• January 25, 2017

    January Round Up

    OOoooh man.  This month isn’t over yet?  Really?  Still going for about one more week, eh?

    I’m pretty darn over it.

    First of all: the snow.  Good gracious God in heaven, the snow.  This January we’ve broken records with the snow.  Now, I am a mountain girl and totally ok with snow and all that…. But this city of mine ain’t really ready to deal with what Mother Nature is layin’ down!  I actually shoveled the street in front of my house a couple weeks ago.  Yes, you read that right, I shoveled the street.  Frankly, there were no other options besides staying home for all of January.  So. Yeah.

    You’d think with all that snow, I would have had lots of time to read lots of books.  Joke’s on you though, because I was shoveling all that snow in my street instead of reading.  For January, I was only able to just keep up with my book club requirements with A Day of Honey by Annia Ciazadlo and Gulp by Mary Roach.  I enjoyed A Day of Honey, but I really loved Gulp.  She is super provocative and sarcastic – it actually made me think about Jenny Lawson’s books a lot.  Can’t wait to see what the other ladies at book club think about it!

    There were a couple of new (well, new and new to me) shows I have been enjoying.  The first was A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.  Can I just say that Neil Patrick Harris is a genius?  And that I love him?  It. Is. So. Good.  The second show I’ve been obsessing over is Jane the Virgin, which I never thought I’d say.  Actually, I never thought I’d watch it, let alone love it.  For those skeptics like I once was… just give it a try.  It’s way too complicated to really explain here, but it’s basically an Americanized telenovela with all the drama you’d expect, but also with lots of great humor to balance it out.  Please, just go watch a few episodes, ok?  Ok.

    This month we are also starting up a new D&D campaign, so I’ve been doing some character building.  I’ll be playing a gnome wizard named Moonie Mugglewump and I’m really excited about her!  Think, Luna from Harry Potter mixed with Kvothe from the Kingkiller Chronicles and a bit of Judy Hopps from Zootopia.  Fun, right?  First game is this weekend, so we’ll see how I get back in the swing of it all!

    Aaaand the last thing I have to share with you for January is that I’ve started a Bullet Journal.  I’ll do another more detailed post sometime about bullet journaling, but suffice it to say that I like the layout options and tracking method a lot so far.  I have been enjoying the creative aspects and also use it to help with mindfulness.  I am not a great artist, but there is hope, I think, for me yet!

    So, there you have it.  This was my… interesting… January (sans political issues/concerns/ fears/hopes/whatever because this should be a happy place for me and for anyone out there who is reading).  Here’s hoping that February will have better surprises in store!

  • November 23, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Aloha, Mindfulness, and Meditation

    flower

    Welcome to my third and final post about my Hawaiian vacation!  I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the beautiful island of Maui with me this month!  You know, I’ve always heard people say that Hawaii is a special place.  I always assumed that they meant it was beautiful and fun and a good place for a vacation.  While these things are all true, there is really something special about that place.

    waterfall

    ocean

    While visiting, I spent as much time as I could learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.  I talked to a few locals, including some fabulously interesting Uber drivers, and I feel like I really gained so much from their insight.  You see, Hawaiian culture is incredibly inclusive, respectful, and spiritual – something I think the mainland needs a big lesson in right now.

    lei

    friend

    It seemed like everything done and everything said had special meaning and history.  People would go out of their way to help or to share a smile with you.  This was at the resort, restaurants, shops, tours, car rides… literally everywhere I went.  People were so happy to share their culture and stories with me, it was really wonderful!

    church

    You’re probably familiar with “aloha” meaning both hello and goodbye?  That is true, but it also conveys respect and love and spiritual connection.  One tour guide explained that native Hawaiian language has limited words and many words are combinations of words, so “alo” is like the uplifted face – the connection you have with another person or god or nature, and “ha” is like your life breath – your spirit and being.  So, “aloha” is that respectful, spiritual connection to people, to god, to nature, to… everything.  And remember in Lilo and Stitch when Lilo says that “ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind”?  That is true, but ohana also extends to all Hawaiian people.  And notice that “ha” also shows up in ohana?  They put caring for the whole community very high on their list of priorities.

    celebrate

    Every encounter I had while in Maui was extremely positive and I could feel the energy of the people around me.  Once away from other tourists, I could sit and think and absorb the good vibes that I’ve only ever felt in Hawaii.  I took as much time as I could to meditate on the things people told me, to really feel their words.  One gentleman I met spent a good bit of our conversation encouraging me to bring Aloha to the mainland – to spread their love and peace to a nation that is in turmoil and feeling so much hate right now.  I hope I’ve done this… I hope people meet me and feel loved and respected.  I hope I don’t lose the lessons I learned  in Hawaii in the coming months and years.  And, while I don’t necessarily expect that you really get what I am trying to convey by reading these words alone, I do hope that you will also go out and be a light to your community.  Connect with your life breath and treat every relationship as sacred.

    jellyfish

    sunset

    Peace.

    beach

  • November 16, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Road to Hana

    road-to-hana

    Our second full day in Hawaii was the busiest by far.  My friend had to attend classes all day, so I met up with a tour group and went on the Road to Hana.  For those who are not familiar, the Road to Hana takes you along the less populated Eastern side of Maui.  There are about 620 curves on this road and much of it is one lane or so narrow that two cars passing must pass within inches of each other.  I do not recommend driving this road on your own – the tour group was lovely and not half as terrifying as if I’d gone alone.

