Coloring Book Winner!

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How are you? Are you snowed in? Are you enjoying warm beverages indoors while you watch people pelt one another with snowballs, cackling to yourself about how much wiser you are than they – you, under a blanket with your hot coffee and your cross stitch and your wool socks and your angry pet fish?

No? Just me?

*sigh*

In any case, we have a winner for the Dogs or Cats in Sweaters coloring book giveaway! Heather Hart, come on down! (You’re being emailed shortly!)

Everyone else, don’t forget that AshleyRose offered Nested readers a coupon code in case they didn’t win! (NESTED30) The coloring books are each $5 originally. The coupon is for 30% off. That takes you down to $3.50/coloring book. Quite a deal if you ask me – especially considering the fact that it’s a downloadable pdf that you can print and print forever. Again, that code is nested30.

So head on over to AshleyRose’s Etsy store, Fox and Crayon, and pick up your copy at an amazing price. The coupon is good until February 1!

I know that my fish and I will be spending our snowy afternoon coloring. He has commanded that we color from the Dogs in Sweaters book. Cats make him nervous. I can’t imagine why.

Congratulations, Heather! Everyone else, treat yourself to a discounted coloring book and relax away! (It’s gonna be a long week).

Happy coloring, kittens!

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Pets in Sweaters – An Adult Coloring Masterpiece Giveaway

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Hello, friends!

Are we ready for the snow? Do you have 30 gallons of milk and 15 loaves of bread? Do you have 37 bottles of wine? Excellent.

I have none of those things. I do have bourbon, though, so I think I’ll make it.

IMG_1794I also face this snowstorm armed with the most gorgeous, whimsical coloring books ever made. (It’s science.) Double bonus: they were lovingly hand-drawn by one of my dearest friends in the entire world, AshleyRose. The subjects? Cats and Dogs. Wearing sweaters.

I’ll give you time to stop squealing. No, no. It’s fine. Keep on. I’ll wait.
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When AshleyRose first suggested the idea of these coloring books, I knew they’d be amazing. When I saw the finished product, however, I was blown away by just how amazing they were. AshleyRose’s attention to detail in crafting these animals and their sweaters (some sweaters being straight from the 1990’s closet of Danny Tanner and Co.) is nothing short of perfection.

Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the benefits of adult coloring for managing stress and anxiety, boosting cognitive function, and promoting happiness and well-being. Those of you who know me know that I not an un-anxious sort of sprite. Coloring has become a major outlet for me. At the end of a long day (or sometimes in the middle – I won’t lie), I’ll sit down and color a page or two to help me unwind and unload. It feeds all of my creative urges and needs without requiring me to set up all of my paints or easel. I just open those Crayolas and get to it.

IMG_1795I approached AshleyRose about providing a copy of one of her books for a giveaway and she graciously accepted. Call it a late holiday present from us to you. The giveaway opens tonight at midnight and closes Sunday, January 24 at midnight.

Because she’s the best, however, she’s offering all Nested readers a 30% off coupon, which can be used to purchase either of her books from her Etsy shop. The coupon code is Nested30 and it’s good until February 1.

May the odds be ever in your favor and the colored pencils always in your purse! While we wait for a winner, be sure to visit AshleyRose’s website and Etsy Store, Fox and Crayon.

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay warm!

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A Farewell to Alan Rickman

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Alan Rickman, beloved actor (among so many things), has passed away. The news is fresh, raw, painful, especially on the heels of the death of David Bowie.

Both 69.

Both to cancer.

I haven’t been here in a while. I keep meaning to come back to it but I haven’t made it a priority. And yet, when I read the news of Rickman’s passing, I felt this insatiable need to write my way through it. Not because anyone is particularly interested in what I have to say about him and certainly not because I think I have anything new to add to the conversation, but for the simple reason that writing helps me process the world as it happens to and around me.

As I sat down to type this, I hopped onto Facebook. (Why? Don’t ever ask that question. I ask it every single time. I never have a good answer for myself). Already – ALREADY – there was a critical post.

The poster said something to the effect that people needed to stop posting memes and photos of Professor Snape because Alan Rickman was so much more than just Professor Snape.

Fair. True, even.

Everyone has their favorite Rickman. The man was precision and professionalism incarnate. He was exact, expert, endlessly talented – whatever role he assumed. But let’s set something straight – Professor Snape isn’t just anything. He’s everything.

