Sunday, December 30, 2012

Books Read in 2012

I finished my last book of 2012 today. All in all, it's been a good year for reading. In order of the date I read them, I think my top 10 books read would be the following:

  Miserere:An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock
  Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  Master of Crows by Grace Draven
  Easy by Tammara Webber
  Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
  84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Looking back at the books I read, it actually does become hard to narrow it down. Mostly, I think about how I felt when I read the book and if the feeling has stayed with me, and then also if I've re-read the book or certain parts more than once.
I read 79 books this year. A few of those are short stories or novellas but I count them since I don't count re-reads or books I didn't finish, some of which I got quite far before quitting.

For 2013 I've set myself a challenge to branch out a little bit more. This will be the year I finally read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I adore the movie and the book has been sitting on my shelf for ages. I think it's time to dust it off. I received the book Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol for Christmas from my Russian sister-in-law so I'm going to give that one a try. And then I'm going to read another non-fiction book, although I'm not sure what that will be right now. It's periodically fun to throw them in the mix, although I very much prefer fiction. As for the rest, I have a large collection of books waiting to be read and a big list of books to borrow from the library. It will be another good year for reading, I think.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hope

I’ve avoided much of the news this past week. It hurts so much to watch people I don’t know suffering. Then I think about all the people the media isn’t centered on that suffer for unknown reasons. And that hurts too.  

I can’t begin to know what other people may be feeling but I know that as I have been hurting, I have been praying and I have had an increase of hope and I pray that other people can find hope if they aren’t feeling it now.  
I can’t help but think of the Christmas carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem:
And in despair I bowed my head; 
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall Fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t really have any answers. But I know who does and that is enough for me.
This is a busy time of year for me and I don’t get much time off work, but I am looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, especially my nieces and nephews.
 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fog & Pho

I woke up to a foggy morning. I love fog. There’s something so deliciously creepy about it. It really puts me in the mood to read some kind of gothic mystery, or something slightly spooky, or anything by Deanna Raybourn.







I’ve gotten over most of my Christmas funk. My sister and I braved the crowds last Saturday and had a great time shopping and then stopped by the Green Papaya for some pho. I love that stuff.
 
 
I’m still not putting up a tree, but I am quite happy to be able to spend Christmas with my family. I’m still wishing for snow, but the fog will do for now.
 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Scrooge

I might be feeling a little like Scrooge. Before his visitations, of course.  I had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday but I just can't seem to work up any enthusiasm for Christmas.

I have no desire to put up my tree and the thought of digging the Christmas decorations out of my closet makes me want to...well, I can't think of what it makes me want to do. I just know I don't want to do it!  I did get out my wreath (I store it in a different closet) and my nativity because it was in easy reach. That may be it for decorating this Christmas.

I have been automatically turning the channel when Christmas music comes on the radio. But I really prefer some of the older, traditional carols to the pop versions of whatever is on the radio.

I've bought most of my Christmas gifts online this year so I don't have to go to the stores.

LOL - I really have felt a little "bah-humbug" lately. Perhaps if we had some snow?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grateful

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is just around the corner. Time does fly by.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Any day where I get to eat and spend time with my family is fabulous, but it I especially love that day. We shouldn't need a holiday to remind us to be thankful, but I'm glad we have it.  I really love the song in White Christmas that says something about "when you can't sleep, don't count sheep, try counting your blessings..."

Of course I'm so very grateful for my family, my home, and that I have a good job. But there are so many other things. I'm just making this list on the fly so there are many more things I'm grateful for but here it is:

good neighbors, a car that works, my piano, 7 fabulous nieces and nephews, indoor plumbing, heat, electricity, my iPad, all of my wonderful friends and co-workers, my faith, my health, my trials, my bed, my down comforter in the winter, living close enough to family to see them often, books to read, good music to listen to, the beautiful fall weather...

Anyway, I could go on but I'll just say that I have been very blessed by my Heavenly Father and I'm very grateful for those blessings.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Another day gone

I wasted away the day by sleeping in and then spending some hours playing with my beautiful 5 month old niece, Katya. We went for a walk in the gorgeous fall weather and saw some llamas. Now I'm roasting pumpkin seeds and going to spend the evening at home, curled up with a book. In retrospect, the day really wasn't wasted after all.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grandma's rolls

For as long as I can remember, my mom has made my Grandma Walter's crescent rolls for special dinners like Thanksgiving, Christmas, big family dinners, my birthday, etc. They are my very favorite rolls. Mom always got up early (sometime between 5 and 6 am) to roll them out so they could rise and then be cooked before it was time to use the oven for other things. To this day, seeing them sitting on the table under the white dish towels as they rise makes me happy.

