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18 May 19:24

Bomb-Azz Review #2: The Bombening

by clotheshog

Alternate title: Electric Bombaloo.  I don’t think I named the first bath bomb review I did, but henceforth the series will be known as Bomb-Azz Reviews.  If I remember to do that.  I could also come up with a better name. Time will tell.

Last night I wanted to wash the funk of the day off me while simultaneously generating blog fodder, so it was the perfect opportunity to bust out another bath bomb from my Lush haul.  I reached in the sack and grabbed the first ball I got (heyo!), which turned out to be The Experimenter.  I bought it because it’s colorful, and I am an easy mark.

From looking at this nugget of bath-time fun, I expected it to be scented of bubble gum or erasers due to its #2 pencil color scheme.  In reality, it seemed to be more like sandalwood or patchouli.  At first the scent was a fun surprise, though it eventually became too heavy. I tend to enjoy strongly-scented things but this sucker filled up my whole entire nose with its woodsy fragrance. I think next time I’d just use half of the bomb.  The ingredients include tonka and vanilla beans and I’m not the Bean Queen 2016 or anything, but I really didn’t notice any vanilla-y sweetness and would have pegged this as more of a campfire scent than anything else. In addition to the generous scent, this bomb was amazingly colorful, full of glitter, and super moisturizing. I’d recommend it for wintertime use, or if you just really enjoy smelling like a glittery beautiful fireplace.  It’s worth it any time of year for the Instagram material, though.  This thing was truly beautiful, and I took photos for an embarrassingly long time.

Bomb in its natural form Plop! Woodsy pastel wonderland Fizzzzz

I tried to switch my part today to see if it made my hair behave better, but no.  My locks are still lacking, and what even is this color?  Think I could pull off a shaved head?  Without crying? Here is yet another dress (from ModCloth, same style as this one) I’ve had in the closet for months and never seem to wear, so I’m sharing it with you, my beloved blogfriends.  The problem is, these little flowers have green and red dots in them, and wearing red and green together makes me feel like Christmas, and the dots are so small you can’t see them from far away but I know they’re there so I want to match.  Also neither color goes that well with purple, so accessorizing is a challenge.  I picked a green belt (from a different ModCloth dress) and some similarly-hued Swedish Hasbeens, and some older earrings from Target that I hardly ever wear.  I feel real comfy, but not very cute, but I don’t have to look at me, I only have to be me, so it’s not really a problem. Sucks for y’all though.


Okay goodbye, I get to eat a sandwich now.

13 May 23:08

Friday the Thirsteenth

by clotheshog

Y’all all I really want is a big ass iced latte, but I already walked by West Elm and my boyfriend from yesterday was working so I know I can’t go there but I WANT TO.  I am chugging an infinity of water instead, and it is not nearly as delicious, nor does it contain any energizing drugs.  I had a cold brew coffee earlier today but because I made it myself it didn’t seem indulgent or fun.  I should probably work on being one of those DIY people who thinks making things is cool and exciting, but I only think things are cool/exciting when they are done for me, by someone I give money to.  That’s the American Way, I think.

I am doing this hogblog on my lunch break so I’ll make it quick and only about clothes. Nothing else happened today, except Maegan and I went back to the Merc and it was perfect and delicious as always.

In Outfits of Years Past, we have this lil’ number.  Mid-May must be the time of year I decide to let all my flabby flesh hang out.  I’m sorry/you’re welcome.


Dress was from Ross, shoes from Ebay, belt from Cato, earrings from Target.  I think I actually still own all of these items and have linked to all those places before, plus you know how to Google.

So as you may have noticed, I tend not to repeat outfits.  This is a bad habit I picked up when I started doing outfit photos, and it got worse when I was a Gywnnie Bee member. I want to try to get better at doing wardrobe remixes or whatever flashy thing people call the innovative notion of wearing your clothes more than once, so today I sort of tried it.

I’ve had this skirt (ModCloth, natch) for a while now but rarely wear it.  Black and white are two hues I have no idea what to do with, and I tend to avoid them.  The top came from Zulily, and has been sitting in the closet with the intent of being paired with this skirt since at least December, but I kept avoiding it because of my hella VBO. But fuck it!  It’s Friday!  You all know I’m fat, it’s not like a secret you only realize when I wear a certain type of clothing.  So I slapped these two garments on, topped ’em off with my Cats Like Us belt, threw on my Hasbeens and some plastic earrings and hit the road. Then I saw a cute puppy and made this face, but the puppy was gone and I never did get to pet it.😦


My vote tally is holding steady at 250, so I guess I’m not going to be a famous model. Which is a real shame because writing words is a lot harder than just being cute.

05 May 15:16

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting stories...

