Posts by Erika

Another great post from a fantastic woman.  Please welcome Ms. Emily Robinson.  Show her some love, folks.

Sisters, let us rejoice in the one thing we all have in common – a vagina.

Say the word aloud.

Vagina. Vagina. Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

There. Wasn’t that amazing?

Now I’d like to share with you my thoughts on our collective Vagina, in a four-part haiku.

 A seasonal story of the vagina

By Emily Robinson

Springtime Vagina

new cotton panties

pervies wanna get in it

high school vag is hot

Summer Vagina

frat party romance

too many experiments

I am sorry, vag

Autumn Vagina

planning for baby

unshaved before it arrives

mom vag is sacred

Winter Vagina

leave it alone, please

no longer moist with pleasure

but wet when I sneeze

Photo Credit: Zoey Rodriguez

-Linda Silva Palleshci

When Erika asked me to write a piece for this month’s theme “women” I was so honored and I thought it was going to be easy peasy. I have been a woman for 61 years and should know a lot about being one. But I would start to write about the way it is for women — in the past and now, and I found myself getting angrier and angrier. Not that I am angry all the time. I’m not. I am a very agreeable person, for the most part — don’t ask Carl! But when I start thinking about the injustices it makes me a little crazy. And I am not talking about just the other parts around the globe where it is obvious that our sex is deemed inferior. I’m talking right here in river city (old reference, anyone got it?).

Not worthy in so many other areas — not the same pay, not the same chance for promotions, not the same respect. Even in religion — not the same. And things aren’t better on the old abortion scene either — a huge fight so hard won now in jeopardy?
And I am a feminist but that never excludes men, I don’t hate men, I hate ignorance in all people. All men are not created equal, most of them are absolutely marvelous and know our value and delight in our minds, our strength, our hearts and well, other things. They know we are their partners; we are travelling this road with them together. I married a feminist. I married a man who knows the worth of a person–a humanist.
I have fought, in my own way, for women. I am proud to be a woman. My mother always told me, and still does, that I take everything to heart. That I worry about too much. But how can one not? How can we not worry and be angry or saddened by the plight of women? How can we not see that our state is always a fragile one — unlike us, we are anything but!
The fact that I am invisible to a large part of the population is disturbing. And since that has happened, since I began not to matter to society at large, I am really noticing the very few really old people who come into Boston–and when I see an older person I think “hurray for you getting out here amongst the young who don’t want you here.” Not all young people, of course, that would be horrible, but there is a shame in being older. “You let that happen to you!” if one eats better, exercises more, stands on the left foot for four hours every other Tuesday — you wouldn’t get old! I don’t want to be ashamed of what is natural.
And as I have gotten older I have seen a very positive shift in myself and other women: we get stronger, we get far more pragmatic, and we are often the ones that are depended on. We, while aware that we have lost our “juice” in society, don’t take as much guff as we might have earlier. My feeling is this: as we age we get a little more in touch with our masculine side and men get a little more in touch with their feminine side. This brings me great joy because, at some point in everyone’s lives they are touched by a loving hand and they know, in their heart of hearts, the utter humanity of that touch–that there is ultimately no difference in gender–it is only when we are very young and very old that this is obvious.  Or if we are wicked smart, like me–cause I am not really super old yet!!! How’s that for a little humor!!!
And I know while I am stronger in so many ways. I am still a little girl in others, unsure, insecure, but I can do the job. And I am blessed with knowing a wonderful group of women friends, old and young, who make me hopeful.
We are so thrilled to have Linda dole out some truth!  Go visit her blog and try not to fall in love with her beloved Carl.  He’s breaking hearts all over the place.

– Erika Ray

I’ve had a few female friends tell me they weren’t feminist.  I was left speechless.  “You’re a woman and you aren’t a feminist?” I asked befuddled and wounded.  I forget the answer because I was in shock.  My sister explains that for younger women they’ve nevered faced sexism, so that could explain it.  I agreed for years, but now I call bullshit.  When I was 21, I didn’t blatantly face sexism.  I lived with 5 guys and wasn’t fucking one of them.  I was equally experiencing life being a woman on campus.  No one said to me, “No sweetie.  Learn how to type instead.”  At 21, I’d probably say, “Yeah, we’re equal.”  Deep down though, I knew I wasn’t on the same playing level, but I didn’t give a fuck because I’d face sexism head on if I had to.  But fifteen years later, I can smack my 21 year-old self in the face.  Our unequal ways have always been a steady simmer for me.  And at 36, I feel that my disgust is at a boiling point.

