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The Bitter Lemon Shop!

Beads, beads everywhere!

I know I’ve talked a little bit about my recently-opened Etsy shop: The Bitter Lemon Shop, but I wanted to dedicate a post about it. I didn’t really intend to open the shop and fill it with so much STUFF, but it happened that way – once you start creating, I guess I can’t stop!

At first, I just wanted to make some DIY earrings I’d saved on Pinterest. I have always toyed with the idea of having an Etsy shop, because I really like to make cards and have always liked to make beaded jewelry.

But when I made the earrings, they turned out so cute I thought other people might like them. So, I took pictures of them (although I don’t really know if the photos do them justice) and opened my shop. At first, it was a struggle to get 10 listings – but 31 listings later, here I am, with a ton of ideas!

Currently, the shop is mostly bracelets and earrings – I am really into tassel jewelry right now, so there’s lots of those happening. The bracelets are all beaded so far – I am having so much fun with all of the great beads out there!

One thing I think is important to note is that everything I’ve made is something I would wear (and actually have been wearing); I wouldn’t put out a product that I didn’t like myself.

I am also naming each piece after a place, or a thing that is really special to me. As I write this, I’m wearing the “Back to Black” beaded tassel necklace as a tribute to Amy Winehouse; my sisterhood bracelet (sorority vibes), my Charleston bracelet (s/o South Carolina summers), and my “Saints & Sinners” bracelet as a call to New Orleans.

There’s also a keychain and an essential oil blend roller in the shop – keep your eye out for many more of these to come! I’m thinking a sleep blend, focus blend, an immunity blend, and something for allergies. I also have ideas for costumes, clothing, and of course, more jewelry!

It’s not like I all of the sudden have so much time on my hands, but I’ve found that just sitting and watching TV (or rather, listening to it) while I make jewelry is pretty relaxing. I think it’s an easy way to escape – and I like trying to figure out how to make things or how to fix something. And then at the end, I have something cool to wear!

Blanche is also partaking in the shop, of course. I cleaned out my linen closet and set up a table with my printer, along with a little shelf. I organized my beads and put all of my shipping supplies in a handy container. I even have a few pieces of “Bitter Lemon” wall art along with a scented candle to make my craft area fun. The table is big enough for my supplies, but anytime I’m in the “craft closet”, Blanche scrambles to the table and takes a giant nap – and she takes up at least half the table. So, there I am, stringing beads using a small corner of my table.

I’ve had 11 sales so far, after being open for about three weeks, and it’s cool to think that people in other states are wearing things I made.

If you have ideas of things you’d like me to (attempt) to make, I’m always willing to try. Take a look at the shop, ask me questions, or shop awaaaaay! Visit the shop here and let me know what you think!

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Two more sleeps ’till fall, y’all.

Fall is nearly here!

Fall officially starts FRIDAY. Let’s be real – it won’t be the least bit chilly in Austin until November 30th if we’re lucky. Instead, we’ll just crank the AC and walk around inside wearing all our fall clothes while burning fall candles, right?

Loving fall is so basic, but you can’t help what you like! It’s sort of funny that liking a season has become so much of a thing, so commercialized, and so… pumpkin-spicey. It’s all become a guilty pleasure that none of us should really feel guilty about!

But, I can’t just let the season pass – I, too, love it and there’s no shame here! I wanted to share some of my favorite fall things, and I’d love to hear some of yours, too.

The calendar

After the lazy days of summer (I mean not really, but for the sake of dramatics), everything seems to pick back up in the fall. My blog class at UT starts a new semester TODAY, dance rehearsals for our next showcase start this week, and I’m heading to Word Camp (more on this later) next weekend. The fall is just bustling, and it gives me LIFE.

The fashion

No, I didn’t go to NYFW, but fall clothes are just the best. The colors, the cuts – it’s cozy and flattering, and frankly, that’s basically all that’s in my closet. As you may know, I’ve been cleaning out my closet and this means I’m cherishing my favorite items more than ever. This season, that means I’m living in plaids, huge cardigans, booties, and I’m even embracing athleisure like never before.

The food

I’m vegan (or plant-based) for the first time in fall, but I’m taking my favorite dishes and… veganizing them! I’ve already made vegan chili and enchiladas – both delish. On my list to make: pumpkin pie pudding, s’mores granola bars, pumpkin pancakes, and butternut squash salad (all vegan). If you need ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

The scents

I’m not obsessed with pumpkin or apple scents; instead, I love woody scents, anything that smells like a log cabin or strong cologne. It was my love for these things that drove me into the Bath & Body Works outlet a few weeks ago, and I was BOMBARDED, nearly attacked by employees shoving scented three-wicks into my face and offering up sherpa blankets for just $20. I nearly had an anxiety attack, but left with a “Flannel” scented candle that is a piece of heaven. I also got some of the aromatherapy body wash and bubble bath and am so looking forward to cracking them open.

The TV

I mean we ALL know fall TV is where it’s at. The crisp air means it’s totally okay to spend more time inside, and I took it upon myself to wash all of my fabrics – my curtains, comforters, blankets, because I know I’ll be rolled up in all of them come November while I’m binging on season two of “Vice Principals”…I know.

