Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tripping

I'm getting ready to leave in a few hours and I've assembled everything I own by the front door. Wish me luck!
Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Reading!

I have been on a big reading kick lately. Every night after Little Lawns goes to bed I end up staying up way too late reading, and then I'm tired all day so I have to drink coffee but then it keeps me up all night and on and on. I'm trapped in a vicious cycle, but I'm getting a lot of good reading done in any event.

I'm leaving for summer vacation this week - living my dream of spending summers up North and giving my daughter the same childhood memories of summer that I loved so much. This makes me so happy.

Summer is about reading. I am a summer reading fanatic and always looking for new books to devour, so please, please bring on the suggestions.

Here's what I've read and liked so far. Remember, I only talk about books that I like. I do this because as a writer I know how it feels to invest so much in a piece only to have people publicly trash it. It feels like shit and I don't want to bring that energy into the world. I got a bad review on my book on Amazon last night and although I have a very thick skin about that stuff, I was still like, really? You took the time to write a review on a book you didn't even read? Yes, someone gave me a shitty review admitting that they didn't even read the book and that based on the sample, they could see why I was "forced to self publish." Pissed me off. So, I don't want to be that person. Therefore, only books I like.

Read and Liked:

 Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom - by Sara Benincasa. This memoir was unlike any other memoir I have ever read. In a good way. Honestly, it doesn't have too much of a plot, except I guess, recovery from mental illness, but who cares? I don't need a plot if the author is funny and engaging, and Benincasa is. Reading this book feels like hanging out with someone really cool that you'd love to be friends with and having them tell you about the past few years of their life. It was totally entertaining and interesting. You'll love the part about the wackos on the yoga retreat and there are even smoothie recipes. I kid you not. I want more from this author and fast.

Sheri Booker's  Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home. Really interesting memoir about working in an inner city funeral home in Baltimore. I heard an interview with the author on NPR and immediately liked her and wanted to know her story and I knew zero about funeral homes, so this was fascinating to me and much more literary than I expected. It also wasn't as funny as I'd hoped, but it was a very good read and the author really pays attention to language. There were some beautiful, poetic lines and a cadence and lyricism that reminded me a bit of poetry slam. I liked it. 

 On the Outside Looking Indian: How My Second Childhood Changed My Life by Rupinder Gill is a lighthearted memoir about a funny girl from a strict Sikh upbringing in Canada who vows in her 30s to do all the stuff she missed out on as a kid. This book didn't get such hot reviews, but I thought it was sweet and lighthearted and I really enjoyed reliving Gill's childhood with her. She has a sharp sense of humor that I really appreciated and I love the theme of the book. It's never too late and you're never too old to play, to fulfill your dreams (even the simple ones). What could be bad about that?

Reading Now

Right now I'm working on Anton Disclafani's  The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel. This is historical fiction, not usually what I read, but it's also Southern Gothic, full of sex and scandal and is a coming of age story so I couldn't resist and to avoid spoilers I'll just tell you that a young girl is in trouble and sent away to a riding camp in the Carolina mountains in the 30s. I'm liking this one quite a bit so far and I think my grandmother is going to love it. It's definitely in the vein of Kaye Gibbons or Sue Monk Kidd, so if you like them, you'll enjoy this book as well. Similar heroines and settings.

Queued up in the Kindle

 The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain. I don't know how I'll like this one yet, but a ton of people have mentioned it to me lately and I keep seeing word of it online, so I figured I'd give it a try. I know for sure that Mommom will love this. It's up her alley and sounds like a lot of intrigue and deception going on, so could be good. We'll see.

The Best Summer Reading of All (OF COURSE!)

 Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat by Me!!

Now available in paperback, kindle, on the Nook and on iBooks! Yay! So far I've gotten so many nice reviews and emails and messages from people and so many of you have been kind enough to share it on facebook. Thank you so much! Please keep sharing and spreading the word. I really feel like if enough people can see it and be convinced to try reading it, that this can really take off and it really is a perfect summer reading book.

