Big Kiss Quilt
15 May, 2020

Big Kiss Quilt

/ posted in: Quilting

Over the weekend I saw a quick quiltalong on Instagram.  It was for the Big Kiss Quilt.

I wanted to make it because it is great for showing off fabrics that I bought because I loved the pattern.  Then I got them home and had no idea what to do with them.  I picked out a few of these fabrics and threw this together.


See the Dalmatian fabric? I bought this for the first quilt top I ever made all the way back in 1997. I’ve been carrying that around for a while. It has been in 6 houses with me.

This is a fun quick quilt. It is about 50 inches square. That isn’t a favorite size for me but it would be good at this size or a little smaller for a baby quilt.


Find the free pattern here.

The Haberdashers
11 May, 2020

The Haberdashers

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading

The Haberdashers Series

In the early 1800s a group of young female friends form a club that they named The Haberdashers.  They liked the sound of the name and found it fitting that Haberdashers make accessories for men.  They were just coming to the realization that “accessories for men” is all they were supposed to become.  They decided to teach themselves skills that the boys got to learn because it sounded like more fun.

Book 1 – Trials of Artemis

Jacqueline (Jack) hates balls so she sneaks into her host’s library because she’s heard that he has some wonderful volumes in Greek.  She is accosted by a man who was planning on meeting a wealthy widow there.  They are found and then forced to marry.  I hate the whole concept of women being compromised by being found alone with a man.  Who are these people who imagine that the first thing you do when you meet with a stranger is to tear off your clothes and have sex?  It annoys me.

The nice thing about this book is that it allows Jack to keep being herself even though she is thrown into a marriage that she doesn’t want.  Her background reading military history comes in handy when she has to fight against some smugglers.


Book 2 – Athena’s Ordeal

This series does a really good job of maintaining a story through all the books. Characters from each book seamlessly move into the next story.

In this book, another of the Haberdashers, Sabre, comes to her brother’s house. Her brother is a spymaster and fixer for the government. A Duke is coming to consult with her brother to fix a problem. He mistakes Sabre for her brother’s mistress and offers to pay her more than she is currently getting. Instead of being horribly insulted she schemes to follow him to his house and help him with his problems.

This is a pretty unrealistic story. She shows up at his house and just stays there. Jumping from book 1 where a few minutes in a library means marriage to book 2 where she just hangs out is jarring. It was entertaining though.


Book 3 – Fates for Apate

The third member of the Haberdashers, George, is supposedly visiting a sick aunt in Scotland. Instead she is in Vienna on a mission for Robert, Sabre’s spymaster brother. When she gets too close to a source in the Prussian delegation, she needs to run back to England with him in tow to save them. Events in this book overlap the end of book 2 so you get to see the same events play out from different points of view.



Book 4 – Saving Persephone

This book was a disappointment. The main character in this one is Robert the spymaster. He meets an American who is part of a shipping family. The problem is that Robert is just a horrible person. He’s awful in the other books but I figured in his own book you’d see some softer side. Nope. Still an unmitigated jerk. I didn’t buy the romance in this one at all.





Book 5 – Taming Chiron

This book features Sabre’s other brother Charlie. He’s nice. He likes horses. He’s such a nice guy that the hosts of a house party pair him with the least interesting woman there. He is supposed to be nice to her to make sure she has a good time. They end up liking each other of course.






Book 6 – Pheme’s Regret

This was a premise that I haven’t read before. The female main character started a rumor years ago that completely ruined the life of a man. He had to leave England and live with relatives in France. He started his whole life over. Now she has business in France and needs a lawyer. She doesn’t realize that the man she hired is the same person she once ruined. This book is about forgiveness. I feel like it might have been a bit too easy but it was still an entertaining read.

One thing that bothered me about this series is that the main characters of the first three books, especially Sabre, got a bit obnoxious and overbearing in the last three. They didn’t like people pushing them around and then they did it to other women. It seemed a bit out of character.

