Friday, May 29, 2015

Hairspray + Glitter: 80s Rock Workout by Kati Rose

 Kati Rose told me that she thought of the perfect guest post for me but didn't tell me what it was.  Can I tell you how excited I was when I opened my email, looked at her blog post, and saw this?!?!  VERY excited. 

Hi I'm Kati Rose from Constantly Seeking Wonder! On my blog you'll find an appreciation of the "finer things" around us with a dash of sarcastic commentary in every post. I'm big into music, entertainment, art, and travel. Erin and I became friends over my post on How Almost Famous Taught Me About Life. Since then we've bonded over plenty of topics and now I'm lucky enough to call Erin my blogging big sis! :) When she approached me to guest post I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to write about! My friends often joke that I am the Queen of Playlists. If you need a playlist for something, most likely I have one already curated for your needs. It's kind of my thing. I knew Erin had a soft spot for 80s music so I figured this was a perfect opportunity to share one of my favorites - Hairspray + Glitter: 80s Rock Workout Playlist. Plus, it featured Bon Jovi which was a necessity because this is a post for Erin's blog, duh. Yes, I know that's the Eurythmics and they aren't featured here. It's just such an 80s music picture I couldn't pass it up. (via)[/caption] Even though I was a mere thought in the future for most of the 80s, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the good tunes the decade provided. The 80s was full of amped up rock bands that still get your blood flowing in 2015. When I really need to get my bum into shape, I always turn to this playlist. From start to finish it will keep your head in the game - as long as you don't start dancing around pretending you're in any of these song's music videos (I am far too guilty of that.) Get your hairspray, glitter, and spandex pants ready baby! It's time to rock and to workout!

 What is your favorite 80s song to workout to?
If you enjoy music, entertainment, pop culture and other fun matters make sure to stop by any of the below links and say hello! Thanks again Erin for letting me guest post while you're living it up in Texas! Please eat all the queso and drink all the margaritas for me, nowhere else seems to do them as good as the Lone Star State.

That was killer, wasn't it?  (Yes, I said "killer" in the '80s.)  What do you think the chances are that I put this playlist on my ipod?  The only song that I'd need to download is Limelight because I don't like Rush.  Sorry (special apology to Jana).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Aussie girl in an American world

I adore Kristen's blog posts.  Pretty much every time I read a post of hers, I giggle and smile.  Who doesn't need more giggles and smiles in their day?  

Hi everyone! I'm Kristen and I blog over at See You In A Porridge about cats, books, running, and anything else that goes on in my head. Oh, I'm also an expat, like Erin! We just swapped countries. While she is off on her Texas holiday and hopefully stocking up on all the American goodies she's missed, she's letting me take over.

See You In A Porridge

Obviously, I love living in the US (or I wouldn't be here) though I do miss my home, and we might end up back there one day. If that ever happens, I'd miss a few things about living in the good ol USA.

1. Drive thrus.

Yep, hashtag lazy. Drive thru food, drive thru ATM, drive through pick up my prescription? Don't mind if I do. Now where'd these extra lbs come from?! We obviously have drive thrus at home but only really for food. I thought it was lazy when I moved here but now I kinda dig it.

2. Big portions.

Yep, no shame. When I moved here, I couldn't finish a single meal anywhere we ate. Now I basically lick my plate while asking for dessert. Seriously though, don't know why I've gained weight.

3. Cheap stuff.

Things are so cheap here! Makeup, clothes, movies, everything. Ok yeah we make ridiculously less money but who cares when I can buy $8 mascara??

4. Only buying 1 thing for $1 instead of 10 for $10.

Does that even make sense? At home, if it says '10 for $10' you have to buy 10. Here (at Kroger, anyway) you can just buy 1 and it's $1. Mind blown. I still sometimes buy 10 because I forget and my husband is like why did you buy 10 candy bars??

5. Places opened 24 hours

I have lived in the US since 2012, so it might have changed since then, but as far as I know and most of my life, it was super rare to find something open 24 hours unless you were smack bang in the middle of the city, which I never was. Not that I ever go to said 24 hour things here but it's nice to have the option! The other night KC and I got pizza after midnight and I was like we couldn't do this at home!

