7 Books Before September!

goodreads_logo_324-a908b923dc3ed9b7a13f3da4d1ffb2df3082linky!

 

There is nothing I love more than a good, solid, unequivocal challenge.

Now, reading is not the challenge.  I love reading!  Reading has been one of my favorite past times in my life.  I look forward to curling up on a couch and breaking out my pen, and diving into a book while making notes in the margins and underlining key sentences, and just generally enjoying the story while marking up the book.

However, I am way behind on my reading schedule…

Therefore, it is time to make a new challenge for myself: 7 Books Before September!

The reason why this is a challenge… is not the reading, itself.  It is not the challenge of understanding what I am reading, or not even enjoying what I am reading.

I have no idea when I will find time to read anything…

But I have 7 Books Before September to finish, and I am a determined woman!

Let’s go!

 

1) A Wrinkle In Time

by Madeleine L’Engle

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I love Anne Lamott.  Her book, Bird by Bird, might as well just be a roadmap of my soul.  She has this wonderful insight into writing, without being weird. You know those writing gurus who talk about writing like it was this pleasant, pleasurable experience and all the worlds just come tumbling out in the right order, and you never grab your hair and scream at your laptop saying, “WHY AREN’T YOU JUST DOING WHAT IS IN MY HEAD…GAAAHHHHH!!!

Anne understands, and she walks us through the hardest moments. Being the first moments. And some of the middle…and the end. And most of the rest of the trip. So, kind of all of it. Without being enabling. (thank you Anne)

What I love about her interview is when she was talking about the books she hates: “I don’t enjoy Jonathan Franzen, although I mean to. I couldn’t finish “The Corrections” and thought “Freedom” was hilariously overrated. Maybe I am just bitter because it was such a gigantic success.”

I’m looking at you, Cheryl Strayed and Wild. (why does she have be so talented. ugh.)

Anyway. I found this book on Anne Lamott’s reading list, during a recent interview, being her favorite book of all time, so naturally I thought, “I should go find out why it is her favorite book!”

The funny thing is that apparently, I am super late to the show on this. Since everyone on earth has already read this. And it is their favorite book, as well.

So, only fashionably late to the party.

2) Agnes Gray

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Another Anne I love!

I was intrigued by this book, after reading the full biography of Anne Bronte.  Her other book, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall,” will go down in history as my favorite book of all time. Besides a few others. But this one I actually recommend (HIGHLY) to people, kind of all the time. Agnes Gray is supposed to be much more autobiographical in nature, and surrounded around her experiences as a governess in a rather affluent social circle.  I am dying to know how she survived, so this book is on the list.

 

 

3) WOMAN ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER.

byWilliam Worthington Fowler

(online text only)

A Valuable and Authentic History OF THE HEROISM, ADVENTURES, PRIVATIONS, CAPTIVITIES, TRIALS, AND NOBLE LIVES AND DEATHS OF THE “PIONEER MOTHERS OF THE REPUBLIC.” By WILLIAM W. FOWLER, M.A.

Woman on the American Frontier / A Valuable and Authentic History of the Heroism, Adventures, Privations, Captivities, Trials, and Noble Lives and Deaths of the “Pioneer Mothers of the Republic” (Kindle Locations 13-15).

I think it is pretty obvious why I am interested in this book.

A book studying the Pioneer Women, who raised their own food, shot their own meat, raised their kids in the wilderness and just generally were amazing during their lifetimes?

I am all over this.

 

 

4) Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters

 

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I was taking a poetry course on edX, taught by Pinsky, and I never finished his book (or the course. I’m so sorry, Pinsky. We moved halfway through!).

I remember it being amazingly insightful, yet utterly pragmatic. How do you write poetry…that sounds like poetry? How do you work the words to your advantage? How do you manipulate the line to carry the weight of a different meaning? How can you be so bold as to say what you mean, clearly? And simply? Without being pretentious, but also carrying the weight of a poet?

This is a good book to read, so I am getting back into it.

 

5) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

by Jenny Lawson

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Ah, Jenny Lawson.

I am completely in awe of her writing.

She just…writes, man. About things. And stuff. And it is crazy weird things, and normal things, and vulnerable things.

I need to figure out how she does this. Because I am way far behind her mad skillz.

And I’m not bitterly jealous (anymore).