Also, please email me the editing errors you find so I can fix them. I have already fixed a bunch. Kindle users can re-upload the newer, fixed versions for free. 
Saturday, June 22, 2013

Obsessed

My husband was making fun of me this morning and he said I needed to write a blog post about some of my quirky obsessions, so I will oblige.

First of all, I need to admit that I have been compulsively checking my book sales, just because I can, but I think that's kind of understandable.

But more than the book sales, I've been checking the progress of my romaine lettuce. Yeah. I'm watching leaves grow. Blame Pinterest for this one. You can actually blame Pinterest for a lot.

You see, I saw on Pinterest that you can actually regrow romaine, green onions, sweet potatoes and celery from kitchen scraps, so I said "NO WAY!" and decided to try it with some romaine the other day after I made a salad. All I did was stick the end of the romaine head into some water on my kitchen window sill. I didn't think it was going to do anything, but I kid you not, within hours, HOURS people, that shit began to grow. And now I am obsessed with noting its progress, which was been impressive. Every few hours I go look at it and it has, in fact, grown more. It's crazy. My husband thinks I'm out of my mind. The green onions are going to be my next project, but I think I will wait until I get home from vacation to start that and the sweet potatoes. Celery isn't happening because I don't really like it unless buffalo sauce and blue cheese are involved and you can't grow those.

But hmm, maybe I could grow buffalo infused celery by putting hot sauce in the water and letting it soak it up into its veins. You think that would work? Can you imagine if it did? I could make millions selling buffalo celery. I am so trying this.
Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to Eat Healthy on Road Trips

Summer always means road trips for me. Since I was a kid, it seems like every summer I ended up hitting the road and going somewhere and that always meant eating like total crap - rest stops, fast food, the Awful House, gas stations. You eat so much junk that by the time you arrive at your destination you feel like hell. Here's how not to do that on this summer's road trip.

I'm leaving next week for what's going to be two or three days on the road from Florida to Delaware (with a toddler oh my god) and I'm determined that we will be eating well and won't succumb to the allure of grease, sugar and Goo Goo Clusters in Georgia gas stations.

1. Rule of Road Trip Eating - Pack your own food. Get a cooler and fill it up. Take the following: nut butter, apples, grapes, bananas, small, individually wrapped cheeses, water bottles, unsweet tea if you can fit bottles or a thermos, crackers (I like Mary's Gone Crackers, gluten free and made with nuts and rice), any kind of healthy bars that you like (I am currently addicted to these weird chia things), hard boiled eggs, breakfast cookies, and yes, it's a road trip so throw in some whole grain chips of some sort. I like tortilla chips, but don't get crazy. If you have room you can throw in a decent jar of salsa too and that counts as veggies. Finish your cooler with a bag of carrot sticks, cucumber slices, radishes, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, etc. and you are good to go. They even have individual ranch dressing cups that you can use if you want dip, but they can get messy in the car.

Do not forget to bring a paring knife, utensils, plates, a few plastic cups, napkins, a roll of paper towels, baby wipes and some trash bags.

You can't live off of the snacks in your cooler. You will have to eat meals, and you will have to stop on your trip, so here are the best places to eat on the road and the best choices you can make at those places (all tested out by my actual experience).

1. Subway - Normally I hate Subway, but on the road when you're in the middle of Pork Fat, South Carolina, Subway is a good choice. Start with a whole grain roll, skip the mayo and the meat, get a little cheese if you want and then pile on the veggies. End with a squeeze of avocado, oil, vinegar and seasonings and yum. You'll be filled up, it's good and you won't feel like shit after you eat it. Get a bottle of water, unsweet tea or no sugar juice and you're good to go. No, you don't need BBQ chips with it and No, you don't need to stop at the DQ afterwards.

2. Taco Hell. I'm not kidding. Their new Cantina menu is great in a pinch and order everything vegetarian. I like their black bean burrito but their classic bean and cheese burrito isn't bad either and will keep you from starving to death or eating a deep fried, tacoditalocomoco or whatever the hell they're calling things there these days. 

