Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kansas City Renaissance Faire Opening Day 2014

This weekend was the first day of the Kansas City Renaissance Faire. Usually, I'd have stayed home, since I live nowhere near KC, but this weekend is a big weekend for a special member of my family.

My little cousin, Jake, now an Airman in the United States Air Force, is getting married!

May 2010
Seems like just yesterday that I was teaching him the different catch phrases of different Looney Toons characters. *sigh* Love him so much.

But more on that later. Today, there was a TON of Ren Faire shenanigans going on, including a video of the parade, so let's get cracking.

Friends of ours were performing several shows throughout the day, so we got to see them, which was awesome. They're a married couple, who perform silly improvisations in the group Evengard.

Story the Fairy and Matthew the Northern Poet
 In real life, they're Matt and Lisa, and they're some of the kindest people in the entire world. Kiri and I didn't have much water (just the small Aquafina bottles that we bought with lunch), but it was really hot, so the water didn't go far. Matt and Lisa offered to share their water with us, and it was lifesaving.  Thanks again, guys!

Their shows are adorable, so please check them out on Facebook and YouTube.


Matt and Kiri have a funny story about how they met, involving Ren Faires and a Coconut Bra. They met up again later, at a singles Bible study in Omaha, and massive blushing ensued once they realized how they knew each other.

Longtime Best Friends
Matthew and Kiri
 

The nice thing about this faire is how shady it is. There are a lot of trees, as well as a lot of hills and valleys, which makes it a bit cooler than just a straight up field (I've been in some with NO shade, and it wasn't as fun.

Up in the back hills, there were some mermaids. They were lovely.


There were also murals everywhere in the mermaid area, and a contest to pick the best one.



I voted for this one.
I got two viewings of the parade. The second one was better, because no one stopped to stand in front of me, so I got to see more.



If you're in the area and interested in checking out the Faire, it runs every weekend between now and the end of October.

http://www.kcrenfest.com/

It was really hot, and by the time we were ready to call it a day, we got picked up and made it to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, took naps, went to On the Border for dinner. I got the fish tacos, and they were lovely and fresh and really filling.

Dos XX Fish Tacos with Black Beans
After dinner, there was swimming, and sleeping. Thank God. Today is Jake's wedding, so we've mostly been relaxing. I really hope I can get a picture with Jake, but if not, oh well. There's always my other lovely, Laura, who is a bridesmaid.

Me, Jake, Remy, Laura
Disney Dream 2011
How's your weekend?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour: Featuring CC Solomon

Hello, Everyone! I've got another blog tour for you, this time, featuring an excerpt from CC Solomon's The Mission.

Enjoy!

