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. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Fall is Coming... Thank Goodness

I'm having a bit of a rough week and have been feeling quite emotionally drained. I had an interview for a job that I'm very qualified for, but due to my horrid social skills, I didn't score a second round interview. I like the job I currently have, so I'm trying not to let it get me down. But, that's not going as well as you might imagine. The ever-present depression is creeping in to take me over again, I can feel it, but I'm trying to push back.

In an effort to put the shitty week behind me, I've been trying to perk myself up with reminders that now that it's September... fall is coming. The Pumpkin Spice Latte (and the new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brews, too) came back earlier than ever this year, football season starts next week, and in the next month it's going to begin to cool down. Everything is going to turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, and soon, I won't even remember this horrible, rotten, no good week.

That's honestly helping a little bit. Fall is my favorite season. I look forward to the end of summer every year and don't even mind that fall is the gateway to winter. Everything about fall makes me happy. Everything. In fact, I love pumpkin spice so much, I got a t-shirt to declare my undying allegiance for the tasty squash and spices. It came this week and looks great on me, so that's a win from my otherwise gloomy week. Well, that and I've had two venti Pumpkin Cream Cold Brews and a PSL in the last two days, so that helps with my mood a bit, too.

It really, truly cannot come soon enough. I can only hold the gloom back so long before it breaks my will and I fall into the encouraging depressive void. Fingers cross fall gets here first.

Fall 2018

Saturday, August 31, 2019

World of Warcraft Classic

When I was in college, my best friend's boyfriend started playing this video game. He played it constantly and, eventually, she did too. While hanging around their place one night, I caught sight of this beautifully rendered game and, almost immediately, knew I'd be playing too. I went out and bought it that very night. That was 2005. 14 years later, I am still playing World of Warcraft... off and on.

There've been several expansions, including one that destroyed "Vanilla" as we knew it. The game has evolved quite a lot over the years--it's their 15th anniversary this year--and has sadly become quite a lot easier. The in-game world has been rearranged and so many features of convenience have been introduced that the game literally babies you all the way to level, what is it now, 120? That's twice what it was in vanilla.

It shows you where to do quests, gives you heirloom gear that makes leveling extremely fast, quest items and materials (flowers, mines, etc) sparkle, there is a mount available at level one if you've earned it (which is also extremely easy). The game has a feature that puts you into groups for dungeons, quests, and raids. There's cute things to do like achievements and pet battles. You can dress your character up like a barbie doll. Earning money is ridiculously easy and everything is extremely expensive as a result. It's obscenely easy and thanks to daily quests, you literally never run out of things to do if you don't mind repetition. It's become a bit of a bore, actually.

Then, a few days ago, they managed to fix all of that when Blizzard released World of Warcraft Classic. I've been playing it when I have time and, honestly, wow (no pun intended)... it is a serious blast from the past. There're no mechanics to baby you along, no special gear to make leveling easy, no easy ways to earn a fortune like there are in the regular game. Mobs tap when you hit them, so jerks constantly steal your kills, just like the old days. There's no raid finder or easy way to get into dungeon groups. There are no auction houses in every city, no salons to change your character's look, and no in game storage system that saves your pets.You have to pay for training at every level and nothing automatically updates.

The game is in tact, the way it should be, as it was before the Cataclysm expansion killed it. I absolutely love it and the nostalgia I'm feeling playing it is unreal. And, Blizzard did a good deed by making the game free if you subscribe to the regular, overly simplified, monster World of Warcraft has become. I love it, because while I have very little interest in playing the game as it is now, I'm extremely interested in playing the game as it was when I started in 2005. They've given us back something they sort of killed and, honestly, it's perfect.

Thank you, Blizzard, for not fucking this up. Thank you for giving us our game back, you have my undying gratitude... okay, that might be a little dramatic. But seriously, World of Warcraft Classic is surprisingly well done. Now, I'm off to play some more because it's almost 11pm and I've had two Venti coffees in the last couple of hours. Thanks to Blizzard, I have something quite fun to do while not blinking for the new little bit. 😄

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Peach Tree

In the front corner of my back yard, beside the house, there's a dying tree. It's a peach tree, but thanks to fungus, it's never made good peaches in the four years we've been here. It barely grows leaves anymore, just a few bushy bunches here and there. Mostly, it's branches are are bare all year. I've been thinking I'd cut it down, but haven't ever gotten around to getting someone to do it because it's not really a priority.

