Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This one's for you, Love...

Kyle and I don't really have a lot in common. We're pretty much polar opposites. So naturally, our reading lists are quite different. I grew up with Harry Potter (which I'll defend to the death), and he has been an ardent fan of the Brian Jacques Redwall Series for years. We've been trying to convince each other of the virtues of our favorites since we've been together, but I didn't understand what I could possibly derive from reading a book about mice with swords and he... Well. I can't speak to his reasoning.

I finally caved and gave Redwall a go. It actually wasn't half bad. (NOTE: I said "not half bad." Harry Potter still reigns supreme.)

The novel follows the classic hero's journey of Matthias, a young orphaned mouse living in the haven that is Redwall Abbey. The abbey provides shelter and safety for any living creature that seeks it. (Except for those treacherous snakes, of course.) Jacques describes every inch of the structure in great detail, making it seem the perfect refuge: calm, beautiful and tranquil. It's towers and great outer walls fit the bill of a traditional medieval castle...but in miniature.

The creatures of the abbey live in perfect harmony until the infamous Cluny the Scourge and his hoard of rats come calling. The fiend decides he wants the fortress for his own uses, waging war and laying siege against the peace-loving woodland animals. Guided by Father Abbot Mortimer, the wise old record keeper Methuselah, and fierce fighting badger Constance, Matthias is able to rise to the occasion and become another legendary warrior of Redwall.

The novel is written in from a narrator's all seeing eye, which builds suspense as our main characters go off on separate quests since the narrative jumps from action-packed scene to scene. The battles are penned skillfully and with enough detail to satisfy even the most finicky of audiences. The plot moves swiftly, keeping us thoroughly entangled from start to finish. The story is one of virtuousness, courage, and the power of hope in the face of utter despair. It's even speckled with a bit of romance. Who'd have thought?

I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. However, there is the issue that the book is, in short, about cute little mice running around with swords. While the plot is good and the characters are believable, it's obviously meant to be read by a much younger audience. I couldn't help but think "Oh, how adorable!" at the most inconvenient moments. If I'd grown up reading this series I'd probably have a much deeper attachment, but as things stand it's just a great way to pass a rainy day.

Would I recommend it? Definitely. In fact, I'll probably continue on with the series. Would I guarantee you'll love it? Only if you are under the age of thirteen. At the very least, it would make a most excellent bedtime story for your kids. Who knows? You might look forward to their bedtime reading as well. ;)

[This review is also featured on PTBC.]

PS -- Don't forget to submit your questions for the blog-sprucing Q&A next Monday!  Email/comment me your questions here by this Saturday, May 1st at 11:59 pm to have them included in the post.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fill in the Blanks Friday


1. One song that always takes me back to my youth is "Little Things," by Good Charlotte.  Oh, back in the day my friends and I thought we were pretty cool singing along to that one... (Snickering/shaking your head in despair/literally laughing out loud is acceptable.)

2. My first concert ever was Backstreet Boys.  I was the coolest fifth grader around.

3. If I could create my dream music festival I'd want these bands to be there:  I like a strange variety of things, so my dream list would include people/bands ranging from AFI to Taylor Swift.  Blue October would definitely make the list since I had to leave the only show of theirs I've been to early.  Plus, you know, Lady Gaga, because it would be fun to see what she wore in her hair... 

4. The best make-out/"boot knocking" song ever is ... (I am silenced by the term "boot-knocking.")

5. The best concert I've ever been to was the first AFI show I went to, for sure.

6. A memorable musical moment for me was not what you'd expect:  me, Kylie and Brianne blasting The Ting Tings and 3oh3 driving down the streets of Gatlinburg.  Good times.

7. The song on my iPod that's getting the most play these days is  "Imma Be."  What can I say?  I love it.

To play along/see the other participants, click here.

What Carrie Wants


I want a week.

A week without anything.

No homework.

No bills.

No deadlines.

No family asking a bajillion questions that I don't have the answers to.

No plans to make.

No cars that fall apart.

No dishes to do.

No appointments to keep.

No work.

Just a week.

A week of quiet so loud I have to scream to break it up.

A week of breathing.

A week of blank paper to fill with ideas.

A week of coffee and muffins from some cozy little coffe shop.

A week of unfamiliar faces.

A week of soft music.

A week of antique shops and book stores.

A week of mornings that start no earlier than 11am.

A week of not worrying.

A week of me.  Just me.  With no one else.

I can resume my do-this-do-that-do-everything-and-save-the-world-from-itself schedule again afterwards.

I think I might book that week (or at least a long weekend) for sometime around mid-August...

Any suggestions of where I should go?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Little Letters

Dearest Max the Cat,

I love you terribly.  I do.  But if you randomly bite my hand while I'm petting you one. more. time...  I'll have to do something atrocious.  Like lock you in the closet beneath the stairs.   Until, of course, some giant man breaks down my front door and tells you about your real parents and whisks you away to... 