Women and Feminism should go hand in hand.  It’s like Burt Reynolds and his moustache.  Adele and heartbreak.  Laverne and Shirley.  If you’re a woman you should be a feminist.  Being a feminist is very simple: one believes women should be treated as equals.  Plain and simple.  Want something more formal?  Want something crude: my lack of dick doesn’t make me inferior or dumb.  It makes me a woman.

According to “How to be a Woman” (a fantastic book), Caitlin Moran gives a disturbing statistic: only 29% of American woman (42% British women) would describe themselves feminist.  Ladies, WHY?  Do you think you aren’t facing sexism and you don’t need to stand up any longer?  You’re wrong.  I was asked about an overseas work trip and my rep wasn’t sure if I wanted to go because of my family.  He has children and called me while I was driving back from a hotel I visit four times a month.  Would he worry about a male counterpart’s family?  I doubt it.  I was talking about the fuss over the men’s Olympic basketball team.  Why the fuss when the women’s team is better?  Their record of gold beats the men’s record.  A man said, “Well, they should play each and we’ll see that the Men’s team is the better team.”  I wanted to say, “Let’s impregnate you and watch you push a baby through your dickhole.  It won’t happen.”  These men aren’t sexist.  We’ve all been raised to accept certain sexist notions.  Have you followed the healthcare debate in America?  Then you know that it’s an attack on women’s health.  Telling a woman they can’t manage their own sexual health and reproductive needs is sexist and frightening.  We can no longer be treated like nice, polite, lady-like second class citizens.  It’s time to stand up and own our Feminist titles.

Still worried about being a Feminist?  Let me tell you what one is or isn’t:

  • A feminist can shave her legs and armpits every single day.  Perhaps she likes that look.  Or she can be lazy and counted the days until winter when she can throw her razor away for 5 months.
  • A feminist can be a SAHM and love it.  A feminist can work outside of the home and not apologize for it.  But if you really want to work, find a way to do it.  If you really want to stay home, find a way to do it.  And do it proudly because you have that option.
  • A feminist can love and respect men.  You don’t need to make out with women or bash men around your feminist friends.
  • A feminist can believe that men and women are different.  Genetically we are.  I think it’s incredibly important to realize that each sex has their own gender differences.  But my differences don’t make me weaker or define me.  It means I’m wired differently than a man.
  • A feminist doesn’t need to burp or fart in public.  It’s good manners, I suppose.  But if my husband can explain away his fart in the family room, you can believe that I will blast one out and not apologize.  Women have gas too.  Women get the Shits too.  Hide it if you want.  But so should men.  If they don’t, I won’t blush and say “sorry.”
  • A feminist doesn’t need to love and support everything a woman does only because we have t commonality of ovaries.  In general, I’m a big fan of supporting women.  However some women are assholes.  It’s ok to clash.  Men don’t get called catty/bitchy  when they disagree.  I’m sorry, but if you make a dumb move I won’t support you just because you have boobs.
  • A feminist can enjoy having the door held open for her.  Read polite manners again.
  • A feminist can enjoy cooking her family dinners.
  • A man can be a feminist.
  • A feminist can wear make-up and enjoy feeling pretty in it.
  • A feminist doesn’t need to constantly fight The Man.  It is what it is.  But you don’t need to be quiet because it’s lady-like.  You can tell someone to fuck off because they’re rude.
  • A feminist is… <insert>

A feminist does all of these things because she wants to.  Not because she is being told to do these things.  Not because she thinks a good woman does certain things.  Not because she was raised to behave a particular way.  Only she can control her fate.  You hate constantly messing with your long hair, but your boyfriend loves it?  Cut it or teach him how to do a great blow-out.

A feminist is a person who believes women should be given the same respect and rights as a man.

Have I convinced you?  Can you say it?  Stand up, Ladies.  Declare it.  Tell people you aren’t taking their shit any longer.  Tell the world, you are a feminist.  And demand respect.  Show the world “Feminist” isn’t a dirty title.  It’s a title we must wear proudly.  Perhaps one day we won’t need it and I will gladly sit down and burn my shirt.

If you’re ready, post a photo on our FB wall.  It’s not hard.  Take a pen.  Write it boldly.  Snap a photo.  Send your pride viral.

