The Week in Review 5/23/2018

Something making me happy:  Summer is here! Today is the last day of school. No more alarm clock or lunch making first thing in the morning.  I think I have a good plan for the summer, I just hope I have the energy and patience to make it happen. In anticipation I put away the Spring decorations and put out our red, white and blue theme which will take us through Memorial Day, Flag Day (June 14th) and 4th of July.

What I read: “Absent in the Spring” by Mary Westmacott aka Agatha Christie. This is actually a re-read, I love this story about finding out about yourself.

What I watched: Finished watching “The Terror” and that show scared the pants off me!  Not the creature but watching the military order disintegrate and how one evil man could ruin an entire expedition.  And I may have watched a few hours of Royal Wedding stuff 🙂 .

My latest coloring project. I would have worn the one on the left (with a shrug to be appropriately modest)  to the royal wedding, if I had been invited.

Family movie night: I know this is hard to believe but my son and I are just getting around to reading the Harry Potter series. We finished book one and got the first movie from the library.  We spent Saturday morning making a few floating candles, chocolate frogs and cauldron cupcakes.  My son made a little banner with the four different Hogwart’s houses and some wizard cards to go with our frogs.  Pizza and popcorn rounded out dinner.  The movie was longer than I expected so we had a rather late night but worth it.

I am so doing this for Halloween in our front yard!

Crazy toenails: I seldom wear sandals so I paint my toenails just for myself.  I call this “rainbow sherbet”:

It was surprisingly hard to take a close up picture of my own toes.

A happy surprise:  When I went to my bowling tournament in Laughlin, NV a few weeks ago I had only signed up for singles.  When I checked in I was asked if I wanted to bowl doubles, someone was in need of a partner.  I said okay, introduced myself to some guy I didn’t know and then went off to bowl on my own lanes at the other end of the bowling alley.  I never saw him again and had no idea what he bowled.  I got the results in the mail and we took 7th place out of 41 winning some prize money! A nice surprise since I finished 19th out of 50 in singles.

 

I hope you had a good week!

The Week in Review: Book Edition

I thought I would change things up a bit and write about books this week.  As much as I love to read I am surprised I don’t write about books more. Hmm.


Random Pick: A few weeks ago at the library I chose a shelf on a whim and counted over 33 books. I got “Wedding Girl”. Totally not what I was in the mood for. I looked up and…ta-da “Cooking for Picasso” called my name. Loved it!  One of those novels based on a bit of historical fact and jumped back and forth in time, in a good way.

Serendipity:  The day after I started reading “Cooking for Picasso”  I got my National Geographic magazine in the mail and it had an article on Picasso and let me know that there is a mini-series about the life of Picasso on the National Geographic channel starting in April. How coincidentally wonderful is that?  It is a 10 part series I am recording to watch during the summer.

Something Crazy:  Remember “chiaroscuro”?  Yes, again!  This time in “The Golden Hour” by T. Greenwood. And also in the book a character wears a pair of red flannel pajamas with black scottie dogs on them.  I have those pajamas!  I am so reading some more Greenwood, she gets me. 🙂

Mystery Series:  My favorite genre is the mystery.  For quite a few years I really liked getting into a series but lately I have found that all the newer series seem pretty repetitive.  After 3 or 4 books the series grows stale not to mention how similar they all feel. Woman loses job, breaks up with long time boyfriend and moves back home.  She has a quirky but endearing family, lands some sort of interesting job or joins the family business  and promptly gets involved with a readily available handsome member of the law enforcement. Add in an unbelievable number of murders in a small town.  Sheesh.

But here are a few series that have managed to stay believable and keep things fresh:

The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny– It helps that the main character is a homicide investigator, making his proximity to murder believable.  There is so much depth to these stories though and so many other characters.  Never boring, never predictable.

The Faith Fairchild series by Katherine Hall Page – Enough travel keeps things interesting as well as the details of the rest of her life as her children grow up.  Good recipes too!