6. Bud light.

I like me some bud light. I have seen budweiser in a bottle shop (liquor store) but I have never seen either bud or bud light in a bar at home. I would miss my bud. I know, I'm classy. You don't have to tell me.

7. Things are closer (and cheaper) to travel to.

My husband and I went to NYC for Christmas and our flights were like $300 each. Do you know how much a flight from Sydney to NYC costs??? Not $300. Europe is closer and cheaper. Everything is closer and cheaper. But, we'd make more money and so we'd have the ability to travel more? Maybe? Who knows. Right now it's kind of fun to have everything so 'close'.

8. Public bathrooms errywhere.

You're in Kroger and you need to go? You're in the middle of a city? You're at wal-mart? The Nike store? Pet Smart? Everywhere has public bathrooms (pretty much) and my bladder thanks them. It would be hard to retrain my bladder and my husband doesn't stand a chance - although there are no 89 cent polar pops there so maybe he'd be okay.

9. The ability to return things!

I buy something, I don't like it.. I can return it??? What do you mean? But I don't have the receipt? It's still okay? Really? What is this sorcery? I don't really use any store's return policy because it's like built into my brain that they will refuse me. Even though I know Sephora will let me return stuff I have a box full of crap I bought there that didn't work.. just sitting there.

10. Separate checks.

It sure is handy to go to brunch or dinner with my girlfriends and the waiters magically remember exactly who got what and give us our own bill. Blows my mind. At home, if it's $60 and there are 3 of you, you might as well all put in $20 or have exact change because they won't split it for you. Now, some places might be helpful or have some handy software that helps them do this, but 99% of the time - one bill, one payment 'k thanks. You have to do your own math, which I totally suck at. Though I wouldn't miss having to calculate a tip.

Anyway! So they are just a few things I would miss if I ever moved back home. There are plenty of things I miss about Australia though, so either way - you win some you lose some.

Thanks again to Erin for having me!!

Thanks again to Kristen for spreading more giggles and smiles :)  Can you think of any conveniences in the good ol' US of A to add?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fun facts from the Caribbean

 I'm honored to have Krystal/Kay guest post today.  She is a brilliant, beautiful, funny woman who is from the little slice of paradise - the Carribbean. 

Hey guys, I'm Kay and I blog over at The Kay Times. Erin has kindly let me take over her blog today. I love Erin's blog especially since she lives in Australia, which is where my sister lives. I visited Australia last year and I love it there. I love visiting new places and experiencing new cultures and traditions and Australia blew me away. 
Speaking of culture and tradition, I am from the beautiful twin isle state of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. Having blogged for over a year now, I realize that not many peeps know about my beautiful country and so I thought I'd share a few things about my home with you. 

The Steelpan, that musical instrument that you hear overtime the Caribbean is mentioned in the media, was created in Trinidad and Tobago

We also created the musical genre Soca - take a listen:
We host the best Carnival on the face of the earth - ask anyone - Brazil has nothing on us
Ever heard of the book Robinson Crusoe? Well it's based on Tobago ...
We are the only Oil Producing country in the Caribbean
We eat really unique food
Pelau - I posted a recipe for this dish here:
Callaloo - made from dasheen "bush" or spinach:
Bake and shark
We consider a day at the beach a really good day ... thankfully there are beautiful beaches on both islands! 

I hope you enjoyed just a snippet about my country. For more, you can check out this post where I posted in more detail about my beautiful country. 
Thank you Erin for letting me take over your blog for the day. Until next time :)

Alright...she's convinced me...we all need to get together and have a blogger trip to visit Krystal! Who's with me?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Aussie! Samantha! Oi!

As Samantha is about to explain to you, we switched places living in each other's countries.  Naturally, I had to ask her to tell you a little bit more about Australia.  Yes, I made up that ridiculously silly title.

Hi Everyone! My name is Samantha and I blog over at my site "Fabulous Fabris" where I talk about anything and everything (there's a lot of cats, books, photography & DIY). Erin and I are very similar, but reversed; while she grew up in the US and is lucky enough to now live in Australia, I was born and raised in Australia, and now I live in the US. I typically get asked "which do you like more?" which is an insanely hard question to answer as I have a kids view of Australia, and an adult view of America, but there are several things that I love and miss about Australia.

