Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Home Improvement

So earlier this year I decided 2017 was definitely the year to begin some home improvements. I decided to start downstairs and do one level at a time. The first thing to change was the carpet. I don't know who decided putting carpet in a dining room was a good idea, but I've hated it since I moved in.


The carpet was nasty and had a stain spot I couldn't get out and it only ever looked good right after it was vacuumed. I've been wanting to get rid of it for awhile now.


I'm very happy how it turned out. It's not quite that warm of a color depending on the light in the room so I'm rethinking the paint color I was going to go with.  Next up will be painting, then I can move my furniture back in. Of course, now I'm rethinking some of the wall d├ęcor and trying to decide what kind of area rug to get, but those are fun decisions.  The kitchen is fine as is for now so I'm leaving it alone.

Now that the floor is in, I keep looking at the upstairs and thinking how awful that carpet looks. I have lots of ideas but can't make up my mind about a few things so I think I may still wait until next year to start the upstairs but it will probably be early next year. The inconvenience of basically moving out for a couple weeks is starting to sound doable. Especially if I'm as happy with the results as I am right now.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

People may think I'm a Scrooge (can I be a Scrooge in the summer?) but there are 2 things I really dislike about July 4th: fireworks and that cheesy "proud to be an American" song. Not so much the big fireworks shows put on by the cities, but the ones you can buy that people set off for hours at night. Just when I think they are done another big boom goes off. I know, I'm no fun... but I have to work in the morning. :)

And as my bishop said on Sunday, a better phrase might be I'm humbly grateful to be an American. And I am. I'm grateful for those who serve in all the branches of the military, now and in the past. I'm grateful for the good people who are the foundation of this nation. There is so much bad news and bad things people do but this nation is more than the bad news and the person who happens to live in the White House. It's the families and good people like my neighbors who are truly just trying to live a good life and stand for the right, even if it's in small ways.

My mom and I saw 1776 at the Centerpointe Legacy Theater last week. I've always liked it, even if it is a bit cheesy. I'm grateful for the people that founded this nation, imperfect as they were.

Anyway, I'm humbly grateful to live in this country and have the blessings and privileges that I have. To celebrate I slept in (I was tired after those darn fireworks last night). Later, my mom, and sister,  and I are going to see Wonder Woman at the movie theater. I kind of feel that's a pretty patriotic thing to do...ha ha. Then I'm staying indoors the rest of the evening. It's supposed to be 100 degrees today and I don't want to be outside at all. I'll try not to swear too bad at the people lighting off fireworks tonight.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Night Out

Last night I got to do something fun. At least I think it was fun. My sister and I went to the Salt Lake City Public Library to hear Mary Roach talk about her books and then got a couple signed.

Mary Roach is one of the few (maybe only) non-fiction writers I'm always watching for new books. If the topic is bordering on weird, unusual, or just plain disgusting Mary Roach might write about it. She's just as funny in person as she is in her books and I loved hearing some of her experiences and where some of her ideas come from. Ha ha... this is my idea of a good time and I'm so glad I heard about this and was able to go.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fiddler & Fiora Mystery Series

This year I have glommed my way through the Fiddler and Fiora mysteries by A.E. Maxwell.  The whole series just really appealed to me and I’m trying to articulate why. I found them through a podcast that included an interview with Elizabeth Lowell (one half of the A.E. Maxwell duo). They’ve been reissued digitally and after reading the first one, I quickly bought the remaining 7 books in the series.    
The first book was written in 1985 and it feels like the 80’s. They have to stop and find pay phones to make phone calls, shoulder pads are mentioned, and things that I learned in history class or had to look up online because I didn’t know about are current events.  Computer technology is simple, and reports come printed out on reams of paper.  The final book was written in 1993 so the technology does get better, but it’s still such a difference from today.
Fiddler is a guy who likes to meddle and help the underdog and can do so because his ex-wife Fiora, who is a finance genius, invested his money and made him rich. He doesn’t have to work. The two of them have an on again off again relationship at the beginning of the series. As it progresses, they start to deal with some of their issues and end up as partners.  These books are filled with all kinds of details and facts that I find a little bit unnecessary, but worked to create a certain atmosphere. Fiddler is the street smart, tough P.I. who keeps up on current events so the details didn’t seem out of place. At first, I didn’t like Fiora quite as much because I kept getting told she was the brains, but didn’t really get to see it in action as often. Even though she’s supposed to be Fiddler’s equal she came off more like his arm candy a few times. As the series progresses this does change and she even calls Fiddler out on a few things that I’m glad he didn’t just get away with (especially in regards to their relationship). The later books in the series where they truly became partners are definitely my favorite.
Anyway, I have loved reading this series. It will probably be on my top books list later this year. It’s really put me in the mood for 80’s television shows. I own a few seasons of Remington Steele so I should dig the DVDs out. I kind of wish Magnum P.I. or The A Team would come back to Netflix. I guess I’ve still got MacGyver. LOL