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting stories gathered from the Pediatrics Department of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Obviously these are not going to be easy stories to read. These are war stories. The treatment of cancer can be nearly as violent as the condition itself, and even the doctors will frame their efforts in terms of warfare. But the fight against pediatric cancer is uniquely tragic because the battlefield is the body of a child. So these are definitely war stories. But as with every war, there are heroes. You’ll meet the amazing doctors, nurses, and researchers who have committed their lives to this fight. You’ll meet the moms and dads who refuse to crumble while living out their greatest fear. And most importantly, you’ll meet the reason that everyone is fighting, and the greatest warriors of all—the kids. So yes, these are war stories. But this is also the story of humanity’s bold response to the greatest injustice of nature. And as we learn these stories, we’ll be raising money to play our own small part in the war.

28 Apr 15:27

Welcoming Ridley

by kayla aimee

As many of you know, I delivered my first child just 25 weeks into my pregnancy and spent a subsequent 156 days in the NICU. (You can read her birth story here.) When we found out that we were expecting again five years later, I was incredibly fearful of another extremely early delivery. I’m so thrilled to tell you that this month we welcomed healthy baby boy into our family. This is his story.
FoxNewborn-40I spent most of this pregnancy on bedrest for incompetent cervix and was receiving weekly progesterone shots to help keep me pregnant but I still started having contractions in the middle of my second trimester. I ended up in the hospital on a few different occassions to stop contractions and I started on a daily medication to help keep them at bay. I was thrilled to make it to 36 weeks, when all of my medication was discontinued and bedrest was lifted. While my due date was May 1st, I was fairly certain that I was going to have a baby pretty soon after going off the medication.

So when I went to my 36 week appointment I was pretty surprised that I was not already in labor.


The doctor asked me about my contractions and I told her that they were stronger since going off the meds but that I had been timing them and they weren’t regular. I even had instructions to go to the hospital much sooner than the normal intervals they give people based on how quickly Scarlette’s birth had progressed but according to the nifty little app that I had installed on my phone they still seemed erratic.

“So maybe I’ll have a baby next week” I said to the doctor while she was all up in my business.

“Yeah, you’re about four and a half centimeters dilated. We’re having a baby today” she responded.


That’s right. Remember how I had no idea that I was in labor with Scarlette? Apparently that is my thing. Personally, I’d prefer a different forte, like maybe being a good cook or the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But no, my thing is walking around in active labor for days without being at all aware of it.

By the time I got to the hospital my contractions were starting to feel a bit more regular. They hooked me to a monitor and I told the nurse each time I felt one, guessing that I was having contractions every ten minutes or so. J hesitantly replied, “Um, I’m not sure but those lines look like you’re having way more than that. They’re all going all the way to the top.”

That’s when the doctor came in and said that actually I was having contractions every two to three minutes and they needed to do the c-section right away.

And then I was like “I’m sorry, baby doctor say what?!”


I literally could not feel over half my contractions. Apparently I have “painless contractions and dilation” and so all of the conscious effort I was making to be really aware of my body this time around did not even matter. Which, on one hand made me feel better about my birth experience with Scarlette in that it really wasn’t anything that I missed. I just simply can’t feel myself in labor until I’m pretty far along. With Scarlette I did not feel a single contraction until I was eight centimeters dilated.

So given all that, can I just tell you how happy I am that I did not deliver this baby AT MY HOUSE?

At that point some of the NICU nurses came down to see us and wish us luck. I kissed Scarlette goodbye and then J began reading girl’s names off his phone as we wheeled down the hall because we still hadn’t picked one. We were totally prepared for this baby, obviously.

After I had the spinal my blood pressure kept dropping and setting off alarms, which had me feeling a bit nervous, so I was grateful for J and the kind anesthesiologist who kept making me laugh. (Sadly, here is where I leave out the funniest part of our whole birth story on account of how I need material for my next book, which I am currently in the middle of writing. True story. I like to call this “building anticipation.”)

We had decided not to find out the sex of the baby and can I just say that managing to do that while having over a dozen ultrasounds is probably the most willpower I have ever exerted in my entire life?

They let my husband be the one to announce it so they lifted the baby up and J, who was convinced we were having a girl, said “Oh wow! It’s a boy!” Everyone cheered and then I started crying and the anesthesiologist wiped away my tears for me, on account of how my arms were strapped down and all.

I am so glad that we waited to find out the sex of the baby because that was such a fun moment. In a pregnancy that was incredibly tumultuous, that will stand out as one of my very favorite memories.

He weighed six pounds, seven ounces and we named him Ridley Jackson.