    On the tour, we saw rain forest, waterfalls, and rainbow eucalyptus trees.

    waterfalls

    tree

    splash

    We stopped at the Ke’anae Peninsula where we saw a church that was built in 1856 and was the sole surviving building of a tsunami in 1946.  As I approached the church, I felt so glad that I was almost alone because I could feel that the place was holy.  There was a peace there that I haven’t felt in many other places… I could have sat there for hours.

    church

    graveyard

    grave

    ghost

    Our next stop was Wai’anapanapa State Park where I explored a sacred black sand beach and a magical lava cave where legend has it a Hawaiian princess hid from her abusive husband.  When he found her, killed her in the cave – now the pools in the cave fill with tiny red shrimp  and the water looks like blood which locals say it’s a reminder of the princess.

    black-sand-beach

    cave-enterence

    flower

    Farther down the road was the Haleakala National Park where I was able to explore the cliffs, waterfall, and Oheo pools.  I went for a short hike which was so beautiful and green – I wanted to stay forever.

    ocean

    overlook

    7-pools

    water-fall

    The last stop was at the Palapala church which was built in 1857 and is where Charles Lindbergh is buried.  It was beautiful, but didn’t have the same holy feeling as the Ke’anae church did.

    lindburgh-church

    lindburgh-grave

    The last portion of the trip was on a terrible, terrible road.  It was so bumpy, my fitbit registered 3,000 steps while I was sitting in the van!  Our guide told us that the locals don’t want to repair the road – they prefer rough driving over having tourists crowding them.  I think I agree.

    rainbow

  • November 9, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Resort and Luau

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    Did ya’ll remember to vote yesterday?  Did you cling to your tv/radio/social media to follow every second of the tally?  Well I did and I’ve got to say, I am ready for a break from the politics and drama and fear and sadness… I’m ready to go back to Hawaii.  Since that isn’t really possible, though, let me take you on a little trip down my memory lane and you can live a little vicariously through my adventure for a while!

    mermaid

    My friend and I went to Maui and stayed at the Grand Wailea resort.  She was there for a work conference and I was just lucky to get to tag along.  The resort was the fanciest, most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed.  We had a ground floor room with a view of the ocean and it was perfection!

    patio

    celebration

    The first night we were there we went to a luau.   I felt a little strange asking native people to put their culture on display in such a commercial setting, but I did enjoy the dancing and the stories that were told.  It’s amazing to watch!

    hula

    ribbon-dancer

    The second day we had to do some conference things and I didn’t get too many pictures.  It was pretty laid back and I got to touch the ocean for the first time in my life!  It’s so weird to me that some people grow up playing in the vastness of the ocean without a second thought.  I felt sure it would swallow me up if I stayed too long.

    fresh-fruit

    There is a small path at the resort that is lined with trees and plants that are all fruit producing which are maintained organically.  Because of this, you can literally just pick what you like and eat it right off the tree!  So, we had a little harvest party on our walk and a very kind man helped us reach the too tall star fruit.  It was glorious!

    gf-fried-food

    Another day we were there, I dragged my friend to a dedicated gluten free restaurant where I ate way too much.  I haven’t had fried food in 10 years… so this was amazing and horrible all at the same time!

    hula-statue

    I hope you’re enjoying my pictures and stories.  Check back next week for more of my trip!

  • November 2, 2016

    October Round Up

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    Happy November, ya’ll!  October went a little nuts and I got totally behind on my blogs!  I do want to share my round up for October, though, so here we go!

     

    soup

    My hubby has struggled with a deviated septum his whole life which makes it hard for him to breathe properly, especially when he’s trying to sleep.  So, this fall we decided it was time to get it taken care of and he went in for surgery.  Everything went great and he’s said that he feels so much better now!  He’s able to sleep so much better than before!  To help him heal, I made homemade chicken soup and it was ah-maz-ing!

