Friday, October 4, 2013

Evolution Baby

(Disclaimer: May not be suitable for those of a strong Christian persuasion. You have been warned.)

What if my daughter is not a miracle? What if she was an "Oh sh*t" moment in a Wal-Mart bathroom stall when that second line showed up. What if she was the hardest decision I ever had to make. What if I knew I never wanted kids and here I am having one and trying to figure out how that's going to work out.

On the flip side. What if my daughter was the hardest struggle I've ever had to face trying to conceive. What if she's the product of some amazing medicines, scientific processes, and trackers to be able to get pregnant. What if she is the tears of joy and the endless thanks given to the doctors who made her possible.

Would either situation mean I'm any less grateful or excited for her? I don't think so. I'll  never tell her she's my miracle or my blessing. Instead, I'm so in awe of what my body is capable of. I am growing a freaking human! And whether I cried of joy or of fear, that is something pretty incredible. After so many years of evolution, we have come from single cells to cells that reproduce and can reproduce another tiny version of our mixed DNA.

I'll tell her instead that she is one of the most wonderful things to happen to me, something that I didn't think would ever happen. I'll tell her she's the product of love and of some really awesome biology. I'll tell her she's loved immensely and infinitely by both her parents. And I think that that is enough.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I have lost my notebook.

This is going to be a very "me being real" post, not very helpful (as in no tutorial) and not funny.  So if you're looking for a tutorial or a book review please see the very few posts to the right. 

Losing a notebook should not be the end of the world. And I understand (somewhere in my mind) that it's really really truly not. Right now, though, it feels like it. I am very much a list person. It's how I keep myself focused (even just a little bit) and how I figure difficult things out. This notebook had all of my lists. Not to mention, I realized after a few days of it being missing that it also has my pregnancy insurance information in it. I have searched everywhere I can think of in my house, at work, and in my car. These are all places where I take it on a regular basis just so I can function. It's not in any of them. I've called Hobby Lobby and Walmart as a last ditch effort wondering if they had found it. If they did, I'm sure they threw it away. 
The longer I go without it, the more upset I get. It is an almost crippling feeling to have it missing. I did buy a very cheap replacement for it, but that was when I thought I simply wasn't looking hard enough. I'm trying to use the new one. Really really trying. But thus far it is not being the sanity I need and what the other one was.
With this pregnancy, I got "pregnancy brain." (I think that's the technical term.) I joke about how it makes me feel stupid, but I legitimately feel stupid. I can't remember anything for more than a few minutes, much less a full day. I go into a store without a list and forget at least 3/4 of what I needed. So I wrote everything I needed down as I realized I needed it so I wouldn't have to struggle with even making a list. 
I struggle with anxiety. I worry about what's going to happen in 4 months when I have a child. I need to find a daycare and we will need to move when this lease is up. I need to find a doctor for her, and I need to get both of us on some kind of insurance. This is the stuff I can remember right now. None of this is terribly urgent yet. So I write it down. I keep a list of "Figure Out Today," "Figure Out Tomorrow," "Figure Out This Week," "Figure Out This Month," etc. Then I gradually edit the lists as I figure things out. I had lists of apartments to call/not call/already called. 
There were basic to do lists. I have so many projects I'd like to tackle, and I also get very distracted when I try to clean. So I write down what I'd like to accomplish in a day and in a week and how I think I can make it happen. 
Without this notebook, I'm so very unorganized and therefore unproductive. Before I lost it, I finished a craft, but never got around to writing up the tutorial. I will at some point. It's probably half way done. Right now, though, I'm just so very drained from searching and then crying that I couldn't find it. I need to end this on a positive note, and I was/am so proud of myself so here's the picture for now.

I actually sewed something!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Toilet Paper Tree Headboard - DIY

I had been wanting to make one of the toilet paper roll art things for a while now, but I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted to make. I was going to make stars (with a black background and silver pieces) or maybe flowers (with a white background and pink pieces), or maybe a vine (similar to what I actually came up with). My attention lately, though, has been drawn to trees so it seemed natural to make a depiction of this. I also wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the piece when I finished it, but then I was reading in a book of crafts about making headboards. So, now we have a headboard with a tree made of toilet paper rolls above our bed. And I just have to say it looks pretty fantastic. So here’s how to do it!

Total Cost:
Time: Around 3 hours if you're being picky, probably 1 1/2 - 2 if you're not.
Money: $10 because you shouldn't be paying for that big piece of cardboard (you can take any box you want from the stockers at Walmart in the middle of the night, or so they told me) or the toilet paper rolls separately. You have to use it anyway. I'm only counting cost for paint and a Sharpie marker, assuming you don't already have either of these things.