3. Panera - kind of the holy grail of road food. They are few and far between. If you see one stop and get a salad or a hummus sandwich and some soup and praise God that you aren't eating at the KFC an exit earlier.

4. Five Guys - They will make you a grilled cheese on a hamburger bun with whatever other toppings you want. Not the greatest choice, but better than greasy burgers. Control yourself and don't get fries and a shake with it and you're safe.

5. Chick-fil-a - Let's not get political about this. It's good for road food and they will make vegetarian versions of all salads, wraps etc. They also have grilled chicken and whole grain wraps and their new market salad has fresh fruits, nuts and all kinds of good stuff. You could do a lot worse.

6. Starbucks - Great breakfast choice. Get oatmeal. Most Starbucks have food. They have really yummy, healthy lunch boxes and sandwiches. Try them. 

7. Free Hotel Breakfasts! Yay. My favorite. I love free breakfast buffets. I get tea, plain eggs if available, whole grain bread, whole grain cereal or oatmeal and fruit. Exercise self control. You don't need a damned waffle.

8. Chipotle - Another holy grail. Grass fed meats, vegetarian options, real food, fresh vegetables. Stop and get a big, yummy salad bowl with lots of beans and salsa and guac. Heaven.

Those are my tips. Safe travels and healthy eats to all of you this summer. Please share your tips and favorite, healthy road meals in the comments.
 
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Summer Bucket List


I'm leaving for my annual summer vacation next week and I am ridiculously excited about it this year because I've decided that I have dealt with enough bullshit this year that I deserve to have some serious fun without having to worry about other people's crap for once in my life. Usually I go in August, but I'm going early this year because I realized that I haven't spent the 4th of July up north since I was a kid and it's more fun up there, plus there are all kinds of family activities going on in July that I don't want to miss.

In the spirit of fun-having, I've come up with a summer bucket list for myself.

My Summer Vacation Bucket List

1. Beach picnic with Little Lawns
2. Build a sandcastle
3. Pick blueberries or peaches or whatever there is to pick
4. Ride boardwalk rides with Little Lawns
5. Play skeeball
6. Eat Dairy Queen sundaes on the hood of the car in the DQ parking lot.
7. Chase fireflies at dusk
8. Do a cannonball
9. Watch fireworks on the green of the state capitol building
10. Sit by a lake and watch the sunset and the swallows swooping
11. Pick wildflowers
12. Hike in the woods by a stream
13. Buy produce at a roadside stand
14. BBQ with my cousins
15. Crab boil
16. Bonfire and smores
17. Play with Sparklers
18. Watch a meteor shower
19. Go crabbing
20. Play with a big beach ball
21. Eat caramel corn on a bench on the boardwalk
22. Write!! Finish my next book!
23. Celebrate with my family
24. Take a ton of gorgeous pictures
25. Go to the zoo
26. Pool party with cousins
27.Go to a museum
28. Visit an aquarium
29. Tour a garden or historic home
30. Get a babysitter and go to Sambo's.
31. Have fun and let it all go.

What's on your summer bucket list this year?
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Phone That Cried Wolf

I need to turn the alerts off on my phone. It's getting ridiculous. Actually, no. It's BEEN ridiculous, but the alerts are pretty much the only way I know what's going on in the world besides the ten minutes here and there of NPR I get to listen to in the car.

We recently took a break from our Directv because we realized we were paying a fortune for our daughter to occasionally watch Nick Jr. and so that we could record a bunch of shows we were always too tired to watch. We watched so little TV that we thought it didn't justify a three digit bill every month and we wanted to try Apple TV, mainly so we could watch Arrested Development and there's no live news on there so all my news now comes from the phone, at least for now. We are leaving for summer vacation in two weeks and we will probably go back to some kind of cable after we get back.

I read a bunch of papers on my phone. I have AP Mobile and USA Today and The New York Times and they all send me push notifications when something newsworthy happens. The notifications appear like a text message accompanied by an urgent sound. A DUN DUH DUN that seems to announce the coming of the Apocalypse.

