Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Top 10 Autumn Must-Haves

Holy crap, it's cold all of a sudden.

I have to admit, after eighty seven months in a row with the sun blazing down so hot that the tiny amount of rain we did get came in the form of boiling drizzle, I was unprepared for the sudden cold snap.

Gerry and I went outside Saturday night to watch the fireworks being set off at the nearby Apple Festival (motto: "There's not much to do here, but at least we have apples!") and nearly froze to death.
As an aside, y'all know I love fireworks, but even the hardiest of firework aficionado has to admit there's a limit to their awesomeness. After ten minutes, I find I start to lose my enthusiasm, and after twenty minutes I start to get irritated by the city's apparent misuse of my tax dollars. Saturday's display went on for THIRTY minutes, which is a long time to stand on the sidewalk in the cold with the baby monitor held in your outstretched hand toward the house so you'll know right away if the baby starts screaming because of the sonic booms and you're going to be up until 3AM getting her back to sleep.
I'm just saying.
But I digress.
The point is, fall is here and I need to prepare myself by making sure I'm fully stocked up on the season's most essential items.

  1. extra jackets to replace the ones the kids are sure to leave at school
  2. fluffy socks to keep the kids' feet warm, which will be confiscated the first time somebody uses them as skates to skid across the kitchen floor and land on their head (estimated: 5 minutes after purchase)
  3. fruit butter (finally a school fund raiser I can support without groaning, "Gah, magazines again - how many subscriptions to Golf Digest do I need?" under my breath - and for the record, the answer is zero,  I need zero subscriptions to Golf Digest)
  4. lots of headbands (the only way a girl can express herself at a school that requires uniforms) - she has already attempted to substitute a plastic, pink boa-edged crown for a headband, which will probably sound like a viable alternative in January when all the headbands have broken in half at the bottom of her backpack
  5. hot cocoa mix - I'm sure Pinterest wants me to make my own using shaved Bavarian chocolate and cream from a goat I milked myself, but I'll stick with Swiss Miss
  6. a fully charged camera, so I can be sure not to miss a single shot of the kids skipping along a sidewalk ankle-deep in crisp leaves, or a photo of the family warming their hands and roasting marshmallows by a backyard fire, or a quick picture of some really, really juvenile humor on college game day:

  7. some sort of powerful mace-based insect repellent, and maybe a large stick with oil-soaked flaming rags wrapped around one end, because although we're on the tail end of mosquito and tick season, apparently now we have to protect ourselves from the evil horde of zombie bees, which despite me being in a state of horrified denial is a REAL THING - yes, there are now bees who go insane and fly at night and die and are then reanimated by parasites - and not only are they zombies, but I'll bet they're extra cranky based on how I feel when my little parasites have kept me up all night
  8. I feel like I should throw a fashion item in here, like some funky boots by a designer I've never heard of or a deep, rich, berry-colored $23 tube of lipstick, but we all know I just can't muster up the energy to pretend I'm that cool - so my must-have fashion item will be last year's jeans . . .
  9. . . . and a magical genie to make me fit into last year's jeans
  10. Halloween costumes - this time the kids are going as "Bat To The Bone," which as far as I can tell is a pink ballerina fairy with black feathers and tinsel, and "dude in a scary mask," which aren't even real things, unlike the old standby costumes of my youth like hobo or princess or new costume options like Power Rangers or ZOMBIE BEES, which, as I mentioned, are also very, very real

What are the things you can't live without this autumn?

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

As The Dollhouse Turns - Girls' Night Out

Episode 6: Girls' Night Out

When we last saw Sunny, she was headed out for a night on the town with her wild friend, Betty, and her uber-perfect potentially husband-stealing neighbor, Maggie.

As the girls leave Maggie's house, Betty snags the car keys and insists on driving. She assumes they'll have more money for drinks if they don't have to spend it all on court fees and property damage settlements.
Betty may have chugged a half a bottle of wine in twenty minutes, but Sunny has been steadily drinking all day long and goody-goody Maggie, who probably has zero tolerance for alcohol, is unaware that she's just ingested about four shots of Jager, which Sunny snuck into her hot cocoa with the hopes of getting some answers about her history with Buzz.
Against all odds, they arrive safely and take their place in the long line outside the club.

"You are NOT  on the list," bellows the bouncer angrily
as he picks a woman up, spins her over his head,
and body slams her into some nearby parked cars.

"What kind of club is this, again?" asks Maggie nervously, eyeing Sunny's purse.

"The fun kind," replies Sunny irritably. Maggie was no doubt expecting the kind of club that has horseback riding and croquet.

Maggie still seems unsure. "At least the security is good," she reasons.

Once inside, Maggie finally starts to loosen up, though she's still clearly out of her element. She could take some pointers from Betty, who immediately seems pretty comfortable.

"Um, Betty, do you know that guy?"

