We should read things that make us cry, here’s why

When we read something, often we do so for fun. A lighthearted book can lift us into a better mood, provide entertainment, and frequently serve as a departure from everyday life, if only briefly. But here’s why I advocate for reading things beyond the lighthearted, beyond the fluff. This is why you should read something that makes you cry, feel, makes your breath catch, and makes your heart beat faster.

In the last month or so, I’ve a lot of books about the military. Not so much on military history (as yet), but on the stories of my generation and the generation after me. The compelling stories of the cost of war, what everyday soldiers, marines and people in the very thick of things go through. I have no relatable experience to draw from to understand what a war is like. I only know that for me, 9/11 will be my generations Pearl Harbor. I know exactly where I was (at work) and exactly how that day unfolded (with my boss running from his office to let our small group of 5 know what was happening.)

I started reading personal stories of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of something I am writing. My character is a former Army soldier. While his past service only plays a small role, understanding what military life would have been like for him, helps to define who my character is now. I am nothing if not thorough in my research. Accuracy is one of the things I try to get right even in the imaginary worlds I create. Details matter.

It was in reading these books about personal sacrifice, that I started to have a deep appreciation for everything that these men and women give. I have always believed in and supported those who fight for our country (my dad was in Vietnam before I was born and saw most of his friends die. That is not something I can ever understand.) Two of my cousins are/were Air Force. One has chosen to make it his career, and as I type that it reminds me he’s not much younger than I am, and is close to hitting his 20 years in already.

We should read these stories to get an understanding of what these people go through. I believe most would shrug off the mantle of hero. They are simply doing their jobs. But to me, as someone who does not risk my life every day, they are heroes and more. They fight for my freedom to say what I think, and live a free life. These heroes should be celebrated and read about. Even if I do not believe in the unending war we cannot seem to get out of, I will also 100% have the back of the person who puts themselves front and center to the danger. That is what every American should do. Find fault with the people behind the war, not those on the front line. I’ve spent 6 years living as an ex-pat in Europe and traveled to 23 countries in the last 14 years. Not everyone enjoys the same freedoms that we do.

Everyone should read a book that makes them think beyond themselves. I have thought of the people in the following books almost daily in the weeks since I read them. I encourage everyone to go to the library or bookstore and pick them up. Take five minutes out of your world to inhabit a little part of theirs.

The Fighters by C.J. Chivers

One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

The Things They Cannot Say by Kevin Sites

Sacrificing interests

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since April 30th. For someone who once was pretty active in this department, it surprised me. This is the last painting I did:


I’ve been so busy writing I’ve forgotten about my art. This is the way it usually goes in my brain: Have flash of character or story, or both, and cannot stop thinking about it. The character, usually a pain in the ass, will not stop talking to me. While cooking dinner, driving on I90, and grocery shopping, this character (or sometimes more than one) continues it’s little conversation in my head. I’ve been know to write whole chapters and sequences of dialogue on my phone, random receipts and anywhere else. I talked about this in my last post.

So here’s the tally since end of May on the writing front. Completed first drafts: two, both in edits, and beginning bits and pieces of a third. WIP 1 has 102,373 words. That needs some serious editing to get down to a manageable length. Written May22-July18, 2018. I like the story (and the research for this book including into How to Disappear was seriously fun. I learned a lot should I ever decide it’s a good idea.) I just finished the second WIP that brings one character from the previous piece forward. He’s a tough cop with a serious soft spot for his kids and a certain woman who proves to be hard to pin down. She has a complicated past, one she’s just not ready to let go of quite yet. For research I read I Love A Cop. This one is sitting at 98,738 words. I like the witty back and forth (my main character, Meg, is a feisty, rather smart-assed journalist, who has a serious penchant for drunk dialing her ex-husband.) It needs a few tweaks so this word count will go up. They say anything over 100,000 words is a tough sell, but dang it, if that’s what it takes to tell the story then… I started this one August 7th and finished it three days ago.

Like I said, the characters YELL AT ME at TOP VOLUME sometimes and don’t let me accomplish anything until I tell their stories. This happens a lot. Back in 2008-9 I spent many a night after kids were in bed sitting at my desk pounding out a two-book series. I still love those characters and frequently have What Would Kara Do moments. I queried it around for awhile, had beta-readers, and it received positive feedback but has yet to be published (the typical story of a struggling writer).

