Manic Monday: Year Long Blogging Challenge (Oh My Gods I Am Awful At This)

I suppose I should just stop saying things like, “And THIS time I will DO what I SAID I would DO – ON TIME!” Because, lol really. Let us just go ahead and call it like it is: I have failed this challenge. Yet, I continue…

Week 7: What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned to date?

The most important life lesson I have learned is one I am still learning: to accept me and not compare myself to others. It is so easy to fall into mindset of wanting – more ambition or drive, a higher metabolism, a quicker mind – but the truth remains that I am nobody else but myself. To modify a quote from Wreck-it Ralph, “I am [me], and that’s good. I will never be [anyone else] and that’s not bad. There is no one I would rather be than me.”

Week 8: What Staple Foods Stay Stocked in Your Fridge?

  • Skim milk
  • Eggs
  • String cheese
  • Deli turkey
  • Fruit/vegetables (right now: strawberries, apples, grapes, asparagus, green beans)
  • Spinach or other salad greens

Week 9: If you could get rid of one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be?

I would love to be able to eliminate sleeping, or at least to be able to exist on less of it. My daily requirement for sleep is currently about 7 or 8 hours, and ain’t nobody got time for that. At least, I do not, with all the things I would rather, or should, be doing.

Week 10: Favorite Childhood Memory

This is a strange one, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind. I used to spend several days each summer at my aunt’s condo in Pensacola, FL. One late morning I started to have typical menstrual cramps, and dealt with them in my typical way: by being sad about it. This was before I was comfortable swallowing pills, so I would just deal with it and be grumpy like a typical young teenager. My practical aunt would not stand for such nonsense, so she convinced me to take a couple of Aleve and lie down with her heating pad for a little while. After much self-coaching, I choked down the medicine and slid between the fluffy white down comforter and soft white sheets. Half an hour later, I woke up pain-free. This was the first time I had ever felt relief from my monthly pains, and it was the most incredible feeling ever. Even better, I was hungry, and the turkey-on-toast sandwich my aunt made me was the most delicious, satisfying meal I had eaten to that day. I still remember the incredible sense of relief and relaxation beneath the heating pad in that glorious cool bed, and how wonderful hunger felt in place of pain and nausea.

I am sure there are much better memories than that, but hey, I’m crazy! edit I did have a normal, healthy childhood. I just have a terrible memory, I guess. IT’S MONDAY, OKAY

Week 11: Describe a product that needs to be invented. What irritation or problem could be solved with a nifty new device?

Now that I am a real person and can handle taking pills… a capsule of some sort that satisfies hunger, cravings, and all the required vitamins and minerals for keeping a body alive. Food and a healthy diet are a constant source of stress for me. Making healthy choices is fucking hard. Though, I would really miss eating, as obvious by some of my other answers.

Week 12: What is your favorite restaurant in Huntsville?

Hands down, Below the Radar.

Week 13: What goals are you currently pursuing?

This is less my goal than my husband’s, but I support him entirely and it requires both of our efforts. We are currently working on becoming the owners of a local business. This has been his dream for years, and it is only a few more months of pinching pennies away.

Personally, I still am fighting towards a 50 or 60 pound weight loss, and reading 50 books by the end of the year.

Week 14: What is the most memorable meal you have ever had?

There are two of them, and they are both during the same week in 2011. I traveled to Austin, TX, for a work conference in August. The second night my coworkers and I arrived, we had dinner with some customers at Fogo de Chao. I had the rarest cut of filet I’ve ever eaten before, and it was unbelievable. Also, I tried grappa for the first time. Aside from excellent food (and drinks!), the group was amazing. We had such a fantastic few hours together.

Despite my hotel being 2 blocks from everything, I was completely exhausted mid-week. Long days of being on my feet coupled with it being Texas in August meant I just crashed one afternoon in my hotel. I woke up a little disoriented with a text from my boss inviting me to dinner with another coworker. After making myself as presentable as possible, I walked in a daze to Moonshine. At first I had no appetite, but my coworker insisted I have a meal, so I ordered baked rainbow trout (and yes, I only ordered it because rainbows) with a side of macaroni and cheese. This meal is my favorite meal in the history of ever, and I have eaten a lot of fucking delicious things. Just know that I ate the exact same meal twice the next year, and the crushing, bitter disappointment at not being able to go this August is 99% because I won’t get to eat at Moonshine.

