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Adventures in self




December 31st, 2010

Top 10 Books of the Year
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis
Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting by R. J. Ruppenthal
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (The Western Frontier Library, 14) by Isabella Bird
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Rooney Doland
In Pursuit of Justice by Ralph Nader
It's Just My Nature! A Guide to Knowing and Living Your True Nature by Carol Tuttle

Here's what else I ended up reading this year - I'm not going to give you the full details on each, except to say that this was a pretty decent reading year. If you're my friend on Goodreads, or if you WANT to be my friend on goodreads (I won't disappoint, I am a good friend like that), you can find out more about what I read this year. I gotta be honest, I was also too lazy to add the authors onto this list. If you have any questions about these books, I'm sure I can come up with an answer. After all, I guess I did read them!

Gem Trails of Utah
Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture
Getting Started In Permaculture
Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry
Baking: From My Home to Yours
Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks
Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!
Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out 
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
30-Minute Meals

Men of Valor 
The Master Deceiver: Inderstanding Satan's Lies and How to Resist Them 

Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York
Finding Your German Ancestors : A Beginner's Guide
Bound for the Promised Land
Applied Genealogy
Undaunted Courage
A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage

The Locket
The Letter
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1)
The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Wreck This Journal
Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source
The Onion's Finest News Reporting, Volume 1 

How to Live on 24 Hours a Day
As a Man Thinketh
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
The Five Love Languages
The Happiness Project 
Dressing Your Truth: Discover Your Personal Beauty Profile
Remembering Wholeness: A Personal Handbook for Thriving in the 21st Century

The Tipping Point 
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything 

Personal Finance
The Simple Dollar 
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth 

My goal is another 50 next year, so that should be fun. I'm already half-way through a book that I won't finish until next year, so that's good news!


Places I Have Slept in 2010

Sherry mentioned this, and it's really cool, so let me share too. I even did it last year, in 2009. Thankfully, this year was much more exciting, as far as this goes :).

Salt Lake City, Utah (of course)
Lehi, Utah
Lake Alturas, Idaho
Boise, Idaho
Mesa, Arizona
Milan, Italy
Naples, Italy
Siricuza, Sicily
Over the Atlantic Ocean :)
Stockholm, Sweden
Frankfurt, Germany
Hamburg, Germany
Over the Atlantic Ocean :)

States I visited: 3
Countries I visited: 5 (including not sleeping in Switzerland, although that was a close call)

August 14th, 2010

Two years ago, I took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course with my friends Allison and Linda. We loved it.

About the same time, I started using Mint.com to track my finances. Loved it, and still do.
One drawback is that even though it calculates your net worth, your income, your spending, your "stats," it doesn't save them in any way. I can see 6 months of stats every time I look at my Mint account, but I have no idea if it's better or worse than it used to be.

In November 2009, I started a Net Worth tracker, after reading about it on the Simple Dollar. This gives more permanence to my tracking.

In May, I started using the PearBudget free downloadable spreadsheet, which is totally brilliant. If you want to budget, save, or at least know what you are spending, PearBudget is excellent, and takes about 3 minutes to set up.

Last weekend I devoured every word of the blog Frugal Wife = Wealthy Life. (Even though at this point I am neither a wife, nor wealthy.) It got me motivated to write down all the things I have been doing to save money.

Then I set some financial goals, just like the FWWL ladies suggested. This month, I'm working on paying off some outstanding medical bills I had hanging around.

On Fridays the FWWL ladies like to list what they have done that week to save money. I took it upon myself to do the same thing! The coolest part about it was last Saturday as I was typing out my list as fast as I could, getting more and more excited about my recent displays of thrift, I even found a money saving thing I could do that I had already written off and completely ignored. (Mailing back something I bought that wasn't right).

So, without further delay, the list of how I saved money this week. Tamsin also did this to document her spending hiatus this summer over yonder at Project Project.

