Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

It's that time of year when I look back and reflect on the previous year and look forward to reflect on the new year. I try to objectively take stock of everything that's gone on in the year and make somewhat objective projections for the new year. But, as we all know, it's hard to be objective about your own life. The whole, "you're too close to yourself to see the truth" thing applies, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

This year...

Objectively-ish, this year has been kind of mediocre. I didn't really accomplish much. On the other hand, nothing earth-shattering has happened either. No one I love has died**, as has happened in December the last two years (Tommy in 2017 & my grandmother in 2018). We have the same jobs, for the most part. There have been a couple of pretty interesting little things...
  1. I impulse purchased a new car in March--went into the dealer to get my car serviced, came out with a new car. Same type, newer model. I'm pretty happy with my new car, it's both cute and fast. I regret nothing. Also, Road & Track named my car 2020 performance car of the year. So there's that. 
  2. I got a small bump in job responsibilities that came with a small raise--this has come with more than a little anxiety, but I'm trying to put myself out there and take on new things. 
  3. We semi-impulse purchased a Peloton bike earlier this month... Jesus help me!
  4. We paid off both of our cars this month... saving us more than $1,000 per month! 
I'm thinking that's pretty much it. Otherwise, we live in the same house. We have the same jobs. We drive the same cars (sort of). We're pretty dull.

Last year...

One surprising win this year was last year's New Year's Resolutions. I had resolved to write one blog post a week for a year and to do 5 days a week mindfulness meditation. I failed at both of these things. But...

I wrote more blog posts this year than I have in the past several years. In fact, more than the last three years (2016-2018) all together.

So, while I didn't write 52 posts this year, I still did pretty great and am claiming this one as a win for blogging. It really helped me push to put some thoughts down or write posts so I could remember events in my life. That's a win.

Next year...

Next year is 2020, which blows my mind... I remember when that seemed like the distant, distant future! That means it's my 20th wedding anniversary and we are planning a trip... more on that another time. I'm also planning to take the new year as a new opportunity to learn something new and try again to invest in myself. While I suck at that last part, and always let myself down, I'm still going to try.

There is this proofreading course I've just started taking that will show me how to start a proofreading business. I plan to keep tackling that in the new year. My intention is to start my own business. I hear putting intentions out there in the universe helps them along, so wish me luck. 

My New Year's Resolutions for 2020 are...
  1. Take the proofreading course
  2. Start my own business... I'm so scared.
  3. Keep trying to write one post a week... I'm so close to being there!
  4. Try to take off some of this weight. I'm getting a treadmill Peloton bike to help that along (and maybe so I don't have to go outside because, well, outside is cold and scary!)
  5. Try to keep my house more clean (I suck at housekeeping!)
That's more than enough resolutions. I'm bound to succeed at one or two of them! Bring it on, 2020!!

** As an aside... Since I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, my mom's brother was killed on December 16th. We didn't really know him, because family drama with his mom, but it's still incredibly sad. He was only 32 years old. RIP Andrew. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

I Hate Being a Homeowner

Have I mentioned that I kind of hate home ownership? Well, maybe hate-love better describes my feelings. Either way, heavy emphasis on hate. I feel like that's an unpopular opinion, but I would much rather rent than buy. It's not even close. "But home-ownership builds equity... blah, blah, blah..." yeah, I don't care. But here we are, "homeowners" (parenthesis because the bank owns it much more than we do) and the experience is so not making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I would like to take this opportunity, before I go on, to say that I actually do love our little house. This is the love part of my hate-love feelings. Our home is cozy and it's ours, we're pretty happy here and I like being able to do with it whatever we want without asking anyone's permission. I just hate the entire process of home-ownership.

I mean, buying a home is a horrible experience. The whole exercise of finding a house you like and can afford, then getting a home loan is the absolute worst. The amount of information they want is ridiculous. Oh, you had one overdraft for thirty-six cents a year and a half ago? We're going to need you to write the underwriter a letter explaining why you're such a failure. You have too many credit cards, your credit score isn't quite right, you don't make enough money... you now have to give us your entire financial history and then wait, on pins and needles, for a stranger to pass judgment on your worthiness to have a roof over your head. It. is. the. worst.

