6 more weeks of winter, but not 6 more weeks of us half-commonlawing it

Yeah, that’s right, I’m making *commonlaw* a verb.

That is a very awkward blog post title and I DO NOT APOLOGIZE because I am tired and on a deadline.

Tonight we get the keys to our new place! This means I don’t care if there are six more weeks of winter; Mr. Katje and I will be starting the move-in process tonight. In an hour and a half.

I have been so ready for this moment for so long. We’ve been earnestly looking for a place since July, but before that I was searching Craigslist weekly. I am so happy we finally found a place — and so close to his work!

So I am about to leave the house to go pick up the keys and move in some kitchen items, and then I will probably spend the night at Mr. Katje’s place before coming back here tomorrow morning. Tuesday I’ll bring some more stuff over, and so on and so forth.

Within a few weeks, we’ll be full-commonlawing it. Yeah, that’s right, I’m making commonlaw a verb.

I am incredibly excited. I’m sure Mr. Katje would be showing outward signs of excitement if he were not currently engrossed in a certain Superb Owl.

So, I will see you tomorrow, with a  better post title. Hopefully.

Speaking of style….

More proof that I am a thrift store queen.

This is just a short post to show off the thrift store finds I made this week.

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The green sweater? Fits perfectly, and was only four dollars. It’s just my style and I needed a new sweater.

The scarf, though, is the really amazing find. For one, the pattern is awesome (tartan-esque). For another? Handmade in Scotland. And it’s 100% Cashmere.

Yeah, you read that right. Cashmere.

I paid $1.25 for it.

You may all bow down to me now.

I AM THE THRIFT STORE QUEEN. LOOK UPON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR.

(Seriously, this is as good a find as the 1950s Singer sewing machine, in table, that I found for 8 dollars.)

The best Christmas gift ever

My mom always outdoes everyone else with her gifts to me. That’s fair; she’s known me longest and arguably knows me best. She always manages to get amazing presents that I absolutely adore.

This year was no exception.

We exchanged gifts on Sunday, the 5th — the second last night of Christmas, technically. My gifts to her were a huge hit, which made me happy as I didn’t have much to give her this year. Her gifts started out awesome and got steadily better.

There were a LOT of presents from her so I won’t share them all here with you, but I will share the four best gifts. (There are pics of the last two; I was going to take pictures of the others today but I was really busy and ran out of time.)

First, there were cookie cutters.

I love baking, and I don’t have any cookie cutters (apparently). I thought I did, but I discovered while burning the gingerbread cookies of doom last month that I don’t. Mom got me a set of Christmas-themed cookie cutters so I can now make Christmas cookies every year! (And when I get back; Ogre and I still have some gingerbread and sugar cookie dough we need to bake.)

Then — Crystal Head vodka with two skull-shaped glasses. This is amazing, and I don’t even care that the vodka itself doesn’t taste that great. I can now pretend I’m drinking out of the skulls of my enemies. That is the best thing ever oh my gods.

Wolves on an apron! HOW AWESOME IS THAT
Wolves on an apron! HOW AWESOME IS THAT

Third, to add to the cooking theme of the gifts, she got me an apron. Not just any apron — one custom made for me, with pockets, and designed with wolves. She has a matching one in a smaller size. I finally have an apron that actually fits! Huzzah! And wolves, guys. I love wolves.

Fourth…the pièce de résistance. This thing…holy hell. I was so excited over this gift I nearly wet myself.

A SLOW COOKER
A SLOW COOKER

That’s right. Mom got me a 6.5 QT Electric Slow Cooker. An All-Clad.

I have been jonesing for a slow cooker for ages. I want to learn to make delicious meals in it so that when Ogre and I live together he can come home and scoop dinner out of it and I don’t have to mess up my sleep schedule to make sure he eats right. Feeding my family is important to me. (And let’s face it, feeding me is important to me too.)

It comes with a recipe book that I’ve flipped through a little bit. The things in it look DELICIOUS.

I am so excited to get home and start using this thing.