The return of “Will & Grace” is upon us (starting a week from tomorrow), and for Housewives fans, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” returns in October, with Danielle Staub making her firey comeback after several seasons away. I just cannot contain my excitement!

I’d love to know what you’re looking forward to this season; or perhaps the goals you’re setting for yourself. We’re nearly three months out from 2018 – how will you finish 2017?

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Garrett Gets a Girl’.

Garrett is SO fine!

You guys. I have been dreading and looking forward to this episode of “Siesta Key” the entire week. I do NOT want Garrett to get with Juliett!

Ugh, ok let’s get into it. At the start of the episode, Alex is helping Kelsey at work while Chloe packs her stuff to move into her own apartment. Chloe was planning to have a party and Kelsey is worried about seeing Garrett there… So Alex suggests he and Kelsey skip the party and go line dancing instead.

Later, Madisson and Kelsey are talking and Madisson says she saw her and Alex kissing. Kelsey admits it, but says she doesn’t know if she should tell Garrett or not. Madisson says she doesn’t owe him that since they’re broken up, but Kelsey knows this will be the end of her and Garrett. For good.

Back at the mansion, Pauly Paul is in the slammer. Alex asks his dad to bail him out, and his dad agrees to, but ONLY because he doesn’t have a father or a mother. And he’s waiting until morning to do it.

Brandon invites Madisson over to his studio and plays a song for her, and it’s basically about fucking hoes. She’s not really impressed… But it sounds fantastic, if I say so. She tells him people will probably enjoy the softer side…

Brandon brings up her ex, and she tells him that Grant asked her to come to New York, but she likes Brandon… So he was relieved by that.

Meanwhile, Pauly Paul gets bailed out and Alex’s dad picks him up and is like WHAT ARE YOUT HINKING?

Pauly Paul says he’s been locked up 10 times and he doesn’t have anyone over him to tell him right and wrong. Eehhhh…

Chloe is getting ready for her party with Juliett, and Chloe says she didn’t invite Alex because she’s still upset about his comments he made in Bimini. Go girl!

Chloe’s party is at the pool and Garrett rolls in with flowers like a gentleman. Garrett is talking to Juliett about how he’s moving on and ANYWAY he’s busy making his personal training website, and if Juliett wanted to be in a video, then ok. She does. And then she drops the bomb that actually Kelsey is on a date with Alex right now.

Bluhla-bluhla-bluhla!!!

At the line dancing bar, Kelsey and Garrett are laughing and dancing and seemingly having a perfect time. And then he walks off and talks to another chick.

Word eventually gets back to Kelsey that Juliett and Garrett are into each other, so that basically serves as her justification for seeing Alex. It’s a giant catch 22 because their using each other to see other people.

Juliett just keeps drilling it into Garrett’s head that yes, Kelsey and Alex hooked up WHILE they were dating, after the gala. This gets Garrett so worked up that he calls Kelsey, tells her she’s full of shit, and says they can’t even be friends anymore.

NOOOOOOO!!!

The interesting thing here is that in the last episode, Kelsey completely DENIES she and Alex hooked up after the gala. But when Garrett asks her straight out on the phone, she doesn’t give him an answer and that’s what sets him over the edge.

Ugh! In the preview for next week’s episode, it looks like Juliett and Kelsey finally have a face-off, right after Garrett and Kelsey make out in Kelsey’s company. Ouch.

Yeeeeeep! Until next week…

(Re)Watching: ‘ALF’.

Of course ALF reads the newspaper!

Hey there! I’m hoping this blog post (along with that funny picture) cheers you up on this Monday that seems to have come way too soon. I kept seeing Instagram posts yesterday about how sad everyone was that Monday was arriving soon – so do I feel this way because Instagram told me, too, or do I feel this way and then it was on Instagram? It’s the chicken or the egg theory!

I was feeling REAL lucky on Friday because my boss let me leave at 2, said thanks for kicking ass, and I ran out of there to take a nap (what I wild one I am). I got up early on Saturday to ship an Etsy order and head to a volunteer event with the Homeless Period Project of Austin. About 60 of us worked together to make 3,309 period packs for homeless women. This month, all of the packs go to help Hurricane Harvey victims, but usually the packs go to homeless shelters in Austin. I had a blast – and offered up my Jeep to haul the packs to the storage unit south of Austin.

After that, I was spent and yes, took another nap. I was a tired girl! Aside from that, I finished reading a book and started another, did some cooking (I even made vegan, all-natural “Snickers”), made a few pieces of jewelry for the shop, and watched the Emmy red carpets (I am obsessed with Kristin Cavallari).

But – today, I wanted to talk about “ALF”! About a month ago, I saw that a TV channel was showing episodes of “ALF” each night. I’m not sure how I came across this AWESOME news, but I’m pretty sure it happened because I watch “Mary Tyler Moore”, so I’m sure the commercial was during an episode.

