Thursday, June 27, 2013

In My Cart...

Once this project is wrapped up, I'm looking forward to doing some reading. Here's what I have in my cart.

(1) The Kingdom Keepers: A good friend of mine recommended this series today when she dropped by for coffee. It looks like a fun literary romp through Disney World. And you know how I feel about Maleficent.

2) The School for Good and Evil: Maria over at I Believe in Story recommended this book on her blog the other day (if you are a literary type and you haven't checked out her blog, you should. I especially love her Literary Fashion posts, in which she provides her take on what characters would wear in today's sartorial universe).

3) Little Altars Everywhere: I already read this book, when I was about 20, but I loved it so much I want to read it again, just to experience Viviane Walker one more time (my mother's name is Vivian, maybe that explains part of her draw on my imagination).

4) The Silver Star: I was absolutely obsessed with The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls's memoir of her crazy, complicated childhood with two parents who were at once luminous and utterly loony. If this book even half lives up to The Glass Castle, I will be happy.

5) Shadow of Night (#2 in the All Souls Trilogy): I bought this book last year. I really meant to read it. I didn't. The perfect kind of summer book, though. Little intellectual investment. Fun. Mysterious. Perfect for my upcoming trip to Cape May.

I have a lot of reading to do. Now, to finish writing. You know you've been reading and editing too much when you comment on someone's Facebook status and then hit control +s to save LOL. BTW, any books you think I would like, please share:)!! I love recommendations from friends. ~Alice (aka jess)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Darkest Zones ...

Still plugging away at the book over here. Just so you don't forget about us, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite posts that are related to what I've been working on of late. Pull up a chair and sit a spell. I have some stories to tell you. ~Alice (aka jess)

On A Tale Dark and Grimm
On The Wuggly Ump
On Coraline
On "Little Red Riding Hood"

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Joy of Typing ...

My trusty old Smith and Corona. 
In case you haven't noticed, I've been AWOL this past week. I'm working on wrapping up an essay collection I'm editing on horror elements in children's and young adult literature and culture, and it is sucking up all of my time like the nasty little vampire that it is. Anywho, as I settle into the delightful rhythm that is summer (I really don't know how people get up and go to work every single weekday morning, every week for their entire lives; my husband's ability to do so baffles me), I've spent a lot of time in front of the laptop, plugging away at my dining-room table as my kids swirl around me with their books and their art and their dancing and their TV shows, entertaining themselves while mommy plugs away at the words on the screen.

As I sit here this morning, typing, thinking, I suddenly felt with great force just how pleasurable it is to type. This is, of course, a pleasure that comes and goes. Sometimes, I absolutely HATE to type, typically when I am working at some task that I would really rather not do. But this morning, working on something I really find interesting and rewarding, typing feels like magic. I mean, how do my fingers know just where to go? I think of a word and, whiz-bang, there it is on the screen. I'm sure there are numerous studies that describe the muscle-memory that the task involves, but I prefer to think of it as pure enchantment, the words tumbling down out of my brain, over the cliffs of my shoulders, bouncing off of my fingertips and onto the screen.

The first thing I learned to type was my name. I so loved typing my name when I was a child (I still often imagine it in the shape of the letters on the keyboard). I then moved on to the Speak n' Spell, which I would work away at for hours, until I got bored with the Speak n' Spell because I knew everything it could throw at me. Then onto this typing game I had on my Commodore 64, where I had to type fast enough in order to keep from being destroyed by invading alien spaceships (if anyone can share the name of this game, if you recall it, I will be eternally grateful).

In this, my 36th year of life, I've decided only to do things that bring me pleasure, that make me feel good in the long run (if you know me, you know this is going to be rather difficult; I am terrible at saying "no"). This doesn't mean that I am turning entirely hedonistic, Dionysian. I just refuse to do those things any longer that I do not find rewarding. In short, I'm doing a cost-benefit analysis of my life. What I'm finding is that, when the task you are engaging in is something you really want to do, even the most mundane things suddenly become magical. Like typing.

What simple activities do you get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from? (Another favorite of mine is driving). Happy Friday!! ~Alice (aka jess)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Break ...

Hi all. We've decided to take a hop break over the summer. I'm working on finishing up a book project, the kids are home, and craziness ensues. On that note, off to write. A post to come later today:)!! ~Alice (aka jess)

Monday, June 17, 2013

No. I'm just fat.


So today, I went in to sub a morning Zumba class, one I haven't taught in about a year. And this woman who used to take my class all the time asked me, "So, are you doing that again?" tapping my stomach and smiling. You know what she was implying. And I said, "No. I'm just fat."