The Sadie Hoffmiller series by Josi Kilpack – I have only finished the first three books (there are 12) but this series feels much more realistic than most.  Yes, there is a boyfriend detective but she still gets sentenced to community service for interfering in a police investigation. Pretty real!  And there is a lot of travel so no scary small town full of homicides.

Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton –  There is a mystery in each book but not necessarily a murder.  Set in England it appeals to the Anglophile in me and while there is a little of the woo-woo communication from the dead it doesn’t override the rest of the story.

The Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen – I love learning about the early 1900’s in New York City where this series is set.  It is interesting seeing how much harder it was to track down information in those days, how people lived in general and all the obstacles to being a lady detective.  Yes, there is a police love interest but I can live with it.

The Jane Austen series by Stephanie Barron – I have only read the first two books (of thirteen I believe) but seriously why wouldn’t I love Jane Austen as a sleuth?  England, historical time period and a writer, all right up my alley.

What book I just finished: “Euphoria” by Lily King, not my usual fare but lately I have been choosing more books randomly, either off the ‘recently returned shelf’ or the staff picks or just walking down an aisle seeing what catches my eye.  This book did not disappoint and suited my mood which has been rather up and down thanks to MHC (menopausal hormonal craziness). {I am hoping if I use MHC enough times it will catch on.}  A Margaret Mead inspired story that really held my attention.

What I am reading right now:  “Into the Magic Shop” by James R. Doty, MD, again not something that would normally grab me but I am surprised at how much I am loving this book.  I am not quite 1/2 way yet but already I want to be a better person and really learn how to meditate.  I have chosen “rose rain” as my focus word.

An easy way to track your reading: I had never thought about tracking what I read until I stumbled across the clever idea of using a five year journal and promptly adopted it.  For those of us not interested in digital tracking I have found a small five year diary works perfectly.  I jot down the title, author and a sentence or two about what I thought of the book or how it made me feel. I list the book under the date I started it.  Super easy, not overly time consuming and this diary is going to last more than five years, even with all I read. I started last July and could not be happier. And my diary is so cute!

 

Did you have a good book week?

The Week in Review 5/9/2018

Something I accomplished: I cleaned up my office.  I started with just wanting to declutter the shelves a bit and ended up doing a lot more. I threw away two bags of garbage, 2 bags of recycle and have one box of donate/sell stuff. Now when I walk into the room I smile.

Something I changed:  So maybe this is a little weird but I changed my deodorant and I love my new one so much.  It is not supposed to leave those yellow stains on white shirts plus it seems to just work better.  Kind of a big deal here in the desert heat. Speaking of which…

Summer is here: The heat seemed to roar in overnight, poof 100° days.  The good news is I had my first swim of the season over the weekend.  The water felt wonderful.  The bad news is allergy season is still at its peak and I woke the next day with bloodshot, weepy crusty eyes.  Not good.

A fun project: The end of school is fast approaching so I wanted to make some little notes for my son’s lunch to count down the last 10 days. Found some cute numbers to print out and color and put them on summer scrapbooking paper.

 

Paint Chip Poetry: I felt like writing a bad poem this week so here it is. (I am re-reading “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland so blame her.)  I chose three yellow and one orange (for the heat) and one green (because it is still spring).  Paint chip words are in italics.

My zest for life was wilting

under the

habanero hot blazing sun

at 8:00 a.m. no less.

Summer had settled in for good,

startling me with its ferocity.

I pick a spring of mint

for my morning iced tea

and retreat indoors

not emerging again until the

lightning and thunder

of the afternoon monsoons arrive –

three months hence.

And how was your week?

 

The Week in Review 5/2/2018

What I am reading: I just finished “The Fire by Night” by Teresa Messineo. My favorite WWII historical fiction genre. I wanted to just keep reading and at the same time I wanted the book to last a long time. It is about two nurses, one in the Pacific and one on the Western Front. Captivating reading. And now I am reading Donna Ball’s Ladybug Farm series. Love it!