Then, when they decide you're worthy and you move into your new place, you're responsible for everything. When you rent, someone else is responsible for things that break. Got a roof leak? Yup, that's going to cost you $350. Your gutters need to be cleaned and repaired? That's gonna cost you $500+. Your sink is clogged up and you need a new garbage disposal (us, right this very second)? That's gonna be a pretty penny.

Home-ownership comes with a million little money-sucking costs. You have to get the yard up-kept, or you have to have a husband/child/person who will mow (mine won't and I can't). If you live somewhere cold, the snow becomes an expensive nuisance. There's mortgage, insurance, and taxes which are all expected expenses. But, then there's all the little unexpected things like a home warranty, which you have to pay monthly and then you also have to pay copays, and then there's only a 50/50 shot they'll cover whatever is wrong. And all the little fixes and "upgrades." It's all on you.

Yeah, I hate it. When we lived in an apartment and the pipes burst in the bathroom, our managers fixed it and sent a company to dry out the carpet, and it didn't cost us a thing. When the dishwasher died, they replaced it and it didn't cost us a thing. They sprayed for bugs, came in to inspect the smoke detectors every month for free, and all we had to do is pay our rent. It was so easy.

But, that was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when renting was easy. Back when the rental contract prohibited you from burning candles, but you could smoke inside. When they allowed pets without charging pet rent or having a pet minimum. Now, if you rent, you can't smoke inside. This is fine by me, but not with Matt who is a throwback to the 90s south where everyone smoked inside. There're pet minimums, if they allow pets at all, and the pet deposits are ridiculous. Then they charge you pet rent, which is kind of the most absurd thing I've ever heard of. I mean, do they charge extra rent for people's kids? Of course not. But kids have the potential to do as much or more damage than pets.

But I digress. Right now, it's Sunday, it's snowing and we have two sinks half full of muck because our sinks won't drain. When I turn on the garbage disposal, water literally sprays out the back and all over the power plug for the garbage disposal. We're going to have to call a plumber in the morning and between the sinks and the disposal, I'm expecting a $500 bill. If we were renting right now, that bill would be on someone else. Sooooooo glad we're not renters. 😤 I'm taking this opportunity to blame Matt who insisted we buy a house, rather than rent, when moving to Utah. Thanks, honey.

Home Sweet Home, Winter 2015

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas 2019

It's Christmas! I've been off work since Sunday and four days off has been a lovely way to spend the Christmas holiday. Matt and I are spending the day together, just hanging out. I'll be making us a nice vegan meal this evening (a story for another time).

This year, we bought ourselves a Peloton bike and a new game system (table top role playing games, not video games) for Christmas. My lovely little sister got me Garth Brooks' Legacy collection on Vinyl, my folks got me an electric griddle and Omaha steaks, and my aunt got us Hickory Farms. We've had a really nice year and are thankful this Christmas for our health and the health of our families.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing for Christmas this year, I hope you're having a good one. Merry Christmas!

Reflecting pool, Temple Square, SLC 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Making an Actual Investment

I've decided (yet again) that I need to work on my health. I could stand to lose some weight, but more than anything I'm not really getting any younger and I'm in horrible shape. So, one of my resolutions for the new year is going to be to invest in myself... lose some weight and build endurance, improve my health.

To do that, I decided I would seek motivation by making an actual investment, rather than relying on a sort of abstract motivation. I mean, I suck at self-motivation and I tend to give up on physical activity or eating well when they become hard. Zero willpower to resist the junk food and sitting on my ass in front of the TV or computer.

So this year, as we approach a new year, the actual investment we made in ourselves looks like this...