They took Ridley over to be assessed by the NICU team and I was so grateful that Scarlette’s former nurses were the ones who took care of him immediately after birth. I felt much more peaceful and calm knowing that he was in their hands. They had told me it was a possibility that they might take him to the NICU for observation since he wasn’t 37 weeks so when they handed him to my husband we could not stop marveling over the fact that he was able to stay with us.

Then they tucked him in close to me and I held my baby on the day he was born.
FoxNewborn-59It surpassed all of my hopeful expectations.

We wanted Scarlette to feel very special so we decided to let her meet Ridley first and then get to be the one who introduced him to her grandparents as well as announce his name/gender. When J brought her in she ran to me and asked “So is it a brother?!,” kissed us both and then promptly lost interest in favor of exploring the buttons on the hospital bed.

We called our family in a bit later and she bounced up and down as she yelled “It’s a BOY! And his name is Ridley Jackson! And GUESS WHAT?! He eats from Mommy’s BEWBIES!”

(Y’all just wait until I tell you about the first time she helped me change a boy diaper.)

Everyone told me that a repeat c-section is a breeze but I was a hot mess afterwards. That is a polite way of saying that despite copious amounts of Zofran, I vomited for 6 straight hours after delivery. Except that I didn’t want to let go of my baby so J stood next to me and would quickly whisk him off my chest when I would get sick and then tuck him back in while handing me cold cloths. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who earned the push present in this scenario.

Early the next morning, before the dawn broke across the sky, J slid in next to me and I leaned my head into his shoulder as I cradled our son. “I’m just so happy” I told him through tears.

I didn’t know that having a baby could feel like this.

When I had Scarlette I loved her immediately and intensely. But I was just as intensely flooded with fear as day after day we faced the very real possibility that she might die. That marked my entire motherhood experience for a very long time, the way love and sorrow intertwined.

I didn’t know that having a baby could unleash such a wave of overwhelming, unabashed joy. I have never been as purely happy as I was the day that J and I curled up on a hospital bed to hold both of our children.

I am hesitant to call this experience redemptive, because I never needed to redeem what I went through with Scarlette. It is our story, she and I, and I was perfectly content with the chapters we were writing.

But this unexpected blessing has been such a beautiful plot twist.

I am enamored by all of the little things about new motherhood that I did not get to experience the first time around. Things like the sweet sounds of tiny newborn coo-ing, which were stifled behind a ventilator five years ago. Or the ability to nurse instead of threading down a feeding tube. Or rolling over to see him next to me at night.

And the freedom to mother my baby.

I can touch him whenever I want. I don’t have to wait for a ten-minute touch-time period every four hours. I don’t have to share diaper changes with a nurse taking vitals. I don’t have to worry that a feather-soft stroke of my finger might tear his tender skin. I don’t have to leave him behind in the hospital night after night for months on end. I can keep him tucked close to my heart and brush a kiss over his downy head anytime that I like.

And so my days right now are spent indulging myself in this.
FoxNewbornII-2-copyIt has been everything I didn’t know I wanted.

The day we went home a nurse wheeled me through the hospital corridors, down unfamiliar halls that I had never passed through before because my previous route had always led me straight to the doors of the NICU. In the atrium Canon in D played over the speakers as I waited for my husband to collect us, the same song that had played almost ten years earlier as he waited for me to come down the aisle.

It felt like an anthem.

And then I walked out of the hospital, this time with my son in my arms.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth… I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19
FoxNewborn-81-copy*all photos courtesy of Ashley Mushegan Photography

The post Welcoming Ridley appeared first on Kayla Aimee Writes.

04 Mar 08:21

"...the song woke his heart into the darkness and sadness of joy..."

by (Rob Rummel-Hudson)
There's a quote that seems to originate from a number of sources, which isn't surprising since it's not terribly original. But it is terribly true.

"You may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with you."

I returned to West Texas this week for that most compelling of homecoming reasons, a funeral. My Aunt Kay died last week. She was married to my father's brother, but she was also my mother's childhood friend. The four of them were the closest of friends, and that closeness applied to all of the cousins as well. We functioned like an immediate family; all of my childhood memories include my cousin/best friend, as well as her cooler-than-cool dad and her impossibly kind and good-hearted mom. When Uncle Tommy died in 1979 and our families drifted apart, something cracked in my family. When my father died eleven years later, that something shattered altogether. I don't think we ever entirely recovered.

Going home this week was about saying goodbye to someone who existed as a central fixture in my childhood, but it also served to try to place that childhood family experience in a larger context. Schuyler went back with me, partly because I thought it was important for her to begin trying to understand the whole end of life process but also because selfishly, I didn't want to go alone. Five and a half hours in the car from Plano to Odessa leaves a lot of time for conversation. When Schuyler asked if she had ever met Kay, I realized with sadness and shame that they had actually only met once, when Schuyler was a baby. It had been so long since I'd seen Kay, or my cousin Pam, either. Pam and I spent our childhoods basically functioning as brother and sister, and I hadn't seen her in fifteen years. Aunt Kay was part of a different life, one in which my family was whole and the future was whatever any of us wanted it to be. My life hasn't turned out like I ever imagined it would back then. Maybe that's true of us all, I don't know.