. . . boomchaboomchaboomcha . . .

"You're supposed to move your arms when you dance," Betty yells helpfully to Maggie over the deafening beat of the techno music.

. . . boomchaboomchaboomcha . . .

"WHAT?" Maggie and Sunny reply.

They continue dancing, but soon Sunny is overcome by her curiosity.

Using a hybrid form of communication that combines lip reading, screaming, and sign language, which has evolved over millions of years of women dancing together at bars, Sunny finally decides to start pumping Maggie for information.

Subtly, of course.

Betty takes the hint and makes herself scarce.

"How long did you date Buzz?" Sunny yell/pantomimes to Maggie, moving in close while they dance.

"WHAT?" Maggie asks, leaning forward.

"How - long - did - you - date - Buzz?" Sunny repeats, more slowly.

"WHAT?" Maggie says again.

"HOW LONG DID YOU DATE BUZZ?" Sunny screams directly into Maggie's ear canal.

Maggie shrugs and shakes her head apologetically. "Can't hear you - we'll talk after this song is over."

Sunny rolls her eyes. Everyone knows techno songs are never over.

After a few minutes, Sunny gives up and heads to the bar. When she returns, somewhat reluctantly, to check on Maggie, she's surprised to find her chatting with a guy. A good looking guy. A guy who looks awfully familiar.

"It seems like I've seen those sculpted buns somewhere before . . . "

She can't make out what they're saying, due to the electronica explosion that has perforated her eardrums, but she can tell that they obviously know each other. Are they arguing? About to make out? It's difficult to tell, since every conversation in a club, from, "I have to go to the bathroom" to, "I forgot to mention that I ran over your cat this morning," has to be screamed at anyone farther than two inches from your vocal cords.

Just then, a rowdy dancer comes out of nowhere and bumps into the man, causing him to spill his beer. When the man turns to punch the careless 20-something in the jaw, Sunny catches a glimpse of his face.



It's the mysterious stranger!

But how does the stranger know boring old Maggie?

Sunny starts to weave through the crowd to confront them, when she suddenly runs into Betty.

"It seems like I've seen those sculpted buns somewhere before . . . "

By the time she revives Betty enough to tell her what's going on, the stranger is already leaving. Sunny grabs her friends and tries to catch up, but when they emerge from the club, the street is empty.

"What the hell?" complains Betty. "I wasn't ready to leave - that guy in there was going to take me to his house to see his etchings!"

"Fabulous, now I'm going to die alone," Betty whines.

Sunny ignores her. Betty probably will die alone, but Sunny doesn't have time to explain that it doesn't have anything to do with that guy's etchings. "Who were you talking to in there?" she demands, turning to Maggie.

"WHAT?" Maggie yells.

"Oh great, the music broke her ears," says Betty, who's trying to see around the bouncer back into the club. "I can't believe that dude didn't follow me out here - he seemed totally interested. He asked me my sign, and whether or not I come here often, and borrowed twenty bucks, but I didn't get a chance to give him my unlisted number."

Sunny realizes she's going to have to wait until later to get any answers out of Maggie. To pass the time, she and Betty talk about her all the way home.

at a decibel level that, to her, seems totally appropriate.

"I know  she has some connection to that stranger I was telling you about," asserts Sunny. "She  must be one of the people he said he knows in town!"


"SHE SAYS YOUR HAIR IS STUPID," Betty calls over her shoulder to Maggie. Then, to Sunny, "What's up with that godawful shirt and necklace combo, anyway? Who wears  that?"

They giggle at Maggie's expense, but the smile fades from Sunny's face as they pull up in front of her house.

Always alert to the obvious (and still temporarily deaf), Maggie ask/screams, "HEY, WHY IS THERE A COP AT YOUR DOOR, SUNNY?"

The excitement continues next time! Until then, please feel free to catch up on previous episodes of As The Dollhouse Turns, and maybe you feel like clicking on the banner below to vote for me because
One click is all it takes to vote and make me all happy and junk.

An extra super huge thanks to my new set designer, MY MOM. Is she awesome, or what?
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Home, Sweet (Terrible Illustration of) Home

I probably told you this before, but I lived in the same house from the age of three until I left for college.

But before you all go thinking I'm spoiled, it wasn't all sunshine and unicorn dust.

That's right, I was a deprived child, just like everyone else.

And it all started with the decor.

To prove that I survived a tormented youth, here's an overview of the house I grew up in.