For the record, riding this thing is way, way harder than it looks. It came yesterday, I put my cycling shoes together, and took my first ride last night. I choose a 10 minute scenic ride and, I'm a little ashamed to say, I didn't make it through the whole thing without breaks.

I'm working on trying to eat better, too, because this I feel like it will make exercise easier if I can take some weight off. First day, but I think I'm doing pretty well so far. It hasn't been without temptation, there's ice cream in my freezer, but I'm taking it hour by hour.

I don't have a lot to say about the bike so far, except that it's pretty uncomfortable. The seat seriously hurts your ass, which I knew to expect because many of the online reviews mention it--I ordered a gel seat cover, so hopefully that'll help. I'm sure after I've ridden it longer, I'll have plenty to say. For now, the only thing I have to say is that it's hard so wish me luck as I try to build some endurance and get in better shape.

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!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ringing in the Fall with Jill Tracy

It's fall in Utah! Okay, so, it's fall everywhere... but fall in Utah is just lovely. It's always been my favorite season, but since moving here I've found a whole new appreciation for the season.

It goes without saying, I'm all in on fall over here. I've been indulging in all the usual fall faire (baking, planning a drive to see the leaves, drinking way too many pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cream cold brews, watching all the football, sucking down way too much cocoa and coffee, and cozying up in my sweaters and socks, etc.). But one of the less conventional ways I ring in the fall is absolutely bingeing on Jill Tracy. Ab-so-lute-ly bingeing all day, every day.

While I love her aesthetic all year, in the fall it's so much more festive. Her music is just so delightfully spooky and, well, feels like fall to me...

All day while I work, I listen to her on Youtube. I've got a play list where she's intermixed with my other favorites. I mean, if we can have Christmas music, why not fall music?!

Happy fall, y'all! I hope wherever you are, your fall season is as lovely as ours has been so far. I'll make sure to share if I get some lovely pictures of our drive through the canyon this weekend!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: The Borden Murders

It's a cool, rainy Sunday morning and I spent the first three hours of my day (before the football games) reading my new Coffee and a Classic book. For the September box, I choose the non-fiction pick and I could not be happier with it. The book is The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller. Considering I'm absolutely obsessed with Lizzie Borden, and true crime in general, this box has been my favorite so far. Yes, I've loved all of them, but this one spoke directly to my soul.

So check this box out...

The book is hardback and well bound. Even without the dust jacket, it's a lovely black book with silver embossed lettering on the spine. The box also includes a journal, a bath bomb, book mark (in the little black bag), a coffee mug, cocoa, and a treat. The color theme, red, black, and gray, is just lovely. As always, the box's curation is top notch and wait until you see some of these things up close!

I started read this morning, while the house was quiet. My husband works nights, so he sleeps in the morning. With the rain and gloom, the house is cool, so I snuggled up with a blanket and mug of the cocoa that came with the box. So far, I'm loving it--the book and the cocoa. The book is clearly sympathetic toward Lizzie, which was a nice surprise, considering most people believe she did it. Even though they know nothing about her or the case. I'm enjoying it. I would imagine I'll finish it this week and will probably take some time to review it when I'm finished. I'm finding Sarah Miller's writing to be compelling. A lovely mix of near-fiction and hard fact that makes the book really interesting.

Okay, so  seriously, look what was hiding inside the little black bag in the first pic...

It's a book mark, how awesome is that?! I wish I had been able to get a better picture of it. It's so dainty, I'm a little bit afraid to use it for fear I'll accidentally break it because, well, I'm a little clumsy. I saw on the Coffee and a Classic Instagram that they were painting these. I absolutely love it. Their attention to detail when curating these boxes is second to none.

It's a journal! I love the phrase on the cover. There was a pear tree in the Borden's yard. Lizzie said she had collected some and taken them to the attic loft to chill and look through some old tool boxes, which was where she said she was when her father and step-mother were brutally murdered. The little journal is nicely bound and, as you can see from the cover, has a nice cloth texture.

