Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 31, 2016

This is my final post for 2016.
Some people have felt like this was a bad year.
Everyone has their struggles and hard times (and we are no exception) but overall we would say that 2016 was a good year.

We live in a good, warm home.
Frank is employed.
We can pay our bills.
Our children are all healthy.
We have two wonderful grandchildren.

We were able to travel to see Branden, Amber and the grandchildren.
We were able to go to Hawaii for the first time.

Our blessings are many.

Today, on the last day of 2016, we had a mini celebration of Frank's birthday.  He turned 53 yesterday but we were at a wedding.
The Peterson's are like family to us and it was a wonderful day.

Jordyn (Peterson) and Ben Drollinger

Today, we started out the day by going for a hike and trying out the new snow shoes!

As expected, I dreaded it all the way up but it was a perfectly enjoyable time... and a lovely day!

There were a lot of people out enjoying the day
and I was struck by how many energetic people are out there in the world.
I really do want to be more like that (somewhere in my soul) but tend to find my comfort zone somewhere closer to the couch.

It was a good way to end 2016 and hopefully set a new start for 2017.

I did manage to get a huge blister, so I obviously need to hike more often and break in my boots.

Then the rest of the day was spent working on house projects.

The rooms are all painted now 
and the baseboard moulding is up.

Today Frank said, "Remember when we used to be lazy?  We would come home from work, watch the news and then watch a show?"
I said, "Those days will come again honey"
haha Poor Frank.
I'm not sure those days will come anytime soon...because there is still a lot to do around here!

Well, we are now sitting down to be lazy and watch a show together.

Happy New Year!

Book List 2016

Books I've read this year with a few comments (when I remember to do it)
Some of the books I forgot to write about when I read them so I have added synopsis found online to refresh my memory.

I read a lot of books just for enjoyment this I have most years I would say.  This next year I want to read more non-fiction and more books that will improve me and not just keep me occupied.

Me Before You-- Jojo Moyes
I've actually read this twice.  I discovered that there was a sequel so I reread this one before getting the sequel. A good, if sad, read.  The story of a caregiver for a quadriplegic and how they fall in love.

One Plus One-- Jojo Moyes
I liked her other book so I've been systematically checking out all of her books from the library as they become available.  I liked this one a lot.  Nothing deep here but I'm a sucker for a good love story.

After You-- Jojo Moyes
The sequel to Me Before You.  I enjoyed it a lot.

Silver Bay-- Jojo Moyes
Yes, the first four books I read in 2016 were all by the same author. This one took me longer to get into but in the end I really enjoyed it!  The story of a community really.  A beautiful bay trying to keep from getting taken over by tourists.

A Town Like Alice --Nevil Shute
This book was recommended to me by a friend here in my neighborhood.  It's her favorite book and I found it at a garage sale and then promptly forgot about it.  Found it in my side table drawer a few months later... It's the story of a woman who survives the war as a prisoner of the Japanese and what she does afterwards. A good read.  Different.

The Rent Collector-Camron Wright
February Book Club book. This book is a favorite of a neighbor of mine.  I found it at a garage sale.  It was good, I enjoyed it.  But sad...its about someone living in the dump in India and so many hardships! But then her attitude is so good even amidst the hardships.  So there's definitely a good lesson. One of the characters survived the Khmer Rouge and it reminded me of the people I know from my ward back in Mass who survived this terrible thing.  Strong and resilient people.

The Last Letter from your Lover--Jojo Moyes
My least favorite of her books so far.  The two love stories in this book both involved married people. I can't get into a love story involving infidelity.  If your spouse is a jerk, leave them and THEN find the one you love.  Don't use the jerk of a spouse as an excuse.  The characters did have honest moments of realizing their mistakes in this area but I just have trouble finding anything romantic or lovely in a story of infidelity.

The language of Flowers--Vanessa Diffenbaugh-I have read this one before but it was the book club book for March.  I really like this makes me want to buy flowers and make bouquets with secret meaning to them.  It's the story of a broken girl who has been in and out of lots of foster homes.  She finds love in a woman who wants to adopt her but she is so broken that she manages to ruin even that.  She struggles so much but the knowledge she got from her (almost) adoptive mom gives her joy through her struggles.  I wonder how many of us sabotage our own happiness in much the same way.  I like books with happy endings and this book has one, thank heaven.

The Light Between Oceans--M.L. Steadman-The story of a light house keeper and his wife.  After she loses several pregnancies, a small child is washed ashore in a boat with a dying (dead? I can't remember) man.  They claim her as their own but the decision eats at the man...

