Happy Holidays Everyone!
May your homes be filled with peace and love. May you be surrounded by all those you call family. May you enjoy quiet moments and uproarious laughter. May you be thankful for all you have, and share with those who have less. May your new year bring only as much struggle as what will help you grow, and two times as many joys. May you be inspired to create and share your talents with the world. And may you get to sleep in at least once this week.
Love to All this Holiday Season,
Jess & Joe
Hey Dudes and Dudettes!
First off, a big and gracious THANK YOU to everyone who popped over to my guest blog on The Indie Chicks! You sure made this girl feel awesome with all the views, comments, and shares. Thank you very much for your cheerleading and support! You made my week. And if you missed it, don’t worry, you can still check it out here!
Today I’m playing hooky from my blog – again – because I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to guest post at my dear friend, Jenny Hansen’s place. After all, she’s the Queen of More Cowbell!
Jenny has a series called The Undie Chronicles, which encompasses a lot of everything you never knew you wanted to know about people’s skivvies. ;)
When I came upon a certain product while doing research at work (and I work in a family planning clinic – so it’s not as weird as you think), I had to talk about it. Jenny offered to host that conversation!
So please stop by and chat with us on The Stocking Stuffer You Won’t Want to Miss.
~ TEASER ~
Scroguard is shipped discreetly to your home and stored in a package that is easy to slip into one’s pocket. Or, if you’d prefer, Scroguard can be worn for several hours prior to sexy time so you can avoid “awkward interruptions” between you and your lover. Won’t she (or he) be surprised when you unbutton your pants and show off your massive…protection?
C’mon…you know you want to read more. ;)
Ever wondered where the new wave of feminists are? You’re in luck, cuz they’re out there!
AND because I’m blogging about it at one of the coolest new e-zines for badasses out there, The Indie Chicks.
Today I’m guest posting on the conundrum: I’m a Feminist. Now What?
Learn what it really means to be a feminist – Guys, that includes you too – and find out five ways you can make a difference starting now.
Every view, comment, like, and share helps me out because The Indie Chicks are currently looking for contributing writers. And I’ll tell you a secret, so scooch in…
I WOULD REALLY REALLY, LIKE OHMYGOD FANGIRL, LOOOOOOOVE TO WRITE FOR THE INDIE CHICKS REGULARLY!!!
So please tell me I’ll see you there!
With December here, the 2014 To Be Read Pile Challenge is coming to a close. This is my favorite reading challenge as it stresses reading books you already own. Like so many writers, I have a book buying problem. I love bookstores and even when I’m shopping in a place like Target, I have to peruse the book aisles. I just love books!
What that leads to is multiple shelves of books that I haven’t read yet because I’m always buying more or renting some from the library or listening to ones on audiobook.
The To Be Read Pile Challenge focuses on reading 12 books that have been sitting on your shelf for more than a year in one year’s time. You’re also allowed to pick 2 alternates in case one of the books you choose is impossible to get through.
This year I read all my 12 and one alternate! (And I just looked at my Goodreads shelves – I read 40 books total this year! Hoping to finish the two in my sidebar before 2015 as well.)
What were the final 2 books I completed for the TBR Pile?
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
I hate to admit I did not really like this one. But here’s the honest scoop. I think Jen Lancaster is a great writer! She is funny and witty and has a great writer’s voice.
I think the problem for me was that I could not identify with her in this book. Bitter is the New Black is Jen’s memoir about having it all – six figure salary, name brand clothes, posh apartment, all the witty comebacks and snide comments one can muster. Then she loses everything, and has to learn how to budget, shop less, and live less extravagantly.
I didn’t grow up or ever achieve a six figure lifestyle, so I’ll be honest and say the most bitter person in this book, was ME, the reader. I had a poor attitude reading Jen’s story because I couldn’t handle her complaining about loss when it seemed she didn’t appreciate what she had for so long.
Bitter party of one! I admit I wasn’t in a mindset to appreciate this book like I could. Sorry Jen!
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Bookworms will love this paranormal read by Deborah Harkness! Diana Bishop is a researcher at Oxford, who haphazardly uncovers a book that is filled with all the secrets of the magic world – vampires, demons, and witches. Now, all those creatures are showing up in the library and everywhere else Diana roams.
