Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Dark Places

Dark Places.  Wow.  I read Gone Girl along with everyone else and their mother last year, and I knew I wanted to check out more of Gillian Flynn's books after I finished it.  So, Dark Places was my second foray into another one of her worlds.  The woman's got talent.

She has that knack for slipping tendrils around the reader within the first few pages.  You're hooked in almost immediately.  And can she write compellingly flawed people!

"I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ."  And with that, we're introduced to the main character, Libby Day. The crux of the mystery is introduced relatively quickly, and we learn that Libby is the only surviving member of the brutal murder of her entire family.

Surviving, but broken.  Damaged from her experiences, not quite right upstairs, and somewhat blindly pursuing answers to her family's murder after almost 20 years.  We learn of Libby's family through a series of flashbacks, and of her brother Ben who was convicted of the murders and sits in prison.

As the story weaves on, readers begin to question whether Ben actually committed the murders, and are pulled in as the intimacies and dysfunction of the Day family of 1985 are uncovered.  Libby's present day quest for answers is gradually satisfied, and the result is an irresistibly readable mystery that ping-pongs between the past and the present.

We're fed little bits and pieces until the wrenching truth is ultimately revealed.  There are small pockets of goriness, which isn't what I'm usually drawn toward, but those scenes are minor compared to the main storyline of the book.  (Clive Barker fan - I'm not!)  Primarily, this a captivating & engrossing mystery.  One of those books that begs you to read just one more chapter until you find yourself squinty-eyed at 1AM wondering where the night went.

Go meet Gillian Flynn's Libby Day.  And don't say I didn't warn you that you'd be up all night reading!

"Draw a picture of my soul, and it'd be a scribble with fangs."

Ta-ta for now.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Unruly Freezer Begone

I realize the subject of this week's post will be compelling for maybe three of you out there.  But I have a - we'll just call it a preoccupation - with organization and tidiness.  Now don't get me wrong.  This doesn't mean that my home is strategically tidy or excessively Type A in the neatness factor.  Much.  I'll admit to pockets of tidiness.  But not nearly as asinine as it would be if I lived alone, I tell ya.

Here's a funny story.  I was giving the hubby a hard time about leaving random cabinet doors open after he's spent time cooking or prepping in the kitchen. - Because open cabinet doors?  Come on.  Just close them already!
Closed = tidy.  Open = so not tidy.

Anyway, I was out when he came home from work for lunch one day, and when I got back home later after he left I walked in the kitchen and immediately started laughing out loud.  Because what my hilarious husband decided to do was to leave every single cabinet door wide freaking open just to mess with me.  I laughed for a good minute.

And then promptly closed every last door.  Of course.

So as you can imagine, the fact that our freezer had devolved into this nonsense was not A-okay in my I heart tidiness world view:

Every time I would attempt to get anything out of the freezer, it was like embarking on a freaking archaeological dig. Oh, were you looking for some peas?  Prepare to stand there with the door open, sifting through mysterious piles of frosty stuff for longer than you'd like.

It was annoying and I mentally cursed the freezer every time I opened it.  I had to do something about it.  And it was going to involve the label maker, by God!

Yes.  I have a label maker.  Don't mock it till ya try it.

Sturdy plastic bins designed for freezer storage were procured, and categorizing the pile o' mystery frozen things began.  I ended up with four main categories:  Meat & Fish, Vegetables, Fruit, and Nuts & Seeds.

I can continue to confidently stand behind my claims of having pockets of Type-A tidiness in my house.  And the freezer counts as one now.  Behold the newly organized freezer in its plastic bin, labelled glory:

You can't beat the pull out handles to easily access everything in each bin, and I loooove that there's no more digging around looking for the damn lima beans for 5 minutes.

Hooray label maker!

Disarray - 0.

Tidiness - 1.

Do ya love it as much as I do?

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Best Part of My Day

As some of you know, I'm a perpetual list maker.  April seemed like as good a time as any to bring back a habit I have that gives me a boost if I feel myself falling into an emotional slump.

I've done it in the past when I was feeling less than stellar about things, and I thought now was a good time to dust it off and bring it back out again.

The gist of my task is this:  I make a point of taking stock of my day every evening & picking out the best part of it.

The day's "best" could be something simple or silly or fun or trivial.  Sometimes it's more serious or weighty.  Just whatever strikes me as the highlight of the day.

Being mindful of what that thing is each day reminds me to be thankful and appreciative.  It reminds me to get out of my own head.  It reminds me to stop worrying.  It reminds me that gratitude can erase a whole lot of other less than positive feelings in one smooth stroke.

