Thursday, May 28, 2009

How to Fail Magnificently

Ok. So maybe this isn't about how to fail, per se, but about some of the best ones I've seen so far, thanks to Craftfail. (Have you been there yet? You should visit. Oh, how you should...) Seems I'm not the only one on the planet to have a great idea, only to watch it turn into a not so great, um, product? Read on. (The following are my favorite entries from Craftfail. The ones after those...well, those are all mine.)

Seems this crafter wanted to try her hand at knitting her own knickers. 'Cept she has a strange, slightly off sense of self and seems to think her bum is the size of Lake Michigan. Oh, I can relate...

Seriously. The idea for the pattern was cute. She just chose convenient colors. They're rad. I bet they were a hit at the playgroup.

And my favorite...

I laugh every time I see this photo. It says it all. And for the record, "Fat Guy In Little Coat" is my favorite movie moment. Ever. Ever ever ever. Seriously.

So to be fair, I thought I'd fess up my three best personal, lifelong fails. (The list goes on, I assure you. These are just the ones I could find neat little pictures to accompany the text. Hooray.)

Megan Fail #3: Navigation of any type

I failed USMC land navigation twice. Failed as in I pointed my little compass in the right direction, walked toward the next station and ended up hitting the “white tape” that marks the edge of the course. Had the white tape not been there, I’d have ended up at the local Dunkin’ Donuts asking for a ride back. And a jelly-filled, powdered sugar bomb. (I love those.) Even today, I have the precise instincts that will tell me to turn left when the directions clearly state, “turn right.” The sign on the side of the road can say in bold type, “Turn here, stupid woman” and I’d get the gut feeling that turning left is really the best move. I mean, seriously, bad, bad sense of direction. Terrible. Avoid letting me drive on road trips unless you want to end up in Turkmenistan instead of downtown Anchorage. You have been forewarned.

Megan Fail #2: Yoga
No pastime/lifestyle has ever been so intriguing and unattainable at the same time. I was at a class this past Tuesday and felt that I should have probably left halfway through. I’m not flexible. Trouble is, my competitive streak and my stubbornness have not received the message yet. I’ll throw out my back and tear my rotator cuff just to keep up with the vegan stick insect (read it: skinny blonde girl) next to me. I’ll shred a hamstring to achieve the perfect Down Dog, to try to show up the hairy hippie girl in the first row. During meditation, I’ll think nasty thoughts about my ex, overdue bills, and the showoff down the hall instead of envisioning world peace, harmony, and good karma. I’m terrible at it. I know this, man. I know this!

Megan Fail #1: Patience

I mean, seriously? Me? Patient? Doubt it. Total failure. I can’t knit a straight edge. Don’t want to learn correctly. I won’t proof drafts before they’re sent out. I won’t pre-measure fabric before I cut. I never let dough rise long enough. I won’t pre-heat the oven. Haven’t ironed in 17 months. Never get everything in the diaper bag on the first try. Can’t let the coffee finish brewing before trying to sneak my cup under the brewer. Eat my dessert first if I have the chance. Can’t meditate to save my life. FAIL!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quote for Today

"Faith is the refusal to panic."

(David Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Friday, May 15, 2009

This week's inspiration shortlist

I've been busy and tried REALLY hard to write a blog this week. But I failed. And, no, I hardly consider that half-assed attempt to win a Marsden bicycle (See: below) a legitimate attempt at blogging. My bad. But I want one soooo bad and refuse to sell my children into slavery to get one. Anyhoo.

I have been busy, though. It's been a good week. Here are somethings that made my shortlist...inspiring things around Megan-land.

Tea Shelf:

Ohmigoodness. This thing is AWESOME. I'm going to drill a couple holes in my rental unit walls right away. Or ask P for help. Either way, this is definitely going up somewhere in my house, as I love tea. It makes me think of my bestest friend Fawnie who lives way too far away. (You'll see Fawnie pop back up in a couple seconds, too...) Here's the tutorial on DesignSponge.

Jane Austen:

Yes, the Jane Austen. I found the Jane Austen Society of North America. I joined it this week, sending my $29 check and in hopes that lots of writing inspiration will be sent back to me with my membership card. I love Jane Austen and I even have her action figure on my sewing shelf. Not sure how they go together, but a muse is a muse is a muse. So there.