Want something more formal?  Get yours here!

-Erika Ray

I asked to take the first post for October, and I have no idea why.  I’m all over the place with my opening post ideas and thoughts on the topic.  I guess that means I’m extremely passionate about it.  We decided that October was a fantastic month to write about Women.  I’m probably more excited about this month than any other month we’ve done.  I should be able to write a strong post about the reasons why we chose Women, but I can’t.

On one hand, I love our gender.  I strongly believe that if all women got some weird funky disease and died, the world would suffer and wither away.  Ever had a sick husband?  Mine was just sick so my nerves are still raw…  Ever watch a woman multi-task?  Yes you have.  And you were in awe.  Ever watch a man multi-task?  You probably jumped in to help.  It’s what we do.  We fix things.  We make the world spin.  We solve, comfort, nurture, tackle, and kick-ass all in a matter of minutes.

But on the other hand, I’m angry at our gender.  Why do we have to have an election that’s basically centered on women’s rights?  Why?  It’s 2012.  Women shouldn’t be a special interest group in 2012.  Women shouldn’t be an election talking point.  The environment or the economy are really good points to debate.  “The War on Woman” sickens me.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s true.    I’m not about to debate the Right or Left in this opening post.  I’m disgusted that we have to have a discussion about women’s right.  Still.  It makes me sad and angry.  It makes me want to vomit that men are making these decisions.  Being an equal should have been hashed out decades ago.  But it hasn’t.  And part of me blames our gender.

We didn’t think we had to fight any longer.  Suffrage and the Gloria Steinem-likes took care of it for us.  Right?  We felt comfortable.  We could choose to work or stay-home.  We could drink a beer in public.  We could marry or just live with someone.  We were blindly equal.  All the while, we aren’t making the same wages.  We let the media suck us into Mommy Wars.  We allow woman to be portrayed as waif-ish sex objects.  Instead of being unified, we get mixed up with our differences and fight with each other.  All the while keeping up securely in a passenger seat of our own destiny.

This month will not be a month of us railing against the men.  We love men.  A lot.  This month will be about us celebrating Women.  Not passively, but passionately.  You will see why women must make positive changes for the next generation. As a loyal reader of O+U, you’ll end your October knowing something you already knew: women are badass.  But I’m also hoping that by the end of October, we can all agree that we need better representation.  We need more voices.  We need to be on equal footing.  We need to not accept an older woman’s, “It’s much better now than in my day.”  We need to say: Enough.  We need to point out that women aren’t cookie cutter and that’s fantastic.  We need to show the world just how amazing we are and how completely fucked they’d be without us.

So people should start being nicer to women…

We’re a force.  And we should start flexing.

Yes, they got it opened.

Because they worked together.

And they really wanted a mimosa.

-by Erika “who threw up a bit in her mouth typing that title” Ray

I had a blissful existence with my period for almost two decades.  Really I did.  I was a late bloomer.  How late?  I drove myself home to get a tampon.  Yep, that late.  My period was always good to me.  Only lasted three days, never gave me cramps, no bloating, nothing.  If I was moody, I probably just blamed it on the period.  If we have to get messy once a month, I was going to blame a ton of shit on it.  I’ll pull that card.  For the most part, it was a nuisance.  I was never bed-ridden.  I never needed to go on birth control to regulate it.  I just existed with it because I was a woman and it’s part of our genetics.  I’m a woman and I have a period.

All that changed after Becks came along.  My period showed up and reared her ugly red-head and I fucking hate her.  Once a month, she makes me hate that I’m a woman.  So much that right now, I’m not sure why I’m giving her the female gender.  Because there’s no way a woman would ever be a period.  My period is an old, sexist, grouchy Man who doesn’t understand why I’m working.  Doesn’t understand why I’m not cranking out more kids.  He’s pissed that I didn’t bake my husband fresh bread this morning.  He’s mad that I’m not sexually satisfying my husband every single day.  And he’s pissed that I’d have to fake it (Everyday, people.  You’d have to fake it).  And to punish me, he shows up once a month.  My period is that kind of man.

Once a month, I have a period that is tricky and deceptive.  “Oh there he is…” I say in the morning.  But he’s only teasing with the actually start date.  This goes on for a week until he makes a grand entrance to stick around for another week.  And during that week, he isn’t lazy.  He’s hardcore.  He gives me cramps that make me consider ripping out my uterus.  Those cramps can get so bad that I talk to them in the car, “Please just stop.  Please just let me get to the hotel and I’ll silence you with a glass or two of wine.  Please cramps, please.”  But he does stop there.  Oh no, he’s just getting started.