I’ve already written premise and a couple of chapters of the continuing story of my journalist. I’m currently digging into background research for the second main character even though he is not currently military, his past life influences some of the choices and plays a role. I’ve started reading lots of military stories including more unusual behind the scenes ones like Grunt by Mary Roach (which I’m finding hilarious because of the authors dry humor in certainly unfunny situations). On my bookshelf at present (among others):


I’m a bit of a freak about research. If I say they get on a plane from DC at 10:30 pm and fly to Seattle and the only option is via San Fransisco, then that’s the way my character gets to Seattle. Accuracy as much as possible brings realism to the story in my opinion. Sometimes I make myself insane trying to get details like a cop’s work shift cycle correct. But then again, I hear voices so…

I mentioned to an IG friend of mine (you can see her art at PricklyPearArtAtx) that I hadn’t painted in months, and she mentioned she hadn’t written in a year since getting wrapped up in her painting. I wonder if it’s like for other creative types as well. You fall into something you’re enjoying and all other creative pursuits go by the wayside. I’d like to find time to paint again, but I know the upcoming months are going to be crazy (school, homework, kid management, a very needy dog, life). I’m just hoping I still have time to write. I wrote day in and day out for a few years and then suddenly stopped for a few years. I’ve only really just come back into obsessively writing in recent months. I would hate to lose that again (though I’m sure my family would enjoy not seeing my laptop glued to me 24/7. I even bring it when we go camping, because: voices.)

What creative outlets do you enjoy? Do you sacrifice one for another?


A dilly-dally on writing

“Generally speaking, men’s judgements are based more on appearances than on substance. Everyone can see what you appear to be but only a few people are able to apprehend who you really are, and those few will hardly want to contradict the majority.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, ‘The Prince’

Until a few years ago (maybe 5 or 6), I spent quite a lot of time listening to voices, click-clack away on my computer, making mad notes on my Blackberry (yep, that’s how long ago it was), and writing on anything; back of a receipt, front of a receipt, uncurled sticker sticks (personal favorite). My family is very accustomed to my insanity. (It’s not like they have much choice. Oh great, mom’s hearing the voices again!) It becomes increasingly embarrassing to have the voices appear when out in public with other people, especially when they have no idea you write, and of course it’s awkward to explain that you’ve just GOT to get this scene down real quick, or throw down some INSANE piece of dialogue that’s just occurred to you. Because what’s the very first thing they ask when you explain how sorry you are but you’re in the middle of writing this piece and you just need to jot something down really quick.

Are you published?

That’s the definition of a writer isn’t? If you aren’t published (like me), then you can’t possibly be a writer. Well, I say anyone who is spending loads of time wrapped up in an imaginary world they’ve created for other peoples enjoyment, and who spends hours a day deciding how to describe a character’s outfit or house or inventing the reason why she’s on the run from the law, is in fact a writer. The publishing bit is just the glory at the end of the rainbow.

Would I like to get one of my stories published? absolutely It’s the holy grail a writer is supposed to shoot for. It is’t exactly for lack of trying. I have submitted (last time in 09), and I received some really standard rejections, and one very lovely one, who while saying no, did at least compliment my writing by saying I really understood the emotions of my characters.

So that’s something right?

Here’s where we get to the point of this post.

I’m hearing voices again. That hasn’t happened in a few years. I’ve gone back over some things I’ve written in the past, one in particular I never ended up finishing for lots of reasons none having to do with the actual story (which was read by about 10 people who all really thought it had potential). But this is the first time in a long while that the characters are keeping me up at night, scrambling for my phone to make notes while out and about, and inviting me to seek out cafe’s to write in (something I don’t normally do).

These are good voices. My lead character has all kinds of sarcastic comebacks, and jaded views on his life, and plenty of intelligence. There are pages upon pages of notes, character sketches, random bits of dialogue I want to use down the line. My most side eyed look from my family came when I ordered this book. It’s fascinating and proving that my character could have and did disappear in a logical way. I’ve also been reading many a psychological thriller to help me develop my writing (read what you write). So far I’ve read some crap, some good, and pretty much scared myself silly peeking out the curtains at midnight and making sure I did set the house alarm.

If you write, write, don’t worry so much about the publishing part. It happens if it happens. I have never heard of a writer who wrote only because they wanted to be famous or published. Writers write because they have a story to tell and they write for the pleasure of telling that story.

I’m writing to tell a story. If it goes somewhere into the world and someone decides everyone should read it, that would be amazing. It’s the icing on the cake. I’m writing to write, because that’s what I like to do.

