Books I Read In February

16. Sex on the Moon.  This book has been on the best seller list forever, and although I normally don’t like non fiction all that much, I figured eh, why not? It can’t hurt, right?  And actually, I didn’t dislike this book because it was boring (my usual issue with non fiction) but because it was SO EFFING TERRIBLE.  Good god.  Between the odd motivations for the main characters’ actions and the weird divide between what must have actually happened and what was told to the author and the icky descriptions of every woman character (if I had to read about one more person’s “tight body” I was going to THROW UP ON THE PAGE), this book was just so not for me.

17.  Signs of Life.  I loved every single moment of this book.  I loved the author and I loved her writing and her sassy personality and I loved her honesty and her voice and I loved that she started off the book saying “I will never be mad at you for this” to her husband and she never was, even though she totally had the right to be. (Her husband died in a skateboarding type accident when she was five months pregnant with their son. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.)  Maggie refused to read this because she said it was too sad but I swear to god this was one of the most wonderful and life affirming things I’ve read in a long time.

18.  Ready Player One.  So much fun.  Loved it. This was one of those books where I just wanted my mother grabbing children to leave me alone so I could get back to reading it.

19.  The Year We Left Home.  I really loved the writing in this book, but the characters who were telling the story kept switching and I liked some of them so much more than others that it made this really uneven for me. I am glad I read it, but I had higher hopes for it in the beginning than I did by the end.

20. The Cut. What was this even about? Oh.  Yeah, that.  Hmmmm. Reading the fly leaf you’d think this author was god’s gift to crime fiction.  This was merely ok for me, however.  Everything that happened seemed exceptionally obvious, and I am not the type to figure these things out early on.

21. All These Things I’ve Done.  I was DUBIOUS about this book.  It seemed like one of those crappy YAF novels that are all the rage lately where the author thinks of some random things that would be totally crazy to be outlawed in the future and then tries to build some kind of shitty series around the fact that pens are illegal! Or whatever!  I liked this though.  It was weird in that fun weird YAF way that sometimes I find really appealing.  And I liked the main character a lot.

22.  The Borrower.  I liked this.  I did not love it, but in a fascinating twist of fate, I considered the last chapter to be absolutely wonderful.  Before that things seemed to be wandering a bit, but last two chapters, man. I have to check this out again and read the ending all over again. Worth reading for the last two pages alone.

I mean, if this isn’t poetry, I don’t know what is:

“I believed that books might save him because I knew they had so far, and because I knew the people books had saved. They were college professors and actors and scientists and poets. They got to college and sat on dorm floors drinking coffee, amazed they’d finally found their soul mates. They always dressed a little out of season. Their names were enshrined on the pink cards in the pockets of all the forgotten hardbacks in every library basement in America. If the librarians were lazy enough or nostalgic enough or smart enough, those names would stay there forever.” 

Sigh.

23.  Popular. Holy crap, no.

24. The Crane Sisters. I read this as an ARC on my kindle and it’s not even on Amazon yet, but once it is I will write a review because I super loved it, a lot.

25. The London Train.  This was one of those books that I could not make stick in my head. I’d read page after page of perfectly intelligent well written prose and at no point would any of it stay with me.  Eventually I gave up.

26. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making.  This was just way too “dragons with purple feathers and imaginary woo woo” for me.

27. Under the Mesquite.  Eh. I am fairly well over the whole YAF/free verse situation.

28. Prep.  I am not sure that I have ever found another book as profoundly effecting or as incredibly super depressing. DAMN does she get into the psyche of the terrified 13 year old girl. This is the third time I have read this and I am still amazed by it.

29.  Spectacle. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Someone Turned Five

And that someone was Eli.

Anyway, he has been obsessed with dinosaurs for YEARS, so we threw him a dinosaur birthday party.

(Interesting note – from the time he was 6 months old until the time he was 3 ish, Pants could not have cared less about dinosaurs. We had some plastic dinosaurs that were a gift that I almost gave away, because I had no idea that a kid that was OBSESSED with cars beyond all measure could someday CHANGE HIS MIND!!! and become very interested in dinosaurs, but Erik, who went through a 27 year dinosaur phase of his own, said “Just wait” and sure enough. At age 3.5 ish, we entered the Jurassic Era of Eli.)