So without yammering on any more about it, here's my list of the best part of my day for April, 2015.  Maybe it'll serve as a catalyst for a gratitude reboot for some of you.  I know everytime I take the time to do it, that's exactly what it does for me. 

April 1st:
Experimenting with a new recipe for dinner I'd never made before.  It was a delicious, hearty salad of minced kale, chick peas, Kalamata olives, feta, garlic, olive oil, & red wine vinegar all tossed together.  Had a little crusty bread along with it and it was fresh, light, tasty & memorable!

April 2nd:
Breaking a solid sweat doing Tony Horton's mixed martial arts P90x3 workout.  Gotta love exercise endorphins.

April 3rd:
Finally, finally capturing the elusive close-up shot of a bald eagle I've been unsuccessfully pursuing for almost 2 years. - And then later, catching sea lions in the harbor at sunset. So satisfying:

How 'bout that light and those vibrant colors?  Couldn't be happier with the shots!

April 4th:
Relaxing into a long, hot shower while listening to and frightfully belting out Kenny Rogers at top volume after our 6 hour, 10 mile hike of the entire Termination Point trail. An absolute and welcome unwind from the day. 

April 5th:
Sitting at the kitchen table with the hubby and enjoying a fresh cup of coffee and a delicious Easter morning egg casserole with some of the over 2 dozen free-range, farm fresh eggs given to us from both of our co-workers.  Delicious!

April 6th:
Climbing under the covers into bed at night to read The Poisonwood Bible with the hubby & pooch snoozing beside me and the biting rain and wind pounding on the window outside.  Snuggly!

Photo credit:  Giuseppe Crespi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

April 7th:
Curling up on the couch with some popcorn and tea to watch a cute little late night movie I stumbled on called The Rewrite with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei.  

April 8th:
Taking a long, leisurely walk around base with Cheety on one of our seemingly few and far between sunny afternoons. The clear, bright, blue skies and easy breeze taunted of the spring weather I'm hoping is right around the corner.

April 9th:
Having a long overdue, satisfying talk catching up with my sister on the phone.

April 10th:
I don't know what it says about me - or my day - that this was the best part of it, but what can I say? Some days it's a goat video that gives you the biggest laugh for the day!  And truth be told I watched it more than once.  Laughed out loud every time. If you don't at least have an internal chuckle, there's something wrong with you:

Awww this made my day!
Posted by Hit92.9 on Tuesday, July 1, 2014

April 11th:
Listening to music, laughing, chatting & having  few beers with the hubby while we grilled some halibut & made a spicy pineapple salsa for Saturday night fish tacos.

April 12th:
Perching on the cliff side above Fossil Beach at Narrow Cape watching the annual gray whale migration.  Dozens of spouts, a tail, and my first in person whale breach.  It was sunny, beautiful, and unforgettable.

Narrow Cape whale watching

April 13th:
Meeting a friend at a local pub for a few drinks and a few laughs.  Having a couple of hours to catch up and chat is vital.

April 14th:
Exploring a few slices of Kodiak's history in the Alaskana Collection during my volunteer shift at the library.  I discovered some unique primary source photos and documents that really highlighted some of the unique aspects of Kodiak history.

April 15th:
Finally seeing the northern lights in Kodiak!  It was as good of a show - or maybe a little bit better - than when we saw them in Fairbanks.  I stood in my driveway for about 15 minutes at around midnight staring up at the sky in complete awe.  It was fantastic.

April 16th:
Watching the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory.  Those nerds crack me up.

April 17th:
Opening a bottle of wine with the hubby, laughing together & catching up on our day, grilling up some Friday night steak, baking a giant sweet potato and sauteing a top notch green bean caramelized onion balsamic side dish that's out of this world.  Can't beat good company and delicious food.  It's my favorite.

April 18th:
An afternoon nap with the pooch.  Nothing quite like spending a few hours on a cold, rainy Saturday burrowed up under the blankets with Cheety curled up next to me.

April 19th:
Our traditional Sunday (or sometimes Saturday) pizza night.  My favorite vino and a homemade veggie pizza made by the hubby - it was extra good this week! 

April 20th:
Sitting on the backyard patio in the rare afternoon sunshine enjoying an ice cold Alaskan White.

April 21st:
Getting completely sucked in to watching the first season of Breaking Bad.  A little behind the curve on that one, I know.  (2-4 years behind the curve!) I'm totally fixated on Walter White.  And yes, I know he dies in the end.  Can't wait to see how the series plays out!