The Beach

I know America has beaches, but of the few I've seen, they just pale in comparison to what I grew up with. Some crazy number like 95% of Australians live along the coasts. I happened to grow up a 5 minute drive from the beach on a place called the Sunshine Coast which is aptly named. I spent my summer weekends at the beach, riding the waves on my boogie board. My School also happened to be about a 10 minute walk to the beach (no swim beach, but we still go to go play in the sand) and we got to do weekly trips to the beach to swim at the end of the school year. The Sunshine Coast was like the Florida of Australia, all the Victorians would come up in the winter and go swimming. Too cold for my tastes, but that gives you an idea of how cold the winters were, which leads to...  

Winter... or lack thereof

You could get away with wearing short sleeves some winter days, especially if you've experience a snowy winter. When spring rolls around here in Michigan and someone comments about how it's such a nice day I just laugh because it's equivalent to a cold winter day in Australia.


I think meat pies alone are enough of a reason to move back to Australia. Meat pies are everywhere and it's just the best thing ever. But they're not the only delicious treats in Australia, there are lamingtons, sausage rolls, twisties, the best fish and chips.... I could go on. I don't know how America is more fat than Australia (Ok, just kidding, but still).  


Ok, I exaggerate, but there's so much to love about Australia: the people, the atmosphere, the landscape, the unique wildlife. Everything is just so much more laid back. Whenever somebody hears that I'm from Australia, the first thing they say is "I've always wanted to go there!" but most people never end up going. Probably because it's so freakin' expensive. Don't give me the "oh, there are so many deadly creatures". If you look up your facts, basically nobody actually dies from them. Here's a fact I learned at a museum in Sydney: Don't throw at me that you're scared of sharks or drowning. Did you know that nobody has ever drowned on a patrolled beach?? Yep, it's those foolish tourists who swim where they're not supposed. Swim between the flags!

So if you ever have a chance to go to Australia, DO IT! Everyone says they love it for a reason. 

Now I'm going to leave you with some Aussie facts you may not have known (I didn't even know some of these until I found them): 
  • The biggest property in Australia is bigger than Belgium. 
  • Australia was the second country in the world to allow women to vote (New Zealand was first) 
  • Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a world record for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds 
  • Per capita, Australians spend more money on gambling than any other nation. 
  • If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take over 27 years to see them all. 
  • Within days of The First Fleet’s arrival and the raising of the British flag, two French ships arrived, just too late to claim Australia for France. 

Thanks so much to Erin for letting me guest on her blog! I hope she's having a wonderful time visiting her family in America!! 

Thank YOU, Samantha!  Now, if she hasn't convinced you to visit Australia, what about visiting me?  Isn't that reason enough??

Monday, May 18, 2015

A German girl who was in an American world

While I'm in Texas, I've invited some guest bloggers to take over.  Today we visit Katrin who blogs at land of candy canes, and we are often sharing messages about our mutual love of books and animals. 
Hello Erin's readers! 
My name is Katrin and I feel very honored to be able to write a guest post for Erin's blog today. I am a German native but lived in America for quite a while. I am a huge book worm and I love spending time with animals. Especially with my furry family members (cats and bunnies) but I do love all animals. Other than that I enjoy doing all kinds of creative things, going to the flea market, watching a good movie or show, writing...
As a former expat I know that some things can be confusing when you live in a strange country. Which is why I want to tell you a little bit about my experiences as a German in America.

Going to the movies.

I love movies and I enjoy seeing them in a big theater. There's just something special about it: the popcorn and other unhealthy snacks, the seats, the is just very cozy in my opinion. In addition to that it is also another special experience in the US: a freezing cold one. The first time I went to the movies in America I almost froze to death. And I really mean it. It was summer, super hot out and I was only wearing sandals, t-shirt...summer stuff.  I just was not prepared and I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to survive this movie. A couple of times I was close to leaving the theater. I will never understand America's obsession with air conditioning. No matter where you go, it is freezing. Not my thing at all because I am the person who always has cold feet and uses a hot water bottle 9 months a year. That first trip to the movie theater really taught me a lesson and I never went unprepared again: I brought a warm cardigan, a scarf, even socks and hoped for the best.