Edenbrooke--Julianne Donaldson- It bugged me at first because it feels like a Pride and Prejudice knock off...but the characters grew on me.  And I like this period of time so, yeah, I got sucked in and enjoyed it.

Defending Jacob--William Landay-Interesting and disturbing.  The story of a family and what they go through as their son is accused of a terrible crime.

The art of Racing in the Rain--Garth Stein-Told from a dog's point of view.  I like this one a lot. A dog's relationship to his owner and his owner's wife.

A Sudden Light--Garth Stein-I read this because I liked "The Art of Racing in the Rain" so much. This is an unusual story involving a family coming to terms with the past.  Involves a weird/haunted old house that has been in the family for a long time...and a 14 year old boy learning about the family's past.

The Forgotten Garden--This is a book club book for April.  Turns out I have read this one before too! I liked it...again.  Its one of those books that switches back and forth between characters and even between times, so I would sometimes get confused and then look back to realize that I'd missed the chapter heading telling me that I was now in 1900, not 1997.  Good story though overall.

The Burgess Boys--I had read this author once before so I decided to try another of her books. The first book I read of hers is Olive Kitteridge, which I really loved. Anyway, I really liked this book! Sort of the story of two brothers and the turns their lives took after their father was accidentally killed when they were little.  The interaction between them and their families, their sister and her boy.  Also a town's reaction to an influx of immigrants from Somalia. A lot going on but it all comes together and is quite interesting.

My Name is Lucy Barton--Elizabeth Strout- I really love Elizabeth Strout!  I love how she writes.  Her stories sometimes have bad language so I have trouble recommending her books to friends but I enjoy her stories so much.  She writes differently than any other writer that I have read.  And she makes me think.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up--Marie Kondo- I like being tidy and organized so I knew this one would speak to me.  I did like a lot of her ideas but she's more OCD than even me. haha.  I've started using some of her ideas but not all.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag--Alan Bradley- The Flavia de Luce Mysteries are irresistible.  I read the first one but didn't realize it was a series until my bother told me there were lots more. So I began to read them all...

The One and Only Ivan--Katherine Applegate-The story of a caged Ape in an old mall and the other animals he's with and a girl.  Really enjoyable.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery.

All the Light We Cannot See--Anthony Doerr-Set in WWII, the story of a blind girl and her father and an orphan named Werner...and how their stories converge.

A Red Herring Without Mustard--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery

Speaking from  Among the Bones--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches--Alan Bradley-Flavia de Luce Mystery

What Remains of Me--From the internet: Alison Gaylin-On June 28, 1980, Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.
Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high-profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent of both killings. But is she?
A good, if frustrating at times, mystery.

The Life We Bury--Allen Eskens- College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same.
Really good.

The Night Circus--Erin Morgenstern-So different! I had read it before but re-read it for book club.  I like it a lot. A duel between magical masters brings two people together in the Night Circus.

The Guise of Another--Allen Eskens-Having enjoyed his other book, I decided to read more of his books.  PG-13 at least.  Here is the synopsis from online:
Who was James Putnam? Answering that question may mean salvation for Alexander Rupert, a Minnesota detective whose life is in a serious downward spiral. A Medal of Valor winner, Alexander is now under subpoena by a grand jury on suspicion of corruption. He’s been reassigned to the Frauds Unit, where he is shunned by his fellow detectives, and he fears his status-seeking wife may be having an affair. When he happens across a complex case of identity theft, Alexander sees an opportunity to rehabilitate his tattered reputation.
But the case explodes into far more than he could have expected, putting him in the path of trained assassin Drago Basta, a veteran of the Balkan wars who has been searching for “James Putnam” for years. As his life spins out of control, Alexander’s last hope may be his older brother, Max, a fellow police detective who steps in to try to save his brother from the carnage his investigation has let loose.

America's First Daughter--Stephanie Dray-From online: In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

Cinder--Marissa Meyer-The first in a series of books that are kind of remakes of fairy tales in a different setting.  The series is called the Lunar Chronicles. I liked easy, fun sort of read.

Food--Jim Gaffigan- Obviously, it's Jim Gaffigan.  This is just a funny book for easy reading.

Scarlet--Marissa Meyer- A continuation of the Lunar Chronicles.

Secret Lives--Diane Chamberlain-An actress returns home to make a movie of her mother (who was an author and strange woman in many ways).  She learns a lot about her mother and about herself.