I can see this peach tree from my office window. That, a power pole, the juniper bush beside it, and the neighbors rusty barn roof are pretty much all I can see from that window. Since I work at 6:30am, I watch the sky grow light each morning from that window. While working the other morning, my house quiet, I began to notice the sounds of birds chirping and singing. The house is very solid and the windows are double pane, so I don't hear much outside noise and I've really never noticed this noise before. But, there it was, about a dozen little birds perching on the bare branches of the naked peach tree, hopping from branch to branch, chirping and singing to one another.

In the still of the morning, I took a moment to watch them and listen to their singing, and I felt so much inner quiet. I don't know what the little birds are, and I can't seem to capture a picture of them on the branches because my windows are dirty and when I open the office window they fly away. But whatever they are, out there, minding their own business, they gave me something I can't ever seem to find on my own... calm.

There was this thing, the tree, that I had planned to destroy without much thought about it, being of use to these cute little critters. And, to me, too. The tree of was of use to me, because seeing the little birds fluttering around it's branches made me happy. Such a simple thing and maybe it was the moment or the quiet, but I began to realize how much I take for granted and how many things I let pass me by without stopping to really see them. So many little things that could bring me a little bit of calm or peace of mind.

I won't be cutting down the tree. I'm starting to like it, even though it's not serving the purpose it was grown for. I think I may hang some bird feeders, instead.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I've been getting this subscription box since last December and so far, I've read most of the books at some point before getting the box and have been happy to get the lovely collectors editions. July's box, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a story I haven't ever read yet. I'm pretty excited about this one because I feel like this is a book that most people have read. It's an American classic, so I'm a little bit embarrassed to say I've never read it... and honestly, Matt looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I told him I'd never read this one, so I feel even worse. 😆

So here's the lovely box in all it's glory. It probably wasn't my wisest move to take a pic of the box against a teal blanket when the book is sort of teal. Lesson learned. 

The book is the Papermill Press edition. Several other books from previous boxes have been from this company. I cannot say enough about the quality of the book. The cover is a sort of papery texture and the embossing is absolutely beautiful. The rest of the box is Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa, a lovely mug, Hay Straws, a cute puzzle, a denim bookmark, and huckleberry starlights in a little metal pail. 

See, the book is gorgeous! My one pet peeve with these books is that reading them is a little bit of a challenge. I don't want to mess up the spine because the book is so pretty, so holding it open without bending the spine back starts to be tricky after 50 or so pages. Otherwise, no complains. The inside of the book is just as nice as the outside, very high quality pages with print that's just the right size.

This bookmark is just too much. I love the denim and really like how durable it is. It doesn't look fragile and will look super cute sticking up out of the book. Hopefully the metal bookmark-style clip won't damage the book pages. As long as it doesn't hurt the book, it will be getting a lot of use because I think it's awfully cute!

I love the vintage cover look of this mug, it's perfect. Of all the mugs, this one might be among my favorites... do I say that every time? I really like the colors and the fact that even though it's not the same pic from the front of the book, the water and scenery on the mug is close to the same color as the book cover which really helps pull the whole theme together. Same with the label on the cocoa, the teal really pulls it together. 

I haven't tried the hot cocoa yet because, well, it's July/August so it's pretty warm. But, I'm going to try it in the morning. I'm sure that it'll be great as they have all been. While I've liked some more than others, I love all things chocolate. So no review about the cocoa just now, but I do love the packaging!

Cute, right? I don't have a single surface anywhere that's clear of clutter, but I may have to make space (cleaning, yuck!) so that I can put this little puzzle together. I love the soft watercolor-like image.

So far, the treats have been fairly spot on. The only one so far that I've flat out disliked was last month's savory trail mix, which I passed on to Matt. This month's treat has been a lovely surprise. They're huckleberry starlights. Though they look like mints, they absolutely aren't. I was a little bit concerned about putting it into my mouth because I am allergic to mint, it gives me migraines. But. it didn't smell like mints and I was so thoroughly delighted at the flavor. They are so good and look at that gorgeous purple color. This one's a win. 

I saved the best and, perhaps, most confusing thing, for last. These are long and short Hay Straws. They obviously fit the box's theme perfectly. What I love about them, once I figured out what they are, is that they are eco-friendly and biodegradable straws. They're not plastic (which is destroying the world, just sayin'). They're natural, compostable, and can be used in either hot or cold drinks. Very cool. A nice touch that's environmentally friendly. 

