Monday, June 16, 2014


Loving this picture above, which pretty much sums up his ENTIRE personality in one quick shot.

Celebrating this man who takes care of my children. I don't know how he does it, because they suck. They need SO MUCH, they never stop. And he never even bats an eye.

Enjoying the memory of the perfect week of weather we just had- not a cloud in the clear blue sky, perfect mid seventies all throughout the late morning and early afternoon when Junebug and I had nothing to do but sit outside and eat pisatchios and read books and work on our tans. Enjoying the memory, because this week we're back to drizzle and gray skies. Le sigh.

Obsessing about the tiny gnats in my houseplants. Yes, I'm obsessed. Right now I'm hitting it on three fronts- I've covered the soil with finely ground aquarium gravel (thick sand), I'm watering every other water with a dash of dawn and vinegar, and I'm spraying every 10-14 days with a chemical bug killer. THIS BETTER WORK. I don't want to get rid of my plants because duh, but I can't handle the gnats. At all.

Preparing for the Great European Driving Adventure of Two Thousand and Fourteen. Or rather, I should be preparing for it. But I'm spending most of my time....

Sewing almost nonstop. I'm down to three quilts in progress, so to spice it up, I've started making slouchy bags. It's a sickness. Seriously, I can't stop.

Checking tons of books out of the library. The library system here is FABULOUS, if you haven't gotten signed up yet. I'm using the kids cards to go over my limit. Cooking, gardening, photography, sewing, quilting, traveling- you name it, I've checked out a book and looked through six pages before tossing it for the next one. It's a sickness. Another one. I can't stop.

Wishing the weather would change back to last week. I'm trying not to, because honestly, it's London and if you're going to complain about drizzly gray skies, you should probably just move somewhere else, and I do so love it here...but ya'll, that SUNSHINE last week. Heaven. Pure heaven.

Drinking water. Ugh. After a three week (!!!) hiatus from working out and eating well, I'm back on the sauce. And I still hate it. Water sucks. It really really sucks. (Name it. Triple points.)

Planning my 2014 scrapbook. Ugh. To get the lay flat formats, I have to limit it to under a hundred pages. Which, for a year traveling around every term holiday, ain't happening. So I'm stuck doing two books a year, half and half. So it's time for the first half, and I've only got like nine pages done. I'm glad to split it, because I want to try the Digital Project Life format for the next half, so it's fun to switch it up, but still, I want to be sewing!! I don't want to be placing pictures. I know, my life is HARD. Shut up.

Reading Without Fail, aka Jack Reacher Number Six. And you know what, I'm sort of sick of apologizing for it. It's not like I'm reading James Paterson or Danielle Steele. Are they a little far fetched? Of course. But they're EXTREMELY well written, and they're fun. SO FUN. And I really like them!! And this one is really good. Also, in case you live under a rock, The Silkworm (sequel to Cuckoo's Calling) comes out Thursday in the UK and next Tuesday in America!!! I cannot WAIT!! But what's the snafu with the kindle edition? Is something going on with publishers? Whatever. If I have to buy the flesh and blood hardcover, no skin off my back. I can't WAIT!!! We've also got Mr. Mercedes, the new SK, which I just the second realized is already out. Doh. I thought it came out mid July. EW, you're failing me!!! And lastly in the Haven't Read But Absolutely Will As Soon As Possible category, The Secret Place comes out end of August. Good thing I can't work over here, right?

Listening to the Killers. They're just good for summer, no? And after MUCH internal debate (because arguing with myself and ranking my favorite things is my favored form of torture) I have decided that while Sam's Town is my personal favorite Killers' album, Battle Born is the superior work. I'm sorry, I feel awful even saying it!!! I LOVE Sam's Town, with my entire being. But Battle Born is just GOOD. I mean, it's like it was designed specifically for driving around with the windows down in the summertime.