Week 15: What is your favorite quote?

“What fun is there in making sense?” – Discord, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Shut up.


I am not going to make any promises any more.  🙂

The Rocket City Bloggers are a diverse group of bloggers with at least one thing in common: writing from the Huntsville, AL area, otherwise known as Rocket City. This April began a Year Long Blogging Challenge, and I am attempting to participate. Clearly, though, this is proving to be more of a challenge for me than I initially believed.  Click the image below for more awesome people from the Rocket City.


(manic monday) Rocket City Bloggers’ Year Long Blogging Challenge: Weeks 3 – 6

Oh, dear. I really am behind. The point of a weekly challenge is to post weekly, so I suppose it defeats the point if I end up posting monthly instead… yet here I am, with four weeks rolled up into one post! This is kind of a manic Monday, isn’t it?

Week 3: Assuming the apocalypse is upon us, what do you stock up on?

Let us also assume this is a survivable apocalypse (zombie, holy) and not a nuclear one which would annihilate everything, including hope. In which case: I stock up on nothing because I would almost certainly not survive zombies. Is that a depressing thought? Totally. Do I curr? Naw.

In the spirit of participation, let us suspend all belief and say that the biblical apocalypse occurs, or that I do somehow manage to keep myself alive after a zombie-disease outbreak, and have reason to consider long-term supplies. This is what I would want:

  • Weapons: a bow and many arrows, as they are recoverable.  An impressive collection of knives (for hunting and cleaning animals, as well as protection and other survival necessities)
  • Books on the following subjects: generic wilderness survival and medicine, hunting & fishing (and how to clean animals for eating), plants, and first aid
  • Rope
  • Water containers and a large stock of purifiers (such as iodine tablets)
  • First aid supplies, including antibiotics

Seeing as how I’ll be dead for all of this, my plans are moot. Next!

Week 4: What is your favorite joke/cartoon?

While I love many cartoons, choosing a favorite is easy: Adventure Time, because I am an adult, and seriously this show.  Fortunately my kids love it as well, so I have an excuse to watch it. Not that I would need an excuse if I didn’t have kids, because it is that awesome. Never growin’ up.

LSP forever

Because I have a rather dark sense of humor, all of my favorite jokes are the most inappropriate. I cannot possibly choose just one, but for the sake of the challenge, here is a (not so?) tame joke that never fails to make me laugh:

What is the hardest part of a vegetable to eat?

The wheelchair. 

I’m sorry.

Week 5: What are you passionate about? 

Reading. Writing. (Not arithmetic. So bad at math, tho.)  Photography. Art. Love. Learning. Those don’t require much explanation.

I am also passionate about mental heath awareness. Being bipolar and having many friends with different mental health issues, I know firsthand the difficulties of existing in a world unaccepting and ignorant. Even close family members can be hurtful without meaning to be: “Wow, you don’t seem bipolar.”  My disease is mild and under control, quite different than its frightening rap. Can I fault people for having no clue? Of course not. I can understand their side – give to them what they had not been able to give to me – and use my passion and knowledge to bring awareness to those around me. A flickering light.


Week 6: Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? 

I suppose you’d have to call me a suburban mouse. I love visiting both the city and the country, but my real home is right in the middle. That’s all I got to say about that. (What’s a good day without a Forrest Gump quote?)

Week seven coming your way – on time! On its own!