The problem here is that what the news organizations deem newsworthy, and therefore push-worthy and urgent enough to interrupt me in the middle of whatever I am doing, isn't always what I feel warrants interruption, especially in the middle of the night. Yes, I'm thrilled that Kim Kardashian gave birth five weeks early, but I don't need USA Today waking me up at 3am to let me know the happy news.

Basically, there's nothing newsworthy enough to wake me up over. It can all wait until morning and I can read an article at my convenience. I don't need an urgent text about it unless there's an F5 tornado right on my street and I mean DIRECTLY on my street. A couple blocks over? I'm staying asleep. So unless I'm in imminent danger, I don't need a push notification. Got it?

It's not just the timing. It's the subjects of these notifications that I don't understand. Most of them are pretty mundane, not all that exciting and definitely not worth a DUN DUH DUN!!! LOOK AT YOUR PHONE RIGHT NOW! No, sorry. I can read about whatever the Supreme Court has decided, later. Push news should be reserved for something truly important. Once, and I swear to you I am not making this up, I got a push notification telling me that Zsa Zsa Gabor had had her leg amputated. Really?? I'm sorry that Zsa Zsa lost her limb, but come on. Way bigger things going on in the world than that. Way bigger.

The news cries wolf. I get notifications of Tsunami warnings in Hawaii that end up being two inch ripples. A 1.5 temblor rattles LA. Please.

Here is what has actually been newsworthy lately: all the Boston Marathon stuff, Osama Bin Laden's death, the Japanese Tsunami, an entire Oklahoma town getting blown away by the biggest tornado ever recorded, election results.

Here's what is not a good news notification: that Edith Bunker died. Yes, she was a lovely woman, but I can read an article about her life and death later. I'm sorry, Edith.

And then there's what I call DUH news. My favorite from last summer was "US President Barack Obama chosen as Democrat Candidate for President." Um, well, who else were they going to pick? We know this already.

The problem with all these DUN DUH DUNs coming from my phone is that I have become desensitized to actual, important news. When I got the alert about the Boston bombing, I dismissed it, thinking it would end up being nothing, just another false alarm. But that was actually something. Same with the Moore, Oklahoma tornado last month. I didn't connect with the news alert. I saw it and felt nothing, because I'd gotten so many pointless and not important alerts.

New alerts should be reserved for truly important, big events. That's how it was when I was growing up and the only way we got news was from papers or at six and eleven on TV. If they broke into the regularly scheduled programming with a special news alert, you bet your butt it was something big going down. Ronald Reagan getting shot. The space shuttle exploding with the first teacher in space inside of it. The hostages in Iran coming home. Now they break in for random car chases in LA and who cares about that? And now I get several alerts a day on my phone and I ignore them, even when they're important and that's kind of sad.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat in Paperback!!

It's finally here! Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat is finally available in paperback!


I want to thank everyone who has already purchased the ebook for your generous support and the wonderful reviews and notes you've all been writing me. It has been a dream come true in so many ways and I thank you all for your continued support of my writing. I love you all so much. Please, keep the good reviews coming!
Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon


I called it. Several people today have informed me that Yankee Candles does indeed make a bacon scented candle, for the love of God. You can find it here.

And my curiosity got the best of me so I had to google "kale candles." Was I disappointed? Of course not. I called it, folks. Kale candles. And they are $36.00 for a small votive no less. Forty bucks for a candle that smells like farts.

Don't even get me started on the whole "MAN CANDLE" nonsense you see above. I just, don't even have words for whatever moron in marketing came up with that bullshit idea. I hope they got fired. The gender stereotyping annoys me deeply on many levels and what the fuck does a riding mower smell like? Gasoline in my experience. I don't want a gasoline scented candle, thanks. And a football candle? What does that smell like? Leather, BO, and ball sweat? Yeah, I want my house smelling like that. Man Town? Seriously? What the hell is MAN TOWN? What does that smell like? Movie night I imagine smells like pizza, popcorn and beer, which is ok but I don't want to purposely scent my house like that. Oh, wait. Probably because I'm a woman. Yankee Candles, please stick with fruity, perfumy, pastelly smelling things. This was a dreadful idea. 