I never actually write in these. I'm one of those people who buy/collect journals and notebooks, but never can bring myself to deface them. I have a ton of unused journals around. That's not something that's likely to change, but this makes a nice addition to that collection.

I won't lie, I ate this the second after this picture was taken. It's impossible to see from the picture, but the stick is actually plastic and looks like a wooden tree branch, which is a lovely touch. The marshmallow was so incredibly soft. It just melted in my mouth. According to the insert, it came from The Marshmallow Cart in Portland, Maine. I cannot even begin to tell you how sad I was to find that they do not ship. You can order their lovely marshmallows online, but they have to be picked up. I hope they make them available to ship soon, I want more of these. 

I've mentioned before that I started collecting mugs, so these boxes have been great for adding to my collection. I would like to say right now that this is my new favorite mug. I could not adore it more. The caption, "Fueled by true crime and coffee" is me to the core. All the way to. the. core. I'm a true crime junkie, so this mug speaks to me. In fact, I had my cocoa in this mug this morning and am currently enjoying another cup of cocoa in this very mug right now, as I type this. Both of the cocoas from this morning have been from the recent boxes.

Speaking of cocoa. This is the one that came in this box. Red Velvet! I love that they call it "Forty Whacks Hot Cocoa." The lovely pictures on the front of these pouches are so great, I'm considering cutting them off the pouches (when they're empty, of course) and framing them for hanging in my kitchen. I've only thrown away one of them, the first one, before I had this idea. We'll see how that goes. 

The cocoa is from McStevens as have most of them been. And, as with most of them, I have really loved it. It has a lovely sweet chocolate flavor that's different from a regular cocoa. Now that I've found three or four of these I've really loved from McStevens, I'm going to make an order. The shipping is insane, so ordering just one isn't worth it. Ordering four, though, that would make it so much more cost efficient. Especially now that's getting cold and is actually cocoa weather again. 

And finally, the box insert. I've put it into the box, as I have with almost all of the others, and am currently using it as a book mark. The only thing you will find on the insert, and in the first picture of the whole box, that I haven't really discussed is the bath bomb. I don't have a bathtub that plugs and I don't particularly like the dragonblood scent, so I left that one thing out.

Overall, as I said before going into detail about the box itself, I love this one. I could not be happier. Of all the boxes I've gotten so far, this one is by far an easy favorite. I love (almost) everything about it. There's no sneak peek of next month's box yet, but I am so excited to see what they come up with for October. If this is what they did for September, October is bound to be amazing. I can't wait to see!

**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.**

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Black and White, Circa 1997

I mentioned a few months ago that I had a roll of undeveloped, black and white 35mm film from the late 90's when I took a photography class. I've been looking for someone who can develop it and the one company that got back to me said the rust on the outside of the canister has likely corrupted the film and made it undevelopable (is that a word?). But they're willing to try, so I'm going to send it to them to see if maybe there's something salvageable on there. If not, then I suppose it will remain a mystery as to what I shot on that roll.

In the mean time, while going through a dresser that's full of old files and junk, I came across a few black and whites I took during that class. They're photos that I developed with my own two hands and thought it might be fun to share while I wait to see if the ones on the roll turn out. They're a little bit random, a representative of project requirements I can't remember anymore.
Silverwood Lake, San Bernardino County, 1997

I took this shot of Silverwood lake from the pull out on the way to the park gate. I believe the lake was low because they were working on the dam, but it might also have been drought, or a combination of both.
Your move, 1997

Satellite, 1997
These other two were random subject matters I had around the house. The top one was taken on our front porch in the house where I grew up. The bottom one was a close up of the huge, old fashioned satellite dish we had in our side yard, the kind everyone had in the 80's and 90's.

The photos are 8 x 10 and have become a little bent and scratched up over the years. I had them in frames on the wall at one point, years ago, but they're now in a manila file, in a pile of files in an old dresser drawer. I don't have the negatives anymore to have them printed again, so this is the only copy that exists of each picture. I still love them, there's just a quality in photos taken with film that you cannot get from digital photography. I still have the camera I used to shoot them, an old Pentax K-1000 we bought in a pawn shop because my professor, a charming and eccentric photographer I developed quite the crush on, required we have a camera that be only manipulated manually, no digital cameras. 