She was mortified (honest to, I felt bad for her; she clearly felt awful). I was mortified. And, I thought, oh. my. God. This is bad.

Yeah. That's how my day went. Needless to say, my diet started at about 9:10 this morning. Until tomorrow~ Alice (aka jess)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

You say it's your birthday....

It's my birthday too, yeah.

Another year older - check. Another year wiser? Meh. But I sure am happy to be alive. And check out this awesome birthday gift from my mom. She commissioned this print from a local tattoo artist because she saw it hanging on the wall and knew I would like it. How cool is she?!?

Here's to another year of living, loving, dreaming, failing, laughing, writing, and just generally dancing along as a constantly changing version of myself. Will you dance with me? Much love, Alice (aka jess)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Learning to Fly (It's Like Riding a Bike)...

I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but we are finally teaching our oldest how to ride a bike (she's 8). I don't know how we let this happen, to be honest. I knew how to ride a bike probably by the time I was 5. She is bound and determined to learn by the end of this week.

Now, that said, teaching your kid how to ride a bike is one of the hardest things to do as a parent. We view the process of riding a bike as simple. You just hop on, put your foot on the highest peddle, push off, and away you go. But, for a kid who has not mastered this simple process yet, the learning curve is pretty dramatic. They wobble all over the place, the bike veers off the sidewalk and nearly dents every car parked along the street. They get extremely frustrated when they can't do it just like that. You have to remain patient, even though you're kind of shocked at how hard it is to teach what seems like such a simple skill.

As I ran up and down the sidewalk last night alongside my daughter, holding first the entire bike, then the handle bars, then the back of the seat, and finally the back of her shirt, I felt an awful sense of letting go. Each time she got a little more sure of herself, I had to back off and hold onto a little bit less of her. I had to let her fly. Teaching her to ride her bike started to sink into my sense of being as an awful metaphor for letting her grow up, find her wings. She had to test them first, knowing that I would be there to catch her when she fell. Soon enough, however, she didn't want me holding on anymore. She wanted me to let go.

My mom always says that to be a good parent, you have to eventually let your kids grow away from you. You teach them how to walk, but they have to learn how to run for themselves. How true this is. And how elated and sad it makes me at the very same time.

On an entirely different note, I've just decided to tag along with Kate @ Another Clean Slate and friends in their #piclove365 challenge.

Go over, link up your instagram account (mine is, and join in the fun. Here's my pic for #day1:

I love when nature sends us little hearts. 
Until tomorrow. If you haven't yet, make sure to link up @ The Wonderland Hop today. I love learning from my bloggy friends:)! Alice (aka jess)

Linked up at ...
A Peek Into My Paradise

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Wonderland Hop #13

Welcome to the Wonderland Hop #13!! Another fabulous round-up of links last week, all kinds of interesting projects, posts, recipes - ideas galore! I love reading your posts, learning from you, and sharing them via Twitter and Pinterest. Join us again, and link up your favorite posts of the week - the ones that made you laugh, cry, inspired (or pinspired;)).  Every week, we feature our favorites. This week, we were loving the following links:

We "mustache" you to look at this post about a mustache-themed baby shower
over at The Princess and Her Cowboys. Really cute ideas if a boy is on the way.

This post from The Nautical Owl about a family adventure during which a snapping turtle reared its ugly head.

This thrift-store mug transformation with a little liquid gold over at VMG206.

This post from Before, During, and After about creating a focus book for labor. I probably would never have taken it out of the bag, but I think it's a good way to prepare for labor and get your head in the right place:).

This post from Lana over at Little Bitty Life, made me laugh and laugh. Especially her drawing of trying to douse her chickens' feet in oil. A good pick-me-up for a lousy Monday.
If you were featured, feel free to grab a button:

The Owl's Skull
We only have a few pesky rules (the usual suspects): 
  • Follow The Owl's Skull on some platform (GFC, Bloglovin', Twitter, Facebook).
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Follow on Bloglovin
  • Link up our blog in your specific post (grab a button; it's super cute;)).
The Owl's Skull

  • Drop me a line in the comments to let me know that you dropped by to visit so I can return the favor and follow you back. On that note, please click through the other links, drop the posters a line or two, follow the ones you really want to follow. 
  • Tweet or share the hop on Facebook/Google+ etc.; the more, the merrier!! 
Peace, love, and link-up!! Can't wait to see what you were up to this week! ~Alice

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Tourist in My Own City: The Double-Dutch Bus

When I go to a city for the first time, I love taking a Double Decker bus tour. Seated high above the hustle and bustle, the wind in your hair, eye to eye with the street signs, you get a bird's eye view of the city, seeing it from a different perspective. On the Double Decker, you are a tourist in the truest sense of the word, moving on an entirely different plane from the denizens who live there every day, usually with their eyes trained on either the sidewalk or the road in front of them.