He bloats the shit out of my stomach.  So much that I look six months pregnant.  Every month when my period shows up, I look down and think, “I need to stop drinking beer, eating regular lunches, do sit-ups, starve myself…”  It doesn’t help that the week prior, I could eat our house clean.  I contemplate eating the can of peaches that we brought into the house from our previous apartment ten years ago.  I eat like I’m about to die.  I never remember this fact.  Each month, I’m shocked by the amount of food I consume.  And then I’m shocked that I’ve started a period.  Why don’t I remember the cycle of destruction?!  But during my period, I spend the next week willing myself to eat.  Because like a sexist old man, my period doesn’t allow me to eat.  He wants me waif-ish and sick so he takes away my appetite.  “I’m doing you a favor,” he whispers as he taps my bloated tummy.

And then the mood swings…  No joke every other period, I will find myself on the floor crying.  The slow dramatic actress cry.  The kind that awards an Oscar to the actress, but they know how to do it while looking pretty.  I’ve never been able to master that trick.  I’m covering the floor with snot and tears.  Why am I crying?  It never matters.  I can make anything into a reason for a good bawl-fest.  Veggies in the crisper about to go bad?  Sure.  I’m bawling because there’s starving children walking to school for a free breakfast.  And here I’m letting the cilantro turn to brown mush.  Idiot.  New Taylor Swift comes on the radio and I’m sobbing because she found her power to never ever get back with the boy.  Oh yeah, that’s my life during my period.

I was complaining about it once and a woman said, “That’s what we get because Eve ate the apple.”  As women we would make this awful time into a martyr situation.  We get a period because we’re women and that’s what our genes demand of us.  In order to be a woman, we have to have this asshole show up once a month.  Not as a punishment for some potential made up story to keep women in line way back when.  I say “potential” because not everyone believes in that story, don’t get mad at me.  But believe me right now, if men had to have a period, they would have figured out a way to be a man and not have a period.  Because men can’t deal with this shit.  One little cold and their world is about to end.  But walk around in pain for a week, crying, bleeding, ruining perfectly good undies, scrounging around for the last hidden tampon?  No way.  They would have fixed this problem and still kept doing their gender thing.  But women suffer and deal with it.

Hey, lady doctors and scientists?  Hey female activists and humanitarians?  Do me a favor and find away for us to not have periods?  Don’t sensationalism them or make it a badge of womanhood.  I’m over it.

-Erika Ray

I have one.  Lots of people do.  Do you love Oprah?  She’s got one.  “Like” it and get updates and words of wisdom from the Queen.  Do you like the show Supernatural?  I know you do.  “Like” it and get ready for the new season.  Facebook fanpages have quickly replaced my Google reader.  I wait for an update and I check the blog. It’s like a little community and a gateway to the blog’s author.  I use mine as a way to pimp my blog when I’m actually writing on it.  I upload more pictures to it since I rarely visit Flickr.  I type things I’d rather not on my personal Facebook page.  Me face down with some bourbon?  Yeah, that’s not going up on my personal page so Aunt four times removed can see it.  But it goes up on my Fanpage.

But I’ll be honest, sometimes I hate Facebook Fan Pages.  For a long time it felt weird.  Here I am asking people to “Like” me.  That’s a weird position to be in.  It’s like I’m standing in front of all my friends and family screaming this:

Hey everyone!!  I fancy myself as an artist, photographer, and writer.  Like me.  Do it!  Don’t you like me?  

I would never do that in real life.  Never.  But Facebook makes it so easy.  And here’s where it gets really weird.  When friends or family don’t like it.  In the beginning, this was hard to stomach.  And now FB makes it worse.  They actually point out your friends who haven’t liked your page.  It’s like Mark Zuckerberg is saying, “Hey Erika Ray Photography, isn’t it funny that your sister-in-law doesn’t like you?  You should make her by asking again?”  And then you start thinking:

Don’t they like me?  Maybe I think I’m way funnier than I actually am (so true).  Oh they’re still pissed from the time I said that uncomfortable drunk comment in 2004.  Shit, I thought I took good pictures.  How could they sit there at Thanksgiving dinner and not Like my page?  Are they not liking it because it will make their other family members uncomfortable?  Ok fine.  I sometimes say “Cunt.”  Maybe they don’t want that in their feed…  