6) Dynamics of Faith

by Paul Tillich

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A good friend recommended this a while ago, and I am really loving this right now. It is a very interesting book. Very straightforward, very clear. It is…not Beth Moore. How’s that? (no, I don’t like her writing. I am sure she is a lovely person.)

 

7) Why Not Me?

By Mindy Kaling

 

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Okay, I’m not sure if Mindy Kaling can be my spirit animal, but just for this instance I am going to say she is.

LOVE Mindy Kaling, because she is a very creative, intelligent, very confident woman who loves 4 inch heels and amazing dresses almost as much as I do.

So I simply must read her book. Because I am positive it will be epic.

And then I will invite her out for coffee. (#callme)

 

16 Reasons Why I Know He Loves Me

1009767_10201504985608570_2015118780_nSee that smile on the groom’s face?

That smile is for me.

Love seems to be an oversaturated concept, sometimes.

What is love? Who do you love? How do you know if you love someone? Do you love them, or are you “in love” with them? Can you love someone less over time? Is it still love at that point? What if you love someone more over time…what does that look like?

I’ll tell you what it looks like: it looks like believing in someone so much that you are completely vulnerable with them to handle your joys, your fears, your anxieties, your success and your failures.

And there is nothing you would enjoy more than to share theirs with them.

I know Ben loves me because…

  1. When he smiles at me, it is a very different smile. It isn’t a polite smile, or even a happy smile. It is a huge smile that goes down to the pit of his soul, and I love it. And it is just for me.
  2. He rubs my head while we watch “Halt and Catch Fire” together.
  3. He has the kids pick out what flowers to bring mom when they are at the store together.
  4. He goes to Costco all the time, because I hate it. (the experience, not the store. I love Costco. I hate crowds.)
  5. He loves my cooking.
  6. 16 years, and he is still wearing kilts. Granted, he likes them already….but I love them.
  7. He listens to my crazy ideas with an open mind, and even agrees with some of them. For some reason.
  8. He never mentions that I am behind on laundry, even when he can’t find a clean towel in the morning.
  9. He will dance with me anywhere.
  10. We still have epic plans for the future.
  11. He looks incredibly hot chopping wood. In a kilt. Life is very good.
  12. He tells me all his ideas, on everything, and I love listening to them.
  13. He shares his best Islay scotch with me, even though I don’t appreciate it like he does. (#bourbon)
  14. He understands me better than anyone, especially myself.
  15. He always makes sure I am wearing “good, sensible shoes.”
  16. He sincerely thinks I am the most beautiful woman on earth.

 

Love has a lot to do with trusting someone to love you, and trusting yourself to love them with everything you got.

16 years of marriage is no easy ride, regardless of how much fun we’re having along the way. We have built a home  for ourselves. We have gotten cars together, and broken cars together. We went through college together…well, we also graduated High School together. We have stayed up late talking about our relationship with each other, and we have stayed up late talking about our relationships with God with each other.  I understand that he really (really) hates clutter on the floor, and he understands that I will keep bringing home little animals for as long as there are little animals on the earth. We have discovered life-altering, incurable diseases together. We have spent nights, and days, in the ER and hospitals (mostly me).  We have brought 5 incredible lives into our lives together. He believes in me, and I am so proud of him.

And when he smiles at me, I am still struck with how happy he makes me every day.

Here’s to the next 84 years discovering life together 🙂

glassesCheers, dahling 🙂

5 Completely Unhelpful Parenting Books. From The Devil.

 

 

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Which Publisher is responsible for these hot messes?

Honestly.

It’s like learning how to parent isn’t hard enough as it is.  Finding a book about pregnancy and parenting that fits any person’s particular situation, needs and values is ridiculously difficult.

How do you deal with pregnancy? “With chocolate and warm hugs!”

What if you find out you are allergic to pregnancy hormones?

“…with…chocolate and warm hugs..?  Here, have a gallon of calamine lotion. I’m sorry.”

 

How do you deal with newborns? With toddlers? With texture food issues? With discipline? With your marriage…with yourself??

It takes a mighty strong person to make it through the first 9 months of pregnancy, and that strength helps toughen you up for the first year.  After that…it’s smooth sailing! Just toddler years, preschool, elementary school, growth spurts, first loves, college and grandbabies after that.

Right??

Easy peasy.

 

 

Unfortunately, we have to sort through books of this caliber of nonsense before we get there.