Write on my fellow writers. Do it because you want to, not because you have to.

Friday Inspiration

Lately I’ve been wondering if the digital age has been a good thing. There are certainly a lot more crappy drivers out there thanks to all the texting while driving (I was on the freeway the other day next to a woman in the passing lane – doing 70+mph by the way- who was looking down, texting with both hands, and driving with her knee. Needless to say I moved over a lane, just to be safe.) But the digital age has also changed the way we take pictures. It’s been good in that the images are crisper, immediately available, and can be edited straightaway (you can fix that overexposure before sending it to Instagram.) It also means that of all the pictures we take, we are less likely to print them.

I have 7,041 pictures just on my phone. On.My.Phone. It is insane, I am insane, I do realize that.


We recently went on vacation to Hawaii (yeesh, already 3 weeks ago…) and we probably took 500 pictures between our DSLR and my pocket camera, not including 3 cell phones. Have we even looked at them yet?


I just learned the Kilauea volcano erupted. I’m so glad that we aren’t there right now. Even though we were staying in Waikoloa, on the opposite side of the island, I can’t imagine how scary that is. I hope everyone stays safe.

We take the pictures and maybe we move them off the camera when the next thing comes around that we want to take pictures of, but we never do anything with the pictures. This has become starkly clear to me as I am trying to procure frames for various items to hang on my living room wall (and I say procure because it feels like I’m buying art from Christies. The cost of framing a 24×36 $20 poster is no joke. It is however distracting me from the recent quotes for renovating our backyard, which are seriously depressing.)

So on this Friday, a little colorful inspiration:

Very bold. But I did once transform an old Ikea coffee table with this exact color.

This certainly would be an awesome dinner party to attend.

This bridge would make me happy dance across. Every.Time.

This would be quite the walk up the stairs at night.

Who wouldn’t want to grab a drink from one of these pretty glasses?

I think now that spring has maybe come to Seattle (though it looks gloomy at present which is not good seeing as I need to add one more coat of paint to the front door….), color is everywhere. And it definitely looks good.

Do you feel drawn to bright colors in the spring? What are some of your favorites?

Allergy Chaos

There are a lot of things that went click for me a few weeks ago when I received the results of my skin allergy testing. Those sunscreens I kept reacting to? Not the problem, or at least the actual sun-blocking components of the sunscreen wasn’t the problem. It was 4 little things, that have pretty much turned my life upside-down and have me becoming a label reading maniac. Let me back up to the beginning.

For years, I’ve had itchy skin, mostly on my legs, but also on my back and arms. Sometimes I’d have little bumps, or what I thought was a severe itching feeling, but what I know now was more like burning (and now that I know that, when I come in contact with a ‘bad’ item, I can feel it.) A year and half ago we went on a summer vacation and stayed at an AirBnb on a lake. The lake had a good amount of seaweed/algae present. It was gross but we still swam because it was HOT! The day after I first put on sunscreen, I noticed that my legs were super itchy. Like I want to claw off my legs itchy and I ended up making them bleed a little because I had been itching in my sleep. Ew. I noticed little bumps and redness. It continued, and without really realizing what was going on, I continued to use the sunscreen thinking it must be a reaction to something in the lake water (I have pretty annoyingly sensitive skin.)

I continued to be itchy for another 7-8 days even after we returned to London. A couple of weeks after we were back home, I took my daughter to the park to meet a friend and it was a rare hot sunny day, so I put on sunscreen (it was even a sensitive skin brand).

The same reaction happened again with this new sunscreen. I went to a dermatologist (for rosacea treatment) and mentioned the sunscreen issue. She recommended cutting out two ingredients that can cause issues. I did. The next time I wore sunscreen, expensive free from sunscreen….the same thing happened.

A few years ago we went on holiday and after one night in the hotel I woke up with this terrible burning sensation on my face and it was red and full of bumps. I’ve always been sensitive to detergents, and we all know hotels don’t exactly use the most gentle detergents for obvious reasons like I do at home. I spent the rest of the trip with a t-shirt over my pillow.

After moving back to the US last summer I decided to finally have allergy testing done. And after months of waiting for the doctor to find the ingredients to test on my skin (which aren’t easy to get a hold of apparently), I had the testing done after we came back from Iceland.