A Man Called Ove--Fredrik Backman- loved this book! About a cranky old man and the people in his life...he's suicidal and we learn why and watch him return to life.  I loved it.  Just saw that it's being made into a movie so I hope it's done well.

Before the Fall--Noah Hawley-the story of a plane crash and the people in it.  The only survivor is a struggling artist and a little boy. We hear their stories as well as those of the other people in the crash. 
And the aftermath and how it affects them all.

Cress--Marissa Meyer- Lunar Chronicles continued.

Stars Above--Marissa Meyer--Lunar Chronicles continued.

Seagull Book Reading (books from my job)
I'm trying to read books from Seagull book so that I can better tell people about the products.  It's not my usual type of reading in general (mainly the LDS fiction and LDS romances) so we shall see how it goes.

The Orchard--Krista Lynne Jensen- An LDS romance novel.  Decently cute story.  My first LDS fiction since I was a teenager so it was kind of weird to read.  I'll get used to it. haha.

Heaven Help Us!--Kari Rich-Just funny stories about being a Mom.  I like this kind of thing.  I like to laugh.

Sister's Arise! --Lynne Perry Christofferson-A book about how we as women can "rise up" and do better.  Very motivational without making me feel full of guilt over my shortcomings.

Love at first Note --Jenny Proctor-A love story about two musicians.  A cute, fast read.

In Their Own Words (Inspiring Autobiographical Stories from the Lives of the Prophets)--Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger-Found this hard to get into at first because it's all quotes from the latter day prophets so I had heard them before.  But as I kept going I found I was learning things about some of the prophets that I didn't know.  We hear or read quotes from Joseph Smith all the time but not as much about some of the others.  So in the end, it was good and interesting.  Makes me want to do better (or at least keep up with) writing my personal story.  It's fun to learn about people's lives.

How Four Feet of Plywood Saved the Grand Canyon--Interesting stories from American history.  Each story was only a few pages long so it was a quick and interesting read.  I enjoy history so this was a good one for me.

Audio Books:
Silent Sting by Claire Poulson
A murder mystery/love story.  Since starting to work at the LDS bookstore, I am trying to read some of the books there so I can help customers better.  I listened to this one as I drove back from AZ with my parents.  I haven't read LDS fiction since I was a teenager I think.  Honestly, it is not my cup of tea but I listened to the whole thing and it wasn't too painful.  I felt like the characters had no depth or nuance at all.  This is not an author I will keep reading I don't think.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
A book by a man (and scientist) who is dying. So good.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
The story of a girl who finds out her sister, who committed suicide at 16, is really alive and living under a different identity.

Maud's Line by Margaret Verble
(a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize which is why I chose it)
The story of a Native American young woman.  I didn't love it.  The reader was a bit monotone for one but also I had trouble really getting into this young woman's situation.  Too much sex and I felt like screaming "stop being so dumb!" to the girl. Shows some of the hopelessness of the time and circumstances.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
The story of a new social worker in North Carolina as she works with the impoverished people of the area.  Takes place during a time of racial tension and state-mandated sterilizations.  Pretty eye opening about things that once took place.  Made me wonder if I could go against all that "my world" is telling me to do and to do the right thing anyway.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
I read and enjoyed all of these books which are sort of remakes of different fairy tales but in a future setting.  Kind of hard to describe but enjoyable.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
If you don't know what this one is about, you should read it.  It's Steinbeck after all.

Britt-Marie was Here by Frederik Backman
A woman who is obsessive compulsive or something...told from her point of view.  She moves to a small town for a job and meets new people and does new things.  I loved it.

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The story of the rowing team of the 1936 Olympics.  Very good and inspiring.

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
A teeny-bopper book about a stoner boy and an over achiever girl who somehow meet up when she dreams.  How they are each dealing with their issues and helping each other out. By the end, the teenage angst was making me nuts.  I finished it just to make sure those two dummies actually got together.  Too much swearing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The domino effect

Recently hubby decided that it was time for new carpet for the bedrooms and hallway.  Honestly, we should have done it when we moved in.  Our house was a rental for awhile before we bought it and the previous owners/tenants had pets.  The carpet in the whole place is pretty nasty. But instead of replacing, we opted to spend a fortune to have everything deep cleaned.  That didn't really work but we have lived with the ugly, stained, worn, stinky carpet for two years since then.