With the help of a tall, dark and handsome vampire named Matthew, Diana must discover the secrets of the book before the others do.
I liked this one. It’s an interesting spin on how the worlds of paranormal creatures intertwine. And there’s a historical element to it because Diana is descendant from Elizabeth Bishop of the Salem Witch Trials.
Anyone read the next one in this series?
I want to know what your favorite book(s) you read this year was!
When I look back at my list, I had books that I hated (One Thousand White Women), I had a few classics I completed (Anne of Green Gables, Mansfield Park, Rebecca), and I had books I loved (The Night Circus, Official Book Club Selection, Love With a Chance of Drowning).
But my favorite book I read this year was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
A young adult novel by genre, this book is phenomenal for any audience. It won the National Book Award – and BONUS* it’s one of the most banned books of all time! (Shhh – it talks about masturbation. hehehehe)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the story of Junior, an American Indian growing up on a reservation who takes a risk and attends the all white school in the next town.
I learned so much from this book. I think it should be required reading for students. It talks about race – yes – but it does it from the voice of a high school student – with honesty about both sides.
It talks about poverty and the downward spirals that poverty fosters – alcoholism, abuse, depression. Still, Junior is able to show us these things with some sense of humor and humility.
Get the book if you can. I read this one via audiobook which I loved, because the author reads it and I so appreciate hearing any story about a different culture in the voice of a native speaker, but if you get the book there are really fun cartoon drawings in it because that’s how Junior makes sense of his world, through drawing.
I cannot speak highly enough about this book. I didn’t want it to end. It was so good. And I learned so much.
What was the best book(s) you read in 2014?
What titles will you be putting on your 2015 To Read Pile list?
Exciting news! Adam from Roof Beam Reader has kicked off the sign up for the 6th annual To Be Read Pile Challenge this 2015, so be sure to create your must read list and sign up!
With Christmas just a month away, I’ve got to get cracking on my go to gift for my mum and sis.
The Ultimate Mix CD Project
Since 2007 I’ve given them each a Phenomenal Women’s Mix CD, a compilation of all female artists and the songs are usually upbeat and dance-worthy. A few years ago I added in what I call a Cafe’ Mix – mellow music for hanging at home and which allows male and female artists. Since 2012, I’ve enlisted YOUR help with creating those awesome playlists.
I need your brilliant ideas again now!
And to thank you, I’ll pick 2 commenters at random to win copies of the 2 cds!
I’m guessing no one wants my fake NaNo album – created in a black hole of stress rage. I called it Blames it On the Hormones.
No takers? None? Ok.
Then here are some ideas to get you thinking about types of songs to suggest!
For the Phenomenal Women Mix:
My Silver Lining ~ First Aid Kit
This is the song I keep playing on repeat. Lurve!
Hideaway ~ Kiesza
She did this music video in one take. One take!!!
Enough ~ The Mrs
The ladies behind the magic talking mirror. Had to be included!
For the Cafe’ Mix:
Paper Cup ~ The Shoe
Did you know actress Jena Malone has a band? And it’s awesome! This video is flippin’ weird, but I love this song, and every other song on their debut album I’m Okay.
Poison & Wine ~ The Civil Wars
Haunting and beautiful. Hurt and yet thankful. Haven’t we all felt this way at some point?
Stay With Me ~ Bernhoft
A great male addition to my mix. Love the song, and hadn’t heard much buzz about him before, but found this song via my Songza app.
What do you think of these tunes so far?
What other songs should I add? Share your favorites!
Reblogged from Starting With Some Gratitude:
With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I’d share one of my favorite blog posts from the past about gratitude and family.
This holiday is always special to me and my family because we’ve tracked our ancestry back to two of the pilgrims that crossed over on the Mayflower. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. John Howland came from England as an indentured servant to John Carver, one of the Leiden Separatists (AKA: pilgrim). John Carver was Plymouth colony’s first Governor and the first person to sign the Mayflower Compact, which he wrote.
But John Carver and his family did not survive the first winter in the new world. In fact, most of the original passengers on the Mayflower did not survive that first winter. My 17th Great Grandfather, John Howland, who was in his 20′s at the time, now found himself a land owner and became a prominent member of the community. He would later become quite a reputable fur trader, working with Native Americans along the coast of Maine, and ending his days as a farmer in Massachusetts.