Overall impression of this month's box: Wonderful!! Just like all of the other boxes, it's beautifully curated and came in a lovely, deep blue photo box. From the treat to the bookish goodies, this box is a winner. I cannot wait to jump in to the book and mark it off my reading list. I will soon no longer be the only English major in the world who hasn't read Huck Finn.

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

Friday, August 2, 2019

Birthday Recap : 41 Years Old

I turned 41 last week and I feel pretty okay about it. I expected when I turned 30, then 35, and 40, that at some point I would start to feel horrible about getting older. My mom was absolutely inconsolable on her 30th birthday and struggled with 40 years old, too. There's a picture from her 30th of her sobbing while everyone sang her happy birthday. But this hasn't happened to me. I don't feel bad about getting older yet. I still feel young most of the time, aside from the occasional ache.

As mentioned in my last post, I drove out to Arizona to see my family for my birthday. That was an adventure. It was nice to see them for more than a few hours. I hadn't seen them for more than two hours at a time here and there for 3 years. I also got to see my Aunt Sandy who, except for Facetime, I haven't seen in more than 15 years and my Aunt Pam. My cousin also happened to be there.

On my birthday, my folks took me to Torrid so I could buy some clothes, which I badly needed, and to got me my free birthday shake from Del Taco. We spent most of the day after that hanging around and enjoying the afternoon. My little sister baked me an amazing pink lemonade unicorn cake.

Believe it or not, she wasn't happy with how it came out. She's a perfectionist, even when it's crazy obvious that the cake was amazing. She said it was "too short." The cake was very dense and had a very strong lemon flavor (my favorite!). She made it from a recipe I sent her from Pintrest, which I would imagine she won't be making again. The frosting was homemade buttercream. Girl has some mad baking skills. I brought about a quarter of the cake home with me, which involved freezing it solid and putting it in my Igloo in hopes it didn't thaw out on the 15 hour drive (it didn't). Matt enjoyed it.

For my birthday, my folks got me a 25 pound weighted blanket. This is a pretty big deal, because I've been wanting one for a long time. My mom has heard me talking about it and remembered. She's great at picking gifts. I've been using it for the last week since coming home and it's made me feel so much better. I have less anxiety in the mornings and I've been sleeping quite a lot better. I absolutely love it. I also got a stack of vintage records, the A&E Romance Collection DVD set, the crown jewel of which is the A&E Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Elhe, and a Red Copper Pot for my collection... that stuff is the best!

On Friday morning after I got back and had had a whole night of sleep, Matt hugged me for a long time. Then, he forsook sleep and took me to Salt Lake for my birthday. He'd been awake all night, but "wasn't tired" so we went. He got tired about mid-day, so we pumped some coffee and conversation into him and he made it. We went to City Creek Center, which is a gorgeous mall, where I got Rocky Mountain Chocolate. We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (our new favorite) and then went to Game Night Games and got ourselves some dice. The road construction and traffic were a struggle after the long drive the day before, so my nerves were a little bit shot. But, we had a great day and really enjoyed ourselves. He's been an absolute prince to me since I got back. It's true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. 😂

The last thing to cap off my birthday celebration was my birthday Kickstarter. I think I've mentioned this before, but for the past few years, I've backed a Kickstarter for my birthday. This year, my birthday Kickstarter is Time Traveling with your Octopus by Brian Kesinger. I adore his work. I also backed one of his Kickstarters for my birthday during a previous year. He's a former Disney animator and his work is absolutely brilliant.

All in all, my 41st birthday was pretty damn good. Here's to being another year older gracefully and a picture of my cute little car during my birthday road trip--on the way home--just because I love her. I was in Searchlight, AZ right before I hit a monsoon. I survived to enjoy my 41st year, even though the weather had other ideas!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Questionable Choices: The Solo Road Trip

Have you ever done something, just to prove you could, only to regret being so damn hardheaded? Yeah, that's me. I sometimes make questionable decisions to prove that I'm not afraid (even if I am) and that I'm just as capable of doing these (sometimes difficult) things as anyone else. That's what happened this week when I drove from northern Utah to central Arizona... alone. It was a rough drive both ways. For reference, It's about 15 hours one way, accounting for stops, down some pretty tough highways. A flight would have taken about an hour and a half.

See, Matt isn't terribly keen on me taking solo road trips, and neither is my mom. But, this isn't the first time I've done this. I drove alone to California to see my family a few years ago. And when we lived in Texas, I tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to get Matt to let me drive alone to California (about 25 hours one way). If it was up to him, I would fly, but I am absolutely petrified to fly, so my anxiety goes absolutely crazy and I break down. I cannot even stand the smell of airports.

