Out To Dinner – 35th Birthday

The one thing I wanted for my birthday this year was for the husband’s family to make the trek out from Orlando to go out to dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse with us. I wanted to spend time with people and have a fantastic meal.

Note: Most pics are enlarge-able by clicking them.


There is a dress code there, but not too severe so we put on our business causal best and headed out! When you arrive at Bern’s it’s always a little disorienting because it’s so dark inside the lobby. We always make the joke that it’s like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld.


Once everyone in our party was there (at 5pm sharp!) we were seated and prepared to make our selections. We also ordered drinks. Cosmopolitan for meeeee.

We decided to get a cheese plate, which came with olives, mushrooms, and toasted bread, but I forgot to take a picture of it and then it was gone (sorry Paige :-(). Also it turns out the Cheese Cave is not a place you can actually go. Really the cheese brought disappointment but it was very tasty.

Left to right: Sisters in law Sarah, Stephanie, and Stephanie’s husband Ariel.

Every entree at Bern’s comes with soup, salad, baked potato, fried onions, and vegetables. First comes the French Onion Soup covered in a trio of cheeses. It was accompanied by small garlic bread and regular bread, lightly toasted.

Then came the salad, which I forgot to take a picture of but who even cares because it’s salad.

Then came the entrees and the baked potatoes. I chose to have my steak accompanied by a side of LOBSTER because I am a baller and a shot caller. Also my steak was actually medium – what they do is they recommend that couples get a steak for two, and then they can cook each half the way each person wants it. I wanted medium and the husband wanted medium rare, and I think when the waiter cut it to serve at the table he caught the edge of Scott’s on mine. It was a little more on the rare side than I would have liked but I ate it all and it was delicious. My eyes said NO TOO RARE but my mouth was like “give us more of that.”


Everyone got something that they absolutely enjoyed. The baked potatoes came with sour cream, whipped butter, bacon, and chives, and the waiter made them for us at our table.

After dinner we went on a tour of the kitchens and the wine cellar. The wine cellar holds enough bottles of wine to have a different label every night for 22 years and never drink the same wine twice. There is also a bottle that goes for $30,000 (a merlot I think?) but really it’s an impressive collection and considered the largest collection in the world.

The bottle in the box on the floor in the upper left is the $30,000 bottle of wine. This is the part of the cellar where the most expensive bottles are kept so they are behind glass.

After taking a walk through the cool wine cellar, we were escorted to the stairs which led to the upstairs Harry Waugh Dessert Room. The dessert room is made up of several private booths, completely walled in with a small door on each side. You can pipe in any kind of music you’d like, including the live piano music happening at the center of the room.


We all ordered some “drinks with spirit” – I had a mint chocolate coffee with mint liqueurs.


Then we ordered our desserts. I did end up getting the Framboise Chocolate Decadence: Chocolate, macadamia nuts, raspberry, and whipped cream.

The rest of the family got an assortment of desserts, including a HUGE hot fudge sundae for Sarah, and a banana split for my father in law Jim. He got to choose 3 different flavors of ice cream to include on his split! There are many flavors to choose from.

The husband got a Baked Alaska, which arrived at the table on fire. Check out the Facebook group for a video!


Overall it was a really enjoyable evening. Jim cleared every plate in front of him, and made the joke that everything was so terrible that he had to eat it all so other people wouldn’t be subjected to it. There were lots of smiles all around, and I think that they were glad they made the trip.

Special thanks to Maggie S, whose $50 gift card helped to provide my side of lobster and coffee with spirit at dessert!

Happy 35th birthday to me! I’m almost 40! 🙂

A Brief Break: Spring Break Edition

I wanted to let you all know that I will be taking a few days off from posting in honor of spring break. I’m not taking the entire week off next week but I am going to spend some time away from the computer and out in the sunshine so I don’t become 100% a vampire.

To let you know what you have to look forward to, here are some books I’m currently moving through. All descriptions were pulled from Goodreads.

The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

(Note: I’m reading this one because its sequel, Force of Nature, came out this year and I wanted to make sure I was caught up on the series.)

heads of the colored people

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Thompson-Spires fearlessly shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body.

Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous—from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids’ backpacks, to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide—while others are devastatingly poignant—a new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper middle class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.

Boldly resisting categorization and easy answers, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an original and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.

the friend

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

(Note: I do not expect to finish this one, and if I do, I expect to be covered in grief and fury.)


MacBeth by Jo Nesbo

Set in a dark, rainy northern town, Nesbo’s Macbeth pits the ambitions of a corrupt policeman against loyal colleagues, a drug-depraved underworld and the pull of childhood friendships.

Get ready to helter-skelter through the darkest tunnels of human experience.

(Note: Two sentence is all we’re given. TWO. I have to read this book. My body is ready.)


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. If you haven’t already check out my…

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No Book Nook: Birthday Wishes

It’s my birthday today and it’s the one day a year when I feel okay making some things about me. This year I would like to make some present requests to the universe that would make my life a lot easier and more enjoyable.