Kale? No, Thank you.

Food fads get on my nerves. Every year it seems like some everyone discovers some new ingredient and suddenly it's everywhere in everything. Sometimes it's because something tastes good (bacon and chipotles) and sometimes it's because it's supposed to be healthy (oat bran) and sometimes we get lucky and something tastes good and is healthy too (pomegranates). Other times I have no idea why it's popular (sea salt).

The bacon thing got really old for me really fast. Yes, I get it. Bacon's good, now can we all please carry on with our lives? Bacon was EVERYWHERE I went. I felt like bacon was stalking me. I'm surprised they didn't start making bacon scented Yankee candles. They made sea salt candles, which are now in Marshalls, and have you ever smelled sea salt? It smells like nothing, and the candles are blue and smell like men's deodorant, so don't ask me why they are called sea salt scented candles. An actual sea salt candle would be white and unscented like actual sea salt, but hey, marketing, I guess. But yeah, bacon just wouldn't quit. I even saw bacon flavored coffee and bacon in preserves. Luckily it didn't make it as far as green tea and pomegranate and end up in shampoo or we'd all be walking around smelling like we'd just been at a bonfire.

Kale seems to have replaced bacon. Personally, I think Kale owes its current popularity to the previous bacon fad. It's a backlash. After all that salty, nitrite addled, pig fat, people realized they needed to jump on a healthier bandwagon and they embraced a bitter, fibrous, leafy green. I mean, kale is in every way the opposite of bacon. Black/ White. Nice/ Mean. Rainy/ Sunny. Bacon/ Kale.

I'm being haunted by kale. Kale has stormed Pinterest and facebook and every cookbook and restaurant menu I've come across in the past few months. Kale has taken over and I hate it. Kale is disgusting. At least, dammit, bacon tasted and smelled good cooking. Kale is awful and stinks like nursing home flatulence when you cook it. There is nothing pleasant about it except that it's good for you. It has calcium or something.

Kale juice is a big deal now too. All the beautiful people drink kale juice, you know. And kale juice is an odd phenomenon because kale isn't...juicy. It's very dry, so all the kale juice I've ever had has been like a sludge of finely ground leaves suspended in water or some other more palatable liquid like fruit juice. It doesn't work for me.

And there are just so many different kinds of kale now too. Ugh. It's ridiculous. There's curly kale and flat kale, purple kale even. There's something called Lacinato kale which is fancy and Italian and there's even dinosaur kale. I haven't figured out why it's called that but every time I hear it, all I can picture is the raptors in the kitchen scene of Jurassic Park except instead of velociraptors, a giant, snarling, hissing bunch of kale is stalking innocent children hiding in a cabinet. 

Can we talk about these kale chips? A good idea in theory, kale chips. Much better for you than carby, oily, starchy potato chips. Bloggers all over the world swear they are "addictive", "better than potato chips!" Umm. No. I made them. I even bought the kale at Whole Foods. I followed the recipe exactly and while my chips were thin and crispy, they were also bitter and kind of weirdly fishy. A disaster all around.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of recipes that call for the cook to "massage" the raw kale leaves with olive oil and sea salt so that the kale will soften and can be eaten without being cooked. I'm sorry, but I don't want to eat anything that needs a massage. You know who needs a massage? Me. How about this, Kale. You run after a two year old who refuses to wear anything except pink tulle and screams "NO!" all day long, and then you can have your olive oil and sea salt massage, ok?

Until then, I'll stick with lettuce. And bacon.

Now excuse me while I go check out the new line of Kale scented Yankee candles and Herbal Essence's latest kale extract, miracle conditioner.

* Photo above from farmerspal.com and I am totally creeped out by the idea that kale wants to have sex with me without a commitment. Sorry, Kale, but I am no booty call, especially for a leafy green.
Thursday, June 13, 2013

Amateur Night on the Nook!