 

1) What To Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding

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http://www.amazon.com/Expect-Expanding-Month-Month-Father/dp/1449418465

I would like to be left in a windowless room for 10 minutes with this author.

Because it isn’t hard enough growing another life inside me, dealing with bloody noses, swollen feet, 30 (see: 50) extra pounds on my gut and hormones that just won’t quit…we have this book.

The sequel to his book should be, “Foolish Men: How To Build The Doghouse of Your Dreams!”

 

2. What The Heck Were You Expecting? A Complete Guide For The Perplexed Father

 

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http://www.amazon.com/What-Heck-Were-You-Expecting-ebook/dp/B003F3PKGI/ref=la_B000AP1SY2_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436998586&sr=1-4

Another gem from this author.

15 minutes in a windowless room.

 

 

3) The Caveman’s Pregnancy Companion: A Survival Guide For Expectant Fathers

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http://www.amazon.com/The-Cavemans-Pregnancy-Companion-Expectant/dp/140273526X/ref=pd_sim_14_28?ie=UTF8&refRID=0KHVHG2MDM8XXHKCAXAA

It’s like there is this complete lack of domain knowledge for fathers during pregnancy. Weird.

 

4) Expect The Unexpected When You’re Expecting

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http://www.amazon.com/Expect-Unexpected-When-Youre-Expecting/dp/0060951354

 

Hey, one for the ladies!

This opinionated handbook solves the expectant mother’s fashion crises (including the Protruding Bellybutton Dilemma and Outgrown Maternity Clothes); gives you 1,001 (well, maybe six) ways to avoid sex in late pregnancy; helps you select the least wimpy name for your baby; tells the truth about just how much the “nesting syndrome” will cost you; and much more than you’ll ever need (or want) to know!

Just from my POV: all the hormones in coitus helps initiate labor/birth. Which might be helpful…particularly in the last stretch of the pregnancy. Just sayin’. Don’t knock it till you try it.

 

5)  Heck With It…

“Guide to Pirate Parenting: Why You Should Raise Your Kids As Pirates, and 101 Tips on How to Do It”

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http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Pirate-Parenting-Should-Pirates/dp/1583852913/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437001189&sr=1-1&keywords=guide+to+pirate+parenting&pebp=1437001195158&perid=1BHNMEHFM21VB71WF4DK

 

Chuck it all, and raise them as pirates.

Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

 

 

The Queen Won’t…The Queen REFUSES…To Breed Corgis. For me.

The British. I swear.

News is that The Queen has decided to stop breeding corgis. For, like, a good reason. Or something.

 

Queen stops breeding corgis as ‘she doesn’t want to leave any behind

The monarch, who has just two surviving corgis, is said to have been keen to end the practice.

corgi_2336207bPhoto: REX

Sayeth, WHAAAATTTTT…..

According toVictoria Ward, over at The Telegraph, HRH will stop breeding her corgis for good. Apparently, she only has 2 dogs left…and she is feeling her own time draw nigh.  Thusly, she is beginning her descent into accepting mortality, one small step at a time.

Or, in this case, one very short, stubby, Corgi step.

The Queen’s deep affection for her favourite breed of dog is such that she will always be associated with them.

But it is understood that the monarch has stopped breeding Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgies because she does not want to leave any behind when she dies.

 

Good heavens, HRH! Way to be morbid! I’m sure if you had more dogs, it would be okay.  Life could go on.  Maybe, there could be someone, somewhere, who would absolutely adore raising your corgi puppies for you.  Who knows who she could be. She could really be anybody in your post-colonial colonies. Anybody at all.  Just sitting here, waiting for you to bequeath her with your fleet of corgi puppies in your will.

All I’m saying, HRH, is that you do not have to throw in the towel with this endeavor. Don’t give up on the one thing you hold so dearly!  There is hope!

There are possibilities out there for your delightful puppies.

(the possibility that I would ever get in her will is…slim. But I have the American hope in my heart! You never know!!)

#callme.

Motherhood And Impostor Syndrome

“What am I doing? What am I doing with this? I don’t know what I am doing as a mother. I’m out of ideas, I just know it . . . I am all washed up. My children are doomed. And I’m not even 40. Now what?”

-my mind

Twelve years ago, the Mom train rolled in to my station, and I have been singing “I-Think-I-Can” ever since.

What surprises me most about being a mother is how much I don’t feel like a mother.