I watched “ALF” as a kid, and even have season one on DVD, but I haven’t seen this show in so long. Just in case you’ve never seen it, here’s the scoop from Wikipedia:

ALF is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 22, 1986, to March 24, 1990. The title character is Gordon Shumway, a friendly extraterrestrial nicknamed ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form), who crash lands in the garage of the suburban middle-class Tanner family. The series stars Max Wright as father Willie Tanner, Anne Schedeen as mother Kate Tanner, and Andrea Elson and Benji Gregory as their children, Lynn and Brian Tanner. ALF was performed by puppeteer Paul Fusco, who co-created the show with Tom Patchett. Produced by Alien Productions, ALF originally ran for four seasons and produced 99 episodes, including three one-hour episodes that were divided into two parts for syndication, totaling 102 episodes.

The takeaway there – no one ever calls him Gordon! Everyone calls him ALF. Anyway, I set my DVR to record each episode, and I’ve come to realize just how freaking AWESOME this show is. Yes, it was funny when I was a kid – I mean he’s a pretty cute alien, wears funny clothes, and is constantly chasing the cat around in hopes of eating it.

But watching it now, there’s so many jokes and references I wouldn’t have gotten until I was an adult. ALF is a pretty sharp, witty thing, and he’s not the kindest houseguest – despite the fact that he literally crashed into this family’s life. He nearly eats them out of house and home, is constantly having to be hidden, and is often finding himself in his own set of trouble (usually because he’s trying to make money or contact life on his planet, Melmac).

But this show is so funny and lite – it’s a perfect escape from, well, basically everything else out there right now. As far as I can tell, they’re playing the episodes in chronological order, so that’s an added bonus. I’m just saying, if you need something to watch… I believe it’s on Hulu, too.

Any good, lite shows you’re watching? This TV junkie is always looking for new (and old) things to watch!

BBC: ‘Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud’.

Hey there! Here we are on another Friday – and yep, I’m still pretty excited about a weekend full of… not much. I’m doing some volunteering tomorrow morning, but other than that, I’m planning on making a few more items for my Etsy store and shipping off a few (I had six orders this week!).

I also have some books to pick up at the library – so that’s never a bad thing. But let’s jump right into this week’s book, ’cause I got LOTS to say about it! It’s “Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman” by Anne Helen Peterson.

Here’s the official description from Amazon.com: From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an “acceptable” woman. 
 
You know the type: the woman who won’t shut up, who’s too brazen, too opinionated—too much. She’s the unruly woman, and she embodies one of the most provocative and powerful forms of womanhood today. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of “unruliness” to explore the ascension of pop culture powerhouses like Lena Dunham, Nicki Minaj, and Kim Kardashian, exploring why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures. With its brisk, incisive analysis, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud will be a conversation-starting book on what makes and breaks celebrity today.  

The book takes a look at these celebrities: Serena Williams (too strong), Melissa McCarthy (too fat), Abbie Jacobson and Ileana Glazer (too gross), Nicki Minaj (too slutty), Madonna (too old), Kim Kardashian (too pregnant), Hillary Clinton (too shrill), Caitlyn Jenner (too queer), Jennifer Weiner (too loud), and Lena Dunham (too naked).

…And then it offers up examples and research as to how they fit their tag “too slutty, too fat” etc. This book really opened my eyes. I do consider myself someone who pays attention – I’m WOKE y’all – but this was so much more. I work in a feminist industry, so I read articles on subjects like this all the time, but this was so well put together, and unfortunately true.

Here’s a few quotes I liked from the book:

  • …it was no coincidence that as audiences watched Kardashian’s preparations for labor, Wendy Davis was filibustering against anti-choice laws in the Texas state legislature. When the body becomes public property, as the pregnant body has indubitably become, it not only liberates the populace at large to comment and cast judgment on it, but the (male-dominated)legislature to institute legal controls over it.
  • It’s Clinton’s defining character trait: her understanding of her worth is so strong that she’s refused, at every point in her life and career, to let men define her.
  • Trump’s victory signals the beginning of a backlash that has been quietly brewing for years, as unruly women of various forms have come to dominate the cultural landscape.
  • Their power and charisma invigorated the world of tennis, but the Williamses rejected the presumed posture of gratitude and humility.
  • Minaj is unapologetic about who she is and how she chooses to live – exercising a form of self-determination that has been almost entirely unavailable to black women in America.

I’m recommending this book to ALL my lovely feminasty women out there – even if it’s in secret. This one will open your eyes and have you burning your bra! Ok not quite, but you get it (Blanche was all, “Joke’s on you I don’t even wear bras!).

The next book we’re reading is “Sycamore” by Bryn Chancellor – and this one is perfect for Halloween, as it’s a novel about a missing girl…OoOoOoOo!

Have a great weekend everyone – I’ll be back here on Monday (I promise)!

Turns out, I’m healthy.

Getting my health on.

It’s been awhile since I’ve offered an update on my health. In May and June of this year, I started the rounds on doctors’ appointments. I had checkups, exams, and even got my blood tested. At the time I wrote my last update, I was awaiting my test results.

I got them back awhile ago and for some reason, never reported back. But I’m here to say, all was positive. Actually, it was way better than I ever expected. I was scared something was wrong with my thyroid, or that I would have high cholesterol (it runs in my family), but NO – my good cholesterol was even high!

I was so happy, and I felt like all of my years of eating healthy and exercising regularly has paid off – in a big way.

I also went to the eye doctor, and after a weird exam, got a new prescription, along with new contacts and a new pair of glasses.