The really significant thing to note at this point is that I have a sort of moderate agoraphobia. I struggle to go out alone and when I do, I sometimes have trouble going into buildings alone. On more than one occasion, I've gone to Walmart, sat in my car for a half an hour, and unable to talk myself into going inside, have gone home. But, I don't want to be afraid to go out. I don't want to be so riddled with anxiety that I'm not able to function. I work overtime to reject what my body is telling me, to push back against the fear, and it results in things like this, where I do something drastically out of character and cause myself harm.

On the drive there, I was absolutely overcome with nausea. So, on top of the trip being a little bit tough, I was sick. Because I hadn't slept enough the night before and because the anxiety was trying to shut me down. I pushed through and kept going. I ignored the fear of the highway (I am terrified of traffic and road construction, I'm not much of a driver in general), the overwhelming fear that something terrible was going to happen to me, and the anxiety I always get when Matt and I are apart. It happens every time of us takes a trip. My brain goes to that place where I start to think that we will never see one another again.

It was actually an okay drive if you look past the road construction, major city traffic in Vegas and Salt Lake City, and the five or so hours I spent on the 95 South. That highway is narrow and has terrible visibility, the road winds and dips, and jackasses pass without being able to see if cars are coming. I am not a fan. This particular thing, the passing, caused me to come about ten feet from a very serious head on collision on the way back home. Passing is never worth your damn life or the lives of other drivers... just sayin'.

When it was time to leave, I was completely daunted by the prospect of having to make a 15 hour drive home and on the way back, I hit a monsoon on Hwy 95 North in Nevada. In my flurry of bad decisions, I decided to go to central Arizona during the hottest part of the year, during monsoon season. For forty miles the rain poured down with no visibility. The water on the road was so deep, my car was making waves as high as the side of my windows. It was absolutely the most terrifying part of the trip in either direction. I was never so happy to see anything as I was to see the inside of my garage when I pulled in at 11:30pm.

It was nice to see my family this week and I had a very nice 41st birthday (more about that later). But, I also learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes, it's better to listen to the people who love you. Sometimes, it's important to take self-care and listen to the voices inside that say something isn't a good idea, or that it's not a mentally healthy choice. Sometimes, doing something just to prove you can isn't a good enough reason to put yourself at risk. Next time, despite the fear, I'm going to fly. Because an hour and a half of anxiety is a heck of a lot healthier than the alternative.

The view south from Searchlight, Nevada just before I drove north into a monsoon

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: Don Quixote

Better late than never, right? My Coffee and a Classic box for June came at the very end of the month and I'm just getting around to sharing the pics. I particularly like this month's box, though I'm a little bummed about the treat. But, we'll get to that. I cannot believe how absolutely blown away I still am with these boxes, even after 7 months. I'm still so thrilled when they come each month. Even Matt's interested in the unboxing each month. The Christmas subscription he got me has long expired and I've renewed twice more since then (3 months at a time). And, while I'm canceling a lot of unnecessary subscriptions right now (including FabFitFun), I will certainly not going to be cancelling this one. As you can see, June's book is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

This month's box included a lovely Word Cloud Classics Flexibound edition of Don Quixote. The lovely card that says what's in the box, of course, a bookmark, liquid absorbent car cup holder coasters, a mug with a quote from the book, a notebook, spiced cocoa, and a spicy trail mix treat.

The box is a gorgeous burnt sienna kind of color and has one of those sinky leather-ish covers. I absolutely love it. When I cracked the book open, the print is absolutely minuscule. It's 840 pages long and the print is so tiny, I'm not sure I'll actually read this one. But, I read it in college, so if I don't get back round to this edition, that's totally okay. If you haven't read this book, it's a must. I recall it making my best friend really sad, though.

The bookmark in the box is very thinly sliced wood. I got one of these one of the other books, they look so fragile, but are actually quite sturdy and make a nice addition to the book. I love the picture on this one, it really expresses the feel of the book. I have it stored inside the book, on my shelf, as I've done with almost all of my books.

This cocoa is so great. It comes from McStevens, as some of the others have, and made about mugs of cocoa. I'm not sure what the spices are, but it was a nice way to warm up on a cool June evening. It's been struggling to warm up here this year, we're just getting up to around 80 degrees in the middle of the afternoon. As with all things about these themed boxes, the picture on the outside of the cocoa packet is such a nice detailed touch to the box's theme.

"Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind." That, I think, is about how every avid reader hopes to go! Ha! The mug is so neat and not like anything else in my cabinet. Getting these mugs is seriously one of my favorite things about these boxes.

I actually had no idea what this was when I first saw them. Thankfully, it says what they are on both the back of the package and the neat little insert from the box. They are coasters for the car! Since my cup holders in my car always get sort of gross, I love this. I put them in my new car and they look great!

See, that's pretty neat, right? Please disregard the mess in my cup holder. The car only has 400 miles and yet, somehow, I have managed to get the cup holders gross already. I hope that it helps keep it from getting any more gross.

As a person who collects journals, even if I rarely write in them, this was a neat surprise. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the cover is bright teal. I love the embossed picture on the front. The notebook has lined pages and, in the back, there's a pocket. It's made by JournalBooks, who makes custom embossed notebooks.

I didn't actually eat the last thing in the box. I put one Spanish peanut into my mouth and then spit it out, it was so spicy! So, Matt ate the goodie from this month's box. He says it wasn't spicy, but he and I have different ideas about what's spicy. It did smell good and the picture on the front, like with the cocoa, is a lovely touch.

Overall impression of this box, very nice! I really liked this month and so did Matt. The July box sneak peek is up on their website, if you're interested in. No spoilers here. I'm looking forward to the next box, but there's nothing new there.

I have all the boxes, which are very nice photo boxes, stashed in a book shelf. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I can't see throwing such sturdy, lovely boxes away. There will be a lot of them around here soon, I hope I figure it out before I'm overrun!

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I'm a Mess

So here's a couple of things you might not know about me. I suck at willpower. Maybe everyone does sometimes, but I suck at it all the time. I'm bad at forming good habits, but I'm still trying. I'm terrible at eating at home, especially when Door Dash makes it so damn easy not to. I have no impulse control. I hate to clean, so my house is kind of a mess and I don't have enough energy to care.

All of that means one thing... I am shit with money. Like, really, really shit. If I want something, I buy it. I can't seem to save money and maybe the cost of eating out doesn't help with that. I sign up for subscriptions and forget about them and money comes out that I don't even notice until I need it. I'm a little bit of a mess.

So, in order to be less of a mess, I signed up for one of those services that tell you what subscriptions you have and how much money you spend. It was awesome, because it allowed me to close out some subscriptions that're costing me a lot. But, it's also kind of brutal because it does it's job and tells me how much money I spend which, makes me feel like even more of a mess. Wait, no, it allows me see that I am a mess.

Like, today my summary said that between May 24 and June 24th I spent wasted about $370 on random crap (dice, amazon, audible, and Starbucks). The only one of those I can even come close to justifying is the Amazon because, like, Father's Day. But the rest of that is on me. That's a a lot of hours worked on to buy random crap I didn't so much need and that doesn't even count how much it costs us to eat out every month. The app says that I spent $685 eating at restaurants in June. I spent almost $1000 on absolutely nothing in just one month.

Told you I was a mess.

I'm sitting around here looking at our budget, wondering where all our money went. Um, hello! Heeelllloooo!! Such a mess.

But... there is a silver lining. Watch me be positive and look for a way to learn from this... Seeing that I waste that much money, in black and white with cute email graphics, means I can absolutely make a change.

I'm going to try, that's the most I can do, right?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: Aladdin and the Arabian Nights

My Coffee and a Classic box came a little earlier this month than usual, so I got it during May! When I saw this month's choices, I knew I had to have the children's classic this month. Aladdin and the Arabian Nights was this month's book and it is absolutely gorgeous. The whole box is beautifully curated. This box more than makes up for my slight disappointment with last month's box. So, let's get to it, shall we...

The box includes a hard cover book, Open, Sesame! mug, Chocolate & Curry Hot Chocolate, Almond Jewels, a colorful bookmark, flying carpet mouse pad, and a magic lamp incense burner. Now I need to get some incense.

All the other boxes I've gotten have had softcover books. So, when I lifted this one out from the paper shreds to realize it was hardback, I was very pleasantly surprised. The book is from Barnes and Noble, and the detail on the front of the book, with the gold embossing, is so lovely. The inside of the book is partially illustrated. I can't wait to dig in and read it. I love a good frame story!

The little incense burner is metal and looks adorable on my shelf with the other fun trinkets and things I've gotten from some of the other boxes. It has really pretty detail, too.

I was a little confused by the almond jewels, until I opened it up. They are literally chocolate covered almonds that have been painted to look like stones. They're gorgeous and really tasty.