Wine Girl
06 May, 2020

Wine Girl

/ posted in: Book ReviewFoodies ReadReading Wine Girl Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James
on March 24, 2020
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

An affecting memoir from the country’s youngest sommelier, tracing her path through the glamorous but famously toxic restaurant world

At just twenty-one, the age when most people are starting to drink (well, legally at least), Victoria James became the country’s youngest sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Even as Victoria was selling bottles worth hundreds and thousands of dollars during the day, passing sommelier certification exams with flying colors, and receiving distinction from all kinds of press, there were still groping patrons, bosses who abused their role and status, and a trip to the hospital emergency room.

It would take hitting bottom at a new restaurant and restorative trips to the vineyards where she could feel closest to the wine she loved for Victoria to re-emerge, clear-eyed and passionate, and a proud “wine girl” of her own Michelin-starred restaurant.

Exhilarating and inspiring, Wine Girl is the memoir of a young woman breaking free from an abusive and traumatic childhood on her own terms; an ethnography of the glittering, high-octane, but notoriously corrosive restaurant industry; and above all, a love letter to the restorative and life-changing effects of good wine and good hospitality.


I’ve always wanted to learn about wine.  I think the history of different vineyards and wines is fascinating.  That’s why I was interested in listening to Wine Girl.  What does it take to be an expert on wine, especially at a young age?

However, this book is more of a look at the sexism inherent in the restaurant and wine business than a primer on wines.  There is a lot of trauma discussed here.  There are descriptions of sexual harassment by patrons, forced sexual relationships by bosses and coworkers, and rapes by patrons.  She accepted these things as the price you need to pay to work in the industry.  By the end of the book, it was nice to see that she was using her new power as a restaurant owner to teach others that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Even the nonviolent events show severe sexism in the world of high end fine dining.  There were restaurants where she was never allowed to set foot in the kitchen because the cooks were all male and didn’t want women in there.  (Yet these same people would probably consider cooking at home to be women’s work.)  There were restaurants where only men were hired as servers.  She was dismissed at sommelier competitions because women don’t compete.  They certainly don’t win.

There is a lot of information about her childhood here too.  I hate the inclusion of childhood details in memoirs.  I think authors tend to dwell too much on their formative years and it gets boring.  This story has echoes of Educated in the presentation of a dysfunctional childhood.  It should be noted that the author’s older sister, who doesn’t feature much in the book, has come out strongly against the book saying that her description of her childhood is not factual. 


The Lady Travelers Society
04 May, 2020

The Lady Travelers Society

/ posted in: Reading

The Premise of the Series

Three elderly ladies have been friends for decades.  They all married men who traveled around the world.  They were left home.  Now they are all widows who would like to make a little bit of money.  They founded the Lady Travelers Society to encourage women to go abroad.  They take a monthly membership fee in exchange for holding lectures about travel for women and for arranging trips for their members.  None of them have actually every traveled anywhere except for one trip to Paris as a girl but what could go wrong….


I’m a huge fan of older ladies in books.  The three ladies of the travel society aren’t the protagonists of this series but they are the main troublemakers in the background.

In the first book, the one and only lady who has taken up their offer to arrange her travel has gone missing.  Her niece has been writing increasingly concerned letters to the ladies (which they’ve ignored).  Now she is coming to the society to investigate.  The nephew of one of the ladies has also found out that they are scamming people and is trying to put a stop to it.  They team up to try to trace her aunt’s journey across Europe and find out what went wrong.


Victoria Alexander

In the second book of the series, the Lady Travelers Society sponsors a tour to Italy for a group of American mother and daughters.  Leading the tour is a widow who needs to get to Italy to get back a painting.  Her husband pawned it.  She doesn’t know that the painting that was gifted to her grandmother is considered stolen property.  She isn’t the only one trying to get it back.

She’s never been to Europe so is totally unprepared to be a guide but she has memorized all the guidebooks and hotels have been booked in advanced.  Her clients will be fine when she leaves them in Italy and disappears after finding her painting.







Harry has spent the last 20 years in Egypt. Now he is back in England and is horrified to find out that the most popular writer about Egypt is a woman who writes adventure stories. He writes letters to the newspaper deriding her work and challenging her to prove that she knows anything about Egypt.