April 22nd:
Relaxing and stretching during a P90x3 yoga session, followed up by some back & shoulder work for my tweaked shoulder blade muscles using a foam roller.  Getting old sucks. - But that foam roller?  Can't beat it for in-home muscle therapy!

April 23rd:
I made some kick-ass baked eggs for breakfast that started my day just right. I seem to have a lot of food related bests, no?

April 24th:
Tweaking my peppermint tea just a tiny bit to bump it up to outstanding.  My favorite is Harney & Sons peppermint and I add a tiny bit of honey and just a touch of whole milk.  Heaven after a cold, rainy dog walk!

April 25th:
Nestling in on yet another cold & rainy afternoon (GAWD will they ever END??) to start my next book - a promising mystery I discovered on one of the many book blogs I read called The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. Pretty good so far!

April 26th:
Getting totally busted by the hubby while I indulged in a little Sunday afternoon laundry folding dance party courtesy of Bruno Mars. That would be a little Uptown Funk

April 27th:
Getting together with a friend for lunch for some venting and some laughs.

April 28th:
After a full week of rain - but it felt like much, much longer than that - my best today was basking in the sunshine and blue skies while sitting on our back patio & enjoying an icy cold beer.

April 29th:
Two sunny days IN A ROW.  Unheard of.  So my best today was getting out in the yard to do a little spring clean up on the patio - sweeping out the leaves, getting rid of the spider webs, scrubbing down the siding, hosing off all the outdoor furniture, accessories & patio, and generally getting the yard ready for SUMMER!!  You know, all 2 months of it.

April 30th:
Cooking up a little Chicken Cacciatore dinner, chatting, and listening to music in the kitchen with the hubby.

How's that for a little pick-me up?  It worked for me - especially after reading the list in its entirety. Although, there did seem to be a steady food theme.  Can't help it.  The love of food is deep and pervasive!

I have to say, April turned out to be Alaska-tastic.  Between the bald eagle and sea lion close-up shots, the gray whale migration, and the northern lights - it was a uniquely Alaskan month! 

What was the best part of your day today?

Sometimes it can be the simplest moment in a day that makes a positive, powerful impression. - You just have to open yourself up to noticing.  I think we can all use that reminder every so often.

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Second Blog-a-versary

It doesn't feel like I've been blogging for 2 years.  Two years??  Posting some nonsense every single week - mostly drivel, for two years?  Apparently.   So, happy second blog-a-versary to me.

I started writing A Grand Adventure on May 4, 2013 when the hubby and I were on the verge of a massive road trip from Key West, FL to Kodiak, AK.  And here I am, two years later...still babbling to anyone who decides to click.

I ask myself this question every so often.  Why do I blog?  Especially when I'm feeling like I don't have anything to say.  Or I don't think anyone is interested in reading what I have to say.  It usually comes up in more of a "Why do I even bother to do this?" question in moments of insecurity or doubt.

Because sometimes I have to wonder.  Why do I keep doing this?  Well, for one thing, it's a creative outlet for me.  I love to write.  Writing a new post each week keeps me in a solid writing routine.  Like they say - whoever they is - you're not a writer if you don't write.

I also like the process of coming up with new ideas for posts, planning out fun concepts, taking pictures, and documenting what this unconventional Coast Guard life is all about.  Sharing my little slice of the world with whoever wants to tune in is fun for me.

In a way, it makes me more mindful.  Knowing that I need to have a steady flow of topics to write about forces me to pay more attention.  To pay more attention to day to day happenings that I otherwise might have drifted past without giving a second thought about.

And it encourages me to reflect on passing ideas and musings that before I may not have considered exploring and delving into more deeply by writing about them. Scenarios and  sentiments that wouldn't have occurred to me to write about before jump out more often as potential blog topics now that I have this self-imposed expectation to write once a week.

I guess blogging is a hobby I've cultivated into a routine that I must get something out of.  Because I keep doing it.  And hopefully, people who take the time to read my posts get something out of it too.  A laugh.  Or a contemplative thought.  Maybe somehow they can relate in a positive way to what I'm saying.  Or maybe it's just a moment of entertainment. That's really what I'm going for:  to entertain and connect with readers. 

Too bad my "readers" are mostly silent and in my mind only about a dozen folks.  Mainly friends and family.  Not much of a following outside of people that know me.  Maybe that will change eventually.

In the mean time, I guess I'll take off my insecurity hat and carry on with spewing my nonsense.  Anyone out there?

Ta-ta for now.