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer is Here

Ok - I know I'm not supposed to complain, but it's HOT. We seemed to have skipped the days with 70-80 degree temps and went right to the high 90's.

I need to find my mom a fun sprinkler attachment. Yesterday at family dinner, I took the kids outside and we used mom's old Tupperware bowls (the large size) to put water in. I thought putting our feet in would feel nice but the kids decided to sit in them. It was pretty funny to watch. Silly kids. They had fun though and we all got wet enough that it felt good. Ok - so summer is not all bad. I'm looking forward to a few things we have planned...and there's always air conditioning or the freezer section of the grocery store.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Scotland, Part V

And finally, the drive back to Edinburgh from Skye. We made a few stops on the way back.

First stop was Glenfinnan Viaduct.  The Jacobite monument is across the road. It's a memorial to those who followed Bonnie Prince Charlie in "the forty-five".

We even stayed to see a train go by. It wasn't the steam train, unfortunately, but still fun.

After that, we drove through  Fort William and over to Glen Coe for a quick stop. The drive back was absolutely gorgeous and as we passed through to top of The Trossachs, we realized that's probably where we should have spent more time.

As we neared Edinburgh, we realized we had time to stop by Stirling Castle so we did a quick tour there.

And from there we made a quick stop at The Kelpies, which was on mine and Amy's lists as something we had to see. I don't really know why because I've never even been near a horse before so it's not like I'm a fan of them. Still we stopped and got some pictures.

By the time we were done with that, we were so ready to be out of the car and I was very ready to go home. We dropped off the car, took a cab to our hotel and repacked our bags. The next morning we got up and got to the airport for the long trip home.

This was a good trip. Scotland is truly a beautiful country and I love the history and pretty much everything about it, except the driving. I'd go back.  And now, I'm wanting to read books set there. :)

Scotland, Part IV

I'm mixing up our days on Skye but no matter.

We hiked to the Old Man of Storr and then drove to and hiked around The Quiraing.

You actually see the Old Man better far away or right close up.

Before The Quiraing is the stop for Kilt Rock.

The Quiraing

Single track road with "passing place"

We also made a stop at Dunvegan Castle. It was another one we really enjoyed with beautiful gardens. This was the first time it rained on us the whole trip...and of course my rain jacket was back in my room.

After Dunvegan, we hiked up to the fairy pools. It was still cloudy and raining so we didn't get great pictures, and really, could only see a glimpse of why these are called the fairy pools (a little hint of color in the water) but it was still a nice hike.

And finally the morning before the flight home we woke up on Skye and had to drive back to Edinburgh. We took the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. It's not a long ferry ride, but was a great way to get off the island...and about a 2 minute drive from our lodging. LOL - I got nervous because we didn't have a reservation for the ferry so I wanted to leave early...but then mom was up super early and hustling us so we were there before the place even opened.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Scotland, Part III

After Inverness, we drove to Skye. It's probably what I was looking forward to the most. I've wanted to go there ever since I read a book that took place there.

Getting back in the car felt much better the second day we drove. It was a very nice drive down the Loch Ness. We stopped at Urquhart Castle and also at Eilean Donan Castle and enjoyed both of them. It was cloudy that day but didn't rain on us.

Urquhart Castle ruins and the Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle grounds and the Loch Ness
Eilean Donan Castle

And since we were too early to check into our accommodations, we drove straight to Portree when we got to Skye. Portree has the brightly painted harbor and is probably the biggest city and the hub most people use but we didn't stay there and I'm kind of glad.

Portree harbor

They call this bay "The Lovely Muck"

We stayed on the grounds of Armadale Castle in a guesthouse. It was a lovely place to stay. The only downside being that it is located in Skye's southern peninsula and most of the isle's attractions are on the northern one. If you don't mind driving, it's great. The distance is not really that far, it's just that the small, twisty roads and a lot of single track make it take a little longer to get to.