I’m slightly exaggerating.  In the past, I would think one of these statements and move on.  But I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been hurt or offended if someone didn’t Like my page.  Deep down, I realize there are reasons why people don’t like a page.  It’s hard on your iPhone.  You get the email and your forgot.  You never use FB.  You really don’t like me.  But I’m over all that now.  I think.  My brother still hasn’t Liked it.  I’m not holding a grudge…

Here’s the other thing about Facebook Fanpages that drives me insane.  And this is a personal irritation.  If you do this, ok.  If I think you’re talented, I’ll get over it.  Please remember, I have weird hang-ups: toothpaste, wet hair in the tub, gum.  All that being said, I hate when people “Share the Love” only to get Likes.  Don’t know about this?  Let me fill you in.  I run around FB liking a bunch of Photogs pages on a particular day.  There’s Share the Love Tuesdays, Networking Monday, We Get Cra Cra Wednesday (I made that up, but it should be a day).  So I visit the page, Like it, say some nice words, drop my FB page.  Repeat a dozen times.  And all the while, other photogs are doing the same thing.  Driving up Page Likes.  This practice drives me mental.  What’s the point?  I’ve seen some pages that are from towns of 500 hundred people and the photog has 2000 Likes.  And the pictures are shit.  Why?  Look in the sidebar and read where the Likes are coming from.

Spreading the Love Sunday!  Go and like XYZ Photography!

Love your work.  You might like mine too.  Check it out.

Like your photos.  Like mine too.

All on the same day.  Within minutes of each one.  These aren’t people who will ever use her services because they aren’t from the same part of the country!  It’s just driving up the Likes.  I get being inspired.  That’s the reason I Like a page.  But this isn’t for inspiration, it’s for a big number that makes a person feel good.

Other things I hate about a FB fanpage:

  • I hate when people hold contests to get to a particular number of Likes.
  • I hate when people have a blog update on the FB fanpage and then repost from their personal FB page.  Yes, I’ve done this but try to only do it with birth session or extremely personal blog post.  And I hate that I’m doing it.
  • I hate that your FB fanpage shows you how many people viewed a post.  It’s only to get you to spend money to promote it.
  • I hate when people say, “Getting to emails really soon!”  Stop updating your FB page and send me the fucking email!!
  • I hate when people upload the same photos to FB and then use the exact same photos on the blog post they just added.  Why would I click over?  Show me one great photo and make me click over to the blog for the same greatness just more of it.

Sorry if you do any of these.  I’m sure you’ve only done one or two of them and probably not very often.  Maybe.

A big number of Likes doesn’t really reward you with business or mean that you’re a very Likeable person.  It’s just a big number.  And before you say, “Erika, you’re just jealous.  You want 2000 Likes too.”  Yes, 2000 people who like me is flattering.  But I want them to Like it because they actually enjoy me.  Not because I went on a spree of Liking.  I want a community of people on my Fanpage.  I won’t ever ask you to Like me to win something or just because I Liked your page.  Like me because you think I take a decent picture every now and then.  Like me because you enjoy that fact that I say Cunt and won’t apologize for it.  Like me only because you want to.

Am I insane with my Facebook fanpage gripes?  What irritates you about a Facebook fanpage?

And don’t leave a comment if you haven’t Liked my page…

psst…  You know what else irritates me?  Blog post with no photos.  And I’ve done it twice.  Sorry.  Take whatever I hate with a grain of salt.

But I really do hate this shit above and I’m not apologizing for it.

-Erika Ray

I feel like this entire month, I should start my posts off with “I’m sorry if this makes you angry.”  But let’s be adult here, people.  I love a lot of stuff you probably hate.  I hate a lot of stuff you probably love.  And for one month, I get to spew the stuff I hate.  If I hate on something you truly love, it is what it is.  I don’t think you’re awful or a demon, I just hate that one thing you love.  So this is my very last apology for possibly offending or hurting your feelings.  We can still be friends.  I hope anyways…

So I’m going to say it: I hate when people who use the term Furbabies.  That’s quite possibly the worst term ever.  Isn’t it?  Wanna see my furbabies?  Hell no I don’t.  Get that shit taken care of.  Oh you mean your dogs…  I guess.