     

    hawaii

    After the surgery was done and we knew everything was good, I confirmed my girls trip to Hawaii.  A friend of mine was planning to attend a conference for her work and I talked her into letting me tag along.  The trip went splendidly and you can bet there will be tons of pictures and more detail up next week!  *grin*

     

    books

    I also read a lot this month – fall always gets me into the mindset of study,  books, and cuddling up with blankets and tea.  This month I read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Stir by Jessica Fetcher.  If you haven’t read Jennys blog or books, you really should consider giving it a try.  She’s quirky and fun but she also talks about deep, important issues like parenthood and mental illness.  I also enjoyed The Girl on the Train which is a thriller/suspense novel.  I really liked the mystery of it and trying to figure out what was happening along with the main character.  Stir is a memoir for my book club about a woman whose recovery from illness was aided hugely by her love of cooking and food.  I haven’t quite finished yet, but so far it’s been really wonderful!

    Despite all the busy-ness of last month, we did still manage to see a couple of movies.  The first was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  I really liked Tim Burton’s take on the story and its overall darkness.  Some things were, of course, left out from the book… but it was so good it wasn’t too hard to find forgiveness for Tim.  We also saw The Girl on the Train which was pretty good.  I preferred the book and felt that there was just a lot more suspense and intrigue than the movie.  My husband did not read the book, though, and said that he was able to follow it just fine and liked the movie well enough.  One thing I do want to understand is why they would change the setting from London to New York?  It made me unexplainably sad.

    Lastly, Halloween!  Because of the crazy, busy, expensive, and exhausting way this month went… I didn’t get to do my decorations as planned.  This makes me really sad because now I’ve failed my 30 before 30.  Hopefully next year we can get our stuff together and carry out my plan.  We did enjoy the fall colors, candy and baked goods, and pumpkin everything in October and that helped a little.  We watched some classic scary movies and drank lots of hot tea.  Now, we’re in November and I am realizing just how much I have to do before Christmas… how did we ever get this far into 2016?!

  • August 3, 2016

    Photo Session

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    If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I got a shiny new toy for my birthday:

    Camera

    It’s a Nikon Coolpix B500.  I’m still learning my way around it, but so far I’ve been very pleased.  It’s not a DSLR, so there are some limitations as far as zooming and focusing and the manual aspect that higher end cameras offer.  That said, I think this is about as close as any point and click camera can get to a DSLR – the zoom is amazing and the images are crisp and clear!

    The reason I asked for this camera is because the DSLR we have is wonderful, but also big, expensive, and hard to take on camping, hiking, and vacations.  I needed something  better than my phone camera but less intense then the Canon Rebel!

    The first day I had the camera, we went to a winery and I snapped a few pictures of the grounds.  Totally forgot to take any of the actual wine tasting… I guess I’ll have to go back and try again!  *grin*

    Vineyard

    Grapes

    One day these will be delicious wine… and I will be back for them!

     

    Wine

    Then, last weekend, we went camping.  The spot we had wasn’t super great for pictures – truly lacking in flowers, moss, or any color really.  I did manage to get some nice shots of the lake, though, and the wildlife as well!  

    Tent

    Heron

    That zoom! O.o

     

    Fly-Away

    I hope you will enjoy watching me learn my way around this camera and getting a glimpse into my world as I go.  It’s been a lot of fun for me so far!

  • May 18, 2016

    Top 5 Things to Love About Spring

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    Spring is such a wonderful time of year, don’t you think?  There is always so much to do, but there is also so much to love!   I’ve managed to narrowe it down to my 5 favorite things about springtime!  I hope you enjoy my photos and feel inspired to get out and see some of your favorite spring things.  *grin*

    1. Everything is new!

    Duckies

     

    Lavender

     

    2. It’s nice enough to go outside!

    Geese

     

    Walking-Ollie

     

    3. Iced coffee!

    Iced-Chai

     

    4. Garden planning!

    Pots

     

    Herbs

     

    5. Breaking out the spring and summer wardrobe!

    Dresses

     

    Scarves

  • April 20, 2016

    Top 5 Ways to go Greener Right Now!

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    Happy Earth Day!  I love this day so much!  It’s an important day and a good reminder of the fragility of the earth and our part in that.  It’s an opportunity to search out new ways to use resources wisely and conserve what we do have.  So, I’ve compiled a list of 5 really easy ways we can make the world a better place and care for our home.   Now, go forth and challenge yourself to do these things on a regular basis!

    1. Use reusable cloth shopping bags

    This is a no-brainer!  Nobody needs hundreds of paper and plastic bags floating around their homes, so opt for reusable cloth bags instead.

    2. Frequent local businesses – grocery co-ops and farmers markets

    Shopping locally isn’t just good for local businesses!  By purchasing locally made items, you cut down on emissions from transporting things across the country and world.

    3. Ride a bike or take the bus

    Again, you can help cut down on vehicle emissions in your area.  If you bike, you can also get in some good exercise!