No grumpiness.

I admit it, Germans can be a bit grumpy here and there. Especially when they have to wait in line. Which is why a trip to a German post office usually isn't a very enjoyable experience. People get impatient and grouchy. When I first went to an American post office, I did not know what to expect. I mean, I only knew the German counterpart....but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there was a long line and yes, you had to wait. But people greeted me and asked me how I was doing and actually started a conversation with me...a nice one! Without any complaints. Post office suddenly felt like a heavenly place to go. 

Eating out. 

Going to a restaurant in Germany and in America are pretty different experiences. The first thing I realized in America is that you actually have to wait to be seated. In Germany I just pick out a table, go there, sit down and wait for the waitress to arrive. In America you have to patient before you even get a table. First time we went to a restaurant in America the waitress told us that we would have to wait over an hour for a table. For me that was reason enough to just leave and go somewhere else. When I am hungry then I really don't want to wait an eternity to sit down and order my food. Grumpy, hungry German, I guess. But it turned out that's pretty common. So I tried to be patient (not my strongest quality). Also I have to admit that I always feel a little rushed when I eat in an American restaurant. The waiter often just brings the check at some point and then I feel like I have to leave. I don't know if Americans eat faster than Germans or if the restaurants are just busier but in Germany eating out usually means that you spend at least 2-3 hours in a restaurant. It feels a bit more relaxed, at least for me. I do like the free refills in American restaurants though. I always drink a lot so it is nice to get as much as you want. In Germany you have to pay for every single tiny glass of water. So sometimes you pay a lot more for you drinks than you pay for your food. 

There are some more random weird things (at least for me they are strange):

  • Germans always screw up American movie titles and I don't know why. Here's an example:  "Meet the Fockers" is called "Meine Frau, ihre Schwiegereltern und ich" which means "My wife, her parents-in-law and me". "Groundhog day" is called "Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier" ("And the groundhog greets you daily"). Sometimes they even replace an English title with another English title. "Taken" is called "96 hours" in German. Well, that makes a lot of sense. "Bend it like Beckham" is "Kick it like Beckham". There are millions of examples of how weird Germans are when it comes to naming a movie and I really have no idea why they don't just stick to the original title.
  • Automatic cars. Well, that was a challenge for me. I never drove an automatic car before so the first time I felt like my right hand and my left hand were actually useless while driving. I was so used to driving a car with a stick that I wanted to change gears and use the clutch. 
  • All American bank notes pretty much look the same to me. Why don't they have different colors. A couple of times I had to apologize when it took me forever to pay. Also, it seems like I am the only person who prefers paying cash in America. 
  • I will never understand the obsession with red plastic cups. Or plastic dishes in general. 
  • Chips for lunch. A pretty common thing in America. For me chips are a TV snack. 
  • All the ice in the drinks. Too much for me. Also it waters down the whole drink if you choose something other than water. 

So now I am curious to hear about your weird expat or traveling experiences! Please share with me! Thank you so much for reading! 
And Erin, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity! You rock!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots, Canada Edition

Brooke has the philosophy that "Everyday is an adventure"; I love that.  She blogs about her home, life, and adventures in beautiful Canada.  Not too long ago, I told her that Nova Scotia was never on my radar to visit.  After all the breathtaking photos she shares, I SO want to go.

Hi everyone! I'm Brooke and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia with my boyfriend and our dog, but we haven't always called the East Coast home. At the end of 2013, we decided to completely uproot our lives from the Canadian Prairies and go back to school. Over the course of a couple months, we quit our jobs, rented out our house, sold the majority of our possessions, and made the 4,000km drive to Halifax, Nova Scotia. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about Halifax before our move, but I couldn't be happier with our decision. Nova Scotia is an incredibly scenic province that has reignited my love for the great outdoors. Over the past 1.5 years of living here, I've been lucky to go on many great adventures, and today I'm going to share with you seven of my favorite snapshots taken around this beautiful province.