The Rocket City Bloggers are a diverse group of bloggers with at least one thing in common: writing from the Huntsville, AL area, otherwise known as Rocket City. This April began a Year Long Blogging Challenge, and I am attempting to participate. Clearly, though, this is proving to be more of a challenge for me than I initially believed.  Click the image below for more awesome people from the Rocket City.


my love for him is bright white.
neon lights.
how do i keep it under control?
with only so many ways to express
that his mouth holds the universe
and his voice
is eternal,
i remain an ever-filling, overflowing vessel.
one day, i will crack –
a clay pot in pieces –
and my heart will float into the sky



i am a weak type of woman,
easily broken like brittle glass
by hard things.
sticks and stones.
words and phrases.
my brain is a sick one;
it tells me lies that i believe are truths
because i’m really just telling them to myself
in my voice
and if i can’t trust my own voice,
what can i? what am i?
i can trust the hardness of stones,
the piercing pain of shattering

50 Book Challenge: April update (13/50) and reviews

April was a much more productive than February and March, since I made a point to read several less-than-900-page books, Murakami. (Why am I so mad tho? I read it on purpose, after all.) Now I am only three books behind schedule instead of five. Without forcing this challenge upon myself, I know I would not be anywhere close to 50 books this year. Goodreads has been so helpful in keeping track of my progress. However, I have made it a point not to read any reviews on books prior to reading the books or writing these reviews here. Several times I have found my opinion actually does change with issues pointed out by certain reviewers. I don’t know how common that is, but I think of it as a discussion where I approach subjects with an open mind: willing to hear the other side, and taking into consideration many points while still questioning their validity. Regardless, I don’t have all the time in the world to read many thousands of reviews, so my opinions don’t change that much from their base. Subjectivity is the name of the game. Bringin’ it:

9. The Magician King by Lev Grossman:  Why am I struggling to write this review? I was really engaged in part two of Grossman’s series, and of course I want to read the next installment immediately before I stop caring, but it won’t be out for another year or so. Anyway, this book. The tone is quite casual, which I enjoyed continuing after the prior heaviness of 1Q84. We pick up with the snarky protagonist a few years after the first book ends, and he is just as dissatisfied as always. This point of view gets old, and we get reprieve when we get POV back story on another character, spliced in to the present narrative. I enjoyed the back story but it did drag a little bit, perhaps because the pacing was not as much go-go-go as the other. The ending made me so angry. Anticlimactic and teasing and just horrible. Rated 3/5 because I couldn’t put it down despite the negatives.

10. Dearly Devoted Dexter (Dexter #2) by Jeff Lindsay: I had read Darkly Dreaming Dexter (#1) about two years back and enjoyed it, as I had watched the show pretty religiously  until after season 6. (We stopped paying for cable around that time to save money.) The first book differentiated from the first season enough to be interesting, and book two is an entirely different story altogether than the show. Despite the handful of stretches in plot that I had trouble finding believable, I read this in 12 hours. The Dexter-isms are always perfect, that cocky, raised-eyebrow wittiness in the heat of a situation that would turn stomachs of most. Plus, I am always down for some good gory details. Alliteration aside, 4/5.

11. Dexter in the Dark (Dexter #3) by Jeff Lindsay: Another fast read, as these books are paced quite nicely for the most part… perfect for a casual weekend read, or for someone attempting to make up for lost time in a book challenge. Same love for the style and feel of all Dexter books, though the subject matter on this one was a little bit of a stretch. I found the supernatural/biblical “antagonist” IT intriguing because, as I’ve said before, I give all books the benefit of temporary belief suspension, but this did not fit in with the Dexter canon at all. His cold, calculating logic – one of the things I love about the character – was pretty much gone for the majority of the book. This made for dragging passages about his struggle with having human-like emotions for the first time in his life. This might have been interesting if it were in a different setting – I’ve always felt Dexter would have had more? any? emotions surface when the truth of his Dark Passenger’s “birth” was revealed to him (and to be honest, I cannot remember what his reaction was during the first book). With his biological brother still on the run, there is a lot of untapped story that would make sense for Dexter to find a little humanity. Big bad IT scaring away an inferior shadow, leaving a void filled by feelings? Okay, Jeff. Whatever. I could speculate on motives, that Lindsay perhaps thought that Dexter needed a bit more of a human touch, a stray from his norm to break what felt like monotony in the author’s brain. I will not go further, and just give this book 2.5/5 stars, hoping the next books in the series are more believable for one of my favorite literary characters.

