Showing posts from 2012

Holiday Whimsy

Driving home from work one night many years ago, I could see lights burning bright through the windows of my nearly-finished house from the highway. I knew that the rest of the contractors were mostly done, so the fact that I could see my new house all lit up from the road meant that the electricians had installed the light fixtures!!! The paint was done, and the carpet, even the cabinets. The lighting had been one of the very last things to do before we could move in. Smiling from ear to ear, I pulled into the driveway and ran into the house, up the stairs, into each room, and spun with my hands out like Julie Andrews at the beginning of The Sound of Music. I could not have been more overjoyed.

Sadly, that euphoria did not last long. 
Once we moved in, I realized how many rookie mistakes I'd made. Seriously, I must've answered every single question that every one of those sub-contractors asked me WRONG! In my defense, I was 24 and knew NOTHING about this process. Of course, I …

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Well, it's this week.

That holiday that really just gets in the way of all this early Christmas celebrating. I grew up in SoCal and I honestly don't remember the desire among friends and neighbors, or even stores for that matter, to jump on the Christmas band wagon, even before Halloween. I've got to admit, when I see Santa stuff on display before Halloween, I get a little ornery.

As many of you know by now, Fall is my favorite season and I always try to relish it to the bitter end of Thanksgiving weekend. (Nope, I don't shop for Black Friday deals, either. I'd rather be warm and snug as a bug in bed:) When everyone else has had their Christmas lights shining bright since the first of November, I'm the rebel in the dark corner of the cul de sac defiantly holding out until Thanksgiving is over and we've eaten the last slice of homemade pumpkin pie.

Several years ago, my neighbor, one of the loveliest women on the planet, had her sons put up the…

A Book Plug and a Pretty Please

I was walking through Costco a couple of years ago, just browsing through the book section, and started talking to the nicest lady. It didn't take me long to realize that she was a writer and was there to sell her book entitled Watched. She even gave some really good advice about publishing my own book. But you know what? I think she still would've been as nice to me if I hadn't bought her book. And that's what makes Cindy Hogan tick. She is a wonderful writer of YA suspense fiction, but she also has this really fun, vibrant, enthusiastic personality. I've watched people flock to talk to this marvelous lady. No wonder she sells a lot of books. People like what she writes, but perhaps more importantly, they like her. 

As it turns out, I did buy her book, and I am very impressed with the handle she has on this genre. As it says in her bio, she has two teen daughters (who have graced the covers of Watched and Protected) and she often subs in our public schools, so she …

Throwing in the Towel

Just when I was beginning to think that blogging wasn't for me, and about to throw in the towel, I get an award for blogging. I know, right? Still scratching my head over it, but gratified all the same. I've been following "Follow Me Home" ever since shellybean started it up a few years ago. It's a blog about a lot things, but mostly about a woman's need to cherish her family and the fun things they do together, record the before and after elements of the older home she and her "man" bought a few years ago, and best of all (cuz she's awesome this way) to show off her crafting, restoring, and sewing abilities. She makes some sweet bags/purses. She's always been a constant source of inspiration to me, especially when it comes to doing cool stuff with my house. Plus, she makes great cookies, which I'm on the short list for at Christmas, so that makes me really happy.

What strikes me most about her blog is that her personality shines through…

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Nope! Not Christmas!
The most wonderful time of the year for me is Autumn, that glorious spell when the red, orange, yellow, bronze, and even frost-nipped light green leaves explode all over the mountain sides. The apposition of those vibrant colors against an azure sky and blue spruce pines just makes me want to dance for joy. 

I know it sounds totally corny, but I am so not kidding. There is something about the season that just awakens my senses. Maybe it's because I don't sweat unless I actually try really hard (to sweat in a workout--no problemo!) There is something about jewel tones that is really attractive to me, that enliven my sense of color, and I find myself totally into seasonal decorating. I'm not usually a very good decorator--don't have enough money or time--but it's when I like my house the most. So, here's a preview of what will be coming to my place very soon. Can't wait!!

So, you Fall junkies out there, show me your stuff. I would love to…

Call Me Cluttered

I've been procrastinating all summer. 
I just don't want to clean out my house, but I know I really need to. Seriously, if I have the choice between cleaning out a closet and sweating to death, or lying on my soft bed with the ceiling fan circulating cool air and reading a book on a hot summer afternoon, you know where I'll be. What can I say? I'm weak that way.