I'm losing focus here.

The point is, when you're receiving one of those ear-scratchings you love so much, don't bite me.  It discourages the ear-scratching. 

Lovelovelove,
Mommy

---

Dear Dishes,

Could you please do one of those Beauty and the Beast things where you jump into the sink and wash yourselves?  Please?

Wishfully yours,
Owner

---

Dear Friend-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless,

You should just go for it already

Best wishes,
Your Girlfriend-Related-Advice Giver

---

Dear Stupid Junkheap Car of Mine,

I take personally your decision not to start and leave me stranded on campus yesterday.  Just so you know.  You're not getting vacuumed for a very long time as punishment. 

(Maybe also because I hate vacuuming you.)

Annoyed but forgiving,
Carrie

---

Dear Tranquil Mammoth,

In case you were wondering (not that you're reading) the links were inspired by you.

With admiration,
Fellow Blogger/Fan

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Max the Cat



Yes, he is awful sometimes.
He turns over the trash.
He chews phone chargers in half.
He sits on the keyboard when I type.
He tears my antique yellow chair to shreds.
He's finicky about his food.
He spills his water bowl.
He EATS MY HOMEWORK.
He refuses to let Brianne and I do crafts in the living room...

But at the end of the day he curls up on my shoulders while I'm blogging
and gives me cute little kitty kisses,
and I know I wouldn't have it any other way.
:)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fill in the Blanks Friday

See the other participants here

1. The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone to see if I slept through a phonecall.  Or talked to someone in my sleep.  I've been known to do that.

2. Every night before bed I check my blog, facebook and twitter.  I'm obsessed. I don't think it's healthy.

3. My favorite thing to do when I'm having a bad day is promptly change into pajamas and curl up with netflix, a good book, and a pint of ice cream.  Yes, the book and movie at once.  I like to multitask.

4. Something that makes me cringe is the wrong use of "they're, there and their."  I cringe even worse when it's ME that does it.  ;)

5. Social situations don't freak me out as much as they used to.

6. I like to collect teapots!  So far I have seven, and I love them all dearly.  I'll have to introduce them to you.  They each have names, you know.

7. Weekends are for sleep.  Oh how I love catching up on sleep.

Happy Weekend, dears.  :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Courtney's Magic Meatloaf

My dear bloggy friends, it is time I filled you in on a my latest project...

For a little more than three weeks now (since March 23, if you want to be precise) I've been doing this thing where I don't eat as much as usual, and I refuse to let myself restock my baking cabinet.  There has been a shortage of soda, sweets and anything fried at my apartment, and an abundence of fruit.  So much fruit it doesn't all fit in the fridge willingly.

(Courtney's doing it too.)

Now, I know what you're thinking, and you're wrong.  This is not a diet.  Diets are for people that aren't happy with themselves.  (Which I am, thank you very much.)  They are the things you do for two days, realize that you're starving, and give up immediately.  Diets have a tendency to make you gain weight instead of lose it.  Diets and their dreadful torture tactics, in short, are not for me.

This is something entirely different.  It's what Courtney and I have dubbed a "competitive lifestyle change."  We are trying to see who will be most successful with this little not-eating-bad-things project.  (When pride and bragging rights are at stake it's easier to run away from the cookie aisle at WalMart...) 

For three weeks things have been going smoothly.  I've become best friends with Lean Cuisine, Special K bars and bottled water.  (Bottled water is taking over my kitchen.)  Baking has ceased.  (Well, that's not entirely true.  I made a huge amount of cupcakes and cookies for an Easter party...but I didn't eat a single one.)  (Okay, that's not true either.  I did have one.  But it was just a cookie.  ONE COOKIE!  Have you any idea the will power it takes to stop after one cookie?!?!?)  (Okay, so maybe it was two.)  Anyhoo, the point here is that I've actually been doing quite well.  Cookie fiasco minor mishap aside.

So yesterday when Courtney made meatloaf and mashed potatoes I was distressed.  I thought to myself, "Oh heavens, Carrie, you're done for.  Three weeks of success is about to be massacred by meatloaf and mashed potatoes."  It was a deeply tragic moment.  But not half as tragic as the moment when I realized I had eaten about two servings of both.  And not even a speck as dark and despairing as the moment after that when she brought out chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  (I think this was a tactic.  I think she WANTED me to fail just to get ahead...  But that doesn't really pan out since she ate the meatloaf too.)

I thought I'd fallen into a black hole of disgust and disappointment. 

But then something strange happened.

I confronted the scale this morning to see how much damage I'd done to my so-far-incredible progress, and was astounded to find that the number on the screen was TWO SMALLER than last time. 