How I Saved:
- I used a $10 coupon when buying a dress (for an upcoming wedding) and a dress shirt from JCPenney.com.
- Grated the zucchini from my CSA food and put it in the freezer (for muffins, later!)
- Consolidated 2 large boxes of memorabilia in the top of my closet. This saves money because I won't be hauling it around anymore.
- Mailed a book out that was requested from me on PaperBackSwap. (Love that thing!)
- Didn't renew my subscription for Real Simple magazine that expired in July.
- Located a charge on my credit card statement from a business trip that needed to be reimbursed but that I had lost the receipt for. ($25 tank of gas for the rental car!)
- Did buy my new toner cartridge online on sale ($20 versus $70)
- Sent email to Amazon seller so I could return a laptop bag that doesn't even fit the laptop, received RMA from seller, and mailed back for refund
- Mailed my reimbursement for this summer's purchases of camp food.
- Actually answered the phone when the collection agency called, and clarified how they could best charge my card. [This is saving money because it won't accrue interest or mess my credit.]
- Kept careful track of my pennies with the free PearBudget spreadsheet.
- Put a book up for sale on Amazon ($7)
- Put a headset Nick bought for a previous job on Amazon ($70!)
- Didn't get a fountain drink when I went out to lunch today ($2)
- Finally paid an overdue medical bill. It amazes me that after a certain point, rather than sending you the invoice so you can actually pay it, they send you a letter, with no date of service or account number, telling you they want your money. If you want my money, tell me when and where!
- Waited til payday to grocery shop, and only bought things on my list!
- Canned some produce! My first time ever - I now have 2 pints of pickled beets and 2 pints of bread and butter pickles. I'm going to make some apricot jam soon.
- Paid my bills right after my paycheck showed up in my account. It helps me feel like I'm accruing less interest by paying them less than a month apart, if possible.
- Found a Barnes and Noble gift card I had received. Turns out it was $50 instead of the $25 I had assumed. Went to the store, they were sold out of the 3 books I really wanted. I almost bought a book I sort of wanted, but I went home instead. I sat down and bought my 3 books, plus two more, on BN.com for the total of the gift card (used books instead of new books.)

How I Didn't:
- Had to rewash TWO full loads of laundry that I let sit in the washer too long. An extra swig of detergent, some vinegar, and some baking soda to make the mildew smell go away. This is one of my biggest housekeeping downfalls.
- Went out to some fancy-pants with friends.
- Went to the grocery store after camp and instead of going to the store with the better price on xanthan gum, just bought it at Smiths for double the price.
- Air conditioner! (even though it's a new model this year, and MUCH more energy efficient)
- Pulled a skirt out of the closet that needed to be fixed, but haven't fixed it yet. It will be good as new with a few stitches.
- Need to send the dress back - I look like some sort of large, rectangular piece of scrapbooking paper when I wear it. Not good.
- Went to a concert with expensive tickets, even though the concert (and the company) was delightful.

The status of my goal: I only have one more medical bill to pay. The dentist. And then I am caught up!

What did you do this week?

August 8th, 2010

life is fragile.

more seriously, my heart hurts today.

Using my incredible Facebook stalking skills, I noticed some comments by my friends going to another friend of mine. All of the comments posted on the receiver's wall were phrased in the past tense, all comments were sweetly honest, and all comments were very sincere and kind.

Curious, I went to the profile of my friend who was receiving these comments to discover that she had passed away over the weekend, leaving her dear husband. She was my camp counselor when I was a child, but she's only about 7 years older than me. When I was 14 and giggly, she was exploring the adult world as a fresh-faced 21 year old. She was in college, learning all the things I soon would learn. I hit that same phase several years later, in college and volunteering my time during the summer at camp, working as a "counselor" for hope-filled teen girls when I was only a few years older than they.

