Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snowed In Christmas

It's 12:19 on Saturday afternoon, December 26. I should be at my Grandad's house for our day after Christmas giftgiving this year, but I'm not. Instead I am relaxing happily in a reclining chair at my in-laws country house. Remanents from yesterday's gift opening/giving are scattered around me. Bits of wrapping paper, a spare bow or two and the tree lights are twinkling. I can look out the window and see snow falling lightly on fields of pure white. Beautiful isolation surrounds us. I'm even typing this blog on notepad because there is no internet and I'm keeping my cellphone turned off because we barely have service. We are officially snowed in, and I couldn't be more pleased!

I got word from my mom last night that we were cancelling Grandad's Christmas, so we wouldn't be needing to dig out and unfreeze my completely unsnow-worthy Mecury Mistake (as Daniel calls it) to be at Grandad's by 11:00 a.m. Instead, I slept in till 9, ate a leisurly breakfast and just got done playing in the snow with Emily. I've had my first four-wheeler ride, my first car-hood sled ride pulled by four-wheeler, and we dug lots of tunnels underneath giant snow drifts.

I have nowhere I need to be, no projects I need to work on. No baking that needs to be done in time for this party or that. All I have to do is relax. I have a stack of books to go through, we have plenty of board games to play, and comfy recliners to take lazy naps on. I feel a little sad about not being able to see my family, but right now I know that this day is a gift. So thanks Mother Nature, for forcing me to relax. I'm not the sort of person to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I won't be wasting this present. In fact, I feel a nap coming on right about now.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie Party 2009



(And that doesn't mean that we've had 2009 of them)

So the first weekend of December, me and my ladies got together to make some cookie heaven. What we ended up with was just short of a miracle. Even after most everyone had taken their spoils home for the day, I woke up to 16 bags of cookies in my house. Thank the Gods I know a lot of Cookie Monsters! :-)

So here are some pictures of the day. Enjoy!!

We started off the day with some hard work and no-nonsense looks from Belinda. Of course that was just an act, since she brought the alcohol. ;-) Cookie shot, anyone??

Carolyn brought some cookie dough and some beer! The perfect combination!

Brenda just brought her thumbs...but that was enough. ;-)

Here are a sampling of some of the cookies we made:
Sugar & Gingerbread

Dipped Pretzels, Oreos and Peanut Butter Crackers. Mmmm.

Brenda's Snickerdoodles.

Lime Meltaways that I had some trouble with the night before, but Brenda helped save them.

Thanks to Belinda we had a ton of Frosting. And if you look carefully you'll spot the beer too. Frosting or Beer? Which is better?

We had some not so normal cookies too:

Christmas Coffin

(and the tail of Christmas Shark at the top)

Christmas Zombie and Victim (he was my creation!)

We made Daniel eat the Christmas Poop.

Nikki even made a Christmas Trash Can.

We also had some "un-rated" cookies. Hide Your Eyes, Kids!!!

Ashley's White Trash Dude with a Wife Beater and a Can of PBR. He also has HUGE balls!

My Christmas Flasher!

And Carolyn made a special cookie with all our names (abbreviated) on it!

The Whole Gang!

At the end of the night, we ordered pizza and watched/played Drunken Commando, which is pretty much just take a drink when Arnold does something humanly impossible, kills someone, or just does/says something awesome. I'm pretty sure that means you drink the whole movie.
I'm also pretty sure that Carolyn, Nikki & I ate an entire bag of Pretzel Rods.
Anyway, I'm so glad to have friends to do things like this with!
Thanks for giving me fun for Christmas this year, cause that's what I always have when I'm with you! :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Bend In the Road - Critical Monkey Contest Entry #2

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

So I was torn by what to read next for my Critical Monkey Challenge, because I am sadly, quite far behind. Is it my fault that I've been assaulted by books that I actually wanted to read!?! Well, I went so far as to purchase a Danielle Steele novel (which will probably be my next entry), but because of time, I chickened out at the last minute and grabbed the much shorter "A Bend in the Road" by Nicholas Sparks.

Nicholas Sparks is not someone whose books ever appealed to me. His particular style of writing always sounded like the books I would never read as a kid. The ones about real people dealing with hard issues. Books about cancer or death, divorce, or eating disorders never appealed to me. Books were a way to escape into different worlds or times, and the idea of reading a book about the girl who loves her boyfriend but he gets killed and she is left alone, never sounded worth reading, unless that boyfriend was killed by a vampire. Seeing other girls at school carrying those books around made me clutch my copy of "Dealing with Dragons" close to my heart. That's not to say that I don't enjoy a good romance. I even smuggled in Harlequin romance novels to read at night (away from the prying eyes of parents), but they were always "Historical Romances" and were set in far away places that took me as far away from "real life" as possible. And mainly, lets be honest here, I read them for the sex scenes (I was 15, after all). And though I have ventured out into more "issue conscious" fiction since High School, "A Bend in the Road" still seemed like a story NOT right up my alley.

The plot is relatively simple: Centering around a man, Miles, whose wife, Missy, died in a hit and run car accident 2 years before, Miles works as a sheriff in this small town (of course), but was never able to find the driver of the car. He has been struggling to keep going and raise his son, Jonah, until he meets, Sarah Andrews who brings new life and love to he and Jonah. But (SPOILER ALERT) when Sarah's brother comes forward with new information regarding Missy's death, Sarah and Mile's love and relationship are threatened.

My Thoughts: Okay, judging by my description, you can tell I wasn't all that thrilled with the book, and I think the reason I keep going back to the books I read in high school is because I feel like this is exactly the book that the other girls used to read. The wording, sentence structures, and frequent cliches, make it seem like it was a book written for teenagers or tweens. Maybe that's just the mass market appeal structure I'm seeing, but I felt like I was reading a "dumbed down" style of writing. Damn, now I feel all pretentious, but I guess that's what comes from reading this book. Sigh.

Part of what really bugged me, aside from the writing, was the immense amount of characters "doing the right thing." When Sarah was hiding something about her past from Miles, she hesitated, looked distraught, then "told him the whole story." When Miles isn't sure he should open up about his feelings for Missy and what her death meant to him, he stops then tells Sarah "the whole story." On and on in this book, people are telling each other "everything."

Is this a cheap cop-out Mr. Sparks? Did you just get tired of writing and decide to use this phrase every time!!?!?

Okay, sorry about that, back to the review.

But aside from the massive amount of "I Statements" and "doing the right thing," all of the sudden, Miles, when he finds out who the "mystery driver, really is, turns into a Crazed Widower Bent on Revenge! Nothing can stop his rage and fury. I half expected him to rip off his shirt, turn green and shout "Hulk Angry!"

Unfortunately for the reader, he doesn't, so it just feels totally weird, and frankly some of the things he did really cheesed me off, including the part when he yelled at Sarah and roughed up some people that didn't need to be roughed up. When he finally does calm down enough to return to Human form though, everyone seems to automatically forgive him, and through some long talks and "sharing of feelings" it all works out in the end.

And one more thing, did you know that Nicholas Spark's sex scenes pretty much sound like this:

"Then they made love the whole night."

That's it. More of that descriptive language at work, eh Nick? At one point I completely missed the fact that the characters had even had sex. It went from, "he placed a kiss on her lips," to, "they woke up next to each other." What the Hey!? I had to go back, and find the tiny sentence of "and then they made love all night,” wedged in there.


My overall opinion of the book isn't too high, if you could tell. I feel like I should make a t-shirt that says "I read a Nicholas Sparks book and all I got was this crappy t-shirt, which I had to make myself." Oh well, at least I get to cross another entry off my Critical Monkey contest now. :-)