  Chapter Twenty
Rule #19: You’ve got to give a little to get a little. Be giving of yourself, and it will make a lasting impression to keep your Mr. Right.
Some people were natural givers, and others were natural takers. I didn’t think that was the case with Terrance and me, but ever since our argument where we’d both divulged more than we’d planned, we had been pretty tight-lipped. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it’s just that I didn’t see the point in bringing up memories of his dead father, or discussing his alcoholic mother. It would just be too painful for him, and I had no advice to give. So my best role was to be a place he could escape all that. I assumed he felt the same because he hadn’t bothered me about how I was doing with my father, or trying to build a relationship with my stepmother.
Maybe that wasn’t the right way to go, but I just wanted the good stuff right now. For once I just wanted to hold onto that good feeling about a guy, and push away the fact that he came from a family with mental illness, and what the risk of that could be genetically if by some miracle we were to last, get married, and have kids. It was depressing, and I needed to focus on the good. Pessimism was too commonplace for me. So for now, sharing was not caring.
I was thinking all this as I excused myself and went to Terrance’s bathroom that evening after a wonderful meal he’d prepared for me quite out of the blue. Men did not call me on a Tuesday evening and say ‘hey, can I cook you dinner?’ And if they did, I was automatically suspicious, thinking they just wanted to find an excuse to get me in their house to try to hook up. No man is that giving. However, Terrance and I had already had sex, so at this point I could let go of suspicion.
He was a really good cook to my surprise, but some of the spinach from the salad he’d made had taken up residence in between my teeth, and I couldn’t ignore the yucky feeling. I looked in the bathroom mirror and tried to push the offending vegetable bit out with a fingernail, all ladylike, but when that didn’t work I opened up his medicine cabinet to see if he had any dental floss. Despite the stereotype about British teeth, his were quite nice and, like I hoped, there was floss… right next to several prescription bottles.
Ignoring them was the thing to do. I mean, I shouldn’t have even opened the cabinet in the first place. But I truly had honest intentions, and now that I had seen them, I couldn’t just ignore them. And my eyes couldn’t just not see the titles of the prescriptions, and I couldn’t just not take out my smartphone and confirm my suspicion about the use of these drugs on the Internet. And I couldn’t just not read that those medications were, like I thought, associated with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Suddenly all I wanted was an escape or a do-over. But now that I knew, I couldn’t just un-know. It seemed the good times were over. I rolled my eyes in frustration. Why was I always getting the maladjusted guys? Then I immediately felt guilty for thinking that. Terrance had been through a lot in his life; who wouldn’t be depressed every now and then? But he never told me. Then again, I reasoned, it was his business, at least for now. I didn’t share all my health issues. Heck, I didn’t even tell him when I was on my period; why would he tell me when he was feeling a little down? Of course I was assuming that this was all it was, that it wasn’t something more serious.
I just couldn’t ignore it because something like this, much like my impending period, was bound to rear its ugly head and mess up everyone’s day. The question now was how to broach the topic. If only I could call Sheila to get some advice; but something this personal I just couldn’t share. I’d have to channel my inner Murder She Wrote and get to the truth on my own.
I went into the kitchen where Terrance was washing a pot. I grabbed the dish towel right before he reached for it. “Let me help.”
He smiled and shook his head. “You don’t have to.”
“And yet I want to.” I took the pot from him. “That dinner was so good, Terrance. Really. I think I needed that spinach. Isn’t there iron in it? Did you know I’m anemic, and I have a vitamin D deficiency?”
“Really?” he replied, scrubbing vigorously at another pot.
“You should just let that soak. Yeah, between taking pills for iron, vitamin D, a women’s multivitamin and now going on the pill, I feel like an old person. I have to get one of those pill cases.”
Terrance chuckled as he filled the pot with hot water to soak it.
“You take any pills?” Hmm, didn’t feel as smooth a transition as I would have liked.
Apparently Terrance didn’t think so either, because he gave me squinted eyes, turned the water off, then moved away from the counter. “Take it you saw my drug supply in the cupboard?” he asked, his back to me.
I put the pan I was drying down. “I was looking for dental floss and just glanced at them. I mean, it’s your business, you don’t have to share. It’s no biggie.” It was a biggie, please share so I can stop freaking out.

Author Bio:

C.C. is originally from Baltimore, Maryland and has actively written fiction since the age of eleven. She is an avid “chick lit” reader and urban fantasy fan. In 2012, she participated as a writer and actress in the 48 hour film project. In her other life, she works in Equal Employment and Civil Rights for the Federal Government. Before becoming a public servant, C.C. briefly practiced law after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law. C.C. currently resides in the Washington D.C. area and is an active blogger. The Mission is C.C.’s first novel and she is working on her next novel in the genre of urban fantasy.

Links to book


Connect with CC!


Rule #6: Be mysterious, but always approachable…keep him wanting more!
Rule #11: Always remember, no sex in the beginning. Make him wait!
Rule #19: You’ve got to give a little to get a little. Be giving of yourself, and it will make a lasting impression to keep your Mr. Right.

Sheila and Denise are successful, funny and attractive, but very single women. Not that being single is horrible; but when Denise is hassled to have a date to an old friend’s wedding-of-the-century, and Shelia needs an escort to an industry banquet where everyone who’s anyone will be in attendance, being single loses its perks. To add to the dilemma, Sheila tells a little white lie to her workplace nemesis about dating a successful music producer, which explodes into a career-threatening rumor. Under extreme pressure from family, friends and coworkers, they resort to making a pact. Their Mission: Get A Man in Three Months. They will use “proven” rules to finding their Mr. Rights. Rules that worked for a friend of a friend …how hard could it be?

Join them in their hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking adventures as chapter by chapter they follow a new rule, and delve into the treacherous world of Washington, D.C. dating. The gal pals suffer through speed dating (Sam Needs-a-Bath). They allow themselves to be set up on blind dates (Bitter Crying Kevin). They try a dating service (Apron-Strings Adrian). They try the bar scene (Smoky the Bear who smokes more than cigars). They even meet men in the beauty salon (Javier Not Quite Straight). And there’s more, much more. Surrounded by family drama, workplace stressors and their own hang-ups about love, will the rules actually help them find their Mr. Rights in time for their events?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly Workout Challenge: Run Like the Wind


Trying to get back into a bit of a routine, now that the move is, more or less, finished, I went for a run on Saturday. I use the term extremely loosely, because I'm not a "Runner" Runner, I'm a Wannabe Runner.