I wonder if it still works?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Kiss in the Dark

Do you remember your first kiss? The first kiss with your significant other, a first kiss with a lover somewhere along the way, the one defining kiss that's sealed itself in your brain so completely that when you think about kisses, it's your only memory?

Some ladies in one of my Facebook groups were having a lively discussion about kissing earlier this week, sharing memories about their first or most memorable kisses. I didn't jump in because I'm a lurker in most groups and also because I don't remember my first kiss. I have no idea when, how long, or who my kissing partner was. I do have one bad memory of an attempted kiss when I was 15 years old that never happened because, quite grossly, his mouth was wide open and I took off before he could suck my face. Not surprisingly, we broke up that afternoon.

But, my most memorable kiss was and still is a good memory. One that will forever rise above all others and that, thanks to that Facebook group chat, has been floating around in the front of my mind for a the past few days. I don't think about it most of the time. Almost never, until this last week. It's just a thing that happened, in my past, when I was 18 years old... twenty-three years ago. Maybe I remember it because I was young and my mind was still capable of hanging on to memories like that. When I was a little less cynical. But, I like to think it's because the kiss was remarkable.

It was the mid-90s and I was working a seasonal job at a local department store. This particular night was dark, it was almost ten o'clock, and the late October/early November desert air was cool. I was wearing a light weight black dress with a pretty floral pattern, the back had a double strap crossing pattern that exposed just a little bit of my mid-back. The sleeves were short and the dress was just above the knee length. It had a slightly low-cut sweetheart-like neckline.  It was pretty and was my favorite.

I had been working during closing that evening and was walking out with a co-worker to wait by the back door for a friend who was taking me home. There was a small, dim light above the back door, but it didn't shed much light. The co-worker I'd walked out with, a very good looking, early 30's guy, waited with me. He worked loss prevention and though his truck was parked around the corner, he didn't want to leave me standing alone in the dark.

We must have been talking about something, but I can't at all remember what. It's not significant. What I do remember is the warmth of his hand on the side of my face before he kissed me. I remember the color of his hair and eyes, the style of his frames, his height and stature. I won't go into detail about how it felt, how I felt, other than to say I felt warm and... desired. It was the first time I had felt truly desired.

Maybe it was the circumstances, the night, my age, his age, some other things happening in my personal life at the time. Maybe it was the illicitness of the kiss. We were both otherwise attached and we definitely should not have been kissing in the dark. Whatever the reason, that one single kiss is imprinted on my memory. It wasn't the only kiss I shared with this person, but it's the only one I remember in such striking detail.

In the twenty-three years since then, this is the first time I've shared that memory with anyone. I've never spoken about it or put it into words, even to friends who knew what was going on in my life at the time or since. It certainly wasn't something I wanted to share with a group of judgmental strangers on Facebook and I'm not even sure why I'm sharing it here, other than to get it out of my head and because, even though it wasn't appropriate circumstances, it's one of my best memories.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: Anna Karenina

I got my August Coffee and a Classic book box a couple of days ago. The classic literature selection for the month was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I feel like a broken record, but the box was just as beautifully curated as they all have been. The book is hard cover and absolutely beautiful. All of that said, for several reasons, it's probably going to be a long while before I get around to reading this one. It's extremely heavy and I've heard that, in the trend of the Russian authors of his time, this book is so depressing. Since I'm already falling down that deep, dark hole, reading a sad book isn't on my agenda.

That doesn't mean I'm any less excited to receive it. It's a lovely addition to my collection and, some day, I'll probably give it a go. Check out this lovely box...