Oh, for the love of all that is holy, Fawnie, how can I live without Warcraft? I tried. I really, did. I went a few months after Lil' Man was born without playing. But then I missed you. I missed you and our skinny, hot-ass Blood Elves. I remembered the hot tub party we had in our skivvies at the CrossRoads. I remember turning you into a busty pirate with my Halloween wand. I loved it when I'd get lost over and over again because my slow poke couldn't keep up with your speedy runner hunter chick. I even loved it when I'd aggro 15 mean dinsoaurs and they'd attack me like I was wearin' a Van Halen t-shirt to a Foreigner concert. A friend and I got into a discussion this week about his characters and I thought about you. And I contacted the demons at Blizzard, Inc. and it seems like they never deleted my account and I can come back. Turns out, you can come home again. Ha!


I'm sick of being the "damn...she just had a baby." chick. I want to be the "damn, she just had a baby?!?" chick. Seriously. I signed up for three 5-miler races next month alone. Something's gotta give. Hopefully it's not my ACL...


*sigh*. He leaves us to visit his father at the end of the month. He won't return until August 7 when we have the custody trial. I am going to miss him so much, and the time between is going to be wraught with uncertainty, frustration, and anxiety. But I love him. To the moon and back again, even. I hope he understands how much. And I hope there's a guardian angel or two looking out for us, watching over us through the coming months. (Godspeed, little man. Hurry home.)

Currently learning:

Knitting. Phew. That last entry 'bout tore me up, I don't know about you. Time to distract myself with something I am truly horrible at. But still attempt. I am even trying to start my own group in my hometown. Hello, yarn. Hello sharp, pointy objects. I like you. I like it when I can make it a whole row without losing a stitch (Where the hell do they go, anyway? Is there a home for runaway stitches? A milkcarton I check for a few of mine?) Or adding one. I'm good at adding them without meaning to. Some days I am proud of the inch and a half i was able to add to the uneven, unraveling scarf thingy I've come up with. Other days I want to stab my own eyes out with my size 7 bamboo bastard knitting needles.

Currently reading:

"What Would Jane Austen Do?" by Laurie Brown. So sue me. I was on a Jane Austen kick when I passed this in the bookstore. I grabbed it without really reading too much into the back cover. Turns out its a time travel romance sort of book. But set in Regency-era England. Weird. Most time travels send us to the Highlands with lairds in kilts and their brawny, no nundies-wearing goodness. But to mid 1800s England? Okaaaaaay. Funny thing is, besides a couple quirks, I'm kinda enjoying it. I'm actually interested in whether Eleanor will return to modern day or stay back and make whoopie with Lord Shermont. Enquiring minds, and all...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Have you seen these yet? I totally want one. They're giving two away in July. Follow the link for more info.

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Round-up: Posts that caught my attention

1. “When You Feel Like You Just Don’t Measure Up” at Modish Biz Tips.

This was a great read. The author talked a lot about what works for your favorite blog won’t necessarily work for your own, and that’s really OK. I think I’m a sucker for resume envy when I spend too much time stalking my old classmates on Facebook…and I KNOW I’m a sucker for blog envy when it comes to both author blogs and craft blogs. They drive me crazy with their cute, organized, creative goodness. But that’s ok, and according to this post, my blog is just fine the way it is.

2. “Thoughts on Blogging” at Nubby Twiglet.

Nubby Twiglet has a pretty high-speed, low-drag blog out there. She’s pretty darn fascinating. She’s also offering up some tips for other bloggers. Some are common sense (blog regularly) and some are new to me. Worth a look.

3. “Keep Drawing” at Soule Mama.

I bought Amanda's new book recently and really dig what she’s up to. She and her family participated in a version of Mo Willem’s Family Draw and it seems like just the project Boy Wonder has been waiting for lately. And who doesn’t love crayons?

4. “Mothers Day Gift Ideas” at The Purl Bee.

I love this blog. If I could live inside a blog, it would be this blog with all their knitting, crochet, and quilting goodness. I would roll around in this blog and walk around my life with all their bloggy genius stuck to my clothes like pet hair. Ugh. And their ideas for Mothers Day? Priceless.

5. "But I Asked to See It" at Redlines and Deadlines.

This blog is great! So often, we get the author’s perspective but never get to delve into the curious mind of editors and agents. This post is an interesting take on why someone would try so hard to get an editor/agent interested in their manuscript…and then flake out when they request a full view. Crazy.