Materials needed: 
3 Paper towel rolls and 1 toilet paper roll (or 6-8 toilet paper rolls)
Piece of Cardboard (I used the side of a really tall box.)
Spray Paint (Green, and Brown)

Materials, other than the piece of cardboard.

Piece of cardboard.
First thing you'll do is get your paper towel rolls and flatten them out, then mark it every 1/2 inch with a marker. You can see in the pictures that I did this the other way around and well, it was much more difficult that way. 
Definitely flatten first.

This is way harder to mark on. And you'll need it flat to cut anyway. 
Then you want to cut on the marked lines.
I did this with 3 rolls so I ended up with probably 30-40 pieces at the end. Again, you could use all toilet paper rolls, you'll just need more of them.
These are just the ones from one roll because they were kind of everywhere.
Go ahead and take these outside. It's time to paint them!
I did this outside my front door so my neighbor's dogs were having a fit. She annoyed me so this was the ideal situation. Also, there was less wind out front instead of out back. 

This made a mess on my hands. Make sure you turn them every way to get all of them the same color all over, inside and out. I used spray paint and had to hold onto them to make sure they didn't fly away. I made sure one side was dry before turning to do another. 
Now go back inside and get your remaining toilet paper roll (I hope you still have one left!). Cut it down the side. And then cut the sides of this to make a shape like a tree trunk, like shown. I don't know how else to describe it.

I forgot to take a picture of the first step so I had to go back to do it again and didn't have the same color roll. Oops. 
Now you want to flatten this out, preferably with the biggest book you have. 
If you study English, you'll have lots of giant books laying around and finally they can serve a useful purpose. 

Now take your big piece of cardboard outside to paint it. 
Lovely, and complete with a glare. (I didn't even have to paint that part on.)
Go back inside and get that tree trunk toilet paper roll you made so you can paint it too.
Fortunately, this is a different shade of brown from the background because it was a different color cardboard to start with. 
Now organize the pieces on the background in the shape you want. Go ahead and lay out all of the pieces so you can move them around and make sure they're just right. Leave them in place and glue on one at a time with the glue gun. Then wipe off all the excess glue that is probably all over the place, if your projects go anything like mine. 

This is my final tree that now hangs out over our bed! Well, it would if I hadn't packed it up when we moved and then never decided to decorate once we got here. 

This post has been in the works for months now. I finally finished it tonight. The night before I go back to work from my mini vacation. Pretty proud of myself. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Confession. Why I haven't written in forever, again.

So lately, I've been in a major reading slump. (Okay, a major slump in general.) I haven't wanted to start or finish anything. I read articles online, but a book just sounds like too much. I think part of it is the pregnancy. I'm exhausted and don't feel like doing much of anything when I get home from work or on my day off or, well, ever. I come home and eat something and watch television just to turn my brain off. It's awful, though, and I don't want to have excuses for not reading. I feel terrible for it. I do still love books, and I keep adding to my "to be read" pile, but haven't put a dent in it in months. This is a terrible feeling, though. I've been so ashamed of not doing what I thought made me me. So I didn't really mention it to anyone. Well, except a few friends who asked what good books I'd read lately. Then I had to admit that I finished the last one in May and it took me months to do so. 

Today, though, I read this: Book Slump. (Remember, I said that I can handle articles.)

Thank you, Book Prince, whoever you are. I needed to hear that it's okay to not be a reader right now. I needed to be reminded that I will read again and I'm not a fraud now. This also gave me good tips for how to get back to reading. Short books are the key I've found when this has happened to a lesser degree in the past. I can feel like I've accomplished something. Anthologies are also good for me because I can finish a story quickly. I can't reread books, but oh how I wish I could. I find myself wishing I'd never read a few books because they make too many others pale in comparison. 

I am happy to announce, too, that I checked out a book from work yesterday and have so far read the first 100 pages. I'm hoping to finish it before Wednesday. It's not the best book I've ever picked up but it's decent and keeping my attention. And it's easy. Very easy and light to read, which right now is what I need in my life. I wish it was pulling me in and making me forget everything that stresses me out, but for now, I'll take what I can get. And I'll try to get a review up of it (or of the one I finished in May) sometime soon.
Maybe I'll make something crafty again soon, too. Maybe.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Uncle Ellie

I've been wanting to make this post for a while now. And I'm making it without posting it at least a week before I can. Just because I'm about to explode. So, if you know me in real life and know my views on a lot of things, please don't read this while you're driving. Please be sitting down, because this may be shocking. Seriously, sit down. Please. I don't want to be responsible for injuries.