When I was pregnant, I thought that some ethereal hormone would magically show up in my system and turn me into the mother that existed in my imagination. A mother with a firm countenance and gentle smile, always ready to tackle the conflicts of life with a plate of freshly-baked cookies. Suddenly, I would know how to style my hair to look respectable. My lapels would be starched, my pants ironed. This was the mother I believed I would become, once my uterus was activated with life. I was going to be the perfect mother. I just knew it.

None of this happened.

What actually happened was a rough pregnancy fueled by hives upon hives that lasted for a solid five months, followed by a swollen nether-region that was only comforted by the frozen infant diapers that clung to my mesh underwear, and every inch of hope that it wouldn’t look like that forever.

My new reality was sleeping when I could, eating like a horse, nursing with bleeding nipples, and ordering my husband to restock the lanolin,immediately.  My new reality was planning days for me and my kids to learn, explore, and thoroughly enjoy this incredible life we had together.

Starching lapels and baking cookies weren’t even on the radar. Not after the Mom train rolled in.

The thing was, I thought the train that rolled in was the Mom train. In the beginning, I was so distracted by all the expectations I had for myself — who I wanted to be, what mother I was going to become, what child I was going to raise, and all the other things I thought would be on this train and Amazon-Primed to me overnight — that it took me a long time to realize that it actually wasn’t the Mom train that showed up on my doorstep.

It was my train.

With my name on it. And everything I was, and everything I had become, was on that train. The bold woman with a never-ending supply of opinions was on that train. The slightly overweight woman who looked amazing in a corset was on that train. The woman I became after five years of marriage, after a college degree, after holding my children in my arms and listening to their beautiful little stories about mermaids and dinosaurs, was the mother I had become.

I never received that ethereal hormone, or an instruction manual on what a lapel even looked like.

When my train rolled in, I already was the mother I had actually always wanted to be.

I was my children’s mother. And we were going to do amazing things together.

The other morning, I woke up with a Mary Poppins song stuck in my head. Really, for no good reason whatsoever. I haven’t watched Mary Poppins in years, although I have the whole darn thing memorized. Why wouldn’t I? Mary Poppins is what all mothers should be, right?

(Julie Andrews is the bomb. There is no denying that.)

So, my brain goes retro that morning, well before coffee, and puts the Nanny song that the children chanted, while kneeling on their studio-set living room rug, on repeat:

If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort

You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets.

A little on the demanding side from the kids, if you ask me. Always cheery? Very sweet? Rosy cheeks? 

Maybe this singing duet never saw their mother prep the house to host a birthday party with 25 guests, only to discover that the Pinterest cake would fail miserably and the trendy games would fall flat. That the brilliant idea of havingFrozen-themed karaoke would also fail, because, unbeknownst to her, the other children aren’t allowed to watch TV. They don’t even know the songs that you have already heard 5 million times.

Not only is this mother out of ideas on how to save her daughter’s birthday at this point, but she spilled that spoonful of sugar, the one that can magically fix anything, on the cat.

Perhaps they had they never seen their mother after spending weeks prepping for a year of homeschooling and scouring the Internet for the best curriculum for each of her children, trying to figure out which math books to use for each child’s individual needs. Maybe they haven’t found their mother staring off into the distance, her hands still in the kitchen sink, while she worried about her son’s asthma this summer.

I don’t know if they ever wondered how their mother battled her own demons, who insisted she was completely inadequate — an outright impostor — after a playdate in a home with cream-colored carpets, zero screen time, and matching bento boxes lined up on the counter. A counter that doesn’t have jelly staining the edges, thanks to the toddler who has discovered how to make breakfast for herself before the crack of dawn.

Impostor Syndrome is the unwanted caboose on the train of motherhood. It is the trailing thoughts that give you the absurd ideas that you are a fraud. You suck at baking cookies. All of the decisions you have made for your family are wrong: Bottle instead of breast? Disposable diapers instead of cloth? Have you actually vaccinated your children? How is your marriage?

Who are you, anyway?

Impostor Syndrome makes us believe there is a Mom train. The Mom train doesn’t have mothers who have tattoos, or who homeschool, or who think iPads and Netflix are awesome. Somehow, this train defines us all, creating an expectation we can’t meet. It creates this ridiculous idea that there is something all mothers should become, and that anything less will destroy their children, their families, and themselves.

Rosy cheeks and cheery disposition, my butt.

The fact of the matter is . . . Mary Poppins wasn’t the mother.

