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27 books in 2015

December 29, 2015

At the end of 2014, after having just finished 32 books, I set my reading goal for 2015 to be 36 books. Three a month, which would be doable provided I stopped reading books that I hate. I accomplished neither of those goals this past year, but maybe 2016 will be different?

I read eleven books that I felt earned 4 stars, one book - The Pull of the Moon - that earned 5 stars, four I rated 2 stars, and four I rated 1 star. I read and finished four books that I hated, and another four that I very much disliked. I only gave up on two books; I should have given up on eight others.

Why do I not stop reading a book I'm not enjoying? More importantly: HOW do I build that skill? I'm going to start by putting a reminder on the inside of my Nook cover that if I'm avoiding the book before page 60 then I need to stop. Any other tips?

Friend me on Goodreads so I can follow what you're reading in the next year.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood We Were Liars by E. Lockhart MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin The Passage by Justin Cronin The Time Between by Karen   White The Twelve by Justin Cronin The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks Cruddy by Lynda Barry  Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende Another Life Altogether by Elaine Beale The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella Abraham Lincoln by Seth Grahame-Smith A Density of Souls by Christopher  Rice The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes A Coming of Age by Timothy Zahn Battle Royale by Koushun Takami Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin The Pull of The Moon by Elizabeth Berg

Previous years: 32 Books in 20142013 in Books

Christmas Tea

December 23, 2015

This year's Christmas gift started in Arctic Valley picking all of the blueberries we could find while tring to avoid grumpy bees (some of us were more successful than others on the bee front and did not get stung, those whose names rhyme with Va-lette).

Arctic Valley is gorgeous and the day was gorgeous and the entire expedition was perfect*.

*except for bees

Plus! We picked a ton of blueberries! Wild Alaskan blueberries are smaller and a bit tarter than what you might find at the grocery store, which is to say they are DELICIOUS. Every time Steve caught me picking blueberries and putting them directly into my mouth, he yelled at me. There was a lot of yelling. I didn't care.

Once we got the blueberries home, we washed them and picked out all (I mean, most) of the sticks, leaves, and rogue lingonberries. We did not bring any bees home, unlike the year we picked gallons of fireweed petals and a couple of pollen-drunk bees came along with us.

Maybe if this year's bees had been drunk on pollen they would have been less sting-y.

Most of the blueberries went into ziplock bags and into the freezer for muffins and pancakes, but a bunch went directly into our dehydrator. And then the house proceeded to smell like hot warm blueberries for the rest of the day and I could barely pull my face away from the steam vents it smelled SO YUMMY.

We got a couple of different kinds of teas for our own custom blends:

Blueberry Breakfast - a blend of hand picked Alaskan wild blueberries and black teas
Orange Fireweed - green tea with orange zest, Alaskan fireweed, and rose hips (fireweed and rosehips were picked a different day and dried with the orange zest in our dehydrator).

But before we could start packaging the tea mixes up, we had to MATH.  We knew how many weight ounces of tea we had and we knew how many bags of tea we needed to end up with. We needed to convert that weight into volume, and determine how many cups of tea needed to go into each bag so that we had enough for everyone.

All of our hard mathing ended up being CORRECT and we put 0.75c of tea in each bag. I mean, ish. For varying values of 0.75. We only had to redistribute a couple of bags' worth of tea at the end.

Steve made labels again this year, one for each tea. Brand cohesiveness, we has it.

Every bag got a label and a little oxygen absorber packet, and then was heat sealed with a heat sealer because we're faaaancy. And amazingly, nobody burned themselves.

Some of us didn't even help. Or want to pose for photos. Some of us don't love our mother. Which is okay, I suppose, to break your mother's heart like that.

We portioned out into boxes one bag each of Blueberry Breakfast and Orange Fireweed, a tea infuser, and four flavored honey sticks which Steve had to make labels for after Donovan and I almost mixed all of them up. We added in some pretty colored tissue paper and our holiday card, taped all of the boxes up, slapped on labels, and Steve took them to the post office.

He stood in line behind two people who had a Thing to mail but no box and no complete mailing address and you should have seen the text messages I got about THAT.

I wish your holiday is oh so very joyous. 

Gifts of Christmas past:

Spring Grooming Before/After

March 20, 2015

Two weeks ago I looked at my dogs who were both covered in mud, with sticks and grass and various weeds stuck to one scruffy underbelly in particular, and I wondered aloud to Steve if perhaps it wasn't time to make a grooming appointment.

We usually get Olive groomed once or twice a year, the first one around the beginning of May to coincide with breakup and the amount of nature she drags in attached to her legs. 

But this winter has been stupid and non-existant and two weeks ago it was 45°F and muddy everywhere. So we made the appointment for the following week.

We woke up the morning of Olive's appointment and found the temperature to be -6°F. Shaving off a dog's winter coat when it's below zero is a terrible and heartless thing to do.

We are terrible and heartless.

Behold, herein lies photos of the dogs before and after Olive's grooming.

Mitzi has developed a deep distrust of modeling for the camera and pins her ears behind her head and runs away despite all of the Yummy Chummies in my pocket.

Olive is the best dog model and will do anything provided I follow the Dog Model Union Compensation Schedule of one Yummy Chummy per every 4 photos, no less. And she's a stickler about those rules.

The dogs had a slumber party with Hoff the day I took the After photos, and he definitely enjoyed the attention. And the Yummy Chummies.

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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