So J has started calling Ellie, Uncle Ellie. Want to know why?

Because Ellie Mae is going to be....

... an uncle!

I'm not sure how we decided she'd be an uncle and not a sister or an aunt, but that will be her new title. And we haven't decided about Harley's role. Probably the baby's puppy. She's good at being a puppy. 

I could answer all the questions that I think are probably coming, but for now, I'm just going to say, the baby is due end of January/beginning of February (right around the time that I'm sure we'll be getting a nice blizzard).
We are very nervous, but also super excited about this newest adventure.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Conversations with My Other Half

Scene: Both of us leaving to go to work

Me: Drive safely. Have a good day. I love you.
Other Half: I love you. Have a good day.
Me: Why do you never tell me to drive safely??
Other Half: Well, you wouldn't tell Dale Earnhardt to drive safely, would you?
Me: Maybe someone should have. Wasn't he the one who died in a car crash?
Other Half: Bad example. You're like Richard Petty. He's a great driver.
Me: Did he die too?

So apparently I should be driving a race car. Which I already knew, but I think you should still be safe, even when driving fast.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

One of those books you get stuck in your head that you hope will never leave.

Well, I think I left the book I really wanted to read tonight at work so I wrote up a blog post for you guys. I know it's been quite a while. I still haven't decided what to write about our big move so I went with the easier option and did a book review. It's one I've been trying to get finished for a while so here it is!

By Stacey Jay
 **Disclaimer: I received a free E-ARC of this book from the publishers due to my employment with a bookstore. No compensation was received for this review (although, I am seriously gushing over it and I'm fully aware that I may sound ridiculous)**

This is the first book I’ve read by Stacey Jay, although I have a copy of both Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed to read at some point. This has to be one of my all time favorite books now, and I do believe it has ruined any chance of my finding another book I love this year. I read it right before we moved and it’s still stuck with me. This is a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” Well, kind of. For starters, it’s the beast who is trapped with Beauty. The curse is much more elaborate as well. I was devastated in the best possible way when this one was over.
So before I ruin the entire story, I’ll just cut to my highlights.
What I loved (there was no like here, I swear I loved it all):
  • The setting was so beautifully done. I’m usually not such a big fan of fantasy worlds, I like my novels in the real world with some magical elements. This world painting was so well done, though, that I lived in this land for the two days it took me to read the book.
  • The curse was mythological and I loved it. So I don’t ruin anything, I’ll stop there.
  • The characters. I love them both. They were realistic and wonderful.
  • The narration went back and forth between the two main characters which I very much enjoyed. I liked seeing both perspectives.
  • The ending. I cried. Both at the fact that this book was over and for the loveliness that was the end of this tale.

Things that maybe annoyed me but I didn’t care:
  • There were a few questions I felt were left unanswered with the curse’s back story. Maybe I’ll have to reread the book to see if I just missed something.
  • I didn’t like some of the minor characters. One in particular was supposed to be a bad guy but was kind of a waffle about how he would behave each day.
  • 400 pages just wasn’t enough. Okay, if it had been longer, it probably would have felt like filler, but I just wanted to live in this world a little longer.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys teen novels, anyone who enjoys romance (clean romance), anyone who likes to read. This book comes out in July so be ready for it!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Debut Novel Review

I got a copy of this book from work as an advanced reader, and I was pretty excited about the concept. I was also excited about reading something from a brand new author. Without further ado, the review.

Reconstructing Amelia
3 out of 5 (if I’m feeling giving)

It's been a little while since I read this, but I’m honestly still not sure how I feel about it. It was a good for a first novel, but I’m surprised at the hype it’s gotten. I guess I’ll just give my likes/dislikes so you can make up your own mind.

Things I liked:
This novel brings the bullying issue (that does lead to real suicides) to light. It’s an important piece of our society that needs to be brought up in more than just teen series.
It had a compelling storyline. For the most part, I wanted to know what happened to Amelia.
Some of the relationships were portrayed well. I liked Dylan and Amelia’s most of the time. And I liked Sylvia and Amelia’s relationship, it was a pretty realistic portrayal of teenage friends.
The entire book was fast paced.
The book goes back and forth between Kate and Amelia’s perspectives, which I liked, and it was done well, for the most part.