Anyway.  As is tradition, 2.2 weeks before his party when everything had already been planned, he switched preschools and met a kid who wears a cape to school and now he’s OBSESSED with superheroes and demanded a Batman party. I told him to cram it, as you do, and the dinosaur party continued on.

ALSO, this is the first real birthday party we’ve ever thrown for him, one where we invited other people.  February just isn’t a month that says “let’s party”, I guess, but we had one for Katie’s first birthday party last year because we wanted to drink champagne with our friends in our backyard, and afterwards Eli was all “Where’s my party, bitches?” so we had to threw him one.

It took me a long time to find dinosaur invitations that weren’t butt ugly, full of stupid puns, or seven million dollars. I got these from Olive and Star on Etsy and I was very happy with them.

At the price I paid, it really wasn’t worth it to try to make my own.  I didn’t regret that decision at all.

Also,that is not my correct email address, but it is my correct home address.  Please feel free to mail me presents and not come to steal my television.

I picked orange and blue for the birthday colors before I realized how hard it was to find orange plates.

Here’s a shot of the food which I am including mainly so you can see my super cute red shoes.

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Of course we had dinosaur themed food, and actually I thought I was making SO MUCH FOOD but it turned out to be just about right for the 30 ish people that came over.  The menu:

Ribs (Dinosaur Bones)

Pasta Salad (Erik named this Bone Tie Pasta Salad) and I went with it. I was tired.

dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets with ketchup, ranch, and honey mustard.

Green salad, which was lettuce from our garden, blueberries, pecans, goat cheese, Trader Joe’s parmesan crisps, and champagne vinaigrette. I want to eat this salad every day. Shots out to A’Dell for the “fancy stuff to add” ideas.

The obligatory veggie tray. (We labeled this and the salad “For the herbivores”)

Deviled eggs (T Rex Eggs)

Marinated fresh mozzarella (Velociraptor Eggs)

Cheese sandwiches in the shapes of dinosaurs with chips for spikes. (So cute, but no one really ate them).

Cool Ranch Doritos (Eli’s favorite food)

Fruit salad in a watermelon we carved to look like a dinosaur head.  I needed a drink after that.

And the surprise hit of the party, that strawberry pretzel layered jello stuff. I just followed a random recipe from Pinterest, except I used whipped cream instead of Cool Whip because I think Cool Whip is repulsive.  I named it some geologic thing like “Layered Stratospheric Something Or Other That Erik Thought Up Because He’s a Geologist”” and everyone LOVED IT.

Here’s a close up of the ridiculous watermelon head.  Can you believe I found a watermelon in February? Holy Carbon Footprint. Ah well!  Eli’s only request for his party was “watermelon, green melon, and orange melon” and GOD FORBID THE CHILD BE DENIED HIS MELON.

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I ordered the cake from Baskin Robbins because it just seemed easier that way. They have a cute dinosaur themed one that comes in orange and blue, and Eli wanted an ice cream cake, so there you go.

(Picture by BFF Sara)

You will please note that the paper plates and the silverware are yellow, and not orange.  I looked in three stores for orange plates, and then I decided to just get yellow. I consider this a great sign of personal growth, even though I did almost have an emotional breakdown over it four times.

For decorations, I scattered our enormous collection of plastic dinosaurs all over the house. Please note the sneakers are not part of the display. This is why I can never be a lifestyle blogger.

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I got some plain old latex helium balloons in orange and blue and scattered those around the house.

Oh, and I didn’t take a picture (lifestyle blogger fail number two!) but I drew big blue dinosaur footprints coming up the walk in chalk.  Super cute, easy, and cheap.

I was originally going to go with honeycomb balls in orange and blue but I couldn’t find any, so I just did the same old tissue paper poofs.  They did have a nice spiky quality which was sort of dinosaur ish.

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I also bought a banner on Etsy and had it customized to our colors, and then printed it out and strung it.  I could have made this myself, but alas, I really enjoyed not making it myself and it was super cute.

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I didn’t think we needed too many scheduled activities because mostly the adults drank beer and the kids ran around screaming at each other, but we did have some sidewalk chalk out and available, and we had a T Rex shaped pinata which I also forgot to take a picture of.

