saturday spotlight: blogiversary bash results...and then some

May 29, 2015

okee dokee. i've decided to call an end to the festivities a few days early. it's my party, and i can if i want to. :]

thank you to everyone who participated, especially those of you who hung around after the festivities began and involved themselves in all the things i'd lined up.

the results are thus:

nine blogiversary bashers contributed guest posts. the one i found to be the best-composed and most inventive was shane's comparison of relationships to copper; tiffany's tutorial on making flower crowns received the greatest number of comments--twenty-one; and erin's post about cotton and comfort raked in the most page views--one hundred seventy-nine.

a fourth prize will be given to the individual who left the most comments in the month of may. for the sake of fairness, one person cannot score two of the four prizes. it is for this reason that a concession had to be made in respect to the winner of the fourth prize. in actuality, erin left the most comments with sixteen, but the award goes to kristie, who offered twelve. lauren, by the way, left eleven and amy left ten. i thank you four ladies immensely for reading picky so frequently and leaving it so much love. yall are rock stars to me. bless you.

winners for these four prizes will be contacted individually.

i was trying to have little trivia contests throughout the month as well, but with the weather being what it is and the month kind of wearing on me, that one sort of fell by the wayside. i do want to thank kristie and lauren for their emails. i thank you ladies very much for playing. i have put your prizes in the mail, though i will admit, kristie, yours didn't go out 'til memorial day. sorry for the delay.

i have also concluded the picky pack giveaway a day early. amy won that particular prize. please go congratulate her. she's a sweet, sweet gal, yall. a good, kind soul who i think may be struggling in the blogging world, like i do from time to time, with her confidence.

regretfully, no one completed the scavenger hunt.

thank you, again, SO much to those who participated. i love you all for having done so.

a photo for friday

today was meant for the last of the blogiversary bash posts, but sadly the lady failed to turn hers in. she was to write about either tin or jewelry.

so i have for yall a picture from my desk of some favored star wars paraphernalia found at hallmark. i love these little tins, and they only cost five bucks!

thankful thursday

May 28, 2015

today, i am thankful that stewart creek in the front of my subdivision has not flooded its banks. here's hoping it can hold out a few more days...

blogiversary bash guest post the ninth: meredith

May 26, 2015

today i have for yall a guest post by meredith over at pile of babies. this girl cracks me up, yall. go say howdy.

I Was Given The Word, “Willow,” So I Am Going To Talk About Tits

To celebrate her awesome blog's anniversary, Jenn gave me a choice of two words to write about: “pottery” or “willow.” I chose “willow,” because all “pottery” makes me think of is that scene in Ghost where they're making a pot together and how annoyed I would be by that if I was Demi Moore (“Dammit Patrick, can a bitch finish a mug?!”) The word “willow” on the other hand makes me think of two things: weeping willows (nothing to say), and tits (lots to say).

The first thing I associate with “willow” is the song, “Tit Willow,” known by cultured people as a song from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, The Mikado, and by me as the song Sam the Eagle and Rowlf sang together on The Muppet Show. It's important to add here that in The Mikado, “Tit Willow” is a song of unrequited love sung by a “dicky bird.” It'd be too good to be true if it weren't completely true.

 Tit is a pretty harsh word; it sounds crude even if tits themselves are not. I am amazed at how often the word “tit” came up in my childhood. Besides The Muppet Show, I remember a well-intentioned music teacher trying to teach my fifth-grade class how to sing the song, “Lake Titicaca.” There cannot possibly be a worse song to teach to a group of fifth graders.

Lake Titicaca is the most magnificent and unfortunate name for a body of water in all the world. It's like whoever discovered the lake told his eight-year-old son he could name it whatever he wanted as long as he stopped making whatever repetitive, annoying sound he had been making for the past fifty miles.

Titicaca is a name that is impossible to say without laughing. So is, unfortunately, the Willow Tit, an adorable bird that belongs to the tit family of birds called Paridae. Let me quote to you from the Willow Tit's wikipedia page:

“In the east of its range it is much paler than marsh tit....”
“The willow tit is distinguished from the marsh tit by a sooty brown instead of a glossy blue black cap....”
“Birds feed on insects, caterpillars, and seeds, much like other tits.”

If none of that made you giggle, then you are much more grown up than I am.

So to sum up, “willow” is “tit,” and happy anniversary to Jenn!!

motion picture monday

May 25, 2015

released: 2001.
starring: cate blanchett, billy crudup, michael gambon.
what makes it awesome: cate blanchett. and it's a beautiful story.

released: 1987.
starring: mathew modine, vincent d'onofrio, r. lee ermey.
what makes it awesome: r. lee ermey. 

released: 2005.
starring: benjamin bratt, joseph fiennes, connie nielsen.
what makes it awesome: this film is beautiful. i remember watching it in the theater and wishing i could have prints of some of the scenes the cinematography was so stunning. the story is miraculous in so many ways: it's about the largest u.s. military rescue effort in its history. it's long at times, but so, so worth watching. i loved the story of connie nielsen's and joseph fiennes' characters. and i loved seeing how awesome our military can be. 

four. incendies.
released: 2010
starring: lubna azabal, melissa desormeaux-poulin, maxim gaudette.
what makes it awesome:the story. it's haunting and horrific and shocking and so beautifully told. it's a foreign film, and i don't usually watch those, but this one... it's amazing.

released: 2003.
starring: tom cruise, ken watanabe, tony goldwyn.
what makes it awesome: ken watanabe. the music. the cinematography.

released: 2003.
starring: russell crowe, paul bettany, billy boyd.
what makes it awesome: paul bettany. and the ending's pretty nifty.

released: 1998.
starring: tom hanks, tom sizemore, edward burns.
what makes it awesome: it hooked me from the beginning. i loved every actor's performance in this film. also a good tribute to what makes our military great.

blogiversary bash guest post the eighth: amy

May 21, 2015

Hello Everyone! I'm Amy, and I blog over at Amy's Fashion Blog about fashion, my fitness journey and more. I'm so happy to be a part of Jenn's Blogiversary Bash.
Congrats, again, Jenn on your tenth year of blogging.