No more.  It is going to be replaced and soon.
If I'm going to replace the carpet, I really should paint the rooms first.  I've been meaning to paint all the bedrooms and have only actually completed one.
And I have been wanting to build a window seat in the bay window area of the first bedroom.  I definitely have to do that before the carpet gets put in!
And, well, the baseboards.  I really want different baseboard to match the bathroom baseboard.
And if I put in new baseboards I might as well paint them white which means that I have to paint ALL of my trim and doors white.

See how this goes?  It just becomes a bigger and bigger project.

And so, we are in the middle of a huge mess over here because of this domino effect.

After I decided to rip out the baseboards (should be easy enough, right?) we discovered that our baseboards were put in first.  So they put the baseboard, then the carpet tack, then the carpet. So the carpet tack is holding the baseboards in.  The only way for me to take off the baseboard is to rip back the carpet, tear off the pad, remove the carpet tack strips and THEN pull off the baseboard. It's been quite a job.

This is what I've been doing for a few days now.  Only one more room to go!
My hands are trashed and bruised and sore but I am not stopping because I have a deadline...all must be accomplished before the new carpet!

Then as we were discussing carpet colors, hubby mentioned how awful the family room carpet is. He's right, it's awful, but I always swore that I would not replace that carpet with anything but hard wood.  I will admit that I'm starting to cave on that one.  It will be a long time before I can get hard wood floors and the hard wood floors will cause a different domino effect leading to the kitchen and laundry room.  So, I might have to find a way to live with the house mostly as-is. Mostly.

And so, as we discussed carpet in the living room, which is attached to the stairway leading to the basement.  I mentioned that I had always disliked how they carpeted the stairs.  They carpeted up onto the wall and on each side of the stairs.  So ugly.

I said that I would rather rip that off and just paint whatever wood is underneath there.
Frank agreed.

And I started ripping out the carpet.

Wait, you might be thinking, wasn't she in the middle of 3 or 4 other projects already?
Yes indeed.
But, the stairs look better already.

And luckily the stairs do not cause any other domino effects into the basement. Whew!

Monday, December 26, 2016

An Empty Nest Christmas

Christmas 2016 was definitely different for us.

All the kids are in far flung locations and we are left to celebrate on our own.
I will admit I haven't had much Christmas spirit for the last week or so.  I've been stressed out.

We spent Christmas Eve working on our various home projects.  We got a lot done even if it wasn't very festive of us.  We did eventually realize that we should at least have some Christmas music going while we we turned some on and felt better about ourselves after that.

Then we went to my sister's house for Christmas Eve evening which was nice.  I failed to take many pictures but we ate homemade pizza, sugar cookies, and various other treats. My sister, Diane, played some beautiful Christmas music on the piano. We played games and then read some scriptures and talked about Our Savior.  It was a nice evening together.

We made this video to send to Dion who is in the UK for Christmas this year.  We don't sound that amazing but at least we have Christmas cheer.

After we got home Frank and I watched some tv (nothing Christmas related), read scriptures and zonked out.  We didn't even open Christmas pajamas even though I had bought some.  oops. We are going to have to step up the traditions thing as empty's easy to let them go.

Christmas morning we got ready for church and then, since we had a few minutes, we each opened our stockings.  I got Frank some See's candy.  He realized late Christmas eve that he forgot stocking stuffers so he put some bandaids in my stocking during the night.  Perfect timing since I scraped my knuckles really good yesterday pulling out carpet. Of course he got the bandaids from the basement and I already knew they were there but it was a funny moment anyway! haha

Church was lovely with lots of great Christmas music.  I cried.

We opened gifts after church.  Frank got me a ton of stuff for the cold: snow pants, wool socks, a warm hat, and snow shoes.  I complained about hating cold after opening each one of them! haha  I'm an ingrate.  But I guess we will have to brave the cold to go snowshoeing sometime this winter now that we both have snowshoes. I will probably enjoy it but I will dread it up until then.  Frank insists that his gifts make it so that I can enjoy winter but I'd still rather just sit inside the warm house. (I know, that sounds bad but I try to be honest here on my blog).

He also gave me some girly luggage (I've been sad since my cute luggage was ruined and I've had to use our old ugly black suitcase).
What an amazing picture of me!

He bought us each some warm (fuzzy on the inside) shirts or maybe they are jackets...sort of a combo I suppose.  I think I will use it more as a jacket.  He bought himself a large and me an extra large. The man knows me well.  I like comfy, big shirts and jackets.

Frank opening his iPad and wearing the new fuzzy shirt/jacket

I gave Frank new sawhorses, and a new iPad (his broke earlier this year).  I know I gave him more than that but I can't remember what now.