Here’s the Amazon shot though:

We also bought six two liters of Diet Coke and some mentos and let every kid who wanted to do a Diet Coke geyser.  This was SUPER POPULAR, except with parents who thought we were giving their three years Diet Coke and Mentos TO SNACK ON OMG.

(Picture stolen shamelessly from Amy)

I thought for awhile about not doing favors but honestly that was the most fun part for me.

I ordered these blue dot gable boxes from Etsy and filled each one with sidewalk chalk (in orange chevron striped paper bags), some gummy dinosaurs, a little orange striped box that was filled with jelly bellys and labeled “dinosaur eggs”, and then two plastic dinosaurs that I ordered from Amazon.

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None of that was entirely necessary but some things you do just for you, you know?

It was a super fun party, but next year I am totally having someone else clean my house before the party, like Jennie.  Cleaning plus cooking plus decorating plus shopping plus dealing with children was just too exhausting.

 

 

I Am Resisting the Urge To Tell Everyone I Signed Her Up For Baby Fight Club

So I really need to tell you all about Eli’s 5th birthday party, complete with requisite rant about the lack of orange paper plates for sale in our local Target, and I have lots of books I’ve liked a lot lately that I want to write all about and a few excellent recipes that I’ve made that you should be making and also someone around here who once WEIGHED five pounds went and turned five years OLD, and we have a kindergarten assessment coming up (light candles Maggie Cheung! ALL THE CANDLES!) and we all had the norovirus and lived to tell the tale but just barely but telling you about all of that is, I am afraid, on the back burner because it turns out that mah baby is super! duper! allergic to amoxicillin.

This is what Katie Dubs looked like when she woke up this morning:

at which point I promptly took her back into the doctor AGAIN, making a grand total of six visits in two weeks.

That waiting room is starting to seem awfully familiar, is what I am saying, and also I will be spending the rest of my weekend staring at my child second guessing “respiratory distress” and what it looks like.

Funsies!

 

 

House Tour: Bedroom

I think my bedroom is my favorite room in my whole house.

All the other bedrooms we’ve ever had were fairly terrible.  We pretty much would just throw whatever left over furniture we’d had lying around in there and call it good.  I guess because I felt like it mattered less, since no one else was going to see it?  Pretty sure I’m not no one, though, and I see it about a hundred times a day, so when we moved into this house,  decided we weren’t going to do that anymore. I wanted a nice bedroom. So we got rid of EVERYTHING.  No more college bookshelf that had been handed down three times. No more Eddie Bauer duvet cover I’d had since I was 16.  We started from scratch.

It took a long time and a few false starts but I absolutely love my bedroom now.  I feel a sense of peace every time I am in there.  It’s a tiny room but every bit of it is just how I wanted it.  I was actually thinking about this a lot because of my post the other day about my living room.  Everyone had a lot to say about my living room! It made me realize that a lot of the things I do in my house, other people might not like.  HGTV will probably not want to film my bedroom.  I am breaking about 7,000 rules.  I do not have throw pillows on my bed.  Not everyone is going to want a tree branch hanging from their ceiling.  And that’s ok! Because I love my room and I’m the one that sleeps in it every night, so really, that’s all that matters.  I do love reading home design blogs and nothing thrills me more than when people say they love my house, but sometimes it’s ok to break the rules and just do what makes you happy.

I actually had a very distinct picture in my head of what I wanted my bedroom to look like.  Lots of gray and silver (and now I think I’d like some red and pinks although at the time I picked bedding I wanted green) and white.  I wanted it to look JUST LIKE the mom’s bedroom in The Family Stone, in fact, and I’ve had that image in my head for three years now, because that bedroom was the epitome of the perfect bedroom in my head.
Except I looked it up the other day, for the first time, and this is what it looked like in the movie, according to the internet.

Huh.  That is SO NOT the room I’ve been copying in my head, so I have no idea what room in what movie I have been thinking of all this time.   All I know is that I think Diane Keaton sleeps in it.

Anyway.