  1. The laundry room, scene of many a freak-out tantrum, thrown by yours truly every time my mom insisted on washing my stinking, filthy Blankie even though I was 100% certain that washing it removed the Love (she said the Love was actually the Saliva from me drooling on it, but WHATEVER - potato, po-tah-toe) - okay, so there wasn't any "decor" in here, but  it was  full of cobwebs
  2. Basement family room, complete with original red/orange/yellow shag carpeting circa 1974 and our very own rust-colored modular "pit group" sectional couch onto which my friends and I frequently performed the Nestea Plunge and probably came quite close to concussing ourselves
  3. Living room, where we only watched TV when it was ceremoniously rolled in on its rickety metal cart (looking back, I have NO IDEA where this was Merlined off to when we weren't watching it), and when I say TV I do not  mean Mtv; I never saw a music video until late in my teens, much to the detriment of my overall coolness
  4. The kitchen, rocking the avocado refrigerator (What? It matched the upstairs carpet.)
  5. My room, chock full of teddy bears (94% of which were purple, because - like, duh - purple is awesome) and pictures of kittens torn out of calendars because I wasn't allowed to put posters up (But kittens are just as cool as New Kids On the Block, right? RIGHT? No, they're not. They're not even as cool as Menudo.)
  6. The hall bathroom, better known as the Gold Bathroom, thanks to the brass fixtures, goldeny swirl sink, and metallic wallpaper - if you didn't feel like throwing up when you went in, you sure did by the time you came out
  7. My parents' bedroom, which I think I only saw about four times in my life, or maybe I dreamed it, because for God's sake you didn't set foot in your parents' room back then
  8. The screened-in side porch, which was actually connected to the living room, not my parents' room, but I can only do so much with a floor plan I tried to make in PicMonkey, which, for the purposes of this post, I'm also blaming on my childhood somehow
  9. Haunted attic
  10. Rusty old cable antenna for stealing HBO from the neighbors
  11. OUTSIDE - because if it seems like I'm a little hazy on the details of the interior  of the house, that's because I was always out here instead, even though my mom lined our yard with bushes that produced poisonous berries (hint taken, Mom)
It's hard to believe I managed to turn out as awesome as I did, considering the environment in which I was raised, eh? EH? HELLO?

Okay, so the physical environment doesn't matter at all. I get it. Which is a good thing, really, because I'd hate to see what my kids have to say about the decorating in this house some day when they have a blog of their own . . .

Mine is a sad tale of deprivation and exposure to bad 70's decor, but by clicking on the banner below you'll make all the suffering worthwhile.

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I'm linked up today with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, responding to the prompt, "Draw, label, and share the layout of your childhood home."
Mama’s Losin’ It

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House Hunters Drinking Game

Okay, I know I've griped on Facebook about House Hunters before, but I swear I really don't sit around all day watching the endless House Hunters marathon that is  HGTV.

Sometimes I get up for a snack.

Anyway, it's easy to complain about even if you only see one episode a month because it is, bar none, the most predictable, repetitive show of all time, but still somehow remains relatively watchable.

Which makes it perfect for a drinking game.

So get your beverage of choice ready (better make that the whole bottle) and get ready to play...

The House Hunters Drinking Game

Take a drink every time...

  • the homebuyers are under 25 and have a budget for their starter home that's roughly 57 times your own annual salary
  • the homebuyer claims to entertain a lot
  • there's a "candid" shot of the homebuyers crammed into their current bathroom during a voice over about how much they need double sinks
  • one homebuyer wants "old world charm" but the spouse wants something "modern and move-in ready."
  • the realtor says it's going to be a challenge, but she thinks she can find a property with all the things on their wish list
  • the homebuyers are unmarried and the woman hints that she expects a ring any day now
  • the guy dodges the engagement comment by saying he'd like to concentrate on finding a house first
  • someone uses the words "Man Cave"

Take two drinks every time...
  • there's a "candid" shot of the homebuyers taking a walk - bonus shot if they have a kid or a dog with them
  • someone hates the color of a room
  • someone points out a dated light fixture
  • someone says they were hoping for hardwood floors/granite counter tops/stainless steel appliances
  • the realtor says the phrase, "Well, that's an easy fix."
  • the woman quips, "Here's my  closet - I don't know where you're going to put your  stuff."
  • in a cut-away interview, the realtor confides to the cameraman that the homebuyers are going to have to lower their standards

Smash the empty bottle over your head every time...
  • the realtor gives up and shows them a third house that's $25K over budget
  • there's a "candid" shot of the homebuyers sitting in a pub or restaurant pretending to discuss their options
  • at the closing, the homebuyer says, "I feel like I'm signing my life away hahaha"
  • there's a shot of the homeowners in their new home chopping veggies and serving wine to their friends, who I strongly suspect are members of the House Hunters crew
Are we drunk yet? Yeah, I thought so.

You're welcome.

Which parts of House Hunters make YOU run to the liquor cabinet?

If you're not even tipsy,  please check your local listings; you might accidentally be watching Matlock. No problem, though - I've heard that clicking the banner below is as intoxicating and delightful as sipping a mimosa at 9:30 AM. You might as well try it - it might be true!
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I've Lost My Schmidt, Plus an Apology

If you're experiencing any HTV-related technical difficulties, I extend my heartiest apologies.

