Holiday Shopping Suggestions

flame box elder penNo, do not fear. This is not a post to try to get you guys to buy my stuff (but, still, buy my stuff *coughcough*).

This is a post to draw your attention to a couple of my friends who make some really fabulous things that you should be aware of. These are perfect items to include on your own holiday wishlist or to purchase for friends or relatives.

Seriously. These are great things that you don’t want to miss out on.

RowevilleRetro. Handmade pens, pencils, styluses (stylii?), and other goodies, made from reclaimed materials. The pen in the picture? All mine, baby. It’s flame box elder and writes beautifully. It’s pretty neat to know that I’ve got a pen so unique. Don’t see one you like? You can custom order one to get exactly the pen/pencil/stylus your heart desires. And for a great price! Don’t forget to like them on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter to keep up with latest goodies.

Brush Crush. Hannah McFadden is a terrific artist and now you can own one of her lovely pieces (I’m still making up my mind on which one I want; I want them all!). Inks, oils, pastels, acrylic, watercolor, she’s got skills in so many mediums. Check out her website for more pieces and like her on Facebook to keep up with her latest projects.

‘Tis the season for giving and if you’re going to be giving, then give something good. So, give these good people a look see, pass on the URLs, and, ya know, buy something.

 

*Full disclosure: None of the people involved in the two shops asked me to do this. This is all me, baby. I’m promoting them on the blog because I like them, I like their stuff, and I already promote them on my personal Facebook and Twitter. In my opinion, they deserve to have lots of people flocking to them to purchase their merchandise. If this blog post (or repeated sharings/likings/retweetings/favoritings/whatever) can help generate that mob, then it’s the very least I can do.

I Went on a Trip…and Did Very Little

The view from our room.
The view from our room.

Despite the con that was the purpose of our visit being cancelled, roommate extraordinaire Carrie and I ventured to Milwaukee anyway. We had four nights in a nice hotel booked cheap and it seemed a shame to waste them. At the very least, it sounded like a good idea to just get out of the cornfield for a bit.

We didn’t have a concrete plan to do anything. Oh, we had ideas and got even more from the very nice concierge in the hotel. We thought maybe we’d go to the museum or possibly walk a block over and go shopping.

Instead, we did basically nothing. From Thursday at about five o’clock in the evening when we checked in until Monday at around ten o’clock in the morning when we checked out we didn’t even leave the hotel.

And it was glorious!

After spending the day on trains (the first one being late enough that we had to run to make our second one and that was not a great time), we had room service. The next day, Friday, we were totally going to go downstairs to eat in the pub, but instead we got all caught up in a How It’s Made marathon on the Science Channel and ordered in pizza instead. Thus began our food drawer. We stashed the left over pizza and breadsticks in the dresser along with some of the snacks we’d brought along because we are experienced travelers. After that, any extra food went into the drawer for later.

Milwaukee Christmas tree
It’s very pretty for existing before Thanksgiving.

Saturday, after receiving passive-aggressive notes from housekeeping (okay, not really; they slipped a card under our door saying they were honoring our Do Not Disturb sign and if we needed anything to call them), we left the hotel room so they could come in and do a bit of tidying, which was mostly them just making the beds and putting in new towels because the room was so nice we didn’t want to do anything to mar it. We admired the Christmas tree in the lobby (which had been lit for the first time that day in a ceremony that we missed because it’s not Thanksgiving yet and I acknowledge nothing Santa-related before then), Carrie got some Starbucks, and we hung out in the lounge before finally heading to the pub.

At the pub we enjoyed a fish fry and cheese curds (when in Wisconsin!) and I had a fantastic pumpkin ale which was why we ended up going back to the pub again on Sunday. That second visit I got to watch three NFL games while enjoying my ale and onion rings and chicken tenders.

In addition to the pub and watching more of How It’s Made (that show is just fascinating; I never before contemplated unicycle wheel hubs), Sunday was momentous as I had for the first time in my 34 years a Starbucks coffee. I liked it well enough and didn’t die. It was a salted caramel mocha and I wanted to add pretzels to it.

I miss the food drawer.
I miss the food drawer.

Monday, we bid goodbye to our now empty food drawer and our fabulous view and the seemingly endless episodes of How It’s Made (we watched several episodes before leaving that morning, too, as our love had grown so strong), and trained on out of there, making a stop at Union Station for lunch with my amazing friend Harry, before finally arriving home to find the cornfield really friggin’ windy.

