Friday, January 12, 2018

So Far...

The year is starting out with a bang. A crappy bang.

I had to go to St. Louis for work last week. I flew out on New Year's Day. It was like 5 degrees in St. Louis. I was still trying to get over being sick and decided to go for a walk along the river in St. Charles because I didn't want to sit in my hotel room. And I got sicker. More sick?

I believe this is from the Lewis and Clark state park but I could be wrong.

I went to the doctor after I got home who put me on a z-pac and finally my cough is clearing up. But then I had my second oral surgery yesterday. My mouth is sore but it doesn't truly hurt. I'm sitting with an ice pack on my face to try and keep the swelling down. I feel I'm better prepared this time around with the soft foods I have to eat so I hope it doesn't drive me too crazy. I think this weekend is going to be pjs and books while I deal with the swelling and bruising.

The good news is that Aunt Jenny, my Christmas cactus, is blooming. She has a bunch of tiny little buds on her right now. A couple more weeks and they'll be open. I can't wait.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Farewell, 2017

Everybody, everywhere seems to be talking about what a crappy year 2017 was. I have to agree with a lot of it. In some ways this was a pretty bad year. I stopped reading the news and most social media on the weekends because I needed to be able to get away from it. It's turned out to be a good decision.

But...this last post at the end of the year is not about the crappy stuff. Good stuff happened too and that's what I'm writing about. I'd rather leave the year on a positive note. So here's a random list of good stuff that happened in 2017.

I went to Scotland with my mom and sister.
My family went on vacation to the Oregon coast.
I got new paint and carpet/floor and my house feels like a new place.
I dug up my ugly bushes out front and made myself a flower garden.
I made myself a home library out of one of my spare bedrooms and I love it.
I made music with my niece and newphew. They are getting better with the piano and clarinet.
I got to spend a lot of good times with my family.
I lost 10.5 lbs without really trying. It was a good shock. All the cooking and eating leftovers must be paying off.
And speaking of cooking, I've had a lot of fun cooking with my Instant Pot. I bought it during the 2016 Black Friday sales and this year my mom and sister both got one.
I've had some good opportunities at work and I feel like I do help out and make a difference.
I've spend the year playing the piano for the primary kids on Sunday and it's been fun.
I've enjoyed some of the movies that came out this year: Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2.
I bought the first season of Wonder Woman (1975) and Charlie's Angels (1976) on sale this year and it's been fun to watch some of those episodes. I've only ever seen a few on re-runs. Times have changed and yet, they haven't. Lots of male chauvinism but the women deal with it and kick butt anyway.
Read lots of good books.
I've seen many theater productions with either my mom or my friend and it continues to be something I love.

I don't have a lot of plans for 2018 right now. The year will start with my next oral surgery but I might as well get it over with. We want to do a family camping trip. I have no set plans to travel but I have dreams so I'll try to make something a reality.

I don't always have a lot of optimism for the future, but it seems like maybe I should try as the new year begins. Who knows what can happen. I don't make new year's resolutions but I can resolve to have faith and hope that I will be able to deal with the bad and that there are good things to come.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best Books of 2017

Another year is winding down and I think I’ve read a lot of good books.

This year’s count is 120.  I think 4 can be considered “classics” and 2 were non-fiction. I did branch out in the horror (or maybe horror-lite would be a better term) genre this year with good results. Most of the rest of them were mystery and romance or combination of both with a few fantasy, SFR, and YA thrown in the mix. I did a bunch of re-reading this year (not counted in my book count), although I don’t know if it’s more than normal. I do know there are a handful of books that I kept going back to time and time again because they were comforting to me.

In no particular order here are my favorites:
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me – Mariana Zapata
This is a slow burn romance that gave me a huge book hangover. It’s not perfect, and could use a tiny bit more editing but I have re-read this so many times in the past 2 months, it’s not even funny. For whatever reason it has just appealed to me on so many levels.
Alex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett
Aaaahhhhhh…. This was just a charming YA romance based off of You’ve Got Mail (which is based off of The Shop Around the Corner which I prefer over the remake but I love old movies and that’s a topic for another day). If The Cave museum existed in California, it would be on my list to see ASAP.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir – R. A. Dick
Another charming book I read in one shot. This was just a great feel good book. I had recently seen the movie and loved the cover of this book, so I bought it. It was totally worth it.
White Hot – Ilona Andrews          
White Hot and Wildfire both came out this year and I loved them both, but White Hot is my favorite of the trilogy. Barely. I will be re-reading all three of these books many, many times. I still wish the covers weren’t so awful or I’d own them in paperback also. I still might, one day.
A Town Like Alice – Neville Shute
I can’t remember where I heard about this but I had a feeling it would be good, and it was. I loved both Jean and Joe so much. Jean doesn’t let anything stop her and Joe crosses half the world to find the woman he only met once but knew he wanted to be with.
The Firebird – Susanna Kearsley
I read The Firebird and The Winter Sea this year and both were excellent. I think this barely edges out as my favorite because of Robbie, who is a character in my favorite Kearsley book, and this one brings both stories to a good close.
The Bird and the Sword and Making Faces  – Amy Harmon
Amy Harmon is a new to me author and she ended up with 2 books on my list. A romantic fantasy or contemporary romance, respectively, both are excellent for whatever mood I’m in.  
Money Burns – A. E. Maxwell
One of my favorite books in a series I just loved. Crime and a little romance combined with a big nostalgia factor. I was hooked.
The Bookshop on the Corner – Jenny Colgan
One of my first 5-star reads of the year. It’s got 2 things I love: books and Scotland, so the book was easy to love.

Thick as Thieves – Megan Whalen Turner

Oh man, this was a great road trip and bromance book. Costis really shined in this book. He really is a good soldier but he’s also so darn nice you just can’t help but love him. Well, I couldn’t anyway.