I remember the last time I saw her beautiful face, which would be at least 6 years ago now. The years since then she was always too weak, her health too complicated to spend a week at camp. That year, we had both showed up for camp, the day earlier than the campers, ready for a busy week and eager to reunite with our friends. She hugged me close and told me she was glad to see me, and how she couldn't believe that I was an adult now too. She asked me to come by later - she had a photo album of the days when we were both young.

That night I came by, and we looked at pictures of awkward but exuberant teenage me, and college her, and we sat close together and smiled at each other. She, my dear Kendra, is such a beautiful soul.

She suffered a lot while she was here, and she loved a lot too. I was one of the grateful recipients of her hard work and kindness. Her smiling eyes and gentle patience with the kids. With me.

The year we were in a cabin together, and she insisted I drive her Rav-4 all around. She had a cherry air freshener! And oh the novelty! The day that week when we filled it up at the gas station and I left the gas cap on the roof and drove away. The hour long trip back to the gas station to look for the cap in the tall grass on the side of the road. Yeah right. Of course we didn't find it. But we stopped in the fading light, put the camera on self-timer and set it on top of the car, and giggled as we took pictures of us on the roadside, with the Sawtooth mountains in the background.

These types of things make me both speechless and full of words. I sort of don't want to explain how much I miss her. Just that's she's beautiful and filled my heart with happiness and hope.

She's free now though, I can be grateful for that.

Outside my window... . it's dark, breezy, and humid.
I am thinking... about dinner. I wonder if Livejournal would be willing to make me some?
I am thankful for... this beautiful world we live in. Camp was tremendous, and the expansive starry sky on Saturday night, the wet sage as we drove, and that bright green color of the grass at about 4 in the afternoon. Those are each parts of my world that I love.
From the kitchen... Possibly some frozen chili. I still have to get the rest of the food out of the car.
I am wearing... my Superman T-shirt, some dirty khaki shorts, and a white puka bead necklace.
I am creating... a giant mess in my living room.
I am going... to hang up the laundry before I fall asleep.
I am reading... The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
I am hoping... I can actually wake up tomorrow. I'm skeptical that I can.
I am hearing... Nick listen to They Might Be Giants.
Around the house... lots of chores need doing. Hang the laundry, make some dinner, put food away. Vacuuming would be nice.
One of my favorite things... the sound of camp. It's a healthy mixture of birds chirping, people laughing, and people working.
A few plans for the week.... catch up on my work, clean the house, bake some muffins, hang out with a few people I haven't seen in a little while, and bust a few moves.

there you go. this post suddenly showed up again on my computer.

July 4th, 2010

10 for Independence Day

1. So much has happened in the last month or so since I last posted. I prepped tons of gluten free food and went to a week of diabetes camp (I'm in charge of the gluten free meals for the whole camp, and this year we had 11 celiacs eating for a week), worked a lot, saw my family and nieces and nephews, planned and threw a weekend extravaganza family reunion for my parents and sibs in central Utah, and some other summery items.

First summery item, learning to longboard, which is going quite well, by the way. I have dreams of sailing down the street to my destination.

Lest you become confused, that's not me in the picture.

2. Did some research at the Salt Lake County Archives, with my coworkers. That was a total blast.

Photo from the archives.

3. Had a dangerous battle with Heat Stroke. Both of us were riding in the car, AC full blast, with headaches, nausea and some confusion, when I put all the pieces together. We drove straight to Taco Time where they have Fresca on tap and got huge 42 ounce cups of it. We drove around for a while longer, and started to feel better after the Fresca worked its magic. We closed out the evening by buying a new window AC unit for me, and getting it installed.


4. My oven died when I was halfway through baking gluten free baguettes. I took the baguettes over to my neighbors' house to finish baking, and then set out to buy a toaster oven to finish the muffin baking. The toaster oven I got is actually really great, because it's convection rather than conventional, and so it bakes really evenly. Too bad it doesn't fit a whole pizza in it, but that's never stopped me from baking, especially in this house. :)


5. Been reading like a madwoman. Right now I'm in the middle of the 2000-2003 writings of Ralph Nader. After all these years of reading books, I decidedly prefer non-fiction.