1. On top of the world at Duncan's Cove! This is one of my favorite coastal hikes. The terrain is rugged and barren and you can hike forever along the coast while the waves crash against the rocks and granite cliffs next to you. Good shoes are mandatory! Duncan's Cove Nova Scotia - Brooke Meagan Jones

2. The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tides in the world, but it should also be known for beautiful sunsets. We caught this one on a recent cabin getaway. I had to eat my supper in about 30 seconds and sprint to the beach to get this picture, but it was well worth the upset stomach! Sunset Bay of Fundy Nova Scotia

3. Crystal Crescent Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area. If you're feeling adventurous, it also has one of the best coastal hikes that makes for a full day of fun. My boyfriend has never seen a big rock that he didn't want to climb. Crystal Crescent Beach Nova Scotia

4. Peggy's Cove is probably one of the most famous attractions in the area. It's not just a lighthouse though. The little village is very quintessential East Coast. Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia

5. Lawrencetown Beach is one of my favorite places because it's where all the surfers hang out. I'm not one of them, but I want to be. Fortunately, you don't have to be a surfer to enjoy the view with your dog. Lawrencetown Beach Nova Scotia

6. Last summer we drove the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton for the first time. It is an incredibly scenic drive with plenty of hikes and places to stop along the way. Apparently, it is even more spectacular in the fall. Cabot Trail Cape Breton

7. I had to include this picture as proof that it's not always cold here! We actually get plenty of beautiful weather even though our recent winter would have you think otherwise. This was taken last summer at Lawrencetown Beach. Lawrencetown Beach - Brooke Meagan Jones   Have you ever visited Nova Scotia?

Who wants to go visit Brooke in Nova Scotia with me?!?  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Texas Chat

jenn asked the questions (she is celebrating her 10th blogiversary, and this is part of that celebration)- I answered - after all, I am currently visiting Texas, so the timing is right y'all:

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
Photo source
two. who's your least favorite texan?  Lawrence Russell Brewer (and his accomplices)

three. whose your favorite?  Really?  How am I to choose?  I can't even choose my favorite Texas musician, or favorite Texas actor/actress, or favorite Texas philanthropist.  The very first one that came to mind was Willie Nelson. 

four. who's the most famous texan you've met in person?  Matthew McConaughey - I really just bumped into him and we shared hellos.

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?  These questions aren't easy, are they?  I'm sure it's been done, but an aquarium built with water underneath.  Seeing the ocean/sea animals in as natural of a habitat as possible would be incredible.

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? Oldest diner serving chicken fried steak

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?  Since I love live music and supporting live music, my award would be presented annually to the attendee for the most live music shows in Texas.
Photo source
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?  "You can take the girl outta Texas but not Texas outta the girl" 

nine. if you could be doing anything at all in texas at this very moment, what would it be?  I'm about to do it.  As I write this, I'm about to go eat at Wings 'n' More in College Station with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces, and nephew.  Can't think of a whole lotta things I'd rather be doing.

ten. what is the single greatest moment in texas history?  Battle of San Jacinto

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?  I'd have a huge, comfy bath tub with a station full of bath soaps, washes, and bubble a station with hot tea or wine so I can easily fix my drink of choice.  Oh, and there'd be a music station too with relaxing playlists, and fuzzy blankets on the floor for my kitties to rest on while I'm in the bath.  They like that.

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?  First one to come to mind is ZZ Top's La Grange

thirteen. of the scores of films filmed in whole or part in texas, such as "apollo thirteen," which one is your favorite, and which one is your least favorite?  Again, realllllly difficult for me to choose, but I'd say Urban Cowboy for favorite and The Alamo (2004) for 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?  Any time I see someone in the armed forces serving in another country waving a Texas flag or wearing a Texas flag, my heart swells. 
Photo source:  Marines with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) hold up the Texas state flag during a remembrance ceremony for San Jacinto Day at the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) headquarters compound on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, April 21. San Jacinto Day commemorates a battle between the Texas Army and Mexican forces and is considered the turning point for Texas' independence from Mexico, April 21, 1836.
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?  Sad to admit, but I'd pay off debts.