I still have one more place to go though: the dentist. My teeth have always had a rough time, and I had lots of dental work done a few years ago. I changed how I take care of my teeth, but I have missed my last two cleanings – it sounds so gross saying it! I just hate the dentist.

But, I know I need to go, and whatever happens is just something I need to take care of. Plus, I want to see if I’m a candidate for Invisalign or the like – I have some teeth I want to straighten out.

It’s definitely getting done within the next month, because I don’t want to keep putting it off.

Since my regular doctor’s visit, I’ve gone from a mostly-vegetarian lifestyle to a mostly vegan one. So far, so good. I feel light and not weighed down, and it feels great. I also find I don’t really miss anything from my previous diet.

I’ve also continued my regular dance regimen and added a weekly yoga class. On average, I take 6 classes a week.

It feels good to be on top of my health (for the most part).

Honestly, it feels good to be on top of…my life. I know I said this in yesterday’s post, but I think I’m finally ready to close some chapters and move forward (although I’ve yet to figure out how to do this).

One thing I’ve noticed lately, is how much I just want to DO things. I don’t want to let life pass me by, and I’ve known too many people who just let things happen. No. I want to be proactive in my life!

So yeah, I’m going to that dentist!

…definitely laughing while typing.

Selling my baggage on eBay.

I’m getting rid of baggage.

One of my goals for 2017 was to clean out my apartment. Not clean up, no, actually go through every little nook and box and get rid of things, and also do a better job of the things that I brought into the apartment.

My tiny place is 650 square feet, including my patio, and I hate feeling like it’s cluttered. I’ve already gotten rid of lots of clothes (H&M gives you 15% off coupons when you donate clothing/fabric), tossed old papers, and sold books and DVDs to Half Price.

I even started a little pile of things to sell on eBay.

I wasn’t entirely certain people still used eBay, but I had a few items that were too nice to simply give away. Over the past few months, the pile has grown, under the assumption I’d eventually take pictures of all of these items, resurrect my eBay account (which I got in high school), and actually list these things for sale.

I wasn’t sure that day would actually come, until I stopped talking to a guy I liked, and got the boot from one of my best friends. All of the sudden, I had LOADS of time. How do you think I read all of these books for Blanche’s Book Club?

Over the years, I’ve become a bit of a master at compartmentalizing my problems with men. Sure, it still hurts (I am not a robot), but I know I’m still a catch, and my life is good. I’m good.

But, losing a friend? That is something that cuts even deeper. That flat out hurts – and I realized it’s not something that’s easy to talk about.

In July, the Lenny Newsletter published an article from author Janelle Brown called “Why I’m Saying Goodbye to Toxic Friendships“. She captured perfectly how I’ve been feeling:

It’s shocking when a friendship dies that way: It feels impossible that you can experience total platonic love and devotion for another woman — BFFL all but tattooed on your heart — and then, abruptly, realize that you didn’t know that person at all. That your friendship was not what you thought it was; that it was just a way-stop for the other person on their path to bigger, better things. 

I’m an only child and I come from a small family. I have always dreamed of being a part of a big family someday, and even being in a sorority in college gave me some of that comfort I craved. I used to hope I could marry into a big family, but those dreams have since faded. When the relationships with my own family have also nearly dissolved, I have come to rely on my friends more than ever.

But as much as we’ve romanticized forever friendships and sisterhood – not every friendship is going to be that way. Of course, I’m always thankful for the time we had.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the past two years, it’s that not only do I hang on to the past, but I also don’t let shit go. And that’s not good, admittedly.

It’s time for me to start letting things go.

So, I turned to my eBay pile and started listing the items (after recovering my password and realizing that yes, people DO still very much use eBay).

Quickly, bids started coming in.

Today, I’ve sold and shipped four items from my pile and am $200 richer. Money aside, I realized that I shipped off my baggage – some of it is in California and Vegas now.

And it feels good. Clothes, jewelry, mementoes of my past are no longer within my reach.

When I did the Dating Detox a few weeks ago, one of the steps was to get rid of any items like these. But, I didn’t have any. You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve taken to eBay to sell my baggage (someone now has a Mignon Faget knot ring from my college boyfriend).

But none of what I’m getting rid of today has any romantic connection. I’m clearing out the finished friendships and the family ties. No more boxes of hurt feelings.

Of course, I can’t get rid of memories – the good or the bad. But at least I’ve cleared out what I could, and I know I’m making room for the happy stuff.

I still have several more items to list on eBay. And I look forward to shipping them off to new homes – and let myself feel a little bit lighter inside and out.

Tell me I can keep the door cracked open, to let light through
For all my running, I can understand
I’m one text away from being back again
But I’m moving on and I’m getting over

-John Mayer, Moving On and Getting Over

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Messy Messy Kelsey’.

Oh, Kelsey…

Hey, hey! I’m so sorry for not posting yesterday – I planned on posting at lunch, and then work got crazy busy and I just couldn’t. But hey, I’m here today and there was a new episode of “Siesta Key” last night!

But before we get into the episode, I couldn’t help but wonder what may have happened to Alex’s family’s mansion in Siesta Key during Hurricane Irma this weekend. I hopped directly to the source: @Alex_Kompo on Instagram – take a look at his stories if you are curious.