Things I did not like:
I really didn’t like the text message parts. Or some of the other social media type chapters. I think these could have been done much better. It felt like it was written from a mom’s point of view on how they think a teenager types/texts, not how they actually do. This may not be true of all teenagers, but for someone who is very book oriented and smart, it seems silly to me that they would actually text “u r” for your/you’re.
There were a few things that seemed a little ridiculous. Several of these were twists so I don’t want to say what they are and ruin them, but let it suffice to say the twists got to be unnecessary and unbelievable.
As for the ending, it was very anticlimactic and there were far too many loose ends. I think this was due to the vast amounts of twists thrown in.

I would still recommend this book, probably to people who like Jodi Picoult. Picoult is a much more seasoned author and writes on an entirely different level, but McCreight has done a decent job for her debut novel. She is an author that I look forward to reading more from as she builds up experience and perhaps develops her writing a little further.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kansas has ridiculous laws

So I wanted to update this last night, but passed out. So here's a recap of both yesterday and today all in one.
Yesterday morning, we got up at 5:30 am because we were not done packing still. My dad and aunt got to my hotel at 7:30 (we were still not finished packing). My dad and I went to get the Uhaul trailer (which was scheduled to be ready at 7 (because I called when they sent a confirmation of noon). Well, they forgot about it so it took about an hour to get it. We went home with the trailer, loaded up a ton of stuff for Goodwill and J and my dad went to drop it off. They came back. I took my dad to the bank and Walmart. It is now 10:30. We start packing inside again and also loading up the truck. And keep this up until about 1. Then we start rearranging things because there's not enough room, somehow. Then we start throwing things out because well, it's just not important. (As a side note, this hurt my environmental side a lot to be throwing things out.)
My dad and aunt leave at 3 with the trailer to get a head start. J and I clean up and turn in the keys and leave at 4. 
We drove the first 450 miles yesterday, and I was bored by the end of the first hour. I was violently woken awake, though, when an 18-wheeler decided to be an ass and speed up to pass me, but then got stuck behind another 18-wheeler. Oh, no problem, he'd just come back into my lane anyway. So he started to. I swerved to the left a little to miss it and honked of course. He did not seem phased. And of course there was no "how's my driving" number on the back of the truck.
We only made one stop before the hotel in Missouri, which is probably why me made good time. It was a Motel 6 so those are pretty hit or miss. This one was a miss. I prepared pasta salad and salads before the trip since I can't eat most fast food unless they have vegetarian options (these are few and far between). There wasn't a microfridge, which was both strange and also a little frustrating, but not a huge deal. The people were a little questionable around there, but we did survive. I may have had a hard time sleeping worrying about my car being broken into or something except that it was now 11:30 pm (12:30 am, but my body thought it was 12:30 am because it didn't understand the time difference), and I was out almost as soon as we were cuddled up in the (questionable) bed. 
So fast forward to this morning. I set my alarm for 9, but forgot to change which day it was supposed to go off from Monday to Tuesday. It didn't go off. The puppy *always* wakes up to go out between 9 and 9:30. It's so regular that we often don't set an alarm unless it has to be earlier than this. Of course this morning, she didn't wake us up. She let us sleep in until 10. Probably would have been okay with longer except that some noise woke me up luckily. I took the world's fastest shower and we checked out just in time. 
Today we drove the longer stretch. 615 miles. I was so restless from riding in the car by hour number 3 today. Fortunately both Miss Kitty and the puppy slept almost the entire time. We stopped twice today, the first time for about 45 minutes. We just wandered the gas station. The second time probably wouldn't have been necessary except that I only get about 350 miles for a tank of gas and we'd filled up too early. 
We also stopped when the police in lovely Kansas pulled J over. He was behind me so I knew he hadn't been speeding. The speed limit is 75 through here so there's really no reason to go any faster. I pulled over, too, when I saw him stopped. This meant the other police came to see me. 
Apparently, it's illegal to stop on the side of the interstate in Kansas. Well, I wouldn't be stopped if you hadn't pulled my boyfriend for nothing. 
It is also evidently illegal to drive in the left lane unless you are passing someone. Really?? What kind of law is this? When driving long distances, I stay in the left lane because I know I'm going faster than most and don't want to switch lanes constantly. J is *obviously* from out of state, though, so they gave him a warning. Also, why was I not pulled when I was right in front of him in the left lane?
I figured out that the law is probably to keep traffic from getting backed up if two people are both going under the speed limit in opposite lanes. I figured this out minutes before I watched a trailer passing but not passing another trailer. They were both going about 60 (so 15 miles under the speed limit) and this went on for about 5 miles. If there's a law, this would be the time to enforce it. 
But we have now made it to the second hotel, which is just 2 hours (including time change) from the new apartment! It is a lot nicer and has a very comfy bed so we will be crashing now. I'm also worried that the internet will cut out since it's not actually Motel 6's. Their password doesn't work so I'm on Arby's or something. 
The next time I update will be from land of the snow instead of land of the pollen!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I am fully aware that I should be packing.