Elizabeth was only a teenager when she made the voyage across the Atlantic with her parents. Her parents did not survive the first winter either.
Eventually, John and Elizabeth married in the new world, and over their life together, gave birth to 10 children! What is so remarkable about their story is that they all survived! The Howland line is the most common bloodline for pilgrim descendants to belong to because it was so rare that these people lived as long as they did. Elizabeth was in her 90′s when she passed!
I am fortunate in many ways. I’m fortunate that I know where my people come from. I know their story, or at least as much as I can know. And I know we are survivors. I’m also fortunate to have visited the land and place where they walked. The first time in 2010 with Joe, who was patient and understanding with me while I took photos of everything and felt like I was walking in a really good dream. The second time in 2013 when I took my parents to tour Plymouth and watched my mom have the same journey I did three years ago.
So Thanksgiving is a meaningful holiday for me. It’s a reminder of who we are and what we’ve been through. What we can endure, with hard work and family, in order to achieve our dreams. It’s a reminder to change for the better by learning from others and seeking understanding more than being right.
This month, I’d like to focus on thanksgiving. I’ve kept a journal since I was 13, but for the last few years I’ve turned it into more of a gratitude journal. At the end of each entry, I write five specific things I’m grateful for.
Here’s what I’m most grateful for today…
- My family. I’ve had a year with an immense high (my marriage) and an extreme low (the passing of my brother in law), and through both events my family rallied together and supported one another with love, patience, and grace.
- My spouse – because he lets me ignore him to focus on writing this month and supports my dream of being a published author.
- Tacos. Joe made them and they were delicious.
- Writing friends. For the many critique groups, write-ins, and classes I’ve been able to attend this month.
- Coffee. And blankets. (it’s cold outside)
What are you thankful for today?
for more Thanksgiving stories to impress your family at the dinner table,
check out my other Thanksgiving posts!
Happy November everyone!
Today I’m so excited to say that I’m guest posting at the fabulous Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Blog today!
Ingrid blogs about creativity and mindfulness, and going after your dreams. She is a spiritual globetrotter who knows it’s never too late to learn a lesson.
Ingrid asked me to share my story about how I made the bold decision to quit my job in retail management with NO BACKUP PLAN!
This time of year, with holidays looming ahead, can be so stressful. (I know that better than most.) I think this post is timely for all of us to remember to take risks, stay positive, and believe in ourselves.
I hope you’ll hang out with us today! CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE POST PLEASE. :)
TEASER ~ Living Without a Backup Plan
“For six years I worked in retail for a large department store. It’s identity shall not be named in order to protect the damned. I started working there in college, and after graduation, I freaked about becoming an “adult.” So I took a full time position at the store and bragged to my dad that I finally had health insurance.
I was good at my job. I just wasn’t happy.”
See you at Ingrid’s place!
Tell us about your dreams and big plans.
All writers and bloggers know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a crucial part of establishing your online brand. Tags and Keywords are required in order for the Internet Gods to find you and connect you with readers. With tags, we have a say. We can edit our own tags to include the subject matter we blog about in hopes that interested readers will search those tags and find us. For example, I’ve tagged this post to come up in searches for my name, my blog’s name, SEO, blogging, and writers.
We can influence keywords as well, but the Internet Gods that be (on the seventh day they tweeted) will also pull things from our posts based on wording we’ve used and formatting.
Every now and then I like to take a peak at my blog stats to see what search terms led people to find my little hub in the great wide blogosphere. And the randomness of some of the search terms never ceases to amuse me.
In the past, you may have found my blog by searching one or all of the following phrases:
- how to do the Peanuts dance
- dino erotica
- what defined the 80’s
- things to blog about that start with ‘S’
- vampire attacks
- claimed vampire attacks in 2013
- covered up vampire attacks
Why, YES I CAN instruct you how to do the Peanuts dance, why you SHOULDN’T buy dino erotica, what defined the 80’s (I’ll save you the read – it’s fanny packs), things to blog about that start with ‘S’ (you could also consult a dictionary, but I’ve got some ideas – Snuggies, sleep, sloths, the character Sloth from the movie The Goonies…). And I can tell you about ONE claimed vampire attack in 2013 that may in fact be a cover up by a moderately well known band.