It appears there are several trees down and plenty of flooding, but his castle on the water is perfectly fine – with no damage from what I could see. Hmm. Naturally.

Ok, let’s get into it!

The group is back from the Bahamas and Chloe really took Alex’s comment about her weight to heart. So, she’s meeting with Garrett so he can help her work out. Damn – he looks good. Plus, he’s so sweet and is all, “You know you’re not overweight.”

Chloe asks him if he’s talked to Kelsey and he says he got a text from her and didn’t respond – then Chloe tells him that Kelsey and Alex went on a date. Seriously, that’s a freaking SNAKE right there!

Apparently, everyone is working out now, because there’s like a weird montage of Alex lifting weights and Juliette conducting a yoga session on her back patio? I don’t know.

Garrett meets Kelsey at a coffee shop, and it’s awkward right from the start. He’s all, “I’ve been SUPER GOOD.” He confronts her about the dinner date and Kelsey says she’s “sick” of all these rumors, and tells him there’s “nothing” between her and Alex.

She also fails to mention that during the game they played, they were flirting MAJOR and that Alex ended up with his shirt off. But she also reminds Garrett that they’re not together, so dates are a reality.

Meanwhile, Madisson goes out to eat with her ex. He obviously still wants her, and is visibly upset when she tells him that she met someone new. He’s all, “You know there are plenty of engineering jobs in New York…”

Later, Juliette Facetimes Alex to “talk about what happened in Bimini.” Alex pretty much thinks there’s nothing that really happened – they hooked up because they were in the same house, duh. Juliette says they need to end whatever this is because she’s not going to be “available” to him.

Madisson’s mom throws a BBQ, and Brandon comes… and so does Madisson’s ex, and it’s a little awkward for everyone involved. Alex is there, too, so it’s basically ALL of Madisson’s baggage in a single area! The three guys are talking to each other, visibly sizing each other up, and Alex is (of course) being a huge dick.

But Madisson is talking with Kelsey and says she’s having mixed feelings about her ex and Brandon. She later tells Alex that she’s considering the move to New York – um, what? No girl.

Brandon heads out of the party early and tells Madisson she seems “close” with Grant. Madisson seems upset and is like, “What? I hope everything is ok, call me” and then later tells her ex that she’s missed him.

And thennnnnn she sees Kelsey and Alex kissing in the pool.

Not to spoil anything but next week’s episode is called “Garrett Gets a New Girl” and from the previews, it looks like it’s Juliette. Lord!

Before I head out – I did post 7 (yes, SEVEN) new items on my Etsy shop yesterday (including a tassel necklace and pom pom earrings). I’ve been busy! Check them out and tell me what you like; or what types of things you’d like to see in the store.

BBC: ‘Saints for All Occasions’.

Hey guys! Immediate apologies are in order, for posting this so LATE – yes it’s Friday at 10:15 pm and I’m finally sitting down to post today’s blog. But, I have so many books on my list of recommendations, there’s just no way I could skip an installation of “Blanche’s Book Club!

Also, thank you for all of the kind messages I got yesterday after posting my raw feelings; it’s scary putting something like that out there, and it’s nice to know people care. I really appreciate it, and I’m feeling much better after letting it all out.

I even talked to my boss about some of my work stress and she let me work from the comfort of my bed today, and for just a half day. It felt really nice!

I also dropped off all of the donations I bought last weekend for Harvey evacuees today, did my laundry, and even did my grocery shopping. I’m on a roll!

And so, the latest read – it’s “Saints for All Occasions” by J. Courtney Sullivan and here is the official description from Amazon.com:

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from The New York Times best-selling author of Maine, about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.

Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont.

Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

… I’m going to be honest here about a few things: 1. I saw this book on the shelf at a bookstore and FREAKED out because I love J. Courtney Sullivan, so 2. I immediately looked to see if the library had a copy and they did, so I put it on reserve, and 3. I read it without reading the description.

I don’t know if I would have picked this up if I’d read the description… I mean, I’m not really into catholicism or nuns. But, I read it, and I actually liked it. No, it’s not my favorite book by Sullivan (I love Maine), but it definitely sends you on a journey and made me think about something that I’d never thought of before (what it’d be like to be a nun).

I’d recommend this book if this AT ALL sounds interesting… because there’s no question Sullivan can write well.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman” by Anne Helen Peterson.

This morning, I added another new style to my Etsy shop (I’ve added 4 new styles this week), so check it out if you haven’t! I don’t have many plans this weekend – I could really use some rest, to be honest. I’m heading to dance in the morning, and will probably spend lots of time making some more jewelry – it’s proving to be pretty therapeutic!

I hope you all have a safe and fun weekend – if ANY of my readers live in Irma’s path – I’m sending you love and good vibes. Until Monday…xoxo

On keeping it real (honest).

A good soak in the tub.

It’s 9:30 pm, and I’m writing this on my phone as I soak in the tub. I just had a mini-meltdown in my car and am grasping for all of my self care necessities at once: Blanche, bubble bath, John Mayer, and a clay mask. 

Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, I’ve been stressed. I’ve been doing several things to help those in need (and am looking forward to doing more), but it takes a toll. 