“Snow Days”:  In case you hadn’t heard the Arizona school teachers went on strike.  The first two days were fun, a nice break from the routine.  But once we hit day 3 I started some home schooling for my son.  It is frustrating not knowing when school is going to resume.

What I am watching/watched: “The Bletchley Circle”, set in a time period I find fascinating (1940’s – 50’s) and a mystery.  Plus it was only three episodes so not a huge commitment. I stumbled on season one on Ovation TV and am thrilled to see there is a season two. And I have the first episode of the new season of “The Good Witch” on my DVR, saving it for when I can sit and really savor it (see snow day above).

Something we did: We went to the Pima County Fair. We have only gone once before in the 8 years we have lived here.  It is just not my favorite thing to do.  Too hot and too pricey as I remembered it.  It was still the same.  It was a good family outing but I doubt we’ll go again  because of the cost.

A sky high view of the fair.

Three Potlucks: I have had to make something for three different potlucks in the last two weeks.  For my end of season bowling potluck I made brownie crusted cheesecake with a strawberry topping and for our annual Guild salad luncheon I made lemon squares.  But my favorite was the chocolate chip kitty cat cookies I made for my son’s end of season bowling potluck.

I have made these before and forgot how cute they are.

And how was your week?

The Week in Review 4/25/18

This past weekend I gave myself an early Mother’s Day present, a weekend away. I drove to Laughlin, Nevada for a bowling tournament.

Something that surprised me:  I had no idea that there was anyplace left in the U.S. where you could smoke indoors.  When I went into the casino/hotel where I was staying I thought I had walked back in time to the 70’s or 80’s peering through a haze of smoke looking for the registration desk.

Something else that surprised me: My car has this funny quirk where sometimes the radio won’t work. Once I turn off the car and start it back up again it resumes working and it only happens once in a great while.  Of course it happened on the trip after a stop for gas.  I didn’t realize it had happened until I was back on the interstate so I decided to sing for myself.  Turns out the only songs I know the words to are Christmas Carols.  Really?  Really.  I tried Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Cougar Mellencamp, Elton John etc.  I had nothing but a few lines here and there.  So I sang Christmas songs for awhile and I did okay with a few (okay two: “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch”) television theme songs from the 70’s.  Crazy.

Something I enjoyed:  An early morning walk along the Colorado River.  The river was so clear and just beautiful.

The Colorado River, my hotel is on the right. 

A surprise place to visit in Arizona:  On my way home I went through Lake Havasu City to see THE London Bridge.  So cool!  I I had a very nice breakfast in the shadow of the bridge at a little cafe.

Yup, THE London Bridge, it just seems so bizarre that it is here in Arizona!

Something I am grateful for:  That I bowled decent, nothing spectacular but I didn’t embarrass myself.  And that I had a safe trip, always a little worried driving across the desert in the heat (though it wasn’t too hot thankfully).

 

And how was your week?

 

The Week in Review 4/18/2018

Labor of love: Sometimes I like to color pictures to put in my son’s lunch and was trying to think of something fun to color now that we are getting near the end of the school year (only 25 lunches left to make, yeah!).  Duh, he is into all things Minecraft so I printed out a few pictures I found on-line.  Above is the picture of a “creeper”.  I believe he is bad but my son said I did a good job adding the squares and making it look “real”.

Something making me unhappy: Menopausal hormonal craziness aka MHC. I think it should be an official disease with an acronym.  My body has gone haywire and getting anything accomplished seems monumental, even writing this blog.  I have a strong desire to do absolutely nothing.

My favorite time of day:  The gloaming which means twilight or dusk.  I first learned the word gloaming from a Joyce Carol Oates short story.  I like to watch the color change on the mountains to the north from my swing or from my office window facing south (not having a good westerly view of any sort).  I do miss those long lingering twilights up north in July. Sigh.