See?! So pretty! I gave a few to Matt and he was pretty confused, until he put them into his mouth. I don't even love almonds (they're just okay), but cover them in almonds and paint them pretty colors and you have a win. They're almost too pretty to eat... almost.

I probably should have taken the mouse pad out of the wrapping before I took a picture, but there you have it. It's awfully pretty. I'll probably put it on my work desk to replace my orange, company branded mouse pad. It's so much more interesting.

The book mark is cloth and has a neat pattern, with a little tassel. What's neat is that all of the book marks from each box have been completely unique. Several of them have been small metal bookmarks, one was magnet, one very thinly shaved wood. Each of them have been pretty neat.

The month's mug is actually blue, which is a little bit hard to see in this picture. It's also the sturdiest mug I've gotten. Some of them have been pretty fragile. This one is also the largest mug from any of the boxes. I love the little gold "Open, Sesame!" on the side. I can't wait to fill it with this month's cocoa...

Curry & Chocolate Hot Cocoa. I wouldn't have normally bought this flavor, even though I love curry. But, then again, an earlier box had Earl Grey hot cocoa, and though I wouldn't have thought to buy that either, it was delicious. I can't wait to try this one. Like the last two Cocoas, this one is from McStevens. If I like it, might be I'll order it with the Vanilla hot chocolate I've been wanting to order more of.

Overall impression of this month's box, beautiful! I love the rich colors, the pretty hardback book, the neat little bookish items that came with it. I'm sure the other boxes were pretty, too, but this one is wonderful! Five stars! They haven't put up next month's sneak peek yet, but I'm sure whatever they choose will be fantastic.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: Persuasion

April's Coffee and a Classic book box came today. Overall, the box is gorgeous as usual, but I wasn't quite as happy with this month's box as I have been previous boxes. It seems like it's always a bit late, coming the first week of the next month, which I suppose is still okay but many people get them a week or more before mine even ships. This month's box was supposed to be The Great Gatsby, a book I absolutely adore, but they changed it at the beginning of the month. Instead of Gatsby, April's book was Persuasion by Jane Austen. 

One thing I'm not less pleased about is the book choice. Would I have been happy with Gatsby? Of course! But, I'm also happy with Persuation. Have to say, I'm still really excited about this book. I love Jane Austen and this is one I've not read yet. And as you'll see, the book is really pretty. It has one of those lovely, buttery soft covers, embossed with gold accents.

Every single thing in the box is gorgeous, as usual. There were a few things about my box that were different than others who got the same box. The mug was different than most others and the candy was loose inside the box, rather than being in a box, like many others I've seen pictures of. 

All that said, the box was still just so lovely!

The box included a book, mug, salt water taffy, a scrub that smells vaguely of roses, sea salt & caramel cocoa, a book mark, and a book bag. So, it was absolutely filled with nice surprises. 
The book is a Barnes and Noble edition and is absolutely beautiful. It does have a few flaws, however, the most notable of them the scuffed up letters on Jane Austen's name. Still, the cover is smooth and soft, and a very pretty shade of pink. 

 The book mark is tiny, like last month's, but still very pretty. I will probably put it up on a shelf so I don't lose it and use the box insert as a book mark instead. 

I cannot wait to open the cocoa and have a cup! I have loved every single cocoa in all the boxes, I suspect this one won't be different. The sea salt taffy is soft and delicious. The mug is pretty, but most other boxes got a white, insulated travel mug. I'm a little bit disappointed not to have gotten that one, even though this gray mug is still very pretty. 

Since I have pretty sensitive skin, I will probably only use the scrub on my legs. It has a very light, soft rose-like scent. Not overwhelming at all, but also not my usual thing. I'm still going to give it a try and, who knows, maybe I'll love it. 

Who doesn't love book bags?! I really like this one. I got a Jane Austen book bag a few years ago for my birthday. I put this one with that one and will use it when I travel. Very pretty bag and a lovely addition to this month's box. 

Overall, my impression of the box is that it's quite nice. It has a lovely salt water type theme, so I'm guessing that the book is set by the shore or on a ship. Having not read it, I couldn't say, but I'm looking forward to finding out! 

Next month's box was a tough one for me, but I believe I'm going to be getting the children's classic box instead of the regular classic lit box because the selection is Aladdin and the Arabian Nights and there's no way I can pass that up! I'll just have to email them and let them know I want to change selections this month. Looking forward to that one!