Monday, December 23, 2013

Things I'm Loving Lately

People who know me know that I get a little obsessed about things that I think are awesome. When I was in college, I was all about the Jane Austen (Still am. Check the blog, and the cat), followed by Grey's Anatomy, Bones, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, etc etc. As a prelude to Christmas, I thought I'd share some things that I've been enjoying lately.

Christmas Cookies. Last weekend, I helped my sister bake about a million sugar cookies for her employees as a Christmas present. It was long, hard work and I'm so glad that we're finally able to enjoy the fruits of our labor now (ourmom, aunt and cousin helped decorate them on Thursday, which made that part go faster). They're pretty tasty, just so time intensive.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Okay, so I've been a Joss Whedon fan since high school, but this week, my love of all things Buffy came back with a vengeance. I got to talking about it with my work friend, Leah, who is also a fan, and I've been looking through the episodes on Wikipedia, and now I'm watching it on Netflix. It's like when you look for hidden meaning in great works of literature. I look for hidden meaning early episodes to make sense of later ones. Yes. I'm a nerd.
Small Houses. I've been wanting to get my own place since college. I lived alone for about six months, and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Awhile back, I discovered tiny houses, specifically from Tumbleweed Houses. They have super tiny houses that go on trailers, that you can take with you, but those are too small for me. They also have small houses that have a foundation, that are more my style. I'd love to build one, and set up shop writing stories. They look so comfortable and cost-effective.
This is the Exterior of the Whidbey model, built by a woman in Arkansas:
And this is the interior. It's so open and bright. I love it.
Check out the whole house here. So adorable.

Christmas Decor. We never really have a theme outside of "Christmas" for our house for Christmas. Just well loved ornaments that we've treasured for years. And my mom's Nativity obsession. We have at least three Nativity scenes up right now, some we've had more than others.
We've had this set since I was a little kid. 
The latest addition, made by a friend at church. Sorry for the grainy quality.
Last year, my mom got four Peanuts figurines (Charlie Brown-Saxaphone, Snoopy-Electric Guitar, Lucy-Flute, Shroeder-Piano) that wirelessly connect to each other and play music. This year, my mom discovered that they'd also come out with Linus last year, so my dad bought it for her. He plays trumpet, like I did. Linus was always my favorite.

Hot Chocolate. Last night, before my church's third annual Song & Story, my dad and I stopped at Starbucks for Hot chocolate. It's been so cold in Iowa lately that hot chocolate all the time sounds wonderful. I'm also debating making the Polar Express Hot Chocolate for Christmas Eve.

Candy Crush. I will fully admit that I'm totally obsessed with this game. ANd when I have to wait for more lives, I got a very similar game called Frozen Fall, based off Disney's Frozen, that I got for my Galaxy S III. Instead of breaking apart candy, you break up ice. And you get the added benefit of having Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff helping you. So fun!

That's pretty much it. I'm looking forward to Christmas. It's at our house this year, which makes it easy for me to slip away for a nap, if I need to. I'm really looking forward to seeing my favorite cousin, Laura. She's thirteen years younger than me, and my Mini Me. I haven't seen her in forever, so I'm definitely looking forward to that. I'm also looking forward to seeing her Airman older brother, who recently graduated from Air Force boot camp. I talked to him a few weeks ago, and he seems to be doing really well. It'll be nice to see him. As he's now an adult (how did THAT happen), his life will be as sporadic as the rest of ours. 

Disney Dream, September 20ll

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Time Is Here

And I am keeping as busy as I possibly can (she says, sitting in her jammies at 11:17 AM on a Monday morning, watching Food Network). Actually I'm on a break. Last week was SUPER busy, with my church's Ladies Christmas Dinner on Thursday, the Women of Faith Telecast at church on Friday night, a Celebration of life concert on Saturday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. We have three more performances this coming weekend, and then we'll be done until Spring. A week from Sunday, my sis and I are also the Emcees of our church's Song & Story Variety Potluck Dinner show. This Friday night, I have a Christmas party (my second of the season, actually. I almost never do Christmas parties).

The kitties are ready for Christmas.