  1. Aerobics classes for out-of-shape people: I love fitness classes. Step, zumba, yoga, just basic strength training type classes – I want them all. Unfortunately I’m too heavy and out of shape to participate in them. Could we please get organized to make a club that has fun fitness classes for out of shape people? Fun music that is slower so I’m not jumping my heart rate to 220 beats per minute to keep up with Janet hopping up and over her step that’s up on 4 lifts? Someone invent this and open a studio and you can have all my money.
  2. Breakfast delivery: I would give just about anything to be able to order up an omelet on a weekend morning. “Does Dunkin’ Donuts deliver?” is a rhetorical question that I ask almost every weekend, and the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) answer is NO. Please, all you food delivery services, add these fast food places to your list. Add Denny’s. Add Village Inn. I WILL GIVE YOU MY MONEY. And I know that in other areas you can get breakfast through delivery but I can’t so don’t tell me if you can because I’ll just get jealous and mad.
  3. Massage covered by health insurance: If chiropractic is covered by insurance, massage should be too. I really should be having a visit at least once a month and I can’t remember the last time I got one and I’m really paying for it right now but I don’t want to pay how much it costs to get one. I want 12 visits a year to a masseuse covered so I can feel better.

Happy birthday to me. One more year in the dust.

death cake

52 in 52: Attend a Conference

We’re only 10 weeks into 2018. It feels like it has been three years but here we are. This week I was able to cross number 48 off my list: attend a conference. This one’s a little long, and in retrospect I should have posted each day separately, but if you’d like to see more frequent updates and pictures you should join the Angry Angel Books Facebook group (new!).

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference was held in Tampa on March 8th, 9th, and 10th. I was able to purchase a student membership because I was still attending USF at the time, but this year I’ll need to purchase a full membership when I renew. I am glad that my first foray into this environment was here at home so I could try it out without too much financial investment, because I loved it and I want to go back.


For the most part AWP panel discussions seemed to be for students and professors involved with MFA programs in creative writing or other writing fields. Most panels seemed to be possible thesis topics or ideas to explore as a master’s student. There were readings and tributes to writers I haven’t ever heard of, and more poetry panels than I could count.

But what I found very refreshing was that every day there was at least one panel in each time slot that would speak to writers and readers that might not be on the traditional path. I attended two panels in particular that really spoke to me about my own professional aspirations and helped me to come to some conclusions.

Writing Before You Write: How to Write a Book Proposal

This session was very eye opening for me. I have no knowledge of how the agent/editor/publisher relationship works and went to other panels to get a sense for how it works, but this panel explained, in detail, how to put together a proposal to present to an agent or agents. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was almost identical to a dissertation proposal.

It can stretch from 30-80 pages depending on your book, and it includes sample chapters, chapter summaries, and an author background and plans for marketing the book which includes comparable and competitive titles (think lit review). Suffice it to say that being a new author means I will probably have to pitch with a full manuscript anyway, but knowing that I’ve already written something like this before helps me feel better about writing something like it again.

Pitching, Publishing, and Promoting Reviews: A How-To Conversation

I am so glad I went to this panel. There wasn’t much for me to do on Friday. I planned to make another round of the book fair (and I did, I got some free books and bought a few more) and go to this one panel at 4:30pm.

I was shocked. The attitude that the panelists seemed to hold toward book reviews was not quite positive and not quite negative. I think resigned is the best word, like having to do laundry or brush your teeth. We don’t want to do it but it does yield some benefits and we should do it so here we are I guess.

I learned that most lit mags ad locations don’t pay review writers (well, just in ARCs) and the bigger ones that do pay require you to have “clippings” from the smaller ones (think unpaid internships leading to better jobs (?)). And to be able to write a review about a book you have to query the lit mag as though you are submitting an essay or short story, and you might get to review a book if a current staff reviewer hadn’t claimed it first. So you have to break in even at the lowest, unpaid levels.

What was less surprising was the idea that doing book reviews was distasteful to writers because they would rather be working on their own creative work than reviewing the work of others. Also that reviewing can get unethical really quickly when authors review each other’s work in order to get good reviews out quickly (I mean, anyone with any internet savvy could have seen that one coming).

I would never have felt the urge to turn review writing into book writing if I hadn’t read so many books over the past couple of years. I feel like I have an increased respect for book reviews, and how a well-written review can be both critical and humane at the same time, helping readers to make a decision about what to pick up. I also know that some things I critiqued about other books I would want to make sure to avoid in my own book, and so the old adage of  learning from the mistakes of others can really come in handy when you’re reviewing and reading a lot.


The bookfair was overwhelming to me until I taught myself about what was going on. There seemed to be 4 main categories of tables and booths: small press, university press, lit mags, and well-known publishers The well-known publishers were more up my alley because they had ARCs, either for free or through some kind of buy one, get one arrangement.

The university and lit mag tables were a mystery to me until I came to understand that they are where you can get small pieces published, and they are all fair game. Once I learned that I decided that this summer one of my projects will be to go through the AWP program and see which mags match my style and plan to submit to them this fall and next spring. The only way to learn the process is to read, write, and try.