My bedroom is aproximately 11 x 11.  It’s tiny, but honestly, I don’t mind.  I’d rather have a tiny bedroom and more room in my kitchen and my dining room and my living room.  However, this means that there’s only room for a dresser, a bed, and bench, and that’s about it.  No chairs or reading corners or any of that business, but it makes it much easier to decorate, actually.  I don’t have to wonder how to fill walls.

I knew I wanted a big old dresser and I knew I wanted a nightstand and that I needed a wall mounted lamp because I don’t even have room for a lamp to sit on a side table.

I think the lamp might have been the first thing I bought for this room. It’s from Pottery Barn, via Ebay. It’s one of my favorite things. Totally worth the splurge.

What to do for a headboard when a headboard would cover the window was an interesting question.  I also really didn’t want something to land on my head if we ever had an earthquake.  I had saved this italian bird calendar that my mother brought home from Italy and I trimmed the pictures and clipped them to some twine.  This is another one of my favorite things. And it cost me nothing, so that was a bonus.

The curtains are from Pottery Barn, they were a gift.  I adore them.  I’d buy them a hundred times over.

I bought the nightstand at a garage sale for $5 and spray painted it black and threw a new knob on it.

Mr. E and I went ten rounds over this IKEA dresser.  He did not want a giant white IKEA dresser.  Probably still doesn’t.  I think it’s great though, and it’s very sturdy and it was cheap as hell for a giant white dresser. And it can double as a changing table if you need it to.

I swapped out the IKEA knobs for these faucet handles.  No one likes these but me.  I adore them.

My mother’s basement in Vermont is basically a Williams-Sonoma franchise. Every time I go to visit I like to go down there and see if there’s anything I can con her into giving me.  That’s where I got the mustard jar.  She brought it home from France, and she’d like you to know that if you take it back to the mustard store they will fill it for you.  With mustard.

I bought that print sitting on the dresser when I was TOTALLY not supposed to be buying things.  I probably paid for it on some credit card with a terrible interest rate.  AND I DO NOT CARE I LOVE IT SO MUCH.  It’s  a newspaper clipping that has had all the other words blacked out to read “Yes, we’re sinking.  But the music is exceptional.”

LOVE.

I did indeed hang a tree branch from my ceiling.  I found it on the street and I made my husband hang it for me. No one gets it. No one likes it. I love it.

We used to have a giant photograph framed over the dresser and I loved the picture, but something always felt…off.  I could never put my finger on what it was, but then my neighbor was getting rid of her old dresser and had the mirror from the set and asked if I wanted it. I almost said no, but the shape was great, and I couldn’t turn it down.  I sanded off all the old finish and took down the picture and stuck this mirror on the dresser and shebang, it was just what the room needed.  Mr. E told me that it looked like a $400 mirror.  That’s  basically the highest home decorating praise the man can give, so I felt quite pleased with myself and my mirror.

It’s hard to get a picture of but you can see the infamous wax paper chandelier in the mirror.  When I first hung it up, I was a little unsure.  Now I’m just crazy about the darn thing. It’s so fluffy and soft and pretty and girly.  Love it.

Like I said, I don’t really do extra pillows or bolsters or shams or any of that stuff. I do make my bed every day.  And I have two different duvet covers, both from Pottery Barn, and a $50 down comforter from IKEA.  Although the comforter was a bargain, I splurged on the other bedding and every time I climb in bed, I get happy.  I swear I do.  Something about the big puffy comforter and the cottony duvet cover and the soft sheets just makes me feel contented.

I bought this chest bench thing on Craiglist and painted it white and threw some black knobs on it.  It’s very useful for holding all kinds of crap or for putting on your shoes.  The little wood and wire box had chocolate easter bunnies in it. It was too cool to throw out.  Mr. E hates it. I love it.  I just love it.

I bought the bird painting on Etsy, and the pillow is from Pottery Barn.

There’s the mirror from the living room! It looks really nice in this room, actually, even if it is  shoved behind the door.

I replaced all the shiny gold doorknobs in the house one doorknob at a time, with oil rubbed bronze doorknobs.  I tried spray painting the ones we had, but honestly it didn’t work that well. I am a big fan of spray paint but in this instance I’d just  buy the $12 doorknobs a few at a time and replace them when you can.