Sidney has never been to Egypt. It isn’t her fault that people think her stories are true. She never claimed that. She has based them off of her grandmother’s journals and extensive study. Now she has to lead a tour to Egypt that will prove the she knows what she is talking about.










Viola and James married three years ago. Since then they have led separate lives. She has been traveling all over Europe. Now James’ uncle has died. His will states that Viola and James have to live together as a happy couple for three years in order for James to inherit the money needed to run the estates. Viola’s money is untouched. Will she work with him to help?












This novella is considered #0.5 in the series but I read it last. This one features the elderly ladies more prominently.

A chance meeting made a big impression on Celia and Henry. However, they never met again until some time later when he is supposed to marry her half-sister. The ladies know this is a horrible mistake and make it their mission to stop the wedding.











Why I liked these:

  • The travel aspect gave opportunities for different plots than books just set at house parties in England.
  • Independent heroines trying to make their way in a world that is fighting them.
  • Old ladies!!!!
May 2020 Foodies Read
01 May, 2020

May 2020 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading


Welcome to May 2020 Foodies Read!

  We had 27 entries in April!  The winner of the drawing is Tari for her review of Death in Four Courses.

The Foodies Read Rules:

  1. Every post must feature a book about food.  Posts that don’t center a book will be removed.
  2. Every entry is entered into a monthly drawing to win a gift card.  Once you win a prize you are not eligible to win for 6 months.





You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

30 Apr, 2020

April 2020 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I had another huge reading month.  It was mostly all romance all the time which adds to the speed at which I was going through books.  I also found some new to me authors by giving books a try on Kindle Unlimited. 

I enjoyed this series that centered around an almost-legitimate travel agency for women.

Then I started reading a lot of Joanna Shupe’s books.  These were set in 1890s New York.

I read a lot of Erica Ridley too.

There were some single authors thrown in there.

Then I fell hard for another series.

I found another new to me author who I really enjoyed.

There were a few non-romance books in there.

That’s 31 books in total!  

The books I read were:

  • 1 audiobook
  • 1 nonfiction
  • Set in the U.S. and England mostly with a few side trips to Italy and France in the books.



Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

Nothing new in my comfort reading month.




24 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – U

/ posted in: Reading


I’m a sucker for reading about long distance running or biking or walking or any long distance activity.  I don’t want to do it necessarily.  (Definitely not the running part.)  But I find it fascinating to read about.

These are just a few of the books that I’ve read along the way.

I’m currently reading: Spirit Run

“Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” A university scholarship offered escape, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in.

At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four-month-long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear―dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion―but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities.”

23 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – T

/ posted in: Reading

Terry Pratchett


S and T are the two authors who most reflect my sensibilities.  Terry Pratchett has my style of humor combined with deep thought.  I already said that I want to be one his characters when I grow up.

I came here to link to a BBC Radio production of his novel Guards! Guards! that I quite enjoyed.  I listened to it while walking around my neighborhood while I was on self-isolation.  I promise I did.  I can’t find it on YouTube (where I listened to it).  I can’t find it in my history from that time period.  I promise.  It was very good.  I have obviously fallen through a crack in the universe to a parallel dimension where none of this happened.  Sorry to say that the guy is still President.

Anyway, read Terry Pratchett.  Read it all.  Reread as required.  

I actually have not read it all.  There is one book that I got out of the library when it was released.  I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant all ready to read the book and then I just couldn’t.  I knew he was dying.  That could have been the last book he ever published.  I couldn’t bring myself to read it.  I sent it back to the library.  Because that one unread book exists I was able to read his actual last book.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to read the one that got away.  Maybe…

22 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – S

/ posted in: Reading

Sherri S. Tepper


Sherri S. Tepper is a fascinating author who needs to be better known.  She wrote fiercely feminist science fiction and fantasy.  

I stumbled across her books in a library and was hooked.  Over the years I’ve collected many of her books (there are a lot) and do occasional rereads.

One book I read most often is The Fresco.  I want to live in this world. 

