Must Have For A Night In

Hey, where am I supposed to sit?  Apparently I have to go find my own spot.  This one is taken.

Apparently I have to go find my own spot. This one is taken.

Today’s topic for 30 Days of Lists is what must I have for a night in?  In chronological order (you can see the sequence from getting ready to settled in):

  • Hot popcorn
  • Diet root beer
  • Afghan on my lap
  • Animal sleeping in my lap (preferably not a 120 lb. mastiff)
  • My favorite boy toy in the room with me
  • A good book to read or some favorite shows on DVD (such as Dr. Who or Midsomer Murders)
  • Fire burning

Ah yes, I can stay all night like that.  Of course, a night in at my daughter’s house requires liberal applications of puppies as well.  My favorite boy toy will demonstrate that for you:


Categories: 30 Days of Lists, Pets | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Can Talk For Hours About. . .

Although I enjoy visiting, it doesn’t seem like I spend as much time talking as I do listening.  But get me onto a favorite topic and I can talk your ears off (provided you don’t die of boredom because you don’t share my enthusiasm).  So for today’s 30 Days of Lists, here are the subjects that I can talk about for hours.  They will not come as a surprise to any of you, since I also blog about them frequently!

Books – at a previous job, one of the consultants loved to read as much as I did and very often read the same books too.  We had to be careful to not talk too long as we both enjoyed comparing notes and making recommendations.

Dogs – I can never tell or hear too many dog stories.  They are an endless source of cute, frustration, and affection.

Photography – I don’t meet many photographers who are as advanced as I am, outside of my favorite boy toy.  So when I meet one, I can stand and talk forever about equipment, Adobe software, social media, and places to go for taking pictures.  I had that happen a while back at the botanical gardens.  The other photographer and I had a great time visiting and had to cut it short because the good light was leaving.

My Daughter – she’s the greatest and I love to talk about everything she’s up to.  Last weekend, she participated in a mini-triathlon, placing in the middle of the pack (the only photos I have are copyrighted, so I cannot post them).  Her skin tight clothes for the event just looked like she was a bit pudgy, not four months pregnant.  When I was four months pregnant, I was already waddling from the bowling ball that was sticking out in front!

State Taxes – put me in a room with the consultants, and we can be swapping stories for hours.  They like it as much as I do, mostly because I’m interactive with them and have good stories of my own.  I enjoy being able to dissect the nuances behind various tax positions and events, especially with someone who knows as much or more than I do.  It’s just plain old fun :)

How about you?  What can you talk about for hours?  Will I be surprised?  Let me know!


Categories: 30 Days of Lists, Books, Dogs, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Books Everyone Should Read

The greenhouse at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia

The greenhouse at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia

So. . . is there a difference between recommending books that I think everyone should read and my favorite books?  I would say yes.  There are books that I think have tremendous value to shape our lives and influence our thoughts, but they are not necessarily favorites of mine.  Many of these are favorites, but some are books that I think are worth reading even if I’d prefer to not read them again.  So here is yesterday’s list from 30 Days of Lists:

  1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – my very favorite book.  I liked how Gretchen improved the happiness with her life (without spending a lot of money to do lavish things) and how honest she was about what did and did not work for her.  I tried a number of things myself after reading her book and kept the ones that worked.
  2. The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel.  This was my first exposure to the idea that everyone is creative, no matter what we do in life.  Seriously, even accountants can be creative, although that’s easier to believe in the last ten years after all the fraud scandals!  The book has daily exercises to improve your creativity.  It’s not about writing, photography, or anything we would normally consider to be “creative”.  It’s about living right where we are and being creative in that space.
  3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  It’s a hard book to read and has major sections that you get through only by rapidly skimming it.  Still, the lessons are incredible.  The two big eye openers for me was that I have to work for what I want and not expect anyone to give it to me (from when Dagney Taggert met John Galt in the valley) and that arrangements between spouses are nobody else’s business.  I thought that was incredibly insightful of Ms. Rand to acknowledge that there is value in women staying home and not “making money” and that such arrangements were between them and their husbands.  This served me well years later when I encouraged my favorite boy toy to quit his day job and pursue his art.  As far as I was concerned, it was no one’s business what the arrangement was between us.
  4. Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane.  I actually quit reading Dennis Lehane’s books for a long time after reading this book.  [SPOILER ALERT] The book has a powerful lesson in it though, that we can do what is right legally and morally, but the end result devastates everyone and was a mistake to do.  I still struggle to reconcile that to my faith in God, yet I’ve seen it happen.  There are times when a judgment call needs to be made and things done because it is the right outcome, not because it’s the right law.
  5. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  I’m amazed at the people who slam this book even though they’ve not actually read it.  It’s not an easy read and Thoreau is self-righteous and condescending in many places.  But whether you agree with what he writes or not, it’s thought provoking and will cause readers to examine their lives and beliefs.  If after that you don’t agree with him, at least know why you think and act the way you do.  For example, one of the things that Thoreau comments on is the need to live simpler lives.  My favorite boy toy and I clearly do not do that.  But I’m comfortable with that and that our lives are richer for not stripping down to absolute basics.  For more of my thoughts on that, see my blog post on why I don’t travel lightly.
  6. Laura Ingalls Wilder – all of her books.  Although the books are an idealized fictional account of her growing up, it gives an easy-to-read insight into growing up in frontier America, what families did to feed and provide for themselves, and how families interacted with each other and their neighbors.
  7. James Herriott – his first four books (All Creatures Great and Small; All Things Bright and Beautiful; All Things Wise and Wonderful; and The Lord God Made Them All).  These books are also a fictional account, but here it’s of a small town vet, loosely based on Herriott’s life.  However, there are a lot of life lessons in here, from dealing with difficult people and patients, paying attention to what he was doing, and being diligent even when things went wrong.
  8. Tolstoy and The Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch.  After the death of her sister, Nina spent a year reading a book a day and blogging about it.  This book is more than moving on from grieving or even about reading.  To quote the book review that I did here, it is also about celebrating the life we each have to live.

Rose from the botanical gardens

Rose from the botanical gardens

I didn’t list The Holy Bible here.  I went back and forth on that.  Clearly it has value and everyone should read it for themselves, preferably the whole thing too.  But to me, the Bible is just a starting point.  Actually executing on it is difficult and takes a lifetime of figuring out what to do and how to do it.

I could add so many more books!  But this was what came to mind when I did the list, for the reasons that I’ve listed.

I’m interested in hearing what you – my wonderful and faithful readers – would add as a book (or books) that you recommend everyone should read.  Of if you’ve read one of these, what you thought of it and did it change your life?


Books are a uniquely portable magic.

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I can never read all the books I want;
I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want.
I can never train myself in all the skills I want.
And why do I want? I want to live and
feel all the shades, tones and variations of
mental and physical experience possible in life.
And I am horribly limited.
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath


Categories: 30 Days of Lists, Books, Life Lessons, Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I Hate Chores!


A photo on an uninspired day of my daily photo challenge; edited with a vintage filter.  See the photographer in the teapot?

A photo on an uninspired day of my daily photo challenge; edited with a vintage filter. See the photographer in the teapot?

Today’s challenge on 30 Days of Lists is to list chores I actually enjoy.

My answer is:



Nope, nothing

I used to enjoy baking, but a) my husband dislikes homemade bread, especially for his sandwiches; b) my daughter didn’t care either and c) I can’t eat much of any baked goods, especially if I want to keep my weight down.

I enjoy the end result from cleaning the house, but bitterly resent it while I’m doing it.

Cooking, groceries, laundry, and vacuuming are all so transitory.  I make a big sacrifice of my time to get them done and as soon as I finish, they’re already unraveling.  It’s the same thing with yard work, picking up dog poop, and paying the bills.  It never gets finished and it never stays finished.

Chores soak up time, take away from fun and passions, and give very little in return.

So ends my rant for today.  And my comment about yard work never staying finished?  It for sure doesn’t stay finished when a beagle decides there’s a mole to be found.

Augh!  Find the mole already and be done with it!  The problem is he has already found and killed one this summer.  Obviously there are more.

Augh! Find the mole already and be done with it! The problem is he has already found and killed one this summer. Obviously there are more.