About two months ago, I discovered that Pittsburgh now offers bus tours on vintage Double Deckers from London. And I found it rather funny that the first thing that I typically do when I visit a new city to get the lay of the land, I had never done in my own environs. Here's a little sampling of our trip:

Pre-boarding: No, the two older girls are not twins. They're not even related. Just really good friends who are starting to look like each other LOL. 
On the bus. One word of advice: Sit in the back. Better sight lines, warmer seats (the kids were also fascinated by how close we were to the traffic lights and underpasses). Also, our tour guide Alyssa was wonderful. We were the only ones on the entire bus during much of the tour that morning (one adult, two eight-year-olds, and a two-year-old), and she gave us the full shebang just as if there had been a large crowd.  Thank you, Alyssa!!
Icons of Pittsburgh: Coal barges and the fountain at the Point, which was just turned on last Friday for the first time in FOUR YEARS!! (And a little corner of Heinz field)
Flying across the West End Bridge, with beautiful unobstructed views of DownTown (and a close-up of the paint specially designed for Pittsburgh's bridges). 
The Warhol Museum. Another thing I love about the bus tour is that it also puts you on a different plane in terms of the architecture. You see elements of the buildings (gargoyles, filigree, dates of origin, names of former occupants, etc.) that you never notice when tooling along in your car during morning rush hour. 
Another lovely view of the city entering from the North Shore. According to our guide, the city has 446 bridges. I have a feeling they are counting foot bridges, etc., but that's still an impressive number. 
The Alcoa Building (I think). The design reminded me of an ocean liner. 
Another piece of advice: your hair will be an absolute mess after the ride.
Just save yourself some trouble and wear a do-rag. 
The most interesting thing I learned all day is that there is a fourth river that runs underneath of the city. Oh, and Mr. Rogers' middle name was McFeely. If you live in a city that offers Double Decker tours (especially in the general Pittsburgh area), be a tourist for the day. You have my official permission to wear a fanny pack. Until tomorrow! ~Alice (aka jess)

Linked up at ...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Favorites ...

I love reading those posts where bloggers give a round-up of their favorite things. I thought it would be fun, every once in a while, to mull over my favorite stuff - past, present, and future. Here goes:

#1: I am a serious Anthropologie addict. I want to buy everything in the store, including the $2,500 art installation seating arrangement straight out of Beetlejuice. I'm sure I could find a place for it. On that note, check out this post that Katie over at Upcycled Treasures shared on Facebook yesterday. There are about 38 projects I want to tackle on a Saturday night;).

#2: My favorite cartoon song. One two three four five .... I think someone was on drugs when they put this bit together.  

#3: My favorite picture of my baby brother and I. I should note, I'm on a chair here. Dude is pretty tall. And ornery. 

#4: My favorite dessert is Blackberry Pie. Hands down. I even love the seeds. 
#5: My favorite singer is Jamey Johnson. Amazing live. Brooding. Great songs. Killer voice. I could go on;). 

#6: My favorite blogs to read right now are Gypsy Bee, Upcycled Treasures, and I Believe in Story. I really admire how each lady has developed a distinct style for herself and her online space. Go read and enjoy! 

TGIF:).  Enjoy your cocktails, the time with your loved ones, laying by the pool, whatever floats your boat. I'm off now to make Cream of Cherry soup (I know; it sounds really weird, but it is Eastern European, so I have hope) for a Dinner Club we are starting up with friends tomorrow night - more on this later this week. We are also going on a Double Decker tour of Pittsburgh tomorrow morning. I cannot wait!! Much love. ~Alice (aka jess)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sugar n' Spice...

This past weekend, I attended a baby shower. Twice. Kind of. I got all dressed up on Saturday, drove the hour to where the shower was supposed to be, and then discovered that it was actually on Sunday. Oops.

The shower, candy-themed, was absolutely adorable. So cute, I had to share some of the ideas with you.

I absolutely love shower games. Honest to. This one was really fun, as you had to guess the correct name of the candy. Guess who won;)?
The centerpieces were made out of baby blankets, booties, and flower pots. 
For the front table, they wrapped Chinese lanterns in cellophane and tied off the ends. What a great idea!! 
They also had a candy bar, where you could make up a bag of your favorite goodies to take home. 
The candy made the four hours in the car worth it for old Soph. 
Until tomorrow. ~Alice (aka jess)

Linked up at...

The 36th Avenue