Saturday, December 7, 2019

A little bit about technology...

My friend Jodi recently posted about technology and the future being now, and it got me thinking. As I left a comment and tried to keep it to a reasonable length, I reflected on where we were twenty or thirty years ago. The technology you have in the moment is always the best technology you've ever had. In the mid-90s, we thought home computers and share-ware floppy disks were the shit. Today, we can control our homes with only our voices.

I work in technology for a company that makes smart home equipment. This stuff is pretty amazing. Before I began working there, I had no idea about smart homes. I knew it existed, but made a choice to stay in my bubble, under my rock, and not learn how it worked. It all seemed a little bit complicated to me. Get this plug to connect to this hub, to work these things. Some things work together, others don't, it seemed like a mess.

But the truth is, it's not that hard and it's getting easier every day. The way the technology works together to create a network of commands to control the home is brilliant. If you invest in it, you can turn your lights and other electronics on/off, adjust your thermostat, control doors, cameras, and alarm systems. What you can do with it is almost limited only by your imagination and the technology's inability to physically reach beyond itself.

Still, it can be a little bit overwhelming... or, maybe it's just me that's overwhelmed? I remember when we were watching Star Trek and thinking no one would ever be able to video chat. That's not going to happen, it's ridiculous... yet, here we are. The crew on Trek can use their replicator to create things and food. We're not there with the food, but with a 3D printer we can create a lot of pretty neat things. Star Wars allows callers to chat holographically and while we're not there yet, we are able on a larger scale to create some pretty realistic holograms (think Michael Jackson).

My point is, it's hard to think about technology that's at your finger tips as futuristic, but it's also impossible for some of us NOT to think of it that way, too. Most days, it doesn't even occur to me that my iPhone is more powerful than any home computer I had in the 90's and early 2000's, and is still more powerful than some computers today depending on what you buy. I take for granted that I can Facetime with my mom or Skype with sister who has an Android phone (ewwww!!), or that I can control my internet with an app on my phone.

What's a little bit ironic about all of this is that we don't have a single smart home feature in our house, unless you consider a TV remote you can talk to futuristic. It's not because we're cheap, I mean, smart home tech is pretty inexpensive for the most part. It's because my husband doesn't really trust it. He won't install smart locks because he says we can just unerringly put the key in the lock and turn (as an aside, the internal tumblers in our back door lock broke once making it impossible to do just that). He has this idea that with a keypad, anyone could break into your house.  He believes smart thermostats have a mind of their own--the Nest certainly does--and wants to be able to control the temp manually. He doesn't trust it, fearing it's sort of half-baked or not well enough developed to trust it.

So, until he starts to believe it's trustworthy, we'll just keep our regular old semi-low-tech home. Or maybe I'll start sneaking these things in, one at a time, until he becomes accustomed to them and we have a smart home without him noticing. Remote lamp switches certainly wouldn't go amiss for my Christmas tree right about now!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: A Year in Review

Can you believe I've been getting these glorious Coffee and a Classic boxes for a year?! It's the Christmas present that keeps on giving (as long as you keep on paying!). Over the last year I've gotten a lot of neat books, a lot of coffee cups, and tried a lot of different cocoas. I thought it would be fun, as the year ends, to look back on the year worth of boxes and share my overall impression.

Some quick facts about Coffee and a Classic Subscription boxes:
  1. You can subscribe on their website or through Cratejoy: Subscribing directly through their site seems to offer more flexibility. 
  2. Payment plans can be monthly, 3 Month Prepay, and 6 Month Prepay: Monthly subscribers have an easier time making adjustments to their packages directly on the site. If yous sub for 3 or 6 months at a time, you have to email them any time you want to make adjustments. However, paying in advance makes it a little bit less expensive.
  3. There are two subscription levels: Standard Classic Subscription ($51.99/month) and Starter Classic Subscription ($41.99). The difference seems to be that the higher level subscription has a coffee cup and comes in a high quality photo box (I love these boxes, by the way!).
  4. Book choices include: Classical Literature, Children's Classics, or Classic Non-Fiction.
  5. Drink choices include: Coffee, tea, cocoa, or surprise me.
  6. You can set up a reoccurring subscription using either your credit card or Paypal for convenience and they always email you before your subscription is going to renew. 
A couple of quick facts about my experience with them:
  1. They have good customer service: When Matt signed me up for this box, he put my email address in wrong. This made it impossible for us to access my new subscription account. We emailed them and within a few hours they had it fixed and we were on our way. I contacted them one other time to change my book-type preference and they got that done without any trouble. 
  2. I've gotten all three book-categories over the last year and the books are great quality!
  3. My drink preference is cocoa and each month's has always been unique and delicious: The packing for the cocoa is also really neat. So much so I plan to frame the pics on the front of the cocoas and hang them in my kitchen. 
  4. Each month I've gotten a lovely mug: My only issue here is that they are clearly not dishwasher safe, but until recently the insert hasn't specified that. I absolutely destroyed one of the mugs by putting it in the dishwasher. 
  5. The boxes are beautifully, thoughtfully curated each month: It's clear they love books!
A couple of bumps in an otherwise flawless road:
  1. Some of the scents for candles, soaps, and oils haven't been my preference: They always match the box and make sense, but haven't always been to my liking.
  2. Broken glass: One of the boxes had a glass oil burner that was broken into pieces in the box. I have no idea how this happened, since it was cushioned and well packed. I get mugs every month and never has one been broken, but this one thing came broken. 
  3. Different contents than others with the same box: One month I got a different mug than the others who got the box (mine was a ceramic mug while most of the others were a lovely travel mug) another time the candy was loose all over the box, rather than in a box as I saw in some of the others boxes. 
Overall, my impression of the subscription boxes has been just wonderful. Being a literature person, particularly one who enjoys classical literature, I have been so delighted by these boxes month after month. No only do I feel the boxes are completely worth the $50 or so we pay for them every month, I feel like that's a bargain. So much so, I will continue to subscribe to them into the foreseeable future.