It happens, I suppose. You put your head down and you live your life, and then one day something terrible happens and you realize that you've let things slip out of your hands that never should have been treated so casually. I loved my Aunt Kay, as I loved and idolized my Uncle Tommy and as I adored my cousin. My memories of them are almost entirely from childhood, from a time so long ago that it feels slightly unreal in my memory, and from a place so unlike anywhere else in the world that it is almost impossible to describe without sounding like I'm making it up. West Texas in the 1970s really does represent a world that was very different from whatever past you probably know.

The time of my childhood is remote. The place, less so. Returning to Odessa is always something of an emotional shake up for me, but now, in the context of returning to embrace not just family but the family and the life of the past, it really is overwhelming. I sometimes turn to music to put it in perspective. Not the popular music of my youth, or the country music that was always present when my father was around. I actually associate home with specific classical pieces. Aaron Copland's celebrated Americana, for instance, like the slow movements of Billy the Kid or Rodeo or even the very end of Appalachian Spring. Big, lonely prairie landscapes in sound, albeit a little cliched.

The music I associate with home isn't about cowboys or even people, which is just as well since my ancestors weren't cowboys or romantic lawmen or heroes of the Alamo. They were the oilfield poor, living in primitive camp houses with faded, peeling paint and cheap screen doors and the occasional snake in the living room. That was my family's world, at least until my father's generation changed course. Uncle Tommy joined the army and moved to New York for a time, probably enough to get a taste for a life different from his own father's. My own father quit the oilfield after watching a friend and coworker burn to death in a horrible accident. My family grew from a hard and dirty industry, but one that hardly any of us still living have any experience with. I have petroleum in my blood, but none under my fingernails. For the first time in my life, I actually find that I regret that, maybe just a little.

Growing up there, I always understood something about Odessa, or any town out in the desert, and it's something of which I'm still very aware. Experiencing that part of the country isn't really about understanding the towns, not even larger ones like Odessa or Midland. West Texas gets under your skin when you drive outside the city limits, and not necessarily all that far, either. As soon as I was old enough to drive, I would sometimes head out to the edge of town, where imported and pampered green gave way to mottled brown. I'd eventually pull off the farm roads and follow a dirt road until I found an open spot where the mesquite bushes had been cleared, usually to accommodate a pumpjack. I'd lay on the hood of my car and listen to the rhythmic wheezing of the well, and I'd watch the sun set in a mess of vivid color and take in the sight of the stars sprawled out across the sky. Sometimes I'd see jackrabbits racing through the brush as I approached, and once I even saw a rattlesnake lazily twisting across the road in front of me. But mostly it was just silence and solitude, bigger than anything I've ever experienced since. The daunting but quiet snows of Michigan, the rolling waves of Long Island Sound, the towering Redwoods of northern California, some of my favorite places in the world, but none could quite compare to the almost oppressive silence of the West Texas desert.

When I'm not there, when I'm living my life in various cities as I have since I left Odessa at eighteen, I still feel the desert of West Texas. When I'm in large groups of people or in busy parts of the city, surrounded by beautiful chaos, part of me is still back home in wind-tossed solitude. Back in my youth with my family, including all those who have slipped away in some way or another, I didn't understand it, I don't think. I didn't really hear the weird, loud silence of West Texas.

My father did, I know that now. He longed to get out into the wilder parts, and we did, often. My father and I had a complicated relationship, as he had with most of our family, and I didn't always fully appreciate trips to the lake or the camping excursions to places like Fort Davis or Big Bend. But I guess I was soaking it in just the same, because I think I'd give just about anything to go back. Not just to the place, but to all of it, with my mom and my dad and his cool older brother who never got to be old in my memories, with my own siblings and my cousin, and with my aunt, to whom I never got to say goodbye. I never got to say goodbye to any of the ones I lost; my family hasn't had a surplus of lingering hospital deaths. Just unexpected phone calls with sad voices and then hurriedly packed suitcases. And memories, played out against that huge desert, always present.

I left the desert as soon as I was old enough, or I guess I thought I did. Maybe those of us who lived there never really get to entirely leave it behind. It speaks to me. Is that strange? West Texas has a voice, and a kind of ancient loneliness. It predates the current fracking boom that has exploded my town with apartments renting for two grand a month but which will probably be occupied by mice in a few years now that the bust is looming. It's a towering sadness that goes back before high school football and my family's departure from the oilfields, back before dusty depression era towns and the first oil strikes, before the US Army and its experimental camels and before the Mexican settlers or the invading Conquistadors before them, before the missionaries came with their god and even before the Mescalero-Apache and Comanche came with theirs. I can imagine the desert how it must have been before humans arrived at all, because it almost certainly wasn't very different at all from now.