The good news is I’m only allergic to 4 items. The bad news is that 3 of the 4 are so common in everything from detergent to shampoo to makeup to food, and the real kicker, commonly found in finishing dye on textiles. The dreaded 4:

The first two I can avoid pretty easily as long as I read every label, or look up every ingredient list on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, I buy/own. Goodbye to my favorite shampoo Living Proof, and that mascara I loved, and that Tide Sensitive that always cleaned so well, and my favorite scent of the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaners. And let’s not forget my old deodorant and toothpaste while we are at it. Handsoaps too. And dish washing soap (I tried saying I should just never wash dishes again because of it. It didn’t work. Dang it.)

Basically, MI (as it’s commonly known) and propylene glycol are in lots and lots and lots of things. They are preservatives, and I have a very strong reaction to them. It explains why my underarms were always itchy (attractive) when I used Dove deodorant. Why my head itched even though I didn’t have any sort of scalp issue (my shampoo was to blame). These are the chemicals I can (relatively) easily avoid.

Avoiding formaldehyde is really, really hard. You wouldn’t think so, because who puts formaldehyde in makeup? or in other products? (lots of companies, though it is becoming less common.) The real problem is that it is used in the dyes for textiles to bind the color to the fabric (if I understand it correctly). There is little restriction on it’s use in US goods. There are bans in other parts of the world (mostly parts of Europe and Japan). How do you figure out if your clothes contain formaldehyde? It is not easy. If you already own it, it’s pretty difficult. (And you should always wash your clothes before you wear them, because they are COVERED in chemicals to keep them crisp during shipping and sale. But if you are sensitive like me, washing, even repeatedly won’t help. Wrinkle free/no iron clothes are huge culprits for formaldehyde. That’s what keeps them from getting wrinkles.) Even if it says ‘organic’ on the tag, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have formaldehyde in the finishing/dye.

Where has this led me? Since the reaction can last from 2-8 weeks after your last contact with the offending substance, I have done my best to eliminate everything I come in contact with so I don’t get re-exposed. (Including bringing my own sheets and towels when we go on vacation. Oh don’t mind me, I just travel with my own linens….) This also means spending hours and HOURS on the internet, researching at sites like GOTS and Bluesign and Oeko-Tex – places that certify brands that don’t use these chemicals. Have you ever looked at a clothing label though? Or tried to find the designation on a brand website, and then relocate it in the description of the item you might be thinking of buying? It’s like Where’s Waldo and not the fun version I remember as a kid. Even communicating with customer service reps – both brands who directly said on their websites that they carry Bluesign designation, and one who directly lists it in the description of the products they carry that are Bluesign – both reps said they didn’t even have Bluesign, nor had they heard of it. I actually had to send them the link to the page on their own websites.

So, imagine being the consumer trying to figure this out and buy all new clothing, just so you don’t spend your life itching and full of bumps and rashes.

It has been a long few weeks. A very long few weeks. I have spent way too much money on 17 pieces of clothing so I can stop itching (because of course these designations and qualifications and changes to manufacturing cost money, and of course the consumer gets to pay for it in the final price). I’ve never been one for thinking $100 for jeans was really okay, and now that’s the clearance price of the Bluesign pair that I’m hoping to buy. Jeans have been my daily uniform, and that’s quickly giving away to yoga pants and loose fitting linen. (Athletic brands seem to do very well in adopting these chemical limits for some reason, I’m not really sure why.)

I’m utterly exhausted from all this, and more than a little frustrated and down about this entire allergy thing. I didn’t always have this, though I’ve probably had it for at least the last 5 years without realizing it. The constant exposure to these chemicals caused me to become extra sensitive to them. It sucks. I really liked my previous closet, and starting over again has not been my favorite thing (especially since a lot of the Safe Brands aren’t exactly my style or in my price range).

I’m hoping to have all my new pieces in the next two weeks, and then spend a solid two months wearing them exclusively (and yep, that includes underwear and socks, they don’t get left out of the formaldehyde process either). I always wanted to try a really, really lean closet experiment.

Guess I’m getting my wish!

Brands that sell or are part of the Bluesign/Oeko-Tex/GOTS that I have purchased from

(I included a very small list, and you have to check every item you want to purchase because not all of them have the designation, I recommend calling CS asking about each item you’re interested in specifically):


Iceland; stunning beauty & lots of people

Last week, my family and I went to Iceland for a week long adventure. We’ve been thinking about going to Iceland for a few years, and when we lived in London we never managed to make the trip.

So a trip involving an 8 hour time difference seemed like the perfect time right?