I always used to think they were hard to make or took a lot of time. I remember there have been times when my mom made the rolls for my aunt's Thanksgiving dinner. Then I decided one day to take the plunge and learn to make them myself.  Well, they are super easy to make, and require no kneading. I think they might seem a little labor intensive because the dough has to be refidgerated over night and then they have to be rolled out and have to have about 5 hours to rise. Of course, I plan it out so I don't have to get up early to roll them out, but even that takes only about 30 minutes.

Mom still makes them better than I do, but she has 30+ years of practice on me.  Even without all the practice, they are dang good!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Applesauce

I helped my mom and dad make applesauce the other weekend. Mom has 2 apple trees. Homegrown apples and then homemade applesauce are so good. It's kind of a messy job (or maybe it's just us) but it's worth it in the end.

I took my bottles home and immediately made a batch spiced applesauce bread with pecans and chocolate chips.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Books I love, part 2

Another series of books that I really love is the Death In…  series by M.M. Kaye.  M.M. Kaye was born in India and was a British army wife who spent a good part of her life in exotic foreign places where her husband was stationed. She wrote mysteries or “whodunits” in some of the places she had lived.  The book are Death in Cyprus, Death in Zanzibar, Death in Kashmir, Death in the Andamans, Death in Berlin and Death in Kenya.  Goodreads gives them an order but they don’t need to be read in any particular order since they don’t have any characters or places in common.  I tracked down hardcover copies of every one of them some years ago through online used book stores and re-read them every couple of years or whenever I need a pick-me-up.

These books are a prime example of why I read. I will never be a British army wife and definitely not get to visit war torn Berlin, or Kashmir, or Kenya’s Rift Valley of those days, but for a few hours when I’m reading these books, I can be transported to a life vastly different from mine.  While they are works of fiction, I can get a glimpse of what life might have been like for women traveling in the 1940’s and 50’s or following a husband’s army regiment. Some of the language is a little old, as are the slang phrases, and can take some getting used to. I can see why not everybody would love them, but I do and would highly recommend them to anybody who likes historical fiction or cozy mysteries.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Autumn is my favorite time of year

A few of my fall favorites: pumpkins, pomegranates, leaves changing colors, cool nights, warm afternoons, hot cocoa, backyard campfires, apples and making applesauce, baking, spiced cider, warm blankets, and candy making at Thanksgiving.

But maybe my very favorite thing is to watch how summer fades away and is replaced by glorious fall days as nature slowly prepares to go to sleep for the winter.

This is definitely my favorite time of year!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Books I love


I just finished a book in a series that is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites and it got me thinking about other series of books that I really love.  One of the very earliest series that I read was The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. I believe I was in 4th grade when my teacher, Mr. Jeppsen, read The Book of Three aloud to us. That book seriously changed my life.  I’ve always loved to read, but up to that time had read books like Ramona by Beverly Cleary, or the Childhood of Famous Americans series (I loved those books and read every single one my library had).  But.  The Book of Three opened up a new genre to me and introduced me to a world I had no idea existed. I was captivated. I loved Taran and how he wanted to be more than he thought he was. And then there were his friends, mentors, and trusty sidekicks: Elionwy, Gurgi, Fflewddur Fflam, Coll, Dallben, Doli, and Gwydion.  (ha ha… as a weird side note, I always thought that Gwydion should have married Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. J To my young mind, the 2 of them were made for each other, forget Prince Philip J. )
Anyway, I devoured the rest of the series and went on to love the fantasy genre and it wasn’t long before I was reading books by Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, just to name a few authors I read as  child/teenager.  I still have a soft spot for The Chronicles of Prydain. Its funny how, after all these years, Prydain is very much alive and as real to me as some of my own memories. Books are funny that way.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Waffle Cookies

It would be hard for me to choose my favorite cookie between chocolate chip and waffle cookies. Ha ha...warm chocolate chip cookies with milk are like food for the soul. But I do love me a waffle cookie, which are also best served warm with milk. :)

Our recipe comes from the 10th Ward Cook's Corner cookbook that my ward put together in 1981. We've made them in my family since I can remember. In high school, a friend and I ruined my mom's waffle iron by trying to cook chocolate chip cookies in it. Since then I've stayed with the tried and true and it really can't be beat.