Allow me to explain.

I've finally officially lost my ever-bloggin' mind.

Mamas, don't let your babies
grow up to be bloggers.

Do you know that feeling you get when you completely lack the technical computer skills to tackle a project with any hope of success, so instead of achieving your goal, you only succeed in having your mental resources completely sucked dry? And then, after several hours, the friction of the remaining few functioning brain cells rubbing together starts to make you feel feverish? And then the project just keeps sucking and sucking - and at that critical moment when you think you might have it figured out, when you think you might experience the sweet, glorious elation of being finished, your brain instead turns inside out, bursts into flame, and burns to the ground in a pile of rubble and ash?

And then on top of that, you work on the project until late in the night, until you're so beyond exhausted and stressed that it feels like Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked you in the eye sockets at least half a dozen times and then gently placed two medium-sized elephants inside your chest cavity?

That was me this weekend. That was me, when I discovered that Feedburner had lost all the precious, precious readers who subscribe to Hollow Tree Ventures via email and RSS.

I don't even know what RSS is (see "lack of technical skills," above). The best I can tell, it's like some magical genie who lives inside the innerweb, who knows who wants to read my blog and sends a copy of it to you wherever you said you wanted to read it. And by "wherever you want to read it" I mean as in your email or Google Reader, not as in Aruba. Not even the power of the RSS interweb genie can send you to Aruba.

It can send my blog there, though.

Which makes me wish I were my blog.

But I digress.

If you're a blogger, you can probably imagine the shock, the sheer raw tonnage of stress-induced adrenaline, that immediately flooded into my bloodstream. Maybe you even experienced it yourself, if you use Feedburner.

If you're not a blogger, the feeling can best be translated into the horror you might feel if, after endless months of wedding planning, you found a stack of 250 vellum-wrapped invitations, unmailed, in the bottom of your fiance's underwear drawer, the day before the wedding.

Yes. That  feeling. The ohgod I have to do something about this right now but I have no idea where to start  feeling.

But I wasn't going to let a total lack of computer skills slow me down. After I finished hyperventilating I sat down at the computer, cracked my knuckles, and Googled ohgod I have to do something about this right now but I have no idea where to start.  Thus began a two-day stint of frustration, some unabashed sobbing, and copious alcohol consumption. But . . .
I set up new, awesomer emails!
I got a new RSS service!
I have no idea if it works!
So what I'm saying is, it's entirely possible that no one is reading this because I broke my blog's RSS, whatever that is. It's equally likely that everyone who's subscribed just got upwards of fifteen copies of this post because now I'm sending it to them through eleventy different services.

I have no way of knowing until I hand this post over to the interweb genie, if I can even find her. And, unfortunately, I can't think about it anymore right now because I completely fried my brain just getting it to this stage of screwed-up-edness.

So please, if you're reading this, I'm begging you, let me know if it came to you the way you wanted it to, and only once, and whether it looked okay or if it was just a bunch of gobbledygook.

And if you used to read this, but now you aren't reading it because my new service didn't send you a copy, please stand by. I will attempt to contact you via mental telepathy, just as soon as I regain some of my cognitive function.

Follow the RSS feed!Either way, if you've subscribed to HTV via RSS (the fancy button seen here), you might want to click now and resubscribe. Your subscription might still be going through Feedburner, which (as it turns out) isn't quite completely broken yet, but it is going away (not just for me, for everyone) and when it does, you'll stop getting updates from your favorite bloggers. WHO KNOWS HOW YOU'LL SURVIVE without a semi-daily-ish dose of me and my stupidity?

To apologize for any inconvenience, I made you a present!

In my last post, there was a discussion in the comments about "leftover wine." I said, "Maybe I need to invent a brand of wine called Leftover Wine; then I could say I was just going to polish off the leftover wine and still drink a full bottle or two without sounding like I need an intervention."

Alertly, Marian at Just Keep Swimming emailed me to point out I could make a label you could use on any old wine bottle (thus saving me from opening my own winery) - she also mentioned these bottles (or the labels) would make great gifts!  So here you go:

Print that baby off, then just add glue (and a bottle of wine) and PRESTO - you're free to guzzle the whole thing.

After all, you're just drinking the leftover wine.

I know I plan to.

Thanks for hanging in there with me - if we're still on speaking terms and you're all finished clicking on the other stuff in this post, please click the banner below. That's all it takes to vote - just that one click - and I sure could use a sign there's still someone out there . . . out there . . . out there . . .
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As The Dollhouse Turns - A Familiar Stranger

Episode 5: A Familiar Stranger

Today's episode finds Sunny out for an afternoon stroll with the baby. As she passes her favorite cafe, undecided about whether or not she'd raise any eyebrows by stopping at the bar with her small companion, she hears a familiar voice behind her.

"Hey hot stuff, you sell fries with that shake?"