She was the nanny. When her shift was over, she popped that magic umbrella of hers open and flew away.

Their mother, Mrs. Banks, was still there. She encouraged their father to interact with their children more lovingly. At the end of the story, she was the one holding her children’s hands as they walked home from their infamous kite-flying adventure, the one who got them into their pajamas and tucked them into bed. She was the one who, presumably, watched them sleep at night, grateful for every bump, scrape and hug she got to spend with them.

Mrs. Banks was not an impostor.

Mrs. Banks was mother. In her story, Mrs. Banks was involved in the suffragette movement to change the future for her children. Mrs. Banks had order in her house, and made sure her children were taken care of. Mrs. Banks never baked cookies to solve a crisis in the house, or even once picked up the iron.  She was a strong woman who loved her family, and in the end she was a damn good mother.

Just like I am.

Just like you are.

Little Break, So Revisiting Old Posts

My Dad is in town, so I’m taking a break from writing.

Too busy fishing, hanging out and playing with our new cat, Esther.

 

11722660_10207005805325625_5810606693021740733_oYou weren’t writing, anyway.

 

In the meantime…

 

I’m going to post some old posts.  Enjoy!!

 

-Tamarah

 

The Fallacy of “Just”

Greatness

The other day a friend of mine was talking to a coworker about a colleague who was leaving the company.  It wasn’t entirely surprising, honestly.  He hadn’t been with the company for more than 6 months, and in the short time he was there he struggled with quite a few things, and even more with people.

Primarily, he didn’t understand the company, the company’s products nor the company’s culture.  This is a deadly trifecta for someone in leadership, so it just wasn’t exactly a startling announcement.But something he said on the way out was surprising.  He was commenting (in a private conversation, for the record) that the friend of mine was “just” a great engineer.

The “just” is, of course, the big kick in the shins.  This person is indeed a great engineer, but in this man’s eyes they are “just” a great engineer.

I, of course, was astonished at the gall of this statement, and naturally offended for my compatriot.  However, it is such a ridiculous claim that I have been amused by the naiveté and ignorance of the statement.  I, as well as the colleagues and friends surrounding us, know the depth and value of this person.  We know what they have contributed to the world, and we know there is more yet to come.  We know the volumes of knowledge this person possesses, and to what great lengths they go to share, comfort, support and uplift those around them.

There was a card on facebook I read the other day that said, “You know who the strong women are.  They are the ones you see building each other up instead of tearing each other down.”  This is the kind of sentiment I would associate with this person.

“Just” a great engineer.

This is like saying Einstein was “just” a great physicist.  Kirk Douglas was “just” a great actor.  Ford was “just” a great engineer. Maya Angelou is “just” a great poet.  Like, they could have done so much more with their lives, but they were “just” great at their profession.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

—–

I left the workforce about 10 years ago, and I have to admit something.

I am just a housewife.

I know, it was a huge shocker to me too!  I spent 12 years digging myself out of public school, a few years digging my way up and out of college, and all that time I had a job somewhere: sometimes in a real estate office, sometimes in an art gallery, sometimes as a substitute teacher for both private and public elementary schools.

So when I got to the point where Ben and I decided that I would stay home and raise our brood of kids, it was an extremely exciting venture.  Kids!  And a home!  And now we’re homeschooling!  I love it!!

However, very quickly into this new path I had the same conversation quite a few times.  I would be asked what I do for a living, and I would answer…and the response was: “So, you’re “just” a housewife.”

It definitely took a few years of being kicked in the shins to start building up some thicker skin than I previously had, I’ll say that.  But you know what I determined?

This is my path.  I did not choose this path because it is an easy path.  I did not choose this path because it was the most socially gratifying path.  I did not choose this path to make headlines.  

I chose this path because it is my path.  It is the path that will lead our children.  It is the path that will build the foundations and walls of myself as a woman.

And I choose to define myself.  No small talk conversation has the authority to give me an identity of “just” a housewife.  I learned years ago that you can hear people just fine.  However, you are not required to accept a darn word they say.

I choose not to accept being “just” a housewife.

I choose to be an AMAZING housewife.  I choose to do INCREDIBLE things with my children’s education.  I choose to reject the ideas that what I have chosen to do is belittling to my station in life.  Those ideas are naive and ignorant, and the people who believe them fail to see the endless possibilities available.  As a housewife I have no contracts binding me, I have no library of endless knowledge shut to me, and I have 24 hours in the day to conquer life.  This is a good place to be, my friends.