I feel really lucky that Austin wasn’t affected as much as predicted and I still have my house, my kitty, my car…but events like these either bring out the best in people, or the worst. 

I couldn’t help but notice just how many people did not contact me to see how I weathered the storm. In fact, the 3 people who did contact me, are people I haven’t seen in at least a year. 

Maybe it’s not a big deal to most, but no matter what’s going on between me and you when shit hits the fan, I’m going to reach out and see how you’re doing. That’s what we do. Right? 

I know many people probably just don’t feel a need to check in because it’s much easier to just look online and see the last time they posted on social media. 

But what if that wasn’t an option?

In the last week, I read a book (“What Made Maddy Run?”) and saw a movie (“Ingrid Goes West”) that both talked about the cultural change we’ve experienced because of social media and the effect it has on our mental health. No spoilers, but the result is not a good one. 

I know I’m guilty of scrolling through Instagram and being jealous of someone’s outfit, their vacation, or really just…their entire life. Of course, I’m only seeing the highlight reel. And that’s where things get dicey. 

I always think I’m putting the real me out there, but you’ve never seen a picture of my face after I’ve been crying. 

If you wanted to, you could read a lot of my issues right here on this blog. And there’s plenty of dirt on my Twitter feed. But I’m going to put some realness out there, right now. 

In the last year, I’ve spoken to only four members of my family. Including my mom. In the last two years, I’ve had other family members tell me I need Jesus, threaten to sue me, and tell me I’m a piece of trash. 

I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas with my cat. And it was awful. 

There are days when I feel lonely, times I feel there’s no one I could call, times I feel like a burden to this world. 

I work in politics. Liberal politics. And things are dark right now. Obviously. 

I suffer from financial stress. The money I make at my day job barely covers my bills, and I’m constantly doing extra work to keep up, to save for fun things, or to just pay off a credit card or taxes. I worry about bills, and trying to save. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel financially free. 

I’ve done some shit I shouldn’t have. Mathematically, I feel like I shouldn’t still actually be alive but I’m here and I get very stressed about making my time here count. 

I know I’m critical of myself. And of others, too. At times I wonder if I’m right in the way I feel, and I recall years of therapy where I learned it’s ok to feel anything you feel. 

I’ve spent many years searching for what I think is happiness, and I’ve found that generally it’s my weekly trip to the library, cooking, or driving by these two palm trees at the bend on my street. 

So there. Now you see it, my dirty laundry. I know we have a long way to go before posts like these are accepted just as any other. It’s less of a pity party and more of a display so you know that if you’ve ever felt any of these things, you’re not alone. 

I’d like to think that’s a small reason I’ve created this blog for myself – it’s my place to go when the seas get rough, when I feel like there’s no one to call. 

There’s another (literal) storm out there. If you know someone that’s going to be affected by it, at all, shoot them a message. We need each other – the real each other, not the Instagram stuff. 

I’m not apologizing for my crazy today. It’s real, just like any of my blog posts – this one’s just a little less pretty. 

She’s perfect, so flawless, oh so they say…she thinks I can’t see the smile that she’s faking, posing for pictures that are being taken. I loved you, gray sweatpants, no makeup, so perfect. 

Sent from my iPhone

Watching: ‘Ingrid Goes West’.

…Ingrid goes dark…

Over the long weekend, I did exactly what you’re supposed to do: ate watermelon and burgers (okay, vegan black bean burgers), shopped ’till I dropped, and went to the movies! I finally saw what lots of people have been talking about “Ingrid Goes West”.

“Ingrid Goes West” is the story of Ingrid Thorborn (Aubrey Plaza), who has spent a decent chunk of her life being obsessed with social media.

We’re not talking, oh she likes Instagram or she’s constantly buried in her phone – this is a full blown obsession that leads her to change her entire life, and sometimes, even ruining moments of the lives for whom she’s obsessing over.

Despite her past (in a mental institution), Ingrid discovers a new quest: Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Taylor is the girl we’ve all seen on Instagram – her life appears perfect (in that California vintage way), complete with a wedding, bearded husband, and sponsored Instagram posts to feed her thousands of followers.

So, Ingrid… you guessed it… goes west in order to start a new life and embody Taylor’s. You might have an idea how this ends – but don’t worry, I’m not going to offer any spoilers.

I will say that a clear B plot is here, offering us Ingrid’s landlord and pseudo boyfriend Dan Pinto (O’shea Jackson Jr.), and the banter between them is the sparkle in this otherwise dark flick. Yes, Ingrid goes there.

While those who’ve seen it agree it’s a little…well, psychotic… I have to say that it’s probably a little more real than we’d all like to admit.

Our culture has become obsessed with perfection and this displays itself all over social media, and it has ugly consequences. We’re all comparing ourselves to people we don’t know personally, and trying to be these people, all based on a set of pictures that most likely doesn’t represent their R E A L life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this given a book I read last week (more on this in the coming weeks), so it’s heavy on my mind.

The other bright spot of “Ingrid Goes West”? I saw it at the Drafthouse and they had a split menu specifically for the movie. It had items for Taylor, which were refined and vegan, and options for Ingrid, which were indulgent and sloppy. Obviously I got the Cali fries from Ingrid’s side, and they were a delicious take on In-N-Out’s animal style fries. Fucking YUM.