I think most people would find our vacation to be incredibly dull and a missed opportunity to see all sorts of Milwaukee things, but to Carrie and I, it was relaxing. For me, it was the equivalent of floating in a warm pool for several hours. Refreshing.

So don’t knock it until you’ve gone someplace else and done nothing.

I’m Going on a Trip!

mapAs you’re reading this, I’m probably on a train bound for Milwaukee. And if you’re reading this sometime after five o’clock on Thursday evening, then I’m in Milwaukee, hopefully snug as a bug in my hotel room, possibly chowing on delicious food that was delivered to me after a long day of traveling.

If you’re reading this at any point between Thursday evening and Monday morning, then I’m still in Milwaukee, but maybe not eating and possibly not in my hotel room.

If you’re reading this after about 11 in the morning on Monday, then I’m back on a train, this one bound for my cornfield home. Also, you’re way behind on your reading and you should put a little more effort into being timely.

So, this trip was originally supposed to be all about a pop culture/comics con, but the con in question got cancelled. After some debate, friend/roommate/fellow trip-taker Carrie and I decided that it would be a shame to waste such cheap hotel room prices in such a swank hotel and we could probably think of something else to do in Milwaukee if we really felt compelled to do so. Really, just sleeping in a different bed and not cooking dinner for a few night is good enough of a vacation for me.

This is the first trip I’ve taken in a while. I can’t wait to see what I forgot to pack.

Let the good times roll.

Five Things About My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

bucketIn case you missed it, earlier this week I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and posted the best part of the video on my KikiWrites Facebook page (you would know that if you liked that page, hint hint). It’s the craze sweeping the nation and all for a good cause!

But because I’m an egotistical sort and this is my blog, I thought I’d give a little insight into my particular ice bucket challenge.

Here are five behind the scenes trivia bits about it.

1. I wore that shirt on purpose. You’d think it was a blunder wearing a white shirt for a water challenge, but no. I wore it for the message (Live Laugh Love) and I wore it because my darling friend Carl referred to me doing the ice bucket challenge as a wet t-shirt contest and I felt compelled to play up that angle because I thought it was funny.

2. I involved my nieces. I decided to seize the opportunity of being challenged to educate my nieces (I’m homeschool them anyway, so might as well). In order to dunk Aunt Kiki with ice water, they had to learn a little something. The older two had to read about ALS and the ice bucket challenge while I explained it all to the youngest niece. When it came time to do it, the middle niece filmed it while the youngest niece had the honor of drenching me (the oldest niece had lost interest at that point because being 12 is hard, yo). The younger two then opted to also do the challenge unofficially (I did film them and posted those videos for family to see). What started out as a fun opportunity to pour ice water on Aunt Kiki became an education in charity, illness, and the power of community.

3. I flipped the bird to certain people in the comments of the original video. The full-length video was posted on my personal Facebook page because that’s where I was challenged. My first comment on it was to inform people offended by the “waste of water” of two websites, water.org and cleanwater.org, which they could visit in order to turn their disdain into positive action. If you’re going to be asshole by judging and dismissing people’s attempts to do something good, then I’m going to make you LOOK like an asshole. I got no problems with that.

4. I donated money, too. Many of the detractors point out that people are wasting water just to get out of donating money. HOWEVER. Many, if not most of, the participants are donating some money. I couldn’t afford to kick in a lot of dough, but I did kick in a bit. I also made sure to mention the website repeatedly so other people would know where to go to donate.

5. I did this challenge at my mom’s house, so… She got that big dead spot in her yard where her pool had been nice and watered, but it’s a 25 minute drive home for me and I wasn’t going to do it in wet clothes. And since I already lug two bags to her house to teach, I really didn’t want to pack another one so I could change for the drive home. So I took my pajamas instead. And drove home bra-less.

The more you know…

Five Little Things That Make My Day

ThinkingI’m in the middle of a particularly busy stretch of days (shout out to the people that can run seven days a week because I was not built for the hectic life), struggling to get things done and meet obligations and so forth. While in the shower lamenting the fact that I’m not a fan of being an adult and wishing I could be one of those people with endless stores of energy, I thought to myself, “Well, at least my hair looked good when I woke up this morning.”

And that got me thinking that there are a number of little things that seem to just brighten my day no matter what kind of day I’m having. If it’s bad, they make things tolerable; if it’s good, they just make it better. Call it counting blessings if you want, but sometimes, during the busy days when I’m dragging more than my ass, I need to remind myself that there are things that just make it for me.

So here are five little things that never fail to make my day.