Iceland is very, very beautiful. When you arrive in the heart of winter everything is covered in snow {often including yourself as well}. There is something about the pure whiteness of snow that seems to be magical. It is pure and to me, has a quiet reverence.

{I could be feeling this way because I went to mass this morning, something I haven’t done on my own, voluntarily, without a family member or holiday involved in probably 15-16 years?? There is an ‘afterglow’ after church. I always felt that way as a kid, likening it to simply being released from sitting still, but I found it this morning as well, awkward as it was to be in a church I’d never been to before, with people I’d never met.}

Here are the things i knew about Iceland before we traveled.

It’s cold. No, really cold. (and it did not disappoint in this area, though being in 3 layers top and bottom plus coat, hat, gloves and waterproof boots, I was toasty warm.)



We ate lunch one day at a tomato farm, and while you think okay, upticked prices for the scenery (which was cool, eating lunch right next to the tomatoes that were in the soup I was eating was cool). But a bowl of soup (unlimited) and bread was 2400 kroner, which is roughly $24. We had breakfast at a cafe around the corner from our AirBNB and bowl of porridge was 1900 kroner = $19. For oatmeal. It was fabulous but…

Be prepared if you go. I’ve lived in central London. I’ve been to Norway. They’ve got nothin’ on Icelandic prices.


Iceland is crowded. I’d read that it is becoming one of the hottest (unfortunately, not literally) places to visit. I’d read there are crowds. But nothing really prepares you for the HORDES of people everywhere, even the ‘out of the way’ places our guide took us on day 2. People everywhere.



These are with severe editing to try to take the people out of my pictures. Maybe it was the week we went being a holiday for most US schools, and Chinese New Year, I don’t know, but if you are looking for a remote, lonely vacation, Iceland is not the way to go.

While I am still glad we went, it did diminish the experience for me a bit.




Shoe Crampons for the win


The other things I learned about Iceland: In Reykjavik they do not shovel the sidewalks. No, they really don’t. Whenever we walked anywhere (which was all the time) you just slug along through the snow/slush/ice. It seems to be a regular thing. The only places that had cleared sidewalks were those in the very heart of the city who had the benefit of the underwater hot spring which they use under the sidewalks to melt the snow in certain areas. {I have pictures of sidewalks and the city etc on my Instagram. Phone shots were easier in the city than large camera shots.} So when you are out on tour, Crampons (little spikes you put on over your shoes) are your friend. Your best friend.

We spent several days at the beginning of our trip in Reykjavik and then we went on a 3 day tour with Goecco. Our guide, Gunni, was really interesting and very friendly. He previously was a movie scout in Iceland. Small little movies like Interstellar. To say he knows Iceland, is saying something. He had some great stories in the evenings at the guest house.

While the tour itself definitely was great – and I say that even though we had rain/hurricane winds most of the time, and I unfortunately learned the difference between waterproof and water resistant – I wasn’t as huge of a fan of the ‘living’ part of the tour. Me and 15 other people sharing a guest house. It is definitely a dorm situation with shared showers (welcome to college life kids!).

Food is another area to keep in mind. If you are at all a person who doesn’t eat fish (that’d be me and one of my kids), you are kind of out of luck. Fish will be the only thing on the menu, and unfortunately, our microwave macaroni cups did not come in handy. As the guest house had no microwave. Lunch one day was whatever chips/cookies you could find at the convenience store.

All I’m saying is be prepared if you don’t eat fish, or you enjoy regular meals. I ate a heck of a lot of Kind bars and fruit strips.

It was a successful trip; the husband finally saw the Northern Lights after 10 years of trying, those pictures are somewhere on another SD card, though I will say I never saw any of the green in the pictures. That is actually a product of leaving the camera shutter open. The green isn’t often visible to the naked eye. It really does require the miraculous set of perfect conditions to see them like that, or really see them at all.

Would I go back? That seems to be the ultimate judge of a vacation for me. Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii, all unequivocally YES.

Iceland gets a maybe. I’d like to see it in the summertime. Gunni says it’s a complete different world, all the colors and pearls hiding under the snow. The popularity, and expense, definitely give me pause. But if you get the chance to go, GO. It’s a beautiful place with friendly people, and a real look at how people survive in a pretty harsh climate.