Every month on my blog I do a remix recap post. This month I decided to showcase my linen pants that I got for 4.99 at Charlotte Russ a few years ago. Linen pants are the perfect kind of pants to have in your closet. They aren't so heavy, so their perfect for the warmer months. Not only that they are so versatile. 

You can dress the linen pants up or down. The pair I got have buttons on the side, so they can be worn as long or cropped pants. I have worn mine a total of twenty-two times on my blog and a few times off the blog. I loved these pants so much. Then I had to retire them in 2013 due to the fact that got a hole in them. Out of the three years I had them, I sure got my money worth. 

My average cost per wear was twenty-three cents. 

What is your favorite way to wear linen pants?

wisdom wednesday: francine rivers

May 19, 2015

redeeming love
"i want to fill your life with color and warmth. i want to fill it with light" (p. 140).

you are all fair, my love; there is no flaw in you. song of solomon 4:7 (p. 305).

that's what i've been trying to do here, with this blog lately. i'd grown tired of it. i've grown tired of me. the past month or so has been quite the challenge, and i'm not handling it very well. i'm trying. but... a girl can only take so much; i keep thinking i've had my fill, and karma says, no. no, you can take a little more. 

like when i go to the grocery store for my boxes of cap'n crunch and honeycomb--kids' cereals are great comfort foods--and run into a woman i knew long, long ago. i recognize her sweet, smiling face. i'm happy, so happy to have run into her. and she seems pleased to see me. 

and of course the questions come: how've you been?

the answer is: miserable. but i can't tell her that. so i lie and say i'm fine. or i'm doing alright. 

and next is: are you married?

i like it so much better when young girls ask me this question. sometimes i go watch my nephew's t-ball games, and the little girls play on the bleachers, waiting for their brothers to finish. they're fearless, these girls. they marvel at the smallness of my eyes. they try to take the few pieces of jewelry i wear off my hands so they can admire the silver on their own skin. they ask me if i'm married.

and yeah, the tug's still there. the twinge of disappointment. the regret that i have to say no. but with these girls, i can quickly brush it aside, smile at them, raise a brow and ask, are you? 

the way they look at me then--all big-eyed and silly--that does wonders for smoothing out that twinge.

but when an older woman's asking.... when she's standing there with her teenage daughter. i have to look away. i can't say i'm barely capable of getting any of'm to ask me out to dinner. but i can't ignore the question, either. nope. i can't seem to find a good man, i say.

to which, of course, she replies, well don't give up. you'll find him.

most of the time i just kind of shrug it off, and that's the end of that conversation.

today i couldn't do it, though. i couldn't leave it. i'm mad and i'm tired. and this question hurts. i know they mean well. i know we love to talk about love. but i can't do it.

i'm forty-two-years-old, ma'am. i'm pretty sure all the good ones are gone. i could feel the daughter's eyes on me. i didn't look. i didn't even look at the mother, but turned back to cereal and sought help locating the cap'n crunch.

the only colors i see right now are red and blue. and there is no warmth. there's scalding, lukewarm and frigid. those are sights i know right now. those are the sensations.

and if not them, then there's the darkness that's plagued me since my childhood. and i'm home alone right now, which makes it so much harder to shove back.

i've taken what little energy i have and am pouring it into the this page. 

and i am clinging, desperately, barely to that bit of scripture... that all this hell is fleeting. that i am good despite it.

that i am all fair... even with the marks i've put upon me--some of which are never coming off.

they are strong words, those. some of the best ones i've read. and when i was hunting for quotes to use here, i was so, so glad i'd happened upon them.

tunes for tuesday: songs from the letter h

one. half of something else. the airborne toxic event. all at once.
two. hallelujah. jeff buckley. grace.
three. halo. depeche mode. violator.
four. happiness. abra moore. strangest places.
five. haunted. poe. haunted.
six. heartland. u2. rattle and hum.
seven. hellodrama. what made milwaukee famous. trying to never catch up.
eight. hells bells. acdc. back in black.
nine. hemorrhage (in my hands). fuel. something like human.
ten. here without you. three doors down.
eleven. here's a quarter (call someone who cares). travis tritt. it's all about to change.
twelve. heresy. nine inch nails. the downward spiral.
thirteen. hey daddy. korn. issues.
fourteen. hey jude. the beatles.
fifteen. hey jupiter. tori amos. boys for pele.
sixteen. hey ladies. the beastie boys. paul's boutique.
seventeen. hey pretty. poe. haunted.
eighteen. high and dry. radiohead.
nineteen. higher ground. red hot chili peppers.
twenty. hold me now. the thompson twins.
twenty-one. hold you in my arms. ray lamontagne. trouble.
twenty-two. hope for the hopeless. a fine frenzy. one cell in the sea.
twenty-three. the house is a'rockin. stevie ray vaughan.
twenty-four. how to save a life. the fray. how to save a life.
twenty-five. hysteria. def leppard. hysteria.

blogiversary bash post the seventh: shane

May 18, 2015

today's post is brought to yall by one of my favorite bloggers, shane at sea salt secrets. this girl's got a huge presence in the blogging world, and i am so, so thrilled that she agreed to participate in this lil shindig i'm having. shane's written about a copper conundrum.

Do you ever find yourself acting differently based on the company with which you are surrounded? Consider your varying mannerisms in a professional environment versus a night out with friends versus a family holiday. You may not always realize this as much as others who know you well will pick up on it.  