Waffle Cookies
Melt 1 cube margarine and add:
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Mix all the ingredients together. Cook on pre-heated waffle iron on medium heat by dropping one spoonful of batter on each square. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Frost while warm. This recipe makes about 16-20 cookies, depending on how small they are. I usually double it when I make them.

Frosting:
powdered sugar
cocoa
vanilla
milk
butter or margarine

I don't have measurements because I just dump in the bowl and mix. It used to drive all of us crazy that my mom couldn't give us the actual measurements, but we must have learned well because now my sisters and I make frosting the way mom does. :)

A few notes:
Butter can be used instead of margarine, but the taste changes slightly, of course. I've also tried baking chocolate squares when I was out of cocoa and they make a rich chocolate flavor, but change the texture of the cookie slightly. And finally, I prefer homemade frosting instead of store bought kinds. The frosting melts a bit because you put it on the warm cookie and store bought frosting seems to change a bit when it sets back up.

YUM!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Perfect moments

Do you ever have that perfect moment? The one where everything is peaceful and worries and stress disappear, and for that small moment in time you are perfectly happy.  I had one this summer and I was thinking about it the other day.  I was in Sweden at Anna’s summer home.  It was mid-morning and the sky was blue and the birds were out. The sun was shining and warm. The sea was close, although I couldn’t see it through the bushes and trees. I was lying on my back on the grass next to my sister and we were finding shapes in the clouds.
I cherish moments like those.
Sometimes I have perfect moments in the middle of noisy family gatherings, or snuggled in a blanket with hot chocolate watching the snow fall.
 
Whatever your perfect moment is, I hope you have one soon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fun weekend

I got to spend last weekend with a friend from Alabama. She stayed at my house and we spent Friday in Park City. Oddly enough, I had never been to the Olympic Park so we spent a little time there watching some people free-style ski into the pool. It was pretty fun. Then we walked over to the bobsled course and watched a few bobsleds come down. Ha ha... I wish I was brave enough to try it.


Then we spent some time on Saturday morning in Logan canyon and hiked the Crimson Trail. I haven't hiked that trail in a lot of years. It is so dry this year, but I still find the mountains beautiful in a rugged sort of way.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Vacation - Part 2

Denmark
I must admit that Copenhagen was a bit of a disappointment to me. After Stockholm, it just didn’t have the ease of getting around and was dirty. Not that I haven’t been in dirty cities before (and the US isn’t exactly clean) but there was seriously trash all over in Stroget one morning.  We did stay at a nice hotel near Nyhavn, which was very fun. If I’m ever there again, I will rent a bike to get around the city. They have fantastic bike lanes and of course I’d get a lot further than walking.
It was overcast and rained quite a bit in Copenhagen, and actually the entire trip. We were prepared and didn’t let the rain bother us most of the time.
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without seeing The Little Mermaid statue. We went just because you have to, right? There are better things to see in the city. J
Nyhavn is one of the most famous streets and packed with tourists, even on rainy days.
Frederiksberg Park was beautiful. I liked that area of the city the most, I think.


And my favorite part of Denmark was taking a train to Helsingor and seeing Kronborg Slot, aka Hamlet’s Castle, which it should be noted, has burned and been rebuilt a few times so even if Hamlet wasn’t a fictional character, he wouldn’t have lived in this particular castle. J It’s also unlikely that Shakespeare himself ever saw it. It rained like crazy and we were wet and tired but it was still fun to walk around. The casements were almost completely unlit and they let you run around in the dark. That would be a great place for Halloween. And it has a moat. Every castle should have a moat! J




Anyway, it was a great trip overall. I knocked 2 more spots off my list and now I’m happily at home sleeping in my own bed and full of possibilities for the next trip, where ever it may be.