That looming sadness comes not from tragedy or hardship, although that desert has certainly known plenty of both, as my own family knows all too well. I think it comes from that very timelessness, that sense like nowhere else in the world I've ever seen, that this world has rolled along for millions of years, and our presence won't matter for more than a blink. A few jackrabbits will hear us and scatter, and maybe our footsteps will startle a few horny toads (if we can even find them anymore), but that's about it.

And yet, those of us who lived there and those who have gone back to that receiving earth are a part of the West Texas desert. I've known so many people who have visited it and who simply don't understand how anyone could feel fondness and that low-burning homesickness for such a hard, barren place. Those of us who grew up there joke about its remoteness and its flatness and the rough people who live there, people with whom we like to pretend we have nothing in common but from whom in reality we are separated only by years and experiences.

I hear it all the time, and I've said it to myself many times over the years.

"How could you ever live in such a place?"

And then that ancient voice whispers, "How could you think you could ever truly leave?"

25 Feb 13:22

Positive Moves

by Holly Hibner

Positive Moves 1.jpg


Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves

Submitter: My grandparents absolutely loved Murder She Wrote. They have been gone now for over 10 years. I saw and picked this up at my small suburban library out of nostalgia. When I showed it to my library clerks, none knew who she was until I told them she was Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. This book is now 25 years old. Maybe it’s time to let it go?

Holly: Yes, it is, but I’m kind of surprised that Angela Lansbury isn’t better known than that. She was 66 when this book was written, and that’s probably the demographic for which it was intended. People in their mid-60s today are very likely to know who Angela Lansbury is, so if this circulates, what the heck – keep it! If not, or if you need the space, it’s probably a safe weed. There are some fantastic pictures in this thing! See below!

More Positive Moves:

Debbie Does Exercise

Be a Sexy Woman with Debbie

Advice from Zsa Zsa

Turn on the Charm


Positive Moves 2.jpg

Positive Moves 2-1.jpg

Positive Moves 3-1.jpg

Positive Moves 3.jpg

Positive Moves 4-1.jpg


07 Apr 20:00

Felling Hard

by admin

03 Feb 13:30

A Complicated Girl

by (Rob Rummel-Hudson)
This week at Support for Special Needs:
Schuyler's evening was complicated. That much I can say. It was complicated for all the reasons that are obvious, and for all the ones you never think about. It was complicated because she looks like any other fifteen-year-old girl dressed to the nines at a high school dance, and it's complicated because she's not like any other girl there, or most places. It's complicated for the things she understands about her peer relationships, and it's complicated for the nuances that escape her. Her feelings about boys are complicated, and her inability to adequately express or process those feelings are also very, very complicated.
14 Jan 20:23

“Yesterday I found a penny in the park, and now it’s in my...

“Yesterday I found a penny in the park, and now it’s in my pocket.”

29 Dec 15:00

The Grief of a Special Needs Parent

by Cristal Grogan

helping hand    Most people associate grief, especially complicated grief, as something only experienced after the death of a loved one. However, many people fail to understand that complicated grief isn’t just about death.      In an article entitled Complicated Grief, the Mayo Clinic states: “While normal grief symptoms gradually start to fade over a few […]

The post The Grief of a Special Needs Parent appeared first on Preemie Babies 101.

15 Dec 22:00

Nice Disguise

by admin

04 Dec 17:13

This is awkward…

by admin

10 Nov 08:11

Picture Of Me

18 Sep 14:35

Jonathan Dwyer Is Today’s Woman And Child-Beating NFL Player

by The Superficial
Jonathan Dwyer Arizona Cardinals

The NFL had just finished sweeping Adrian Peterson under the rug yesterday when barely a few hours later Jonathan Dwyer was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife (twice) and 18-month-old son because it was only a matter of time before Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson formed their own fucked-up Voltron. TMZ Sports reports:

According to police, the 25-year-old allegedly roughed up his wife at their home in Phoenix on July 21st and again on July 22nd.
Shortly after the incidents, cops say, Dwyer’s wife left the state with their child.
Cops list 2 victims — a 27-year-old female (his wife) and their 18-month-old child.