Much like a person, copper will adapt to its surrounding circumstances. If you’ve ever sipped on a Moscow Mule next to a toasty fire, you know exactly what I am talking about. The metal quickly adapts the icy temperature of the cocktail as the copper mug gives an extra-cool sensation to your hands and lips.

How about when you find the one who seems to balance out your personality perfectly? The areas where they lack are your strong suits and vice versa. It’s almost as if a magnetic connection has brought two polar points together to merge as one in seamless fashion.

Likewise, copper enhances the distinct tastes of a Moscow Mule. A vodka superstar mixed with fizzy ginger beer and tart lime juice makes for the perfect chilled concoction. Copper's unique properties allow oxidation to boost aroma and enhance flavors of the vodka. The bubbles dance wildly as the carbonated ginger beer fizzes. Tangy citrus notes are accentuated and to overpower acidity and best accompany the spicy ginger beer.

Copper is renowned for its reliability, longevity, and quick adaptation. If you follow suit and whip up a Moscow Mule, you will come to unexpected revelations of your own over a simple, yet complex cocktail.

the texas chat pack questionnaire: results

May 17, 2015

only three people chose to participate in this competition, which makes me a little sad. but it also made choosing the winner pretty easy. lauren submitted her answers to my email. kristie and erin blogged them. i enjoyed ALL of your answers. i swear i did. yall gave me some really good stuff. but i believe erin did it best, and so she gets twenty-five bucks to texas roadhouse.

now, for my answers.

one. if you could have dinner with any athlete or coach currently playing for or employed by a texas team, whom would you choose? j.j. watt. duh.

two. who's your least favorite texan? rick perry.

three. who's your favorite? stevie ray vaughan.

four. who's the most famous texan you've met in person? dusty hill.

five. if you could build anything you wanted completely over water, what would it be? a house.

six. if your hometown could have the oldest of anything in the state, what would you want it to be? a bookstore.

seven. if you were to have a trophy named after you, what would candidates need to achieve in order to qualify for the award? one of the reasons most of my friends think i'm crazy is because i do things like paying to see a movie multiple times in the theater. excessively so. the first pirates of the carribbean film? i saw that thing eighteen times. i was gonna stop at fifteen, but when the manager of the blockbuster video store i frequented told me she'd met someone who'd seen it more than me (sixteen), i quickly set aside the dvds i'd gathered and headed for the theater. j.j. abrams' star trek? i watched that one twenty times. so i'm gonna have to go with the most obsessed movie-lover award, and the winner would need to show an intense passion and dedication to the craft of cinema in some way. it wouldn't necessarily have to be something like watching a film on a big screen twenty times. it could be something like having a house filled with film posters, having a massive dvd or digital film collection... whatever. just MUCH. almost frighteningly so.

eight. if a songwriter in texas wanted to write a country song about your life, what might serve as the perfect title for this tune? ain't no such thing as better.

nine. if you could be doing anything at all in texas at this very moment, what would it be? driving the backroads to see where they go.

ten. what is the single greatest moment in texas history? the battle of san jacinto.

eleven. if you could have a supersized home, what twist would you give it to make it uniquely yours? for the longest time i wanted a castle, somewhere between austin and dallas, right between the hill country and the forests, far enough from the city that i was in the country, but close enough to the city that i was able to get things easily (probably closer to austin than dallas, cause i hate dallas. but the country southwest of dallas is gorgeous, yall.). so a castle, which would make it pretty unique, as i don't think we have many castles in texas. the whole first floor would be a media room. it'd have a kitchen and a bath and gobs of comfortable seating--that lancaster sofa from restoration hardware, for example (like three of those). with original film posters all along the walls. and instead of a moat, i'd have a lazy river running round the place with the occasional drink station here and there.

twelve. of all the songs you can think of where the word "texas" or the name of a texas town appears in song's title, which one is your overall favorite? when i was a kid it was restless heart's the bluest eyes in texas. i still like that song, actually. but it ain't got nothing on zz top's la grange.

thirteen. of the scores of films shot in whole or part in texas, such as "apollo thirteen," which one is your favorite, and which one is your least favorite? favorite: apollo thirteen. least favorite: father hood.

fourteen. what is the best example of texas pride you have ever witnessed? anytime anyone says "i'm from texas." i just love hearing that word coming out of people's mouths.

fifteen. if you had five barrels of oil that you would sell at current market value, what would you buy with the money? $298.45 would pay off a doctor's bill and then some; i'd have enough to grab lunch somewhere decent.

sixteen. to people who don't hail from the lone star state, the texas twang can indeed sound a bit strange, but to your ears, which united states' region's people have the oddest-sounding accent? new yorkers.

seventeen. what's your biggest pet peeve about texans as a whole? that some of'm chose to be stupid longhorns.

eighteen. if you could have been there to witness any specific moment in texas' sports history, what moment would you choose? the texas vs. texas tech game football game from seven years ago.

40:01771:28TTUMichael Crabtree 28-yard touchdown reception from Graham Harrell, Donnie Carona kick good3339

nineteen. what is the most disappointing, perhaps downright depressing moment in the history of texas sports? the oklahoma vs. texas a&m game from twelve years ago. it hurts to type the words.

twenty. if you could build a dream house along any lake or river in texas, where would you built it, and what would your waterfront retreat look like? when i drove to lubbock not long ago, i passed through a town called hamilton on highway thirty-six that i liked a lot. when i drove back, i came home on highway six, and i remember loving a lot of the countryside along that highway. there's a highway that connect hamilton on thirty-six, to hico on six. that highway is two eighty-one, which runs to san antonio. it'd be close to austin and dallas. not far from college station. seems like a good place to be. between hamilton and hico is the leon river. i'd put that castle that i was telling yall about right there.

twenty-one. if you were offered a hundred free acres of land anywhere in texas to use or develop as you wish, where would you  want your property to be located and what would you do with it. i'd build that castle on the leon river between hamilton and hico, and i'd make it a writers' retreat.

