And This is Real Talk

Mehhhhhh. That’s how I feel about writing this post right now.

However, I know that once this post is over and out of my head, we can return to our regularly scheduled Shananigans, so I’m just gonna DO IT.

I’ve been quiet on here lately because the past two weeks have been rough.Sucked out loud, really. Also, I think there is fine line between “personal blog” and “inappropriate online diary open to public consumption” and I KNOW which side of that line I want to be on.

But I also think being real and honest is important to connection, so I don’t want to just brush off the Hard Things like they don’t happen and have an online persona that implies my off-line life is a happy, carefree frolic in a Disney forest of books and cookies and wine glasses.

(I made sure that last weekend, my Dance It Out Weekend, was definitely all of those things.*)

*I didn’t get to put actual wine in the wine glasses because I gave up wine for Lent and I can’t have any wine until Sunday. I KNOW when Lent is over, but the first day of Lent was National Wine Day and long story short, my 40 days are up Sunday. I don’t want to hear it. I. Know.

Anyway, what with taxes and paychecks and life and snakes and goals and taxes and broken cars and the little annoyances that feel like HUGE annoyances when the day already blows and stress and oh my word taxes… the end of March was a welcome thing. (Seriously, Taxes, why are you the worst? Pretty sure Husband and I actually cried rage tears.)

The thing that really did me in for a few days, though, was not getting a job I really wanted.

It took me a while after graduating college to figure out my degree did nothing to help me get a job and then even longer to figure out I could turn hobbies and passions into vocations and then even longer than that to figure out what that might mean for a broke newlywed with a useless college degree in a strange city

Finally, finally, this year the puzzle pieces in my head started falling together and my Type A Brain started formulating a plan wherein my Free Spirit Nomad Brain could have a job and make money at a job I truly enjoyed. The whole “It’s not work if you love it” kind of thing, you know? I finally figured what I wanted so I could start working towards the Goal.

Type A Shannon LOVES putting A Plan into Action.

Our one-car family turned into a two-car family, which meant my job search was so much easier and could have a wider range. My Soul Friend wanted to move to Texas and pursue this goal with me and she was coming here for spring break to scout the town. This JOB opened up and it was the exact start Type A Shannon thought we needed to start the networking. It was all just amazing and falling into place the way Right Things often do and I was thrilled because my life doesn’t really work that way, the effortless way, but SOMETIMES it does and I was soooooo hopeful that this was one of those times.

It wasn’t. I did not get the job. So after the stress and the taxes and the job, I took a few days to be melancholy and listen to angry music and bake furious cookies. (No, I did not bake furiously. The cookies were furious on my behalf. Very thoughtful of them, really.)

The thing is, I’m not very good at staying angry and melancholy. Don’t get me wrong, I am fabulous at being melancholy. I have too many minor key/thumping bass playlists to be anything other than great at that. But I’m not good at staying that way. Once I take my space and (more than likely) cry out the rage tears, I’m spent and done and ready for the next step.

Which isn’t always what I want. After a good cry or a few hours of letting music squeeze my heart, I feel so much better, but I want to throw things all over again because I WASN’T DONE BEING ANGRY, DAMMIT.

I think I can blame my need for efficiency because days upon days of throwing things is just a waste of time, but mostly I think it is just because I’m willing to face and to feel the problem. And once you face something, name it, and embrace it, the issue is already pretty much dealt with. (Shannon’s Number One Rule.)

SO.This week, it was back to the drawing board and more job applications and new plans. Unless any of you know someone who is willing to pay me to read books and photo edit from this moment on?

Personal Book-Shopper and Photoshop Guru Who Works From Home = My Life Goals.

It IS spring, though, and some really beautiful things happened this week, too. Remember, Shannon wants Gratitude.

I’m leaving you with pretty pictures of a random hidden garden Husband and I found at the farmer’s market and my all-time favourite recipe, Fruit Pizza. I never know if this is a well-known, too obvious thing, or if it is a family thing or if it is a southern thing or a really weird oddity. I’ve encountered all reactions to my fruit pizza, so maybe it is all of the above.

However you feel about it, it was a staple in our household growing up and I’m almost positive I could exist on fruit pizza and queso alone. I really, really shouldn’t. But I COULD. Fruit pizza always cheers me up, so if you’re wanting a fun spring snack or if you love fruit as much as I do, try this. So good.


fruit pizza 1

  • A batch of sugar cookie dough.
  • A few cups of your favourite fresh fruit: peeled, cored, cut, rinsed, whatever it needs
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar or half a jar of marshmallow cream
  • Pay no attention to the cantaloupe. The store had a sale, so Coco and I ate cantaloupe for a week. Unless you want it on the pizza. Then whatever, dude. Stare all you want.


fruit pizza 2

  • Roll/flatten/place the cookie dough onto a sheet pan or pizza pan, until it’s a between a quarter-inch or a half-inch thick. It seems thick, but you’re going to put “sauce” AND fruit on it, so you want the crust to hold up.
  • Whatever dough you use, bake the dough according to the recipe instructions until the entire giant cookie is golden brown. This is not a time for soft, chewy cookies.
  • When the cookie is done, it needs to cool completely, or the cream cheese will melt.