Vacation - Part 1

Sweden
Sweden is a beautiful country and Stockholm was so easy to get around with the metro system and trams and buses they have. Flying in, the view from the airplane was a lot like flying to Charlotte, NC. I went to Stockholm because my sister decided to run the Jubilee Marathon, which is the 100th anniversary of when Stockholm hosted the summer Olympics in 1912. We had a great time seeing the city and the race was exciting.

Stockholm highlights for me: cheering on my sister at the race. I’m not a runner but being in the stands with a bunch of cheering people can be very fun. I’ll stick with the cheering and not the running. This race was especially fun because of all the different people from different countries there to run. And listening to the Olympic anthem as the runners entered the stadium is probably the closest I’ll ever get to an Olympic event. J
The canal tour around Djurgarden was nice. It was fun to get on the water. We just didn’t have time to get a ferry boat out to the archipelago but maybe someday we’ll get back there.

We also had a great time at the Vasa museum, where a 1628 era restored warship sits, and Skansen, which is an open air museum with houses from all era of Swedish history.



After we left Stockholm, we took the train to southern Sweden where we stayed with our old exchange student. They have a summer home on the Baltic Sea and it was so fun to be with Anna and her family and the countryside there is so beautiful.



Above is the home we stayed in and the path to the sea.  Below is a picture I took during a bike ride.





Monday, July 23, 2012

It pays to pack light

I had a great time with my sister in Sweden and Denmark. I’ll post more on the trip later.

My co-workers, random stranger in the airport, and even my Swedish friend were amazed that my sister and I can do a trip like that with just a carryon suitcase.
I used to be a huge over-packer. I make lists and I try to plan for every contingency. I refuse to get stuck somewhere without the things I need.  But I have learned over the past couple years to pack a little lighter. I spent most of 2010 and 2011 traveling for my job and nothing gets old faster than pulling around a suitcase, no matter how small it is. And over the years since I started traveling outside the USA for vacations, I have drastically cut down my packing.
The Sweden trip was the second one with a carryon and I’ll never go back to larger luggage if I can help it. Even this trip, I packed a thing or 2 that I didn’t use. I’m learning to make do with less. And when we ended up trekking across Copenhagen to catch a train at 4:40 AM because the metro broke down, I'm so glad I didn't have to drag a larger suitcase. Of course, now that I'm home, I'm so happy to be surrounded by my stuff and have more choices on clothes and makeup.
I’m currently reading a book about travelers backpacking through Guatemala and I must say I’m not sure I’ll ever get that adventurous. I think I’d be willing to try traveling with a backpack but I have a hard enough time living out of a suitcase, I’m not sure I could do a backpack. But who knows, maybe one day I’ll try it and never go back to a carryon. J

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th and Homemade Jam

I had a great 4th of July holiday. It included helping mom pull weeds in the garden and picking apricots. Then we made apricot-pineapple freezer jam. Yummy!

Making freezer jam is very easy. But in general, with my mom’s kitchen aid, it’s so much easier than when I was a kid and we had to crank that old Victoria strainer by hand.

We added the sugar to the apricot/pineapple mixture and then added the pectin.

Then we put it into containers to set up.

Now it’s in the freezer ready to be taken out and eaten.  I think I need to make some bread. There are not many things better than fresh, hot homemade bread with homemade jam. J

Monday, June 25, 2012

Waterfights and Popsicles

My family celebrated my nephew’s 8th birthday on Sunday with pizza and cake and ice cream. We have family dinner every other Sunday and I love it, but it’s especially fun during the summer when we can eat outside. This time after dinner we ended up having a huge water fight with the water balloons found in my parent’s garage. By we, I mean me and the kids (my nieces and nephews). The other adults didn’t want to get wet, although with the right incentive, grandma will be right in the middle of things.  But we had a blast anyway.  And at 98 degrees, it doesn’t take long to dry. Water fights and popsicles are some of the best things about summer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vacation is coming

My next vacation is coming up.  It will be my second trip to Europe in less than 12 months. The last trip was to Italy. This time I’m headed to Sweden and Denmark. I’m starting to get pretty excited. Although for this trip, I have probably planned fewer things to do and see than any of my other vacations abroad.  I’m not exactly sure why that is but I’m kind of looking forward to just letting things happen in between the planned adventures.  And if all else fails, I counted 63 unread books on my kindle and I never have a problem just camping out somewhere and reading.