For so many people, especially people of my generation, the role of Professor Snape will always be his most iconic – and for good reason. Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape was the person that perhaps first taught us that things are not always what they seem, that people are not always who they seem. He taught us that people can change, both for better and worse and then sometimes back again. Snape wasn’t perfect. He held grudges, which we resented. He wasn’t pleasant, which we resented. He was relentless, which we resented.

And yet  – AND YET – he also taught us that life is hard, that grief lasts a lifetime, and that, most importantly, we will do anything for love. We will do anything for love and that is one of the most important elements of the human experience. All of that texture exists in Rowling’s books, certainly, but Rickman is the face of all of that flawed humanity.

I’ve watched and loved Rickman in so many roles. He was a master of the craft. But when I think of him, when I think of the role that had the most impact on my life and heart of any of his characters, Professor Snape comes to the front of my mind. I can live with this. Professor Snape, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, honest-to-God made me look at my world differently. I can’t express enough gratitude for that.

In some ways, I feel as lost as I did when we lost Robin Williams. It feels as if another bright light has gone out. More than once this week, a star has gone dim. We have to live with that. We have to move forward and keep on. Rickman said, “I think there should be laughs in everything. Sometimes, it’s a slammed door, a pie in the face or just a recognition of our frailties.” That frailty, that flaw, all of that Snapeness, resonates. I hope we do laugh, because I have it on good authority that Mr. Rickman dearly loved to laugh and wasn’t half as serious as we liked to imagine him being.

May he have peace.

We’ll miss him. Always.

 

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Long and loud and clear.

This week.

*sigh*

This week has been rough. I say this and yet, looking back, we’ve had a spat of some really challenging weeks in this world of ours. We don’t need to talk about it. We’re all talked out, probably. I know I’m bordering on burnout. The struggle to educate over scold, to reach for compassion and empathy rather than frustration has been a real drain. It’s important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s taxing.

I’ve been thinking about humor in all of this mess. I’ve wanted to blog every day since Friday, but just…. couldn’t. I didn’t feel worthy, I guess. Or, truthfully, I think I worried that it would be disrespectful to write something aimed at humor in the midst of such crisis and turmoil.

Here’s a story for you.

My grandmother had Alzheimer’s. At the time of this story, she had gotten to the point where she’d walk up to random strangers at the craft store and talk to them about the tornado of 39. She’d eat three breakfasts because she’d forgot she’d already had one… and two. She’d get lost easily.  She forgot instructions as soon as she received them. She often didn’t recognize me.

This was unbelievably hard. If you’ve never witnessed the grip of Alzheimer’s on a loved one, take it from me – it’s a real shit sandwich.

One day, my aunt and grandpa were painting the steps from the back porch to the back door. For as long as I can remember, these steps have been a vibrant green. My grandma was in the house, sewing or circling individual letters on her word search puzzles. My aunt had just finished the last coat of paint. She and my grandpa stood back to admire the steps. At that moment, a shadow appeared in the doorway. Grandma ignored their pleas and stepped out on to the very wet, very freshly painted top step.

“Don’t move! The paint is wet!”

“DON’T MOVE!”

But she did. My sweet grandma clopped down those steps and walked all the way across the concrete porch to stand next to my grandpa and face the house.

“What are you two looking at?” she asked.

As my mom tells it, they all just looked at each other. Then they looked at my grandma. Then they looked at the bright green footprints tracking across the porch.

Then, they laughed. Hard. Like, that belly-clutching, gasping kind of hard laughing. And my grandma, lucid for a moment, looked at the steps and then at the porch and then at her shoes, and she laughed too.

Alzheimer’s had taken so very much from my family. It had taken our joy and stolen our laughter. In the end, it took my grandma. I don’t remember my grandma laughing so much towards the end. I don’t really remember anyone laughing much towards the end. I regret this. I regret that we forgot how important it is to laugh.

For that brief moment, however, they laughed together. Even though I wasn’t there for this event, thinking of it makes me smile. Every.Single.Time. Had I been there, I would have been hiccuping right along.

Terror has taken so very much from us. It’s taken our joy and sense of safety and, given the swirling cesspool on social media lately, it’s taken our very common sense as well. Let’s not let it take our laughter, too.