Thanks for your patience, Nook readers! Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat is now available for purchase on the Nook! I hope you like it, and please, if you do, share, review, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

iBooks is next. The reason for the delay is that they all take different amounts of time to approve new books for sale once the files are uploaded. Amazon is the fastest, so it was ready first.

Print version will be ready next week.

Keep reading!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

IHTM - I Couldn't Think of Anything to Write for XoJane

Ok, so I'm totally addicted to XoJane's "It Happened to Me" section. If you haven't read it, please, do yourself a favor. Some of the stories are heartbreaking, terrifying, exciting, hilarious and many of them are just plain weird. Almost all of them are totally entertaining. Some of them are completely ridiculous. I still haven't quite recovered from the story about the girl whose doctor told her she didn't drink enough water. Really? You wrote a story about that? And got it published? Ok.

So I got it into my head, likely from my teenage obsession with Sassy and then Jane magazine, that I MUST write for XoJane to complete my life and I thought, ok, a lot of ridiculous shit has happened to me. I could surely fill a book of IHTMs. So I've been brainstorming and dang, I can't think of anything to write. Here is my list of potential titles so far:

IHTM - I stepped on a snake but it was actually a shoelace
IHTM - I left my Starbucks on top of the car and drove off
IHTM - I left my iPhone on top of the car and drove off IN THE RAIN (this should be told from the phone's point of view)
IHTM- My cat threw up a half chewed lizard and I had to clean it up
IHTM - My dentist told me I needed to floss more
IHTM - I farted in yoga
IHTM - I found myself really enjoying a Selena Gomez song
IHTM - All of my friends like sushi except me
IHTM - I wore my shirt inside out to my daughter's school

I'm so boring. Lord have mercy. I'll think of something though.

I'd like to thank everyone who has bought the Kindle version of my book. I'm so grateful for your support and I hope everyone is loving the book. Please, please, if you like it, review it on Amazon and Goodreads, tweet it, facebook it, blog about it. Whatever you can do, please. Tell all your friends! Make them buy it. Threaten them if you have to. Just kidding. Don't threaten them. Just give them an ultimatum. And if you haven't bought it yet, what are you waiting for? Here it is. And yes, Nook should be out soon, maybe today. IBooks too and print version is ready but I ordered proofs first to check the formatting. There were some weird formatting things with the ebook that I'm working on and if you guys see typos, errors etc. please email me so I can fix them immediately.
Monday, June 10, 2013

THE BIG DAY IS HERE!! My Book is for Sale!!!


I can hardly believe it, but the day has finally come, thanks to the help of many, many dear people, and my book is ready for sale!!! I am beyond thrilled and excited about this. I am about to go all Cornholio and I haven't even had coffee.

Right now only the electronic version is available for sale, but the print edition will be ready early next week, possibly sooner. I'll let you know about that too, but hey, ebooks are instant gratification. You don't have to wait for the mailman.

I worked really hard on this book for a really long time. I wanted to provide my readers with a quality story that was honest, funny, inspiring and meaningful and that wasn't just a bunch of rehashed blog posts. I wanted to do it right and I am so thankful to everyone who has stuck with me patiently waiting for it to come out. I know it was a slow process, but it was a great learning experience and the next book will be much faster, I swear.

Here's where you can buy the Kindle version of Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, and when you're done, please write a review on Amazon and/ or Goodreads or anywhere else where you can review books, and please share the link anywhere you can. I really want people to read my book and enjoy it.

Only the Kindle version is ready now. Nook and iBook versions will be out very, very soon and I'll let you know immediately when that happens, along with the print version. In the meantime if you don't want to wait, you can download free Kindle software for your PC or Mac HERE. There are also free Kindle apps for iPhone and Androids. I actually use my Kindle app on my phone more than my actual Kindle.

Thank you, thank you, all of you for supporting me. I hope you love the book and that you laugh and cry and laugh until you cry, and maybe pee yourself a little. Now get going and check it out. Don't you want to know about strippers bleaching their butts? Of course you do!!


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