Janie's ready for Christmas!

Miss Tris believes she's a present.

Quite the dapper Henry.
The concerts this weekend went really well. I'm singing "Who Would Imagine a King" as a duet with my dad. I hope to get a video of it this weekend (My videographer opted to treat a friend to a much-needed girl's day, but promised she'd get it this weekend). To see the kind of performances we do, here's a video from about two years ago, last time dad and I sang (I wasn't singing with my dad for this song. That's Ron, the then-president). We were singing a song called "This is Our Son," and it's by far, my favorite song from any of the seasons I've sung with the group.

**Fun Facts: My parents met in the Celebration of Life Choir back in 1980, and my dad started working with them in 1975. I feel I owe this group my mere existence, so thanks, COL!

Our current group.
Earlier last week, we decorated our tree. I'm glad it's finished now, because when just my ornaments were up, it looked a little sad.

I don't know if you can see it, but my computer is making the lights twinkle.
We don't have twinkle lights! So cool!
We also got snow yesterday, but it's supposed to get into the 30's later this week (Thank God), so I don't think it's going to last long. How's the weather been for you? I've been absolutely freezing! To the bones, even. My bones and joints have been sore because of the cold. Not cool, soda pop.

I'm looking forward to Christmas. It's at our house this year, and might be the last one we have here (My 4-person family unit is hoping to grow out and go our separate ways. Or at least split down the middle. My parents together, then my sis and I), so I'll enjoy it while it lasts. 

I'm hoping to spend more time blogging in the future, so here's hoping I succeed. Enjoy those Christmas movies! We've already watched Scrooge, Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2 (Don't hate). Last week, my sis and I also saw Frozen, and I can't recommend it enough! I mean, just watch Idina Menzel's showstopper as Snow Queen, Elsa.

Wonderful story about the love between sisters. Glad I saw it with mine. I totally want to see it again! I think I've even convinced my sister to run the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon with me as Elsa (Kiri) and Anna (Me). Now to get on that. :-)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm not a huge fan of going around the dinner table and sharing what I'm thankful for (and neither is my family, since we don't actually do that in our traditions). Not that I don't have a lot that I'm thankful for, but I don't necessarily feel the need to voice it out loud (I live in constant fear of snarkastic judgement). But this year in particular, I wanted to share some things that I'm thankful for, especially since I feel like some things are starting to catch up to me. Without further ado, here we go.

  1. I'm thankful for my parents, how hard they work, and everything they've taught my sister and I about being decent, Godly women. 
  2. I'm thankful for my big sister, and glad she's home with a job she enjoys. I like living with my best friend (something I never really experienced in college, until senior year, when my best friend lived in the same building).
  3. I'm thankful for my best friend, Lauren, with whom I can share anything. Wish we lived closer together.
  4. I'm thankful for the Nebraska Humane Society, all that they do, and how kind they are. We had to go through something this week, and they were as kind as they could be. When we were training Oliver, they were always there with an answer to our questions. I appreciate all they do, and support them, hopefully monetarily soon.
  5. I'm thankful for my kitties. They've been especially kind and cuddly this week (due to what we had to go through earlier this week, which shall remain private). Now I just pray that I can figure out what's going on with Jane's rash when I take her to the vet tomorrow.
  6. I'm thankful to have a job, even if the trek out there is really long. Since we lost my original client, things have been really slow for me at work, but anytime I've expressed concern over my employment, my supervisor was very quick to tell me that I am needed, they're just ironing out details.
  7. I'm thankful for all the writer friends I've met through Goodreads, Facebook, and Blogging. Once again, having someone experienced to answer my questions has been extremely beneficial to this crazy indie publishing adventure I've been on.
  8. I'm thankful that I love my church. I love the message that I get every week (it always seems to be something I need to hear), and I love how it feels like an extended family. Everyone is always happy to see you there. Definitely gives me the warm fuzzies. 
  9. I'm thankful to have a vacation in 84 days that I'm looking forward to. We're really getting close!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my life. I know I could be much worse off, and considering where I am, I have a drive to reach a higher peak. I'm getting there. Hopefully I get there soon, even if I didn't succeed in my goals that I set for myself on New Year's. Life's a journey. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturdays in the Park with Ollie

Today's post comes to you as kind of a commercial for dog owners everywhere. Awhile back, I was contacted by another blogger, Shaye, of, about the website is an activity website for animals vacations. For example, say you're in the Omaha area with your dog, and want to know what they can do for fun, too. It's a pretty cool setup I had absolutely no idea such a thing existed.