Amazingly, the Cardinals immediately suspended him instead of waiting for pressure from corporate sponsors who have to be going, “Goddammit, AGAIN?!” by now. That said, let’s make sure we still have a rational dialog about this because football is serious business. Okay, so we all agree beating his wife is wrong (provided there’s video), but was the one-year-old perhaps in need of a whooping? Because we should probably take that into consideration before condemning a grown 25-year-old professional athlete for physically assaulting an infant. Hitting an adult is one thing which is why we have crimes against it, but don’t nobody tell no one how to raise their kids. All clear? Good. Now let’s move on to Stat Man which is what I’m calling this special brand of commenter that popped in our threads under the name “teddy r” while someone by the name of “GMAN” made essentially the same bullshit argument on TMZ’s Dwyer story:

And still compared to the national average of men in the same age range, NFL players commit far far less domestic violence and overall crime. TMZ would never report this because it doesn’t jive with their agenda. But the stats are out there for anyone to see.

If you’re scratching your head, that’s because this shitbird is literally arguing that because the NFL has a lower crime rate than the national average, the media should really be reporting on how awesome football players are instead of focusing on the times they finally manage to get charged with domestic violence and/or child abuse. It’s not like these guys are ducking arrests skewing those statistics or held up as role models by schools, parents, and hundreds of every other institution in America that over-glorifies sports, so let’s let ‘em off the hook for beating the shit out of women and children. They seem like good people.

THE SUPERFICIAL | AboutFacebookTwitter

Photo: Getty

05 Sep 12:00

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Stanley the Builder, by William Bee (Peachtree, 2014)

by Fourth Musketeer
Recommended for ages 1-7.

In this delightful new picture book series from British author and illustrator William Bee, Stanley the hamster is very busy--building houses,  working at a garage, even running a farm.

In Stanley the Builder, Stanley is building a house for his friend Myrtle the mouse.  He'll need his orange bulldozer, his yellow digger, and his green crane. Step by step, he prepares the land and then builds the house. Together with his friend Charlie, he finishes the project by painting the house in Myrtle's favorite colors--red, white, and blue--before returning home for supper, a bath, and bedtime.

In this series, Bee uses very simple vocabulary and minimal text together with very appealing digitally-created images to craft a story that is equally appropriate for two distinct audiences:  toddlers/preschoolers and beginning readers.

There are so many things to like about this book, but first and foremost are the illustrations, with their clean black outlines, flat bright colors, and simple shapes (not to mention adorable hamsters...)  Bee's U.S. publisher for this series, Peachtree Publishers, has kindly provided some artwork so The Fourth Musketeer's readers can get a better sense for Bee's unique artistic style.  I was especially interested to note that Bee trained as a designer (check out his quirky website, which gives little information on his books but tells you all sorts of interesting trivia about his passions for vintage cars and the Queen).  His design flair can be seen in everything from the endpapers (see first image below) to the font chosen for the text.

While this series is a sure-fire winner with toddlers and preschoolers, it's also ideal for beginning readers, with simple sentences and minimal vocabulary.  Even with the limited vocabulary, Bee uses correct words for different tools and parts of the house, such as "shingles" for the roof, thus providing a rich use of words for the earliest readers.  The book will also allow young readers to practice sequencing, since the steps for building a house are clearly delineated, and they can even re-tell the story using just the pictures as well.

Highly recommended!

For more on Stanley, please see the following blog tour stops from earlier this week:
Wednesday 9/3- Chat with Vera

Thursday 9/4- Blue Owl and Kiss the Book

For a chance to win a copy of Stanley The Builder, courtesy of Peachtree, please leave a comment below (include your e-mail address so I can reach you!)

27 Aug 14:57

An update on United We Stand

by Clare
A few of you have asked how the lady and her baby from “ United We Stand ” are. The baby is 3 weeks and 5 days in the picture and doing well!Read more
12 Aug 20:43

"What happened to your arm?""I was walking down the stairs and...

"What happened to your arm?"
"I was walking down the stairs and looking at the stars."
(Amman, Jordan)

31 Jul 10:11

United We Stand

by Clare
I began my day like all others, sitting down with the gynae who had just completed the previous 24 hours, sipping a black coffee and going over the previous shift’s admissions. It’s a sort of handover, debrief and case discussion rolled into one. Sharing the joys, and inevitable frustrations of... Read more
20 Jul 22:05

“My grandmother always told me: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re...

“My grandmother always told me: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re crippled, blind, or crazy. All this world cares about is how you survive. As long as you don’t do drugs or go to jail, you’re gonna be fine.’”
“What do you mean by: ‘The world only cares about how you survive?’”
“The only thing people care about is if you’re working, and if you’re paying your taxes. I worked for the city for six years. During the time that I was working, I was Mr. Matthew Phillips. The moment that I wasn’t able to work anymore, I became a social security number.’”