6. For church, we meet at the historic Forestdale Building. It was built in 1906, and added to in 1915. I stood at the pulpit today, and you could see the light from the giant rotunda, as well as the illuminated stained glass windows across the south side of the building. It was breathtaking. I heart cool architecture.

Read the history of the building here.

7. Speaking of architecture, we drove up to the top of The Avenues a few days ago after dark and looked out over the whole city. It was tremendous. The sky was clear. We couldn't see a whole lot of stars, because of the lights from the city, but it was so peaceful.


8. Tried out a new toenail polish color from the brand "Sinful Colors." Wouldn't you expect something decent, or at least a little spicy, out of a name like that? The first coat it was ugly-Golden-Girls-grandma peach. It was supposed to be a nice, bright salmon color. I was not impressed.

Fortunately, the second coat solved my problems.


9. At work I moved physical offices to a different floor on a different building. I'm right down the hall from the HR guys for our department. And by "down the hall," I mean around the corner. They're about 10 feet away. It's truly hilarious to listen to their workday unfold. It begins at about 7am with one guy who loves to sing, and is fairly decent at it. Around 11:30 they get antsy for lunch, and you can hear them discussing the cafeteria menu with each other.

"Roast beef?"
"No, Monte Cristo sandwiches..."
"Have you ever been to that place farther down on Main Street?"
"I think they have Asian Bar today. There's always lots of good fortunes in the fortune cookies."

Then they make phone calls all afternoon.

It makes for very satisfyingly entertaining background noise.

10. I love July! Fireworks, (dairy free) ice cream, Nathan's hotdogs (yum), grilling, produce (cherries!) and the smell of the cottonwood trees.


May 23rd, 2010

A Random 10: Weekish 3

1. I got to visit this place this weekend (it's at the Utah State Hospital):

Photo here. It's because Nick was in a swordfighting competition thing.

2. Helped my mom install this printer/scan/fax/copy thing. HP likes to sell their products without the cord you need. Shame on them.

Photo here.

3. Most of the tulips are gone on my walk to work. Now there are beautiful summer flowers instead.

Photo here.

4. Made some delicious gluten free snickerdoodles. These cookies get better with every batch I make.

Photo here.

5. We ended up popping in on the REI anniversary sale, and because Nick has a membership, we got 20% off something. We got him a nice pair of "multisport" boots. Yay for discounts. Yay for summer!

Photo here.

6. Had some hilarious panty hose experiences. I'm planning to write an expose on the panty hose industry. Stay tuned for that.

Photo here.

Despite all that, I think I may have settled on the type I will be able to stand wearing.

7. I've been reading Salt: A World History. It's such a great read.

Photo here.

8. There is a flag I can see out my work window. It's on top of a building, probably 12-15 stories tall. It's interesting to watch the wind patterns and their effect on the flag. I learned some great stuff about what wind patterns mean about the weather in Tom Brown's Survival Guide. (Another great read)!

Photo here.

9. My favorite dinner this week was a baked teriyaki chicken with pineapple and rice. Mmmmmm.

Photo here.

10. This week's weather:

Photo here.

I've got fingers crossed for SUN!

May 4th, 2010

10 on Tuesday: Week 2

I like seeing my life in pictures. I did it last week. And I'm going to do it again. I hope you like it too.

1. Lilacs are blooming at my house.

2. My new favorite toy is Rit Dye. Since last Tuesday, I have dyed a shirt and jacket "Dark Brown," and a shirt and jacket "Navy Blue." Hmmm. My fingernails are blue...

3. I made some delicious marinara with roasted garlic. It smells so divine, and tastes so good!

4. Spent the weekend at the NGS (National Genealogical Society) conference. I won a free T-shirt from GeneTree!

5. Making sloppy joes for dinner tonight. Meaty, tomatoey, delicious.

Not with buns like that, of course. Gluten free.