Earlier this year, I was doing pretty well with C210k, even going the furthest I'd ever gotten before, which was about four weeks in, which required you to run for five minutes. I was using the 10k Trainer by Zen Labs, found here and here. I've gotten used to the program, its little nuances, and how to work it without it frustrating me to no end.

Source
When I finished my run yesterday (in pretty good spirits, actually), I immediately went to go stretch my legs out, because when I didn't, I was sore and had a hard time running again. I also got a hydromassage, since I have a Planet Fitness Black Card (Best membership EVER!). Tomorrow, if I can dig out my UV goggles, I might do the Total Body Enhancement to shake my muscles out (Red light therapy, coupled with a vibrating floor, said to tone your body. I don't know if I believe that, but after a run, it feels nice), as well as a massage.

The reason I stopped in the first place was because we had to do a major cleaning job on our house to prepare it for selling, and there just wasn't time. Starting this week, if I keep with it, I'll finish right before Thanksgiving.

I've also come across a couple brilliant websites pushing Virtual Races. I'd never heard of a Virtual Race until The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans hosted one last year, and I'd originally wanted to do it, but lacked funds. These organizations donate their proceeds to a good cause, like any normal race, but you have the added convenience of finishing the race at your own pace, either outside or on a treadmill. Frankly, I think I'd be all about the treadmill.

So, that's what's happening this week. I'm hoping that running will come back to me fairly easily. I love the idea of just going for a run, and letting my body work while my mind relaxes for a bit. I hear that's why a lot of people like to run.


  • Why do YOU like running?
  • What activity do you want to start doing?



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Be Fearless

When I was in college, I hated writing short stories and sharing them with my class. My stories tend to be sweet, funny, and romantic, while the majority of my class insisted on stories with a darker, edgier tone. I apparently didn't write about "real" life, and chick lit/rom coms do more harm than good.

Author, Jennifer Weiner was interviewed about waging a war on literary snobbery, and I am behind her 100%. If the arts can't help us to escape as well as learn, then what is the point? I'm a Forget your Troubles, Come on-Get Happy kind of girl, and there is no changing that. I like happy endings and Disney Princesses.


Frankly, my quirkiness is all for the best, because I don't think my best friend and I would be close if I wasn't all about the glitter and princesses. We bonded over writing stories that were looked on with disdain from several classmates.

We rock the tiaras
That being said, I made a decision to write a cosy mystery series from the perspective of one, Betsy Banks, a Rockabilly Chef with a mysterious past. I wanted her new world to be like something out of Gilmore Girls or Pushing Daisies with lots of color, comedy, and extreme nosiness. Betsy has moved to a town where secrets don't stay secrets long, and even her secrets will come out, eventually.

Betsy is the center of the book series, which is told in the first person, but I also want to know more about the different townspeople that Betsy comes into contact with. Minor characters, but compelling nonetheless.

I got this idea from another blog that I read about marketing yourself as a writer, where you make sure to put something out every 90 days, whether its a novel or short story. I'm taking that challenge as a way to continue to build Betsy's world, and paint a brighter portrait. 

I used to hate writing short stories because they were only shared with a limited audience who didn't like them. When I tried writing like they wanted me to, they hated my stories even more. When I started writing the first short story (to take place right after the first book), it was a completely different experience than when I tried writing short stories in college. 

If you want to be a writer, you should really follow your gut. Don't write what you think others want to read, write what you'd want to read. 

Source
It took me longer to understand that then I'm proud to admit, but now that I write what I want, and what I like, I'm gonna keep doing it. Writing is all about self-expression, and if you can't express your own views because of fear of what people will think, then you probably shouldn't be writing.

Be fearless.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour: Featuring Jennifer Collin

Hi, everyone! I'm back today with another Blog Tour stop, today, featuring Jennifer Collin and a review of her book, Open My Eyes.

Source
I had a hard time getting into this book because it was a sequel, and I haven't read the book leading up to this one. There wasn't a whole lot of backstory to who the characters were, in order to catch new readers (and old readers) up. I would've loved to have had a bit of context about the night that Emily and Ben thought was so passionate during their introductions. There were also a lot of characters without many distinguishing features, which made it a bit hard to follow.

That being said, I thought Annie was a hoot and a half, I thought she was just awesome and hilarious, and just the sort of best friend any girl would want to have. Her chemistry with Andy was a lot of fun, and I hope for all the best for them.