I have been told that already, but well I don't like it. I move once a year, sometimes more and ahhhhhh! I'm so tired of packing. I literally just pulled the last things out of the last boxes in February. That being said, we do have a lot already done. Though, a lot needs to be done yet. We have decided what furniture goes to Goodwill and what we are taking. We have almost all the books and DVDs and vinyl packed. Well, J has all of his stuff packed, I had to purchase my holds at work so those are not packed. Also, we went to spend the last of our credit at the used bookstore up the road, and I haven't packed that stuff either. Tonight is the night to do it though because tomorrow we head to SC before the move.
But I feel like I should update this before I'm not able to!
So we found a place to live which is awesome, of course. It's still a one bedroom because, well there are 4 of us including pets and we just don't need that much space. It has a washer and dryer though which is AMAZING because I hate laundry mats and I'm tired of dragging everything so far away. Although, I do fold clothes when I go. It also has a "sunroom." This is apparently like an enclosed balcony. We've already decided it will the book/plants room. Lots of sun and still blocked from the cold.
I always say I'll post pictures when I move, but that usually doesn't happen. So this time I'll say, maybe I'll post pictures when we move.
The trip is planned as far as stops (for overnight, even though I wanted to go straight through) and planning how far we'll drive each day. We have small coolers for each car so we don't have to make stops for food and also because it's difficult to find vegetarian options at fast food places.
We've also been told that we need to drink a lot of water in order to adjust to the altitude better so we've been doing that and have reusable water bottles for the trip. Thankfully it's been hot here this week so we've been craving water. But it would appear that today was 5 degrees where we will be going. Hmm. That's really cold.
But anyway, for your patience dealing with me not updating, here are pictures of what's going on in our house.
So this is me, not packing.
J packing things from the walls, including stickers!
The kennel we got for Miss Kitty's car ride. It's bigger than the dog kennel...
My adorable puppy (when she was still tiny). She's now 35 pounds of pure fluff, but you're welcome for the picture.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Big Things Happening!

So I was going to get on here last week and write a "graduation speech" because as of last Monday I'm finished with my Bachelor's in English! I'm just waiting on the physical paper to get to me so I'll probably write it when I get it so I can post a picture to go with it.
Last Tuesday night, though, I got a phone call for my second interview for a huge job move I've been trying to get. I was on edge the next couple days, waiting to hear something back. Fortunately, I was at work so I was distracted, mostly. Friday night, I got the news that I will be going to Denver, CO! I will be a manager at a store out there, and I really don't think words can even convey how excited I am. This will be a huge adventure and will get me out of the Southeast, which has been a somewhat secret/somewhat not-so-secret dream of mine. Not that I don't love it here, but I've lived in SC, NC, VA, GA, and worked in TN so I feel like I've seen enough of this part of the country. I've dealt with the hot and humid summers long enough and I'm just ready for something new.
The best part of this is that J will also have a job. He already moved to GA for me and this time, he won't have to job hunt so I won't be stressed about that.
Instead, I will be able to stress about how this move will go. It will go like this. We have 2 weeks to pack because we will head out on April 15th. We have 2 weeks to find somewhere to find somewhere that takes dogs and someone with pretty terrible credit. And I have 2 days off before my last day at my current store. I'll have 3 days off after my last day and before we need to move, but we'll be headed home to see my family before we head out. And I need to figure out how to take my cat on a 3 day journey. I think I'm getting a smallish dog kennel that has enough room for a litter box. I'm hoping that she proves once more just how amazing she is. She is really good in the car usually and tries so hard to be adaptable so maybe, just maybe, it'll be okay.
So since today is one of my two days off, I guess I should get packing. But when I'm not updating much, just know this is why. For once, I have a legit reason!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Title Pending Until I Have More Energy

Another book review, since I did decide to call my blog "Books and Dirt" and all that. 

In Search of Cleo: How I Found My Pussy and Lost My Mind by Gina Gershon

2.5 Stars
My best friend got me this book for Christmas, with a card that said, “I have no idea what this is going to be about or how good it will be, but I know you like cats and thought the title was hilarious.”
I read this book in one afternoon since it’s very short, and I have to say I was not so impressed. I think this had at least a little more potential than what it actually lived up to, but it felt like a mess for most of it.

