Friday, January 28, 2011

What we are doing...

So here's what we are doing these days.

Manatees came to town. There were lots. The discolorations in the water are mostly manatees.

Here are some more manatees:

And yet more manatees:

The manatees were in in droves because of the cold weather. Another side effect of said cold is all the pretty fall colors, which we have been enjoying.

We are once again Sea World pass holders. This picture didn't turn out very well, but it's a person who has been pushed into the air for a dive by two dolphins. One of my favorite parts of the show.

We got a number of games for Christmas. This one is Blockus. Morgan figured out how to fit all the pieces on without breaking rules. Impressive. We have been playing quite a few other games as well. Anyone want to come over?

We have been having gorgeous sunsets as usual. This is one Morgan got pictures of within the last couple of weeks.

Right now, we are working, and today we actually got to work together!

Here's proof that I am working in the same room. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A cool little link

This will take you less than two minutes to watch. I think the title is funny: When kids aren't glued to video games they can create this awesomeness. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Long List

So I can't blame you if you don't read this whole list, but we were trying to put together a list of lots of dinners that we like. (Or parts of dinners, as the case may be.) If you don't want to read the whole thing (which is in no particular order), just comment with some of your favorite dinners. I feel like you can never have enough ideas. Most of these are very easy and fairly cheap, by the way.


taco soup
taco salad
black beans and rice with roast pork
vegetable soup (my mom's way, obviously. Yum!)
chicken and rice
spaghetti (I particularly love it on spaghetti squash)
hamburgers (with either ground beef or ground turkey)
lasagna/lasagna in a pot (less mess the pot way)
oatmeal burgers (a personal favorite)
stroganoff (however you spell it)
pork chops and scalloped potatoes (or ham)
pizza (my favorite is green peppers and pineapple)
shepherd's pie
stir fry
Hawaiian haystacks (don't forget the whipped cream and cherries)
rice and beans (my roommate's style)
burritos (my uncle's style)
chicken teriyaki
chicken a la king
chicken pot pie
ginger ale pot roast
chicken broccoli stuffing yumminess
BBQ chicken
baked potatoes with toppings
corned beef and eggs
Hoppin' John
stuffed peppers
lentils, especially on quesadillas
sweet potato pork roast with peppers
French market soup
chicken broccoli casserole
chicken broth soup
cornbread with chili (emphasis on the cornbread!)
chicken cordon bleu
parmesan chicken
sloppy joes
chicken enchiladas
French toast
tuna casserole
sweet and sour chicken
chicken fettuccine
whole wheat waffles with strawberry and peach blend
mac & cheese with cabbage and hot dogs (cabbage is a must! cabbage and onions would be good, too)
funeral potatoes
potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce. No kidding.
creamed egg on toast
cream tuna on rice
Salisbury steak
chicken paprika
Swedish pancakes
fancy nachos
chicken salad
tuna salad
Chipotle chicken

Bored yet? I love lists of food so there are lots of options. I like lots of variety. I would love more to add to my list, so add away, please.

And for some pretty music... Did I mention I love Thomas Newman?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


"Happiness and unhappiness... are not opposite sides of the same emotion - they're distinct and rise and fall independently..." - Gretchen Rubin

I'm not sure if that's the exact quote. It's what I wrote in my notes from the book. But I thought that was interesting. I've often felt like I was happy and sad at the same time and that seemed paradoxical. So when I read this sentence, it rang true to me. It was why I could feel both at the same time.

Another thing Rubin points out is that happy people tend to focus on the positive things in their lives while unhappy people tend to focus on the negative things. I've made a concerted effort for the last week to focus on the positive and I have to say, it's made a difference. In the past, I've tried to be a positive thinker, but this time, I am focusing on doing so. Funny how in some ways, I didn't learn anything new when I read Rubin's book, and yet it struck me anew - things I've always known, but need to put back into practice.

Here is yet another song (this version in particular) that I love to listen to. (I have a thing for mellow music I guess.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Here's another song. Sorry for the lame music videos sometimes. I just listen to the music and ignore the video. The song is much prettier by Il Divo and NOT in English. :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

We talked about a lot of our favorite composers for a long time on Saturday night. We listened to a lot of great music. In our wanderings around fantastic musicians like Alan Menken, John Williams, and Hans Zimmer (to name a few of our heroes), we found this version of a song in Hebrew. We thought it was pretty cool, so I thought I'd share it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This and that (with some beauty thrown in)

I've just read my first nonfiction for the year. A book called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. I don't know if this book is for everyone, but I loved the practical application of how to take your life and feel happier. Happiness takes work. I liked how much I identified with things she wrote about and I got all sorts of good ideas about how to help myself feel happier so I can help others feel happier.

The shortcuts that I learned a few weeks ago are becoming more natural and I love them.

And for the beauty part of this, I decided to post one of my favorite Barbara Bonney videos. She makes me happy. :) I can listen to this music over and over...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book Challenge 2011

Two non-fiction books (of any length) a month plus one challenge a month. (10 pts per book)

Here are the challenges:

January – January is the month of resolutions. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read for a long time.