I definitely think I would've enjoyed this book a LOT more if I'd known it was a sequel, and taken the opportunity to read the first one. I think I need to, and then read this one again.

3/5 stars (But I plan to go back and re-review after I read the first one)


Author Bio:
Jennifer Collin writes quirky, and sometimes gritty, love stories about ordinary people dealing with what life throws at them.  She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, two noisy children and a cantankerous cat.  She used to party, but now her idea of a good time is an uninterrupted sleep.  These days, her characters do her partying for her, and she doesn't necessarily let them sleep. 

Connect with Jennifer!


Buy the Book! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour: Featuring Aven Ellis

Hi, Readers! Today, I'd like to introduce you to an author, by way of Chick Lit Plus. Her name is Aven Ellis, and I got the opportunity to read her book, Waiting For Prince Harry.

Source
 Check it out!

Dallas native Kylie Reed is a perpetually single designer, who wishes to branch out and sell her own vintage apron collection on Etsy and marry Prince Harry. It's actually similar to a dream I have. ;-)
At her brother's wedding, with friends and relatives demanding to know when she'll be walking down the aisle, she takes a brief reprieve in the hotel bar, where she literally falls into the lap of Boston native, Harrison Flynn, a ginger-haired professional hockey player. Kylie and Harrison's romance has the ups and downs that all couples face when getting to know each other, but add to that Harrison's celebrity, as the captain of the Dallas Demons Hockey Team, Kylie is in way over her head.

The story started out well enough, and I think the characters were all believable (especially Kylie's coworkers at Boutique Dallas), as well as several situations, however I did feel that Harrison, for such an easy-going guy, tended to blow up at Kylie over the smallest things early in the story, when they were trying to get to know each other. It was a little disconcerting at times.

Once Kylie and Harrison got into their relationship groove, he calmed down a lot, which was a relief, but toward the end of the story, it felt very rushed. So rushed, that the scene changed without an actual scene change, which was jarring.

Overall, the story was cute, and sweet. Kylie and Harrison learned from each other, which is what the best relationships have in common.

3/5 Stars

For more information on Aven Ellis

Author Bio:
Aven Ellis has been writing fiction since she was sixteen. She studied communications at a large Midwestern university, and after graduation, Aven worked as a reporter for a community newspaper, followed by a stint at a public relations agency.

But writing about city council meetings and restaurant franchises was not as much fun as writing for young women trying to figure out their careers and potential boyfriends. So Aven got herself a job in television that allowed her to write at night.  Connectivity is Aven’s debut novel; Waiting For Prince Harry and Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista(New Adult romantic comedy) will be published this year.


Aven lives in Dallas with her family. When she is not writing, Aven enjoys shopping, cooking, connecting with friends on social media, and watching any show that features Gordon Ramsay.

Connect with me on Facebook:

Talk to me on Twitter:

Visit me on the web:

Check out my pins on Pinterest:

Buy the Book!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Photos from Moving Weekend

Moving is seriously annoying. It's so many trips to and from the old house to the new house, lugging heavy boxes up and down stairs (Stairmaster has got NOTHING on moving). We're hoping to get everything cleaned out of the hold house by this coming weekend, but we're not situated in the new house, and getting quite comfortable.

Here's where we've been since this last Thursday.

Laying in my childhood room for the last time 

I hope my new closet isn't this crazy looking
This is what I came home to,
once the movers had delivered my furniture

Different Angle
I love my bedspread with the purple walls

Digging the set up. Can you spot Henry?
He's not too sure about the new situation
I'm slowly getting my girl back,
she's enjoying the many boxes she can sleep on.
I was dreading the move so much all of last week. So much so, that I battled headaches and heartburn at work, as well as bouts of sleepwalking, which always happens when I'm stressed. On Thursday night, I did cry when I went to sleep, but when I woke up on Friday morning, I got my last few things loaded into my car, wished my parents well with the moving men (Who turned out to be fantastic and fast!), and swung through Burger King before going to work.

That whole day was the best day of my week. I was calm, I was in good spirits, and after work, made it back to the "New" house (which is really over 100 years old, as opposed to our last house, which we built back in 1994), unloaded my stuff, and got ready for dinner at my church.

Saturday was the most exhausting day, which involved loading TONS of boxes of my dad's laser discs up from the basement (Those things are HEAVY!), and my legs are still recovering.

I've also been in a Jane Austen movie mood, which has been fun. I'm giving serious thought to rereading all of the novels, as well.