Sunny would know Buzz's voice anywhere, but she can't believe  he'd say such a thing to her - it's been years since he's paid her a compliment, and neither romance nor public displays of affection were ever his thing.

As she turns to girlishly scold him for his flirtation, she's surprised to see that it isn't Buzz after all.

Instead, she locks eyes with a man who looks a great deal like Buzz - but this couldn't possibly be him. His hair, his face, his smile, the adorable way his knees bend but his elbows don't - all identical.

But this man is wearing a blue  shirt.


Buzz always wears red,  because Sunny refuses to wash his clothes until he builds her a laundry room balcony.

Nevertheless, Sunny approaches the table to ask exactly what this man had meant by his bold inquiry. She intends to be indignant, to point out how rude it is to say something so vulgar to a perfect stranger, and to lecture him about how one should address a lady in polite society.

But when he offers her a beer from his pitcher, she decides she might as well sit down and be civil.

"Don't worry about the baby; I'm pretty sure
they offer free child care here. Somewhere."


Later that evening, Sunny's old friend Betty stops by to borrow half a bottle of wine. Since Betty didn't bring a container to transport it in, they decide it would be easiest for her to just take it home in her stomach.

"I'd better drink the other half of the bottle," Sunny reasons. "I hate leftovers."

"We's shlood do dis mer orften." they somehow say in unison.

Sunny tells Betty all about her strange encounter at the cafe. "He said he was just passing through town, but he also mentioned that he knows a lot of people around here," she reveals between gulps ladylike sips.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" asks Betty, who I've just decided is a sassy, spunky lady who doesn't pull any punches or take any guff, plus other personality trait cliches.

Sunny isn't quite sure why he wouldn't be sticking around, if indeed it's true that he has a lot of friends in town. And who are these friends, exactly? And who is he  - had she even asked?

"Hmmmm . . . "

Sunny can't answer these questions though, and not just because her blood alcohol level is 52.7 after a full day of snacking on adult beverages. She'd been distracted while talking to the man, staring deeply into his unmoving, hypnotic black eyes - eyes that seemed so familiar, yet so mysterious.

Then he'd made an inappropriate comment about how hot she looked in her salmon-colored cardigan and she'd stormed off in a huff, right after chugging the rest of his pitcher (to teach him a lesson).

Nevertheless, the experience put her in the mood to have a few more drinks, preferably someplace where she doesn't have to keep putting her glass down to disentangle children from the curtains.

Betty is quick to agree when Sunny declares they need to have a girls' night out.

Sunny changes into her sexiest khaki slacks and leather clogs, then checks to make sure Buzz is available to stay home with the kids.

"Yeah sure whatever you say, I'm on it," Buzz mumbles.
::door slams behind Sunny::
"Honey, can you bring me the chips? . . . HONEY???
Now, where did that woman go?"

The girls are feeling good, all dressed up in fresh high-necked sweaters, liberally spritzing Avon body spray, ready to show the night who's boss at the new dance club downtown.

"I think my bra's on backwards."
"No, that's how a real one feels."
"Oh, I guess I'm just used to sports bras."

In a surprisingly lucid moment, Sunny remembers her new neighbor, Maggie. "I need to stop and pick someone up," she says to Betty, thinking it might be smart to get to know Maggie a little better, and reasoning that getting her drunk couldn't hurt.

Betty agrees wholeheartedly. Conveniently enough, Sunny has already smashed into Maggie's mailbox and skidded up into her front lawn.

Introductions are made all around.
Sunny casually mentions that a gang of hooligan kids has been
seen smashing into mailboxes with their cars lately.

Maggie serves a platter of organic ginseng green tea fiber cookies. Sunny and Betty exchange side eyes and quickly slam the remains of their Cinnamon Sprig Hot Cocoa Cider, the recipe for which Sunny had secretly tweaked with the contents of her flask.

"I'm so glad you two stopped by! I'd love us to go out to the club together - what kind of club is it? Book club? Bridge club? Oooooooh," Maggie squeals, getting excited, "is it a country club?"

"Time to go!" Sunny announces, standing so abruptly that she overturns her chair.

As a mother of school-aged children, Sunny has a highly developed sixth sense to detect people looking for volunteers. With all this club talk, she remembers that Maggie co-chairs the Humane Society's Orphaned Kitten Club. Sunny is suddenly acutely aware - and terrified - that she might soon be asked to knit tiny kitten eye patches or spend an afternoon serving up bowls of watered-down Fancy Feast.

"Noooooooo! Not community service!"

"Don't worry, you'll love this club," she quickly reassures Maggie, who finishes her secretly spiked cocoa as she's ushered toward the door. "We'd better get going! We want to snag a spot on the dance floor before it gets all sticky with spilled beer and partially dissolved roofies."