fruit pizza 3

  • While the cookie is baking, mix together your cream cheese and sugar or fluff until it is thoroughly combined.
  • Lick the spoon. I won’t tell.
  • Cut the fruit. Or peel it. Or hull it. I rinse my fruit and kind of…pat it dry. You don’t want to put watery fruit on the pizza later, trust.

fruit pizza 4

  • Once the cookie is cool, gather all the supplies and get started assembling
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top.

photo 1 copy 2

  • Now, place the pieces of fruit all over the pizza in whatever geometric or wild or reckless pattern you’d like.
  • Sometimes I spell things. Sometimes I make shapes. Sometimes I shove it all in my mouth without shame. You know, whatever you like.

Once everything is on the pizza, you can either serve it immediately or let all the ingredients settle together for a couple hours. You need to store it in the refrigerator if you don’t serve it right away. It does well overnight, but after a few days in the fridge, it starts to fall apart. If you need help eating yours, call me. What?

photo 2 copy 2

I made this pizza with what I had on hand, but I didn’t have blackberries and I just can’t have fruit pizza without blackberries, so Husband brought me some later.

AH! Much better.

photo 5

Final product. I wish my kitchen counters were better for photographing food, but oh well.

There are so many different way to do this. I’ve started playing around with my recipe in the past few years and every time I make this pizza, I do something different. The only fruit I use EVERY time is strawberries because they are the best, but really, you can use ANY fruit.

I would stay away from apples and bananas, though. They tend to brown so quickly and the bananas leak banana flavor onto it all and then it’s really just Banana Pizza and… gross. If banana and apples are YOUR ABSOLUTE JAM, try making the pizza and putting the fruit on each fresh piece as you serve it.

Even though my family tries to eat food without any of America’s delightful preservatives, I often use store-bought dough for this because I have yet to find a sugar cookie recipe that doesn’t end up dry and gross when baked in pizza form. If you have one such recipe, share it, please! Don’t be selfish. I’m trying to be HEALTHY here, obviously.

(NOTE: Thought I had while editing this post- I’m trying the lemon crinkle cookie as a crust next time. Oh MY that sounds good.)

Ree Drummond makes hers with marshmallow cream instead of sugar, but when I tried that, the cream cheese layer was soupy and it did not end well, even though I loved the flavour. So now, I double the cream cheese, use 1/3 cup of sugar and half a jar of marshmallow cream (if i don’t make my own) and save the extra cream cheese mixture for fruit dip* later on.

Some people put vanilla in their cream cheese mixture. I’ve tried it and don’t love it because it masks the cream cheese flavour, instead of deepening it, but you could try it!

Sometimes, instead of making a whole pizza, I make a batch of large cookies and then turn them into individual fruit pizzas. If you’re serving a crowd, that makes divvying up this snack SO SIMPLE.

(Also useful if your household people don’t like fruit pizza and you don’t want to be forced to eat a whole pizza before it goes bad. I’ve absolutely, positively, never, EVER done that in my life. Ever. But one can’t be too careful.)

Fruit + cream cheese + sugar cookies. That’s the outline you need. Go from there and explore and delight in spring and flowers and fruit and pretty things and send me fun pictures of all the fruit designs.




More flowers

More flowers

I LOVED these

I LOVED these


Dangerous Beauty

Dangerous Beauty

That last flower is the one that Husband basically dubbed “Shannon As A Flower” so… you know. There’s that.

Happy Spring, April, Easter, End of Tax Season, and Gratitude, y’all.

Cheers! -S.

*By “dip for later” I definitely do not mean “take a giant spoonful directly from container as a midnight snack.” Definitely don’t try that at home. Tonight.

BOOK TALK: The First Books, Part Two

books 2

Here is PART TWO of my first official book reviews. If you missed PART ONE, go catch up! Let’s get right to it… hope you like it!


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski 

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Published: March 2014

Amazon | GoodReads

About the book: “As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart”

This is first book I’ve read in 2105 that I LOVE and that I would recommend without hesitating.

With much respect to cover artists and humans in general, the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous AND absurd for this book. I do believe in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” but also? Sometimes judge a book by its cover! If I were an author, I would HATE it if my audience was saying “ignore the cover and read this book!”

That being said… ignore the cover and read this book! The back copy does the story no justice. Rutkoski built an intricate world that really has nothing to do with slavery and tween love, but everything to do with complex political ties, what strength lies in the oppressed and those that do the oppressing, how cultures bias an opinion, and what someone burdened by a star-crossed love will do for that love.

(I hate saying “star-crossed love” because of Romeo & Juliet and all that junk, but if you know that I despise Romeo & Juliet as a love story but revere it as a love satire, we should be square on what I mean by that. Because what I mean is NOT “like Romeo and Juliet.”)

This book goes so much further than a girl falling in love with a slave, which I was not expecting and very much appreciated. You know what I mean? When you read the summary of a story and you get halfway through the book and all of the summary has happened, but there is still HALF THE BOOK LEFT? Yes. That. That’s what happens in this book.