    4. Turn off lights, electronics, and faucets when not in use

    This is another no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take this simple step!  If you already do this, take the next step and unplug things you’re not using!  Use a power strip with an on/off switch and shut things down when you go to bed every night.

    5. Bring your own travel mug on your coffee runs (some shops even offer discounts for this!)

    This can’t always be pre-planned for (I usually end up at coffee shops on a whim, not out of habit or planning), but if you do have a regular habit of going to out for your coffee, it’s totally do-able!

    Park

    If you already do some of these things, way to go!  You’re conscious of the Earth’s fragility and you’re making a difference!  Sometimes, though, we’re limited with what we can do (for instance, I live in a place where the bus doesn’t run and it’s too far to bike, so I have to drive to work), so I’d love to know what other things you do to live a green life!  Please, share your thoughts and strategies in the comments!

  • March 2, 2016

    Bicycle Race

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    Ooooooh boy, I can’t imagine those ladies are comfortable riding their bikes.  But, hey, I’ve never tried nekkid bike riding before, so who knows.  *grin*

    Anyway…. I finally got my bike, ya’ll!  It’s so shiny!  I don’t remember if I ever actually brought up my bicycle dreams here or not, but it’s something I’ve been working towards since we decided to move.  You see, there is a beautiful park near our home as well as some fabulous restaurants and shopping all within walking/biking distance.  So… I’ve been dreaming and scheming for quite some time now!

    By-the-Water

    With the weather getting nicer every day, I decided it was time to take out my savings and bite the bullet.  Lucky for me, the bike I wanted went on sale at the same time I was ready to go and I got a screaming deal on it!  *patience is a virtue for a reason*  Also lucky for me, I have a coworker-friend who is super into bikes and her husband graciously offered to put mine together for me so I could save some money on the shipping.

    In-the-Park

    So, now it’s all put together and looking beautiful – I’m almost afraid to take it anywhere, lest it get scuffed or marred.  Of course, that doesn’t really stop me… but I do think about it every time I take it out.  I realized while we were putting it all together that I haven’t ever had a brand new bike… and I haven’t really ridden one since high school.  High school, ya’ll.  So I’m a little rusty.

    All this talk about my excitement, I’m sure you’d like to know more about this bike that has me so enamored.  First, she’s a Public bike.  I decided to go with a Public brand bike over others for several reasons: 1. style 2. quality 3. affordability 4. they had exactly what I wanted.  I did a year’s worth of searching and reading and pouring over reviews before landing on this one.

    Public

    The bike I got is the Dutch Step Thru C1 which means that it only has one gear.  I went back and forth a lot about one gear vs. 3 or more and ended up deciding on the one gear because of the terrain I’ll mostly be riding on – park and neighborhood only.  I don’t have any plans to take her on main roads or try to commute to work and there aren’t any major hills in my nearby area.  Once I get better at riding again, I might look for another bike with more gears and that can travel faster on main roads, but that’s probably quite a ways off!

    Bike

    And, one of the best things is, because I got the bike on such a great sale, I was able to also get some really amazing accessories too!  There’s nothing like customizing stuff so it genuinely reflects you as a person.  I have some other customization goals in mind… but I’m totally broke now… so it’ll have to wait.

    What was that about patience being a virtue, again?  ha!

  • August 5, 2015

    Ollie’s First Camping Trip

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    Recently, my husband and I decided to take our little corgi, Ollivander, on his first camping trip.  We’ve been working with him to be more social and less of a grump and figured he might be ready.  I was a little nervous to take him, but we made it through 2 nights of sleeping in a tent and even took him on a very successful 4 mile hike!

    The hike went around a reservoir near the campground and was just beautiful.  The trail itself was well maintained which made things much easier on Ollie’s little bitty legs.  *grin*

    We had encounters with some great small woodland creatures, but my favorites were the frogs!  There were (literally) thousands of them and it was so hard not to step on them!  I felt like I was tiptoeing through the woods!

    Do you see them?

    Do you see them?

    There were also less wild interactions… Where we were camping, it’s open range.  This means that there were all kinds of surprise encounters with cows.  The best, though, was this bovine beach party:

    Beach-Party

    After hiking, we checked out the creek and watched the water.  Ollie was so tired that he didn’t want to play at all, preferring to sit stoically and observe his domain.  It was adorable.

    Relaxing

     

    Creek

    Of course, the people had their own version of a relaxing reward:

    Reward

    Each night we closed down camp with a fire and delicious dinner and dessert!  I found some gluten free graham crackers and we had the best s’mores I’ve ever eaten!  Ollie, ever the work hound, helped build the fire.

    Fire

    What a helper, eh?  *grin*

    So, that was Ollie’s first foray into the forest.  I call him my mountain dog now and I think he really likes it!