Will Sunny get some answers from Maggie, before she passes out from alcohol poisoning?
Will the girls discover the identity of this new mystery man?
Will the poor, orphaned kittens ever get some watered-down Fancy Feast and/or partially dissolved roofies?

The excitement continues next time! Until then, please feel free to catch up on previous episodes of As The Dollhouse Turns, and be sure to register your vote on the Fake Nielsen Ratings by clicking below!
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Dogs Aren't Supposed To Eat Babies

As if the random doll head in my car weren't enough, one day an even creepier doll-thing turned up in the baby's toy basket. I was alarmed by it, to say the least.

Why yes, I will kill you in your sleep.
Thank you for asking.

On one hand, I thought it might be a toy from Gerry's childhood - it did come out of his vast collection of junk crapola precious memories in the basement.

On the other hand, it looked to be about 117 years old vintage, and also was a doll, and a doll that didn't look like any fun at all for a kid to play with to boot, which didn't jibe with my "Gerry's childhood" theory.

Careful not to hurt his feelings in case this item was, in fact, a treasured heirloom, I gently inquired, "What the hell is this horrifying piece of garbage, and why is it touching Maddie's toys?"

He immediately rushed to the doll-thing's defense. Meanwhile, I held it at arm's length, delicately between two fingers, visually inspecting the overall creepiness.

In addition to being fairly dirty, most of its (probably lead-based) paint was worn off, though some of the bare spots were filled in with stray swipes from a hot pink marker. Worst of all, the very tip of its ponytail was missing; by all appearances you could safely conclude that someone or something had gnawed it off.

When he was finished trying to say good things about the doll-thing that didn't make any sense, I said with disdain, "Did you know this thing squeaks? Were you aware it's a squeaky toy?"

Gerry continued to pretend this was a positive attribute.

Wait a minute - it's been chewed on, and it squeaks? Sherlocking the facts together, I came to the obvious conclusion. "This is a dog toy, isn't it? It's like one of those rubber newspapers, something you throw for a dog and he chews it and slobbers on it and brings it back and growls and acts like he's not going to give it back but then eventually he does because he wants you to keep throwing it but the thought of touching it again makes you cringe. Gross! Maddie is NOT playing with a dog's chew toy!"

Very patiently, Gerry pointed out, "I doubt very seriously that they'd make a dog's chew toy in the shape of a baby."

Touché, babe - touché.

I probably should've listened more closely when Gerry was defending the doll-thing, because if he was explaining that it belonged to one of his sisters when they were kids, they're probably pretty insulted right now.

Sorry, guys - I'm sure she was awesome, back in the day.

Hopefully I get some points for not actually giving it to a dog, and thus inadvertantly teaching him that it's fun to chew on babies.  Doesn't that deserve a clicky vote on the TMB banner below?
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A Mandatory Walk Down Matrimony Lane

Hey, remember how I'm married and stuff?

A picture of rings? you say. Well, then it must be true.

Yup, it's totally legal and legit, and we're even having an anniversary this week sometime to prove it. I'd tell you when, but it's really late at night right now and the first thing to stop functioning in my brain when I'm tired is whatever part holds the numbers. This means that by 11 PM I'm pretty useless for calendar dates or helping my daughter with her math homework. Which usually works out fine, since second graders probably shouldn't be up at this hour.

The reason I'm telling you this, and the reason why I'm writing in the middle of the night instead of lying in bed waiting for the baby to kick me in the spleen, is because it's Monday Listicles time over at Sasha's house, The Good Life. Her topic today is 10 Things About Weddings, so obviously I couldn't pass that up! Nor could I plan ahead and write this post at a decent time of day, because that, my friends, is not at all how I roll.

So here it is, my 10 Things About Our Wedding, complete with photos, since you've all been clamoring to see them (no you haven't):

1. We got married in a barn. It was much awesomer than it sounds.

2. Flip flops and a tiara always look super hawt - but even if you don't have time to make an appearance at WalMart, remember they're also appropriate attire for sneaking into the bar and snitching some wine before the guests arrive. Helpful tip: Don't let people with cameras follow you when you're stealing wine, even if you've hired people to follow you with cameras.

3. Gerry had to leave to take a shower (as you may recall, we were in a barn) and all the guests arrived before he came back. Here's me, calling just to double check that he's planning to return, before I go to all the trouble of squishing into my dress.

4. Speaking of the dress, I bought it on eBay. When it arrived, it didn't fit and no one within a two million mile radius would fix it because they didn't want to screw it up and risk having me go all bridezilla on them (fair enough). I eventually had to do it myself, even though I can't really sew, and thus spent the entire day terrified the seams would rip open at any moment and reveal all my steel-reinforced support garments.

5. Correction - I worried about it for about 20 minutes, which was how long it took for the wine to kick in. Here I am with one of my matrons of honor, expressing my deep concern over the structural integrity of my dress.