twenty-two. what is the most beautiful geographical feature in the entire state of texas? i don't think i can pick one. i love watching the sun set while speeding across ten from houston to san antonio. but i also love driving the backroads up through southeast texas toward the hill country. and coming home from lubbock, seeing the mountains trail off and give way to those forest and hills was pretty nice, too. then there's the bluebonnets... the fields of them that go on forever. the rivers...

i can't pick one because i love them all the same.

twenty-three. what is the most exciting annual event held in texas? i should say something like south by southwest or the rodeo. but for me, personally, the most exciting event is the start of football season.

twenty-four. what is the most overrated tourist attraction in texas? the alamo. i know what happened there. i know how important that event was in our history. i know. but people swarm around that building like it's... i don't know. it should be treated with reverence or something, and instead it's a place to take a selfie. i hate that. i loathe that it's become a tourist attraction. i would rather it just be. and when you pass it, you look at it, and you appreciate it, but you keep moving. you don't stop to take a picture.

twenty-five. if you had to do a summer road trip within texas on only one of the highways, which highway would you choose? eighty-seven from san antonio to lubbock. i've never been to fredericksburg. and i've always wanted to see the country on that route.

blogiversary bash guest post the sixth: karen

May 15, 2015

today's blogiversary bash post is brought to yall by karen at karen at the field. karen's another friend from my high school days, and i'm so glad she agreed to provide picky with this post.
how sweet it is...

I don’t remember the first time I ever tasted candy. It might have been on one of my earliest Trick or Treat outings on Halloween. After coming home from a night of running door to door in the neighborhood, I would dump out my treats on the kitchen table. I would divvy up the chocolate from the Tootsie Roll Pops and Starbursts and other gooey treats. Sometimes, there would be money or a popcorn ball. I would count out the paieces, excited over the spoils of an evening’s work. I would savor the stash of candy over the next month or so – I probably would have eaten all the chocolate in one setting, but my mother had rules about such things.

It’s amazing how excited I got over such a simple thing as candy. Besides Halloween candy, we sometimes would get caramel squares from the grocery store, and every now and then, a candy bar or Tootsie Rolls. I remember sneaking Hershey’s Kisses or pieces of candy from any candy dish I got near. And of course, Easter egg hunts. I remember winning a chocolate bunny at the first hunt I ever attended. There’s still a picture of me with that bunny. I remember thinking it was better than a trophy. Whenever I was happy, anxious, or bored (or stuck in the middle of studying at college), candy was there to break up the monotony.

These days, I hardly think about candy. I pass by the rack in the grocery checkout line without a second thought. We do have a dish of candy on the countertop at home, but most days, I pass by with only a momentary glance. The cares and worries that I have are too much for a piece of candy to solve, and excitement to me these days is having a productive work day or light traffic on the way home. And the truth is, I’m supposed to be cleaning up my diet and getting back to running and exercising like I once did. I really shouldn’t be thinking about candy.

But with everything going on in my life and in the world today, it seems like we need more of the sweet, simple pleasures, like candy, or a walk in the park, or sitting down in a quiet corner and not thinking about anything, but just being. After a whirlwind spring, I think I will take a moment and savor the small things while I have a chance. And that includes candy. I think I’ll start with some Kit Kats and go from there. How sweet it is to savor the good things in life, dentist be damned!

random quarter: the q&a edition--may

May 14, 2015

one. messy or neat? messy.

two. are you hesitating? i guess.

three. if you could have a superpower just for today, what would it be? ability to read people's minds.

four. when was the last time you went swimming? last summer.

five. today was hilarious because of sarah and adam.

six. what was the last party you went to? mae's baby shower.

seven. who would play you in a movie about your life? is it a good movie? hilary swank. i don't know.

eight. who do you think is cute? lots of people.

nine. what do you want to postpone? nothing.

ten. how did you start your day? playing texas hold'm poker online.

eleven. how do you want to be remembered? as a good writer.

twelve. what are you exploring? nothing.

thirteen. what do you consider to be your biggest achievement? living despite this shit.

fourteen. what was your favorite day this week? monday.

fifteen. what's the most creative thing you've done recently? written some newspaper articles.

sixteen. if you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go? roadtrip across the south.

seventeen. list the things that nagged you today? shyness, fear and my mouth.

eighteen. what gives you comfort right now? baker street.

nineteen. what's the best thing you've read today? something i wrote.

twenty. if you didn't have any responsibilities for the day what would you do? hang at baker's and blog.

twenty-one. who loves you today? my family.

twenty-two. what makes a good enemy? hatred and fear.

twenty-three. today you got rid of money because i ate out.

twenty-four. when was the last time you had an inspiring conversation? i don't remember.

twenty-five. how much cash do you have in your wallet? three dollars.

wisdom wednesday: michelle hodkin

May 13, 2015

today i have for yall a special treat. a guest post by a lovely gal named steffi, whom i met on twitter. she has volunteered to contribute a post for the wisdom wednesday series i've started. if yall have some favorite literary quotes and wisdom you'd care to share, feel free to send it my way. i'm happy to share it here.

Hello everyone! My name is Steffi, and currently I am a Wattpad author. The link to my Wattpad is here. I am so thankful that Jenn let me guest post on her wonderful blog. I hope y'all enjoy this week's Wisdom Wednesday! :)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
I was going to kiss him, and I was going to regret it. But at that moment, I couldn't bring myself to care (p. 120).

Everyone has done things that they regret. And we can't do anything to change what happened. But we can change what happens in the future. One time, I had this really big test coming up, but there was a party I was dying to attend. I knew I would regret not studying, but I just couldn't bring myself to care. At this moment of the book, Mara and Noah were still- somehow, acquaintances.  The only way to predict your future is to create one. Mistakes do come in handy. They show you what not to do the next time. Regrets are just a course in the game that is life. We just have to get past them and keep playing.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer
"The boy is destined for greatness, but with you, he is in danger. You are linked, the two of you. You must leave him. This is what I have seen."