But things have gotten out of hand and I really don't even know where to start. It's embarrassing, but I'm posting my mess hoping that anyone who sees the disaster of my bedroom, my bathroom, and my storage closet will give me suggestions and HELP!!! Also note that when we built the house almost 24 years ago, the floor plan did not include storage closets of any kind, except the large one near my kitchen which you'll see at the end of this post. So, the mess you see can't just be thrown in a closet (I wish!) And I was very young and just super excited to have my own house--no more apartment …

The Water is Fine

I don't love summer. I know many of you will think me completely crazy for saying so, but I just don't. I can't help it. I don't like it when it gets hot outside. It's my least favorite time of year, not only because of the stupid heat, but as a gardener, I can barely keep things alive outside. I could live quite happily in the 50-60s range of temps. Somewhere like San Francisco, with its marine environment and lovely breezes, would be perfect. I do not have to wear shorts and flip-flops all the time to be happy. In fact, I really like it when the temperatures cool down and fall fashion comes out to play. As an avid snow skiier, I'm pretty much in love with the mountains in the winter time. I have never minded shoveling the driveway, building snowmen, having snowball fights, and sledding with my kids. I am the complete opposite of my wonderful sister who prefers Florida to Utah, the likes of which I will never understand. Geez, anything over 80 and I feel like…

Stuck in the Middle--Don't mind the Dust. Still reworking the blog.

I'm in the middle of remodeling my son's room.

It's needed to be done for years, needed the dark maroon and gold wallpaper stripped off (Honestly, what was I thinking? I hated it as soon as I finished the job 20 years ago). Only two walls were papered, so I thought this was a project I could handle. The half-wall took me ten hours to strip--that's right--a big, fat, 10! The regular wall was not as bad as the paper came off a little more easily, but I would estimate at least five hours on that one. Due to the damage that I inflicted on the walls, it took me at least seven hours to patch and sand. I can't tell you how much I want this to be done.

But I'm not done. I still have all the painting, which is much easier except for the masking, but I keep telling myself I can handle that. Just breathe, Shantal. This, too, shall pass. And none too soon!

What bothers me about this whole dumb thing is that I feel trapped. I feel like I can't do anything else until I …

That Dreaded Learning Curve

Don't you hate it when you get a new phone, computer, car, I don't know, just about anything electronic and you can't use it immediately because you don't know how. It's totally frustrating because you try to run it like you did your old, out-dated, obsolete whatever-you-had and it just won't work the way you're used to. You have to take a few minutes, sit down, actually read the operating manual, and work out the finer details of operating the darned thing because of the dreaded learning curve, the transition of leaving the old behind and learning how to do something new. Basically, you have to catch up with your device.

That's how I feel about my high school graduate. I am terrified of the transition from kid to adult. I've got to catch up and, unlike the devices my husband spoils me with, I have no idea how. How do you be a good mother to grown kids? Some kids just glide right through life's adventures and seem happy enough. Others? I can jus…

Pleasant Surprise

I've been thinking a lot about my oldest boy lately. He's almost 18, will graduate from high school in about a month, earned an academic scholarship to college, and he just can't wait to blow by the pop stand that is high school. Saying that he's ready to move on is a bit of an understatement. No only does he want to move on, he wants to opt out of everything that the end of his senior year has to offer. No prom, no senior cotillion, no banquets for extra-curricular activities. Shoot, if his grade didn't depend on it, he'd probably opt out of his final choir concerts as well. And this is what troubles me. I think he's making snap judgements about these activities, that in the end he will regret not having participated more in his senior year and have some fun memories to cherish--eventually.

He's a good kid. He really is, but when he was little, I used to get so frustrated with him because he was a very demanding and required a lot of interaction. Let&#…

A Hunger Games Type of Heroine?

You betcha!
And this coming from someone who's not read the book or seen the movie--yet! I really had no intention of having anything to do with either one of them. My youngest has read all three Hunger Games books and said that he really liked the first one because it was original, but fairly violent and slightly creepy. And he really didn't think much of the second and third books in the trilogy. "Way creepy, Mom. You wouldn't like them."