Gold Mine: Rutkoski uses her prose in conjunction with her characters’ emotions. If the character is confused, irritated, lonely, or happy, so becomes her syntax. This is a tricky maneuver to pull off and when utilized poorly it’s highly irritating. But Rutkoski is a master.

For Fans Of: Chess, espionage, dare I say… Pirates of the Caribbean? Yes, I think I shall. There are no pirates betwixt these pages (yet? maybe?) but there IS ever so much adventure and cunning. Elizabeth Swann, FTW.

**Something fortuitous: I’d completely forgotten that the sequel to this book, The Winner’s Crime, came out on Tuesday! I may have to set aside my March Graphics for a little bit to devour the rest of Kestrel’s story!


Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton Doyle

Genre: Memoir… kind of? Published: April 2013*

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Book: “In Carry On, Warrior, Melton shares new stories and the best-loved material from She recounts her mistakes and triumphs with candor and humor, and gives language to our universal (yet often secret) experiences. She believes that by shedding our armor, we can stop hiding, competing, striving for the mirage of perfection, and making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard. In this one woman trying to love herself and others, readers find a wise and witty friend who will inspire them to forgive their own imperfections, make the most of their gifts, and commit to small acts of love that will change the world.”

This book is very dear to my heart because I found it in a time of great need and emotional turmoil. Self-help and how-to books? No thank you. Memoirs wherein the author describes personal stories and what COULD be learned from them, universally? All in. Even before I was married, I knew that I wanted to fashion a safe haven for my future family, a strong refuge of kindness, equality, inclusion, love, and safety. The first years are HARD, but this book reminded me that creating a Family of Purpose can be done and that living a life with passion is not an impossible goal.

I come from the church and I am proud of that, but its no secret that today, religion as a whole is doing more to drive people away by warring over semantics than they are striving to create a safe community to learn and be loved and to help. Melton describes this phenomenon beautifully and sharply in her book while answering her own quest and question: how can I love simply and fanatically? How can I teach others the same? How can we, the women, the men, the world, learn and recognize that every human has GREAT WORTH even when they are messy and broken…because there is not a single human out there who is perfect and whole.

It is both inspiring and down-to-earth, because Glennon encourages every human to believe they can do great things and Hard Things, but she is the first to tell you that sometimes getting out of bed and putting on pants is the Hard Thing that day. She coined the term “brutiful” for a life that is both brutal AND beautiful and that’s what I have to say about this book. It is brutiful. It has brutiful lessons and stories, and it is how my little family has chosen to approach the world.

Gold Mine: All of it. But especially the story where Glennon teaches her son how to connect with his classmates and how to deal with bullies. That story gives me hope for the scary thing that is parenthood, should it ever descend. (For more on THAT, read the chapter where her son asks about what word Mommy says when she drops her keys…)

For Fans Of: I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, but especially to my people who have done Hard Things, who are in the middle of living Hard Things, and people whose very soul vibrates when they hear “You, too? I thought I was the only one.”**

*I should note that the paperback book was released in April of 2014, and it contains a couple new essays that the hardback/ebook version do not have.

** Paraphrasing the amazing C.S. Lewis.

More short thoughts on other 2015 books…

atuAcross the Universe Series by Beth Revis  Genre: Young Adult

I’d heard great things about this space series and it was a fun read, but ultimately, I was not impressed. The last book is the best of the series, and the tightest, plot-wise, and I’m just not sure that can be a compliment for a trilogy. Everything I said HERE that Redwine DOESN’T do? Revis does. A good chunk the books would have been rendered useless if the protagonists had used their brains or their words and stories like that just aren’t my thing. I prefer plot points that are inevitable, no matter what the characters do or say. (with or without ignorance.)

body electric

The Body Electric by Beth Revis | Genre: Young Adult

I actually read the above series to get to this companion book because it’s copy intrigued me. (And I cannot, CANNOT read stories out of order. Bless my heart, even typing that gave me some hardcore NO!Shivers.) It is set in the same universe and time (kind of) but while ATU takes place in space, Electric is about what happening on Earth. The plot was tight and the pacing was good, but everything else was structured poorly. I dislike when an author stays vague vague vague about a specific point to further confusion and tension but never delivers on the vagueness or tension. It’s one thing when that is the point or the theme, (like the ending of Inception…I guess?) ((I was not confused by the ending of Inception)) but it didn’t feel like that was the point of this book. It just felt like there were too many arcs not tied up (neatly or at all) and too many questions left unanswered.

These two review posts have been SO FUN for me. There is something different about writing out thoughts about art mediums, as opposed to just having a conversation.* Typing out the thoughts seems to make me want to find better ways to say what I really mean, and I enjoyed the heck out of that challenge.

Definitely more BOOK TALK to come, with more multi-book reviews and some singular reviews, as well, I think. Love and hugs to y’all for sticking with me. Book Talk makes my heart smile. Cheers!


*STILL. WAITING. You know who you are, fruit sister.