Frank's sister gave us matching plaid shirts.  She knows us (at least me) so well.  It was an awesome present!  If we go to my sister's house later, we will wear them.  But even if we don't...someday soon we will be a matching plaid couple and it will be fantastic.

We also got an original painting from our niece Emily.  We love it so much and it's going to go in our master bedroom once I get the walls painted.  We are having a tropical themed master bedroom.

Then we relaxed on the couch with Christmas music going in the background.

We skyped with everyone eventually.

Austin, Katy and Katy's family
(but didn't think to take a picture. Sorry guys! We loved talking to you!)

The Alaska folks

And finally, Elder Carter Hill

Honestly, not our favorite Christmas.  Next year we probably won't stay home alone because it sucked.
Christmas 2016, we are glad you are over.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I  put new baseboard moulding in the bathroom when I remodeled.  Before I remodeled, there was tile around the edges of the room.
I did not tell Frank at the time that I had plans in my head to replace ALL the moulding in the house to be like the new stuff in the bathroom.  

You know, gradually, as I paint each room.

Afterward the bathroom was finished I casually said, "What would you think about changing all the moulding to match the bathroom?"
He gave me a look that basically said "you are nuts woman".
I just left it there.
Better to give him time...

Tonight as we purchased the boards to do new moulding in the guest room/office I said, "Thanks honey! You're the best!"
Him: "Yeah, you are difficult"
Me: "No, I have vision!"
Him: "True.  Most people wouldn't put themselves through all this hell and expense...only people with 'vision'."

So true.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Big Reveal

Well, the bathroom is done!

It feels like it has taken over my life but it is now fully functional and finished.
I may still hang some kind of art on the one open wall above the toilet but I don't want to wait for that before taking pictures and pronouncing it done.

Here is the before (not complete pictures of the room and vanity but it's all I have):

My reasons for remodeling:

Jacuzzi tub: too big, ugly, gross, cracked
Tile: ugly, cracked
Vanity: ugly, not much storage
Toilet: awful...clogged all the time.
Fixtures: Gold and chrome combo circa 1980's that were so ugly.  Still functional but made me sad to look at them.
Floor: never felt clean. Ugly tile and stained grout

But the main reason: Because I wanted to.

I used to say "as soon as all the kids move out, I am gutting that bathroom!" whenever I was frustrated with how yucky it was.
Then, they moved out.
So I gutted it.

It wasn't an easy job.
I had to hire a few things out that I originally planned to do myself (or have Frank do) because I sort of forgot that Frank would be one handed for a long time and that I really don't have that many handy-man type skills.
But in the end, it worked out and I'm happy with the finished product. 
It feels clean and happy.

It does make me want to redo other rooms in the house, however.
But I pretty much knew that would be the case so it's no surprise.

Without further ado, I give you the New Bathroom!

The view from the hallway.
New floor tile.

 New tub, tile and toilet.  New moulding along the floor.

The view from the other side.

New vanity, mirror and tile backsplash.

Lots of great storage!

Some of my favorite things:

Cute hooks for towels.
I am a person who loves color and this room, admittedly, has very little color.  So adding these cute hooks that I found in a little boutique (on the clearance rack) feels like it makes the room more "me".

A fabulous linen closet.

I know I have talked about my linen closet issues on previous blogs but I must have nice, organized linens and towels.  Oh, the towels and sheets themselves might not be new and fabulous but they will be organized and neat and look fabulous on the shelf.
I did buy some new towels for this bathroom since all the old ones were pretty raggedy and how could I put raggedy towels up in my new bathroom?
I painted the inside of the linen closet as well as all trim and doors in the bathroom.

Penny tile backsplash.  
I have loved penny tile for a long time and I'm glad to have some in my house.

My sister and I did this tile backsplash and, honestly, we did a better job than the guy I hired to do the bathtub surround.
Live and learn.
I should have been more patient and just waited to do it with my sister.

The niche in the shower.
The old shower (and the shower in my master bath) have these big ceramic soap dishes that extend into the shower.  I like the niche much better!  And it doesn't take away from space in the shower.

The floor.
Ah, no more huge beige tile with stained grout.

So, there you have it!
My big bathroom project is complete.
I have never done a project this big before and I'm really happy with how it looks and the fact that it is done!

Want to see my next project?

This is the room that was Ryan's room and has been my painting room and tool dumping ground for the entire time I've been working on the bathroom.
My next job is to clean this up and get all the tools back where they belong
(my inability to put tools away is one of the things about me that drives Frank batty)
This project doesn't seem as fun somehow.