But here are my highlights:

My favorite line: “ ‘To be a meat eater, you have to be able to look at a cow or a chicken or even a fish for that matter. You have to be able to look them straight in the eye and be able to say ‘I just ate your daddy.’ If you can do that with a clear conscience, then you will have no problem defending your carnivorous ways. I’m just not that guy.’” ~Hell’s Angel (p. 65) This sums up my feelings about vegetarianism very well.

What I did like:
There were some really funny anecdotes. They were spread out, but there were parts that were laugh out loud funny. (My favorite was the Player Ball, which had nothing to do with the cat).
The ending was really sweet when she finally gets Cleo back (I feel like this is not a spoiler since she’s pictured with him on the cover and the title includes her saying she found him.).
You can tell that Gina Gershon genuinely loves animals, from her childhood pets to the cat she is currently looking for.
A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the book go to animal rescues. I think this made up for a  lot.

What I didn’t like:
There were several errors that should have been caught by an editor. Examples were sentences with subject verb disagreement and changing tense in the middle of a story, or even in the middle of a sentence. This was very distracting.
The first half jumped around to so much that was completely irrelevant to the book. As I mentioned before, some of these stories were funny, but they could have been put in order so that at least if they were irrelevant, they’d make sense.
Speaking of not making sense… I was aware that there was supposed to be a psychic and other strange ideas to find a cat in this book. Some points in the book make you question if she was drugged and her cat was there the entire time.

All in all, I don’t think I could recommend this book to anyone. I really wanted to like it and while I was able to finish it, and I was satisfied by the ending, it just wasn’t something I’d tell someone else to read. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why My GPS Is Terrible at Giving Directions

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes wonder what’s the matter with GPSes (is that how you pluralize that?). It’s supposed to be able to navigate at least to places that haven’t changed in a while. After all, that’s why you paid good money for this tiny box. Yesterday while attempting to go to the DMV, this situation arose again. Fortunately, Jeremy was able to shed some light on what is going on inside that box.

Me: If it’s going to take me to Walnut, I don’t understand why it took me down Waugh (I’m pretty sure I say this street name wrong every time) and then Thornton. This is way longer.
Me (5 minutes later): It didn’t even bring me out any further down. Ugh. Does it even know where I am??
Jeremy: She was probably busy when it was time for your turn.
Me: What?
Jeremy: You know, she was having a conversation with the radio when you booted the GPS up. She said “Hold on a minute, Radio.” And then turned to you and said, “Yeah, turn left here.” Then she went back to talking “I’m sorry for *that* rude interruption, did you hear the news about Left Blinker? He went out with Right Headlight! And Right Blinker found out and…” “Wait!!! Turn right, right here!” and then she thinks you don’t know where you’re going anyway so she goes back to not paying attention.
Me: *laughing instead of yelling at the gps at this point* Fair point. Maybe I’ll have to replace her with someone less chatty.

For anyone wondering, we did make it to the DMV, even though it was a long way around. I now have a ridiculous paper GA driver’s license for the next 2-4 weeks until I get a real one. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

No More Store Bought Kitty Litter

I have the world’s best kitty. She is basically a dog that doesn’t have to be let out to go to the bathroom. She greets me when I get home, cuddles at night, and follows me around the house. The only problem has been the litter box that I hate so much. She has been so patient when it comes to me switching out the litter, though. She’s almost 2 now and has been with me long enough to know that I have been searching for a better solution than clay litter.
I’ve been on a hunt for a while now looking for something other than the traditional litters. I used the “Mimi Crystals” litter which is fairly cheap $4.88/ 4 lbs, but it’s full of chemicals and doesn’t help the odor that much. I tried the all natural feline pine stuff, which is fine, except that the pellets get thrown everywhere and again, the smell is not taken care of.
I finally gave up on the smell issue when I moved into my current apartment because the cat has her own “room” which consists of the breaker box, the water heater, and the A.C. unit. I can shut the door if it gets really bad and I just put an air freshener in there.
While searching for other options to save money, though, I ran across “recipes” for using paper as litter. Because I work in a bookstore, and because we throw out a ton of paper (this kills me!), I started a “recyling box” per se that I had managers throw paper in and I took it home when it got full. Some of the recipes called for soaking the paper for an hour with baking soda and meshing it and letting it dry for 2-3 days. I do not have that much time or patience so I found out that you can just use paper! This does not eliminate the smell at all and the paper kind of disintegrates, but really, it’s free so I just said whatever.
I tried this out but the biggest issue I noticed was that Miss Kitty is so staticky that she picks up paper so that it ends up everywhere. I looked at a few more options and finally found one that is perfect. I still use half paper, but I add have cedar chips now too. This takes care of a few issues. 1. No staticky kitty tracking paper. 2. Adds more volume to the litter so that there aren’t issues cleaning it out at the end of the week. 3. Smells fantastic. 4. It’s super cheap. A huge bag was $7 and I only need a small amount. I’m waiting to see just how long this lasts, but it looks like it should be quite a while. So I still get to reuse that paper instead of throwing it all away, and now the other issues are fixed. Win-Win.