“Those who lead inspire us… Whether they are individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to.” ~Simon Sinek

The point of being an excellent wife, mother, woman is to be the inspiration.  Goodness knows, I’ve been inspired by some pretty incredible people.  I would love to inspire others to do something meaningful, something that will change the world.  I am starting with my children.

“Poor leaders push us towards the goal. Great leaders guide us through the journey.” ~Simon Sinek

Keep your eye on the journey, and leave the “just” to the fools.

5 Recipes of Hot Dog Independence! And 5 Dogs of Disaster.

patriotic link

This weekend, we are totally firing up our grill.

We are going full-BBQ this 4th of July!  Pasta salad, potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, popsicles, hamburgers….

and hot dogs.

 

I’ll have to be honest: There is nothing I love more than a good, solid, honest hot dog for a BBQ. Maybe it takes me back to a simpler day as a child, eating as many hot dogs as I could before jumping back into the pool and swimming until it was time for bed.

The great thing about hot dogs, is that there are so many different ways to dress a dog!  BBQ sauce dog, Kraut dog, Chicago dog, Mustard dog…

The unfortunate thing, is that there are so many different ways to dress a dog.

These are definite FAILS in the “good eats” department:

 

1. Be Patriotic…But Not Too Patriotic.

I am sure you won’t do this, but it is possible.

If you have young kids in the house, looking for ways to help spruce up the place to show their American pride…

Anything is possible.

 

 

2. Mac and Cheese Dogs

link

I really must protest to this. I don’t know why this offends me so much…but macaroni and cheese is simply not a condiment.

It is a delicious entre`. Let’s keep the two separate, shall we?

 

3. Jellied Bouillon with Frankfurters

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 link

From 1953’s 500 Tasty Snacks: Ideas of Entertaining. Read about this dish here.

I’m sorry to do this to you…but your guests will be much sorrier if you do this to them.

 

4. The Good: Hot Dog Nutty Fritters. The Bad: Hot Dog Salad Dressing

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 link

These recipes were pulled from 1968’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Cookbook and came out not-so-bad and vomit-inducing, respectively. Read more about these recipes here.

Another catastrophic culinary disaster.

You do not need to make a hot dog dressing…no matter how desperate you are for an interesting BBQ dish, and even if you did find it on Pinterest.

 

5. Gooey Buns: Not What You’d Think.

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link

“Gooey Buns sound like a yummy breakfast pastry. They’re not. Grind hot dogs, American cheese, mustard, mayo and relish into a paste. Spread inside buttered hot dog buns, wrap in foil, and place in the oven until the buns are stale.” Read more about this awful recipe here.

This might be the absolute worst thing I have ever seen in my life.

A ground…hot dog…pastry. For breakfast.

Honey, there ain’t no hangover that is bad enough to justify this one.

 

Let’s end this on an upswing, shall we?

 

 5 ABSOLUTELY DELISH HOT DOG RECIPES

We are taking the safe route, and consulting Alton Brown for all of these!

 

1. Alton Brown’s Corn Dogs

CC_Corn-Dogs_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape

recipe link

2. Alton Brown’s Pressure Cooker Chili…For Chili Dogs!

rec_pressurecooker.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscaperecipe link

3. Alton Brown’s BBQ sauce Recipe

recipe link

 

4. Alton Brown’s favorite dog: Jack’s Cosmic Blue Cheese Slaw Dog

link

This is the dog…

and This is the recipe!

 

5. Not Alton Brown’s recipe, but a classic either way! Chicago Style Hot Dog

med104768_0709_chicago_dog_vertrecipe link

 

Happy Independence Day, Fellow Americans!

 

 

Reasons You Should Take Your Brain On A Romantic Night Out

 This article originally appeared on Ravishly.

The Writer’s Struggle: A Peek Inside The Quest To Get My Brain Back

 

We’ve all been there, writer or not. Burnt-out, blank, and bitter. I spend hours staring at the screen, doodling on paper meant for jotting notes, and wondering what I am going to have to do for the rest of my life now that my brain refuses to work anymore.

There comes a point in every writer’s life when their brain just refuses to work.