 Taken a few minutes after sunset.

Something that made me happy:  (Well, as happy as one can get with MHC.) We cleaned up the backyard and rearranged the furniture and potted plants.  We do this every year in the hope of finding some magical combination that makes the area more appealing.  This year I feel a flicker of hope we may have hit the nail on the head.  I ate breakfast out there Monday morning and lunch on Tuesday and it all felt rather continental.

Paint Chip Poetry:  As part of my self imposed MHC therapy I chose 3 blue chips for sadness, one red chip for craziness and one yellow chip as a ray of hope.  (Paint chip words are in italics.)

The blues surround my heart

reflected by the lapis lazuli of an afternoon sky

And yet

As I drink lemonade in the shade of the old barn

I feel my blues drifting up

to become part of the indigo glow of the evening sky.

 

And how was your week?

The Week in Review 4/11/18

I thought bad things happened in threes:  I have had to deal with two situations where there was no water:  the Grand Canyon and the bowling alley. Sort of worried about where it could happen next!

Something I am watching:  Repeats of “Grantchester” and I can’t wait for the new season. I never thought I would fall for a vicar but he is hunky!

 

Something new I learned: The secret to making yummy crispy nachos.  Bake your tortilla chips at 350° for 15 minutes.  Then top with grated cheese and cooked ground beef flavored with taco seasoning and pop back in the oven for ~5 minutes.  I then put the chips on plates and let everyone add their own toppings:  olives, salsa, jalapeños, tomatoes, sour cream, whatever you like.  I have this odd feeling I am the last cook to learn how to avoid soggy nachos.

Something that is making me happy:  The Miami Heat making it to the playoffs.  Their play has been so uneven this year I am a little surprised but thrilled to have at least a few more games to watch.

Goran Dragic is still my favorite player though I am loving the drive and versatility of Josh Richardson.

Something else that made me happy:  I found a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)!  I love the idea of getting a selection of fresh, local produce every week and tried it a few years ago but it didn’t work out.  The pick up time and location was very inconvenient and it was year around.  This meant in the winter we got a lot of onions and dried beans and dried chilis. It just wasn’t for us.  But this Sunday I went to the Farmer’s Market and found a new CSA that looks quite promising so we are going to give it a try. I  looked at the planned crop list and it all looks tasty.  It starts early May and will go for 16 weeks.  The pickup is Sunday morning at the Farmer’s Market, much closer to my house than the other CSA.  And I can get my local eggs and any other items at the same time.  So excited!

How was your week?

 

The Week in Review 4/4/2018

You are reading this post through the wonders of technology because at this moment I am actually totally unplugged up at the Grand Canyon. So this is not a review of the whole week but an abbreviated post. I’ll answer any comments once I am back in civilization.

The Family Easter Basket:  When my son was born I started the tradition of having one family Easter basket.  Somehow I thought that if we had just one easter basket to share there would be less candy.  And the last few years I have bought a number of non-candy items for Easter like a badminton set or bubbles or little toys.  But looking at the bag of stuff for this year I realized that I would probably buy the same amount of candy to make three separate baskets.  Sigh. The good news is with one “shared” basket my husband pretty much plows through all the candy on Easter  so at least I eat less candy.  And my son gets his own bunny and some gummies so hopefully he won’t notice Dad eating all the jelly beans.

Favorite family game of the moment: Sagrada.  We got it for Christmas but didn’t play it much over the holiday. Now I find the more we play it the better I like it.

Something that is making me happy:  My shoulder is on the mend.  The cortisone shot helped with the pain and slowly my range of motion is coming back.  I have daily exercises that I am doing that actually feel pretty good.  I am feeling confident that I will be as good as new in a few weeks.

Something that surprised me:  Apparently I have never used any of my Grand Canyon pictures in this blog!  I couldn’t find any in my media library.  Strange.

From our last trip in March 2016.