It's been a taxing weekend, and I'm looking forward to being settled (And the old house finally being in the rearview mirror), but I'm just so thankful that God has given me a sense of peace over this whole ordeal.

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, 
and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 NLT 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Moving with an anxious cat

So, I haven't really kept it a secret, but we are in the process of moving out of the house that I've known pretty much my entire life. I like to think I'm taking it in stride, after all I get the bigger room, I recently painted it purple, and soon we will have downsized a great deal. It's going to be a massively stressful week for everyone involved. 

Henry, Tris, and Frisket are all troopers. Far as I can tell this doesn't seem to be fazing them. Jane, on the other hand, has been going through issues since last year. Issues that we can't seen to get through. I first started noticing little lesions around her neck. I thought that Henry might be playing too rough with her, so I started to keep an eye on them. Her lesions turned to full-on scabs, and after a visit to our vet, we walked away with steroids and antibiotics. It seemed to work, we had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. About a month and a half later, though, we brought out the suitcases for our vacation, and she started pulling out her fur again. It was a LOT worse this time, so I took her back to the vet when we got back from vacation, and got another prescription. I also got a prescription for Fluoxetine to calm her nerves, and she's been on that for several months, now, to take the edge off. 

The last several weeks, she's been hiding in boxes in our dining room, but then she just came out and has set up shop in main bathroom. We'd switched the cats to grain-free food, and she decided to sleep in front of the bowl, keeping Henry and Tris, who are normally the pushiest buggers in the world, from getting food. I did a little experiment after several days of this, by switching them off Purina One Weight Control to Purina One Sensitive Systems, which both caused Janie to break out again. Dad suggested a grain free food, so I paid the hefty sum to get it for her, and it seems to be doing the trick of calming her system down. From there, I moved her food bowl to the opposite side of the sink, and when Janie was sleeping, she stayed on the same side. She wasn't guarding the food, she was making a haven of the smallest room in the house.

She's also been clingy and co-dependent when she's out of the bathroom. She'll sit on my lap or my chest, and digs her claws in. I really need to start trimming them. She's still scratching at her neck, so we're keeping an eye on that, but I'm enjoying the cuddles, despite her clawing my extremities every chance she gets. When I bring her to bed, she insists on sleeping on top of me. She needs to feel protected and secure, and I guess that's the only thing that I can do. Love her, and when we finally get to the new house this weekend, take her immediately to my room, with her kitty box set up, and let her get settled in there. 

I really hope this works, and that she takes to the new house. I want things to calm down in her life. I really REALLY hope it works. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happy Sister's Day

I'm a sister. I have an older sister who, when we were children, was the biggest pain in the butt known to man. Every time we played, she got her way. I had to play Prince Charming to her Sleeping Beauty numerous times. Pink couldn't be my favorite color, because it was hers. She gave me purple.

Christmas, 1992
Not that I couldn't be adorably annoying, myself. There was many a time I would sneak into her room, play with her toys, steal her books, steal her clothes. I'm the baby sister. It's what I do.


When we got to college, things started to change in our relationship, but for the better. We would send each other stuff all the time, and while we didn't text constantly, I think we tried to be in constant contact. We were going from being extremely annoyed with each other to missing each other.

Once, she and her Renaissance Faire Troupe, the Ladies of the Salty Kiss, came to my town for a Ren Faire, and they stayed at my townhouse. While we were all hanging out in the pool, she and I were chatting, catching up, and we noticed that her friends had suddenly gotten very quiet. We turned our heads, they were watching us. Apparently, they'd never seen sisters interact like us before.

Halloween 2011
I never thought our relationship was that different from other sisters, but apparently it is. Apparently, our friendship is strange and different and magical. People frequently watch us interact, like you'd watch a movie. We have secret conversations in our heads, almost.

We need to learn the Sister Song from "White Christmas."
We're both massive nerds, each loving different things, but one thing we agreed on was what a hottie Aladdin was.

Disney Dream 2011
My sister is the closest friend I will ever have. She's known me the longest, she knows me better than anyone, and she will tell me when she's actively judging my decisions. Our relationship is messy and argumentative, but silly and fully of unconditional love. We're convinced that the early part of Frozen, when Anna and Elsa were children, was based on our childhood. If our parents had, for whatever reason, felt the need to keep us separated, the rest of the movie would've been about our relationship back to each other.


So, to my best friend and big sister, who is most likely bawling up a storm while reading this, Happy Sister's Day to you. You're awesome, and I don't tell you that enough. *huggles*

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...