The bizarre events that have been occuring across the United States seem to have no bearing on Benita Alvarez-Shipton’s life. That is until she is approached by a pair of aliens asking her to transmit their message of peace to the Powers That Be in Washington.

Her obligation does not end once the message is delivered, however, for the Pistach have offered their human hosts a spectacular opportunity for knowledge and enrichment, with Benita as sole liasion between the two sentient races. The more she learns about the extra-terrestrials, the more her appreciation grows for their culture, their beliefs and their art – especially the ancient and mysterious Fresco that dominates their collective lives.

But the Pistach are not the only space-faring species making their presence known on Earth. There are others, cold, malevolent and hungry… ”

That synopsis doesn’t sum up the joy I find in this book.  Benita is an abused wife whose children are now college aged.  She is planning on suicide when she is interrupted by the arrival of two aliens.  They chose her as their contact with Earth because she could not be perceived as having an underlying agenda.  They help her move away from her husband to safety and then she lets the world know that aliens are real.  

In order for Earth to join an alliance that will protect us, we have to be found to be Neighborly.  We aren’t.  Usually there is time to work through this but the schedule is tight so the aliens force Neighborliness upon us.  They basically give religious leaders and politicians everything they say they want but not quite in the way those men thought it was going to go down.  I want to stand up and cheer every time I read this book.  

The book also discusses religion.  The aliens base their society and peaceful nature on their religion.  Their scripture is a fresco.  It is so holy it can’t be cleaned.  Now it is unreadable after centuries of wear.  Will their civilization fall if a forced cleaning reveals that their lives are based on a lie?

This is a book I’d love to force everyone to read.  Start here and then move through her other books.  

21 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – R

/ posted in: Just for Fun



I’m an unapologetic romance reader.  I specifically like historical romances in just about any time period.

My grandmother got me started reading them.  She subscribed to Harlequin and got books mailed to her.  She read all the new sweet Regency romances.  Sweet romances means that there was no sex in them.  Sometimes there would be a really racy one where they kissed before marriage.  Usually, there was a wedding at the end of the book and then there would be an epilogue where children have magically appeared.  The children were truly a miracle!

She’d give them to my mother and I to read.  We called them the smut books because they were the exact opposite.  A few years ago we went to England on a smut book tour we designed to hit a lot of the major places these books took place.  We went around London and made sure to go to Bath to take the waters in the Pump Room.

I got away from reading romance for a while but now I’m back full force.  I still prefer books with no sex in them but that is difficult to find now.  Most of the time I skip over the descriptions of sex in the books.  It’s boring.

I really like the stories though.  To be a romance book the plot has to focus on the main couple and there has to be a happy ending.  There are times when you just don’t want to read sad books.  You want to know that everything is going to be alright in the end.  Since you know the author has those constraints it can be interesting to see how they creatively work around them to surprise the audience with a unique plot.

I’m super picky when it comes to romances.  I rely on fans on Twitter with similar tastes to me to give recommendations.  When I pick on my own I tend to find books that are too poorly written, have outrageous plots, are bordering on erotica instead of romance, or are boring.  Romance fans are loyal.  When we find an author we like, we read everything they’ve ever written.


20 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – Q

/ posted in: Just for Fun


I started quilting in 1997 to hold off a mental breakdown. I’m a failed knitter and crocheter. My mother and grandmother were very good at those. I could do it but very slowly and unevenly. I was used to seeing them knitting and it seemed normal to my to have a creative hobby. In 1996-1997 I was my clinical year of vet school. We worked all hours. It was mentally and physically draining. When I had time at home I just wanted to relax. There was a new channel on TV called HGTV and in the morning there was a show on quilting. I was intrigued. I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. I didn’t get it. No one believed me. So I took the little cash I had and bought a cheap machine. It lasted for 10 years.

I’ve given away most of the quilts I’ve made. You have to otherwise you’d be drowning under quilts.


I make quilts for weddings and babies. I donated a lot to charities. I was a state rep for a large quilt charity for a few years.