Since we started training and socializing Oliver back in September, we've been looking into different activies that are around town. Our first was at the suggestion of Oliver's girlfriend's owner. Before puppy training, at Bone Jour Doggie Daycare and Lodging, there is a playgroup that meets called Yapptime.

Before all that, check out this video of Oliver and his girlfriend, Nina, wrestling all over the place. He'll let her do anything to him. It's a little weird.

Anyway, Bone Jour/Yappytime has been around for nine years, with the same people running it every Saturday morning from 9-11, and for $2, you can let your dog run free and play with other puppies. There are all kinds of dogs, different sizes, and several different play areas (though, we've only been in the back play area, and an inside play room, which the dogs don't really care for, it seems). There are usually two or three workers, who have you fill out a waiver before you can let your dog play, but they also help break up fights (like this morning. There was something in the air making all of the dogs a little cray-cray).

Halloween in the playroom. All dogs and owners were getting restless.

We've actually been considering using Bone Jour for kenneling Ollie while we're on vacation in a couple months. I hear $26/night is a reasonable rate, but we haven't had to board a dog in about fifteen years.

Our first week, our waterdog found the pool. He's so goofy.

It's fun and controlled, and all the owners are very friendly and responsible. We all seem to watch out for each other, and each other's dogs. It's a great group, and very welcoming. They're found right next door to the Nebraska Humane Society at 90th and Fort in Omaha.

In other news, when it's not Saturday, we've found Hanscom Park in Omaha, just off Martha Street. Hanscom has three fenced in areas: one for small dogs, and two for all dogs. It's big, it's hilly, it's got picnic tables to sit at, and lots and lots of acorns that Ollie can't stop eating. The crowd at Hanscom is a bit more laid back than at Yappytime. Since no one at the dog park is there to enforce rules, it runs a bit on an honor system, but luckily, people do abide by it.

Ollie is so happy to run off excess energy at the parks, and he sleeps all the way home. It's pretty awesome. Omaha is actually he biggest city in Nebraska (Something that I think The Big Bang Theory frequently gets wrong), and it's also got a large dog population. I'm amazed how many new dogs come to the parks every time they're there. In recent years, dog parks have become huge (we're actually getting one in Council Bluffs with our new Humane Society next year!), and I think more people are apt to train their dogs to walk off-leash. By adding a dog area to local parks (of which there are a lot of parks, but only two specific dog parks), the Parks and Rec people are showing how important the dog population is to the city, as well. My biggest hope is that with the opening of the Council Bluffs Humane Society next year, Council Bluffs will be well on its way to a similar dog-friendly area.

Be sure to check out DogVacay next time you and your furry friends are checking into a new town to find something they can enjoy as much as you.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Adventures of Oliver the Marshwiggle: So, this happened...

In today's installment of the Marshwiggle Chronicles, we talk week three.

After two weeks of getting stuck in traffic and arriving barely on time, sis and I left an hour before we had to be there, took a new route and arrived with 25 minutes to spare. Lots of time to show off Oliver's behaviors to the teachers. 

BEFORE that, however, we decided to walk him around to get some energy worked off, and to do his business. While cleaning up said business (my job. Lucky, huh?), I hear a wolf whistle. Very 1940's Red Hot Riding Hood. I turned my head and saw a guy driving by, who winked at me. While I had a baggie full of dog poo. 

I will never understand men. 

The only thing that went through my mind was not to be flattered. Instead, the wise words of Adele, the singer, echoed in my mind: "If a man whistles at you, don't respond. You're a woman,  not a dog."
Very wise words indeed. Even if I was at the Humane Society. 