Favorites from the year:

**Absolutely not a paid endorsement, I pay for this subscription every month. None of the links are ads. I have not been paid to endorse any of them. I just love the products.**

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Center Street Christmas Celebration

Our cute little town's Christmas tree lighting celebration was last night. It was a celebration for the reopening Center Street, which has been closed for months, and a ribbon cutting for the new arch over the street. There was a short parade, carolers, our high school bad played Christmas music, candy windows unveiled at our local candy company. It was a nice way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon.

Logan is a lovely all year, but at Christmas time, it's really something to see. It's got a distinct Hallmark Christmas movie-like feel. Lots of people came out for the Christmas celebration so it was crowded, but still a really good time with a strong community feel.

The short parade included Santa being pulled down Center Street on an antique fire wagon by the Highpoint Clydesdales. They are the biggest horses I have ever seen, but truly beautiful creatures. We got up closer for a look while they were parked in the middle of the street. They are huge...

I managed to get pretty close, despite the crowds and get a shot of these gorgeous horses that won the World Clydesdale Competition in 2018.

When the short parade with Santa and the horses was done, there was a tree lighting and a ribbon cutting for the opening of the Center Street arch. The snow on those trees isn't an affectation, we've gotten about a foot and a half of snow over the past two days. The trees are huge, flanking Center Street behind the new arch, and light up. While we waited for the tree lighting, even though Matt objected to my attempt to take a picture of us in the middle of the crowd, I got one. I actually think this pic came out really good, a rare gem!

After the tree lighting, seeing the Clydesdales, and the arch we took a little walk down Center Street to the corner of main. I snapped a couple of pics of this cute little street along the way...

This is a look down Center Street toward our main street. You can see how close the mountains are in this shot, as well as the lovely old buildings. The right hand side is Wells Fargo bank, built in 1914.

This theater is the oldest in town. It's been renovated in the last couple of years and though I haven't ever been inside, I've heard it's still got it's original charm. They were showing "A Christmas Story" there tonight for free. We didn't stay for the movie, but I just love this theater.

There were carolers outside the Caine Lyric Theater, but in this picture the crowds were there to see the reindeer. There were too many people crowded around to get a good picture of the little fella. 

These reindeer, made of what looks like grapevine, are on both sides of the street and are situated at both ends of the this block.

After seeing the rest of the street, we circled back around to see the Candy windows in front of our local candy shop, Blue Bird Candy Company. Their candy is amazing and this year they did candy windows! There were three different designs, but this one of Frosty is the the only one I could catch without too much glare. Their windows are a little bit tinted, so that with the glare of the setting sun, the other two were impossible to capture. But even still, they are gorgeous.

Once we'd seen the candy windows, we headed out to have dinner. It was a perfectly lovely afternoon. So much so, I think I'm going to convince him to go to a few more of these sorts of things this winter!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: A Christmas Carol (+ The Scarlet Letter)

November's Coffee and a Classic Box came yesterday! I was so worried it wouldn't be delivered because we're under several feet of snow over here, but our mail carrier came through. I had been so concerned, in fact, that I shoveled a path across my lawn from the porch to the mailbox. But, when I got to the box, I realized it had likely been a fools errands because there was a small snow embankment between the mailbox and the street thanks to the dang snow plows. I know they keep people safe by clearing the roads, but they make it harder for us by plowing all that snow right on to our property. But, I digress, the box came and it is lovely!

This month's book is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. My first box from them last year was a Dickens book, so this is pretty special. As always, the box is beautifully curated, this time in lovely Christmas colors. The only thing missing from the picture of the box was the snack, a whoopie pie, not because I ate it, but because Matt did. It was coated in candy cane and I am allergic to mint. Otherwise, everything that came in the box is pictured here. 

This book is so lovely. The cover is that buttery soft leather-ish material and the red embossed letters are a little bit glittery. Hard to capture that in a picture, but I certainly tried. It's a Word Cloud Classics edition and includes not only A Christmas Carol, but four other Christmas tales by Dickens. I'm not a huge Dickens reader, so much to my chagrin I had no idea he had written five Christmas stories! 