Should you see this movie? Yep. Recommendations all around – especially if you are an Aubrey Plaza fan.

Also… there’s new items in my Etsy shop! I made several new items over the weekend, and I’m rolling them out a few at a time, but check them out!

‘Siesta Key’: ‘Juliette’s Bahama Drama’.

That eyeliner tho…

Hey hey! Don’t you just love 3-day weekends? Sure, it’s a little shitty that we have to be back at work today, but it’s already TUESDAY?! Although, I feel like tomorrow I’ll think it’s Thursday and just be really disappointed overall.

But alas, another episode of “Siesta Key” is upon us, and the gang is headed to the Bahamas!

Kelsey is headed with the group to the Bahamas, but without Garrett since they’re on a break. The group is staying in a giant house together, so this will be interesting…

Juliette is among the group as well, and she’s getting used to seeing Kelsey sidling right up to Alex. Chloe is sharing a room with Juliette and is quick to tell her that Kelsey and Alex hooked up after his gala.

In fact, she says, Amanda was looking for her phone after the party and knocked on Alex’s closed bedroom door. Supposedly, he answered the door butt-naked, and when Amanda peeked into the room, Kelsey was in the bed naked, as well.

Here we goooooo.

At dinner, Juliette is back to her dumbass ways and says she doesn’t know how to eat edamame. Lord have mercy on this child.

Pauly Paul must be fresh off a line of the good stuff because he’s asking Kelsey what’s up with her and Garrett? Who ended it? Why did it end? Who are you going to hook up with while you’re here?

Later, he’s having a heart-to-heart with Juliette and he tells her Kelsey and Alex definitely like each other… Juliette is all, “Really? What do I do?”

Meanwhile, Brandon and Madisson are getting a COUPLE’S massage (!) and Brandon is like moaning through the entire thing, and says, “This is better than sex.” Come on, bro.

Chloe and Kelsey are at the spa and Chloe asks her what’s up with her and Alex. Kelsey admits they have a fun chemistry, but that’s all it will ever be. When Chloe confronts her about what happened after the gala, Kelsey says nothing happened… but no one is believing that.

But later… Alex asks Kelsey to go to dinner “as friends”… really?

At the dock, Amanda confronts Kelsey about what happened after the gala. Amanda straight up calls her a liar, and Kelsey says she did go into his room to change into dry clothes. But nothing happened. Srsly?

Alex takes Kelsey out to dinner and he tells everyone he’s taking her out because she’s the new girl. During dinner, they reiterate how they are just friends… but Kelsey calls bullshit on his relationship with with Juliette.

While everyone else is eating dinner, they are ALL talking about Kelsey and Alex. Madisson swears they are just friends but everyone else is all NO, NOPE…

After dinner, Kelsey has a drinking game for her and Alex, and immediately he ends up with his shirt off. Eventually, the whole group joins in… and the next morning, Juliette is in Alex’s bed with him. Now what?

As the gang is packing up, Kelsey says she’s ready to go home but she’s afraid she might have blown it with Garrett. GURL.

Now I cannot wait to see what he says… next week!

BBC: ‘Into the Water’.

Happy Friday before a holiday!!! Wahoo! What is it about that extra day off that just makes life so great? I’m not going to analyze it, I’m going to TAKE it and run with it. Actually, I’ll probably be in bed, but who cares?

Anywho, let’s get into this week’s read: “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
 
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
 
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
 
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Ohhhhh man! I was so excited to read this book. When it came out, I immediately put my name on the list for a reserve at the library. I did have to wait awhile, but either way – good deal.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I didn’t end up loving this book as much as I loved “The Girl on the Train”. And, you know, that’s ok. Not every book from an author is going to be the same – obviously.

Is it good? Yes. Chilling? Yes.

I have admitted many times that I don’t do well with lots of characters in a book – it’s just hard for me to concentrate and if they are alike, I get them confused. This was the case for this book. So, you very well may love it!

The reader reviews on the Amazon page for the book has mixed reviews as well. I know it’s easy to assume an author is going to pump out books that are similar and equally likable, but it’s just not that way. Plus, I don’t like it when books are advertised as, “If you liked ‘The Girl on The Train’…” because then you go into thinking it’s going to be just like that and you usually just end up disappointed.

So, there you have it. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Saints for All Occasions” by J. Courtney Sullivan. Read it with us!

Meanwhile, The Bitter Lemon Etsy Shop is having its first S A L E in honor of Labor Day! Enjoy 15% off  (+ FREE shipping anywhere in the US) all of the items in the shop today through Monday!

I’ll be doing a little shopping of my own this weekend – some for myself and some for Hurricane Harvey victims. And hopefully I’ll be making some more jewelry! I’m really enjoying this hobby as it’s a good way to just zone out and have a finished, wearable piece of fun at the end.

So, happy weekend y’all! Do something for Harvey victims – anything. Texas needs your help & get used to see that here. We need to help each other, no matter where you live. Do good.

I’m taking Monday off from the blog, but I’ll be back on Tuesday with a fresh recap of “Siesta Key”! Bye y’all!

Detox Your Dating: Day 7.

The FINAL day!

