now better than the way they looked in high school? Maybe it just has to do with becoming comfortable with imperfections like freckles and three-haired eyebrows. They just don’t seem quite the crises anymore.

 

Not that I have retired my eyebrow pencil by any means; I just don’t wield it with quite the same energy.

 

What quirks about your appearance have you learned to embrace?

 

Another Book Review and Giveaway! (No, really! It’s a whole different book!)*

So I think I mentioned a little herniated disc issue I had a while back that enabled me to actually do nothing but read for a few days? It was absolutely heavenly to slowly make my way through the stack on my bedside table!

 

Except for the agonizing lower back pain, that is.

 

Nevertheless, one of the lovely little books that was waiting patiently for me to finally pick it up was Expecting: Praying for Your Child’s Development–Body and Soul by the delightful Marla Taviano.

 

Can I just say? This book is a gem. An absolute delight. I fear I cannot say enough things about how sweet it is.

 

For starters, it’s a really nice size. I have a silly fondness for cute little hand-sized books, and this one is just so. It’s perfect for the bedside table, not obscenely large and demanding lots of attention (unlike the pregnant women it has been written for). It is demure and polite as it waits for you to pick it up.

 

 

And you will want to pick it up, and frequently! Because EPFYCDBAS, as I shall refer to it from here-on, is so much more than a book. It is a personal journal through every stage of pregnancy, including the days before you’re even certain that a baby is on the horizon.

 

Each week of pregnancy has some suggested prayers, information about what’s going on in both the baby and the mother’s development, and a place to record thoughts, hopes, and dreams for the future. Each week has gentle advice from Marla, herself a mama to three precious little girls, about how to prepare for the arrival of the wee one.

 

Scattered throughout EPFYCDBAS are perfectly timed Bible verses and quotes ranging from humorous to profound. As an unapologetic quote-hound, I was consistently delighted by this touch!

 

At the end of 40 weeks, the expectant mommy goes from expectant to gratified and has not only a beautiful little baby to snuggle, but a keepsake journal to give the snugglee at some point in his/her future, perhaps when parenthood becomes a reality for them as well. I only wish I’d had a stash of copies some 22 years ago!

 

This book would be so perfect for anyone who is pregnant, plans to be pregnant, knows anyone who is pregnant, or is otherwise a member of the human race. Seriously, it would be an excellent gift for that special woman who has just gotten the elusive two pink lines on the pee stick. Is that lady you? Then I offer my congratulations. AND a chance to win this little jewel.

 

Just leave me a comment letting me know what brand of pregnancy test you believe is the best, and you’ll be entered to win. Do you prefer EPT’s? Generic? Killing a bunny? I’ll pick a winner via Random.org on Sunday and get a copy on its way to you. Not my copy, however. I’m still hoping to use it someday myself.

 

*just in case you’re using a feed reader and thought this was the same post as before

Book Review and Giveaway!

So the amazing Mary at Owlhaven asked me approximately eleventy-million years ago if I would review her book, The Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family, and I cheerfully said “Sure! I’ll take your book and hold onto it for a zillion years before having a herniated disc that forces me to bed, unable to do anything but read through the giant pile of books on my bedside table, at which point I will love it and write a review!”

 

I like to be completely upfront and honest with people. I think it’s the right thing to do.

 

In any case, Mary sent me a copy of her book back in, uh. Uh. March? And I finally read it, thanks to the aforementioned lumbar constraints which I suspect were a thinly disguised kick in the arse from the Man Upstairs.

 

In a nutshell, I loved the book, just like I knew I would. For one thing, the cover is awfully cute. Which has nothing to do with anything, but I thought I’d mention it.

 

 (awwwwwwwwwwwww!)

 

More importantly, the book is solid. Solid advice. Solid balance. Solid practicality. Solid reassurance.

 

Mary totally made me believe I could truly raise a large family!!

 

Which is a relief, when you get right down to it.

 

Although I’m not 100% sure about the “sane” part. I think you (and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible) really have to have a little bit of the insane in you to consider raising a family larger than the norm these days. That is, if “insane” can be defined as the audacity to go against the flow, live contrary to popular culture, challenge suppositions, and embrace your inner rebel.

 

But you know, it’s all semantics in the end.

 

Mary’s book, or ASWGTRALF, as I’ll refer to it from here-on, addresses the very real issues of space and money and time in the context of hoards of children, but also delves into deeper issues of being emotionally available for both children and spouse, as well as the Myth of the Supermom (oh how I loathe that one!) and how to encourage sibling friendships.

 

I found so much sensible and soothing about this book; it was like settling down with a cup of tea and some really good chocolate (referenced multiple times as one of Mary’s secret weapons for coping, by the way) and having a lengthy chat with a close, level-headed friend after a particularly tiring day. It refreshed my spirit and strengthed my resolve to do the very best job humanly possible with this parenting gig.

 

Which subsequently made me wish quite longingly that I lived next door to Mary, not surprisingly. 

 

Even if you are done growing your family and it isn’t considered large by the world’s definition, this book has so many practical hints on how to save money, make time for your children, foster family fun, and remember that guy you said your vows to, that I would bet just about any woman with any number of children would glean something worthwhile from the reading.

 

In celebration of the fact that I Read An Actual Book With Actual Pages, I am giving away, via Mary, a copy of ASWGTRALF today! Just leave me a comment with your personal opinion of just how many children constitutes a “large family” and you’ll be entered. I’ll pick a winner via Random.org on Saturday!

 

And please, remember, if you don’t win, buy yourself a copy of ASWGTRALF, or one for a friend (or, hey! both!) anyway. Then we can all get together and start a Want-To-Live-Next-To-Mary Club.

Breaking News

Oh, be still my heart. My friend Jody (Because I’m Me) is GIVING AWAY A QUILT. And not just any quilt. One of her most beautiful (and that–take my word for it–is really saying something). Check it out here. But please don’t enter, because that would decrease my chances of winning.

 

Just kidding. Sorta.

 

She is also, right now, offering free shipping to anywhere! Even if you live on the moon.

 

Why are you still here? Go visit her shop and BUY SOMETHING!