Book Review: To Beguile a Beast

To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever (May 1, 2009)

Rating: 4 out of 5
My Take: Despite a couple minor nitpickings in this review, I was very happy I went on a hunch and got the book. I carried it with me everywhere for the past week, even sneaking in a couple pages during breaks at a training conference I had to endure. It was different and not the same run-of-the-mill ton tale that are so prevalent on store shelves lately. Now I am thinking I have to read backwards, as this is tale 3 from "Legend of the Four Soliders." (But that should say something to it's ability to stand on its own...I hadn't realized I was in the middle of a series until I visited Ms. Hoyt's Web site.)

The Draw:

There’s always a draw when I come across a romance novel. Mostly it’s a recommendation I read from a friend, sometimes it’s the cover (kinda rare these days, though.), once in a while it’s a continuation of the author’s series. But this time, I read about Elizabeth Hoyt’s love of fairy tales and how this book is loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast tale. As a fairy tale and mythology junkie, I couldn’t resist.


Helen Fitzwilliam, a single mother with two children who has been the mistress of a Duke since she was 17. Helen, with her children, has recently fled from the Duke to hide out in a Scottish castle.

Sir Alistair Munroe is a scarred and withdrawn naturalist who lives in said filthy Scottish castle. He doesn’t like visitors, children, sunshine, laughter, joy…you get the picture. But he has his reasons for not liking them.

Abigail and Jamie, Helen’s 9-year old daughter and 5-year old son from Lister. Cute kids in the story. I’m not sure why, but they remind me of Nicole Kidman’s children in the movie “The Others.” (Though way less creepy, I promise!)

Plot Synopsis:

Helen is on the run from her former, married lover, the Duke of Lister. Lister is a powerful man who will take her children (his children) from her if she disobeys him. A friend helps her escape to Alistair’s castle, where her reception is less than pleasant. Helen must convince Alistair to let her and her children remain. At the same time, Lister and his men are on the hunt for them.


This is the first novel I’ve picked up by Ms. Hoyt and I enjoyed it. A lot. I had issues here and there with characterization and a couple concepts and phrases that didn’t really belong in 1765, but big deal. To me, I’m reading a historical romance for the romance part—the relationship developing between Ms. Heaving Bosom and Mr. Manly. I forgive words like “groceries” popping up. Big deal.

I thought the development of the relationship was well done and it kept me awake past my bedtime two nights in a row. I thought Ms. Hoyt did a fantastic job at developing Alistair and it was mostly his character that kept me devoted to the story when my eyes were burning and it was approaching 2 a.m.. Helen was certainly believable with plenty at stake, but she didn’t “shine” as much or “grow” as much as Alistair, though she seemed equally as damaged as he.

To be honest, when I first read about Helen, I was resistant to the fact that she was unmarried, in her 30s’, and a former mistress. Kinda like “Whoa! Too much reality for a Tuesday night!” but she grew on me as well. Often, heroines are cookie cutters and really could traipse from story to story without the reader missing them or noticing the replacement. While I think Helen could have grown a little more throughout the arc of the story, I thought she was one of the most original heroines I’ve come across in a long time.

The two leads had incredible chemistry. I loved reading the scenes of them together, stealing away a few moments. It was great. It absolutely made the book in my opinion.

[SPOILER ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you don't want too many clues about the ending!]
I felt a tad disappointed by the neat wrap up of the book in regards to Lister. He’d be bested, but would a man like that really just let them go back home and be happy? Would an ego-maniac with control issues just shrug his shoulders and let Helen win? I didn’t think so and it just seemed to end too quickly and easily for me, in regards to the external conflict. I expected more of an earned happy ending with these two, especially considering how damaged and bruised (emotionally and physically) they were when they met, and how high their stakes were.

It was worth the price of the book, to me, and I enjoyed it despite my very small misgivings. The bond between the characters was especially strong and well-earned. It didn't seem contrived to me, and I actually reread a few of the "warm and fuzzy" scenes. (Not to be confused with the "hot and sweaty" scenes, which didn't disappoint, either!) The rest, well, the rest is just details. If you’re a stickler for details and whether or not the word “grocery” existed in the 1700s, I’d suggest another book. But if you love fairy tales and strong ties between characters, To Beguile a Beast might just do the trick.

The Author:

(Taken from Ms. Hoyt's awesome Web site. Visit it here at

Elizabeth Hoyt is a USA Today bestselling author of historical romance. She also writes deliciously fun contemporary romance under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with three untrained dogs, two angelic but bickering children, and one long-suffering husband.