After that, we found the training room (there was an event, so we switched rooms to the main building). If you've never been to the Nebraska Humane Society on 90th and Fort, and you like animals, go. Its like a zoo, where you get to pick a pet to take home with you! There's even a pet store, where I bought Oliver a new 6 foot leash. It's awesome! 

We're getting a new Humane Society in Council Bluffs. I hope it's as cool. 

Oliver was pretty distracted in the new space, but all the dogs were. Lots of barking, but we did get to go around and meet the other dogs in class, which was fun. So many pretty puppies! We're continuing with positive reinforcement, but Oliver seems to be getting bored. Were halfway through the class, though, with tentative plans to continue with more advanced classes over the course of the year. 

Maybe people will stop trying to get my attention with a whistle. Maybe next time, I'll get this!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Adventures of Oliver the Marshwiggle: Training Day 1

The Adventures of Oliver the Marshwiggle!

So, as you might remember, about three or four weeks ago, we got a Marshwiggle. Well, today he started Obedience Training at the Nebraska Humane Society, and my sister and I were pumped. Probably a bit more than Ollie at first. Last time he was in a car for any length of time was when my sister brought him home, so I don't know if he was prepared for a longish car ride. He was a bundle of nerves for the entire trip, and was "Play" biting me. Not amused.

The Nebraska Humane Society has a big Omaha campus, complete with Bone Jour Doggy Day Camp, a Training Center (where classes were held), on top of the Kennel where they adopt out pets. It was apparently Free Kitten Day. We didn't go in, though. We would've left with a couple, and then been in REAL trouble! Jane, Henry and Tris would NOT have been amused.

Anyway, back to training. When we got there, we had no idea which building it was in, and ended up at the Doggy Day Care. We needed to be up near the main street and Walgreens. Rather than wrestle Oliver back in the car, we just walked up. We, thankfully, weren't the last ones to show up, and class had barely started. Now we know to take Crescent to 680 instead of I-80 around. Silly Google Maps. We also know which building to go to.

When we first got in, there were about seven or eight other dogs, mostly with at least two handlers. I feel like my job today was to watch and take in information. And to run over to Walgreens when we ran out of treats halfway through training. I also opted to drive home.

I really enjoyed our first day of training. Our teacher (I didn't get her name) was very knowledgeable, very kind, and she didn't stick with the same dog to demonstrate things on. Oliver was mesmerized when she came over to us, and I was confident we'd made the right decision coming to THIS particular class. And it was half the price of the one at Petsmart, where we had friends who'd taken that class.

This afternoon, after we'd all gotten a bit of a rest, my sister and I took him out to the front yard to practice what we'd learned.

Learning Loose Leash Walking
Allons-y is his Mark word for walking

Our teacher taught us the carrot on a string trick,
using a spoon and peanut butter!

Henry's not too sure about this training business.

He watched the entire lesson.

Learning Down and Stay. Needs work. 

Finally got him down to stay.
He was significantly more calm and attentive. On the way home, when he was sitting in the backseat with my sister. So different than the dog we took out there. I'm confident that Oliver could be the most improved this week. I still think we need a new leash. I honestly feel like ours is going to snap.

This is the first installment of the Marshwiggle Adventures in Training. I hope to have a video to present at the end of the 6-weeks to show how well he's improved. But after one week, I'm impressed with how the Humane Society Training is done.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Workout Update, Ollie Update, Lotsa Updates in Here

Happy Friday, everyone! So glad the week is out! People are all kinds of crazy this week. Glad to stick around Council Bluffs this week. How was your week?

This has been kind of a crazy, emotional roller coaster of the week. It started out well enough, I was getting my three workouts in (Butt Challenge, Plank Challenge, BodyRock), but on Tuesday, it got a little crazy up in here.

Firstly, remember Ollie the Marshwiggle? Or puppy, as you might remember him.