09 Jul 03:03

US rushes to secure 6 glass vials of deadly smallpox found unprotected in cardboard boxes

by The Associated Press
The samples were rushed under FBI protection to the CDC in Atlanta for testing, which could take a few weeks. After that, they will be destroyed.
04 Jun 17:20

Link: Cancer | A Blogger and a Father

by blurb

This is the BLURBOMAT feed

I don’t know how he did it, but this is an amazing piece of writing in the face of the worst news a parent could get regarding their own health. Sending all the best energy I have to Oren and his family. Cancer | A Blogger and a Father: “”

The post Link: Cancer | A Blogger and a Father appeared first on BLURBOMAT.

21 Apr 10:00

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

by Natalie | Perry's Plate

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

We’re huge fans of sweet potatoes at our house. And muffins. And Indian food.

When I saw this muffin recipe and noticed it had garam masala in it, I made a weird face. That’s the honest truth.

If you’re not familiar with Indian spices, garam masala is a spice blend commonly used in curries and other Indian dishes. Not something you’d find in a muffin, that’s for sure.

It sounded odd to me, but I really, really wanted to try it. (Story of my cooking life, much to my kids’ dismay.)

I won over all three of my picky little girls with these muffins, though! Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins, submitted by Tasty Kitchen member Kristin, are an exotic spin on a simple sweet potato muffin. They’re not only gluten-free, but they’re grain-free as well and easily made dairy-free!

And they have chocolate chips. Maybe that’s why they liked them so much?

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

OK, let’s gather ingredients. You’ll need cold, mashed sweet potatoes, almond flour, real maple syrup, nut butter (I used almond), chocolate chips, cinnamon, cocoa powder, garam masala, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Here’s my garam masala. You can find it in most grocery stores nowadays in the spice section. I ordered mine online a while back and have been refilling this bottle with a homemade blend.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

First crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and loosen them up with a fork.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Add the sweet potatoes, nut butter, and maple syrup.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Mix it up until you get something that resembles pumpkin pie filling. Speaking of pumpkin, you could totally use canned pumpkin in place of sweet potatoes in this! Just add an extra splash or two of maple syrup.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Add the almond flour and the rest of the dry ingredients.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Mix it well, and then fold the chocolate chips into the batter. The nice thing about not using wheat flour is that you don’t have to worry as much about over-mixing and ending up with cone-head muffins!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Scoop the batter into muffin molds. I used a silicone muffin pan, but you can use any type you like. I would recommend using paper liners if you don’t use a silicone pan so they come out easier. And in one piece.

Throw them in the oven …

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

… and out they come! I’ve consistently gotten 11 muffins out of this batch, and I’ve also double and tripled this recipe before with success. They also freeze and reheat nicely!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

These tasty little grain-free morsels have become a staple in our muffin collection! I thought the spices blended beautifully with the sweet potatoes. And the chocolate chips were a nice touch. (They usually are.)

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Paleo-friendly Cauliflower Fried Rice. Guest post by Natalie Perry of Perry's Plate, recipe submitted by TK member Dani of Expat Cucina.

Before you go, stop by Kristin’s TK Recipe Box as well as her blog, Tastefully Gluten Free, for more delicious recipes!

1. I omitted the yogurt to make them dairy free. Because it was only one tablespoon, I didn’t think it would make a big difference if I left it out.
2. Garam masala is a potent blend, and after making this recipe several times, I decided to cut the amount down by two-thirds. Any more than a 1/2 teaspoon gave the muffins a strange, “am I eating curry or a muffin” flavor. Perhaps my spice blend is more potent because I make it myself? Try it and see what you think!


Printable Recipe

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

by Kristin @ Tastefully GF on October 9, 2013 in Breads, Muffins October 9, 2013 BreadsMuffins
See the full recipe post on Kristin @ Tastefully GF’s site!
0.00 Mitt(s) 0 Rating(s)0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 12

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A healthy and gluten free baked good that’s perfect for fall.


  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Sweet Potato Puree (fresh Is Best, Or Canned)
  • ¼ cups Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 cup Almond Meal
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1-½ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cups Chocolate Chips Or Cacao Chips

Preparation Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the two eggs with a fork until they are a bit frothy.

3. Stir in sweet potato puree, peanut butter, yogurt and maple syrup.

4. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the chocolate/cacao chips. Once all the dry ingredients are combined stir in the chips.

5. Line a 12-count standard size muffin pan with muffin liners (I used silicone muffin liners, which I love), and fill each muffin tin. These muffins expand some, but not a lot, so you can fill them almost to the top.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I rotate the pan once, halfway through the cooking. Remove pan from oven and set on a rack.

7. Let muffins cool in the pan before serving.


Be sure to check out Natalie’s own beautiful food blog, Perrys’ Plate, where you can see her growing collection of lovely recipes. There’s always something new to see there. Go visit now!