Entrance to the guest house: Castleton Suite

Amadale Castle ruins

Armadale Castle ruins: a glimpse inside

Armadale Castle ruins

castle grounds were beautiful
I'm not really one to get excited about royalty but I do love the castles, especially the ruined ones and the glimpses it gives you of history. Being surrounded by Scottish history and the Stewarts and the Jacobites for a few days was really kind of fun for me.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Scotland, Part II

The next part of the trip, we drove north up to Inverness.

First stop was Scone Palace in Scone. It's the crowing place of Scottish kings. And it has a hedge maze so now my life is kind of complete because I can say I've been in a hedge maze. The maze will be a little bit better in a few weeks when the leaves are actually blooming, but I'm not complaining.

Scone Palace

Hedge maze with fountain at the center

And of course there is the Stone of Scone, which is a replica, the original being kept at Westminster Abbey, according to the sign.

So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.

---from Macbeth

Stone of Scone (replica)

After Scone, we continued north and this is where we made our mistake. We did not take the A9 (the main road) and instead decided to go through the middle of the Cairngorms National Park. We wanted scenery. This was our first day in the car. My sister was driving and we were all a bit stressed with the very small roads, weird passing/parking rules and it wasn't a really nice ride for us. Then to top it off, the Cairngorms are just finishing with winter and were brown, brown, brown. I live in Utah so I know about brown mountains and I think they have their own beauty. But... not the best scenery we've ever seen, which is too bad because pictures online are really nice. Yeah, we just came a few weeks too early for some things.  And I didn't take any pictures of that part of the trip.

We finally made it to Inverness and decided we were not getting back in the car until the next leg of our journey. So basically, we had a full day in Inverness that we had planned to go to Culloden or Fort George and just didn't. We wandered around the city and took it easy. It is a beautiful city but one day is plenty of time there if you don't actually get out to see other things.

Inverness Castle - still used today as a court house

Forget which church this is

The river is lovely

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scotland, Part I

I'm back from my trip to Scotland. Overall, I have to say I loved the country and the people were very nice, those that I interacted with, at least.

View of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street gardens
This trip it was me, and my mom, and my sister. We had a good time together. The only times we really argued/got mad/yelled/anything not happy happened when we were in the car. Driving together on foreign roads and on the "wrong" side of both the car and the road did make for some interesting times.

We flew in and out of Edinburgh. It was a fun city to visit. My favorite things we did in Edinburgh would have to be:
1. Mary King's Close tour
2. Botanical garden
3. Holyrood Park/Salisbury Crags/Arthur's Seat

I don't have any pictures of Mary King's Close because they weren't allowed. A "close" is a small street/alleyway. Edinburgh is built on a hills and sometimes they built over other buildings. Mary King's close is basically a street that is now underground because it has been built over. I love underground things so this was definitely something I enjoyed.

The botanical garden was just a nice walk away from traffic and people. I love gardens and flowers so this is another thing that appealed to me. I loved the Glass House and all the different varieties of plants and flowers they kept there.

No idea what this is but very cool

Glass House

We hiked up the middle of Holyrood Park and went to the Salisbury Crags part. I did not go all the way up to Arthur's Seat but my sister did. The gorse is in bloom and it was a very nice hike, although very windy at the top. 

View from Holyrood Palace: Arthur's Seat is peak on left

Arthur's Seat and the gorse in bloom

Salisbury Crags
The weather was fantastic for us. It was a little chilly on a few days, but it didn't rain on us until the very last days.  We spent about 4 days here and then picked up our rental car and headed north.