Well, he was giving us a LOT of trouble last weekend, and at the start of the week. And by us, I mean mostly my sister. Then on Tuesday when I got home from work, I decided to give my sister a break and play with him, myself. Funny thing. His lips had started getting red, and we couldn't figure out why. Things were going okay in the backyard. He was on his tie-out, I was throwing him a ball. He explored. Typical dog stuff. Then he kept running at me and jumping. And biting at my red pants, which were a similar color to his red squeaky ball. He get play biting at my legs and jumping up, honestly freaking me out. It was really scary. My sister came to take over for me so I could change my pants. I thought maybe the red color, like a bull, was setting him off. I get back downstairs, and he's a bit calmer, but we decide to put him back in the kennel.

After dinner, we decided to try to take him for a walk. Or, I did, rather. He's gotten into that bad habit of chewing on his leash, trying to take the lead, and he started going after my feet again, and no amount of bopping him on the face and crying "Ow!" or "No!" would make him stop. Mom saw us from her office, and ran out to shout at him. She's got that angry mommy voice down, and he stopped. Back to the kennel he went, and shaky to the couch I went.

I'm not afraid of dogs. Never have been. This was a big thing for me. We'd pretty much all but decided to send Ollie back to his original owner. The next day, Ollie and mom had a heart to heart, and he was completely different. She came to the conclusion that one of his toys that he'd been playing with might have had a dye in it that reacted badly with him (hence the red lips), and when we went on a walk, he was okay.

Now he's signed up for obedience training, starting next weekend, and I'm pretty optimistic about it. I'm hoping in six weeks, I have an almost running buddy.

Speaking of running, since Ollie going after my feet on Tuesday got my heart rate up so high (took me 20 minutes to calm down! But I got to skype with my lovely bestie, Lauren, so that made it a bit better), I didn't workout. I could've, but I honestly forgot. I'm a day behind, but I"m hoping to make it up tomorrow.

Also, I think I'm going to change my plank challenge. I don't feel like I'm gaining much strength, so I've found some plank exercises that I'm going to start doing instead. Hope to build some upper body and core strength to better my running. Tomorrow morning, I'm hoping the track at the high school will be vacant so I can run. I was going to get fitted for shoes today, but forgot to wear socks. I'm sure I could've bought some, but I didn't feel like it. Maybe next week.

The most exciting part of my day is that I paid off my cruise in February, and it is less than six months away! Getting so close! I was talking to some girls at work today, and since I don't work Mondays, and it was a holiday, so I get PTO instead of a day off (so much better than a day off!). When that PTO goes into my account, I'll have a full week available to me. My coworkers were asking me what I'm going to do with it, and I told them about the cruise. I think I'm going to be known as Weird Disney Girl in the office now. I'll take it.

That's pretty much it. I'll be so excited to finally be on the Wonder. It's getting so close! I can feel the ocean breeze!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

I am a HUGE baseball fan. Mostly minor league, because I grew up with a popular stadium across the river that is no more (Rosenblatt, may she rest in peace). It used to be a fifteen minute drive to see a baseball game, but now it's about half an hour. We didn't get out to many games this season. In fact, I only got to this one game. But it was stunningly beautiful outside, we got wider seats in the shade, and the game was really exciting!

The first homerun of the game!

Game Buddies

Far Left Field
So far away!

There's a Family Fun area with a playground and carousel

Center Field
Even Further Still!

Right Field
Who sits back here?!
This is our new field, Werner Park. It's considerably smaller than Rosenblatt, which closed in 2010, but I think the layout is fantastic. It's not too big (I find Major League stadiums too big), so I can keep track of what's going on in the game while going to the bathroom, or getting a funnel cake. It's nice and breezy, and where we sat, there was no sun, so it was all nice and cool.

Our team is the Omaha Storm Chasers, and the game was VERY exciting today. So many runs, lots of pop up balls, foul balls, line drives, plus at least two home runs. It was awesome!

Mom and I are talking about getting season tickets for next year. They got them my senior year of college, and I was able to go to several games with them that summer. I love baseball. It's one of the few sports I love. I'm an artsy girl, but I love me some baseball. I get it from my mom.

Farewell, Storm Chasers! Until Next Year!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Fitness Challenge(s)

I haven't talked about fitness here in awhile because, frankly, I'm a bit sad and ashamed that I haven't been more consistent with my workouts. My gym membership has now lapsed, and I've been looking for something quick but cardio heavy to really get myself working up a sweat.