And here is a picture of her just because she's adorable :) 

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Cookbook Review Just in Time for the Day After Valentine's Day

I hadn't done a review in a while (okay, so I haven't posted much of anything really), but I put this one up on Amazon tonight so I figured, hey why not also put it up for the lovely readers of this blog! So here ya go, just think of it as a belated Valentine's Day present :) (Maybe I could have done something more related to romance... Maybe next year.)


I've been a vegetarian for a few years now so I have a few other books on the subject, but most of the cookbooks I have are healthy cooking books that I just take the meat out of recipes for. I wish this had been out a couple years ago when I made the switch; it could have saved me time, money, and some frustration. In an age when I can look up most recipes that I want on Google, I still feel like this would still be a good investment. For now, I have it checked out from work. Because I can do that.

What I like:
There are pictures for every recipe! This really isn't a huge deal usually, but it is a really nice bonus.
The layout is easy to navigate and recipes are categorized/cross-referenced well. Plus, there's an index with recipes listed by ingredient.
I'm a pretty picky eater, but these recipes are (for the most part) not so adventurous that I won't try them. There are a few that I'm hesitant about, but they still look so good, maybe one day, I'll attempt them. The vegetables aren't limited to just a few selections, they span a wide variety. Some books tend to focus on just a few vegetables and it's nice that this one is so diverse.
There are a lot of "extras," including some basic skills needed (the different ways to cook an egg, how to prepare some of the most essential staples of vegetarian cooking - tofu, nuts, legumes, etc), stock recipes for soups and sauces, and combinations of recipes to make more complex menus. Each recipe also has a few extra tips and suggestions.
Nutrition facts are included! And not just calories and carbs, but also protein and fiber. Protein is something I struggle with at times because I don't have the patience to cook tofu, and it's more difficult for me to track in just raw vegetables, but this lets me know how much is in it right off the bat.

Things that I didn't mind, but may be important for people to know:
**This is not a vegan book.** The recipes include cheese, milk, and eggs. Invariably, there is always someone who will comment at some point that the recipes aren't vegan friendly. Take the cheese out, make it with egg substitute and soy milk. Or skip those recipes.
This isn't a raw diet book and does include tofu. I believe there are only 10-15 of these recipes though, out of 200.
It's paperback. This isn't a huge deal for me, but I know it is for a lot of people. My suggestion though, is to get some clear plastic and put it on the counter anyway. Or, if you're going to be using it for a long time, just be ready for it to get a little messy.
The words are a little small. This is probably so that they could fit the recipes and the pictures into a book this size.

Overall, this is one of the most complete, but still simple enough vegetarian books I've found thus far.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Really Basic Craftiness

Something I've been looking for lately is a good recipe book. Every day at work, I look through a few during my break, and whenever we've gone to sell back books to the used bookstore in Chattanooga, I look through their journals with no luck. 
I finally found one that was the size I want, has conversion charts, splash pages, dividers, and was cheap (plus it was at work so I got that discount as well). The only problem with this one was it was honestly, pretty ugly.

Ok, so I realize it's not that bad, but it just looks like something someone older would have... But because I could get it for $6.50 and it was perfect otherwise, I went ahead and got it, knowing that I could make it pretty later. (The pages are pretty plain so that wasn't an issue, fortunately.)
Today, J and I went looking for a hot knife so he could do his own crafty projects with vinyl. It's Sunday so Hobby Lobby was closed, but we found a Michaels on their website that was a little closer than Chattanooga. We headed up there to find out that this was their grand opening weekend! I can't handle crowds very well, but we navigated effectively, got some great deals and I went home with some scrapbooking paper (for this project and others), ribbon, a HUGE reusable shopping bag, and a few of their $1 little things. (We did not find the hot knife, but later found a soldering tool at Home Depot.)
I found this pattern, which I love, love, love for the recipe book.