February – Groundhog’s Day happens in February. Read a book about an animal.

March – Beware the Ides of March. Read a mystery.

April – A very important person was born in April… Read a book on marriage.

May – Emerald is the birthstone for May. Read a book with a green cover.

June – I got this idea from a group on Goodreads, but I love it. It’s a longer challenge, but once again, I love it. :) June is the month of weddings. There’s the saying “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Read an old favorite, a book you’ve never read before, a book you borrowed either from the library or a friend, and a book that has “blue” either in the title or the cover is blue.

July – July is vacation month. Read a book about a place that you want to visit, but have not yet visited.

August – Back to school in August. Read a book from either a summer reading list (high school, of course), or this link:

September – The first comic strip published in an American newspaper was published on September 11, 1875. Read either a comic book or a manga book. (Is that a correct way to use that word? I have no idea. But you know what I mean.)

October – Columbus landed in America in October. Read a book concerning America. (I realize that is pretty wide open. I wanted some options.)

November - November is the best month of the year. Read a fun book.

December – Both Jane Austen and Walt Disney were born in December. Read a book that is somehow related to either of them. (Spin-offs, about the park, biographies, relating to the movies, etc….)

Bonus: Any other books you read this year over 75 pages. (5 pts per book)

Reading Report

A shameful confession here. I did not finish 8 of my categories! (That is if you count each letter of the alphabet as a separate category.) Letters I, N, U, V, and Y got me. Lame, I know. And I never did see a movie that I had not seen and read the book I had not read this year. I read and watched Persuasion, but I had both read and watched Persuasion before, so I did not count it. I didn't read a retold fairy tale, surprisingly, that I had not read before. Usually this is a favorite genre, but not one I got around to this year. And lastly, I did not read a book that was written between 1776 and 1850. So I failed my own book challenge.

Still, I did read a lot of books and even a number that I would not have normally picked up, but was goaded into doing so for the book challenge. Let me highlight some favorites for you [note: not all the categories I finished are interesting enough to include]:

A: It was fun to read a few books by Hannah Alexander (Christian medical fiction). I think I started with "Second Opinion."
B: Really enjoyed some Judy Baer (Christian fiction) books this year. "Mirror, Mirror" was probably my favorite.
C: "Out of the Rain" was probably my favorite Elizabeth Cadell (general fiction/light romance from the '50s to '80s) book read this year.
E: Enjoyed "Middlemarch" by George Eliot.
G: "Never the Bride" by Rene Gutteridge (Christian fiction - at least this book was) made me think a lot. I liked a lot of what it made me think about, though I didn't necessarily agree with lots in the book. Still, got to love a thinker.
H: Dee Henderson's (Christian thriller) series starting with the prequel "Danger in the Shadows" was a fun one for me. I also really liked Dr. Harley's "His Needs, Her Needs." (marriage). Excellent!! And Helene Hanff's "Charing Cross Road."
O: I read Janette Oke's (Christian historical fiction) "Prarie Legacy" series. Very interesting to me.
S: I loved "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart (children's).
W: Discovered Laura Jensen Walker's book club series. Very fun for me, a book lover. Also really enjoyed "Reconstructing Natalie" about a breast cancer survivor.

Water book: Read Elizabeth Cadell's "Shadows on the Water" for this. Liked it. I love Cadell's seemingly rambling style.

Title: Another Elizabeth Cadell. (I was on a kick this year, obviously.) "Enter Mrs. Belchamber."

Plant: "When the Bough Breaks" by Kay Lynn Magnum (LDS young adult). A tie-in to her "Secret Journal of Brett Colton," my favorite LDS young adult novel. (Okay, so it was a bit of a stretch...)

Visited: "Excellent Women" by Barbara Pym. Takes place in England. I wanted to visit England and then I GOT to visit. :) Perfect.

1851 - 1900: "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of the best books I read all year. A very short, wonderful read with an amazing moral to the story. LOVED it!

1901 - 1950: Read a Georgette Heyer book and also "Winnie-the-Pooh."

War: "In Our Strange Gardens" by Michel Quint. Another short, but fabulous book.

"Best" book of the decade: "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss

Science: "A Briefer History of Time" by Stephen Hawking. I actually could follow along for longer than I anticipated. Made me feel smart. (Until I thought about how this was his dumbed down version...) :)

History: "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. History of the Appalachian Trail.

Goodreads author: "Dragon Slippers" by Jessica Day George (YA). "Sweet Caroline" by Rachel Hauck (Christian fiction). "Impossible" by Nancy Werlin (YA). This was particularly interesting to me. Once I got into the book, I couldn't put it down!

2010: "Caught" by Harlan Coben. One of my favorite endings to a book. Ever.

Meant to read: "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Another thinker of a book. An excellent read I would recommend to everybody.

Politics: Read several here, but the only one I would recommend is "Amazing Grace" by Eric Metaxas. It is about William Wilburforce and not only a lot of great information, but a good read, too!

Before 1776: "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli. Very interesting, especially when put into historical persepctive. I think that's very important for this book.