I grew frustrated. “Is he in danger because of me?”

“He will die before his time with you by his side, unless you let him go. Fate or chance? Coincidence or destiny? I cannot say.” Her voice had turned soft.

Soft and sad.

A fist closed around my heart. I tried to let him go once before. It didn't work.

“I can’t,” was all I said to her, and quietly.

“Then you will love him to ruins,” she said, and let my hands go (p. 292).

Sometimes, we have to let people go so that they can continue on their dreams or reach their full potential, if you must. In the book, Mara was so afraid of what the girl told her, and she made a choice for the both of them. We always see this concept in books. For an example, the girl gets pregnant, and the boy has a scholarship three states away, and it has been his lifelong dream to go to that college. So the girl lets him go, without telling him. I can not tell you how many books I have read with that plot and idea. I believe we shouldn't be making the choice for them, even if we think it is for the best. It is their choice and not ours. And we must respect the fact that they have a say in it.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer
“You are a girl, Mara. A girl blessed and cursed” (the last line in chapter thirty-three).

This reminds me of yin and yang. There is a good in the darkness, and there is a bad in the light, if that makes sense. Everyone has two sides--a good and a bad one. Some just hide it better than others. Mara is blessed and cursed because of her powers and what they could do to people, animals and things. I have to admit--I am not the same person at home, and I am not the same person at school. I don't do it intentionally, but I know I act differently. There's not much I can do because most of the time I don't even realize it. But despite what everyone says about you, you should always be the best you can be. Show the side you want known. 

I hope you liked it! Don't forget to check me out on Wattpad!

**this post is a special issue, not part of the blogiversary bash guest post series.

blogiversary bash guest post the fifth: raewyn

May 12, 2015

hey yall. today i bring you the fifth installment in the blogiversary bash series. meet raewyn, another blogger to whom i've been introduced by kristie.

Hello! My name is Raewyn, and I blog over at Be a Warrior Queen. I focus on empowering women to be their fullest self, while sharing tidbits of my life. I'm recently married and a mama-to-be. I can't wait to teach my daughter the beauty of individuality and compassionate hearts. My childhood was filled with abnormal experiences that taught me the beauty of life. I can't wait to share with her.

Only the people who have known me since I was a small child know that my family and I used to do 1840s re-enactments. We called them rendezvouses and we'd do the whole shebang. It was very similar to Renaissance Fairs (if you've been to any of the good ones) where you have to hide anything that appears to be modern.

We'd spend weekends camping in our canvas teepee on cots covered with Mexican wool blankets (hiding our sleeping bags.) Our ice chests hid inside of wood boxes and all of our meals were cooked over a pit my dad dug in the ground.

We were supposed to be pioneers taking making our way to the promiseland of California. As with all societies, we tried to show the hierarchy. There were the more well-off dressed much nicer than I in my Little House on the Prairie dresses and occasional leather Native American dress hand-stitched by my grandfather. We had wood utensils. The more well-off (often dressed in Civil War General garb) had silverware.

These experiences were something I could never forget, and I truly believe I have a strong understanding of California history that many people missed.

Back to the wood utensils versus the silverware. Oh, I remember the silverware was so fancy and ornate. Something we truly took for granted in our regular everyday life. The wood utensils were more difficult to use. We often scooped instead of stabbed, yet we were lucky enough to have knives. Knives my grandfather made with metal and animal bone.

My grandfather passed away this past year, and I took as many of these mementos as I could find. I have knives made out of antlers and drinking horns that he created that were so ornate and gorgeous, I never understood why we didn't still use these types of things.

It is strange, you know. The animals and plants we eat have so much more use than what we currently use them for. We'll throw away parts that many other societies cherish. Our modern society puts more emphasis on electronics that are man-made than the beauty we can find in the earth.

My grandfather loved to create things out of the earth. These rendezvouses were my favorite memories with my grandfather. During that time we spent a lot of time at my grandparents after school. But the weekend rendezvous was something different. We'd create our own games, use our own imagination and play a lot of school. My grandfather taught me how to throw a tomahawk, and my mother and I learned basket weaving. I was so proud of myself the day I sold my first basket. I am sure the man bought it because I was a cute kid, and not because it was actually any good.

If you look closely, you'll see a tomahawk flying through the air.
These lessons are lost on my generation and those that come after. Silverware is now something so common, while the gorgeous individuality of wood slips away from our grasps. We paint over the unique natural design that took years to make, to create uniform pieces. Much like we prefer to mass-produce electronics than hand-make something original.

raewyn, this was fascinating. thanks for sharing!

motion picture monday

May 10, 2015

released: 1995.
starring: tom hanks, gary sinise, ed harris.
what makes it awesome: gary sinise, ed harris. the beatiful job the cast and crew do to illustrate the extent of the efforts made to bring our astronauts home.

released: 2000.
starring: sandra bullock, michael caine, benjamin bratt.
what makes it awesome: benjamin bratt and michael caine.

three. office space.
released: 1999.
starring: ron livingston, jennifer aniston, gary cole.
what makes it awesome: stephen root.

released: 1977.
starring: burt reynolds, sally field, jerry reed.
what makes it awesome: burt reynolds. i never much cared for him, but here he's badass.

released: 2000.
starring: clint eastwood, tommy lee jones, donald sutherland.
what makes it awesome: tommy lee jones.

released: 2006.
starring: will ferrell, john c. reilly, sacha baren cohen.
what makes it awesome: ferrell (whom i usually detest) and reilly (whom i love).

released: 1983.
starring: shirley maclaine, debra winger, jack nicholson.
what makes it awesome: jack nicholson.