How on earth did my mom manage to score this thing when we’re hurting financially? It was on sale at her local grocery store, where she had half a million points. She waited until the slow-cooker dropped in price and then went in and used all her points to snatch it up for me.

That’s right. She spent all her hard-earned points on getting me the best Christmas gift ever.

Bottom line? My mom is the best in the world.

The Good Things Jar — emptying, reading, saving, starting anew

Today I emptied last year’s Good Things Jar and read all the great things that happened to me in 2013.

Last year I did a Good Things Jar — I got an empty jar, prettied it up with ribbon, and wrote good things that happened on pieces of paper. These things I put in the jar.

Last year's good things jar

I was not so diligent with it as I should have been, but it was still a great exercise. Today I emptied last year’s jar and read all the great things that happened to me last year.

Some of the good things that happened in 2013!

Some were small and simple (“Had a morning read with my coffee on the lanai”); some were momentous (“Got engaged!”). A few were in there twice! Especially the one where a friend sent me fudge. That fudge was delicious, man.

Putting them all into a folder, each year. A journal of how awesome life can be.

After going through them, I glued them all to some paper. They covered two sides of one sheet and then one side of another. I put the sheets into paper protectors and put them into a folder.

Then, I wrote out three Good Things — one for each day of 2014 so far — and put them in the jar. I’m going to be more diligent about putting things in the jar this year — maybe not every day, but every week definitely. Even if it’s just “I’m still breathing.”

Note #3 for 2014 Good Things Jar!

My first note was “Kissed Mr. Katje at midnight!“, because that is the best way to start off a year. My second said “Wrote double my word count goal today!” because I wrote 851 words yesterday (my daily goal this year is 411). The third thing I put in the jar today was the note that came with my sister’s Christmas gift to me. That’s me looking ridiculously happy, or just very loopy.

Next year, I’ll do the same thing, with the reading and the gluing to paper. Eventually I’ll have a journal full of all the good things that ever happened to me and my family. I plan on making this a family tradition. Even if it does make Ogre roll his eyes something fierce. It really was amazing to read through all the good things that happened last year, especially after how sour I was feeling about 2013. And throughout the year, looking at the jar is definitely a pick-me-upper.

Have you done a Good Things Jar? Do you think you might?

Dreams Made Flesh

When I got home there was a box outside my door — it must be my Christmas gift from my best friend/sister!

I got home exceptionally late today. Or exceptionally early, depending on your point of view. I was supposed to arrive home on the 1st, and ended getting back at 5am on the 2nd. Not having slept, it’s technically still the 1st for me.

Anyway. When I got home there was a box outside my door. A box covered in Amazon Prime stickers.

That’s funny, I thought. I’m not a Prime member. Also I don’t remember ordering anything.

Then it clicked — it must be my Christmas gift from my best friend/sister! I knew she was getting me something via Amazon, and I’d totally forgotten about it during the week+ vacation/down time during the cold from hell at the Ogre’s place.

(By the way, that cold? Still sticking around. I am more than ready to be well, thanks, Universe.)

I hustled inside and put down all my things (I had a lot of things) and excitedly grabbed the box. It was addressed to “Babby van Loon” — definitely from my sister; that’s her special nickname for me.

As I brewed some coffee in my Keurig (mainly to test out if the cups I’d been given for Christmas would work in it — they’re the “we work in most coffee systems” kind, not Keurig-specific ones — and they do) I grabbed a knife and carefully cut the tape on the box. It was difficult, because I was as excited as a…um. Kid on Christmas. (There has to be a better analogy out there somewhere.)

When I pulled away the plastic packaging, what did I find?

Christmas gift from my bff/soul-sister arrived! She knows me so well. <3Only an omnibus edition of one of my most beloved book series — The Black Jewels Trilogy.

I’ve read this trilogy several times. I adored it so much in high school and college that I would constantly lend my copies out to people, just so they could see how amazing it was — then I’d buy a new copy, and the cycle would begin again. Hence why I didn’t have a copy till now, and it was on my wishlist on Amazon.