Watching Ya'll, I'm FINALLY watching Broadchurch, and lemme say without any doubts: It was worth the wait. It's SO good!! SO GOOD. It's a lot like the Killing, which you KNOW how I loved, but without Linden, which gives me a sad face, but still. It's GOOD. We're only four episodes in, so I'm not calling it yet, but I think it might end up being better. No. Nevermind. I can't even think that, let alone say it. It's pretty rad though. (Side note: rereading that post I linked to, from 2012? My tastes are EXACTLY the same. I can't decide if that makes me hopelessly depressed or ridiculously happy. Probably both.)

If you're local and you wanna get in on the glorious action of Broadchurch, it's on ITV Encore, a new channel on 123 if you have sky. It's pretty rad in itself, lots of really good looking old stuff. If you're in America, I don't know what to tell you, maybe register for a UK iTunes account so you can download it? I wouldn't wait for the American adaptation because I'll bet it's gonna be lame.

Feeling content. Absolutely content, which is what I strive for. For me, it's the best feeling in the world, and I've got it now, and it's grand. Life is grand.

*idea for this post stolen many times over, from all sorts of better blogs, most recently this one here*

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman (A Review)

From the back of the book:
High-quality intellectual! Yes, I mean you! You are thinking: What is Rise & Fall of Great Powers? Is history book? No! Is book for give big muscles? No, no! (After read this book, you still contain only small muscles. Sorry.) It is NOVEL about entire of world in last quarter-century, from end of Cold War, to up and down of America power, to tech revolution of today. But mostly, is novel about my favourite person, Tooly Zylberberg, and secrets of her life.

I am careful now - danger I say too much. I give only bit more: Tooly is bookseller in countryside of Wales. Always, she is reading. But one story she never understand: story of her past. When she is girl, strange items happen. She is taken away, around Asia, Europe, America, for many years with mystery persons. Why for? I cannot say on back of book!

One of mystery persons is me, Humphrey, old man from Russia who cheats in Ping-Pong and eats avocados. There is Sarah, who drives us crazy, and not in good way. Also, there is Duncan and Fogg and potbelly pig. And there is Venn, who is most mystery person of all.

The boy who write this book, his name is Tom Rachman. Maybe you hear of his first novel, The Imperfectionists? Bestseller book, publish in many language. Rise & Fall is very beauty follow-up. When you read it, you visit late Eighties, also Year 2000, also today; you see Bangkok, you see Brooklyn, you see bordertowns - also many places that are not begin with letter 'B'.

What novel this is! Not for trivial beings, but I don't worry: just to look at you, I can tell you have very large brain. So, what you wait?

Spanning three decades and criss-crossing the globe, THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT POWERS is the story of Tooly Zylberberg and how she got to a second-hand bookshop in Wales via the streets of Manhattan and downtown Bangkok. This novel, dazzling in its scope and inventiveness, is peopled by an extraordinary array of unforgettable characters, from Humphrey the chess-playing Russian émigré to Venn, Tooly's shadowy protector.

Once again, I started this without reading the back of the book. Unsure why I continue to do that, but sometimes I think it helps.

So I'm going to do this without any spoilers, which is REALLY hard for me. This book took me a while to read (more than ten days) because to be brutally honest, I wasn't THAT interested in the characters. But the more I think back on it, the more I enjoyed it. It certainly wasn't a page turner, but it was interesting. How many ways can I say the same thing?

I really liked the way you jump around between 2011, 1988, and 1999/2000. It was PERFECTLY done, you leave each time period knowing just enough, and wanting to know more, but then you're on to the next period. The pace was just really well done.

The characters are just sort of icky. I've read a few reviews on Tooly being a bitch, but I didn't come away with that impression AT ALL. She made the most of the cards she was dealt. I loved Paul with all my heart, and I'm completely satisfied with his entire arc. I could take or leave Fogg, but I liked his interactions with Tooly.