At one point, we remember fondly, it worked like a well-oiled machine. You asked it to come up with brilliant writing ideas, and boom, out came a dozen A+ titles and ideas. Words made sense when you put them together to form coherent sentences, and your thoughts rolled off the page in a cascade of intellectual brilliance, leading your readers down beautifully landscaped rabbit trails and into a field of dreams fulfilled.

Unfortunately, after being A+ quality for enough time, the poor ol’ brain just gives up the ghost. No more brilliant ideas. No more quirky, funny idioms to follow along a riveting tale of life that brings tears to your readers’ eyes.

It could. It did. But it doesn’t.

My brain refuses to work anymore.

We’ve all been there, writer or not. Burnt-out, blank, and bitter. I spend hours staring at the screen, doodling on paper meant for jotting notes, and wondering what I am going to have to do for the rest of my life now that my brain refuses to work anymore. I have even tried quick dates with your brain, hoping to jumpstart it back into its usual, fun-loving self! I tried taking it on a quick lunch date at Taco Bell, but it brought along the voice of my old Creative Writing professor (who is never invited). I tried taking an evening stroll, but it just reminded me how out of shape I am, since my profession is basically sitting and not moving for a really long time. Once, I even tried to get a smile out of poor old Brain after I took her out for sushi by putting chopsticks under my lips and pretending to be a walrus. Somehow, this avenue didn’t work either.

Nothing seemed to work.

But I persevered, and I am here to share with you my brain-boosting secrets.

Have no fear, my weary, brain-dead friends: It is on this day when you must find your well-functioning hands. Get to work at serenading your poor, tired, weary brain — Romance her back into your life.

Lightbulb! 4 Brilliant Ideas For Revitalizing Your Brain, From A Writer’s Perspective:

1. Ice Breaker

You have been holding it all in for a while . . . it is time to let it out.

It’s time to have a heart-to-heart (brain-to-brain?) with your headspace. Let it know how you’re feeling:

“I feel like I am the only one working on our projects, and I think the balance in work is completely unfair. I know I have not been the greatest listener for you, and you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I am throwing at you. But when you clam up like this, it makes me think that you don’t even want to do this anymore. And that hurts me. I don’t want to go back into real estate — we both wanted to be a writer, remember?”

This is how the healing begins.

2. Listen

Now that you’ve said your piece, listen to what your brain has to say. Your brain might tell you that even though the expectations for being a writer are on the table, what she hears is all the other things she has to do during the day as well. By the end of the night, she is so enveloped in planning, scheduling, and working that she can’t even think of a good, solid metaphor for how tired she is.

Don’t try to fix it. Yet. This is the time to listen to her side without dismissing what she has to say.

3. Body Language

Once you have finished listening to her side, it is time to do some body language analysis.

Your shoulders are tight, your back is sore, your legs are bouncy, and you have had a headache for five days — Motrin is just a placebo at this point. You won’t be able to think clearly until you start stretching, unwinding, massaging, and treating that headache. Do you need a better pillow? Or is it the fact that you have been drinking black coffee and Diet Coke for a few weeks, and completely forgotten where the water faucet is? Go hydrate yourself, eat a well balanced meal with protein and carbs, and get a pillow that supports your neck better so you won’t wake up with a crick in your shoulders every morning.

This is a perfect time for some physical relief: the batting cages, a solid bike ride, a lengthy swim, some rowing machine action, or a genuine stretching session will get your blood moving again, and it’ll get the kinks out of your joints.

Now limp your way to the bathroom and take a bath to soak those bad-attitude toxins out of your skin.

4. Recovery

Remind yourself: Hemingway didn’t write everything perfect the first time, either. Austen had drafts and revisions, as well. The Brontë sisters were their own worst critics.  You are peers amongst them all, and you can do this.

5. Wine Yourself Back Into Love

You are now ready for the wine. This is obviously the most important step.

Get a quiet room and light some tea candles on your desk. Fill your glass with wine and open your laptop. We are going to begin with one article, and only one article.

When we have finished that one, we can move on . . . but no pressure.

Chances are, at this point, you are damn ready to get back to it, and your fingers are only too eager to comply with your freshly-reinvigorated brain — which is back online! A pun! We have arrived!

Just keep the wine bottle close so you don’t have to get up too often.

Cheers!

First GOOP and Chris, Now Ben and Jen. What Is Going On Over There?!

 

This article originally appeared on Ravishly
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JenBen Are Getting Divorced And I Don’t Know What Is Real Anymore

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gardner are getting a divorce.

I don’t even know what to think anymore.