saturday spotlight: texas chat pack

May 9, 2015

the person who provides the best responses to all twenty-five questions gets a twenty-five dollar gift card to texas roadhouse. you have until eleven fifty-nine p.m. saturday, may sixteenth to get this done. do not answer them in the comments section of this post. send them to me at criticalcrass at me dot com, or better yet, blog them with a link back to this post (special consideration will be given to those who choose to do the latter). the winner, with a blog post link if applicable, will be announced may seventeenth, at the conclusion of the contest. i will also post my answers at that point.

one. if you could have dinner with any athlete or coach currently playing for or employed by a texas team, whom would you choose?

two. who's your least favorite texan?

three. whose your favorite?

four. who's the most famous texan you've met in person?

five. the flagship hotel in galveston, which had to be torn down due to hurricane damage, was built completely over water. the galveston island historic pleasure pier is now located where the hotel stood. if you could build anything you wanted completely over water, what would it be?

six. galveston has the oldest newspaper in the state, the daily news. if your hometown could have the oldest of anything in the state, what would you want it to be?

seven. the heisman trophy was named for john william heisman, the first full-time coach and athletic director at rice university in houston. if you were to have a trophy named after you, what would candidates need to achieve in order to qualify for the award?

eight. if a songwriter in texas wanted to write a country song about your life, what might serve as the perfect title for this tune?

nine. if you could be doing anything at all in texas at this very moment, what would it be?

ten. what is the single greatest moment in texas history?

eleven. mary kay ash of mary kay cosmetics had a twelve-thousand-square-foot, pink mansion in dallas. if you could have a supersized home what twist would you give it to make it uniquely yours?

twelve. of all the songs you can think of where the word "texas" or the name of a texas town appears in the song's title (for example, "amarillo by morning"), which one is your overall favorite?

thirteen. of the scores of films shot in whole or part in texas, such as "apollo thirteen," which one is your favorite, and which one is your least favorite?

fourteen. texas a&m is recognized as home of the twelfth  man because its students stand throughout the entire football game to show support for the team. what is the best example of texas pride you have ever witnessed?

fifteen. texas tapped its first oil gusher in nineteen-one, and the state now produces about five hundred million barrels of crude oil annually. if you had five barrels of oil that you could sell at current market value, what would you buy with the money?

sixteen. to people who don't hail from the lone star state, the texas twang can indeed sound a bit strange, but to your ears which united states' region's people have the oddest sounding accent?

seventeen. what is your biggest pet peeve about texans as a whole?

eighteen. if you could have been there to witness any specific moment in texas sports history, what moment would you choose?

nineteen. what is the most disappointing, perhaps downright depressing moment in the history of texas sports?

twenty. if you could build a dream house along any lake or river in texas, where would you go build it, and what would your waterfront retreat look like?

twenty-one. if you were offered one hundred free acres of land anywhere in texas to use or develop as you wish, where would you want your property to be located and what would you do with it?

twenty-two. what is the most beautiful geographical feature in the entire state of texas?

twenty-three. what is the most exciting annual event held in texas?

twenty-four. what is the most overrated tourist attraction in texas?

twenty-five. texas has more miles of highway--over seventy thousand--than any other state in the nation. if you had to do a summer road trip within texas texas on only one of the highways, which highway would you travel and what would be the main points of interest for you along the way?

thankful thursday

May 7, 2015

i'm not one for shopping. i'm a little more inclined to do it if it's for kitchen gadgets, home decor, books, music or movies. clothes? i loathe shopping for clothes. i hate having to try shit on--the taking everything off and putting something on only to take it off again and put back on what you'd been wearing moments before. and there's that mirror with that godawful lighting that makes you look so much worse, thereby making you feel even worse than that mirror makes you look. i HATE it.

i think the thing i most detest purchasing is blue jeans, which is ironic, because i would wear them every day if i could, especially if they fit well.

and therein lies the rub. finding a pair that fits well has been damned near impossible.

they're too low on my hips. they're too tight around my waist. they're too baggy in the butt. and i cannot stand the way they cling to my calves. i know why they're made this way. i know the purpose is because they make your butt look good. and a girl's stomach's supposed to be, in that perfect world, flat as the table upon which my laptop sits. but seriously? who has a stomach that flat? it sure as shit ain't me.

right now, my stomach's about as big around as my hips are. my thighs and calves look more like bowling pins. i'm not that interested in showing off all those curves as i am in being comfortable in what i'm wearing... in my skin.

so for kicks one evening after i'd left work, i went to dillard's, to the men's department to try on a pair of jeans there. i'd lucked out in meeting the manager of that department who was really, really kind to me. i told him at the first than i had an odd request. he didn't bat an eye, but he'd recommended that first i try a particular brand in the women's department downstairs. i did. and i didn't like them, so i went back upstairs. and he took quite a bit of time talking with me about what i wanted and looking over the merchandise, picking out half a dozen pairs. i bought three. 

that's the first thing for which i've been grateful. i'd expected to be treated like a freak, and he'd shown nothing but kindness.

on saturday, the weekend after i'd made these purchases, a very good friend of the family celebrated his birthday at his middle son's house. the son's wife is one of those beautiful people. the golden girl who has no trouble whatsoever in a crowd, who loves the bangles and the hoops and the strappy, shiny sandals and the fashionable, feminine attire. she's the complete opposite of me, basically.

and i'm not writing this because i wish i could be more like her. i don't wanna wear the bangles and the hoops and the strappy, shiny sandals and the fashionable, feminine attire. but i wanna be that comfortable in the clothes i have donned that day.

while i was physically comfortable in what i'd worn--an oatmeal and navy striped, long-sleeved, v-neck t-shirt, my favorite of those three pairs of jeans i'd purchased and and my brown sanuk flip-flops--i felt wrong, especially standing next to her and her friends. they all had daughters. they were talking about how they wanted their girls to bother with the bangles and whatnot two days a week, and the rest of the time they could wear what they wanted. the conversation made me feel more self-conscious. more ashamed of the fact that i'd chosen these jeans, that i couldn't be more adept at painting my face and fixing my hair, that i didn't fit.