Now, I like to imagine you, Dear Readers, opening your Google search engines and writing to me personally, like Dear Abby, all of your quizzical interweb wonderings. I think of your search terms as love notes. And I hope that I can answer your questions.
My Campaign Slogan – just in time for election day!
But lately, I’m beginning to feel like we should see other people. Your requests have gotten out of hand. And I think it’s time we introduce a safe word. You know, something to say when one of us feels the other has the crossed the line. How about ‘parakeet‘? I think it works because I dislike them too.
A week ago when I looked at the search terms that led you here, I was flummoxed. And more than a little uncomfortable.
Recent Search Terms That Led You to the Happiness Project:
- inside LDS temples
- scary ouija board conversations
- what to wear in the tundra
- what does it mean if you draw a swing
- dragon hill spa placenta
- i dreamed there was 5 little orphan baby bats all snuffling dreams
- girls and boars
- sideshow freak posters
- queens drinking tea
- Tia Carrere’s legs
- Jonathan Crombie’s girlfriend
- inflatable handcuffs hahaha
- how to fix a box fan
- ideas of how to dress like The Hulk
- hippies, gypsies, no bras and no squares
- absurdist quirky films
- Willoughby “the slime”
- German women in dirndls
- absurdly romantic things to say to a woman
- what causes super human hearing
- sex free friendship with old Indian woman
Who am I to you, SEO? Do you even know me? I thought we loved one another.
I think it’s time we slow things down, SEO. NaNoWriMo is starting and I just don’t have time for this. Come talk to me when you’re not drunk. You’ve got my number.
Follow up Request to the Internet Gods
Dear Internet Lords,
I just called for a break between me and my SEO. Lately I feel like he doesn’t get me anymore. And he’s always asking me for the strangest requests. I’m tired and I feel like he doesn’t respect me anymore. What should I do? Oh, and how do I change my blog relationship status to ‘It’s Complicated’?
Baffled and Blogging
What’s your SEO relationship like?
or Write me your best Dear Abby response!
Last night, like so many Jane Austen fans across the country, I tuned in to watch Masterpiece’s mini-series version of Death Comes to Pemberley.
Ok, I did a little more than “tune in.”
Yes. Yes, that is me watching the show, following the live tweet stream,
and texting my sister about it all at the same time.
I need 2 more hands and maybe a Go Pro to capture the real magic of this moment.
Lizzie Bennett is now married and mistress of Pemberley. She and Darcy have one son. And the day before they are to throw a grand ball, Lizzie’s compulsive little sister, Lydia, shows up screaming bloody murder. A search party finds the body of one former militia man, Denny, DEAD in the woods. And the leading suspect? None other than Derbyshire’s King cad, George Wickham.
Much to their disappointment, Lizzie and Darcy now find themselves pulled back into the reckless life of Wickham.
It’s murder and mayhem with a dash of Mr. Darcy!
Matthew Rhys as Mr. Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Darcy
The Twitter feed following the first episode was alive with comparisons of P.D. James’s book and Jane Austen’s. Everything from the cast to the costumes was scrutinized, and for the most part applauded. I did laugh out loud when for a brief minute, the hashtag #FreeWickham started trending.
Five Reasons to Watch Death Comes to Pemberley
1) Reunite With All Your Favorite Characters
They’re all back. Lizzie. Mr. Darcy. Lizzie’s parents. Jane.
2) Reunite With All Your LEAST Favorite Characters
Lydia is a big part of this murder mystery, as it is her husband, the sleazy George Wickham who is suspected of committing the crime. Twitter fans raved over Jenna Coleman’s portrayal of the selfish, whiney Lydia. She is still selfish beyond compare. And Wickham is still deceitful and anything but a gentleman. But, is he a murderer?
3) Return to Pemberley
The set of Pemberley and the rooms inside were well constructed to match that of the previous books and films we’ve come to adore. An English manor set in the countryside full of the finest china and most beautiful sunrooms. The costumes are exquisite. Darcy is still strapping as ever. Lizzie is handsome in egg shell blue gowns. Even Wickham, in his redcoat regimentals, has the ladies of Twitter still swooning – it helps that he’s played by Matthew Goode.