Walking the dogs in humidity will do that to you. Sopping wet sweaty. Fun times.

But, being that it's September, and the countdown to my 28th birthday has begun (28....oh my gosh...), I've decided to give myself the gift of finally completing something. Not one fitness challenge, but two month long fitness challenges. Time wise, I don't think they'll take much time, but I hope they do the trick to get me back into working out.

The first challenge is a plank challenge. I started one a few months back, but didn't finish. It starts at 20 seconds, and by September 30 (after the scary big 2-8!), I should be holding it for a whole five minutes. I wonder if they planned it for someone with an additional X amount pounds on her frame? I guess we'll see.

Planks are good for posture and your core, and strong core muscles help your running.

Ignore the poor posture of the model in the picture
The next challenge is the défi du mois (Challenge of the month) for, a grouping of exercises to be done alongside your regularly scheduled workout. It's a butt challenge, and lord knows, I need help in that department. One of the workouts is a Burpee (at :55), which I've never done before. They're no joke. At all. I did two before I had to switch to the non-jump method. I did about four burpees in 30 seconds, and didn't include the jump upon standing. Here's hoping if there are no visual changes to my body, I'll at least feel stronger (But I really want the visual changes!)


I've also started looking into High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) through Bodyrock.TV/Daily Hiit, and am taking the beginner's challenge from Daily Hiit. The hardest part of the workout today was that my GymBoss app wouldn't beep when the round was up. Frustrating! So, I downloaded the HIIT Inverval Training Timer AD app through Google Play, and tested it. Works! Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow's workout brings!

This is my birthday present to myself, so if I don't do it, I won't be getting a birthday present. And I really like presents. ;-)

September. The best month there is!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hot Diggity DOG!

I've talked about my brood of animals before, right? If not, here's a refresher course.

The Star of our Blog, Jane Austen
Frisket the Dragon Slayer
Well, we've had a reasonably quiet house of pets so far. Occasionally Henry gets into it with Jane or Frisket, or Tris gets into it with Henry or Frisket. We have pretty low key pets. Frisket's the oldest at eleven years young, and Henry is the youngest, at five.

Until Now.

This last weekend, my sister got a call from our aunt in Kansas City. One of her coworkers had recently moved and couldn't keep his dog. It's a crying shame, and part of the reason I'm against Home Owners Associations (HOA). They're blaming a size and breed instead of factors that are beyond the dog's control (abusive, negelctful owners, perhaps?). This dog is half of what my sister has always wanted in a dog: English Bull Dog. The other half is a Beagle, and he's now my sister's little man.

Bosom Buddies

We have a kennel out on the side of the house from when we had two other dogs a few years back (may they rest in peace), where he's been spending his days, and he sleeps in my sister's room. Sadly, it's been super hot this week, so Oliver (That's his name) has spent mornings in the kennel and afternoons in his crate. He gets three walks a day, one of which is with Frisket, and can do one trick: Sit.

He'll learn to swim if we let him
It's been an adjustment, but he's just such a sweetheart, and keeping him on a schedule has helped him calm down a LOT. He knows that after his walk, he eats and spends time in his kennel, and spends time with the family in the evening (or at least he will, once we completely figure out the schedule).

Parched Puppy
We're also taking him to the Wabash Trail on weekends for an extra long walk, and to work on our endurance so we won't be winded when we go on our cruise in February.

It was the funniest thing on Saturday, though. My sister and I went to the pet store to get some toys for Oliver, one of which was a dragon. When we came home, she showed it to mom, who squeaked it, and Frisket went NUTS. We are talking fifty shades of cray cray here, and he was so bummed when he couldn't play with the dragon. After church on Sunday, I bought him his own dragon, which he's been shredding ever since. The squeaker didn't last the evening, and I've been the favorite person ever since.

The boy likes his squeaky toys.
It's been a good couple of days, getting to know Oliver. The cats still don't like him (obviously), and Frisket is still trying to prove he's the Alpha dog here. There's been some snarl action going on, but nothing else. Oliver just wants to play, but I think Frisket is the canine Nick Miller.