and i kept thinking about what that jackass had said. about what a lot of jackasses have said over the years.

i told her, later as she had lead me to a cooler holding the coca-colas, about the most recent jackass' comment. and instead of blowing it off, she showed concern and kindness. and when i'd left that night, she gave me a really good hug. i love hugs. they are beautiful things.

a week later, this past saturday, i went back to the men's department at dillard's where i got more help from two more guys who also managed to not treat me oddly. because i felt like i hadn't taken enough time to really look--as invested as the manager had been, maybe i'd been a little too quick in making my choices. i'd decided, since i liked that pair i'd worn the saturday before the best, to buy more by that brand and donate the others. i found two more pair. and yall, they fit me SO WELL. the second guy who'd helped me... when i'd come out of the dressing room, i asked him what he thought. he said they looked good. and when told him they were men's jeans, he was quite surprised. they don't dig into my belly, they hug my butt and hips so comfortably, and they're just the right amount of roomy in the leg. plus they're long! and that's always been the ultimate bane of my existence; jeans have never been long enough. they don't have a lot of trim on the pockets. the wash is fantastic. i'm loving these, yall. i don't give a shit that they were made for a man. they feel really good. more, i like the way my legs look in them.

and then monday, in the mail, i got a really nice note from that golden girl... more concern... more kindness. those are beautiful things, too. so little and yet so monumental.

blogiversary bash guest post the third: lauren

May 6, 2015

today i have for yall the third guest post in the blogiversary bash series brought to you by the lovely lauren.

Hello! My name is Lauren and I blog at Life Love Lauren. Thank you to Jenn for letting me take over her piece of the internet today.

In case you haven't noticed, Jenn's piece of the internet shows a beautiful courage as she puts her heart and soul out there with her beautiful words. Not many other people can do what she does.

Something you should know about me really quick. I am fortunate enough to be in love. I met my now husband when we were both 16 and not a single day has passed without love. He is the love of my life.

But there are different kinds of love. There are kinds of love you have with people that you, despite being so lucky, would do anything to try and take away their sadness or suffering. I have this love for my sisters and sometimes watching them learn and love in their own relationships can be heartbreaking.

Relationships are like glass. They are smooth.

Relationships are like glass. You know the properties but you sometimes can't control it.

Relationships are like glass.  The shine can blind you.

Relationships are like glass. You can see yourself change through them.

Relationships are like glass. They can be fragile but with a sense of strength.

Relationships are like glass. You aren't easily able to hide darkness.

Relationships are like glass. They are beautiful, light, and airy.

Relationships are like glass. Everyone sees and has an opinion.

Relationships are like glass. You don't want to throw stones.

Relationships are like glass. If you treat it right, it won't crack.

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it is better to leave them broken than to hurt yourself trying to put it back together.

lauren's a sweetheart, yall. go say hi.

tunes for tuesday: songs that begin with the letter e

May 5, 2015

one. easy. fuel. something like human.
two. eat the rich. aerosmith. get a grip.
three. eclipsed. evans blue. the melody and the energetic nature of volume.
four. egg man. beastie boys. paul's boutique.
five. elephants. rachael yamagata. elephants... teeth sinking into heart.
six. ellis island. big head todd and the monsters. sister sweetly.
seven. elsewhere. sarah mclachlan. fumbling towards ecstasy.
eight. the emperor's new clothes. sinead o'connor. i do not want what i haven't got.
nine. empire. queensryche. empire.
ten. empty. ray lamontagne. till the sun turns black.
eleven. end of the world. cold. thirteen ways to bleed on stage.
twelve. enjoy the silence. depeche mode. violator.
thirteen. enough for now. the fray. the fray.
fourteen. enter sandman. metallica. metallica.
fifteen. epiphany. staind. break the cycle.
sixteen. eraser. nine inch nails. the downward spiral.
seventeen. even better than the real thing. u2. achtung baby.
eighteen. evenflow. pearl jam. ten.
nineteen. everlong. foo fighters. the colour and the shape.
twenty. every rose has its thorn. poison. open up and say... ahh.
twenty-one. everybody hurts. r.e.m. automatic for the people.
twenty-two. everybody knows. concrete blonde. pump up the volume soundtrack.
twenty-three. everybody wants to rule the world. tears for fears. songs from the big chair.
twenty-four. everything changes. staind. chapter v.
twenty-five. eyes of a stranger. queensryche. operation mindcrime.

blogiversary bash guest post the second: erin

May 4, 2015

today i have for yall the second guest post in the picky days of may blogiversary bash and blogging competition, brought to you by erin.

hi there, i don't usually type in all lowercase, but this is jenn's blog, and i'm trying it her way.

i'm erin, a texas woman who has known jenn for 25+ years.  we reconnected through facebook a few years ago, and i'm glad we did.  for six+ years, i've lived in sydney,, i came up with the oh-so-clever name for my blog texerin-in-sydneyland - go check me out.  enough about me (well, not really, because i'll be talking about myself again).

jenn is having a ten year blogiversary.  that's pretty amazing stuff.  when she asked for volunteers to guest post, i responded immediately because i will always do what i can to promote jenn's blog.  her posts are honest and show a lot of strength and stellar writing.  so, here i go, guest posting...

jenn gave me two words - cotton and china.  the first thought that came into my mind was the cotton bowl.  my beloved texas aggies played, and i attended many games at the cotton bowl.  but i started bouncing the words back and forth.  when i thought further about cotton, i got literal.  cotton is a crop with soft, natural, fluff balls.  cotton as a fabric is thought to be comfortable.  well, not "thought to be", it is comfortable.  i started thinking about comfort.........