When I first had Coop, our good friends didn’t have children.  I had lots of discussions about him and I’d hear, “Not that I’m comparing my dog to your kid.”  And I waved it off.  It wasn’t offensive to me in the least because for a short period, their dog was like my baby.  We had our dog, Charlie, for almost 2 years prior to having Coop.  She prepared us for parenting better than any book I pretended to read.  I’d nod agree and we’d compare parenting notes.  I believe it was Charlie Harper on Two and Half Men who said, “Having a kid is like raising a dog who slowly begins to talk.”  It’s true.  You praise the same way.  Gently steer out of trouble the same way.  Half laugh when you get pee’d on.  Fall hopelessly in love with those big goo-goo eyes.  But then my kid started to talk.  He started to interact.  He started to have opinions that I couldn’t gentle steer against.  We had to meet in our house as humans. And that’s when having a dog isn’t comparable to a kid.  My dog is my dog and my children are my children.  And it’s 110% different.  If you disagree, you don’t have human children.

When my kid destroys the couch, I can get angry and say some form of “Bad Kid.”  But I have to adjust my parenting because I can’t put him in the backyard to ignore him.  I have to forgive, move on, and teach respect.  And prepare for the next action that tests my patience.  My dog does it and I say some form of “Bad Dog.”  But loving her is easy because she’s a dog and probably didn’t know any better.  And let’s be honest, if we’re starving in my house.  All of us are hallucinating from starvation.  If I was watching my children twist in pain, I would cook up my dog and give us a couple more days.  I can’t cook up my kids.  We’d all die.  Hungry and alone.  I can say this because I doubt it would ever happen, but it could…  And I would.  I’ve watched people treat their pet horribly because they’re just animals.  That’s not right, they do deserve respect.  But I’ve also heard non-kid parents give their discipline advice to a kid-parent because they’ve had to correct Sparky.  That’s not right.  Until you’ve had to deal with a screaming four-year-old while reminding yourself that walking out the door isn’t an option, keep your discipline advice to yourself.  Telling Sparky to not jump on the couch is completely different from trying to stop an irrational kid’s need to throw books.  And you have to stick around.  You can’t bail.  I’ve never wanted to jump in the car and drive for hours because of something my dog did.  But I’ve had those moments with my children.  I’d probably take the dog with me.

I’m not saying that someone’s love for their pet isn’t strong.  I will cry like a baby when our dog goes.  She was our first “kid”.  But the minute Coop moved beyond his “Dog Phase”, she became an actual dog: a much-loved dog, but a dog.  When you’re pregnant, people always laugh and say “I can’t wait for the cat to become a cat.”  You tell them with all your heart, “That won’t happen.  I love her like a kid.”  I honestly believe you do.  But she becomes a cat.  Trust me.

-Erika Ray

Sorry, I have no pictures.  This week has been hectic.  I was on the road, we’ve got houses lined up, a current house to constantly keep clean, a Labor Day weekend event to prepare for and a family to look after.  Taking a picture wasn’t going to happen.  I think you understand.

Funny thing is, there isn’t a picture that’s really appropriate for this post.  I don’t have one to do it justice because I don’t have a picture of all the O+U “ladies” and that’s who I’m loving today.  I had planned a post with some links, but I’d be a douche if I didn’t spend a couple of words waxing on about my love for these ladies.

When we aren’t blogging here, we’re brainstorming or life-sharing in our FB group.  We created the FB group to discuss our future meet-up, but it quickly became a safe haven for us.  It became a place to spew topics not safe for regular FB and a place to ask questions without judgment.  Believe it or not, there are some things that grown women might not know and need a good quality answer.  Some nights the FB group is crickets.  We’re out living our lives, whipping butts, and traveling this planet.  And other nights it’s a virtual chat-fest.  I know Carmen and Joelynne are in Canada laughing at something Jessica typed from Atlanta.  I know wherever the hell Tiffani is in the world, she checks in to rub our faces in it (not really, but we do get a shout out from paradise when she’s there).  And while Suzanne decided to take a break from blogging her on O+U, she pops up on the FB group with an editing question and we all get to give advice.  Laura spills good news and we all toast with photos.  Kristin shows up with her lovely sunny side that she rocks better than most optimists, but I love when her badassry is on fire in the FB group.  Becky recently used the group to ask “Should I be worried?” and Moms came to the rescue.  And I love when Jill tells me that my BIL throws her odd looks while she’s cracking up at her laptop.