6. Donated 3 HUGE boxes of clothes to DI too. I've really got the spring cleaning urge.

7. Today was Star Wars day: May the 4th be with you!

8. Do you think all the dishes I wash are going to give me "old looking" hands?

9. I finally mailed in my U.S. census form. The census enumerator has stopped by my house three times and left notes.

Shame on me. I need to work on my citizen skills.

10. Spring!

April 24th, 2010

10 on Tuesday:

1. I'm loving this shampoo.

Volume without weight. Smells good. Doesn't make my hair look greasy.

2. I got a job here:

Yep, the word is out. I start on May 10th.

3. I have to wear these to work:

If you spot any great ones at a chain store, I sure need more.

4. Also these:

5. Gave a presentation at a conference today and didn't fall off the podium. Thankfully.

6. Making these for dinner: (sans cheese for me, and both gluten free, of course):

7. Listening to the wind blow outside.

8. It stopped working: 

And I just barely bought it, too!

9. Too. Much. Effort.

10. Yep.

April 6th, 2010


1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? A cookie.

2. Where was your profile picture taken?
The park around the corner from my house. [I assume this is referring to Facebook.]

3. Can you play Guitar Hero?  Yep. I got a giant sized guitar for Valentines this year.

4. Name someone who made you laugh today?  Nick and Casey.

5. How late did you stay up last night and why? About 3am. I was cleaning up, after a delightful game of Dominion with Nick and Casey.

6. If you could move somewhere else, would you?  Not sure. I'm interested in traveling the world.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?  Very likely. 

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you on your FaceBook list?
  Maybe Val/Katie/Cheryl.

9. Do you believe exes can be friends? 
The statistical chance of this happening is very low.

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper?  Only if circumstances are desperate, and then, only if it's Diet. 

11. When was the last time you cried really hard?  Saturday. It's been a long weekend.

12. Who took your profile picture?  My lovely sister

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?
  Myself, I think. Documenting my recent haircut.

14. Was yesterday better than today? 
Nope. Today is looking good.

15. Can you live a day without TV? Definitely.

16. Are you upset about anything?  Frustrated, but Zen.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?  Yes. Through trouble and joy, they're completely worth it.

18. Are you a bad influence? 
 Ha! Why do you ask? 

19. Night out or night in?  Either, as long as it's at night.

20. What items could you not go without during the day?  Pants, snacks, a friend, and my car keys. I'm unnaturally attached to knowing where they are, even if I don't really need them.

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?  My brother, Mike, when he broke his leg.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
  Not sure. I don't text terribly often.

23. How do you feel about your life right now?  I feel a little bit like the Lord is training me to be more patient. 

24. Do you hate anyone? 
Probably not.

25. If we were to look in your Facebook inbox, what would we find?

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?  Yes. 

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?  My friend Jennifer says that I'm anal. I like to think she was joking, confused, or under the influence of chemicals.

28. What song is stuck in your head?  Awesometown, by Lonely Island.

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., a secret lover or George Clooney? Likely a drug addict. I'm sure glad those neighbors are gone.

30.Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50?  Well, I should have gotten started, if that were the case. I would definitely like some though.

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow?

32. Do you think too much or too little?  On the too little side of too much.

33. Do you smile a lot?  As often as I can get away with it.

Bonus Round...

34. How many hours a day do you spend on the computer? 
Well, 8 and more for work, and some more after that. I wish I worked outside.

35. If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be? Not sure today. It would be interesting to be Rod.

36. Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook.

37. Chicken or Beef?
  Usually chicken.

38. Mac or PC?  PC, straight up.

39. Have you ever punched anyone in the face?  Not while I was awake.

40. Last music received or purchased? A Built to Spill CD for Nick for Christmas. Ope, wait. It was INXS. I like them.

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