As my dad says, “Don’t let the bastards win.”

Let’s keep laughing. Let’s keep looking at baby animals and instagramming pictures of our dinners. Let’s be kind to each other and consider how we can make room for everyone rather than how we can close the door. Let’s keep searching for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers said, and never stop looking at all the beauty all around us to be happy, as Anne Frank wrote.

In doing so, we will remain and we will rise. If I learned anything from my childhood, it’s that rising is a hell of a lot easier if you’re laughing.

What made you laugh this week?

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Snake Juice: It’s real, y’all.

This weekend, the gods of time decided to

A) gift those childless members among us a Saturday Halloween AND THEN an extra hour of sleep; and

B) kick those who do have children in the metaphorical (and, maybe, literal) balls

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw not one, not two, but three mom-friends of mine wailing things like “HOW IS IT ONLY 4:30?!?!?!?”

I feel for you, mom-friends and dad-friends. Really, I do. But I do not at all envy you. Last night, the ol’ uterus almost got the best of me. I was scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds and saw all of your amazing babies dressed as wee dragons and little elephants and tiny, tiny Big Bad Wolves (AND, I’m happy to report, NOT ONE ELSA). That bastardly ol’ uterus of mine began that damned siren song of hers.

UTERUS: “Come on, loser, you totally want one of those.”

ME: “But I don’t think we’re quite ready for-”

UTERUS: “But tiny sheep costume.”

ME: “I don’t know. We’re still getting set-”

UTERUS: “But you could dress as Kanga and the baby could be Roo. You f*cking love Winnie the Pooh.”

ME: “Get behind me, Uterus!”

UTERUS: “…..I can’t.”

But then, after reading about the Daylight Savings Time toddler meltdowns, as I sprinkled tiny pellets into Ahab the Fear Fish’s tank (story forthcoming), I was like, “Nah. I’m good for now.” For now. Granted, Ahab swore at me and told me to try harder with myself because “Really, bitch? Can you ever do anything more than a ponytail everyday maybe?” But what can I say? My fish is an asshole.

So I had a nice, sleep-filled Daylight Savings, but my Adult Halloween was terribly uneventful. In Halloweens past, I stayed up way too late (generally dressed as a Harry Potter character) and drank way too much in terrible, unwise combinations (wine + margaritas + more wine + whiskey sours + hollah! = DIE).

As a result, my day-after-Halloween (or substituted day of adult Halloween observance) generally involved me clutching my body pillow with a large pile of crackers and a gatorade near my head as I binge-watched Arrested Development and made bargains with my maker.

This year, I was in bed at 10:30 and actually fell asleep in the middle of an episode of Futurama. I stand by this life choice.

I did, however, have a brush with near chaos. I briefly went to a Halloween party and was offered this:

 

My friends…. *sigh*

Do you remember that episode of Parks and Rec? With the Snake Juice?

Yeeeeeaa. Serpent’s Bite = Snake Juice. And for those of you who have ever wondered what Snake Juice tastes like, let me clear that up for you. For that is what I do here at The Nested Blog. I make questionable or bad life choices so that you don’t have to!

Snake Juice = Apple Juice + Kentucky Gentleman + Cherry Cough Syrup. (Is that the recipe for meth? I don’t know. I didn’t watch Breaking Bad. Too much scary. Not enough scantily clad, horse-riding men with swords. Or wizards.)

It is a most fortunate thing that I did not love this Snake Juice, friends. As it was, my Daylight Savings Day After Halloween morning was delightful, sleep-filled, and warm-as-a-drowsy-kitten. I slept for 10 hours and then my sweet mom made me coffee, biscuits, and bacon. And then I went and helped her buy a refrigerator. From Sears. Like such the f*cking adults we are!

If I had liked the Snork Jerce, however, it would have looked more like this:

….which is exactly how I looked the day after last Halloween. …and the one before that. …..and every Halloween in college. *sigh*

In other words, with Snake Juice, I would have been your toddler.

So what did we learn?

a) Snake Juice is never a good idea

b) Going to bed at 10:30 PM is always a good idea.

c) You really don’t need the third, standalone, external refrigerator drawer. I mean, honestly, how many times do you need to easily access sheet cakes? You don’t host that many parties, friend.

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