Her face has been blurred out, mostly because I want her to remain my friend; one can only assume she doesn't want to be associated with my dumb ass in a public forum.

6. All the kids were in the wedding, which went just peachy (except maybe for Zoe chatting with people in the front row during the ceremony). At the reception, Jake said it was the best day of his life! I got all melty - until he told me the reasons, which were a) that he got to ride in an elevator and b) he didn't have to rinse off his own dinner plate.

7. But COME ON - every wedding needs a little flower girl peeking out from behind a tree, amiright?

8. The next photo reveals a tender moment in the ceremony during our vows, when I believe my loving groom informed me I had snot running down my face from trying to stifle my joyous ugly cry.

He let me keep my used tissues in his jacket pocket.

That's love.

9. And then . . . The Kiss. So incredibly sweet.

I especially love how it looks like I have a goatee, and like my left boob has somehow escaped the confines of my dress, thwarting my multiple layers of fail-safe boob retention devices. Maybe it did.  Maybe I stood up outside a barn in a field full of our family and closest friends and flashed them all with a half rack of ribs. But if so, nobody said a word. God bless them all.

10. After all the planning, the missing groom, and the potential wardrobe malfunctions, at the end of the afternoon we had a party. And most importantly, we had each other. Forever.

We also had a DJ who played Prince's Erotic City for the enjoyment of our grandparents, but by then the bar had been open for a while and we were too drunk happy to care.

Happy anniversary, babe, whenever it is. I love you, and I'm really sorry about this post - you know how I get when I'm tired.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Inappropriate Gift Giving Is Fun

I'd like to announce from the giddyup that my bloggin' buddy, The Bearded Iris, and my bloggin' might-consider-being-my-buddy-if-she-knew-I-was-alive, The Suniverse, are having a contest to find the best inappropriate (that means naughty)  crafts.

I am entering this contest.

The name of the contest is Craft Whores.

I stole their wicked cross-stitched logo.

Heads up - if the name of the contest  offends you, that's a good indication that you might wanna close your browser window now and back away slowly. My guess is that you won't find the rest of this particular post amusing.

However, if you love inappropriate crafts (AND WHO DOESN'T?) (I can say that now, since the people who don't like them all left during the last paragraph) then read on! Maybe you'll be inspired to enter the contest yourself.

Because crafts are fun. And being inappropriate is fun. What's not to like?


My craft is intended to be a wedding gift, a bridal shower present, or perhaps a little something special for your grandparents' anniversary - for any couple whose relationship you want to celebrate, really. Maybe it's time to focus some attention on your own relationship, eh?

You see, we keep scrapbooks commemorating vacations, milestones, and every hiccup that ever graced the diaphragms of our beloved offspring. Yet we ignore one of the fundamental parts of our lives that prevents us from murdering our spouses in their sleep.

Places We've "Done It" album - $19.95 plus S&H

That's right, what we have here is a hand-bound, faux leather, extremely attractive, tasteful (on the outside) scrapbook of places where you've done the deed! All you need to do is insert pictures of the locations (showing skin is optional, but - in my case, anyway - probably not recommended) and add a few details to preserve these precious memories forever.

What couple wouldn't want to relive their private exploits by flipping through an album full of all their Nekkid Together-Times? Or for the adventurous, maybe you'll opt to use it as a coffee table book; guests are sure to be entertained and/or horrified by this unexpected glimpse into the seedy underbelly of your marriage.

The interior pages provide photo corners for easy insertion of the pictures of your Sweet Love Locales.
Won't your friends be surprised to see a photo of their own hot tub? Ready to impress the neighbors by how adventurous you got out back by their bird feeder? Don't you want to witness the look on Grandma's face when she recognizes her sofa in a snapshot taken during that week you were housesitting? Fun for the whole family.

The floral decorations really say you care,
and also that I have too much time on my hands.

In addition to the photo, there are spots on each page to add more information, including the date, place, and reason (such as, "The kids slept in their own beds for once" or, "Cashing in a homemade birthday coupon from last year"). You can check off adjectives that might describe your Special Time together (Was it Loud? Playful? Um . . . dainty?), record whether or not any of your children were conceived at the time (they'll really appreciate reading about that later), and even evaluate your overall experience with a handy five-star rating system.

These kinds of details will be so much fun to look back on together when you're old and feeble and rarely have the energy for a good romp anymore (about 10 minutes after the conclusion of the honeymoon), and will really bring the vibrance of your relationship to life for future generations.

So please, consider snatching up one of these Places We've Done It albums for your friend to open at her bridal shower in front of her elderly Great Aunts and extended family, and one for that Ms. Perfect PTA Mom who seems to have it all - you can be sure  she doesn't have one of these!

And of course, grab one for yourself as well.

Don't forget to show off the fact that you christened the very coffee table the book is sitting on.