Did you hear that?  I ate the meatloaf and mashed potatoes and cookies and still somehow managed to be TWO POUNDS lighter.  What can this mean?  I've been pondering it all morning and I can only come up with one conclusion:

Courtney's meatloaf is magic.  She posted the recipe here.

THE END

PS -- You'll be pleased to know that the so-far-incredible progress I mentioned above refers to the 9.6 lbs I've misplaced in the last three weeks.  And if you're not pleased...well.  I certainly am, anyhow.  :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Post #234: In Which You Learn What Happens When the Sun Shines and Brianne and I are Bored

"What happens?" you ask.

"We go a little mad with the sidewalk chalk."  I respond.









PS -- How do you feel about the blog's makeover?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Things We Cannot Think About

Loving a warrior requires a lot of conditioning of the mind.  You have to be able to focus on some things while completely ignoring others.  It's almost like a game.  During separations, you focus on remember the smiles and embraces, and counting the days left until your reunion.  You occupy yourself with unnecessary tasks and hobbies.  On particularly sucky days you remind yourself that this time apart isn't forever, that the health care is free, and that the pay doesn't completely suck.  You tell yourself things that let you get by, and you shut out the stuff that brings you to tears.

You don't think the scary thoughts.  When you tell your friends that "he's training" you don't think about what he's training for.  When you say "he's working" you don't think about the thousand hazards of the job.  And when he mentions deployment...  You do your very best to think of it as just another separation.  You never ever consider the possibility that he might not come home.  If you did, you'd fall apart.  And that's just not an option for a supportive military wife.

Now, before you all jump to the wrong conclusion, no, Kyle isn't going anywhere.  He's staying safely in Germany for the time being, but I am not the only woman in the blogosphere who has a man in the military.  Mrs. P. (of A Little Pink in a World of Camo) recently came face to face with the unthinkable when she lost her husband while he was on his first tour in Afghanistan.

I don't think there are words to describe her experience, but she's making the brave attempt to share it with us anyway.  Her blog has become a symbol of hope and courage even in the face of total despair, and it is my hope that you'll all lend her your support. 

There is a new button over in my sidebar.  It provides a direct link to Mrs. P's fund-raising efforts in honor of her husband.  All proceeds go to help wounded warriors and their families.  The two links below it will introduce you properly to the fundraiser and to the inspirational Mrs. herself.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fill in the Blanks Friday

I found this super cute "fill in the blanks" meme at the little things we do... and knew instantly that I had to play along.

1)  The strangest thing I've ever eaten was french fries dipped in cake icing.  (Yeah, I know I'm weird.)

2)  My best friend is friends are the people that keep me afloat sometimes.  I don't know what I'd do without them.  They're the only people who can keep me laughing straight through a crisis.  (i.e. When my car was towed last week and I thought it was stolen.  Thank you, Kylie!)

3)  If I could live in a different era it would be the 50s, for sure.  Just for those fabulous dresses and pearls.  Plus, you know, I'm kind of destined to be a housewife.

4)  I like pasta way too much for my own good. I could eat it every day of the week and be perfectly happy.  (So long as there was cheesecake for desert.)

5)  If you only know one thing about me it should be that everything you do around me has the potential to wind up on my blog.  ;)

6)  My favorite book of all time is constantly changing.  At the moment I'm in love with The Hunger Games.  Next week I'll be wrapped up in something else.

7)  The one beauty product I could never live without is my Chanel perfume.  It's my one extravagance.

8)  Blogging is one of my favorite parts of the day.  I love the friends I've made here, and the creative outlet it provides.

9)  If I could star in a movie with one actor/actress it would be Natalie Portman.  I'm pretty sure all she would have to do to make a movie amazing is walk on stage.

10)  One of the best feelings in the world is waking up on a Saturday and knowing that if I roll over and go back to sleep, my alarm won't be waking me up five minutes later.

Happy Weekend Everyone!  :)

PS --There's a rather interesting Twilight-related post over here today...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Progression

I was reading through some of my old posts, and honestly I don't even feel like I wrote them.  So much has happened.  So much has changed.  If I start at the beginning and work my way forward, from December of 2008 until now, I can literally watch my attitude evolve.

When I began this blog, dealing with the Army was only a vague possibility, and now it's...it's just life.  It's routine.  When Kyle first went away, I thought being happy was over, and then that thought transformed into "happy would be postponed,"  and now I think I am happy.  Sure, some days hurt, and some are harder than others, but that doesn't stop me from being me.  Life goes on, one day at a time, and each moment has the potential to be better than the last.

I also see how blind faith and determination to make things work took over.  It was like I went into auto-pilot mode.  Hope kept me going when I'd rather have stayed put.