Those who inspire adventure

I love sailing. Or at least the two times I went sailing on a lake as a 11 year old have lived in my mind as the most.fun.ever. The water is like my Ultimate Dream. Living by it. Seeing it out my window. Being anywhere near it. For those who don’t know, I spent a vast majority of my childhood summers on a lake. My family was into camping, boating, being outdoors (skiing in winter). My parents always called me a little fish because you couldn’t get me out of the water unless you physically hooked me and dragged me out. Sun + sand + water = pretty much my dream.

There’s a reason I always say let’s go to Tahiti. {bucket list item by the way if you’re thinking of a Christmas gift for me}

I’ve always loved adventure. There are lots of ‘always’ in this post because that is truly the way I’ve lived my whole life. While I didn’t move my entire childhood, I spent 18 years in the same bedroom, my sense of ‘let’s explore’ has been something inside me from the beginning. At 16, as a shy, okay, really shy, teenager, I decided to spend a month in Italy as an exchange student. At 17 I went on a class trip to France. At 18 I moved from my home state of Washington to Philadelphia to go to school. I’ve lived in three countries and five states. I’ve traveled to 23 countries and would welcome living and traveling to many more.

While I can’t {currently} live in another country {kids, jobs, details I say!}, I have lived vicariously through the blogs and videos below. They inspire adventure, and in my mind are living the dream.

Gone With The Wynns – Jason and Nikki – I’ve been following them since almost the beginning of their travel days in an RV. After five years of traveling around the US, they traded in their rv for a catamaran and started sailing the world. They just completed a journey through the Panama Canal this week to start their adventures in the Pacific Ocean. They blog and do a weekly video, and as a former professional photographer, Jason’s photo’s and videos are top notch.

Adventures of a Tribe – Danny and Belinda – (plus 4 of their kids who journey with them) – I only discovered this blog a few days ago, and I’ve already read at least the last year worth of entries. This family is an inspiration. They were sailing around the world, and while down near French Polynesia they ran aground on an unchartered reef and had to be rescued at night by helicopter. That alone would make me pause. Hearing that their home, the catamaran Tanda Malaika, would have to be completely stripped and sunk as a total loss, I can’t even imagine recovering from that. But they have (and it’s only been 4 months). Go read the story (start in July 2017 for the reef/rescue but then go back and read the rest of their story). They were in living in Bali, and currently have fled to Hong Kong due to the volcano activity in Bali. Their story is definitely a look at courage, perseverance, and seeing the glass as half-full. They also have amazing pictures.

Sailing Zatara – Keith and Renee – (plus 4 kids) – This also a family I recently discovered (and how I found Adventures of a Tribe above). They decided they’d had enough of the corporate world, sold everything, and bought a {gorgeous} Beneteau Oceanis 55 foot sailboat. They do have a website which describes the boat and the crew, and how they decided to make the change, but daily life/updates are over on their YouTube channel. Their videos give a very real picture of life, and inspire me to say ‘I could do it too!’ {despite the whole kids/husband/job/I get seasick on the ocean thing}

Sailing LaVagabonde – Riley and Elayna – (plus a crew member who does videos/photos/etc for them) – An Australian couple who have been sailing the world for the last few years. They started with a monohull and earlier this year were connected with a beautiful Outremer Catamaran (somewhat a sponsored deal I think, they have a video with details). As 20 somethings adventuring around the world, it is a look at the theory that anyone can do anything if they want it bad enough. Their videos are more for an older audience (Riley likes to do things nude on occasion, butts are presented, and subject matter isn’t always for young ones), but they have fun videos and one of the things I like most is they always include some sort of history about where they are. It definitely makes me want to go visit  even more places than I already have on my list.

So, would I if I could? Sail around the world in a heartbeat on a sailboat?

YES. I am absolutely certain I’d be willing to try the Seaband, ginger tea, ear patch, etc in order to have this dream. (Doing it in this little vessel wouldn’t be so bad either – the Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40 catamaran. Dream.Life.)


The Seattle Boat Show starts January 26. And Fountaine-Pajot will be there.

Never say never.

{unless you’re my husband, who is currently saying never}



Kitchens, Camping, and Life {oh my}

It is already November 8th and I can hardly believe there are only 6 short, itty, bitty weeks until the Christmas season. Where does the time go?? Halloween came and went, and the changing of the clocks, and all the leaves have blown away. We’ve even had snow…


That in itself seems impossible here in Seattle. But snow it did over the weekend. Most of you in colder climates will laugh but several inches of snow in Seattle in November is no joke. It’s a warning to just how fun this winter season is going to be!