4) Experience the Gothic Version of Pride and Prejudice
The cinematography of the show is quite stunning. From wide open green spaces to haunted woods with scraggly trees, to mist covered mansions, and ghost stories! P.D. James’s version of Pemberley seems to be taking a nod from the Bronte sisters’ love for gothic literature. Or from Ms. Austen herself, with her earlier work, Northanger Abbey.
5) Find out MORE about the Lizzie and Darcy love story!
Yes, there’s a happily ever after, but that isn’t the end of the tale. Both Lizzie and Mr. Darcy still struggle with their pride and prejudice. And there are secrets Darcy hasn’t yet told. Can Lizzie reconcile the damage her family has once again caused their social standing? So many new questions!
The second, and final, episode of Death Comes to Pemberley is set to air on November 2nd, 8pm CST. Join in to witness how Wickham’s trial for murder goes. If he’s found guilty, he will hang.
Did you tune in this week?
The fabulous Kirsten Weiss of ParaYourNormal is hosting a Hoodoo Halloween blog hop this weekend and you can join in!
Visit here to meet writers all over the country share their creepiest ghost stories and spookiest Halloween tales. We’re blogging about New Orleans history and ghost lore and Halloween!
I recently sat at a table where everyone was talking about the first movie that ever scared the crap out of them. And the answers were abundant.
There was Child’s Play, the Chucky movie, which scared one woman’s mother so much she turned all the dolls in her home to face backward.
*That would actually scare me MORE.
Psycho, the original Hitchcock version, made one woman terrified she’d be stabbed to death whenever she showered.
IT, that creepy clown movie/miniseries, was one we all nodded our head to. We were scared of clowns, public bathrooms, sink drains, sewer systems, you name it!
Then there’s my list. It’s a long one. Because I’m a chicken sh*t when it comes to scary movies.
When I was growing up, here are the things that scared me about…
E.T. – Yah, not even a scary movie, but his fingers looked like sausages and they creeped me out and I was convinced he lived in our basement so I would only go down there if someone else was down there.
P.S. This movie is also frightening in Spanish. We watched it in my high school Spanish class and I had bad dreams with E.T. yelling “E.T. telefono a mi casa!!!” in them. It’s just scarier for some reason.
Scream (1, 2, & 3) – While this series is not very scary now, it was in middle school. And creepers wearing masks was all the rage. Not cool, bro. Not cool at all.
Sixth Sense – What a mind f*ck this movie was. Creepiest scene? I think it’s when the little boy is sitting in his tent and all the walls start shaking and he’s looking up, then when he looks forward again – there’s a dead girl in front of him, and she pukes!
The Ring - This movie came out when I was in high school. It’s about a dead girl who kills people by crawling out of their television sets and their bodies are found all mutilated and twisted. Now, I had a TV in my bedroom at this time. So I behaved in a normal fashion and slept with it on for a week straight because I was more terrified of waking up in the middle of the night and hearing the click of the dial on my TV and see the dead girl coming after me.
P.P.S. My TV was SO OLD. It actually did have dials. Two of them. And I could only get two channels to come in, so I watched a lot of Antiques Roadshow and Ricki Lake talk shows.
Joy Ride - What? No! The fact that Paul Walker is coming to save me does not make this better? Don’t feckin mess with late night truck drivers, ok?!
Halloween – Who would agree to ever babysit again after this???
The Exorcist – Um, that scene where the girl crab walks all crazy down the stairs. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiightmares!
Village of the Damned – Well hello angelic looking blonde child, please don’t kill me.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – NO! No I will not go out to your grandpa’s cabin in the country! Just NO!
I Am Legend – Circles of heaving zombies lurking in the dark? Nope. I’ma karate chop all the doors down in my house first.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose – Well that’s just great. I’m now terrified whenever I wake up in the vicinity of 3:33 am.
Paranormal Activity – Hell, even the previews for this were horrifying! I believe too much in ghosts and this movie made me think every house I ever lived in was haunted.
Evil Dead – Waaaay too much self inflicted torture in this one for me. If anyone needs me I’ll be curled up in a fetal position, clutching my teddy bear for the next several hours.
I could go on, but I think the ghosts are listening.
I need to go hide under the covers now.
What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?