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.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Phase 2 = Complete, Plus Rainbows

My house is done! New paint and carpet upstairs. I love it! I’ve got everything back where it belongs (excepting a few things I still need to sort through). The last step happened on Monday when I put all my books on their new shelves in my new library. It took all evening! I love my home and I’m blessed to have it.
This past year I’ve had some “down in the dumps” moments and lots of times where I didn’t want to try very much at anything. The past few months with my home changes I’ve noticed many of my little prayers have been answered. Some were silly little prayers that probably don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things but they mattered to me and my Heavenly Father answered them.
Then the shooting in Las Vegas happened and life just seems depressing again. I’m not trying to pass over any of the horrible stuff there, but this morning was so beautiful. I wish I was a photographer and could have caught it. It was cloudy and raining in spots, but the sun was also coming up over the mountains and it was hitting the clouds with all kinds of color and then there were rainbows. In fact, one of the rainbows was one of the brightest and most brilliant I’ve ever seen. My words could never do it justice or really describe what I saw. I just couldn’t help but think that in the midst of all the crap, there is also a lot of good and this just kind of seemed like a sign that God is still in charge.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Phase 2

The time has come to move all of the crap out of my upstairs. Yep, I'm getting new carpet! But what  pain. My brother is helping with the big furniture in a couple days. Last night I cleaned off all my bookshelves. You don't really know how many books you have until you move them all down a flight of stairs. I didn't want to box them up because then I'd have to find or buy boxes for just a couple weeks so I stacked them against my dining room wall.

As I was moving everything last night and looking at the stacks, some of those books have belonged to me since I was a kid and I'm quite attached to them. With all the devastation from hurricanes and fires closer to home, I feel so blessed to have my home and the things in it. I know I shouldn't get attached to them as much as I do, but it would hurt to loose my stuff. I know I truly can't imagine how it must feel to see your home burnt to the ground.

Anyway, I'm toying with the idea of cataloging my books just so I know what I've got. It may be a pain to keep up with. I'll have to decide. Maybe one of these days coming up in the winter. And I will probably purge some of them before I walk them back up the stairs. :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Farewell, Summer

Can August be over really quickly, please? I’m SO ready for September thru December. My favorite time of the year can’t come soon enough this year.  

I know it’s 90 degrees still, but I’m making soup. I had some oral surgery done a couple weeks ago and even though I can chew my food now, I still have the stitches in and have found that softer foods are still easier to deal with since I have to keep them away from the grafted area.  I’ve been eating a lot of potatoes and scrambled eggs and now I’m going to go soup and pasta dishes. Luckily a lot of fresh fruit is soft enough and peaches are coming in season. LOL – if it weren’t for the ice cream and brownies, I could have even lost some weight.
Anyway, it’s been a good summer but I am ready for fall.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Family Vacation

My mom rented a house on the beach again this year so the family went up for family vacation last week. I was a little worried at first because it wasn't going to be the same with dad gone and we had my brother's in-laws with us. And it wasn't the same, but it wasn't bad. I think we had fun.

On the way up we had a quick stop at Shoshone Falls - near Twin Falls, ID. I had never been there before. This is where my sister discovered that her 3 year old had taken his shoes out of his bag and he only had the pair of socks he was wearing.

We stayed in Lincoln City this time on a beach on the north end of the city. I loved the beach we were at, but I don't really like Lincoln City. I think there are better cities on the coast. The house we rented was fine. It fit all of us. I think they could have done a few quick repairs (like actually attaching the curtain rod to the wall) and it would be a nice place to stay.

I thought the weather was fantastic. We didn't get a lot of sun, but I love the mist and fog. Most days it burned off in the afternoon.

My favorite part was exploring the tide pools a short walk down the beach. It was a beautiful area with some caves and rocks and all kinds of marine life. I think the kids really had fun too.


Anyway, I got home late Saturday night (or technically early Sunday morning) and got to sleep in my own bed again. It was nice to get away and nice to be back home.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Phase I = Complete

Phase I (aka the downstairs) home renovations are complete. My new floor is in and the whole downstairs (and upstairs hallway) has been painted. My furniture is back in and today I spent a bunch of money on an area rug and and a few other things.

I love, love, love, love, love it!!!!!!

I'm just so happy with the way it turned out. I've also rearranged the furniture and I do like it, but I think it will take some getting used to. I think my couch and love seat were in the same place for about 9 years so I have to get over it.

There are only a few things on the walls and I think it might stay that way for a while. I've decided I didn't want a lot of my old wall stuff but I'm not quite sure what I do want. I'm not in rush. I'm going enjoy some beautiful scratch and nail hole free walls until I find stuff I want.

And I've decided to suck it up and do the upstairs this year. I'm thinking October so I'm taking a break but towards the end of August I think I will start making more decisions about carpet and paint. It will be a pain but totally worth it.

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