A Conjuring of Light – V.E. Schwab
This book killed me, in a good way. I still want more.
Speak Easy, Speak Love – McKelle George             
My favorite cover of the year. This is a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing set in a 1920’s speakeasy. Yeah, that’s all it took to get me to read it and it was perfect.
The Alice Network – Kate Quinn 
This book worked its way in at the end of the year. I was totally hooked on this dual timeline novel about a spy in WWI.

Some runners up or just excellent books I discovered this year are:
Slade House – David Mitchell
A “not my kind of book” that turned out to be exactly my kind of book.
White Lies – Linda Howard
I read a bunch of LH’s backlist this year and they are dated and have turned into a kind of guilty pleasure. This one turned out to be an eye-rolling ultimate comfort read.
The Kraken King – Meljean Brook
This one was just tons of fun to read and escape for a while. Too bad the rest of the series doesn’t appeal to me.
Cainsville Series – Kelley Armstrong
The love triangle in this one frustrated me so badly, but I devoured this series and now that it’s over and the dust has settled, I may actually buy a few of them to keep. Just not the third one.
Murder on Black Swan Lane – Andrea Penrose
This was a great historical mystery. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas a day late.
Had fun on Christmas eve with my mom and sis. We kept with family tradition and did a puzzle. Don't tell anyone we quit before it was quite finished. We got tired of the hard part. Lol too bad dad wasn't there to finish it for us. We spent the night at mom's which means we were up early because she doesn't know how to sleep in. Ha ha it's really not a big deal.  We also got snow so it really felt like Christmas. The rest of the family came over and we made homemade Chinese food for lunch and then unwrapped presents. The kids are so much fun. It was a good holiday.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tis the Season

Christmas hasn’t exactly felt like Christmas the past couple years, between my parents selling their house and moving somewhere smaller and my dad dying. Change is inevitable so I’m not saying Christmas isn’t a good time, it’s just been different. In my opinion one reason (besides the 2 I’ve already mentioned) has been that my mom gave the piano to my sister when they moved and Christmas had always been filled with music on the piano. Not great music, mind you because we are not the greatest pianists, but music all the same. Over Thanksgiving I asked my sister if her old keyboard could travel and we set it up at mom’s house. It was fun. Not only did we get to play our Sleigh Ride duet, the kids had a blast playing around with the sounds and dancing around. My niece made her bring it back last night to family dinner and we played it again. Livi is learning the piano and we’ve been practicing a duet. It’s kind of amazing what music can do to the human spirit, not only at Christmas time but all times.

We had our first snow of the season in the valley last night and I got up early for spin class. It was so beautiful this morning. It was still dark with just the street lights and porch lights and most of the snow hadn’t been driven in. It was totally worth getting up for, even if I hadn’t been headed to the gym. I’m still loving spin. I think I’m slowly adjusting to the seat. My butt still gets sore but seems to be getting over it a little quicker than before. Good thing, because I’m not ready to quit at all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What Was I Thinking?!

Well, I did the unthinkable. Seriously. Never in my life did I think I would do this. I joined a gym. Before last week I would have told you the only type of exercise I do in public is walking, and even then I prefer to walk on the parkway or in less busy neighborhoods where I won't see people I might know.Weird, I know.

When I changed my house around this year and made myself a library, I got rid of my treadmill. I did use it, but there just wasn't any room for it. I kept my stationary bike, but I think I'm going to get rid of it very soon. My friend talked me into trying a spin class. She has been going with another friend off and on for a while now so last Friday I went to class with her. And I realized I can go to a 5:30 spin class and still make it home to be ready to leave on time for work. So Monday after I went to class with her again, I joined the gym. I'M NOT EVEN WORKING THIS WEEK AND I GOT UP TWICE TO GO TO A 5:30 AM SPIN CLASS! What in the world am I thinking? I'm not going to lie. It was really hard to get up this morning. I had a dream I had overslept and didn't make it and when my alarm went off, I was a little disappointed. LOL

Anyway, I'll see what happens. I'm not going to say I love spin class, but I kind of do. If my tailbone will ever get used to the seat, I might be able to do this. I can't say I'm any good at all and there's no way I can get to the speeds most of the class does, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that I kept pedaling even when I wanted to stop.

This morning I've got a company coming to clean my vents out and then I'm enjoying my week off. I probably need to go buy some more workout clothes if I'm going to be sweating in public.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Then and Now

I was listening to a podcast the other day about packing for traveling and these guys were giving their expert tips. I had to laugh out loud when the very first tip was to pack what you need and don't pack anything "just in case".  I used to be such a "just in case" packer. Seriously, it was bad. As proof, I found 2 pictures:

Picture #1 is from my very first foreign trip with my sister. We went to Hong Kong and Singapore for probably 11 or 12 days and we both took 2 suitcases. To this day, we can't remember what we packed in them and why we each needed 2. Rookie mistake for sure.

Picture #2 is from our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Everything was in my 33L day pack or the sling and that trip also lasted about 12 days. And yes, the Pringles are a necessity when traveling. Ha ha

I don’t always take the backpack; this year’s Scotland trip was done with a carryon size, but I am now down to 1 carryon or backpack and 1 small backpack or purse.  Some of it is because of a lot of work travel a few years ago and you learn real fast to pack light when you are stuck with luggage for hours at a time. The rest of it comes from more world travel where I’ve learned from experience that dragging a suitcase (even a small one) across cobblestone or uneven bricks is just not fun at all. I’m seriously considering the backpacks that are made specifically for travel and don’t have straps and are not top loading for wherever my next trip is. Anyway, it’s a funny memory and I’ve come a long way.