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 state's region's people have the oddest sounding accent?  Not sure...maybe Bostonians?

seventeen. what is your biggest pet peeve about texans as a whole?  I LOVE Texas pride.  I don't love Texas arrogance or ignorance or an unwillingness to experience other cultures.

eighteen. if you could have been there to witness any specific moment in texas sports history, what moment would you choose?  Of all the Texas teams that I support, the only one to win a championship that proved them better than all others that year was the Houston Rockets.  So, I'd love to have been at the game that the Rockets won those finals.  (I did attend two MLS Cups when the Houston Dynamo won.)
Photo source
nineteen. what is the most disappointing, perhaps downright depressing moment in the history of texas sports?  There's been a lot.  The Astros getting swept by the White Sox in the World Series, that hurt. 

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?  A house along the Guadalupe River.  It's where we vacationed when I was a kid, and I've been back several times as an adult.

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?  Build a camp in the Hill Country for disadvantaged kids

twenty-two. what is the most beautiful geographical feature in the entire state of texas?  Well, I'm stretching with this one, but I can't list some of my favorites about Texas without mentioning bluebonnet season, so I'll say rolling hills in Central Texas with bluebonnets and Texas wildflowers scattered all over.
Photo source
twenty-three. what is the most exciting annual event held in texas?  I'll go with South by South West (SXSW) because I love music, and I love Austin.

twenty-four. what is the most overrated tourist attraction in texas?  Prada storefront "artwork" in Marfa
Photo source
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 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?  I suppose I'd say I-10 because Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso are all on it...but I-10 is not exactly my fave.  I'd rather hit the back roads.  I'd think that would be a much more interesting trip.  "(P)oints of interest"?  The food.  I'd eat at diners, taquerias, even gas stations.

I'm at my dad's and step-mom's now.  I've had little to no time to visit any of your blogs, but I haven't forgotten you.  I will be back to visiting, reading, and commenting after my Texas getaway.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

All hail Queen Dolly

Jana does a fine job of introducing herself, and she says pretty much what I was going to say, so I'll just let her say it:

Hi, Erin’s readers! I’m Jana and I blog at Jana Says and I’m thrilled to be guest posting here while Erin is back in the U.S. It’s going to be hard filling in for her but I’ll try. There more I get to know Erin, there more we realize just how much we have in common. So it came as no surprise to either of us that we both have a shared, unabashed love for, of all people, Dolly Parton. Two rocker chicks who love Dolly. How great is that? I mean, how can you not love Dolly? She’s an icon, fabulous, and pretty much all around one of the greatest entertainers and songwriters ever. And not only that, she’s in Steel Magnolias, which is a movie I quote almost daily. While you might not enjoy Dolly’s songs or Steel Magnolias as much as I do, here’s some things about her you’re sure to appreciate:
  1. She keeps her private life private. In an age where we have celebrities shoved down our throats and in our faces hourly, and where celebrity marriage last as long as a roll of toilet paper, Dolly has been married to her husband Carl for 49 years and finding a picture of him is about as rare as finding a unicorn. I love that about her, keeping her husband out of the spotlight (from what I understand, at his request, too) and her marriage away from chronic gossip.
  2. She owns an amusement park. Dollywood. In East Tennessee. Where she’s from. Dolly grew up in poverty and when she had the money, she bought the amusement park as a way to keep businesses and jobs in her home county.
  3. She’s ridiculously accomplished. Dolly’s written thousands of songs, is an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) nominee, is tied with Beyonce as the most Grammy nominated woman EVER (she’s won a bunch, too), is in more Hall of Fames than would be fun to read, and she’s been honored with a bunch of humanitarian awards. Oh, right. And she wrote “I Will Always Love You” and we all know what that did for Whitney.
  4. She started The Imagination Library. Like she did with Dollywood, she founded it to help her home county. The premise of the program is to increase literacy and foster a love of books among preschoolers by sending them one age appropriate book per month. FOR FREE. And there’s no income requirement. It’s expanded since it’s inception and now, almost one million kids from the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK are registered. And it’s all been done with very little publicity.
  5. She says stuff like this (all images found on Mashable):dolly-parton-11 dolly-parton-2 dolly-parton-9
  I know that, on the surface, Dolly’s all big hair and rhinestones and makeup and plastic surgery and fake boobs but underneath all of that, is a fiercely talented, smart, savvy, creative businesswoman who embraces who she is with no excuses. It’s a special kind of awesome.  