Whew! It’s the final day of this Dating Detox. Technically, I know it took me longer than 7 days to get through it, but I’m a busy gal, and let’s face it, this was tough.

Day 7 Challenge: Check Yourself!

Today is all about taking a look within. Am I ready for a serious relationship? Can I attract the right man with the way my life is currently?
Here’s what Denise has to say: Relationship-minded men seek women of VALUE. These are the women that men want to marry when they are ready.
Below are just a few of the traits that we all need to strive to possess:
  • She doesn’t need a man, but she wants one.
  • She recognizes that men should be the “head of the household but she is the neck”.
  • She has boundaries, and she sets them in a firm, but in kind way.
  • She will ask very good, often pointed, qualifying questions to men she meets and dates.
  • High Value women don’t let their emotions control their actions when it comes to men. They make decisions based on logic and the man’s actions not intentions or words.
  • She values her body and will not offer sex until the man proves his worth through his actions.
  • She values her body and strives to be healthy and fit. Her body is a temple and she chooses to make educated choices about what she puts into it and what it needs to thrive in life.
  • She knows how to make a man feel special and worthy, like he is the only one.

Well, right off the bat, item #1 I don’t have. Ha! This is what I knew going in to the detox. I’m not really ready for a guy, but more so, I don’t want one.

I think what I’ve learned most through this detox is that I like my life how it is. My days are full with the things I want to do. I don’t have to compromise or share. I don’t have to plan or think about anyone other than myself (and sometimes Blanche).

Sure, I can be strong and please a man and wait for his actions and yadda yadda, but for what? I think I’m good. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a month or a year or five years, but today, I’m good. And oh yeah, I deleted my dating app.

Right now, I’m focused on improving myself for me, not for a man. I’m continuing to work on my dance skill, working on my hobby of making jewelry, reading several books a week, and gearing up to volunteer at the Film Festival. My life is full.

So, yeah – the cleanse worked, because I’m basically free from wanting a man!

Anyway, I’ve also added THREE new styles to my Etsy Shop this week:

I still have lots of items I want to add, but this week, I’ve been cleaning out an area in my apartment to dedicate to my jewelry making. Right now I’ve been just making everything while sitting on the couch, which is fine, but then my living room is a mess. Check out my Instagram Stories @OrangeJulius7 for updates on the craft area organization progress!

The Script Lab: Screenwriting Summit.

Crafting up a screenplay…?

While most of the Austinites were complaining of Cabin Fever this weekend – I’ll admit, I absolutely LOVED having an excuse to stay indoors and do whatever I wanted (even though, let’s face it, there aren’t really many rules around Casa de Blanche).

One of the things on my indoor to-do list was attend a virtual screenwriting summit – cool!! I signed up for it a few months ago, but the trick was, it was only free for 48 hours. Little did the hosts, The Script Lab, know, I’d be locked inside for exactly THOSE 48 hours – HA HA!

Okay, so I’m sure they don’t care, but regardless, I watched several hours of this summit and I’m so glad I did. If you’ve been following my updates on my 2017 goals, giving time to my interest in screenwriting is something I’ve been sucking big time.

We’ll consider this a step in the right direction! Once I accessed the summit, there was basically a page of videos to choose from. These were broken down into categories including Studio Execs, Feature Film Writers, TV Writers, and Managers + Producers.

I stuck to the TV Writers section and watched the full interviews with Cathryn Humphris, Niceole Levy, and Jerry Perzigian.

Cathryn Humphris

Cathryn Humphris is an award-winning TV writer, having worked on “Once and Again”, “Supernatural”, “Dead Man’s Blood”, and “Mad Men”. Along with her notable career, it should also be said that she’s got a pretty terrible attitude.

She was rude during the interview and seems pretty snippy that while she came up the “assistant” way (i.e. the once traditional way of coming up through the ranks), now it’s just willy-nilly and anyone can do it. It was annoying and frankly, it was difficult to watch her entire interview. So, there’s that. Moving on…

 

Niceole Levy

I loved Niceole Levy. She explained that she’s the poster girl for “never give up”, because she tried and applied to make it as a TV writer for 10 years before she actually did, and her hobby of watching everything on TV paid off!

She also offers the advice to those of us who want to break in to start writing our own specs, which will give us practice for when we actually get a job writing on a show. This is going to be my next step guys!

She also talked a lot about different writing programs and what it’s like to be in a writer’s room (PS. it sounds fantastic).

Jerry Perzigian

This guy… wow. He has been a writer, show runner, and a producer for some of the best shows on TV including (but not limited to) “The Best Damn Sports Show Period”, “The Jeffersons”, “The Golden Girls”, “Cousin Skeeter”, “Frasier”, and “The Nanny”, among many others. He’s also won an Emmy Award. Daaang.

I liked watching his interview because he was so nice and open, plus he now teaches TV writing (I believe in Chicago), so that’s awesome. He had lots of sound advice, especially for older folks trying to break into the business, and since he writes comedic TV, he talked a lot about how that works in writers’ rooms.

All in all, a pretty cool little free session. I’m making it my goal to continue to to find events/opportunities like these (and hey, I went to the orientation for the Austin Film Festival last night!) to keep my brain moving in this direction – slowly, but surely.