My husband, an avid and daily newspaper reader, usually finds extra copies of USA Today at work and brings them home. All I have to do is place them on the counter in the kitchen and when my boys sit down to fill-up their hallow legs, or ask what's for dinner, or complain about homework, or rhapsodize about video games, or horse around and try to kill each other, or to tell me for the billionth time that they're out of socks, they get distracted and magically start reading the newspaper. Funny how that works. I fell vi…

Is it Time to Mulch Already?

Can you hear my whiny voice in that? My husband said to me just the other day, "The only good thing about winter is not having to do yard work." Amen to that, honey, except, you know? I really do like to ski. Luckily, there is still a good amount in "them thar hills" and if I get there really early, the snow doesn't get mushy and feel like I'm slippin' and slidin' through a plate of mashed potatoes.

My husband is a spontaneous kind of guy. As soon as he got home from work yesterday, he offered to take me to purchase my favorite mulch, which is not located at a store nearby. You know that beautiful, aromatic stuff shoveled into flower beds? It makes the dirt look so much prettier, smells good, and actually enhances the soil and fertilizes the plants. It really is important to spread it out before the perennials start coming up because, if you don't, you pretty much have to get down on your hands and knees, make sure you don't step or kneel on…

It's that time of year . . . March Madness!

My son took it particularly hard when his favorite college basketball team lost their final game to their rival. They had a great year, a 14-2 record, losing only away games. One loss to a buzzer beater, the other loss? Well, let's just say, they deserved to lose that one and lost the chance to host the Big Sky tournament. They remain undefeated at home, and it's been so much fun to watch them play.

He's almost 14 now, but my baby boy has always loved basketball. When he was younger, he was ballboy for his team and he's gotten to know the players. They are so cool to him, bang knuckles with him, chit-chat with him, help him at their basketball camps in the summer. The power forward, whom everyone agrees is the nicest man on the planet, took time after camp one day to give my boy some pointers on his shot. When they came walking out of the gym together, both dribbling balls, I thought they could've been brothers. Well, the power forward certainly treated my boy like…

Yeah, Baby! 54 mph downhill!

"You're a little Mormon missile!" my ski buddy called proudly as he caught up to me. Insert BIG smile here. Obviously, I got a kick out of his comment because it's been six years since I learned how to ski again since college. He has this app for his i-phone that actually clocks speed, and it measured him going at 56 mph. Now, I was actually behind him on that reading, but still, I'm thinking that is not bad for a forty-something babe who did not grow up on a pair of skis.

I used to be scared to death of going fast--on anything! In fact, when I was 12 or 13, I went skiing with a church group to Mammoth. The memory is not real clear, but the one thing I do remember is being separated from the group and heading down a mountain super fast at an absolutely uncontrollable speed. I was either too afraid and too stupid to try and stop, so I just fell down in classic hand-over-foot fashion to stop myself from plowing into a tree. That's the most powerful impression I…

Kicking, Screaming, and Dragging my Feet!

Back to the subject of me being a total techno dweeb. Can you believe I had to have advice on how to create links on my blog? How dumb is that? Okay, I 'll cut myself some slack. I did have a more difficult task in mind (which I did need help with), but links. Seriously? They make it so easy, too. All you have to do is go to the gadget list, click on list links, and voila! I'm still shaking my head over that one. No matter that I was looking at the completely wrong thing while trying to accomplish my task.

Anyway, the lady who helped me is a gem. She's my sister's best friend and has been in the business of writing and marketing and other assorted internet-related endeavors for years. She knows her stuff! We got to talking about the technical difficulties I was having and we just fell into the loveliest conversation I've had in a good, long time. Since I'm surrounded by three testonteroned-filled males day in and day out, having a good talk with a wonderful wom…

This is harder than I thought. . .

So, here's the thing. I feel like I'm pretty good at dealing with people face-to-face. I can self-deprecate and make others laugh and we usually end up having a pretty good conversion. I even feel like I'm fairly interesting to others in that situation. Mostly. But how to get a conversation going online is such a mystery. My experience with Facebook is mostly just keeping in touch with friends and family, but rarely do I get an interesting thread going. And I only appeared on the "cyber belly of the underworld," as my sister calls it, to keep track of a dear friend (at first). So, I guess that's why I'm here. I want to find out what's out there. True, I have a book I'd like people to read, and I'm putting myself and my book out there because I know I have an original story and the vast majority of my readers tell me that they really like my book. But I want to talk about it! Unlike my website, you can leave comments here. I would love to hear …