I love this post because Dolly is fantastic and Jana is awesome and all the reasons Jana loves Dolly are reasons I love Dolly.  One more thing that I have to mention about Dolly: her look isn't unique.  In fact, she admits that she was inspired to fix her hair, do her make-up, and wear her clothes fashioned by the local backwoods hooker from her hometown.  And she OWNS that.  She owns her fake boobs, her wigs, her nails, her nips & tucks, and her vanity.  I admire and love that about her. 
Photo source

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I show you my books; you show me yours... vol.4

I'm in Texas now, probably stuffing my face with as much TexMex as possible.  But, I can't miss this link-up.  It's my favorite link-up ever because, well, you know, book nerds unite!  Because I'm vacationing and family-ing, I may not read all the links immediately. I WILL read them because I love seeing the input from other blogging readers. I encourage you to do the same. 
Now, here's what I've read since our last link-up...

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - I loved this book. So much love. I loved these characters (many are the same from Marchetta's book Saving Francesca that I reviewed here).  The author captures the spirit of the Sydney suburb and culture so well, all the while getting the reader to become emotionally invested in the characters.  I wanted to know what happened but didn't want it to end. Marchetta needs to write more! 5/5

You by Caroline Kepnes - Jana read this, and we share some similar tastes in books, so I thought I'd definitely read this one.  The book is intense and provocative, most of the characters are severely flawed and damaged, and many scenes gave me the heebie jeebies.  The downside to the book is I found myself with about 100 pages left to read thinking, "okay, I got, let's just get it over with already".  Wanting a book to end isn't a good thing.  I don't know why I reached that point.  I still enjoyed the intensity and anticipation involved, but I was ready for it to be finished.  I still recommend it if you like reading about creepy, psychotic stalkers.  3.5/5

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - I read this for The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge - The book bounces back and forth between a German woman living in Germany during WWII, and her adult daughter, professor of German Studies who lives in America.  I had high expectations for this book, and I was disappointed.  The daughter's character was flat to me.  There was one storyline that was completely unnecessary and lessened the enjoyment; it didn't work with the character development at all.  This book examines atrocities of WWII and looks at the desperation of women living in German towns. The things the maternal character experienced and lived through were extremely painful and scarred the rest of her life. I'd prefer if the book focused completely on her and less on her daughter in the aftermath. There are better books out there about this time period.  2.5/5 

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence - In recent years, I've read a few books with awkward narrators that have proven to be endearing and enjoyable. It took me a little longer to get into this one, but it definitely won me over.  Highly intelligent, socially awkward Alex Woods in not your average teenager.  He has no father or grandfather figure in his life and no one that he considers a friend (except his neurologist that he meets after being diagnosed epileptic, an astrophysicist that he meets after being hit by a meteor, and a librarian or two). He develops such a relationship and friendship with a neighbour. The story takes the reader on a journey examining issues such as morality, mortality, loyalty, and how far would you go for something you believe in. 4.5/5

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King - I don't read much Stephen King because I'm not really into fantasy/paranormal. This isn't that. A goodreads reader's choice winner for 2014, this is a straight up thriller with a retired detective, an unusual group of helpers, and a disturbed antagonist. Seriously. This bad guy is a total whack job.  Some of his thoughts and actions are so disturbing, they are really uncomfortable to read.  But, a demented, disturbed bad guy makes for a good thriller/mystery.  There were some far-fetched moments, but I was willing to go there for the sake of the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Apparently, it's the first of a trilogy.  I look forward to reading the next two books. 4.5/5

Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty - I don't even know how I feel about this book. At times, I rolled my eyes. Other times, I wanted to slap some sense into these women, the both of 'em.  Then, my heartached and my heart swelled.  Stories of friendship, family, faith in oneself and faith in others, parental love, spousal love, and new love...this book has all of that and more. I was endeared, at times; and I was annoyed other times. I got all kinds of feels. 

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper - This author has 5 or 6 books. I've read two. I will read them all. His characters are dysfunctional and flawed. So much so that it is difficult to decide if you really, really like them or are absolutely annoyed by them.  As the book states: "I find that most people worth knowing are fucked up in some way or another.”  I couldn't agree more, and I enjoy Tropper's characters and writing style immensely. 4.5/5

Let me know what you've read lately. Any of these?