12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: My favorite part of this book was the final chapter, “Historical Notes.” It was a fantastic way to wrap up the story, to remind us that nothing lasts forever. The narrative itself was intriguing, believable, though I agree with other reviewers that there were perhaps unnecessarily long moments of teasing by the author. Even after the book ended, Atwood held things back. Yet it made me itch for more, and quite a quick read. 4/5.

13. The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern: I loved Morgenstern’s flowery descriptions of the fantastical Cirque des Rêves, and it appears she enjoyed them herself. The book is packed with details, making visualization effortless. There are books that I feel are written with the hope, or perhaps the intention, of becoming movie adaptations. I enjoyed so much of the story, but I had issue with several things in hindsight. Long list ahoy: the protagonists’ relationship felt somewhat contrived; the point of the game – the point of the entire story – was a little bit lost on me; the game itself was not a competition in the least; and any urgency in causing the competition to end was thrown in without reason. Always in hindsight I end up hating a book more than I originally thought. You know, I really did like this book. I read it to the very last page in less than a week. My suspension of belief lasted only until I shut the book; then, my brain turned back on and remembered how to think critically. 4/5 initial rating, 3/5 hindsight.

May preview:

14.Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories by Alice Munro
15. Runaway by Alice Munro

manic monday: hot mess follow up

Once upon a time I promised I would post updates on various skin and beauty products I am trying. It always makes me crazy when bloggers say they will follow up on something and then don’t ever mention that thing again. Spoiler alert: all of the products came with mostly happy endings. Come into my parlor, said the manic to the sane, and we shall kill many birds with one blog post.

From the top now!

Retin-A and clindamycin 
These prescriptions are equal parts blessing and curse. For my tenderest of skinses, I found myself often taking breaks that gradually extended until I quit using them both entirely. While it was recommended that I continue to use Retin-A for both its anti-aging and anti-acne properties, its sole purpose of constantly sloughing off the top layer of skin made for much flakiness. Certain areas were near constantly tender to the touch, and going without sunscreen was asking for the mask of the red death. (Not that one should ever go without sunscreen, but I was practically vampiric with my ramped-up sensitivity to sunlight.) I spent many weeks – off and on over the course of about 6 months – in flaky, tender misery. As I mentioned in the first post, I dealt with purging on top of it all, so my acne seemed to get worse for quite a while.

Then one day it started working. Like, really working. My pores were noticeably smaller. Any zits that appeared were tiny, barely noticeable. It was still occasionally flaky, however, and that really bothered me, especially since I couldn’t scrub it off without raw open wounds on my face. Seriously, fucking ouch. I dropped toner from my daily(ish) routine and stuck with the soap-free gel cleanser and simple, SPF 30 moisturizer.

For Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a homemade body scrub, made from coconut oil, peppermint oil, and sugar. Using it on my body made my skin feel like a baby’s. I had yet to find an adequate exfoliant for my face, so I thought, why not use this all-natural wondrousness? Wondrous it was. The sugar gently exfoliated the flaky dead skin cells away, and the coconut oil melted gently into my skin, a perfect moisturizer.

Except a couple weeks later, my chin broke out in one or two painful, cystic zits from my former skin nightmare. A little ‘net research led me to learn that coconut oil, if not the correct kind, can clog your pores. (Like all Internet research, there are many conflicting views on this. What I linked is a pretty simple explanation of comedogenic vs noncomedogenic products.) I then began to experiment with the simple oil cleansing method (OCM), instead, replacing my gel and moisturizer combo with a 1:9 part castor oil/grapeseed oil mix.

Holy. of fucking. holies. This is it, guys. After the chemical nightmare of Retin-A and pore-searing clindamycin, my skin is GLORIOUS. Soft and clear and glowy. I have used OCM since January and have yet to discover any problems with it. Honestly, though, without the purging of Retin-A I don’t think I would have gotten to this place. The chemical purging and natural nurturing combo has really worked.