I think what it is is that I'm a stickler for books about books. And while I've never read any of the philosophy books they talk about, Tooly is a book nerd, who owns a used bookstore, and would rather read than deal with real people. Check check and CHECK. So even though it's probably illegal to cut and paste a section of a book, I think this basically sums up the entire story for me:

People kept their books, she thought, not because they were likely to read them again but because these objects contained the past- the texture of being oneself at a particular place, at a particular time, each volume a piece of one's intellect, whether the work itself had been loved or despised or had induced a snooze on page forty.  People might be trapped inside their own heads, but they spent their lives pushing out from that locked room. It was why people produced children, why they cared about land, why nothing felt equal to one's own bed after a long trip. 

There you go.

I don't know, I didn't consider it a mystery while I was reading it, because I didn't really care when or why she'd been taken. I just wanted to know what she did and why she did it. So I guess 3.5 stars? I thoroughly enjoyed it, and like I said, it's been tumbling around in my mind since I finished, but it was so...different...that I'm not sure I'd nag anyone else to read it. If that makes sense.

Disclosure: I received an advance copy of The Rise and Fall of Great Powers for review from Net Gallery. I didn't receive any other compensation for this post.

Will you read it? Anyone read anything cool lately?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Scotland Recap

So the first time we went to Scotland, we stayed what, near Edinburgh? I think that might be right. So like, barely into Scotland. We drove up to Loch Ness, but that was as far north as we got because it was still snowing and we'd only been out of Hawaii for five minutes, so we were dumb and cold.

This time, we had Loch Ness as our base camp and then got to go even more north from there. For logistics, if anyone is planning a trip, we went the week of the summer half term, the last week of May. The weather was PHENOMENAL, gorgeous and sunny, still a little chilly for the tropical island transplants, but doable. We stayed here (we found it on HomeAway, of course) and our apartment was huge and gorgeous and perfect. It's more like a resort than most places you find on HomeAway, and it's easily my absolute favorite place we've stayed so far. There was an indoor heated pool (and it was WARM, for serious) and tennis courts and a playground and ping pong and a lounge with billiards and fooseball (??how do you spell that??) and board was amazing. This was the most 'vacationy' vacation I've ever been on.

(We stayed in this particular apartment, if you're interested. It was fab, but the doors were super heavy, so bring a doorstop or something if you have little kids, because honestly, even Ava couldn't push open the bathroom door.)

I'm sure you followed my exciting trip on Instagram ;)

We were in the PERFECT location for short little trips around the lower parts of the Highlands, but since this was more of a relaxation vacation than a sightseeing vacation, we tried to stick around the hotel as much as possible. We did venture out to Urquhart Castle, which was appropriately gorgeous and magnificent, and into Inverness to explore a little one afternoon. (Fun Fact: Urquhart is on the English Heritage thingie, so if you've got that, it's free!! Although it wasn't posted, we had to actually ask. And by we I of course mean Nick. I don't talk to people.)

It was easy to stick around the hotel when THIS was the view. The mountains and loch, not the dirty kids. Although I'm pretty partial to them too. #warrenisarockstar #warrenismyfave

And the best day? The best day was when we got lost looking for Plodda Falls, and we drove up to some random layby and I climbed out and got these shots. SERIOUSLY. Is this my life? I almost cried it was so gorgeous. According to Nick, it was Loch Garry and if you get the chance, just go. Go now. It was SO amazing. And there was a dude playing bagpipes on the side of the road, so WINNING.

But then we did finally find Plodda Falls, and it was pretty amazeballs too. Well worth the short, easy hike to get there. And you know how much my weird kids like throwing rocks into water.

And just for fun, let's throw everything we have at Plodda up here, shall we?

My belly is NOT that fat, I was hot so I wrapped my scarf around my waist and it sneaked down under my shirt on the hike. Just so you know. 

And one more from the drive back. Scotland is awesome. Just go. I mean, I loved Rome, truly, but Scotland? Man. It's just something else.