This is what I’ve been focused on this month. It is a hand pieced project. I expect it to take years.  This is a tiny bit of the upper left corner.


18 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – P

/ posted in: Just for FunPets


Facts about Paul:

He came here as a very timid boy.  It took him 2 years before he was brave enough to go into the living room.

He believes in rules.  Anyone in the house who isn’t following the rules stresses him out.  Freckles’ slide into senility was very upsetting for him.  When she was really confused and acting randomly we had to watch them or else Paul would try to slap some sense into her.

He’s relaxed a lot since Freckles died.

He just learned to cuddle in the last week.  Before he would sit near you for a few minutes on the bed or let you pet him but the idea of sitting and touching without active petting was new.


He raised Lucy from a kitten.  We adopted a kitten for him.  We knew he would want a cat to play with but an active adult cat would have been way too intimidating for him.  She followed him around and built his confidence.

 He doesn’t approve of anyone coming to the house.  He hides and hisses. 

When he was younger he was quite a thief.  He’d take anything he could carry and stash it.  Thankfully he’s outgrown that some.


17 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – O

/ posted in: Just for Fun


I love the Olympics. I’m always glued to my screen watching all of it that I can. However, I’ve never been the person who is into the sports that sportscasters seem to think I want to see. I was always so frustrated as a kid because TV didn’t show what I wanted.

I’ve been so grateful for technology to help me and my fellow unpopular sport lovers. I love the fact that now I can choose to watch programming that interests me and know I’m not alone.

What do I love in the Winter Olympics?

Keep your figure skating. I only want to see hours and hours of curling! Not kidding. I love it. I even tried it once. I ended up bruised and battered.

What about the Summer Olympics?

I don’t care about gymnastics at all although I am fascinated by rhythmic gymnastics. I want to see synchronized swimming and the equine events. Let me go on a rant here. A few Olympics ago the powers that be decided to start calling the equine events “Equestrian”. NO! First of all, equestrian is an adjective. It is fine and proper to refer to the Equestrian Events. It is nails on the chalkboard creepy to hear Equestrian alone. “Let’s go over to Equestrian” is not a complete sentence, Bob Costas. No one who has ever participated in these events has ever referred to them by this name. It is an Olympic only title used by people who didn’t care enough to learn the name of the sports. /rant

What are your favorite outlier Olympic events?

16 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – N

/ posted in: Just for Fun


One of the things I love most in the world is nonsense. I love the power of a mind with a lot of imagination to create something absolutely absurd.

I remember feeling this for the first time when I started reading The Phantom Tollbooth when I was in middle school.  I was fascinated by the creation of a world where toy cars could take you past a tollbooth and into lands based on math or letters.  Since then I’ve been a sucker for outlandish world building.

Alice in Wonderland of course is an all time favorite.  See Letter C. But there are other authors who do a great job with this too. 

Jasper Fforde has created worlds that exist inside books where characters have free time when they aren’t being read.  His Tuesday Next series features an alternate England where law enforcement is as concerned about cheese and the English poets’ legacies as they are about more mundane crimes.  

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere imagines the landmarks of London having near duplicates with a twist in London Underground – for example, Knightsbridge becomes Night’s Bridge (a bridge you have to cross in total darkness).  He also has delightfully polite mass murdering villains who are just charming before they kill you.  

Daniel Jose Older’s Dactyl Hill Squad is a group of orphans who help fight the U.S. Civil War while riding dinosaurs.  

I love any book that can make me laugh out loud at the pure inventiveness of the author.

What are some of your favorites?

15 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – M

/ posted in: Reading


I absolutely love going to the movies.  In fact, we almost never watch movies at home because everything we’ve wanted to see we’ve seen in the theater.

For Christmas last year I got a pass that let me go to unlimited movies for a year.  We figured that in order for it to make financial sense I had to see at least 3 movies a month.  That was absolutely doable.  We usually went to a movie every week.  It was also nice for those movies you were on the fence about.  Did you want to spend money to see that?  Not an issue, it’s free!

Yeah, not so much now.  I didn’t figure a global pandemic into my cost/benefit ratios.