As always, I'll include a better picture of the book below. It's really lovely. This month's box includes the hard back book, a pretty ribbon book mark, a candle, a hand towel with a quote printed on it, a pretty maroon mug, Dark Orange Hot Cocoa, and Russian tea cookies. It came as the others have, in a nice navy blue photo box. I never throw these away because they're pretty heavy duty and will make a nice storage solution when I figure out what to do with them someday. 

Check out this hardcover book. I love the jewel and quilted flower embellishments. It's a Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition book and is very well made. The binding is strong and you can see from the light in the picture that the gold printing on the cover is quite shiny. The book is off white and the printing inside is big enough to easily read. As I noted above, the book is very heavy and might be uncomfortable for long periods of reading without something to prop it up on. 

It was a little bit tough to get a good picture of the bookmark, but I gave it my best shot. It's a pretty white ribbon with a charm on one end and a drop faux-pearl on the other. What I'm most impressed with about this is the attention to detail this represents. You can see from the book's cover, the little drop pearls in the design along the top and in the middle under the title. The book mark matches this design element and really ties everything together. I usually store the bookmarks in the book, but because of the shape of this bookmark, it's not long enough to be in the book on the shelf. I'm still working out what I'll do with it so I don't lose it. 

The blue towel is neat, but I'm actually a little afraid to use and wash it. I have the same problems with the mugs, I'm worried the washing machine or dishwasher will ruin the design. This isn't arbitrary, my Phantom of the Opera mug was utterly ruined by putting it in the dishwasher. I digress. The towel says "All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow." I love this quote. I'm thinking the towel will be more for display than use.

The second "bookish item" in the box was this candle. It's hard to tell from this angle, but the canister has a row of pearls running around the rim below where the lid goes on. I love the little flower pattern on the canister's lid, but I'm not sure I like the candle's scent. I've been trying to figure out what the scent is since the box came. I may just burn it and see if I like it. If I don't, I'll put the lid back on and it will be strictly decorative. 

Now onto my favorite parts of the box. The cocoa, mug, and treat. First, the cocoa. This one comes from McStevens. I've gotten several others from them and they are almost always amazing. When I discover enough flavors I like, I'm going to order from them. As it is, the shipping is pricey, so it's not worth ordering just one flavor. I haven't actually tried this one yet, but I love orange and chocolate together, so I'm sure I'll love it. I really like the lovely picture on the envelope. Just like the book mark, it's a lovely addition to the box that shows a lot of attention to detail. All the boxes are like this, though, so I'm not terribly surprised it's gorgeous again this month!

All I have to say about this mug is PRETTY! The rich maroon color against the tan/gold of the design really does not come through in this photo. When I run my hand over the mug, I can feel the pattern, so I'm thinking it's going to be strictly hand wash only. I put some of them in the dishwasher, but I probably won't after the design melted right off of my Phantom of the Opera mug. I'm still completely and totally heartbroken about the Phantom mug. I'm certain I've said so before, but I would love it if the insert would indicate whether or not the mug is dishwasher safe.

Sooooo... I'm sure you'll notice that the cellophane bag is empty. I ate these suckers about two seconds after the box was open. It only occurred to me after I had scarfed them down and tossed the wrapping that I hadn't gotten a picture of the lovely little cookies. My bad. On the upside, they were delicious. There were three little cookies and the wrapping was tied with a lovely satin ribbon. I love sweet treats, so I look forward to what they'll come up with for this box every month. I've only been less than thrilled once and I've been getting this box for 9 months.

Even the box insert is gorgeous this month! They're always neat, but this one is beautiful. The vibrant red with gold embellishments. It's just enchanting. The insert is safely tucked inside the book where I can't possibly lose it. Overall impression of this month's box... wonderful! 

My subscription was set to renew September 1st, so I decided to move my it from 3-pay to month to month so I could easily control my book selection (classical lit, classic nonfiction, or children's lit) for the month without having to email them. This coming month, I have already changed from classic lit to classic nonfiction. I'm so excited about September's book. If you're interested you can check it out on their website's sneak peek page.

**Absolutely not a paid endorsement, I pay for this subscription every month. I just love the product.