It’s always fun to pack and get ready to go and the excitement really ramps up when it’s finally time to leave for the airport. But I think the moment I really know I’ve made it and not having some strange dream is when I finally get off the plane in a foreign country. It’s a very disorienting feeling. I’ve just been on an airplane for anywhere from 8-14 hours (and actually traveling for much longer) and I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus. I actually hate flying. Not because it’s scary or anything, but because I hate being shut up in that small space. I tolerate it because it’s the easiest and fastest way to get to the places I want to go. But I digress. The first things I notice when arriving in a foreign country are the smells, climate, and strange languages all around me. It’s noticeably different from home, even in an airport. When I finally leave the airport, the feeling is amplified.

I remember arriving in Hong Kong. We had just taken a train into the city from the airport and walked up the stairs to the street level from the subway.  The hot, humid air hit me and then I took a breath. Hong Kong has such a different smell and I will never forget it. It’s almost a mixture of old concrete buildings and cooking oil. I definitely knew I wasn’t in Kansas, er Utah, anymore. J It was the same way when I went to Spain.
It’s definitely a little overwhelming and bewildering getting into a foreign country.  But I wouldn’t trade the feeling for anything!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some favorite movies

I’m not really into modern “chick flicks” or even romantic comedies, although there are some I like, but I adore romantic period movies so I decided to make a list of my favorites.

1.      North and South (2004) – This movie has the best ending EVER! I seriously cried buckets (the good kind) the first time I saw the end of this movie. It has some great moments and I don’t see how anyone can not be affected watching John Thornton say “Look back at me.” After I saw this movie, Mr. Thornton became the number one gentleman for me, and it’s hard to top Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. It’s not all about Mr. Thornton though. Nicholas Higgins and Mrs. Thornton are excellent characters as well. And the contrast between the north and south and rich and poor is well done. As a plus, this movie has some really beautiful theme music. 
2.      Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) – Oh, Miss Pettigrew! This is such a feel good movie for me. One crazy day and a down on her luck governess has her life changed forever. I never tire of this movie. Francis McDormand does an awesome job as Miss Pettigrew.
3.      The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – Yes, I know they butchered the book here. I enjoyed the book but I think if you can forget about it and just pretend the characters share names and a few similarities, you can enjoy the movie. I think it’s fantastically entertaining and full of betrayal, loss, love, and redemption.  And I really like the happy ending.
4.      Persuasion (1995) – This one stars Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds (although I do like the 2007 version too). Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I love Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth and I like this adaptation of the novel. I like the way Anne has learned her own mind and tries to be a good daughter and friend but at the same time won’t give up her second chance for happiness. Ciarán Hinds may not be the most handsome man, but I think he’s a great actor and a great Captain Wentworth. And it contains what I think is one of the most romantic letters ever written.
5.     Pride and Prejudice (1995) – This was probably the first period movie I ever saw and loved. Until I saw North and South, Mr. Darcy was THE MAN. The scene where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth stare at each other across the room is classic. As is the wet shirt scene. J
6.     Cold Comfort Farm (1995) – I love the Starkadders. “There’ll be no butter in hell!” has got to be one of the best lines ever, but there are a bunch of great lines in this movie. A house full of eccentric and crazy people is my kind of house. There are some great performances in this one, especially Amos, Judith, and Seth, and I love watching Flora make them all neat and tidy.
Interestingly enough, all of these movies were based off books and I have read every one of them except for North and South. I own the book, so I need to get around to reading it one day soon.
Some runners up:
Wives and Daughters (1999) – subtract major points for no kiss at the end, but the rest is quite good.
Northanger Abbey (2007) – this seems to be JA’s least well liked book, but I liked it and think the movie is charming and one day I will read The Mysteries of Udolpho.
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998) – Drew Barrymore isn’t my favorite for Cinderella, but I do love that her character is strong and knows her own mind.
Twelfth Night (1996) – Helena Bonham Carter is great in anything she does and it’s easy to understand even with the Shakespeare.
The Princess Bride (1987) and Stardust (2007) – not sure if these last 2 are really period movies, but again they are both great romantic, happily ever after movies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lazy Weekend

We just passed Memorial Day weekend. I love 3 day weekends, but it’s still hard to get up to go back to work. I didn’t do a whole lot and it felt great. On Saturday I slept in then cleaned my house and read my book in turns.  Sunday and Monday I spent some time with my family, which I always like to do.