10 Mar 13:00

Women's History Month Book Review: Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holliday and the Dog Who Loved Her, by Amy Novesky (Harcourt Children's Books, 2013)

by Fourth Musketeer
Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Amy Novesky's most recent picture book, Mister and Lady Day, an ode to jazz great Billie Holiday and her pet dogs, just arrived at my library in time for Women's History Month.

This is Amy's fourth book on prominent female figures in cultural history; she has also penned Me, Frida (on artist Frida Khalo), Georgia in Hawaii (on artist Georgia O'Keefe), Imogen (on photographer Imogen Cunningham).  She is currently working on a picture book on sculptor Louise Bourgeois.

Billie Holiday's tragic life. which included working as a prostitute, living in a workhouse with her mother, drug addiction, a prison sentence, and more, might not seem like a natural fit for a picture book for young children, and indeed, this side of Holiday's life does not appear in Novesky's book.  Novesky focused instead on Holiday's love for her many dogs, and in particular for her boxer named Mister.  Love for a dog, of course, is a theme that children identify easily with, as do many adults (OK, I'm a sucker for a good dog story).

We first meet Billie Holiday as a young girl, dreaming of being a star, singing on a borrowed gramophone.  Illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton, whose charming illustrations are done with gouache and charcoal with collage elements, depicts Billie in a beautiful setting on a fancy chair, dressed up with a bow in her hair (perhaps a bit fanciful given the realities of her childhood!).  The next spread shows her already a star, the great Lady Day. (Illustrated 2-page spreads from the book can be seen on Novesky's website).   Novesky introduces a note of melancholy in the text from the beginning, by explaining that even stars need someone to listen to them, and that's the role Lady Day's dogs played.  We meet her small dogs, chihuahuas Pepe and Chiquita, her big dogs (a Great Dane named Gypsy, and finally her favorite dog of all, Mister, who we see in a fabulous illustration, walking with Billie on a leash wearing matching mink coats.  Instead of a sidewalk, they are walking on a piano keyboard, with the buildings of New York in the background.  Mister had the life of a star himself; he was so pampered he got to eat steak while she was performing in glamorous clubs, and he waited for her while she performed, even serving to keep eager fans at bay.

Novesky tells young readers that "Lady got into trouble. She had to leave home for a year and a day. And Mister couldn't come."  In an afterword, she explains that Billie Holiday was in fact in jail during that time for drug possession.  When she returned, Mister was there to welcome her, and even accompanied her to a grand concert at New York's Carnegie Hall.  The story ends on a hopeful note, with Billie singing her heart out, and Mister listening in the wings.

An author's note gives some more background on Holiday's life, appropriately omitting some of the uglier facts, and provides additional sources and a web resource.

There's no CD with the book, but readers could easily find CD's of Holiday's unique singing style at the library or on YouTube, which would enrich the story.

This is a moving yet charming book about a difficult subject, and could be integrated into units on Black History Month, Women's History Month, or jazz.
20 Feb 09:00

baby names 2014

Today on Toothpaste For Dinner: baby names 2014

Read Drew's blog: The Worst Things For Sale.
12 Feb 19:45

Your Afternoon Happy Cry: Long Lost Twins Are Reunited

by Phoenix Tso

On February 1, 2013, actress Sam Futerman got the most astonishing Facebook message. A French fashion designed living in London named Anais saw her in a Youtube video, and realized that they looked exactly alike. While messaging back and forth, the two also found out that they were born on the same day and in the same city in South Korea, before Sam was adopted by an American family, and Anais by a French one.



22 Jan 21:55

Male privilege

Being a man is a good thing when getting a job, they don’t get periods, they don’t take as long to get ready, and they very rarely get kidnapped and raped. 

21 Jan 09:00

new media

Today on Married To The Sea: new media
04 Jan 13:43

Cybils and Reading Challenges (cont)

by (Alex Baugh)

First up...
The shortlist for the Cybils was announced this week and it is going to be a hard decision for 2ns round judges.  All the contenders are just so good.  This year, I am happy to be a 2nd round judge in the Middle Grade Fiction category and I am looking forward to [re]reading the books that were chosen by the 1st round judges.  You can view the complete list of all the books in all the categories on the Cybils website.

I wished it and now my wish has come true - Alyson Beecher has announced the 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Reading Challenge but with a twist.  This year you can read not just nonfiction picture book, but also middle grade and YA nonfiction.  If you would like to know more about this or if you would like to participate, you can find the details over at Kid Lit Frenzy.  This was a fun reading challenge last year and it got me to read more nonfiction than I usually do.
30 Dec 15:30

Am I a spy?

by admin

28 Dec 05:44

take this thing please

Today on Married To The Sea: take this thing please