I’m always wishing there was more time, but it truly does seem we skipped from fall straight into winter with not a lot of fall. Maybe it’s just being back in America again, and recognizing the change without the concrete jungle of London. Maybe it’s because fall is my favorite season and I am always sad to see the leaves change and blow away within a week or two. This year has been spectacular with color, but once again I only have phone snaps because there just is never enough time go out and capture it with a proper camera. Or rather I always think there’ll be time next week, after I finish the halloween costume, after that dinner, after after after.

And there never is.

Here is a sampling of what we’ve done so far this fall:


The kitchen is finished. Hall-leh-lujah. I haven’t taken any proper pictures (mainly because LIFE and for me proper pictures would REQUIRE me to scrub it top to bottom and then ACCESSORIZE and I just haven’t done it). While it took what felt like forever, and our contractor was definitely not our favorite person by the end {the amount of dirt/dust/everything everywhere…I’m still cleaning, let’s just put it that way}, our vision did come to life.

The living room is coming along. I bought a mirror for the fireplace yesterday and I’m still deciding if it works or not. I put some maps on the walls. Two are new but the others are ones I collected while we lived abroad or are ones we used to use when we lived in Germany before the whole smart phone era. {I rather miss those days.}


Yep, still have pictures etc sitting on the floor, but overall I hope the vibe is fun and casual (just like this phone generated picture).

In October we went camping at Lake Wenatchee, and 3/4 of us admitted to having a ton of fun. {the boy resists admitting he had fun, but I’m pretty sure he did.} The main purpose of the trip was two fold: 1. we’ve only been talking about camping for 17 years now since we registered for (and received) a tent for our wedding. And while we are definitely beyond the proper age for tent camping, we did finally go camping. Albeit in a trailer. Which brings me to 2. we rented a trailer for the weekend to see if we would want to buy one in the future (answer: YES). It was so much fun just being out in nature {ala my entire childhood of camping and boating}, and I can’t get enough of it.

Neither can the majority of my family. Even though it was freezing at night, and we didn’t have a hookup, and couldn’t run the heater. {noted, don’t camp in October in Washington without a power hook-up}.

Still. Best.Weekend.Ever.

(And phone snaps again because despite owning a very nice dslr, I never really use it)

I can’t wait for the winter RV show, where we will be seriously looking at trailers. I do wish we’d done this years ago so our kids could be camping freaks like me!

Onward we go into November and both the Chick and I are starting (separate) ballet classes, there is grandma’s stuffing to make, and the traditional Chinese food for Thanksgiving. Before we know it, I’ll be recapping Christmas and New Years.

We’ll be staring down the start of 2018, and yearning for spring.

What has your fall been like? Anything exciting happening?


To horse? Or not horse?

As a child, I always loved horses. Nearly every birthday I would ask my parents to take me on a trail ride. It didn’t matter that the horses were programmed to go forward and follow the horse in front of them, no matter what, I really thought I was a little western cowgirl (in horse only, I’ve never been one for Wrangler jeans, cowgirl boots or ten gallon hats). Obligingly, my dad would climb aboard a horse with me and off we would go with the group for a 30-60 minute walk through the forest.

I couldn’t get enough.

As you can see from the pictures:


In the picture above, it was 1983 in Lake Louise, Banff, Canada, and I was 6, so forgive my stylistic choices (and lack of helmet, we didn’t know about that kind of thing back then).


This is probably a few years later. I’m sure I drove my parents crazy everytime we passed a horse. If I was anything like I am now, when I walk past the barn and a horse head is sticking out, well, they will get a rub or a pet. I literally cannot help myself.


Four or so years ago I started taking riding lessons, thinking that maybe now that I was older and could afford to take lessons, an hour a week on the back of a lovely horse would be a lot of fun. It’s one of those ‘yes it is and yes it isn’t’ kinds of things. The barn I rode at before, the first lesson horse wasn’t super into riding English style, but we managed and did fairly well. (I did briefly switch over to Western style.) I started riding with a new trainer during the week on a different horse and things were looking up. I had a good handle on posting and we were working on getting the correct diagonal. {here are definitions on what that means if you are not all.things.horse.obsessed}

Summer was approaching so I knew I couldn’t ride during the week with my (then young) kids out of school. Things being what they were, busy, I didn’t go back to riding again after the summer. Then we moved to London. While I did look into riding in London, riding in Hyde Park with traffic whizzing by wasn’t my idea of fun, and getting to barn outside the city wasn’t feasible without a car.