I love the rooftops: reminds me of Mary Poppins

Greyfriar's Bobby on Candlemaker Row

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend

My Easter weekend was fantastic.
Friday night I got to babysit my 1 year old nephew. He’s so adorable!  We went for a walk…and then had to go for another walk because he climbed back in his stroller. Then we played with toys and I managed to get him to go to sleep right before his parents came home.  
Saturday I slept in and then the family spent the morning at my mom’s house.  The kids decorated eggs and we had a barbeque. We do the candy, eggs, Easter bunny part of Easter on Saturday. Then I went to my sister’s house with my mom. Anna bought a bunch of pea gravel (?) or whatever it’s called to put around her raised garden beds and my mom and I helped her. Then on the way home mom and I went to the drive in at Maddox for dinner. I love their turkey burgers. It’s been a long time since I had one.  I haven’t done yard work in a while now. I can’t say I really miss it.  
Then on Sunday I went to church. I had signed up to volunteer to sit with the primary kids once in a while so their teacher can make it to Relief Society for a break and yesterday my turn came around. So I went to Primary and sat with the kids during sharing time and singing time. It’s been awhile and I forget how disruptive some of the kids can be. But I also felt the spirit so strong singing those primary songs. It was a good way to celebrate Easter. 
After church I cooked. A lot. Ok – maybe not that much because I used my Instant Pot which made it easy.  I was tired of cooking by the time I was done, though. Now I don’t have to cook anything for a couple weeks. I’ll just have to add some fruits and vegetables to a few things I have frozen.  I had ripe bananas so I tried baked oatmeal that I can freeze for breakfast. It was ok. Not sure that I love the recipe I used but I would be willing to try another baked oatmeal recipe when I’m finished with these.
Anyway, it was busy but nice and relaxing at the same time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Little Different Tuesday Night

Last night I did something a little out of the ordinary. A lady that I’ve worked with for years (in fact I applied for and got her job when she transferred to another division 14 years ago) is leaving the company. Some of her coworkers contacted me to see if I wanted to attend a little get together for her.

So yesterday after work, a coworker and I drove to Riverside, UT which I consider to be on the way to the middle of nowhere.  I’m sure the people who live there would disagree, or maybe agree with me and be happy they have very few neighbors.  Anyway, the lady who hosted is very nice and welcoming and had made A TON of food plus her husband cooked Dutch oven potatoes that were heavenly. There weren’t too many of us so we sat around the big kitchen table like old friends and ate and told stories about work and life and we laughed so hard I was crying a few times. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time. We had only been planning to stay a little bit but ended up there until almost 8:00 pm. It was truly an enjoyable night and I had a lot of fun. I wish my friend all the best in her new endeavors.

All too often I opt out of social situations. Sometimes in my want for solitude, I don’t realize that I also need people. I do get out with friends and family but should make sure I do it in balance with my “want to be alone” self also. And, as I was reminded of last night, sometimes getting out with almost strangers can be a lot of fun also.  LOL – I just don’t want to do it too often.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Favorite Books in a Series

I just finished a book by one of my favorite authors in a series that I really love. It got me thinking about my favorite series and wondering if I could rank a top 10 list.
I think I can.
The order gets a little murky the farther down I go, but these are favorites from childhood up to now.  To be on the list I have to own every book in the series (or so far if they are still being written) and they have to have the same (or mostly the same) characters.
1. The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
3. Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs
4. Vicky Bliss by Elizabeth Peters
5. The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
6. The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman
7. Lady Julia by Deanna Raybourn
8. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
9. Arcadia Bell by Jenn Bennett
10. Egypt Trilogy by Linda Lee Chaikin
Ok - I tried, but depending on the day the order can really change except for maybe the top 5, so here are the next 10:

11. Mag Force 7 by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin
12. Sword Dancer by Jennifer Roberson
13. October Daye by Seanan Mcguire
14. Every Trilogy by Ellie Marney
15. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
16. The Others by Anne Bishop
17. Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
18. Art Lover's Mysteries by Hailey Lind
19. Dragonlance: Legends by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
20. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Ha ha... I'll stop there. There are a few others that I could list or swap but this is good for today.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How is it March Already?

This year I bought the kids tickets to Disney on Ice for their birthday present. The ones old enough to go, at least. We went on Saturday. The kids had fun so I guess it was worth it. As an adult I would have liked to see more figure skating type of skating but that’s just me. Then yesterday after family dinner we played outside with bubbles. It feels so good to have Spring coming. It’s supposed to be a beautiful week here.
I tried to catch up on the news this morning and then after the first depressing story, I decided I’d had enough.  Some days I just can’t do it.
I’m not the savviest social media person by any means. I use Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, in that order. Goodreads is definitely the place I waste the most time. What can I say, when I’m not reading books, I’m reading about books. I save recipes on Pinterest but other than that, I don’t spend a lot of time there anymore. Instagram is fun but I don’t use it all that often. I’ve tweeted exactly 10 things in the 3 years I’ve had my Twitter account.  I get on FB when I get notifications, mostly to get rid of them. I’ve been cutting way down on social media.  I’m happier when I’m not constantly inundated with bad news and crazy goings on.  I like seeing family fun times and good things about people but any more, I feel like I have to wade through a bunch of junk to see that. So I just don’t and I don’t miss it.  Like everything in life, I suppose balance is key.  
So lots of family time this weekend and it was great. It’s definitely where I’d rather be spending my time. We have ideas of some things we want to do together this spring and summer and I’m looking forward to it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It's February And That Means...