I've never been big on butterflies, but they have really been growing on me lately, and I love that they're "made" out of pages of books. So, a short while and some Mod Podge (which I made the other day) later, I have a much prettier recipe book :)

I decided to keep the spine as it was because I already liked it and the red on the cover is still a pretty close match.

Just in case anyone else is planning to use Mod Podge for something like this with paper, I want to share that I did tear the edge in the corner. I fixed it with another piece, but it was frustrating. The glue just made it a little too wet. It's a little wrinkly as well, but I'm okay with it!

I swear I have a few more projects to post pretty soon too! I didn't think this needed directions, but if you really want them, let me know :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gardening Adventure #1

I made a compost bin! I wanted to get something started with my garden, but it's still too cold at night to have any plants outdoors so I started here. I’m not sure how well it’ll work, and it’s already almost full so I’m a little nervous, but I finally got it made! Unfortunately, I think it’s too cold to safely keep worms right now so I will have to wait to do that after I get this figured out a little better and when it’s a little warmer.

So here’s a breakdown of what this experience was really like (compared to other people’s instructions/advice). (I round all costs up so if they are lower, you can be pleasantly surprised rather than being shocked. Also, because I keep losing the receipts before doing anything on the computer.)
Materials/Tools Required:
5 Gallon Bucket ($3 – the cheapest I could find that had a lid I could get for it)
Lid ($2 – Apparently this is purchased separately)
Drill (I’m pretty sure mine was between $10 and $15, but it was a real cheap battery operated one from 5 years ago so this is not accurate at all.)
Drill bit (this came with the drill. I don’t know how to tell what size it is so go for a smallish one)
About 1 ½ hours

Step by Step Directions
1. Take your bucket outside. Seriously. I thought to myself, I’m sure it won’t be that much of a mess. I am still finding little orange curlies all over the porch (personally I went outside to avoid having assistance provided courtesy of the kitty and puppy).
(Not a great picture, but my porch is still orange.)

2. Start with the lid so you feel like you’re making progress more quickly (especially if you have ADD and feel like the project is taking five-ever). You’re going to drill holes all over the place on the lid. One for about every 2 inches.

3. Do this across the bottom and then the sides of the bucket as well. (Because my drill is not very powerful, it took a lot of patience. So if you have a nice, powerful drill, choose that one over the cheap one.)

4. Put the compost materials inside. Materials include old fruits and veggies, bread, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper. You want an even (or roughly even) amount of wet (greens) and dry (browns) so that the chemicals work properly. Cut up the old food (don’t use meat or dairy in this! You’ll get pets – like mice and also an awful smell) and layer it followed by the paper (shredded), or pinestraw, or cedar chips.
(This is what mine looks like after 2 weeks. It has gone down a little and there is liquid coming out of the bottom, which I think is supposed to happen. Also, the black stuff is coffee, not soil. Too bad.)

5. This should be turned every couple days. I’m choosing to roll my bucket across the porch.

Added benefits: I think I made my neighbor crazy with the sound of the drill. And she’s kind of a pain so I felt better after my passive – aggressive behavior. Also, I will get to roll my bucket in front of her door every day and drive her dogs crazy. I can’t wait!

I’m not sure how long it takes to make compost so I guess I’ll find out. I’m planning to start planting as soon as I can, which may be in the next two weeks or so for some herbs inside so I'll be posting about that adventure as soon as it happens. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Name... Again.

So I had this great plan to write something up for New Year's, but then after the retail holiday mess that is my job, my body crashed and I spent my days off (plus one I shouldn't have been off) sick in bed, not reading, not writing. I did, however, manage to watch the entire first season of Once Upon a Time (thank you Netflix!). Turns out the holidays being over does not mean super high stress levels are over at work, though, so I am just now managing to get back on here.
Over the course of the past couple months, I have been looking into gardening. Because space is limited (to maybe 10 square feet on my balcony), I have been trying to find all the information I can about gardening in a reallllllly tiny area. I would love to be able to just grow vegetables and herbs so I don't have to buy those anymore. While there is some information out there, it's hard to find the "I have no money, no time, no patience, and no knowledge" books. So I figured while I'm at it with reviewing books, I'll fill in some of the other space with my adventures of gardening. I also want to start taking the puppy (and maybe the Boyfriend) hiking on small adventures. So be prepared for that possibility as well.
The final thing that may be added is crafty time! I've been trying to find new ways to up-cycle so we are not throwing so much out so I want to include that.
I wish I had written something better for this, but just beware that changes are coming! And you should be excited!