sometimes being too comfortable is looked upon in a negative light - if you stay in a relationship because it's comfortable but it's not exactly fulfilling your emotional needs, or you stay in a job because you're too comfortable but it's not exactly challenging or fulfilling your passions.

but, i like comfort.  i like to be comfortable.  i like soft cotton t-shirts, especially my old concert tees that have been washed 1000 times and are authentic (not purchased at target with old concert logos, although i own some of those too.)
Like this Bon Jovi shirt when Germany was still listed as "W. Germany", and they didn't go to "E. Germany" for rock concerts.
what else brings me comfort?  that natural, soft feeling (similarities to cotton) or even feeling snug, safe, and secure...what gives me those feelings of comfort?
  • hot tea
  • fuzzy blankets
  • a good book
  • a hot bath
  • mashed potatoes (i have a lot of comfort foods, but this is #1)
  • as mentioned before, overwashed cotton t-shirts
  • kitty cuddles
  • a big hug from my dad
  • being held by my guy
  • a kiss on the cheek from my mom
  • love actually
  • spiced candles
  • hoodies
  • amaretto (neat)
  • sunsets/sunrises
  • slow songs by willie nelson (i have a lot of comfort songs, but these always seem to work)
  • talking to a friend who sometimes knows me better than i know myself
  • knowing that my nieces and nephew are happy and healthy
  • feather pillows
  • cotton sheets
  • my bare feet in cool grass
  • the sound of waves rolling in on a beach
  • the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking 

What are some things that bring you comfort?
thanks to jenn for allowing me to participate.  it's good to stretch my mind, think, write...and especially good to think about things that bring me comfort.  i need this reminder from time to time.  and i need to surround myself with these things too. happy 10 year blogiversary, jenn!

erin finds neat link-ups and loves to join in... like this post on australian verses american english. she also blogs a lot about books and music. hers is kind of a fun place. go say howdy.

motion picture monday

May 3, 2015

one. about time.
released: 2013.
starring: domhnall gleeson, rachel mcadams, bill nighy.
what makes it awesome: the story. bill nighy.

released: 2006.
starring: russell crowe, archie panjabi, albert finney.
what makes it awesome: it's in interesting study of the powerful impact one man can have on another's life, how upheaval can be beautiful. also archi panjabi's character's pretty cool.

released: 2000.
starring: edward norton, ben stiller, anne bancroft.
what make it awesome: the story. the dialogue. edward norton. anne bancroft.

released: 1996
starring: george clooney, michelle pfeiffer, mae whitman
what makes it awesome: it's cute and happy. 

released: 1998.
starring: sean connery, gena rowlands, angelina jolie.
what makes it awesome: the story, especially that of connery's and rowland's characters. i love them, yall. they are perfect in this movie. they are perfect. there's not a lot of action, here; it's billed as romantic comedy, but it's more a drama. and the cast is incredible. i've never seen such a wonderful ensemble. the way the story's told, the words used to tell it... not everything about it is good, and it's very chaotic at first, but i love how all the pieces come together.

released: 2013.
starring: sam rockwell, steve carrell, toni collette.
what makes it awesome: i LOVED this movie, yall. i remember watching it in the theaters; it made me laugh SO hard. i've never liked sam rockwell so much. it also made me loathe steve carrell. i've never really much cared for him as an actor, but he did good work here playing a truly despicable dude. 

seven. you again.
released: 2010.
starring: kristen bell, jamie lee curtis, sigourney weaver.
what makes it awesome: i like these characters. i like this story. it's cute and fun, but it's also got some heart, and i like that, too. and its cast is pretty nifty, as well.

saturday spotlight: the red lion project

May 2, 2015

in march, i changed jobs. a long, long time ago, i worked for a weekly newspaper. after a couple of years, i got sick of doing that and went back to selling books. i got sick of doing that, and spent four years selling children's furniture and accessories. i got sick of doing that and went back to working at the newspaper because i found i missed the work.

the thing i most love about this work is the perks... like the time i got to meet cheech marin and free entrance to events like the woodlands waterway arts festival and the tomball crawfish festival and the much more expensive ymca's dancing with the woodlands stars. the best perk is the stories we discover.

like the one about six marines killed in afghanistan and the red lion project the father of one has orchestrated to honor them. the father is thomas logan. his son was named joseph. 

prior to departing on that fateful tour, joey had expressed an interest in buying some land with his dad in montana because he'd loved going fishing there with him. 

they couldn't do it together, but tom bought the land anyway. more than a hundred acres of serenity near the clark fork river, surrounded by three thousand square miles of national forest. a quiet respite, ideal for horseback riding, fishing, hiking, canoeing... or just relaxing and observing the wildlife.

the plan is to build six cabins, one for each of the fallen, to be used by soldiers and their families... to create a haven, a place to heal, reconnect and ease the stress of transitioning from the military life to a civil one.

for those of you who live in southeast texas and like to fish, the project is holding a catfish fundraiser on may ninth. the deadline to enter was the first. but maybe latecomers will be welcome. doesn't hurt to ask.

i'm not necessarily posting this to encourage people to go fish. my older brother would've been all about that... he would've rallied all his friends to participate. and they would've done it because he could convince anybody to do pretty much anything.

i'm writing because my family goes to northern utah every summer for a week to visit my munkle (i've a great uncle who's a monk, for those of you are new here... yes, there are monks in utah, though not for long). anyway... that's our haven. that's my heaven. and i know full well how wonderful having that respite is. 

i know full well how our soldiers could use a place like this. like the one tom logan and his friends are making. 

i'm writing this because i want to help him make his son's dream a reality. i want to help our wounded. if they're hurt, we mend their bodies and then we send them home where they have to fend for themselves. we can do better than that. they deserve better than that.

to donate, click here.