Want to see a before and after? Oh god, the before is horrifying. But okay. (These are both cell images so I apologize for the less-than-stellar quality.)

Grump Master Flakes

Grump Master Flakes

See how blotchy and uneven that is? Not to mention the flakiness and angry red spots. Please ignore the messiest brows ever. By the way, this was the day mentioned in the previous post where I tried to wear makeup but it burned so much I had to wash it off with only water in the work bathroom. I felt so shitty all day long, if you couldn’t tell by the sheer joy writ all over my disgusting, painful face. I am kind of mad this picture exists, if not for the visual reminder of how truly awful my skin reacted. Let’s be real, guys – this is legit what my skin looked like, off and on, for months at a time.

slightly less grump

Now, onto the after…

See what I mean? I chose this picture with its crazy uneven lighting because you can see the silky-smoov better, particularly in my problem area (chin). I do have some shiny areas, but nothing a quick blot once a day doesn’t cure. I’ve also noticed my makeup applies smoother when I use OCM versus the gel cleanser. So many people have complimented my “glowy” skin. 

Enough! Let’s talk nails.

Nailtiques 2
Why am I showing all these awful gross pictures of myself on the Internet? Fuck. Whatever, y’all. Nailtiques works.  I wasn’t super consistent about using it at first, but once I got on a couple-week streak of applying it under every manicure (probably every 2 – 3 days), I really noticed a difference. My nails are stronger, longer, and prettier. Not that I had much to work with from the start… lest I remind you of those dark days, the most disgusting of nail days ever recorded:

Mmm, look at those disgusting cuticles.

How do I even have any friends.

But! I hath redeemeth myself…eth! Behold the beauty:



This is the first time, ever, that I have had consistently long nails (and those above are long enough for me – more than that drives me insane). When I was pregnant they were pretty sweet, but obviously that did not last.

Okay, that is probably enough of my babbling for one day. I’d love to hear some more stories about your own “beauty journeys” (corny), so spill it, people. Let’s connect. And let me see some of your disgusting befores so we can rejoice over the wonderful afters! Also so I don’t feel so gross and alone! *cries into chips*

Rory + Tara engagement part one | Huntsville, AL engagement photography

I’ve been friends with Rory for a few years now. He is one of those awesome people who can make you feel comfortable right away, no matter what the situation. I knew it would take a special girl to snag him for good, and the moment he and Tara announced their engagement via Facebook (“SHE SAID YES!!!”) I got goosebumps of excitement. I love love! I love when my favorite people find love!

When he asked me to be their wedding photographer shortly after, I was ecstatic. Why? Because I have the perfect opportunity to get to know the girl who stole my friend’s heart (spoiler alert: she’s awesome), and even better, I get to capture their love when it’s fresh and sparkly. The best kind. (Who am I kidding. All love is the best kind. Hearts exploding.)

For our first session together, we planned to hang out at a local brewpub – Below the Radar – then walk around downtown Huntsville and eventually make our way to Green Mountain. Mother Nature had other plans, however, and the day of our session was pouring rain. Rory had already made reservations at Below the Radar, so we spent several hours hanging out and chatting over excellent beer and even better food. Let me provide some mouthwatering examples:


fried shrip with jalapeño top: risotto balls, bottom: fried shrip with jalapeño

I am hungry again just looking at those. Dear gods of food, THANK YOU for your bountiful harvest and for blessing the hands of the talented chef. Like I said, we spent the better part of four hours talking and really enjoying the atmosphere. Occasionally I took a picture or two, but for the most part we just enjoyed each other’s company. I am proud to call this gorgeous couple my friends and I can’t wait until their wedding in October.




OMG Tara, look at your ring. It is so big.

BTR-5 BTR-6 BTR-7 BTR-10

BTR-13 BTR-14 BTR-15 BTR-16 BTR-17
We rescheduled part two of our session for a beautiful day a couple of weeks later. Whitney, my partner in wedding crime over at Caught You on Camera, joined us. Part two, ahoy!  Thanks for your help, Whitney, and of course a very special thanks to Rory and Tara. Congratulations, darlings! Cheers to love.