I took the time to purge my bookshelves on Sunday. I have one large 6 shelf and one small 3 shelf and they are overflowing. That’s even after I purged some books. Now, it’s just not as bad. I’m not usually a pack rat but I struggle getting rid of books. I won’t get rid of my favorite books, but I love to re-read and even books that I wouldn’t list as my favorites are still re-readable to me. Then there are books that I just want to keep because I loved them as a kid and I’ve taken the time to find copies of some I didn’t have.  And of course, there are books that I’ve picked up to read someday.  Sometimes I can get rid of a few of those because my tastes have changed or I realize I’m really never going to read them. But most of the time, I read the back cover and think “oh yeah, this sounds good” so even if I don’t want to read it now, I want to read it when that elusive someday comes.
Interestingly, I think that sometimes I just have to wait for the right time to come along. Case in point, this weekend I read Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews, who happens to be the author of one of my favorite series. I bought it the day it came out sometime last year and it’s been sitting on my shelf because even though I wanted to read it, I didn’t want to read it at that exact moment. Last week, I read Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares. I’ve had that book in my TBR pile for years (I even owned a copy but I purged it thinking I would never read it – then had to borrow it from the library) and finally the time came when I wanted to finish that series.
I think sometimes if I force myself to read a particular book at a particular time, I don’t enjoy it as much as I would have if I just let the right time come. I wonder if I’m just crazy or if other people do this?

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm an aunt again!

My sister-in-law had her baby yesterday. It’s hard to believe my little brother is a dad now.  I’m happy for them. I got to see baby Katya for a few minutes in the hospital after I ran an errand for them. She’s got a head of dark hair. It’s going to be so nice to have a baby in the family again since my next youngest niece is now 3.
I went to see The Man of La Mancha this weekend also. It was very good, but then I’ve never been to a bad performance at Pioneer Theater.  The only thing I actually knew about it before going to see it was that it is based on Don Quixote (a book I own but have never read) and I knew the song “The Impossible Dream”.  I thought it would be nice to see “The Impossible Dream” in the context of the play and while that was probably my favorite songs, there are some other songs I really enjoyed.  It was interesting that there was a story within a story being told and I liked that even though the reality for the characters in the story was quite bleak, there was a message of hope at the end.
I also had stake conference this weekend (busy weekend) and I was very inspired. While I do things with/for my family, friends, and church calling, being single with no children means most of my time is my own. And I like it. And I’m usually very happy with my life. But I can do better, be kinder, serve others more often, and try a little harder. After all, there is always room for improvement and I like feeling like I’m progressing and challenging myself to be a better person.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I passed!

Well, the day finally arrived when I had to go take the PHR exam. I have put a lot of effort into studying for it these past couple weeks. To the extent that I even stopped reading (except for exam materials) for days at a time. But it paid off.

I didn't sleep well last night and had a huge amount of test anxiety this morning as I got up and drove to the university where the testing center is. My stomach was seriously not happy. I kept trying to give myself pep talks and take deep breaths. :)

When I first started the exam, for a little bit I thought I was taking the wrong test. I really didn't know why they were asking those questions, and it wasn't really what I had studied for. I bet I was positive on the answer for about 1/3 the questions. The rest I had to elimiate answers to get to what I thought was the best one. I hate those kinds of questions.

After 2 and 1/2 hours I pushed the "end exam" button and waited for my score. It's only a preliminary score that just says Pass. So I have to wait a couple weeks for the official score and the certificate, but I don't see what can change. It was all on the computer and they score it to get the pass. At first I thought I was seeing things. I had to go into the restroom afterwards and I just started crying. :) Yes, I have been an emotional wreck today. So pretty soon I'll have a certificate showing that I am certified PHR (Professional of Human Resources) to hang in my office.

The rest of the day was wonderful! I shopped a bit and ate lunch with my sister and then on the drive home, I hit the emotional low and made it home for a cat nap. I was exhausted. Then I got up and went to Lowe's and bought a bunch of flowers and potting soil and planted flowers in all my pots. I always think I'm only going to get a couple pots full, but I always end up buying too many flowers. I ended up with flowers in 7 pots/planters of different shapes and sizes.