Categories: 30 Days of Lists, Home, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

View of the Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina

View of the Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina

The first picture I took in Asheville this summer was the view out the back of my hotel. It was Hour 1 of vacation, the first one I’d ever taken without my favorite boy toy (or sister). I was reluctant to do it, even though my boy toy encouraged me to have some time to myself.  It was just weird going without him, spending that much money, and being on my own for a vacation.  For me, this represents this week’s photo challenge of adventure.

I wrote this in my journal:

Driving down to Asheville, my emotions were all over about doing this.  But as I sit here on Wednesday, in an Adirondack chair overlooking the Smoky Mountains, I’m glad I did this.  I’m glad I came to the mountains instead of the beach.  Glad I’ve been able to hike, walk around, and take the shuttle from place to place.  Glad for the cool mountain air and low humidity and the greenery as far as I can see.

It’s been good to see and do different things, to walk and take pictures.  Good to get away from work and home into a different albeit very luxurious setting.  I’m glad to have done a shorter visit and have a such a great place to stay.  It’s been really worth it to have a nicer place, nicer food, and better safety.

I am enjoying this and being here by myself.  I’m glad I did it even with how much I disliked doing the drive to be here.

And the mountains.  Oh the mountains are great.  I’m glad I paid extra for a room that faces them.  To see them with everything I do here.

It was fun!  I took a lot of pictures, ate all kinds of delicious food, spent a lot of time outside, and was satisfied each night when I went bed.  I even took a trip into downtown Asheville to visit a local bookstore (during a rainy morning).  I did dislike the drive back and forth more than I expected, but it was worth the effort.

# # #

Today’s 30 Days of Lists topic is “every night before I go to bed”.  The list was pretty long, mostly due to the dogs.  But the short version is:

  1. Put the dogs out one last time
  2. Gate them into the kitchen
  3. Set the alarm and go upstairs (we’ve had several home invasions in our neighborhood, so we now use an alarm on the house)
  4. Brush my teeth
  5. Get in bed
  6. Turn out the light
  7. Read my iPad for a while
  8. Go to sleep!

Mmm, mmm, love that iPad for reading!


Categories: 30 Days of Lists, North Carolina, Reading, Smoky Mountains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Things To Nurture This Month

Clouds over the Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina.  Taken in the late afternoon.

Clouds over the Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. Taken in the late afternoon.

Where do I spend my time and energies? What do I need to focus on to bring along and develop? Wiktionary defines nurture as “that which nourishes; tender care, education, training”.

So what do I want to nurture this month?

  • My photography and creativity
  • My soul (spirituality)
  • My body

For the next three weeks, those are the things I want to emphasize, grow, and develop.  I didn’t put my family or pets on here, as I am already nourishing them.

For my photography:

  1. The classes I’m taking
  2. Investing in a new camera
  3. Blogging daily
  4. Decluttering the house more (it frees up physical and mental space)
  5. Taking better care of my body

For my soul:

  1. Praying regularly
  2. Doing my daily devotions (I use YouVersion for this)

For my body:

  1. Get back on my diet
  2. Walk daily
  3. Do 20 minutes of yoga each night (of course, tonight I was too tired and skipped it. . . again)

It looks beautiful, in the few minutes before the squash started to rot before they ripened and the vines died from powdery mildew.  The tomatoes burst open from blight.

It looks beautiful, in the few minutes before the squash started to rot before they ripened and the vines died from powdery mildew. The tomatoes burst open from blight.

There are things I no longer want to nurture, mostly dreams and passions.  I’m no longer interested in homesteading, gardening or food preservation.  The garden totally didn’t work out despite repeated efforts (my husband think it’s not enough light in the yard).  My husband is not interested in homesteading and I don’t have the time or energy to do it by myself.

I’ve cut back my writing.  I don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer for hours on end to craft a book.  It’s a great idea, but not for me at this time in my life.  I want to record my life, so I’ve increased my journals and photographs.  But writing anything else is not happening.

Cooking has also gone by the wayside.  I simplified my diet as I lost weight, but there’s still a lot of cooking to be done.  I’ve gone to cooking protein once a month and freezing portions for use later, supplemented by fish several times a week.  I cook vegetables and a bit of carbs every other week.  It’s not fancy, but it doesn’t have to be to nourish me without costing a lot of time.

So. . . photography / creativity, spirituality, and body.  That’s what I want to nurture (nourish) this month. 


Categories: 30 Days of Lists, Creativity, Home | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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