The pictures do not do it justice, but this room is just so bright and light and peaceful.  Someday I want to add a nice white shag rug half under the bed so when I get out in the morning my toes feel happy, but other than that, I’m about as happy as  I can be with this room.  And I am super thrilled that it is no longer tan.

 

Books I Read In January

1. Imaginary Girls.  Huh.  I read this because I saw it recommended on some YAF blog somewhere, and I have to say I thought it was one of the worst things I’ve read in a long time.  The main character was unfathomably awful, and I think it was supposed to have this weird fantasy ghost story element that was just…not for me.

2. Townie.  I really thought this was going to be interesting, but man, it was just so long. No book on earth could sustain my interest for this amount of time. I kept waiting for things to get going and they just never really did.  I don’t know if any book about a bad childhood can ever really stand up to The Glass Castle for me, so maybe that was part of my problem.

3. Wonderstruck.  I don’t know. It was ok.  I wouldn’t describe myself as struck by wonder over it, let’s put it that way.

4. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.  Man, what a great title.  Interestingly, after I read this, I noticed that it got a (rave) review in the New York Times. I thought it was so stupid as to be unreadable.  It was basically that dumb movie with Amanda Bynes and Colin Firth, but in book form, and also worse.

5. The Fault in Our Stars.  Here’s my review. It is also possible that I loved what Elizalou had to say about this book more than I liked the book, so you should read that too.

6. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.  Supposedly the “literary mystery” is the hot new thing.  I liked the first half of this better than the second half, which I find happens a lot for me in these types of books.  Somehow the reveal of the  mystery often reduces the quality of the book for me.  It was good, but not as great as the first half led me to believe that it would be overall.

7. Where Things Come Back.  I read this about five minutes before it won the Printz award.  So basically I am about two steps away from practically being on the Printz Commitee, right?  Anyway, this was ok. It was very Printzy.  It was one of those books that starts out sort jokey and goofy in tone and then these plot twists start happening where you’re all “Oh. This is not the type of book I thought it was AT ALL.”  I know there was YAF i liked better than this last year, although off the top of my head I couldn’t tell you what.

8. Legend.  Very entertaining.  I liked it almost as much as I liked Divergent. It had its dippy moments, as these things do, but overall I liked it.

9. The Pleasure of My Company.  My least favorite Steve Martin book, but I always like his work.

10. Blood Red Road.  I read this after I read Legend and Girl of Fire and Thorns, so I was sort of “adventure girled out” but it was entertaining. It lacks quotation marks and has some really annoying made up language things going on, but I usually didn’t notice them past the first few pages when I’d start back in reading this.

11.  Girl of Fire and Thorns.  Ok, so can I lay this minor plot spoiler on you?  I liked this book, or I wanted to like it, but the thing is that a major plot point of this book is that the  main character, Elisa, has this…great big blue gemstone in her belly button.  Like, stuck there. BY GOD.  And man, I somehow…couldn’t get past the gemstone in the belly button stuck there by god situation.  If some editor had just…made it a necklace or a birthmark or SOMETHING I could have worked with it, but not a PULSING BLUE STONE STUCK IN THE BELLY BUTTON.

12. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  I will never stop loving this book with my whole whole heart.

13. The Future of Us. As soon as I read the fly leaf and saw that this book was about Facebook, I knew it was going to be epically stupid. I was not wrong.

14. Shelter.  Meh.  This is the YAF novel spun off from Harlen Coben’s adult Myron Bolitar detective series.  It was ok.  I liked the characters, but the plot was sort of on the dippy side.

15. The Starboard Sea.  I read this as an ARC on my Kindle.  It was totally overwrought.  Some of the dialogue was really terrible, and the plot was pretty contrived.  And I totally loved it.  Totally totally loved it.  It was one of the first things I’ve ever read on my Kindle that I wanted to get back to reading ALL THE TIME, and all the insiderey East Coast prep school stuff and the “we have so much money it’s boring” kind of stuff and all the descriptions of sailing and the houses and the clothes, I just LOVED IT. I would read books about East Coast prep schools every minute of every day, so keep that in mind, but if that’s your thing and you don’t mind some talk of boys, uh, “wrestling around with other boys”, then I’d totally recommend this book.