Friday, June 6, 2014

That's Just my Personality

Fun Fact: I am obsessed with personality tests.  Shocking, I know.  I first took one at this weeklong leadership class right after I first joined the Navy. I can't remember what test it was, or what the results were, but it took HOURS (literally, hours, not the five minute internet tests you can take now) and after I got the results, I felt strangely vindicated. Like, see? I'm not making this up, this is ACTUALLY how my brain works!!! It ended up being almost useless because in the nurse corps, you spend the first four years just being a nurse, very little leadership (or at least I did...hmm...) and I got out before I made any sort of rank that would give me leadership. On all three wards I worked on the corspmen were smarter and more experienced than I was, so they lead me, as opposed to the flipside. But still.  That feeling of WOW, IT ALL MAKES SO MUCH SENSE, that never really left.

The old faithful internet test, of course, is the Myer's Briggs'. I feel like I maybe didn't get those apostrophes in the right places, but that's the best I could do. Anyway. I take this test frequently. I sometimes try to lie and pick the answers that I want to be true, but if I go back and do it correctly, I'm always the same. Always always always INFJ.

Number 14 is one I always want to lie on: You prefer to act immediately rather than speculate
about various options. I just feel like life would be better if that was true! If I could just MAKE A DECISION, in the spur of the moment. I don't know how it would change my results, because I am completely incapable of breaking rules that are set out so cleanly- if I fill the test with lies I wish were true, I can NOT click submit until I go back and change them to the truth. Ugh.

So what does INFJ actually mean, if anything? The I is a no brainer for me- I'm an introvert. It's cool now because I feel like being an introvert is all the rage, all the hipsters are writing books and blogs about it. So basically, I'm cool. FINALLY. Cup of Jo outlined it pretty well, I think, she basically says it's not about being shy or friendly, it's about how you get that revitilazed feeling, after having alone time or from being around your buddies.  And for me, it's DEFINITELY all alone. And I used to try to 'fix' that and force myself into uncomfortable situations, but no more. I'm thirty two years old, dammit, and if I want to sit alone for an hour to relax, by God I'm gonna do it. 

The N is the part I want to be different. Although I don't know why. This site spells it all out, although they could be making it all up. Amazingly, I didn't pay very much attention in my psych clinical in school. Weird, since I've always been obsessed with crazy, right? But anyway, they basically say that it's either S or N, sensing or intuitive. Sensing is reality based. Reality. Real events, that really happened. Rational, normal people. Intuitives live in a fantasy life of made up shit that might be or might have been. Common sense versus imagination.  Whomp whomp. Although, I guess if I had to trade the tiny bit of creativity I have for common sense, it'd be kinda hard. So that's cool.

Next is feeling versus thinking, which again, is a no brainer. Sure, I'd love to be a thinker. But I get choked up when I watch the Olympics, not for normal people reasons, but because I feel so awful for all those losers. I mean, ONE GUY gets to win, and all those other swimmers are just losers. And that makes me feel AWFUL. I think the basic differences are: thinkers are easily able to provide objective and critical analysis and feelers are unsettled by conflict and have an almost toxic reaction to disharmony. Ugh.

And lastly is the J, judging versus perceiving. Another one I sort of hope with change, but am always surprised when it pops up J. J are boring stick in the muds who can't take a single step without a plan, which P are fun, exciting adventure seekers who go with the flow and have so much fun. I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist. Jist? Who knows. 

And of course, a discussion on personality wouldn't be complete without infographics relating to my favorite pop culture icons now would it. 

Downton was the first one I found. And as soon as I saw it, I raced to take the test again, just in case it'd changed from the week before when I took it last.

 I want to be Mrs. Hughes!!! I want to be efficient, observant, and logical!!!

Next was the amazing Orange is the New Black, which I thought REALLY nailed most of the types.

One I hadn't seen before was Harry Potter. What? How had I not seen this until today?!?!

I can live with Remus. Although I'd be all right with Harry. I think it's CLASSIC that the bestie would be Lilly Evans. If I could get that emoticon man laughing so hard he's crying, I'd but that up here.  Ohhh, Angela. 

And if you haven't died from boredom yet, I finally tried the newer test, the Enneagram. This test was a little weirder, but the results? The results were so fucking accurate that it was SPOOKY.  I did the classic test, and I got 4 wing 5.  And from what I can tell, the next closest was a 6, but still with the wing 5.