I used to pick the theater to go to based on food choices.  I was a sucker for pretzel bites with cheese sauce.  Yes it would kill my lactose-intolerant self but it was SO GOOD!  Then a movie theater that didn’t have pretzel bites got recliners.  We had to change loyalties.  That theater does have Cheetos popcorn though.  It is cheese flavored popcorn mixed with Cheetos.  Very good.

We’re spoiled now.  There was a day when a movie we wanted to see wasn’t at that theater.  We actually had a discussion about whether or not we’d go see it at another theater where we’d having to have our feet on the floor “like peons.”  We did and it was so traumatic after lounging in recliners. 

I like seeing special events in theaters too.  We’ve seen musicals and operas and special event television shows.  I can’t wait until we get to go back again.


14 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – L

/ posted in: Just for FunPets



Facts about Lucy:

She is the ultimate immoveable object.  She sleeps between my knees and no amount of moving or kicking will dislodge her.  If I need her to move, I need to lift up the blanket that she is on and move the blanket away from my legs.

She’s a Mommy’s girl.  She has to be where I am.  Even better, she needs to be sitting on me.  Best, she needs to be sitting on me in the most inconvenient way possible.

She likes to hunt bugs. Occasionally she gets big game like a mouse that wanders into the house.

She murdered a small cactus I had by repeatedly pushing the container off the ledge it sat on.

This weekend I found her rubbing up against my toothbrush.  I wonder how long that’s been going on.


She’ll stand on the counter and meow until you hug her.

She has the husband trained to give her treats at specified times of the day.

She keeps Paul entertained by running and wrestling with him.

Her favorite place to sit is on top of me if I am covered with my orange fleece blanket.  That is the ultimate happy spot.  

13 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – K

/ posted in: HobbiesJust for Fun



For the past few years I’ve been thinking that I would like to be a person who kayaks.  It seemed like a fun lifestyle.  Unfortunately I live too far away from the lake to easily run up there on a day off without making a whole day adventure of it.  

Last year I realized that I was an idiot.

You see I grew up near Lake Erie.  That’s what I think of when I think of a body of water.  Yes, it would take me over an hour to get there now.  But, amazingly (to my brain) there are more bodies of water in the world than the Great Lakes.  In fact, I’m all but surrounded by rivers and lakes.  In the summer every third or fourth car has kayaks on their roofs.  Where did I think they were all going? I live down the street from this guy even.


Last summer I explored the idea a little.  I did a trip down a quiet river in a rental kayak a few times and agreed that I would like to do this on a regular basis.  I started to look for a kayak.

Videos on YouTube told me that the first thing I needed to learn was how to roll my kayak upside down and then right it.  No thank you.  I decided a wanted a sit-on-top kayak so if it flipped over, I would just fall out.  I’ll take my chances swimming with a life vest on.  I watched videos of people running crazy rapids and going over waterfalls.  Nope.  I’m not about that life.  I would like to putter around a lake while taking pictures of birds and plants.  Then I saw a video of people testing the stability of fishing kayaks by standing up on them and walking around and casting fishing rods.  These were my people.  I have no interest in fishing but I have a lot of interest in not flipping over.  

I figured out the beginner fishing kayak I wanted and then started watching to see when it would go on sale through the winter.  I finally found a sale but not on the boat I wanted.  I found the kayak that is the next step up in that brand, on sale, with a paddle included, with free shipping for about $100 less than I was looking to spend on the other kayak.  I jumped on the buy button.

It has been here since the beginning of February waiting for warm weather to go out and start exploring.

One thing I learned in my research – If you are on instagram, follow #kayakingwithdogs for delightful pictures of dogs in their life jackets going out on kayaks.  It is well worth your time.  Sometimes the hashtag gets hijacked by kayakers doing crazy stunts (without dogs because dogs have more sense) which is sad but it let me know what insane things other people do with kayaks.    

11 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – J

/ posted in: Just for FunPets



Facts about Jules:

She is a Senegal parrot.

Based on the band on her leg we think she was born in 2005.

We adopted her from a rescue in 2010.