The small presses had some really interesting books, and I bought a few. While I do want to try to get my book published by a bigger press, some of the smaller ones had very well-known books that I have read and enjoyed, and so it would be irresponsible to overlook them altogether. All I know right now for sure is that I do not want to self-publish. Everything else is kind of in the grey area and as I learn, write, and read more I’ll learn more about where I fit in the publishing world.


I am not the best at networking, and the fact that I am not an MFA student or professor set me apart more than I might be usually by nature. I am a tiny seed that is ready to grow, but tiny nonetheless. I felt like a little mouse skittering around, listening in on people that were much bigger than me so I could learn how to be big too.

There were two people that I got to see that made going so much brighter.

I was walking around the book fair just checking things out when I stopped at a little vendor table that was selling tote bags and funny posters about yoga, when I looked up and saw Eve Ewing. I am not sorry to say that I embarrassed myself right in the middle of that expo hall with a screech and several OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGs. She was very generous and took a selfie with me and then I walked away on a cloud.


Read my review of her poetry collection Electric Arches.

The biggest meets of the conference for me were Megan Stielstra and Samantha Irby. Sam wasn’t able to make it, but I knew that Megan was on a panel about how fear plays a role in our careers on Saturday and so I planned to go. Nothing could have prepared me for how powerful this panel would be. I didn’t sort it with the panels up above because it was an immersive experience. It was a gathering. It was one of the safest spaces in which I have ever sat.

So when I approached the panel table after the talk and got a HUGE hug from Megan, she said “You did it! Let’s meet outside because we have to take a selfie and we should talk in a quieter environment.”

So we did.


Read my review of Megan’s book The Wrong Way to Save Your Life.

As a writer you never know how what you write will affect those who read. I hope Megan, Eve, and all writers I write about here understand that they have all influenced me to expand and explore my own writing career. And of course, I will never stop reading.


This week is my birthday! So I’ll probably manicure or pedicure on the way home from work one of the days, but I’m not sure yet.

Can you find all the puppers?

No Book Nook: Make a Joyful Noise

I had to stop in here and drop a note about Sam Nunberg. I don’t usually talk about specific political people but watching this man make the rounds on my usual afternoon/evening news shows brought me so much joy that I had to share.

Seeing him lose his marbles, first over the phone then in studio on MSNBC shocked me, but in the way that coming home to find a surprise party and tons of balloons would shock me. How desperate must ol’ Sam had to have been to put on that kind of show? I admit that by the end of his discussion on The Beat with Ari Melber (6pm on MSNBC) I felt a teensy bit worried about the guy because he was thrashing about defensively like a rabbit caught in a snare.

I am not sorry about the giddiness I felt watching him squirm. I want each and every single one of these people to squirm, and apparently I want to watch it happen because it is in the afternoon on Tuesday and I am still riding on the happiness high I hit last night watching him on tv.

It felt so good to see these horrible people who have brought about The After Times start to crack and crumble, even if it was just a low level campaign staffer. Sure it’s slow going, but as long as I get something like this every couple of months, I can be patient. Lady Justice is coming, and I believe she’s the woman for this job.

Just please, let me watch.

52 in 52: Off Week

Hey everyone! This week was so busy that I didn’t actually complete anything on my list. I did a lot of cool things though, including getting my teeth cleaned, catching up on grading, and finding out that getting Invisaligns might actually be a possibility for my teeth (and budget).

By the time I got to today I didn’t have the energy or the money to do much else, and while I could have gone out to breakfast, we just ended up wanting to stay in and have a relaxing weekend. I even fell asleep in my chair this afternoon! I’m living the dream!

Coming up this week will be three reviews:

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos (new release on March 6th)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (recently named an Oprah’s Book Club book and a NYT bestseller- newly released on February 6th)

Happiness by Aminatta Forna (new release on March 6th)

Also I will be attending the AWP 2018 conference in Tampa Thursday through Saturday and giving you posts and updates as I explore, enjoy, and learn. So my 52 in 52 goal of “attend a conference” will be fulfilled next week!

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you around.

No Book Nook: Wayfair Chairs

I had a lot of students miss a test due to Senior Skip Day so on Tuesday I was after school with about 10 of my best and brightest, monitoring them making up said test. I had completed all my work for the day and was bored and decided to browse wayfair.com for comfy chairs. I have had an IKEA chair that I love since I lived in Arizona (about 10 years ago) and both the husband and I have been talking about getting something more cozy for both of our office/game rooms.

I did not expect to be so entertained. (All chairs are linked to the website.)

First of all, what the fuck is this? Because it sure as shit doesn’t look like a chair and doesn’t seem to warrant the price tag of $273.

Weird Chair 1

(Thanks to Maggie Smith for the stick people attempting to navigate demon chair.)

Also I have my doubts about whatever this is pretending to be at $241:

Weird Chair 2.jpg

I found where the set designers for Men in Black found their test taking egg chairs for $489:

Weird Chair 3.jpg


And I decided that I might want to get into the evil villain kind of decor, so I am considering this at a cool $1,300:

Weird Chair 4.jpg

In all seriousness though I am thinking about a chair that I could lounge in to read and play video games, so feel free to make suggestions or share links of chairs you love in the comments. I hope you got as big a laugh out of these chairs (and their prices!) as I did.