The bookmark included is one of those lovely thinly sliced wood bookmarks. I love the quote and the little picture on the bookmark. You can't see it in this photo, but the green ribbon at the top says "Dickens A Christmas Carrol" in silver script. 

This is probably my favorite piece in this box, other than the book. It's normally the mug, but this time I'm won over by the charming Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim ornament.

I put it on my tree straight away, Very hard to capture because it has a clear plastic cover, but it's adorable and makes my Christmas tree just that much more special this year. I was a little worried it would be too heavy, but it's just right. It also has a little stand on the back that flips open if I had wanted to stand it up on a table. Since most of our ornaments are bulbs and icicles, and aren't particularly unique, this has me inspired to begin collecting ornaments with a bit more character.. pun not intended. 

I was a little scared about this candle, y'all. I opened it up, expecting it to smell like a pine tree, and to my surprise it smells absolutely lovely! I believe it does have a pine layer, but the overall effect is quite nice. It's pretty Christmas colors, smells nice, and has a cute little drawing of Tiny Tim.

This Pecan Pie hot cocoa comes from McStevens. I haven't tried it yet, but I just love the packaging. Since I have really enjoyed every one of the cocoas from McStevens, I imagine this one will be no different. Did I mention before that I'm saving all the packages so I can frame them and hang them in my kitchen? I just need to figure out what size frames will work best. 

Isn't this pretty?! I absolutely love it. It's a little dusty from the box filling, but I'm going to have my first cup of Pecan Pie cocoa in this mug as soon as I'm done writing this post. The quote, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year," is just perfect! 

My overall impression of this month's box is fantastic. The colors, the contents, the lovely book. They out did themselves this month. I'm not eagerly awaiting the sneak peek for next month. I can't wait to see what they came up with for December!

A note on last month's box (October)...

October's box was Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. This is most of the box's contents pictured above. I didn't get a chance to take pictures of each individual item. The cocoa was delicious and the mug was huge, which was especially nice. I haven't had a chance to try to the syrup yet, but I'm sure it's delicious. 

The contents of the little burlap sack include a pine scented oil and a small tea light candle. This would make more sense if the oil burner that also came in the box hadn't been smashed into pieces. The oil is also extremely strong, so it will be staying in the little sack. 

Overall, though, the box was just as lovely as they all have been!

**Absolutely not a paid endorsement, I pay for this subscription every month. None of the links are ads. I have not been paid to endorse any of them. I just love the products.**

Monday, October 7, 2019

Fall in Logan Canyon

One of our favorite things to do each fall is take a drive up into Logan Canyon. I'm not a huge fan of canyon roads, but I enjoy going up there to see the fall foliage. It also ways turns fall in the canyons before the valley, so it's a fun thing to do together. This year, we didn't go very far into the canyon because by the time I was off work Saturday we were starting to lose light. Even still, it was such a lovely way to spend an early fall, early Saturday evening.

Even though the sun was low in the sky by the time we got up there, I love the way the trees look in the late afternoon light. None of the pictures I took have any filters applied, just a tiny up tune on the contrast to make up for the pics looking a little bit washed out by my phone's camera. The differences in color have to do with the position of the light when the pics were taken.

All the trees have these lovely red and orange leaves that really stand out against the dark rock cliff sides. These two pics were taken along Highway 89, about seven miles into the Canyon from Logan. The weather up there was cool, but not cold. I was wearing flip flops and a hoodie, and was pretty comfortable. The sky was blue with some breezy clouds. It was absolutely perfect!

Everyone takes pictures of their booted feet in the leaves for a fall vibe, but I'm not much of a boots person. So, it's flip flops in the leaves for me.

We pulled over at one of the little day use areas along the highway to take a little walk. Even Matt, who isn't much for nature or nature walks, enjoyed the leaves and the pretty afternoon crispness. The little trail goes all the way down to the side of the Logan River. The water was absolutely freezing, so I didn't step in.

There are three or so picnic tables along the little path which was almost completely covered in leaves. Isn't it gorgeous?! If it had been up to me, I'd have sat and soaked up the lovely weather until we completely lost light. Matt's not that patient, though, so we kept walking.

I did try to make him stop and take a selfie with me. This is always how it goes. We never manage to get one with both of us looking good or smiling. He always either looks away or makes a face. When I look okay, he looks like this. When he looks great, I look like crap. So here's the compromise picture. He looks like a serial killer while I'm trying to smile and look like this angle isn't seriously twisting my neck at an unnatural angle.

At the end of the little path, it climbs up hill just slightly, and there's a spooky little road blocked off by a locked bar. I wanted to climb over the bar to take a pic up this little road, and also of the river, but Matt wouldn't let me. He's not much of a rebel anymore. I should have done it anyway!

And of course, headed back, I had to get a picture of my car. This one does have a filter, which is why it's a little less bright than the others. I even managed to get a shot of Matt in there. If we had taken the Jeep, rather than my car, I think we would have gone further up the canyon. For whatever reason, I feel more comfortable up there in his car. Maybe I'll talk him into going again!