She hates my husband.  I tried to make them make friends by having him feed her meals.  It hasn’t worked.  The best result after years of this is that sometimes she doesn’t try to bite him at feeding time.

Up until last week I could have said that although she is a mouthy bird, she has never bit me hard enough to break skin.  But, last week I let the husband pet her and I was punished with a nasty bite on my finger.

I think she is a pretty quiet bird as birds go.  Other people think she is extremely loud.  They’ve never met larger birds apparently.

She isn’t really a screamer but she is pretty constantly making some kind of noise.  It is the background noise of our house.

I had a previous bird who died of old age.  The husband decided we needed another bird because the house was too quiet.

On the second day I had her she said, “Hello” to me.  She hasn’t said anything recognizable since.  Sometimes though I hear her muttering under her breath and I know it is words.

She laughs a lot.

I sing to her in the shower.  I make up some lyrics for her.  The first time I sang a version of “Hey Jude Jules” to her she attacked me but she likes it now.

She’s a really good eater.  Most birds are very cautious about trying anything new.  She’ll give anything I’m eating a try.

No other animal is allowed to touch her cage.  I once had to crawl under the dining room table to cuddle and console a dog who made the unforgivable mistake of putting a paw on her cage.  He wasn’t being mean.  He was standing on his hind legs to look at her (ok) and then put a front paw out for balance on her cage (NOT OK).  She flew at the front of the cage while screaming.  That poor dog was probably scarred for life.

She likes to listen to Pandora. She has a wide range of tastes from classical to rock to old school hip hop channels. I made the husband stop playing the Old School Hip Hop channel just in case she decided to start talking again.


10 Apr, 2020

Blogging from A to Z – I

/ posted in: Just for Funtravel


Iceland is one of my bucket list trips. It is almost the perfect place for me. When I think of Iceland I think of three things:






    • Ponies!  Yes, I know that they are officially called Icelandic HORSES and I would never want to offend them but they are little and cute and furry and that gleefully screams PONIES in my soul.
  • horses-584519_640

    • Hot springs – I do love soaking in any available source of hot water. I’m totally up for lazing about in hot springs.
    • Epic landscapes just hanging out waiting to be photographed.


    To be honest, I’ve set foot in Iceland four times. However, I’ve never left the airport. I’ve flown Icelandair to Europe and back twice. Each time you land in Iceland to refuel and to take advantage of the giftshop. The first time I bought an Iceland wool sweater that was too itchy to ever wear. The second time (years later) I was smarter and bought a felted wool horse that I hang on the Christmas tree.

    My goal is to sometime go and be able to get out of the airport.

    Because PONIES!


    09 Apr, 2020

    Blogging from A to Z – H

    / posted in: Just for Fun


    Why did I want to learn to play the harp?  I blames movies and TV.

    In the movie A Mighty Wind Catherine O’Hara plays a little dulcimer.  (I think it is a dulcimer.)  I thought it was really cool.  I thought that I might like to try to play something like that.

    Then I did a rewatch of Gilmore Girls.  In the first episode, Lorelei gets into an argument with the harpist in the inn lobby about the music she is playing.  The harpist wants to play rock music.  Lorelei doesn’t want that.  The joke is supposed to be about rock music on a harp but that sounded like a good idea to me.  I decided to get a harp.

    I know me so I decided to get a small lap harp.  I got just a tiny one to see if I would stay interested.  I did play it a lot and eventually got frustrated by the limitations of that harp.  I decided to take the plunge and get a bigger one.  I didn’t get one of the giant pedal harps.  I got a lever harp.  The difference is that with a lever harp you can change keys by flipping a lever on the strings.  It isn’t super easy to do on the fly though.  Really complicated music needs to be played on a pedal harp where you can change the note of each string more easily.  (I have the same harp that they are using in the video below but mine isn’t blue.)

    So, can you play rock music on a harp?  Absolutely.

    I’m nowhere near this good. I just putter but it is fun. Mostly I say that I provide after dinner music for cats. I play and the cats come in the room and lay down and nap. They are a great audience.