Anyway, time to get to bed. Be sure to check out my latest reviews on Blogger Girl and Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband, both written by writer friends of mine. They're so good!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fifty Ways to Leave Your HusbandFifty Ways to Leave Your Husband by K.C. Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was just coming off a chick lit high of reading Blogger Girl by fellow author, Meredith Schorr when I was looking for another book to devour, and this one came into view.
I wasn't sure what to think at first, because typically books about women in their late 30's/early 40's don't really connect with me (I'm 27), but I found protagonist Eve Woolcot to be very likeable, and personable. And I could relate to going on vacation with your girlfriends, too. Best trips ever! But what happened to Eve this time around is that her partner in crime, Tamara, of the foul mouths (typically I can't stand swearing, but as a character trait, it seemed to be a great contrast to Eve's more conservative nature) was unable to attend. Instead of turning around to go home to her most likely cheating husband, she decided a few days with a few books sounded great. It was here that she met Finn, who changed her world for the better.
For the first several chapters, I really had no idea where author K.C. Wilder was going, but after the first real obstacle hit Eve (antidepressant detox fail!), there was most definitely a flow and I couldn't stop reading! I love it when characters who are meek in personality get some back bone. It's so cathartic for me, as a reader, and that's one of the great things about well-written books: They let you sneak along for the ride, almost like a spy. Parts of the book (which Wilder admits in her author bio) were extremely graphic. Not for the faint of heart, but overall, I absolutely love this book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ivan Mihaljevic and Side Effects

What I look for in music that I enjoy is creative themes and instrument uses. I can actually pick out bits of pieces in music that I love and memorize because I think they're so creative. I used to listen to Movie Soundtracks for the purpose of finding music that wasn't too popular because it had amazing moments.

Now Ivan Mihaljevic and Side Effects, is a group I've never heard of, like the last group I covered,  Barclay & Ichinose, and if all music that comes out of Europe is like this, then Europe is where it's at music-wise.


The song I listened to the most is off their newest album, CounterClockwise, and called Driving Force. Take a listen:

I like the build up of the plucked guitar, into the driving electric guitar and drums. The lead singer, Ivan, has a great baritone and his words are clearly sung (something I appreciate), which is great when the message of the song in particular is as follows:

Our dreams are a driving force
Of our passion, only source
They should be in command of our life's course
If you don't have a goal in front of you
From my humble point of view
You feel depressed 'cause there's nothing to do

Anyone who knows me knows how I value aspirations and dreams, as they give you a reason to do something. I think it's something that all artists can get behind because if artists didn't have dreams, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing. That's the whole message behind "Driving Force." I much prefer songs with messages that are clearly defined, and that's a big reason (aside from their musical brilliance) that I can get behind it. 

I couldn't tell if the other two band members, Marko Karacic Karo (Bass) and Alen Frljak (drums) were also singing when the vocals broke up into parts, but the harmonies are amazing and interesting. If it's Ivan singing his own harmony, that's pretty epic, too. Sometimes that's the only way to get great blending.

About halfway through the song, the entire rhythm changed, and it was a bit more swingy, with a 6/8 beat, which feels like indecision of people without dreams to me (there I go, reading into music again), but with a beat like 1-2-3...4-5-6, it sounds like someone is making a decision, but backtracking, over and over again. In my experince with people without dreams (or at least without BIG dreams), this is exactly how they are: Indecisive and stuck where they are. Talk about fabulous musical painting!

I always get apprehensive when new music is recommended to me, because I'm afraid I won't like it. This is twice now that I've enjoyed what has been suggested to me. Maybe this is the world saying I need to try new things. Maybe I need to open up my musical repetoire again (I had a HUGE music collection in college!), and stop listening to the same six CDs that are in my car. 

I really can't recommend this group enough. They need to be internationally known. I hope I can help bring them to America!

All That Matters Now (Finding Neverland)

I've been a MASSIVE Peter Pan  fan since I can remember. Disney , Mary Martin version, I loved  this story. I actually have several memo...