These women are fantastic when someone shares good news.  We become the type of supportive cheerleading Women you thought only existed in Hallmark movies.  There’s tons of Atta-Girls in the comments.  Someone gives a virtual smooch.  There’s always some Fuck Yeahs sprinkled in.  But these women are in the zone when one of us has had a rough day.  If you were watching from the outside, you’d be frightened.  But when you’re the one who types in the bad news, you feel protected by the most fierce women the world has seen.  “Fuck him.”  “I would punch him in the mutherfuckin’ nose and then slam a beer down.”  “I will hop a flight and cut her for you.”  And then as quickly as attack mode began, compassion mode kicks in.  “You’ll be good.  I know it.  Have a good cry, a couple drinks, and get back out there.”  “We’re always here for you.”

The majority of these women live thousands of miles from me.  But Facebook allows me to have them with me in a Michigan hotel room.  It’s like all the women are smooshed into the back of my car patting my back or rubbing my shoulder.  Whenever I need them, they’ve got me.  I’m supported by the best.  I hope you all have the same type of net.  Maybe your net doesn’t cuss, drink, hoop as much as mine, but I’m guessing it’s just as strong.

Birches, I love you.

by Erika Ray

Becky came over on Tuesday for some sewing and general catch-up.  I should be kind and not tell you that she forgot her sewing machine.  But she did bring cucumbers, rotten bananas, an adorable kid, and a bunch of topics to discuss.  I told her, “I’m screwed.  I have nothing for my post tomorrow.”  I’m not usually one who runs blank on things I could rave about.  But today was different.  I usually have a difficult time when the seasons change.  I get blah about most things.  Things run a little slower in my head.  I just don’t care as much as I usually care about things.  But it’s a seasonal thing and it passes once I become fully engrossed in the new season.  And yes, I’m fully aware that Fall is a long time away according to science shit.  But school starts next Wednesday and that’s the official start of Fall in my house.

Instead of digging deep into my heart for loves and obsessions, I’m skimming into Tuesday.  Here’s what I love from Tuesday.

Queen Anne’s Lace: I’m wrapping up my Reasons I Should Like Summer Series and it isn’t summer if I haven’t almost driven off the road staring at this weed.  Today, I stopped and photographed some for the project.

Simple Greek Salad on Vintage State Plates: Not sure if I’m supposed to be eating off these.  In a decade if my entire house has Tongue Cancer, I’m sorry.  But right now, I’m loving these plates way too much to not eat off them.

This kid:  I will always have a soft spot for this kid.  That happens when you catch a glance at him even before his Mother.  He’s by far one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met.  He’s also the funniest crawler and best ball-thrower in the under three group.  He’s got an arm that surprises me every time.Chevron Quilts and Hexagons:  She was supposed to have the back finished prior to Tuesday.  That didn’t happen, but at least I got to see it.  Thanks to hers, a Chevron Quilt has quickly jumped up to my next Must Quilt.  In between starting it and finishing my current patchwork, the hexagons keep me fulfilled and happy.  Got any yellow, orange, red, or pink 2 ½ inch square  fabric scraps you want to get rid of?  Leave a comment.

Other Favorites from Tuesday:

The random weekday afternoon visit with Becky.

Finally started the finance part of moving.  And I feel so much better about the situation.  Plus I feel silly for worrying.

Work-out plan hatched and packed for Michigan trip.

A month of cooking in one day semi-finalized.  At least tossed around…  12 cups of brown rice is a lot of rice, people.

Finished the edits of a recent birth shoot.

Cranked this song early in the morning.

Watched my boys played a heated version of Candy Land where Cooper actively lost for Becks’ benefit.

Got to Wednesday** and a day closer to Fall.

**fingers crossed because I typed this at 7:15 p.m

I tend to fall in love quickly and then it becomes an obsession.  Ask the Ladies.  I’ll get hooked on something and it permeates everything I do.  I’ve made and canned 30 pounds of apples because I had to have applesauce all year.  One quilt pops up in my reader and I have to make it.  It doesn’t matter if the project is way above my skill level, I’ll figure it out.  The Internet makes it incredibly easy for people to find new products.  New things are always one click away and I love to share my newest obsessions.  I facebook it.  Occasionally, I tweet about it.  I blab about my favorite product to my friends and family.  I constantly share what I think is best new cookbook, tv show, song, LR presets, PJ pants, or food.  We’ve all got choices, sharing our love makes it easier to try something new.