It’s birthday shopping month! My favorite time of year. :) Just kidding. But I do believe that I can celebrate how I want and I have to take care of myself since nobody else will.  

This year I’ve decided to start a new tradition, or I should say add to my tradition, and I’m going to be making some donations to a few organizations that help immigrants and refugees.  I’m still thinking about where to put my time, but while I’m deciding that, I can do this now. I’ve got a couple organizations I’m looking into and I feel good about my decision.  I regularly donate to a few other places plus my church humanitarian fund, but I think making this a tradition for my birthday will be a good thing. I have so much and others have so little, I really should have been doing this long ago, but at least I’m doing it now.

Since I just finished a big clean out of my house, I’m trying not to go overboard for shopping month.  There is a bottle of perfume I want. I need a new pair of walking shoes and I have a few books to buy. All right, who am I kidding; it’s a stack of books. But I’ve culled it down. Truly, I have. And some of them I’m going to go buy at local bookstores. By local, I mean in the same state as I live in. It’s so sad I don’t have a good bookstore in my city. Although probably much safer for my budget.  

Anyway, that’s the plan. Faith and action, tears and laughter, finding happiness and good in spite of all the sadness and anger I also feel.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

What To Do

The news this morning made me cry. I don’t watch or read news on the weekends because I need time away from all the bad stuff so this morning was a bit of a shocker. It’s like a crazy sci-fi or dystopian book except this is real life.  Sometimes I feel like I’ll wake up and it’s all been a bad dream, but I know it’s not.  He’s been in office barely over a week and look at the mess we’re in. I refuse to call him President. He doesn’t deserve my respect.

I’m a white, middle class, religious, and fairly conservative female and there are a lot of things that don’t personally affect me when things happen in politics. I’m also not that interested in politics. I vote and try to be aware of some of the things going on, but that’s usually the extent of it. I’ve already mentioned that I didn’t vote for him. My philosophy after the election has been to wait and see because there wasn’t much anyone could be doing it seemed, until after the inauguration. Now, I vehemently disagree with what that man is doing and I’m alternating between anger and anxiety about the future.

My typical reaction is to buckle down and wait it out but I don’t think I can do that this time so I’m struggling to figure out what to do. I mean I have to work and do all the things of life but I also need to find a way to stand up for what’s right. It might take me a little time, but it’s something I’m going to work on. Ha ha… this may make some kind of political activist out of me yet.

I read this thing on twitter that said something like if we must fight we must also sing (sorry, I don't know who said it). So I will keep buying books and going to the theater and take my niece ice skating and play playdoh with my nephew and all the things that I am blessed to be able to do. While I’m trying to figure out how to do my part for the here and now, I keep coming back to a recent Sunday school lesson where we talked about how God knows all things before they happen.  While the next 4 years may send the U.S. back to the dark ages politically, this is a tiny bit of time and not even a power hungry president can knock off track the things God has already planned out.  It does help, a little bit. Faith combined with action may be what gets me through it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just Some Stuff

Well, the winter blues have kicked in.  It’s snowing today which actually makes me happy. If it’s going to look gloomy, then we should at least be getting weather to go with it.
I did get released from being RS president on the 8th and then spent the entire rest of the week doing absolutely nothing useful. It felt kind of nice. This week I’ve been having fun, mostly at the theater. I have barely been home at all, which means this weekend will be laundry and cleaning and that’s ok too.
I’m one of the bazillion people who bought an Instant Pot during Amazon’s black Friday sales and I’ve been having fun with soup recipes. I’d like some accessories for it, but I’m also on a spending freeze right now (just because I can) and so those types of things will wait for February when birthday shopping month commences.

So yeah, life is ok in spite of the winter blues. One bright spot for sure is that Aunt Jenny (my Christmas cactus) is blooming. I took this picture over a week ago and now that bloom is finished but 2 others are out. And this makes me really happy.