When we returned to Seattle this summer, after lots and lots of trial and error and phone calls and barn visits, I finally found a place that I really like, doesn’t require the equivalent of college tuition to ride a horse, and while certainly not close by (45-60 minutes each way), I am happy with both the instructor and the facility.

The biggest problem I have is with the school horse I’ve been assigned. Her name is Joy. And last Friday, she was anything but a joy to ride. Here’s where I start to wonder if I’m too old to be doing this.

The first horse I rode, Guinness, wasn’t a good match. Week two I started riding on Joy. She’s 11 years old and has been a school horse probably forever. This means her primary rider is a child, who is likely being led on a line. There are no signals – leg on, clucking, squeezing, steering – she is being made to follow from the students. She gets pretty much free reign to do what she wants.

Then there’s my ride with Joy. I am (trying) to give her all these signals to get her to stay on the rail (leg + rein), trot when I say (squeeze, leg, cluck, beg…) and we are just not getting these basics. Especially with staying on the rail. I did not have this issue with the horses I rode at the last barn, so I am questioning whether it is me who has unlearned this task, or the horse that simply won’t do this task I’ve asked of her.

I walked away really dejected after Friday’s lesson. The last three sessions my trainer has climbed on Joy after we’ve been in the arena struggling and forced her to comply. It is about having to be dominant over the animal, and I do get that. She has almost listened completely while I’m tacking up (and I’ve learned what to do when she is naughty and we pretty much go with me having to reinforce proper crosstie behavior every week…) The trainer has given me a whip (and several times spurs), and I am not comfortable at all having to use them. I do understand I am not hurting Joy, and according to my trainer I’m not even being forceful enough, even though I feel bad having to use the whip after everything I ask Joy to do because she refuses to do it when I ask by putting my leg on.


I am not having fun. I know that getting this is hard, and isn’t going to be fun, but 6 sessions on…I am not having fun. I am paying to not enjoy riding a horse (though it feels more like fighting with a toddler and losing).


I have considered whether I should continue riding past my next session (sessions of 5 lessons, which I just paid for the next 5 taking me through to December. Christmas/New Years I am not riding because of the holidays and being with family.) I’ve wondered if I should switch to riding Western, where you still need to have the horse listen, but it is a different set of things to ask for.

My goal as I wrote it on my ‘get to know your goals’ sheet when I signed up for lessons was to learn to jump. Initially, I chose English because it has a more refined/classy look to it and so many more barns here teach/focus on English style. I have three questions to answer before Friday:

  1. Do I want to keep riding, period?
  2. Do I want to stick with Joy and English?
  3. Do I want to work towards jumping, or just learn enough to go hacking and switch to Western?

I have no idea how exactly to come up with the answers but I definitely don’t want to go to the barn on Friday and leave feeling like I did last week (and it’s ZERO reflection on my trainer; she is fabulous and gives me lots of positive feedback {though she can’t possibly be telling the truth!}, and instructions to help me).


I love horses. I do not want to give them up, but I don’t won’t to pay for something that leaves me feeling defeated.

to be continued…

Falling for fall

I love fall. Every year I say it’s my favorite season as soon as the leaves start to change colors. And then in spring I say, no wait! spring is my favorite season. And so on to summer. Pretty much the only season that never gets a shout of joy is winter.

Snow is pretty but I don’t want to live in it (and we don’t often have to in Seattle, though I heard last year up here in the mountains where we live it was horrible…so that’ll be fun!)

Fall means sweaters and scarves and warm coats, and around here rain, but I won’t let a daily session with my windshield wipers distract me from the loveliest of fashions: the fall sweater. Here is a round up of some of my favorites:

This looks like something to live in all fall.

The color of this one gives me the warm fuzzies.

I love the entire outfit below, though I tried the wide leg crop, and just ended up looking ridiculous. Still, on the right person, it’s cute.

While I don’t have any cashmere, it’s hard to beat the sweater below. It is responsibly made, 100% cashmere for $100.

If we were head into the never-paying-it territory (there are some lines I will not cross no matter how much I like an item), then this sweater would be on the top of the heap.

To go with these sweaters, I would recommend the new Everlane high waist denim collection. I’d never tried high waisted jeans (I was firmly in the camp of NO) until they did a pop-up shop at my local Nordstrom and I kinda fell into semi-love with them. I won’t be forsaking my old comfy lovely jeans by any means, but high waisted jeans will be making the rotation.

Do you have anything lurking in your daydreams for fall?