And how was your week?

The Week in Review 3/28/18

Something that made me happy:  I stopped buying cut flowers because it seemed an extravagant waste of money.  But at Trader Joe’s I couldn’t resist this little $4 bundle of joy (photo is above).  I made three small vases out of these Chamomile beauties that smell wonderful.  One vase for the kitchen, one for my office and one for my bedroom.  Because you know, I am worth it, at least once in awhile.

Something making me sad: I am not enjoying walking the dog these days, but don’t tell him!  He is part beagle and getting older and he sniffs everything.  It used to be I could just slow down or pause but now it is full stop. And wait and sometimes another ‘and wait’.  I don’t think his sniffer is as sensitive as it used to be.  He doesn’t want to walk as far either and the nearby neighborhoods are getting pretty boring.  So what used to be a pleasure is now a chore (that I can’t imagine not doing!) and that makes me sad.

Something weird:  Remember the word “chiaroscuro”?  A word I don’t think I had ever seen before I read “A Trick of the Light”?  Guess what word was in the very next book I read?  Yup, chiaroscuro was used in “Little Girl Gone”  by Gerry Schmitt.  Crazy right?

What I have been watching: “The Spring Baking Championship”.  I “may” have binge watched an entire season in three nights.

At a crossroads:  By beloved 2001 Saab needs some major work.  Like a week in the shop and two grand type of work.  My first thought was no problem.  But then I started to wonder.  Yes I love my car but I also love reliable transportation.  With a car this old I am wondering what could go bad next and how soon.  I decided I should look around and see if there is another car I could love just as much.  The problems are 1) I love a car that looks a little different from all the rest and not some ultra popular type that I will have trouble finding amongst 20 similar cars in a parking lot. 2) I have owned this car for 15 years and I am really attached.

At red lights I find myself checking out the cars around me. One day soon  I am just going to have to bite the bullet and go to some dealerships and look around.  I hate all the high pressure salesmen but looking on-line doesn’t cut it.  The only car I have noticed driving around that intrigued me is a Honda Crosstour but they stopped making them in 2016 (and the Tesla, just a little out of my budget!).

No matter what I suspect this is going to be a stressful situation.

My first baby!  This car predates spouse, dog and child.  Yes I took this photo but I think it does rather look like a car ad.

Something I am glad is over:  I finished our taxes and e-filed. I refuse to think about them again for another year.

How was your week?

The Week in Review 3/21/18

Spring Weather: I often complain about the lack of weather and seasons here in the desert southwest but this year I realized we sort of are having a Spring. Our temperatures are fluctuating between 60’s and 80’s and we have had clouds and even a little rain. Rain is a big deal here and any amount is welcome. (Well, unless we get bad flash flooding monsoon rains.)  Gentle spring showers are thrilling.

First rose bud of the season!

Spring training:  Every year we go to a game up in Phoenix.  This year we saw the Cubs play the Royals (the Royals won 11-9).  It was a lovely afternoon in the 60’s, Canadiens in front of us reveling in the “warm” weather while I was glad for my warm sweater once the shade creeped over us.

The cold shoulder:  Actually I have a “frozen shoulder”, ironic here in the desert.  Not uncommon for people “of a certain age” with hypothyroidism/diabetes.  The doctor gave me a cortisone shot and I start PT next week after the inflammation goes down.  Pain relief should happen in 2 to 3 days.  I am glad it wasn’t anything more serious.

Why is it:   Why does Netflix says “oops there was a problem”  75% of the first time I go to watch something from my list?  After a few reloads I can usually get to my show but there is never a problem with the previews running.  Strange. And annoying.

New word I learned:  “Chiaroscuro” – the contrast between light and dark, their juxtaposition.  I found the word in “A Trick of the Light”, an Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny.  Man I love these books.  I will be very sad when I get caught up in the series.

 

My interpretation of “chiaroscuro”. 

And how was your week?