From the website, fours want to be individuals. They want to feel special and unique. "Fours tend to see their difference from others as being both a gift and a curse - a gift, because it sets them apart from those they perceive as being somehow "common," and a curse, as it so often seems to separate them from the simpler forms of happiness that others so readily seem to enjoy. 
Thus, Fours can manage to feel superior to others while also secretly harboring some degree of longing and envy.
They also tend to be self-absorbed, even under the best of circumstances, but when unbalanced, easily give way to a self-indulgence which they perceive as being fully justified as a way to compensate for the general lack of pleasure they experience in their lives. 
Rather than look for practical solutions to their difficulties, Fours are prone to fantasizing about a savior who will rescue them from their unhappiness."

Talk about a slap in the face, right? Whatever.  Along with a HUGE list of (what I consider to be) negative traits, there's also some good. Actually, I just reread it and can't find a SINGLE good thing. Whoa. I better find more tests to take.

Have ya'll ever taken these tests? Were you surprised at your results? Is there a different test that might show me that I'm actually awesome instead of lame?

Edited because seriously, I can't stop with these tests: I looked some more into 6, since I was only half a point more 4 than 6.  Here's the gist- "At the core of the type Six personality is a kind of fear or anxiety. This anxiety has a very deep source and can manifest in a variety of different styles, making Sixes somewhat difficult to describe and to type. What all Sixes have in common however, is the fear rooted at the center of their personality, which manifests in worrying, and restless imaginings of everything that might go wrong."

 Ya'll.  Seriously? I can't win for losing here!!! Then there's this little gem "Sixes can mistype as Fours, especially if they have artistic inclinations, but they lack the Four's self-absorption."

So basically, if I wasn't so self absorbed, I would have gotten cast as the six to begin wtih. Not that I'm sure it's any better...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


-At the last minute, Nick's dad and sister couldn't make it to spend the half term with us, so we had a choice, since Nick had already taken the week off work: we could stay home and clean and do chores and be responsible and just catch up on life...or we could take the four hours we had, plan a weeklong trip, pack for four small children, load everyone up for a nine hour drive, and spend the week in the Highlands.

No. Brainer.

-Nick screened XOSS!!! For those not in the know, the next step for his career was to be the XO of a boat, so another tour of sea duty where he'd be bona all the time.  ALL. THE. TIME. Remember how hard his department head tour was (on me)? Well the XO tour is WAAAAY harder. And now he doesn't have to do it!!! A think a few people thought they should walk on eggshells because maybe they thought Nick was bummed about not 'making' it, but TRUST ME, that could not be further from the truth. His ego isn't bruised, his pride isn't hurt, this is what we wanted- he and I both, not just me. This was the only way we could try to stay here (still waiting for word on that, but I'm fairly confident we can get at least another year, meaning we can stay until January 2016!!!!) And truth be told, I'd love for him to find a way to spend the entire last four years (what the WHAT?!?!) here.

Whoa. Four more years and he retires.

Let's not talk about old that makes us right now, mmmkay?

-Nick moved the bedroom tv (that we NEVER watch because we are so old that we go to bed at nine thirty) into my craft room and got me a mega extension cord for my headphones so I can listen to the telly (har har) even over the noise of my ridiculously loud sewing machine, so I've been watching The Fall (because after all this time, I still worship my beloved Scully) and it's so GOOD.

 I'm halfway through the final episode and I cannot WAIT to get up there to finish it. I was never interested in 50 Shades of Gray (grEy?) but I can say now with one hundred percent certainty that I will NEVER watch the movie or read the book because Jamie Dornan is so fucking creepy in The Fall.  I guess he's good looking enough or whatever, but I just can't. He's SOOOOOO creepy!!! And I'm one of the (thousands) who had a thing for Dexter Morgan (until he turned lame in the last season, but let's don't get started on THAT disaster) so I think my threshold for sexy creepy guys is pretty high, but Paul Spector? FUCK NO.

Awww, remember how awesome Dexter used to be? Shoulda ended after Trinity, showtime. Shoulda ended after Trinity.