The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of my biggest inspirations as a writer. When I read The Black Jewels Trilogy, I learned that it was possible to write a matriarchal society in fantasy that wasn’t some anti-feminist screed. (I know there are probably other writers who have done this, and likely before Anne Bishop did. That doesn’t matter, here — what matters is The Black Jewels Trilogy was the first series I read where that was a thing.)

I’ve heard people call The Black Jewels Trilogy “fluffy”, and I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. There’s romance, and some characters do get to live happily ever after — but this series is dark. There is sacrifice. There is loss. There is some seriously messed up crap going on. There are big stakes. The Black Jewels Trilogy is anything but fluffy.

If I read it again today would I love it as much as I did in high school? I don’t honestly know. I’ve changed a lot as a reader and a writer since the last time I read the books. I’m more critical now, especially of things I love. I’m sure there are lots of problems in The Black Jewels Trilogy.

But honestly, I’m just not interested in deconstructing it and picking it apart. I may do that with other things I’m a fan of, because it’s good to pick apart the things you love — to admit that nothing is perfect, that everything has its problems. That way when you trash the stuff you hate, no one can get on your back for only picking on things you have a loathe-on for. (Or, well, they can — they just won’t have much of a solid foundation on which to base their arguments.)

The Black Jewels Trilogy, however, remains one of my first fandom obsessions, and still one of my favourite book series ever. I read the continuation books as they came out, most recently The Shadow Queen, Shalador’s Lady, and Twilight’s Dawn. I loved them all as much as I remember loving The Black Jewels Trilogy — so perhaps, if I reread the Trilogy today, I would adore it as much as I always did.

I refuse to pick it apart. It’s a solace for me; it’s a comfy blanket. It reminds me that sometimes the broken and the beat down can repair themselves, can win against the forces that try to tear them apart. It reminds me that love prevails.

I’m not pulling at those threads. I’m not pulling that blanket apart.

I’m putting the book in a place of honor on my shelf, and when I have some time to read some fiction this year — I’m pulling it down and reading it again.

Thank you, sister. You knew exactly what I wanted, but more — you knew exactly what I needed. A reminder that the stories I write — the stories inspired so much by The Black Jewelsare important to other people, just as The Black Jewels are important to me.

For the record I totally fail at homemade toothpaste

I tried one of those home toothpaste recipes that’s baking soda and clove oil and coconut oil. Because I figured it might work better than just swigging clove oil and whiskey in the hopes of relieving my wisdom teeth pain.

It didn’t. It was like brushing my teeth with salt. Which, by the way, will trigger an almost instant gag reflex, so that was fun.

It probably didn’t help that I didn’t follow the instructions correctly, because WUH’EVA, I CAN DO WHAT I WANT.

Exactly like this.

So now I’m sitting around in leopard print that doesn’t fit too well and swigging whiskey* in between drinking cranberry ginger ale. Which, by the way, is a terrible combination.

*But I am not drinking it; I’m spitting it out, because liver. Also, cheap whiskey; I don’t feel bad.

I’m being stalked by a Weeping Angel

Ok, so she’s more Weeping Angel from The Angels Take Manhattan than she is from Blink or The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone.

But. Still. Weeping Angel in front of my fucking building. I have to close one eye, then open the other, constantly just so I can get into my apartment.

Ten.

Look! I even took a picture!

The Weeping Angel in front of my building.
Always watching; always waiting; always plotting.

Oh, crap, I guess we’re all screwed now. Dammit, Katje! Why do you nine think things through? Friggin child of the future; just have to take a picture eight where you go, don’t you?

Oh well. Seven. In that case, here’s the six picture I took, because I’m an uncontrollable lech:

Weeping Angel with DAT ASS. Need I say more?
I tell you what, five a Weeping Angel…DAT ASS.

Only slightly related: doesn’t Pixlr-four-matic have the most awesome filters? I am so glad I left Instagram, let me three you.

Anyway. I’m off to grab some coffee from my kitchen. Now, whatever two do, don’t blink. DON’T EVEN BLINK. They are fast, faster than one