But, heaven help me, I can see the evolution of my writing too.  I mean, do you REMEMBER some of those early posts??  What on earth was I thinking?  Thank God for patient readers.  ;)  Take this story from last May for example.  Sure, it's decent, but at the time it was my best, and now I think it's far below par.  Now, I would say the story I posted yesterday is my best, but I wonder if I'll still be proud of it this time next year...  Who knows who I'll be, or what my writing will be like, then?  I know I certainly don't.

I think the most shocking change of all has taken place in this blog itself.  In December of 2008 this page was completely unrecognizable from what it is today.  It was a two column minima template with a black background and orange text, NOTHING in the sidebar, a header made on photobucket.com from an image of a pile of carrots, a following of 1, and some very poor poetry.  Any of you guys been around long enough that you remember that Dark Age of [carrotspeak.]??  (The poetry is still there, if you insist upon seeing it.)  I mean really. I didn't even know how to enable comments when I first started this little project.

And now?  Now I have a self-customized layout, pretty carrot-buttons with corresponding pages, 749 followers, more beautiful awards than I care to count, my own meme, a book club, and a even a facebook group.  The only things that haven't changed are the name "carrotspeak" and the fact that 90% of my posts have something to do with my relationship.

How did all of that happen in less than two years?  How did I go from being a terrified freshman with webpage and a broken heart, to a self-confident writer with an adventure in store?  I really don't know.   I guess it's all a by-product of that thing they call "growing up."  All I know for sure, is that I'm glad it happened, and I'm glad you guys were here for more of the Carrotian-Renaissance than the Dark Age.  I hope you're all still around in the months to come...  Maybe we'll embark upon a Golden Age together.

PS -- Speaking of the book club, the polls for May's selection are up!  Get your votes in by April 30th!  We're also accepting guest post/book reveiws this month, if anyone is interested.  More details on the book club blog.

PPS -- Don't forget about Shoes for Samantha!  You guys have been great about spreading the word, but the work isn't over yet!  With you're help, Rachel's facebook fan page for the organization has reached 200 fans!  That's wonderful, but we still need more.  The challenge was 300, guys, and I know you can do it!  :)

Sharing (Take 3)

Behold, my final Creative Writing assignment.  There were no rules for this one.  The ENTIRE CLASS will be workshopping it next Wednesday.  Check back then to hear how well (or how badly) it was received.  It's a traditional length short story.  As always, your honest opinions and criticisms are welcome.  I hope you enjoy.

A cloud of secrecy has decended around this piece until further notice.
I apologize for any inconvenience.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Smiles for Sunshine

Today is a good day, and I am a happy girl.  The sun is shining, the breeze is perfect, and the sky doesn't contain a single cloud.  My heart positively sings.  It feels like a little taste of how wonderful summer will be. 

The Open Mic Night went about a thousand times better than I expected.  I didn't even stutter.  I really can't tell you how much of an accoplishment that is.  I don't think it's the best I can do, by any means, but for my first time reading my own work in public?  It was good.

Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement yesterday.  :)

Now, I'm going back to work so I can get out of this office as soon as possible.  I think I'll take a book to the park... 

Happy Friday, loves, and Happy (early) Easter!

PS -- If you're a member of Page Turners Book Club, don't forget to chime in on the discussion!  There are also important announcements this month.  Click the button in the sidebar to be redirected to the bookclub blog!  ;)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Already?

How did this month slip up on me?  I think I must have succeeded in sleeping my way through March, because now that it's gone it only stains my memory with one giant blur, punctuated by scenes from Spring Break.

April brings all sorts of new horrors:  registering for fall classes I hope I'm not here to really take; beginning the what seems like 10,000 procedures needed for Max to be able to move to Europe with me; sorting through my many boxes of things at my parents houses to consolidate and organize my storage for when I'm gone; telling my mother another million times that no, I don't know when I'm going back to Germany to visit, only that it's in May, and no, I have no idea when the wedding will be; and probably the most terrifying of all, the monthy Open Mic Night at the Hardback Cafe in Richmond's Hastings.

My Creative Writing Professor sponsers the Open Mic Night on the first Thursday of each month, and offers extra credit to students willing to come and participate.  (Note the words: AND PARTICIPATE.)  I attended last month and was completely blown away by the performances.  Some of the readers were incredible.  I did not budge from my chair.

Guess what today is?

Today is the first Thursday of April.  I have to go and read something tonight.  I am petrified.  Sharing writing with people I cannot see is one thing, but reading it to an audience is another entirely.  Stage fright and me are like peanut butter and banana sandwiches; I don't like either pairing at all, but it seems to be way of the world.  Wish me luck and courage, please.  If any of you are in the Richmond-ish area and would like to come witness what will probably be my humiliation, the event starts at 7pm.  I'll be the deathly pale, and probably shaking, girl in the corner.

Oh, how I wish this were an elaborate joke.  : |

I can be bold.  I can be bold.  I can be bold...

The Traveling Notebook


The book is now on it's way to Finland.  :)