1. Good Hair Day- Like I said, the days when my hair decides to do its thing in the way I wish it would are the best. Particularly the days when I’m up early for kid minding because I don’t actually take a shower and fix my hair until after I get back from taking the boy to school. It just sets a good tone for my day.

2.  Good Boob Day- Not much is said about the Good Boob Day and its joys really should be extolled more. Some days, I look down and just think, “Damn my boobs look good today.” It’s a good hair day taken to the next level.

3. That’s My Jam!- I do a bit of driving for my job commute and nothing gears me up like  hearing just the right song on the radio on my way to or from a gig. This usually occurs during the drive to teach because it’s Back in the Day Cafe and the Noon Workout on two radio stations so I spend the drive with songs I grew up with. I’m not going to lie. Some days when I’m dragging, I need to hear “MmmBop”. The bouncy bubblegum propels me through the afternoon.

4. Lunch- I love food, so the days when knowing what I want for lunch combines with being able to have that for lunch intersects with having time to eat that for lunch are the best days.

5. Good Dreams- Most of the time, my dreams are filled with imagery that would make people decide they’re done sleeping for life, but they’re actually pretty great for my line of horror writing. These dreams don’t bother me because I’m so used to them. But sometimes, I’m lucky to have a really good dream. One of those dreams that gives you warm fuzzies not only during the dream, but for hours after you wake up. Those are the best.

When folks say that it’s the little things, I know exactly what they mean.

It’s a Version of Cover Love

Music noteA couple of weeks ago I was in the mood for some new music. Specifically, I wanted to get some more songs by Bobby Troup, Julie London, and The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra. In looking through the songs, I noticed something. Bobby Troup and Julie London both did versions of “Midnight Sun” and Julie London and The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra both did versions of “When Your Lover Has Gone”.

And I said to myself, “I MUST OWN THESE SONGS!”

Fast forward to a few days ago. In my Internet perusing I found that Johnny Crawford had recently done different versions of a few songs he’d first done as a teenager.

Once again I said to myself, “I MUST OWN THESE SONGS!”

See, I have this thing about covers and different versions of songs. I think I mentioned it before in another post in which I listed my favorite covers. But I didn’t go into depth about it.

I am compelled to own several different versions of the same song.

I don’t know what it is, but it is a need that I cannot deny. I suppose it’s a fascination with how different singers/bands interpret songs or how the original artist re-imagines a song that their known for. Or maybe it’s fueled by an envy because as much as I love music, I don’t have the ability to make it or even remake it.

Whatever the reason, it’s because of this compulsion that I own:

-Paul Anka doing “Wonderwall” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

-A choir performing “I Touch Myself”

-So many versions of “I’m a Believer”

-And “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time”

-A slow version of “Word Up”

-A fast version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

-A bluegrass version of “Superfreak”

And so many more!

I’ve even got a few albums of nothing but covers (Indie Pop Plays the Monkees and Micky Dolenz’s Remember are two of my favorites).

It’s an addiction and I should be ashamed of myself.

But I’m not.

I Take My Green Very Seriously

cloverMy love of St. Patrick’s Day is pretty limited to wearing green. I take that very seriously. I don’t take it so seriously that I’ll make a nuisance of myself pinching and/or chastising people for not wearing green. But for me, myself, the fun of the holiday begins and ends with me finding something green to wear.

This takes some planning on my part because I don’t wear green as part of my every day wardrobe much. I wear a lot of red and blue, black and white and gray, but some colors, like green and purple and orange and brown are in limited supply in my closet (there is almost no yellow as that is my worst color, which makes me sad because I do love it).

So in addition to my limited green to choose from, I also don’t like to wear the same thing every year. That’s just dull. I should be able to come up with something different, even if I’m the only one that’s going to know. Why should I bore myself? I mean, really.

There’s also the little matter of making sure that whatever green I pick, there’s no debate that it is, indeed, green. Remember that in school? If someone wore something that might be more teal or aqua than green, a fight would erupt about whether or not it qualified as green? Yeah, I refuse to be put in that position, whether anyone else is playing this game or not. It matters to me, man.

So keep your green beer and pub crawls and corned beef and cabbage (especially the cooked cabbage because it makes me gag). Just leave me my Irish music and my green.

 

**It’s worth noting that my short story “Wearing of the Green” in the Yearly anthology is based, at least a little bit, on my dedication to wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not quite so…intense about it, though.**

…And Then the Coke Exploded

Soda explosionFor those of you playing the home game, one of my day jobs involves minding the neighbor’s grandson before and after school on the days that she works. Last week, he had a rough couple of days.