-Speaking of TV (because really, what else do I speak about?) who's excited for Orange on Friday!?!? THIS GIRL!!!
I know it appears that I'm constantly making fun of Suzanne, but she's actually my numero uno favorite character. I hope we get a LOT more of her in season two. That scene where she asks why people call her crazy eyes? BE STILL MY HEART. I wept.

Not really. But it was really good.

-Speaking of movies (because movies are like giant tvs?) I went to see X Men the other day and it was FABULOUS. Okay, I don't know if it was that good, but James Macavoy and Michael Fassbender were fabulous. The movie theater though was my worst nightmare, come to life.

At both theaters I've found here, you have to pick your seats when you buy your tickets. Which sounds like something I'd like, that way everything is nice and organized and perfect (this one time, I was at a Harry Potter movie with my mama and we got there hella early so that I could get my favorite seat, exact center, near the front but not TOO near the front, and as the theater started filling up, a manager came in and said to make things easier, he wanted everyone to shift to the right and fill in all the seats, that way the stragglers wouldn't have to hunt for seats, they'd just start filling in from the left. I threw a FIT and refused to move!!! No fucking way was I giving up my seat, that I got there EARLY for!!! It was a whole thing, but it worked out, whatever.)

Anyway, I go by myself, I always have, it's just my thing. My thang. I love movies, I love going, and it truly doesn't bother me to go alone. Like, at all.  Anyway. So when you pick your seat online or at the ticket computer thing, you can see that other people are sitting in certain places, but obviously, you can't control where people who buy AFTER you are going to sit. And it won't let you like leave one seat in the middle, if that makes sense? Like, I can't see two people, leave a space, and sit one seat away from them.

Anyway, I picked my seat, but I got thrown off because they have VIP seats, and I didn't want them, so I wasn't on the edge (I only pick exact center if I'm with someone. I don't know why) but I was right next to a two vip seats, which are bigger and have a huge arm rest, so even though I knew people would eventually probably sit there, I'd have a decent buffer. And the entire rest of the row was empty, like five seats.

So I get there, and I wait till the last minute to pee and head in right as the commericals before previews are started (please don't get me started about THAT) and my seat is smack in the middle of two groups of teenage boys.

It was a NIGHTMARE. I almost walked out. Seriously. If Nick hadn't JUST screened XOSS, meaning I knew we're going to have to budget a little tighter, I would have.  But I wasn't wasting ten pounds. And I really wanted to see James Macavoy. I feel like I'm not spelling that right.

Anyway, to make matters worse, I had a can of diet coke and a ziplock baggie of trail mix in my purse. So I had to sit RIGHT NEXT to people (shudder) with my ghetto free snacks (mortifying). It was a nightmare. I had hives and shortness of breath for the first twenty minutes. Until James Macavoy finally came on screen, then I was all right.


This is my life folks. Apparently no amount of zoloft and vitamin D is gonna cure this crazy.

-We've also started watching Parks and Recreation. We figured out how to watch America netflix, that's how I got The Fall too, if anyone is interested.  But anyway, how have I not been watching this show?!?! Leslie Knope is basically my favorite person ever. EVER. I love everything about her.  And I love Mark Brandanowitz, but only because he was the big brother in Lars and the Real Girl, and I love that movie so much.

I couldn't pick my fave, so here, you get a freebie.

-I have the first half of the itinerary for The Great European Driving Adventure of Two Thousand and Fourteen. I am SO FUCKING EXCITED. My mother has bailed, but my dad is still coming, and he's going to bring my cousin, who I haven't seen in like fifty years. I've planned out Cologne and Berlin and the first two days of Salzburg!!! I'm taking it one city at a time, because honestly, I'm severely overwhelmed at the entire prospect of planning this.  BABY STEPS!!

So that's what's up lately.  What's up with ya'll? I'll be back soon (ahem) with the Scotland recap, I've got a shit ton of pics to go through and I'm pretty busy with all the tv watching.

Engelbrecht out.