We decided we’d spend August sharing our favorites, our loves, our obsessions.  Maybe it’s a product that makes our lives easier.  Maybe it’s a person we can’t live without.  Maybe it’s a song or a food we inhale on a daily basis.  Whatever it is we’re spending a month talking about what gets us juicy.  Feel free to do the same in our comments.

Here’s a few of my current favs to kick off the month.

Books: Any woman who believes Feminism shouldn’t come in waves is a woman I can fall in love with.  I’m only one chapter into “How to Be a Woman”, but I’ve got a feeling her topics will make many O+U appearances.  Love smart funny woman?  You do because you’re here.  Go, pick it up.  Last week, I read “A Feast Nearby” in a day.  Granted I was in an airport and there were a ton of recipes, but it went by so quickly because it was so interesting.  I love a good book about food.  This was all about local foods without being preachy.  And remember it has a ton of yummy sounding recipes.  Plus it made me want to move to Michigan.  Please don’t tell the Buckeye fans.

Homemade Marshmallows: I’ve never been a marshmallow fan.  I make Smores while camping because you’re supposed to; sort of like sleeping in a tent.  It isn’t camping if you aren’t in a tent or inhaling melted chocolate and marshmallows.  Sorry, it isn’t.  But I’ve always wanted to try making homemade marshmallows.  I figured the boys would eat them, but I didn’t count on falling in love.  Homemade tastes totally different in my opinion.  I can’t wait for Christmas to package these up and deliver them to friends.  Because let’s be honest, hot cocoa in the Summer is flat-out weird.

Peanut sauce without Coconut Milk: I’m always searching for a good peanut sauce.  Usually the sauces have coconut milk and not enough to use the entire can.  Months later, I find a glass jar full of the leftover coconut milk.  At that point, I vow to give up my peanut sauce search.  But I never do.  Earlier in the Summer I found this recipe and it’s my current go-to.  Whip up a batch of quinoa or noodles, slice your favorite veggies, and drizzle the sauce.  Yes, that’s my second helping of the sauce and quinoa.  It’s that good.

1 C. creamy peanut butter

3/4 C. Rice vinegar

2 T. Sesame Oil

2 T. Sherry

1 C. Scallions

1/4 C Cilantro (I love cilantro, but my fridge isn’t always stocked with this herb.  I’ve skipped it and it still taste delicious.)

2 T. Soy Sauce

1 T. Sriracha

Mix well.

Two new kitchen scents: For years, I’ve been using a diluted mixture of water and Dr. Bronner’s as my counter and dish soap.  For some reason, I picked up Mrs. Myers Basil Countertop spray.  It leaves streaks on our gray counters, but I love the scent so I don’t care.  It’s subtle and kitchen-y just like my new hand soap scent: Bath and Body Work’s Kitchen Mandarin.  Usually I’m a Lemon girl.  Why not try something new?  Little things, people.  Little things.

Dr Joy Browne on my iPod:  I found her while I was driving around Michigan.  Her program airs on local AM stations.  For years, I suffered through static-y AM stations just to hear her advice.  I love reality tv because it’s like lurking on someone’s life.  Her program is similar, but classier.  Callers call and unload their problems.  Some problems are tiny: allowances for children.  Other problems are huge: wives finding out about their husband’s second family.  She gives practical advice and never judges the caller.  A couple years ago, I realized that you could download the program’s podcast.  She’s with me while I’m on the road and sometimes while I’m sewing in the basement.  Take a listen and tell me it isn’t fascinating.  One day, you might recognize my voice…

Twilight Drama: I’ve never read any of the books.  I’ve only seen the first movie as a goof with my nieces.  I’ve always found Kristin Stewart to be icky.  I’m purely judging her as icky on looks and attitude given off during interviews.  I don’t know her or enjoy any of her movies.  Yes, I can act like a Mean Girl.  I don’t get the whole Rob Pattinson craze, but he does have an English accent, so I’ll put up with him.  But currently, I love these two and their drama!  It’s probably because they’ve refused to acknowledge their relationship and now she’s publicly apologizing to him.  Maybe it’s because I like lurking on someone’s drama.  Whatever.  I can’t stop watching the train wreck.

Share your favorites.  Get me hooked on something new.  Give me something to rave about and blab to my friends and family.  I’ll give you credit.