Tuesday, he accidentally spilled a glass of grape juice on the only carpeted portion of the entire living room. It was a real fluke, too. He’d set the glass on the floor next to the couch like he’d done countless other mornings and the remote control slipped off the couch, hit the glass, and knocked it over.

So we had a nice little bonding time before and after school learning how to properly clean up grape juice.

The next day, he didn’t even bother bringing his juice into the living room. Lesson learned.

That afternoon, he got a plastic bottle of soda from the fridge. The Coke was frozen so he opened it over the sink, underestimating the hidden volatility of a frozen soda.

It exploded.

He yells for help and I hurry into the kitchen to find chunks of frozen Coke dripping from the ceiling. It was everywhere. It covered the curtains and the windows above the sink, dripped down the cabinets, somehow sprayed INSIDE the cabinets, covered the countertop and everything on it.

The boy looked like he was going to cry.

I laughed.

He was not pleased with this.

I told him not to freak out, grab some paper towels and get the ceiling first. We mopped up all of the soda we could find, all the while him saying that that his grandma was going to kill him and me repeatedly telling him that she wouldn’t. I made him take down the curtains and throw them in the washer before the soda had a chance to stain them and then we spent some time going over everything to make sure we de-stickied what had been splattered.

The poor kid couldn’t understand why I kept laughing every time we found soda in a new, hidden place. He didn’t see any humor in the situation.

I explained to him that it was all a matter of experience. He’s young. To him the mess is huge and the consequences are dire. I’m old. I’ve experienced worse. Sure, it’s a big mess, but it can be cleaned. And there’s chunks of Coke dripping from the CEILING. That’s pretty hilarious.

Also, it wasn’t my neck on the line.

He was so traumatized, that when he got a second soda, he took it outside to the very edge of the patio to open it, even though it wasn’t frozen.

Our second day of mess-cleaning quality time ended with twenty minutes of us wrestling the curtains back onto their rods and hanging them up again. I’m happy to report that all of the soda came out of the curtains.

I’m also happy to report that the boy was not killed by his grandmother, just like I said he wouldn’t be.

The Good Things Jar

Good things jarI realize the month is about half-way over, but I think there’s still time for folks to start doing this, if they are so inclined.

This idea came across my Facebook at the very end of 2012. A friend of mine posted it saying that she was going to do it and I thought it might be a fun idea, so I also gave it a try.

All you have to do is take a jar and every day add a “good thing” to it, written on a slip of paper. The good thing can be anything you deem good: a blessing, a funny conversation, some kind of win, an observation of nature…really, anything. There’s no limit. There’s no definition of “good”. Just whatever you think needs to go in the jar. I dated all of mine, but I suppose you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. It’s your jar. Rock it your way.

So, every day of 2013 I came up with something “good” to put in the jar. Several days featured more than one thing. For a few the best I could do was that I was still “vertical and ventilating”. Many are out of context and some I can’t remember exactly what brought them about. But the point of the challenge was to find, even on the worst of days, ONE good thing to put in the jar.

On January 1st, I read every slip of paper in the jar. I smiled the whole time. It was really neat to see all of the good things that had happened in 2013 that I chose to put in the jar. Some of them I’d forgotten about until I read them again.

I’m doing the jar again for 2014. Now that I’ve seen the results of it, I’m sort of hooked on it. And I encourage everyone else to give it a try.

There’s still time.

2013 Blog Stats

Stats of SD in jawp

I’m sharing this not to brag, but because I think it’s funny. I’ve talked about certain blog stats of mine before and it’s always because it entertains me to see how and why people are attracted to my blog.

 

So here are some highlights.

 

Once again my most popular blog post was written in 2011. For the second straight year, my Rerun Junkie post on Starsky and Hutch has been number one.

 

In that same vein, of my top five posts of 2013, four were Rerun Junkie posts: Starsky and Hutch; Little House on the Prairie; Emergency!; and Barney Miller (please note that only one of them…Emergency!…was written and posted IN 2013).

 

The odd post out was my Megalomania–A Boobies Birthday Story. I imagine a whole lot of people were disappointed when they clicked on that link from their Google search.

 

Speaking of which, my top five search terms: Kiki Writes (whoohoo! I’m famous!); Starsky and Hutch; Adam and Mary Little House on the Prairie; Kim DeJesus; and Barney Miller cast. I’m pretty sure that everyone that searched Kim DeJesus was disappointed, too.

 

I think that’s what I like best about looking at these year-end stats. There’s actual data of how many people came to this blog with high hopes and left crushed.

 

It warms my black heart.

 

I look forward to continuing that trend in 2014.