I can't wait to just sit outside in my lawn chair with my flowers and a good book!  :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Remembering Italy

The other day I looked through my pictures of Rome. That was such a great trip. I loved Rome and Florence. What is it about ancient ruins and old streets and fountains that get me so excited? Mostly I love seeing evidence of people that lived before now and everything they accomplished. I bet they really were not much different than we are now. Sure, technology and way of living has changed but I’m not sure people really do.
Some of my personal highlights from my trip to Italy:
*Walking the streets of Rome at night. I loved all the lights. I was there in November and it got dark early, but there was still plenty to see and many people out and about. The Coliseum and Trevi Fountain were probably my favorites lit up but it was all fun.



*Biking Via Appia Antica after a rainstorm was fantastic. The old stones in the road got really slippery but it was so worth it. It's one of the oldest Roman roads that everybody had to use to get to Rome. Just imagine who would have walked on it.


*Walking into the busy Palazzo Vecchio in Florence to see David II (after seeing the original at the Accademia). A guitarist was playing “The Prayer” and it was echoing through the plaza. It’s not my favorite song, but it does have a nice melody and for some reason it struck me as being exactly what I expected to hear in a piazza in Italy.

*Exploring the Mithraic temple under the Basilica de San Clemente and the catacombs of San Callisto. I love the spooky, underground stuff. Pictures were prohibited at both those places so I didn’t take any. Now I kind of wish I had anyway. J
*Coming upon the Spanish steps in the morning after another rainstorm when everything was just waking up. The Spanish steps were always packed every other time we passed by them, but that first day when we were passing them on the way to the Villa Borghese, they were empty and the only sound was the shops starting to set up to open for the day and a few tourists.
Good times. I can’t say Rome has been my favorite trip so far (it’s SO hard to compete with the Alhambra J ) but it’s definitely up there. And Italy is still on my list. One of these days I will get back there.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lazy Thursday

Yesterday on a whim I decided to go to the movies. I went to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I liked it. There really wasn't much to it. It's a movie about a rich sheik who wants to introduce fly fishing to Yemen, where it is not cold or wet (evidently 2 things salmon must have). It's interesting because not much really happens the whole movie. There's no grand adventure or action and it's not all that funny (although there are a few moments I laughed out loud). Yet I ended up leaving with a smile on my face.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring!

I love this time of year. If I had to choose a favorite season, I'd pick autumn. But what I really love is the change of seasons. How winter gently turns into spring, how the hot days of summer gradually turn to the cool nights of fall. My lilies are poking up out of the ground and my trees have buds on them. Everything is coming alive again. I'm excited to get my planters and pots out of hibernation and fill them with flowers. One day soon I'll take an afternoon off of work and just go sit in the sunshine.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just finished "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor

I'm playing around with the goodreads app and it's not working like I thought it would. This blogging thing is going to take some time to learn. :) So I copied from my goodreads review:

This book was SO good. I have no ideas where authors come up with some of this stuff, but I love it. This book follows Karou as she tries to figure out who she is while a battle between seraphs and chimaera is raging, unbeknownst to her. Karou lives in Prague, attending art school and running "errands" for Brimstone, the chimaera who raised her and her whole life is about to change.
The setting and characters are all fantastic. I loved reading about Brimstone, the other chimaera, and the doorways between the worlds. I was a little unsure when Akiva showed up. I hate insta-love and that's what it was looking like, but I was pleasantly surprised how everything turned out. I won't spoil it, but I'd recommend this book for anybody who loves a good fairy tale or fantasy.

I will definitely be reading the next book.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone review at Goodreads

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Liftoff!

I really have no idea what I am doing but a blog seemed to be the thing to do.  I'm supposed to be studying for my PHR exam and instead I'm setting up a blog. Starting tomorrow, I'm not allowed to get online until I've studied.

I'm a little freaked out about this exam and I probably shouldn't be, at least not yet. I've got 2 months. But I know it will fly by.  PHR stands for Professional in Human Resources. It's a certification that will allow me to put PHR behind my name. Why am I doing this? My boss forwarded an email about it to me and it was an impulse. I've got to start controlling my impulses. Actually, I wanted to take this exam after I got my bachelor's degree and then just never did. This time I'm doing it. It's paid for and scheduled. On May 8th around noon I will either be crying for joy or misery. I'm hoping with a lot of hard work, it will be joy.