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How To Be An Artist in Umpteen Easy Steps

One day my brain, without consulting me, decided that the wall in our living room needed some Art.  No one else in the house cared one bit, but try telling that to my stupid, stubborn brain, which suddenly couldn't be convinced that the wall looked anything other than blank and depressing.

I looked on the interwebs, and was shocked to find out that most Art is pretty expensive.  You'd be hard pressed to pay less than 400 gajillion dollars for one of those paint-splattery Jackson Pollock things, and if you want something attractive,  the price just goes up from there.

No problem, though!  We can make our own art, and I'll show you how.

First you need to search for some old canvases that you painted years ago, hated, and threw unceremoniously down  the stairs into the basement.  Pair them with some pretty patterned cardstock and spray adhesive, and take a picture.

Slather the canvases with spray adhesive and, before you pass out from the fumes  (that part is important), cover your canvases with the paper.

It's time consuming, but at least it's ugly.

I'm gonna blaze through the next several steps, since they don't really matter.
  • Discover that spray adhesive doesn't stick to canvas.
  • Re-do the whole project, this time using Mod Podge.
  • Decide the papers need to "blend," whatever that means.  Paint over everything with a mixture of various craft paints diluted with more Mod Podge.
  • Smack forehead because you didn't fully adhere the paper to the canvas, so the moisture from all this paint and Mod Podge is making the paper bubble up and get lumpy.
  • Realize one of the craft paints you used was bronze and your entire project is now, in addition to being lumpy, also unintentionally metallic.
At this point you're so frustrated, the best thing to do is abandon the project for a period of six months or more.  Personally, I left two canvases hanging up crooked on the wall, one on top of the TV hutch, and another on the bench in our kitchen, but you can use whatever arrangement works for you.

If anyone asks, just tell them that this period of reflection is all part of the Creative Process, and/or advise them to cram it up their cram holes.

After you've cooled off and grown weary of visitors asking which one of your children made the art in your living room, it's time to gather your canvases and start over.  By now they're really dusty, but luckily the baby is finally old enough to help clean them up.

Allowing the baby to eat the dusty rag
while you take photos is optional.

This was from my artistic I Wonder If I Can Paint Circles period.
The answer was equal parts "Not really" and
"Why the hell did you want to paint circles, again?"

Under the dust and paper will be two quarts of dried Mod Podge.
Your baby is really going to have to put some elbow grease
into cleaning this mess up.

Note: I apologize that Maddie isn't wearing a shirt in these photos, but she was  wearing two pairs of pants, so I'm pretty sure it all evens out.
All those papers and bronzed lumps were too patterny (that's an official Art term - don't worry, you'll eventually catch on to the lingo), so this time you go for a more monochromatic look.  There are lots of gorgeous paint colors available; I selected something from my garage called "Kitchen and Basement Stairwell" because I thought it sounded homey and warm, and also because it was free and would blend in with my living room wall, thus making this horrifically stupid Art project almost completely invisible.

I get all my art supplies at Home Depot.

In your studio (aka breakfast nook) you no doubt have seventy other craft projects in various stages of half-completion.  DO NOT try to move them or put your supplies away.  An overturned wicker laundry basket on top of the already teetering stacks makes a perfect surface for painting.

Easels?  We don't need no stinkin' easels.

If you're an Artist like me, you were probably too busy thinking Artistic Thoughts to bother getting all the paper bits and clumps of dried adhesive off your canvas before you started painting.

As a result, at this stage your project looks like (to use another Art term) crap.

This is the point when most budding artists give up.  But don't despair!  The secret behind creating Real Art is not to make it look good,  but to make it appear as though it looks crappy on purpose.   We'll just call these bumps and rough patches Texture.

When the paint dries, hang your Art, which will require hammering approximately eleventy bajillion nail holes in your wall.  Then step back and admire your work.  You'll notice right away that your monochromatic canvases look less like Art and more like bump-outs to house oddly-shaped ductwork.

To correct the problem, grab some stamps and paint.  Slap some words onto your canvases - try to resist the urge to use any of the four-letter words running through your head right now.

Martha Stewart recommends cleaning your stamps
after you use them.
I am not Martha Stewart, in case you hadn't noticed.

Put your canvases back in place.  If your husband comes downstairs and says something like, "Why are there words on the wall?  Did I authorize this?" you might need to explain to him what you've been through to create these gorgeous masterpieces.  Feel free to make your language as Artistic as you like.

You can also offer, as I did, to change the words on the canvases to read "snark," "dorks," "wine-o-clock," and "shut the hell up."  He'll really appreciate having his opinion taken into consideration.

Now all you have to do is leave your Art up long enough that you don't notice it anymore, just like that giant purple crayon streak on your daughter's closet door that you keep meaning to clean, or any of the 12,000 things hanging on the fridge.  Ta-da - you're an artist!
Click the banner below to celebrate your artistic success by voting for HTV!
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