 

Jackets? In California? I am already skeptical of this photo.

 

 So, Hollywood’s perfect couple is not just having a conscious uncoupling…they are going the traditional route with a full divorce.

It is unfortunate, especially for their family as a whole, but these things happen; especially in high-maintenance relationships.

High-maintenance relationships are relationships which have a number of high-stress elements, such as extended time apart, low communication, misguided priorities, health/financial setbacks and poor conflict resolution practices.  Actors spend lots of time apart from their families, and it can unquestionably take a toll on a marriage over time.

I am in a low-maintenance marriage. We have been together for 21 years now, and we have been married for 16 years.  At this point we understand each other better than anyone else on the face of the earth ever could, and our relationship is definitely stronger for it.  I know he will be home every night, or I know what he is doing when he is running late or at meetings, and I can count on him to spend time with us every day.  He knows I will be home every night, or he knows where I am when I am out and about, and he can count on me to spend time with us every day, as well.

We have solid routines I can rely on for short-term and long-term support; and even through crisis of any magnitude, I am absolutely certain that we will get through it together.

And then share a beer while wiping our brows when it’s over.

 

The emotional routines in relationships are so crucial for maintaining strong foundations in marriage.  There is no doubt that we have the solid love, trust, support, compassion, empathy and, ultimately, joy on which our marriage is based.  It hasn’t always been easy, but we want to grow old together…and there is only one way that’s going to happen.

In marriages, careers are definitely a huge factor in how much stress is, or isn’t, involved.

According to Bloomburg, the top 10 successful marriages involve people in these careers:

  • 1) Dentist
  • 2) Chief Executive
  • 3) Sales Engineer
  • 4) Physician
  • 5) Podiatrist
  • 6) Optometrist
  • 7) Farm Product Buyer
  • 8) Precision Grinder
  • 9) Religious Worker
  • 10) Tool and Dye Maker

On the other hand, USA Today listed the top 10 failed marriages involve people in these careers:

  • Casino worker
  • Massage therapist
  • Waiter or bartender
  • Athlete, entertainer, or dancer 
  • High-stress jobs, such as…

Police or detective

Military service member

Firefighter

Pilot

Event coordinator

Senior corporate executive

Public relations executive

Newspaper reporter

Taxi driver

 

For Ben & Jen, it hasn’t been as easy.

They are both in high-stress careers, while still trying to raise their young family together.  Weeks apart from each other for work can take its toll on the routines of relationships like waves on a rock. For short periods, the rock will most likely be fine…but for years? The rock will suffer, and after 10 years it could fall apart.  Little pebbles of problems start getting into the crevices and wearing away the supports, and little problems soon become bigger problems.  Before, when the marriage was stronger, maybe they could have worked together on the problems and supported each other through them.  But it seems those days of trust, support, compassion, empathy, joy and love are part of their past.

 Huffington Post had a review recently of one of their relationship experts, Tracy Cox’s, intimate questions, to help other relationships reevaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

 

  • Does your partner support you in new ventures?
  • Do your friends and family like them?
  • Do your friends and family say they’re a good influence?
  • Do they say thank you when you do something nice for them?
  • Do they forgive without holding a grudge?
  • Do you feel that they see and like ‘the real you’?
  • Do they value themselves without being egotistical?
  • Do you admire who they are?
  • Do they pay little attention to other people who are attractive?
  • Do you feel proud when talking to others about them?
  • Do they like, rather than feel suffocated by, commitment?
  • Do they open up and tell you how they’re feeling?

 

Maintaining long-term relationships, especially in the case of marriages, is much easier when the answer to many of these questions is “yes.”

However, marriage and relationships are never easy when the answer to many of these questions is “no.”

Sometimes therapy helps, sometimes reevaluating priorities helps.  Some problems can be fixed by just talking it out with each other, and hearing the other side.

Sometimes, though, the problems have become too big to patch up.  Addictions, promiscuity, and lies are big problems will create an unstable home for not only your marriage, but it will not be a safe home for your children.  But add up a pile of smaller problems like a partner who is unsupportive, angry, defensive, abusive, neglectful or manipulative…and you have a mountain of problems that will destroy your marriage, and isolate your family.

So, even though it hurts, and it is in no uncertain terms, difficult, sometimes it is healthier for the family as a whole, to leave.

We offer the Affleck family all of our support as they go through this, and wish them the best in the end.